Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nashville Film Festival

This weekend, I went to the Nashville Film Festival with a group of people from school. I was really excited because it was the first film festival I’ve been to. I really didn’t want to leave. I’ve had so many meaningful artistic experiences this weekend that its hard to describe. I’ll summarize some of the films that I really liked and leave out the crappy ones. My words won’t do some of them justice … talk to me in person for more info.

I’ll start with the biggest disappointment: a 90-minute thriller called Adrenaline filmed completely in one take. It was about a guy who buys a new car and immediately gets his OnStar-esque system taken over by a guy who supposedly has kidnapped his daughter. What followed was a disappointing one-take race against time that had an unsatisfying ending and little or no technical merit.

Many times when I watch a film, I may think that it isn’t that great, but then when it is over, I look at the whole and realize how great it is. Such was the case with Darrat (Dry Season). The film was about a young man in an African village that sets out to kill the man who killed his father. It was beautifully shot and worked spectacularly as a meditation on the nature of revenge. I’d like to see it again.

Swedish Auto was about a very homely guy that works at a car garage. He becomes infatuated with a beautiful violinist, but ends up falling in love with a simple girl that works at a diner who has problems of her own. My opinion of the film was low at the beginning, but got higher and higher as the movie went on. At the end I didn’t think it was a masterpiece, but it was better than many things I’ve seen out of Hollywood recently.

The last film I saw at the festival was a documentary by Tony Kaye, director of American History X. It was called Lake of Fire and is the definitive documentary on abortion. It was presented every side of the debate equally, only leaning slightly toward the pro-choice stance. Everything was there, though: scientific and philosophical debate, religious protestors, Republicans, Democrats, graphic termination footage. It even featured the complete abortion experience … from walking into the office, to walking out after the procedure. It was TOUGH! Probably the hardest thing I have ever watched, but something I think everyone needs to see. I don’t care how graphic it is: its real. Supposedly we’ll see this film in theaters around September.

For me, the best part of the festival was the first film I saw. It was called Forever and was a documentary from the Netherlands by Heddy Honigmann. I was transfixed with its beauty for the whole two hours of its running time. I was stunned that every frame of this gorgeous film could have been in a photography exhibition. Needless to say, I was deeply moved.

Forever is set in the Pere Lachaisse Cemetery in Paris where Chopin, Marcel Proust, and many other great makers of art are buried. It wasn’t about these people, though. It was about the people that visit their final resting places because their lives have been so changed by art … art produced by the deceased. Through this whole film, I saw people whose belief systems and lives have been shaped by the power of ideas expressed through art. These visitors could not stop talking or contain their excitement about how the ideas and art of these people had shaped the way they lived their everyday lives. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I really can’t express how I was moved by it … it was that good. I read somewhere that this will be released in theaters around September. I doubt I’ll be able to find it anywhere, but after I watch it again, it will most certainly become a favorite.

I loved the festival so much! I felt like I really belonged there because I was surrounded by people who appreciated and were interested in engaging great art. I could talk to any person in line for a film and have an intelligent discussion. I also realized how much of a mission field the film industry is. It invigorated me and made me want to go out and make a film. I’m definitely writing a script this summer, now that I’ll be home. It’d be so great to engage people’s minds for the sake of the Kingdom.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had a good time. I have always wanted to go to a film festival, but have never taken the initiative. Now I am more likely.

For years now I have wondered what a one-take film would be like. I have found the concept fascinating, especially from an actors perspective. You just can't make mistakes, especially towards the end...people will secretly hate you for it. It's dissappointing that Adrenaline had no technical merit. I'd like to see someone like Terrence Malick or P.T. Anderson tackle a one take film. With the right story and some ambitious actors, it could be beautiful. I look forward to the day someone does it successfully.

Your review of Forever has me intrigued. Seems like it is an influential, beautiful piece of art about the effects of influential, beautiful pieces of art. An interesting conundrum. I want to see it.

Phillip said...

"Forever" is just what you say it is and more. There was beauty in every frame ... it was just astounding. Sadly, the chances of seeing it anywhere are very dim. I've emailed the producer about obtaining it. She told me to check with First Run Icarus films in America. THEY said that is would be in some theaters around September. I guess I'll wait until then.

I think P.T. Anderson could definitely do a one take movie with the right idea. There are many great, long takes in "Magnolia" (especially the one with Stanley and his Dad going into the TV studio) that are very good.

"Adrenaline" was pretty stupid and disappointing though.