Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 12

...of an 11 day festival? C'mon, closing night was day 11, this should be over by now! But instead, there were 4 bonus days, and I needed to use 1 of them to finish seeing absolutely everything. Three last programs:

First up was "Electric Heart: Don Ellis". I didn't really know who he was, but I recognize his theme from "The French Connection". He was an accomplished jazz musician who is called the most innovative musician of his time (tragically cut short in 1978, he was 44). Most of that innovation was in the field of electronic music. This movie is chock-full of performances, to the point where it feels more like a concert film than a documentary. His music is pretty cool, and I liked being introduced to it, but I also would've liked to know more about the man himself. I don't know, it's worth it if you want to hear a 90 minute compilation of his music. If you're looking for insight into his life, you'll probably get more from his wikipedia page.

Next up was a British spy flick, "Jetsam". A woman washes up on the beach, remembering nothing. She gets chased by a man who washes up next to her. She doesn't know what's going on, but she runs for her life. While fleeing from him, bits of her memory come back, and her story is slowly built in flashbacks. But the flashbacks keep changing point of view, until it's not clear if she's who she remembers being or if she's the agent who was spying on the girl she thinks she is, or what. An exciting use of POV and flashbacks, and I give it much credit for assuming I have the patience to figure it out. Still, I would've liked more science. As it was, the fabulous scientific marvel was just a maguffin.

And finally, the last show of the night (and the last show of my Indiefest) was a co-presentation with the Arab American Film Festival. First the short, "My Name is Ahmed Ahmed", follows comedian Ahmed Ahmed ("I can't get on any airplane!") as he does his stand-up and talks about life as an Arab-American comic. I've seen him before on Comedy Central and the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, and he's appearing in "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show". He's a pretty funny guy, so in that respect this short didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. But it was fun.

And finally, there was "Driving to Zigzigland". It's based on the true adventures of Bashar, a Palestinian actor who came to L.A. to be famous. Of course, he's only given terrorist roles, which he refuses to take. So he makes a meager living driving a cab (and living off his hot American wife). He hates the conversation he has to have when people find out he's Palestinian, so when they ask he says he's from Zigzigland. Surprisingly, most people accept that. Americans know we're dumb about geography, so we assume it's a real country we've never heard of. This movie takes place over one long day and night when he needs to make $300 to pay the utility bill. Along the way, he meets all kinds of cheats, has a ton of bizarre conversations, is visited by the FBI, and has to pick up his cousin at LAX. Meanwhile, the insanity of L.A. (and the U.S. in general) makes him homesick for his little theater in Ramallah. It's a funny movie, and a great look at a different point of view.

And that was it Indiefest is over. Normally I'd do a rundown on my favorites ("Stuck", "Paranormal Activity") and my "reward for seeing everything ("Sliding Liberia"), and themes (bunnies, places). But I'm tired and still need to finish watching/writing as much as I can for the Oscars, and then prepare for Cinequest and the Asian American Film Festival. An addicts work is never done....

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