The first program was a short and a feature, starting with BROKEN CITY POETS. That broken city is Stockton, CA. And the poets are high school students, some living in the poorest, most crime-filled parts of the city, using poetry workshops to make sense of and hopefully improve their city. It was a joint project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and Youth Speaks, and the results were pretty moving.
Then ALL CONTAINED IN VOID, and intriguing and almost meditative look at 'Dead Zones' in California's road systems. The medians, the underpasses, etc. Mini-forests, or urban gardens, and the people who repurpose them into productive--or at least entertaining--spaces. It was fascinating and brief (just ~50 minutes, which is why it was paired with the short) and features a good mix of city planners, architects, engineers, and eccentrics, including John Law, member of the Cacophony Society and co-founder (now having nothing to do with it) of that thing in the desert.
And then, IS THIS THE REAL WORLD, which bothered me by not having a question mark in the title. But the rest of it was pretty good. It's the story of bright but troubled high-schooler Mark, making a clean start in a new school. His brother is a criminal, his mother is an alcoholic, and his grandmother is on her deathbed. And he's having trouble fitting in at school. One Aussie Rules Football scene is particularly brutal, and shows off his fatalistic determination and eventually wins him some friends. And it wins him the eye of a beautiful girl in school. Too bad she's the daughter of the overbearing principal, who takes things
Total Running Time: 169 minutes
My Total Minutes: 384,337