Tuesday night started with the jury award winner for best narrative, and I agree with the jury.
HALF-LIFE is Jennifer Phang's feature film directorial debut, and it's a wild near-future, near-apocalyptic adventure. It takes place in a Diablo Valley town (oh yeah, it's kind of local to the Bay Area, too, so that was extra cool), and in a future where global flooding, solar flares, and chainsaw suicides are common news fodder. The story is about a family. The father is gone, lost in an accident (maybe?) while piloting an airplane. Daughter Pam sweeps out the airplane hangar and tries to fly herself--by jumping off the roof. Her little brother Tim is even stranger, and is developing telekinetic powers. Their mom spends all day with her live-in leech of boyfriend, who hits on Pam when mom's not around (makes sense, he's closer to her age. But still, gross!). Weird stuff, of course, happens. There are even splashes of animation in there. A thoroughly ambitious debut, that meets its ambitions fully.
Next up was ALL AROUND US, a Japanese modern romantic epic. Kanao and Shoko love each other, and so they get married. They get pregnant, but their infant daughter dies, and Shoko falls into depression. Kanao quits his job as a shoe salesman and gets a job as a courtroom sketch artist. Somehow his laid-back, unflappable demeanor is perfect for both documenting some horribly perverse criminals, and for working in the high-stress, fast-paced job in the news business. But all the time, he's thinking more of poor Shoko. He's the unflappable anchor for her nervous perfectionism, and over the years (several, several years), and through all types of troubles they grow to love each other more and more. At times it's funny (slapstick and dark, grisly humor) and at other times sweet, romantic drama (even melodrama). But it's also very long (140 minutes) and I was very tired, and dozed off a bit at the end. Good news, I can find it on Japanese DVD. Bad news, it's $55. I'll have to think about whether I want to spend that much...I probably do.