Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 17

A second day in Santa Cruz. Traffic over the "hill" on 17 was kinda lousy, so I didn't make it anywhere near in time for the 3:00 screening of THE MAYOR. But I still saw three more movies.

First up, horsey girls star in ESCARAMUZA: RIDING FROM THE HEART. I knew nothing about this sport before seeing this. In fact, I knew nothing about charreada--traditional Mexican horse competitions. Escaramuza is an all-female subset of the competition, meant to commemorate the women during the Mexican revolution who rode and kicked up dust as decoys to confuse the Federales. The competition seems to be a combination of kicking up lots of dust and elaborate team riding choreography. Honestly, I don't know how you score it, but the performances were pretty beautiful, and the ladies training and performing together were a lot of fun. They form the Californian team Las Azaleas, as they compete--and win--in local, state, and regional competitions until they make their way to the championships in Mexico. I won't spoil how they do in that competition (although it is quite shocking.) I also thought it was interesting watching them balance their home and professional lives with their passion, and how they raise money by doing shows during the intermission at speedways, etc. It's truly a passion sport, nobody (at least in America) gets into it to become rich and famous. But if you're interested, there is a U.S. Federation.

Next up was CLOSURE, a story about closed adoptions (one form of closure,) opening them up, finding your birth parents, and reaching another form of closure (which, not to give anything away, opens up another search.) The subject in this search is Angela, an African-American woman adopted by a loving white couple in Bellingham, WA. Waitaminit! I grew up (well, as much as I can say I'm a grown up) in Bellingham! Holy cow, it's such a trip to see my old city! Wow.... So after tripping on that for a while, I got back to paying attention to the story, and it was pretty incredible, too. Although it's a closed adoption, they did know some things in the records--like a bit of the story of why she was put up for adoption, the father's first name (and a hint that the redacted last name was short.) That was enough to put them on a search and eventually find him, then the mother. Meeting the father was kinda awesome. Not to give anything away but he's something of a local cult celebrity in Chattanooga, TN. And he always thought he was sterile, and he always wanted children. So he's ready to embrace Angela as a daughter whether tests confirm it or not. The relationship with the birth mother is...more complicated. But even that eventually works to a happy conclusions. A sense of...closure, if you will.

And finally, the last film of Saturday was BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL. Let me set this up for you. Back in 2004, Indiefest played a movie called BETTIE PAGE: DARK ANGEL. I was excited, Bettie Page was awesome, and this promised to tell her story in her own words. Well, the movie sucked. Sucked, sucked, sucked, sucked, suuuuuuuucked! It was dull, it was poorly acted, and it didn't tell you anything you couldn't learn from a Wikipedia article (as an aside, a year later when THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE was in theaters, I started seeing the DVD show up in video stores--opportunistic marketing!) Anyway, I kinda digress, but I wanted to set that up by saying Indiefest promised me a great Bettie Page movie 9 years ago, and they finally delivered. Not just a great recap of her career, it featured (audio) interviews from Bettie herself shortly before she passed away, setting everything up. And it has interviews with people who worked with her (including Pauline Klaw, Irving Klaw's sister and business partner,) people inspired by her, and people who were friends with her. It really gives a greater view of her career and life, especially the story of how she disappeared when she "found" religion. It's a bit more complicated--yes, she stopped modeling and joined a church. But she was a believer beforehand, and she never denounced or expressed shame at her former career (although the one incident where she was plied with plum brandy she regretted.) It had as much to do with her getting on in years and wasn't really fit to be a model anymore. But even then...well, I should let Bettie tell you herself, and if you get a chance to see this movie she actually can. One final note, I didn't know that Dave Stevens, who wrote graphic novel of The Rocketeer was a huge Bettie Page fan (and friend) and the female lead was actually supposed to be Bettie Page. They changed her name in the Disney movie, so now I should go back and rewatch that movie--and read the graphic novel.

Total Running Time: 267 minutes
My Total Minutes: 332,423
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