Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 6

You may notice I did not attend day 5. There's a good reason for that, but it's a secret.

Anyway, two more programs on Wednesday, starting with the program of Bay Area Shorts. All these shorts were made locally:

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEARDS--I like my beard, don't think it weird.... Beards of all shapes, for all reasons, with all meanings ranging from religious to lazy. Includes the world beard champion.
ANSONIA HOSTEL--Hilarious look at the Ansonia Hostel at Post St. And Jones. Friends And funny cartoons.
THRIFT TOWN: GET USED--An extended commercial for a cool chain of thrift stores started in San Lorenzo. Thrift is good, reuse and recycle is good.
SHELTER--A fascinating look at the home built by Lloyd Kahn. He was an originator of the geodesic dome movement in the 70's, but eventually abandoned it as impractical. But he's still a fan of building things with his own hands.
LONE WOLF--Josh Wolf was sent to prison for over 200 days for refusing to surrender footage from a G8 protest in San Francisco. An interesting look at the man and the question of what makes a journalist. I just wish this movie had been longer.
SCRAPER BIKE KING--The trailer for this, with the song that's a hit on YouTube, has been annoying me all through the festival. Now the story of kids in Oakland decorating their bikes and riding around finally got to annoy me at full length. Actually, it's a fine movie, I am just really tired of the trailer.
SF MESS--A really interesting look at San Francisco bike messengers. The people, their jobs, the dangers, and the efforts to unionize.

The next program was for animal lovers, starting with the short MOUSE RACE! In a town in Australia, at the local pub, mice are raced for entertainment and gambling (although they get around the law by not betting dollars but fake "Rodent" currency (essentially, Monopoly money. The exchange rate is $1R = $1AU).

And then an examination of feline obsession and stereotypes with CAT LADIES. Through interviews and home footage director Christie Callan-Jones examines what exactly it means to be a "crazy cat lady" (the movie was inspired when she had to go home to feed her cat and someone casually called her a crazy cat lady). Margo has only three cats, but loves them very intensely. Jenny is a young real estate agent and has 16 cats. She acknowledges that's a lot, and of course she'd like to have a boyfriend, but she's not a crazy cat lady--she decides--unless she has more than 30. Diane was a successful banker but has crossed the line to "rescuing" cats and now that's a full-time job. She has over 100, and is constantly exhausted. She never sleeps a full night, just a few hours at a stretch and she realizes she's working herself to death at this and would rather not be doing it but feels compelled anyway. And there's Sigi, the unrepentant cat-rescue crusader. Don't even try to count her kitties, she estimates over 3,000 have passed through her place. But she'll never say she's crazy. Everyone else is crazy. And when she makes the case that she's giving cats a home while the supposedly sane are dumping them on the snowy streets of Toronto not caring if they die, she's at least compelling and sympathetic, if not correct. The filmmakers do a good job of not being judgemental, although everyone but Sigi manages to be at least somewhat of a harsh judge of themselves. The one constant theme is a sense of isolation from normal human relationships, creating a need that is met by a community of cats. An interesting, well-made movie with characters who disturb me even more than the Whites of West Virginia (but then, I'm more of a dog-dude, so what do I know?)

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