The big second weekend started with lots of shorts, starting with Shorts 3: The Best of Us. Stories of great people doing great things.
BEYOND THE PLATE: ERIC WOLFINGER: The life and art of Eric Wolfinger, a globe-trotting food photographer, learning about different cultures by sharing in their food. Darn good way to do it.
JESSZILLA: Jesselyn “Jesszilla” Silva is a kick-ass little girl. 10 years old, and in love with boxing. She trains hard and already has plans to go pro. Her father...well, he's not exactly thrilled, but he's totally supportive.
SEVEN DATES WITH DEATH: Moreese Bickham was on death row for a long, long time. Longer than anyone, in fact. And then a lawyer took his case, proved there were mitigating circumstances in his case, and as an inmate with good behavior for over 37 years, he was eventually released as a free man.
THE TREE PROPHET: The story of David Milarch, founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. Attacking the problem of the loss of ancient trees with a combination of scientific techniques and religious zeal. Awesome.
THAT'S MY BOY: A profile of Sonu, a friendly man with lots of friends. And he's an excellent cricket player. So good he used to be on the national team. On the woman's national team. Now he's a voice for transgender acceptance.
Then the next program was Shorts 5: The Hustle. Dark comedy shorts, just my style.
MERYL FUCKIN' STREEP: A cautionary tale about how selling out to Hollywood can turn you plastic. Starring Barbie dolls.
JEFFREY: An exotic dancer who's in it for the art. He's not a sell-out looking to create something sleazy for the Vegas-style shows. He wants to bring safe, sexy dance moves to the public square.
LAURELS: Film festivals should be fun. But sometimes they can be very stressful for the filmmakers. Especially if you have to share hotel rooms. And especially if you don't get along with your roommate. It can get downright scary.
FUNEMPLOYMENT: Not much fun at all. Isaac sucks. He sucks at babysitting. He sucks at comedy. He's a shitty roommate. Shitty enough that when his roommate humiliates him after he brings his tinder date home, you don't sympathize with him, you sympathize with the roommate.
VALENTINA: Hot days are the worst. Especially when you're working. And especially when it gets so hot that your vagina starts complaining. Loudly.
PASTRIES: An Italian short about a self-absorbed actor who drags his girlfriend into a good-luck ritual of giving pastries to a homeless man. But things go tragically wrong when the homeless guy doesn't want his fucking pastries.
THE POET AND THE PROFESSOR: Ariel and her two men, in two dysfunctional affairs. The poet is an abusive filmmaker living in his girlfriend's luxury apartment but screwing (and abusing) Ariel on the side. And her professor is a depressed, pill-popping, married man. You just hope the whole time that maybe, just maybe, she'll get a gram of self-esteem and leave them both. And there is a moment where it looks like it might happen.
Next up was a feature film, FOR NOW. A California road trip movie, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Hannah and Connor are brother and sister. Their beloved parents recently died, and they're both dealing with it. Connor is a professional dancer in Europe, but Hannah got him an audition with the San Francisco Ballet, which could be a great opportunity for him. Or it could be more about how Hannah wants him nearby instead of half a world away. Joining them on the road trip is Hannah's boyfriend Kane, who is planning to propose if he ever gets just the right moment. And also Hannah's best friend Katherine, who you just know is going to hook up with Connor even though it's a pretty terrible idea. The plot meanders, allowing the movie to be more about characters...who are also kind of meandering. For their flaws, they're all sympathetic people, and the acting is great. I have to be in the right mood for these kinds of films to work for me. And I mostly was that day, so it was fun.
And the final show of the night started with the short SPRING AFFAIR. Two women on a hunting trip. Hunting a fairly unusual prey.
And then the feature MUSCLECAR, another one in the small Australian series in this year's festival. The premise--a car that runs on blood and the owner who kills to keep it running--reminded me heavily of one of my favorite movies, BLOOD CAR. Perhaps I was wrong to have that movie in my mind going in, because for all it's Ozsploitation sex and violence, I was disappointed because BLOOD CAR is so much better. Anyway, Bambi buys a car she can't afford. In fact, she can't even afford to put gas in it. But with a little voodoo help, she runs it on a particularly alcohol-rich blend of frat-boy blood. And gives it a heart. And...gets a little too intimate with it. That sounds better than it really is. Maybe it needs tarantulas, deadly tarantulas in vending machines.
Total Running Time: 334 minutes
My Total Minutes: 469,499