Beer and Pavement

A True/False Diary, part 2

Posted in Film, Live by SM on March 9, 2011

Saturday is typically the big day to attend. Starting at 9:30 or 10:00, you can fit in a 5k run, 4-5 films, a rock show, and an after-party in the wee-hours of Sunday. I did all of those except for the run. Next year[1].

Hula & Natan; Sat, Mar 5 10:30AM; Windsor Cinema
Hula & Natan was supposed to be a laugh-out-loud riot. It was at times, but how funny can you be when you live just outside the Gaza Strip? Still, the two mechanics demonstrate an odd-couple affinity for one another, much like the tape-recorded drunks in Shut Up Little Man! and that created a lot of funny material. Interestingly, one of the most poignant scenes of the film occurred when the protagonists went out to a hill overlooking Gaza. Several Israelis were camped out there watching the territory get bombed and even cheering[2]. Hula was disgusted as he regularly did business with the Palestinians and could see them in a humane way.

Habana Muda; Sat, Mar 5 12:30PM; Little Ragtag
I’ll admit it. I didn’t want to see this film. However, it was easily one of my top-3. The filmmaker beautifully told this story of a Cuban family looking to make their life better through a Mexican man’s generosity[3]. The catch is that the patriarch of the Cuban family was preparing to marry the Mexican, go with him to Mexico, and work to support his family back in Cuba. It is easily one of the more complex love triangles[4] I’ve witnessed. Luckily, in the hands of filmmaker in full control of his craft, Habana Muda captured the humanity, love, and desperation of the situation like few films can.

The Burger and the King; Sat, Mar 5 3:30PM; Blue Note
From True Vision recipient James Marsh came this interesting biography of the King of rock ‘n roll and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches[5]. Although not the film we wanted at that moment, The Burger and the King demonstrated just what kind of influence Marsh has had over documentary film over the last couple of decades.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked; Sat, Mar 5 5:30PM; The Hive
Terrifying penises. Lots of terrifying penises. I’m not even kidding. Still, this was not what I thought it would be. If it is possible to believe that a man has changed after being directly or indirectly involved in the killing of 20,000 people (mostly while naked[6]), then this is the film that can do it. A top-3 pick for sure.

The Arbor; Sat, Mar 5 8:00PM; Little Ragtag
This was a really interesting method of telling a story. The filmmaker used actors who lip-synched audio from interviews with the subjects, intertwined with scenes from the play The Arbor. The issue was that the filmmaker should have chosen to tell either Andrea Dunbar’s story or her daughters, not both. I left before it ended because I was tired of hearing how Dunbar’s biracial daughter continued to use drugs, prostitute herself, and have babies. Like mother, like daughter, I guess.

Mojo’s A-Go-Go; Sat, Mar 5 10:00PM; Mojo’s
The Arbor made me antsy. I needed some rock ‘n roll, and that’s what I got. I already wrote about this show in my music post, but you should know that the lineup was excellent. Haii Usagi filled the space expertly with keyboards, MacBook, and drums. Netherfriends are developing into a solid rock band that just make you wan to dance. Kings Go Forth are leading the way in this soul revivalist time we’re living. I had to laugh at all the people who scoffed at the $10 cover[7]. They missed out.

Super Secret Party; Sun, Mar 6 1:30AM; ???
I’m really not supposed to tell you anything about this party. It’s not open to everyone[8], but I was invited to see the band Believers play their debut set. I’ve written elsewhere that this was maybe the most enjoyable set of music I witnessed, buskers or otherwise. Seriously, the band was just great. Sure, to the lazy ear, it sounds like Vampire Weekend or whatever, but there’s not all that shitty-ass pretension or  Graceland schtick. Despite the connotations they conjure, Believers are original, engaging, and sure to be among my favorite local bands in the coming years, but you didn’t read it here. The party was pretty great, too.

Sunday was a bit slower, as can be expected. Two consecutive nights of after-parties did me in. So, I took it easy as I somehow fit in films 12, 13, and 14 of the fest.

Secret Screening Black; Sun, Mar 6 10:00AM; Little Ragtag
Again, there’s nothing I can really tell you about this one. Just know that our government cannot be trusted. This might be the one film to sneak out and win the Oscar a year from now. Watch[9].

The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975; Sun, Mar 6 12:30PM; Forrest Theater
Since I already saw this on Friday, I decided to take a well-deserved break and pick up some lunch and actually take it easy for change.

Here Comes Everybody: Journalism in 2011; Sunday, Mar 6 2:00PM; Columbia Art League
I was so ready to get in a fight with all the journos on the panel, but I ran out of time and had to run. To summarize, journalists are scared as shit they won’t have any jobs in the future. Join the club.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth; Sun, Mar 6 3:00PM; Forrest Theater
Pruitt-Igoe was a famous housing project in St Louis. It failed miserably for several reasons (white flight to the suburbs, lack of care, detrimental welfare laws, etc.). But what has been missed over the decades since its demise are the stories of the people who lived there. A pretty conventional doc utilizing archived footage, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth was a nice companion piece with films such as The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975 and The Barber of Birmingham (a short on a civil rights era barber who also happened to be a foot soldier in the movement).

Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story; Sun, Mar 6 5:30PM; Little Ragtag
I had no interest in this film, but gave my ticket up to a friend. Instead, I decided to hang out with “Team Booze” or the group of guys in charge of delivering beer and spirits all weekend. I sipped on some DIPA’s[10] as the films moved along. After noticing several people exiting the theater, I used my press pass to get inside for the Q & A. The poor filmmaker was taking a beating as this was a work-in-progress and the audience didn’t necessarily understand which suggestions would be beneficial.

Life in a Day; Sun, Mar 6 8:00PM; Missouri Theatre
We finished the night with an experiment in crowd-sourcing. Thousands of filmmakers (amateur and professional) filmed their day on July 24, 2010. The producers and directors sorted out 4500 hours of footage from all over the globe to piece together a surprisingly coherent narrative of the human experience. It was a bit cheesy for my taste, but an appropriate ending for the fest.

All I can say is that I can’t wait for next year’s fest. Even if we were to somehow move[11], I think we’d return for the True/False Film Festival every year. I believe this so much that I’ve collected nearly every blog post I’ve written about the festival over the last five years on a page in this blog. Expect the content on that page to grow. Now, I have to wait another year for T/F to shake me out of my winter doldrums.

Notes:
1Probably not.
2I don’t care which side you align yourself in the Israeli/Palestinian cluster-fuck. People are being bombed. You don’t laugh and cheer. It’s pretty sick to think people get off on dying and suffering.
3It’s so interesting to think of a Mexican as the rich guy someone from another country goes to financial assistance. I recognize that Mexico, like any country, has wealthy people. However, I’m not sure many Americans would admit to knowing this. They have a very warped sense of the world, particularly of our neighbors to the south.
4Aren’t they all complex?
5There’s a lot of butter used to fry up one of these mothers. It’s a wonder the man lived as long as he did.
6General Butt Naked and his “men” (read: “boys”) would often fight in the buff. From the video footage and images of these fighters, one can imagine just how terrifying that could be. I mean, it’s crazy to fight naked and there’s nothing scarier than crazy.
7Give people a laminated piece of card stock to wear around their neck and they think they can go anywhere. The issue might have been that there was another T/F-sponsored show around the corner that was free to pass holders. I’ll have suggestions to fix this in my last T/F post, if I ever get to it.
8Although they call the party “Super Secret,” plenty of folks seem to know where and when it was. Still, not everyone got in. I felt pretty special getting waved into a party two nights in a row. That’s never happened to me. Thanks, Mary.
9Although I’ve revealed nothing about the film for you to confirm my prediction, you’ll just have to trust me. Maybe I can say something after its official premier happens.
10Founder’s Double Trouble. Good stuff, that.
11Always a possibility when married to an academic.

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