Monday, November 30, 2009

Jason watches a rough cut of CORNER STORE

Last week I got an evite out of the blue and learned about a new movie made in the city and a movie cult spot I didn't know before. First, that cult spot--Oddball Film + Video. A cool, kitchy space in the Mission (Capp St. between 17th and 18th) with tons of old film cans. They also do cult screening events Friday and Saturday nights. I haven't been back to one of those, but you can e-mail them (e-mail available on their events page) to get on their mailing list.

Anyway, the reason I was there a week ago was for a rough cut screening of the documentary CORNER STORE. It's the story of Yousef (Joseph) Elhaj, a Palestinian man who moved to San Francisco 10 years ago (with his father, who passed away and was only mentioned briefly in this cut of the film). He's a quiet, cheerful man who has operated a little corner grocery store, saving up money for his family. He even lived and slept in the back of the store (his apartment/office) the whole time (one of my favorite scenes was when he was in the back talking about how much he enjoys the rare times when he has company when he eats back there). Well, in the past year his decade-long dream became reality, and we get to follow him back to Palestine, meet his family, and eventually bring them to the U.S. (where Yousef finally has to move out of the back of the store and into a real home). His family is a pretty interesting mix. His wife is pretty quiet, he has an adorable daughter who plays tour guide, but most interesting is his eldest son who doesn't want to leave. Even living in occupation, he'd prefer to stay there and build a life in his home with his people (BTW, it's neither here nor there but the family are Palestinian Christians, not Muslims).

This is a movie that has a lot going on. There's the whole Palestinian occupation issue, there's community and the people who make neighborhoods special (a few months back I was listening to an NPR story about these so-call "significant strangers"), there's the immigrant story, and there's the touching human drama of the sacrifices Yousef makes for his family's future.

This was definitely still a rough cut, but it's very close to complete (this was supposed to be the last rough cut screening). There are bits that drag--most notably the traveling scenes (although there's one scene in the airport near the end that cuts to the heart of the film). But all in all, it's already pretty good and it's pretty close to ready for prime time.

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