Monday, August 2, 2010

Jason goes to Jewfest North--Monday, August 2

Two movies, back in Palo Alto.

First, the short ESCAPE FROM SUBURBIA. Director Mayana Bonapart mixes interview with her dad with old home movie footage of her late uncle as a tribute to a man who decided to leave suburbia and travel the world while he still could. A nice bit of personal hero worship.

That led into the feature, TE EXTRAÑO, another fine drama in their Latino-Jewish lineup (along with ANITA and ILUSIONES OPTICAS, which I missed.) It takes place in 70's Argentina, a time when "disappearances" were common, and Jews were disproportionately targeted (whether that's anti-Semitism or just anti-Leftist and Jews were more likely to be leftists I'll leave you to debate.) Director Fabian Hofman tells a semi-autobiographical story of two brothers caught up int he politics of the time. Younger Javier idolizes his leftist activist brother Adrian. But when Adrian's actions get him into danger, the family sends him to live with relatives up in Mexico. Eventually he returns, to a drastically changed world and a broken family. I think you really need to know the history and politics of Argentina at the time, so I confess I was somewhat lost through a lot of the film, but the acting was solid.

And then I ended the night with BENA, a most unusual love triangle from Israel. The triangle is between widower Amos, his mentally ill son Yurik, and undocumented Thai immigrant Bena. Bena speaks no Hebrew, but some English, so Amos can speak to her. Yurik speaks no English, so Amos has to translate. And quickly their small apartment becomes a prison for both Bena and Yurik (parallels here between the marginalization of immigrants and the mentally ill). More excellent, nuanced performances (I know I saw only a little of the festival this year, but that seems to be a recurring theme).

Total Running Time: 189 minutes
My Total Minutes: 192,504

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