More great films, documentaries and shorts today. The trouble with seeing so many movies is that there isn't time to blog about it! I mean, you still have to grab food and drink somewhere, talk to people as you wait in line for the next one, and sometimes make the trek between Varsity and Armory venues, not to mention driving out of towners around. Oh, and sleep. But gradually I'll be adding some comments on each.
So far all the films and events I've attended have ranged somewhere between well worth seeing and off the scale great. I'm doing these daily posts as placeholders until the festival is over, social obligations are met, and I can get back to writing. So check back later for more, if you don't see the review you're looking for here :)
Love Free or Die
This is a fine documentary about the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church organization in the US. When I was about four years old, my parents had my three older siblings and me all baptized at the same time by an Episcopalian bishop in the church in Folsom, California. It was the closest Episcopal church to where we lived, and the bishop was visiting from Southern California. My parents were atheists (well, as Northwesterners they both had a Cascadian sort of spirituality, but there wasn't a word for it then) and wholly opposed to "organized religion" on a number of highly reasonable grounds; but they finally agreed to have us baptized as a courtesy to my father's mother, who more or less demanded it on her deathbed. (I always had the impression that the important thing wasn't being baptized as such, but being baptized as Episcopalians. My mother suspected it had to do with perceived social status.)
All I remember about the big day was that I got to wear my favorite dress, a red velvet one, and that the Bishop spilled some water on it but I forgave him when he looked into my eyes and smiled apologetically about the spilled water. Later I learned that my mother had only agreed to this baptism incident because this particular man, this bishop, was well loved by people like my parents for his championship of social justice and liberal causes. He probably even defended people accused of being communists, as my parents often were. Anyway, they revered him. And I'll always have a soft spot for Episcopal churches. They were the ones who held the concert for peace during Vietnam, and where I attended a candlelight vigil on the eve of the Iraq invasion.
I mention all this because if that baptism incident were to happen today, Bishop Gene Robinson (the subject of this documentary) would have been my mother's choice as the religious figure she'd trust to imbue an otherwise unwanted act with genuine goodness (or at least, render it harmless) for her children, purely by virtue of his innate benignity. He comes across here as a very sweet human being with a great sense of humor, and this is an inspiring film about him and his struggles to live the spiritual life natural to him in an organized religion adhered to by a great many people who haven't a clue about what real love is. It's also a fascinating political story of the schism between the English and the American Episcopalians (and Americans vs. Americans). With, ultimately, the side of justice winning in a most graceful and (I'll admit it) spiritual way. Finally, and I'll admit this too, it offered me a window into how true spirituality can function even in organized religion.
I tried to find out what happened with the English-American split since the end of the movie, but couldn't find anything more on it even with Google. All I know is, in the movie, the Americans won. Funny how a church founded on the issue of divorce then split over the issue of marriage... what is it about religion and sex!?
Update 1/13: Well, sigh, don't know about the Church of England but looks like the Catholics are still circling their wagons over there across the pond: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/02/gay-masses-soho-abolished As they are here. Establishment religion will always dig in where it can, protect its capital and resist change.
The Atomic States of America
This is a very fine documentary film that, as the very best do, pulls together a whole lot of information from different sources and in different visual styles, and makes it coherent, entertaining, and enlightening. In a time less rich in fabulous documentary filmmakers, this would have been the best. Now it's just another really well done, must-see film. How lucky we are to live in such bad times - so many good documentaries about what's going on! That's all I have time for now, but see if it if you can! Click on the title, above, for a Democracy Now broadcast about this movie from the Sundance festival.
On the same subject, these podcasts on Fukushima, with implications for the rest of the world (including the US situation) are must-listening and feature some of the same scientists seen in the film: http://www.ecoshock.info/2012/04/worst-problems-in-world.html
|thumbnails from IMDB site|
For more on these, as well as on the short films in the Locals 1 program, including Spirit of Bowmer in the Park, check back later! I'm gradually getting caught up.
This Locals program kicked off with a wonderfully entertaining music video, Don't Eat Something If You Don't Know What It Is. (Link is to the YouTube.) It was made by the sister of the expert on foraging wild foods, and full of Ashland locations! How many do you recognize? (This was half the fun of all these shorts produced locally.)