Monday, February 11, 2008

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 2

So on Friday after a hectic day at work I escaped, went up to the city, checked in to the hotel, and went off to the movies.

First up was a rare Indian film that's not all singing and dancing, "The Pool". Actually, the filmmaker Chris Smith is American, he just filmed in Panjim, Goa using locals and their stories for his movie (previously he'd only done documentaries, and this is an interesting step 80% of the way to narrative film). This is another film that's very strong on local flavor. This time it's uniquely Indian,a nd particularly the impoverished class of India. Venkatesh (played by Venkatesh) is a servant at a local hotel. Although he's very poor, his neighbor is wealthy and he catches a glimpse of their clean, shining swimming pool (and their pretty daughter). The pool becomes a metaphor for all that he desires, and he works to learn more about the man who owns it (and his daughter, of course). His curiosity leads interesting ways. I particularly like the Indian sense of humor, and just have to mention that there's a joke in the movie about watching too many movies too close to the screen puts too much strain on your eyes. Hey, they're talking about me! Also, although it's too early to call a theme of the festival, the theme of the past year continues, as Venkatesh tells a story about hunting rabbits. At least they don't show any dead bunnies in this movie.

Next up was a night of local poetry. First the short "The Attik: Jungle Electric", about the local Oakland hip hop group, The Attik. It's well made, but short and doesn't really go into any depth. It's essentially a 6 minute commercial for them, and in that regard it succeeds.

Then there was the feature, "2nd Verse - the Rebirth of Poetry". Also made in the bay area and featuring mostly local talent (more on that later), it's about the youth "poetry slam" movement and the Brave New Voices international competition. The 8th annual BNV was held in San Francisco, and the filmmakers got access to young poets from all over the world. The movie makes the argument (convincingly), that these young poets are the voice of their generation, and if that's so the voice is loud, it's high energy, it's angry, but it's still idealistic. The breakout star of the film has to be San Jose native Yosimar Reyes (who recently recorded with Carlos Santana, but that's not in the film). He's a shy, gay, undocumented Mexican who really came into his own through this poetry. His story is probably the most inspirational of them all (okay, there's also Emiliano Bourgois-Chacon, the SF youth poet laureate with cerebral palsy).

Anyway, after the movie we had a brief Q&A followed by a brief poetry reading featuring Yosimar himself. Here's a pic of Erica Eng (director of "The Attik"), Yosimar, and Carl Brown (Director of "2nd Verse"):


(two guys from "The Attik" were also there, but the picture I took of them didn't come out well.

Anyway, the poetry slam ran so long I had to sprint back to the Roxie to catch the midnight film, "Never Belongs to Me". This is a Korean film, from the director of "Teenage Hooker Becomes a Killing Machine in Daehakroh". While that movie was very, very straightforward (everything you need to know is in the title), this movie is one fucked up trip. I can't really sum up the "plot" per se, but here's some things that happen (or maybe not). A young girl gets raped by a tiger and later by a dog, resulting in one pretty freaky half-tiger son and one oddly completely normal looking son, Gun-tae. The half tiger wants to fuck everything on the planet. The half dog son wants to father a child to make his mother a grandmother so she'll be happy. There's a cyborg hooker (possibly the "killing machine" from the other movie, but it's been a while since I've seen it), there's a trio of scumbags. There's vagina dentata, courtesy of the cyborg hooker (always good). There's Dr. Hell who gives Gun-tae a penis gun that makes his sperm into a weapon. This results in one of the sickest shootouts ever on film (wait, did I write "one of"?) Anyway, this plays again as the midnight movie next Friday night, and I'll have to see if I feel up to watching it again. Maybe after a second viewing it'll make sense

And that was day 2 of Indiefest.
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