Tag Archives: SFiFF

SFiFF Update Three: The Bridge

The Bridge

It turned out that the SFiFF is mostly about docs for me. The Bridge is one that I had really been looking forward to ever since the it became public what the camera crews stationed on either end of the Golden Gate Bridge were up to over the course of 2004. Director Eric Steele takes on the story of those whose final destination is the world’s most favorite suicide location.

The result is an incredibly moving set of very personal accounts of suicidal bridge jumpers as told by family, friends and in one case a survivor. Yes, there is some very shaky and very real footage of a few jumps. They serve to punctuate the personal narratives and quite honestly, the film would be just as moving without them. The real story is what we hear from family, friends and survivors. The footage of jumps are shown once each, there is no slow motion or any cinematic effects that over-dramatize the reality we witness. We do see the Coast Guard boat with two white hazmat suited rescuers circling around for a jumper.

The documentary to be quite honest, is a bit of a downer. It’s a retelling of the sad states of emotion that led the jumpers to take the plunge. We learn about the lives of the jumpers, in some cases their incessant casing of the bridge prior to their final moment, the back story of what brings them to the brink. We do see one rescue as a passing tourist pulls a would-be jumper by her collar which elicits applause from the audience.

There is more, but I don’t want to spoil so go see it for yourself. The Bridge is a rare look into the lives of people who find no reason to go on. Prepare yourself as you’ll probably experience a wide range of emotions that will leave you drained. It is a necessary film, one that can only help to understand mental illness and the dark realities behind suicide.

SFiFF Update Two

Circles of Confusion

Circles of Confusion is a collection of shorts that focus primarily on process. That can mean any number of things such as visually interesting techniques with camera & editing like dramatic focus changes, mirroring, or washing out of a scene. It’s experimental, sometimes with a story, sometimes just eye candy with glitchy soundtrack. I liked most of what I saw here. One that stood out was Site Specific_Las Vegas 05 which was essentially aerial footage of the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas during day and night. The magic here was the way in which focus and depth of field were manipulated thereby creating a world where everything seemed like it was in miniature. I was expecting a plastic Godzilla to sloppily bounce it at any moment. Very cool stuff. Others that stood out include Relative Distance, a confessional piece where family members of the filmmaker intimately share their feelings of her. Another I liked is Suspended 2, an abstract, mirrored and in reverse look at driving across the Bay Bridge.

Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela

Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela is my favorite documentary of the festival so far. OK, it’s the only one I’ve seen but it won’ t be the last and it’s still damn good. Twelve Disciples is a moving story about 12 South African exiles who’ve escape to other parts of Africa, Europe, Cuba and the US to build and strengthen the African National Congress. Apartheid and overt racism are standard operating procedure in South Africa in 1960 when this story begins. The ANC is the now infamous opposition group that was formed by black South Africans who organized against the dominant and racist minority white colonial power. Thomas Allen Harris, the filmmaker is the step-son of B. Pule Leinaeng aka Lee who is this story’s primary hero. The doc is a combination of history of the anti-apartheid movement, the role of the 12 exiles who helped to build the ANC and primarily the personal relationship and memories that Harris has with his revolutionary step-father who always considered Harris a blood son as black South Africans don’t have a word for “step-son”. Twelve Disciples is very moving and provides a firm foundation for beginning to understand the struggles that black South Africa had to endure to gain a democratic homeland. Definitely a must see.

SFiFF Update One

SFIFF | Red vs. Blue
Originally uploaded by lawgeek.

A few weeks ago, local boggerati master Kevin Smokler invited 20 of his closest blogger friends to cover the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival which is happening right now. I count myself as one of the lucky 20 who were gifted a press pass getting me into any screening, yet I’ve been slacking in my duty to spread to good and bad words of what I’ve seen so far. Putting slack aside, here’s the first update on what I’ve taken in.

The first screening I saw was one I had really been looking forward to, Cock Byte: Masters of Machinima, a showing of the best of Rooster Teeth Productions. If you’ve ever seen the brilliant Red vs. Blue series, you’ll know exactly what this is about. Even though my press pass would have gotten me in free, I was too late to get the coveted freebee press ticket for this one. No worries, this was at the top of my list so I popped for the ticket and slid on in.

My expectations were set by the SFiFF program guide which stated, “This Festival program, a sort of Rooster Teeth greatest hits, will feature the finest moments from Blood Gulch Chronicles and The Strangerhood, rarely seen one-offs, outtakes and new work”. I was quickly disappointed when I realized they were only showing a chunk of the first season of Red vs. Blue. Nothing from Strangerhood. No rarely seen one-offs or outtakes. Nothing new. Don’t get me wrong, RvB is good shit, it’s just not something I hadn’t seen before and what they showed was like 4 years old. For the uninitiated, RvB takes place in the game Halo. The actors are all characters within the game environment where scripts and dialogue are made ‘real’. What you get is mostly comedic & introspective dialogue by soldiers who are too stupid to know what’s going on around them. It’s a brilliant juxtaposition of a shoot-em-up environment used as a setting for human introspection and philosophical exploration. Definitely worth checking out a few episodes if you’ve never seen them before.

The Q&A with a couple of the creators afterward was a comedy of non-information. They wouldn’t answer any of the interesting questions (What techniques do you use? What is your relationship with Microsoft? What about copyright issues? How are you making enough money to live on with this?). They came off like they didn’t give a shit and really didn’t want to be there. Whatever, that’s fine. It’s their work, they can answer or not answer whatever questions they want. We don’t need to like them for their personalities if their work rules. RvB is brilliant shit, but why are we seeing 4 year old work in a 2006 film festival when there is plenty of other stuff they should have shown?

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