We're coming down to the end stretch. First up on Friday was the shorts program "Dead On". Obviously, the theme is death. Here's the rundown:
"I'm in the Mood for Death"--A simple but effective black comedy about suicide, and all the little annoying interruptions.
"Reaper"--The angel of death has a career ethics crisis. J.C. himself has to step in and clean up the mess. Pretty funny.
"Prisoner of War"--A German film, set in WWII, about soldiers, prisoners, and hunting.
"The Recordist"--A young lady meets an old woman with X-files theories about her. Seems she's an alien recording device sent to record some important event on earth. Or the old lady's just a kook.
"Morning Fall"--A guy wakes up from a motorcycle crash. He pulls himself together, and tries to get a ride to the hospital. Very effective, plus there's a bunny (that lives, that's a nice change!)
"Pivot"--An old man prepares for an important confrontation with a young guy. He happens to know that the kid is about to make a life-changing decision, and has to make sure he does it right.
Here's a pic of Zal Batmanglij ("The Recordist" director), Aaron Pont (the reaper in "The Reaper"), and Julius Ramsay (director of "Pivot"):
Next up was another nice surprise, "Most Likely To". The program write-up describes old friends getting together for a party, bedlam, and a fateful, shocking discovery. It also describes completely improvised dialogue, and semi-real time action. Those last two descriptors are code for something I've seen a lot recently--improvised "workshop" pieces that are a lot of talking, a lot of characters, and often hard to follow or get into. The last thing I expected is a lot of action, but this movie really cooks. There's plenty of humor, action, drama, and horror. Spontaneous Combustion, indeed.
Next up was a very New York specific program, "Liberty Kid" with the short "Covered Tracks". The short explores 50 blocks of subway tracks in the Freedom tunnel, which used to be home to an underground community. A facinating history, and a fascinating, dialogue-free exploration of the space. Here's a picture of director Nathan Kensinger and producer Meghan O'Hara:
And then, the feature "Liberty Kid". It appears there's finally been enough time since 9/11 that films can touch on the events of that day without it being the primary focus (this isn't even the first film in this festival that references 9/11). In this case, the story is about two young guys who work at the Statue of Liberty. After 9/11, the Statue is closed to tourists and they lose their jobs. Suddenly they have to survive more or less on the streets. Derrick is the responsible one, trying to earn his GED and go to college (although enlisting in the army might be the only way to pay for it). Meanwhile, he's got child support payments to make on his twin toddlers--who are absolutely adorable. And he's also got his best friend Tico, the less responsible one, who's out to make a quick buck by selling drugs or faking car accidents (in a pretty hilarious scene). And it seems every time they turn around, the army is trying to recruit them (no coincidence that Derrick is Dominican and Tico is black). A very well done look at surviving, particularly as a minority, after 9/11.
Then I had already seen the midnight show ("Never Belongs to Me", the midnight screening from the previous weekend), and I was really dragging, so I just caught the BART home and got something approximating a good night's sleep.