The first show was the documentary shorts program, which top to bottom might just be my favorite shorts program I've seen.
6TH GRADERS SCHOOL ROY MOORE'S ATTORNEY: Returning Cinequester Sam Frazier (CARDBOARD TITANICS: SMART PEOPLE BEING STUPID, THE GHOST PEPPER EATING CONTEST OF JEFFERSON COUNTY) presents a reversal of his standard formula. Instead of smart people being stupid, smart kids are smart and make fun of a stupid adult. Shot over last Thanksgiving, his two young nephews proofread an infamous letter from Roy Moore's attorney. And it's pretty darn funny.
DESCRIBE WHAT YOU HEARD: Milking humor from the worst situations, a sound effects expert gives advice on how to make gunshot noises with your mouth, so the next time you find yourself on the news describing gunshots, you'll do better than just "pop! pop! pop!"
THE DUEL: A remembrance of a father's mental breakdown, that almost ended with him forcing his son into a knife fight. Powerful and frightening.
FREE FALL: On the lighter side, no matter how rich or poor you are, every kid loves a bouncy castle!
THE HAPPINESS MACHINE: Some guys just have life figured out. Like Carl, a septuagenarian from rural Iowa, who gave up his lucrative career as an academic librarian when he realized that rich or poor, what he wanted to do was live on the land his father promised him (his literal Promised Land) and work the land, improving it in sustainable ways, with a wonderful sense of the importance of place for future generations. He lives in a way he calls (if I got this right) IDIYLOCAL - Independent, Do It Yourself, Low Cost, Agrarian Lifestyle. And he's an inspiration.
THE LECTORA: A look at a profession that is going away, replaced by automation. In cigar factories, for over a century, la lectora was someone who read stories and newspapers to the workers rolling the cigars. Most of them have been replaced by radios or television. But sometimes the personal touch is better.
MISTER SUNSHINE: An old black man, who used to be a millionaire, decided to chuck it all and become a shoeshine man. Because that's where he could get some real human connection. It's not about the shine on the shoes as much as the shine on your face.
NOBODY DIES IN LONGYEARBYEN: Or at least, in this northernmost city in the world, nobody can be buried, because the permafrost will just push the body back out. And that can be a problem, when bodies full off once-eradicated disease start coming back and thawing out.
PHOTOTAXIS: An animated examination of West Virginia's mythical Mothman, set to the text of narcotics anonymous literature. There's a demon in West Virginia still. It's haunting much of the nation, in fact, and it's called opiod addiction.
TWILIGHT DANCERS: Colonizers foisted square dancing on the first nations' people. But they incorporated some of their own moves and made it their own.
UNSPOKEN: A profile of Farah Chamma, a young Palestinian poet, and the ways she expresses (and sometimes censors) herself.
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND PLAYED AT MY HIGH SCHOOL: The discovery of underground art, told through animation and the narration of one of the few students who dug what the Velvet Underground was doing when it played just 3 songs as one of the opening acts for some rock band I've never heard of.
The documentary shorts program plays again on Sunday in Redwood City.
Then after a couple of drinks at the Maverick Meetup at M Asian Fusion, I wandered down to the California Theater for THE LINE, Slovakia's submission for the 2017 Academy Awards (it did not get nominated.) It takes place on the Slovak-Ukrainian border, where Adam is a no-nonsense father and a no-nonsense businessman. His business...is smuggling cigarettes over the border. And with the EU instituting the Shengen Zone, that previously lax, eminently bribe-able border is going to become one of the most secure and patrolled borders in Europe. So that complicates his business. So does his beautiful daughter marrying the doofus nephew of Adam's second-in-command, Jona. Oh, and Jona's son is in prison for political reasons. And some of Adam's people are sneaking drugs into the cigarette shipments, which is something Adam wants no part of. Well, this film is dripping with genre style, and there are so many side plots that it was hard to keep track of it all (definitely worth a second look when I'm more rested, if I ever get that chance.) And there's tons of dark humor, so of course I loved it.
THE LINE plays again Saturday night in Redwood City.
Total Running Time: 222 minutes
My Total Minutes: 473,261