2 films last Friday night, as the regular festival schedule ramps up.
First up was the U.S. premiere of Taiwan's highest-grossing documentary ever, GO GRANDRIDERS. A group of 17 septuagenarians and octogenarians (average age 81 years) embark on a motorcycle rally around the island of Taiwan. They all need to take a test of skill and balance before they are allowed on the journey. If they get tired or injured there's a bus to ride on and a team that will take care of them and their bikes. But for the most part, they all want to stay on their bikes. Not that problems don't come up--their captain hid the fact that he was suffering from an ulcer and the bumpy ride sets his stomach to bleeding again. And there are the occasional scrapes and spills. But for the most part it's a story of fun and celebration of life. Watching these old guys go to an arcade and slide into the ball pit or play video games like children is a treat (one exclaims, "I never knew kids' games were so much fun!") Or watching one guy hide from a group portrait so he can eat ice cream, that was pretty funny, too. And there are poignant moments, of course. There's the man who stops at his wife's grave, and knows she still wants to ride along with him even though she's dead. Or the old soldiers--one of whom actually was in the Japanese army--finding friendships decades after they were trying to kill each other, and letting bygones be bygones. Overall, it's a portrait of people who have led long, full lives, with some pain and some sorrow, but still want to get everything they can out of life. Riding long distances on a motorcycle in your eighties might seem silly, but the end result is an illumination of what's really important in life, by way of subtracting all the unimportant things.
And then I caught the shorts program One on One--shorts that showcase the relationships between pairs of people, be they friends, relatives, lovers, etc.
DISTANCE: Locally shot, a young couple in the San Francisco explore issues of closeness and distance--both physical and emotional, as he prepares to fly to Hong Kong.
FOR HIRE: A taxi driver in Mumbai, one of his regular passengers is a sex worker. His job is as much ignoring what he sees as it is driving her and her clients around. But one night, as the abuse gets too much, he can't ignore it anymore.
GREAT BIG LIGHTS OUT: A fun and clever mix of live action and animation from Korea. It asks the question, what would happen if everyone you knew died in their sleep at the same time? And everyone they knew? And so on until everyone suddenly blinks out in the Great Big Lights Out? (Answer: the pets would be very sad.)
BUBBLE: Scotch. They make such a big deal about drinking scotch right, and then they put too much water in it anyway. Oh well, it's only Glenlivet, anyway. I think other things happened in this movie, but I was too fixated on the Scotch.
BROKEN MAIDEN: An old man begs his son for money to cover his gambling debts. But his son is just trying to keep the shoe repair/key copying stand he runs afloat, as he's still paying off his father's previous debts.
BENCHMARK: Basketball, Harvard, and the appropriate look for an Asian-American student come together in this short that would make a perfect companion piece to opening night's LINSANITY.
UNMENTIONABLES: Laundromat time machine! Save the girl in the past, and see how that saves the future. Awesome!
SIX FROM CERTAIN: A series of very brief soundbites from friends, we learn the story of Sean, the seemingly perfect girl he went out with, and why things didn't work out.
GOT A JOB!: A couple of old women, a fortune cookie factory, super-short, and super-funny!
TWO FOR DEPARTURE: Stop copying me! I'm trying to commit suicide!
Total Running Time: 165 minutes
My Total Minutes: 321,389