"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

Friday, June 3, 2011

AIFF 2011 Day 5: Two in a Million, A Guitar Maker's Path, Summer Pasture

Day 5 was Monday April 11. By now we're bleary-eyed and a little punchy, but happy! So many great films. So much good company. What an incredible festival.

I took a morning break while Jeanie and Peggy went to see Benevides Born. I think they liked it well enough but then our attention became focused on getting Jeanie to the airport and using our last few minutes on the way there to get caught up some more, which we did; and then Peggy and I high-tailed it back to Ashland to get in line for the sold-out "Locals 2" show at 3 pm. This was a pairing of two very fine films of strong local interest, both about music and musicians: Two in a Million, which I'd been following since its inception and was extremely eager to see, and A Guitar Maker's Path, which was a delightful surprise. This is cool: in the AIFF listings, for each film they cite the country the film originated in. In the listing for the Locals 2 program, Two in a Million's country is "Ashland," and A Guitar Maker's Path's country is "Pistol River". Heh.

Dave Marston, playing at Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Two in a Million is a 70-minute documentary about two local musicians, Dave Marsden and Robin Lawson, who were in many ways the heart of our community, and the strange coincidence of their dying of the same extremely rare disease within months of each other. The community was in shock and in no small way the making of this documentary, which reflects the search for meaning in the terrible loss, was part of the healing we needed. It was wonderful to see this with a local audience, many of whom had some connection with these special people. It's a fine film and I think anyone will be moved and inspired by it, as Dave's and Robin's lives moved the people they knew. Peggy liked it, and she's not from Ashland. Good job, Cici Brown and fellow filmmakers! Check out the link for trailer, interviews, other links and videos.

One small step in the guitar maker's path
to a fine Flamenco insrument
A Guitar Maker's Path... Because of my personal interest, I was focused on seeing Two in a Million, but was also delighted by the 19-minute documentary it was paired with, A Guitar Maker's Path. This fascinating and beautiful film uses still photos and time lapse photography by Joe Curren to show how Les Stansell constructs his world famous flamenco guitars at his workshop in Pistol River, Oregon, using the local Port Orford Cedar. The wordless process, which takes thousands of steps from the felling of the tree to the signing of the final product, is accompanied by beautiful music played on the guitars by Grant Ruiz and Terry Longshore. Here's a fine website with photos, interview, and review - by someone who knows something about guitars: http://www.guitarbench.com/2010/12/02/les-stansell-guitar-maker%E2%80%99s-path-dvd-review-2/
And here's a video of the opening minutes of A Guitar Maker's Path:

 It's sometimes hard to come across these shorter documentaries, but if you get a chance to see either or both of these, do.

We skipped one screening slot while I gave Peggy a tour of my semi-intentional community (long story), and then we traveled all of two miles back across Ashland to downtown, for our last treat...

At 9:40 pm, Peggy and I joined other die-hards to see the last screening of the festival, Summer Pasture.  We both thought it was a very fine documentary, taking the viewer into the lives of Tibetan yak herders in "the highest, coldest, poorest, largest, and most remote area in Sichuan Province, China." Though life is hard, there is beauty and love in it; this kind of film inevitably has an elegiac quality, as it's clear that a whole way of life probably will soon be lost to the world. Yet it seems a very good thing to save something of it on film, at least, and seeing it is the closest most of us have ever come to experiencing such a timeless kind of human existence. And who knows, if global "civilization" collapses fast enough, these people are likely to rebound and do better than anyone. Check out the trailer:

So, it came to an end. It was a wonderful few days with dear friends and I miss them, but I'm already looking forward to AIFF 2012. In the meantime I'll be looking for chances to see all the fine films I wasn't able to squeeze in during the festival. Some will be coming to the Varsity, and I hope the rest will be in Netflix, or online, soon. Especially:
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Library of Dust
One Voice 
Holy Wars
Hot Coffee
Waste Land (This has been on PBS but again I missed it)
We Were Here
These were all getting very good word-of-mouth in conversations held not online but in-the-line as people waited to get in to see the next movie. And there are probably other gems in the lineup still to be discovered.

Meanwhile, if it all seems too good to be true, here are those Jim Teece videos again; just look at those happy, thoughtful, friendly faces. It's the people who make the festival - filmmakers, organizers, and all those smart people who come - 7,000 this year. Thank you, AIFF.

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