Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jason goes to CAAMFest--Day 10

I skipped Day 9 (Friday) but was at the New Parkway for a full day on Saturday, my final day of CAAMFest 2015 (at least the SF version. I might make it to the San Jose festival later this year, assuming they do it again.)

VERSES IN EXILE (EP 1 and 2): Kosal Khiev was a child refugee. Got involved in gang violence, and was deported back to Cambodia, the land his parents fled. And there he has become a renowned poet, with some unique insights on life, crime, and violence. This was the first two episodes of a 4-part web series.

TASHI'S TURBINE: In the Himalayan mountains, Tashi Bista and Jeevan are teaming up to build a small windmill and provide power to the little village of Namdok. At least, to the ones who live close enough to run a wire to it. It's a funny, engaging, sometimes uplifting, sometimes frustrating story of friendship, hope, and engineering challenges. But it's absolutely clear that these people are doing great work, improving Nepal one wind turbine at a time. Ironically, the biggest problem is it's too windy for their little turbine.

MAN UP: Then this funny, silly buddy comedy about a couple of teenage slackers nearing twenty and trying to become adults. Or, more often, trying not to become adults. Martin is ready for the summer after high school, relaxing at the beach and playing video games until...well, until he can't anymore. He certainly doesn't have plans for college. All his plans go out the window when his girlfriend announces she's pregnant. And when it's clear he's not father material she leaves him. So Martin and his best friend Randall decide to learn all about fatherhood (including taking childbirth classes together) so he'll be a great dad. It does not work. With all their enthusiasm, they're still total slacker deadbeat goofballs who can't--and probably shouldn't--grow up. At least not right now. Which is good, because they're so fun to watch as idiot goofballs.

ALL EYES AND EARS: And finally, I ended my festival with this fascinating documentary about U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and his family. Especially his adopted daughter Gracie Mei, returning to the land of her birth for the first time since her adoption. Woven into their story is the story of Chen Guangcheng, an activist and legal advocate who was placed under house arrest. He escaped with the help of local villagers and with the help of the U.S. embassy emigrated to the U.S. Oh, and he's blind. The movie explores the complicated diplomatic relations, and especially how Chen Guangcheng's case strained those relations at just the time Huntsman was trying to strengthen them. There are many facets to this documentary--family, human rights, activism, diplomacy, culture...it's a beautiful, powerful movie that is definitely worth an extra look.

And finally, my 2015 CAAMfest is over!

Total Running Time: 238 minutes
My Total Minutes: 392,083
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