Anyway, I was soon on my way to the Camera 12 for 7 LIVES OF CHANCE. Full disclosure--back on opening night, I had a few drinks with the filmmakers, so I was really hoping I would like their film. And, fortunately, I did, and I still have the balloon to prove it! (Let this be a lesson to more filmmakers--drink with me!) A beautiful surreal comedy about balloons, death, fluffy towels, and waffles. Chance has faced a lot of death in her life. Her dad died in his pajamas. Her high school sweetheart died of a peanut allergy from sweets she made for him. And she grew up to be an actuary in an insurance company, so she monetizes death (and disease) on a daily basis. Still, more deaths surround her--strangers get hit by cars, a colleague eats himself to death, a cleaning lady bumps her head on a table, etc. And all these dead people take up residence in her house. They're not ghosts, they're not zombies, they're just...there. Along with hundreds of balloons. A funny movie but with a...I can't say it's "serious" but it has a sensitive side that treats death...right, somehow. A reminder that death gets us all eventually, and so remember that life is full of balloons, fluffy towels, and waffles. And--I guess--love. But more importantly, balloons, fluffy towels, and waffles. Because death only hurts because it happens to those we love.
7 LIVES OF CHANCE plays again Sat, 3/2 2:00 PM and Tue, 3/5 1:45 PM
And then, after a brief break, I caught my first shorts program (Cinequest always has great shorts!) Short Program 1: The Battles We Fought. Stories of conflict, some literal wars and some are more personal battles.
BUZKASHI BOYS: An Oscar-nominated short from Afghanistan. As an American, I only hear about the Afghan national sport of Buzkashi (goat-carcass polo) as an example of the brutality and backwardness of the Afghan people. But this movie showcases the beauty of the game through the eyes of two young boys. One is a street kid who dreams of being a Buzkashi rider, the other is the son of a blacksmith who--it is assumed--will grow up to be a blacksmith, too. But the street kid's courage and hope influences the blacksmith's son in surprising and complicated ways.
THE EXAMPLE: The comedic entry in this program, a subway platform and a forgotten briefcase force a man and a woman to confront their internal battle between self-preservation and being known as rational, liberal people who aren't paranoid and don't suspect an unattended piece of luggage is a bomb just because it was left by a non-white person. Is it really worse to be seen as racist than to be blown up? Yes, it clearly is.
KOLONA: A brutally traumatic film about Kosovo in 1999 and a father being forced to make a tragic decision. This one still leaves me a little emotionally scarred.
MATRIARCHE: Youth, recklessness, robbery, violence...and then having to face your mother.
NO ONE PUKES IN HEAVEN: Speaking of motherhood, in the world premiere of this beautiful film a mother and daughter play a game where they fulfill each others' wishes as much as possible before the mother dies of cancer. Really heartbreaking and beautiful.
WHY ARE YOU HERE: German soldiers in the wilderness at the end of WWII deal with a mysterious sniper. Tense and thrilling.
And that was it. For those who study the printed program guide, you might notice that an additional movie, HALF SHAVED, is listed. It isn't actually playing in the festival, and isn't listed on the program guide. Everything I know about why it's not playing can be found here. Hopefully it will come to the Bay Area soon enough. If you don't care about spoilers, the full (AIFF award-winning) screenplay can be found here.
Short Program 1 plays again Sat, 3/2 11:00 AM and Fri, 3/8 1:45 PM
And then I checked in to the Maverick Meetup at Il Fornaio, had a few drinks, caught up with friends, heard what was good, what was great (everything!), and what wasn't worth seeing (nothing, apparently!) before finally heading home for a few hours of sleep.
Total Running Time: 214 minutes
My Total Minutes: 317,884