"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Saturday, May 28, 2011

AIFF 2011 Day 3: These Amazing Shadows, Hood to Coast, Morgan Spurlock, POM Wonderful Presents, and How to Die in Oregon

The memory fades somewhat, but these great videos and photo collections from YouTube are running on a local channel; I just stumbled upon them, and they brought it all back. They really show what it feels like to have been here this year. Plans are already laid in chez Planetbound for AIFF 2012.

So here are some more fantastic films to watch out for, if you haven't seen them yet:

These Amazing Shadows  9:30 AM at the Armory - and an excited crowd of film lovers were ready to get started. This is an absolute must-see for anyone who loves movies, and let's face it, no matter how seriously we might take Film, we're all movie buffs at heart. It's about the Library of Congress program to select and preserve 25 "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" films each year for listing in the National Film Registry. How are the films chosen? What are they? What are the challenges? The surprising discoveries? What do films tell us about ourselves? 

The films chosen each year range from Hollywood blockbusters to home movies and it's absolutely fascinating to see how the selection process works. But more than that, this is a joyful celebration of everything we love about film and movies. As AIFF says, this is our national family album. And to share the experience of this wonderful movie with a huge crowd of true-blue film aficionados at the AIFF - it just can't get better than this. What a high! 

The sound track has just been released, and I hope the movie gets wide distribution in theaters. It is one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen, and the equal in quality, innovation, and entertainment value of any piece of filmmaking in the National Film Registry it celebrates.

POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold: Jeanie and I didn't get tickets to this before they sold out, but Peggy (who was online buying tickets at the same time) did manage to snag one. Jeanie and I  retired to the hotel while Peggy got to see it, and everyone who did get in raved for the rest of the festival about how hilarious it was. However, I caught up with it last week at the Varsity Theatre and agree with Peggy - it's a great one! It must have been super fun to see it with the AIFF audience; but even in a quieter crowd, Cindy and I were chuckling, laughing, and pointing at cool things on the screen nonstop. 

It's a documentary about product placement that is financed entirely through product placement.  Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, as he often does, makes the story arc about his own learning curve, so we really get to see how it all works from day one to the final credits (stick around to read them!). Filled with self-referential humor, sight gags, satire, solid information about the law and science of advertising--including a scary revelation about just how we are brainwashed as a matter of course nowadays by "advertising" that uses neurological science-- it's nonstop good humor and real enlightenment. I've heard several people say something to the effect that "I'll never see a movie in the same way again." In fact the film raises questions going way beyond just movies, since advertising is everywhere in our lives now. Highly recommended. In fact, it's not just a pomegranate juice - it's 

Then we all went back to the Armory to see Hood to Coast and I can't say enough good things about this one too! The big crowd included many first-time AIFF goers, who were there because they had run in the Hood to Coast race the movie is about. In fact Jeanie's daughter had experienced it as a turning point in her own life, which gave us a special interest in it too. The runners expressed strong approval! 

But even if you're not a runner (I'm not), you have to love this one about the epic team relay race from Mt. Hood to the ocean. Hearing the director speak a bit about it ahead of time, in the Filmmaker TalkBack the day before, gave me a special interest in it and appreciation for some of the behind the scenes details such as the sheer logistics of following several teams, and filming at night in remote locations -- yet the final result has a wonderfully natural flow and a sense of authenticity that draws you in and holds you spellbound. I felt as if I'd actually experienced the race myself in some way. And it was fabulous.

Visual beauty, human interest, humor, terrific story -- and if you wonder what the unique culture of the US Pacific Northwest is like, this will tell you how we are when we're at our best. When our independent country of Cascadia is established, this could be our national movie.

Morgan Spurlock interviewed by Shawn Levy. Photo by Lee Greene

The Greatest Movie Conversation Ever: with Morgan Spurlock Again, entertainment heaven for the documentary fan -- Shawn Levy did a marvelous job interviewing Spurlock, with plenty of clips from his many projects. It was a fine introduction, for me, to this filmmaker; I confess I hadn't seen most of his earlier work. Looking for a photo on Google Images, I came across an album by Lee Greene on AIFF 2011. From that album (with thanks to the photographer), here's part of the audience at some point - you can see we were having fun.

How to Die in Oregon: Juried best feature length documentary
Jeanie and Peggy retired to the hotel for the night after the Morgan Spurlock conversation, but I stuck it out for a late screening of this one in the Varsity 1, because I have had a longstanding interest in death with dignity, am a member of Compassion and Choices, and the fact that this is a state enlightened enough to have such a law is one of the reasons I live here. This film was one of the hot tickets at the festival. 

Think a movie on this subject will be depressing or scary? This is exactly why you should see it - it's not, it's wonderful. Thanks to the "stars" whose stories the film documents, there is even much humor and charm. It's not so much about the details of the law, but about the people who fight for it and might choose to use it. Not to be missed! At our screening, several people were there for Q&A - even family members. That's how committed people are to this law. It was as moving a filmgoing experience as I've ever had. Here's a brief interview with the filmmaker that repeats some of what he told us, about how he made the movie and what it's about. It premiered recently on HBO and I hope it will be more widely available soon. 


All that, and two more days of the festival to go!

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