I started with some Filipino food porn with ULAM: MAIN DISH. Oh, and I went in knowing practically nothing about Filipino food, so I was like a virgin watching this food porn.
It's kind of a cliche to say a culture is embodied in its food. I mean, if there were any cultures who didn't really value food, they've probably died of starvation long ago. But the people in this documentary really, really take their Filipino food to heart. It's hard to get flavors across on screen (although it is explained that due to the warm, humid climate, there's a lot of sour, vinegary, and citrus flavors) so the story is told through the enthusiasm and frustrations of people trying to make Filipino cuisine the next big thing. It explores the central difficulty of attracting people to the food--people who like Filipino food get it at home, and nobody cooks better than your own lola (grandmother.) And for those who are unfamiliar with the food--well, chances are the first thing you learned about was balut, and you learned about it from Fear Factor (for the record, I have actually eaten balut. It's not that bad, but I'm not about to repeat it.) And it talks about micro-aggression of the Filipino culture, which is already kind of the bastard step-child of both the Hispanic and Asian worlds. But they have one big thing going for them--they have great cooks who know the restaurant business. They've just been working in the kitchens of Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Thai restaurants, French restaurants, etc. Oh yeah, Filipinos work a lot in the restaurant industry, at least here in America. And it's about time they step out and make an impact with their own cuisine.
There was an after party, where I probably could've sampled some Filipino food (at least lumpia,) but I had to go right back in the theater for the next show. So tasting Filipino food will be my low-key goal for the rest of the festival.
Anyway, I was right back in the theater for the Altered States Shorts program. Hooray for weird-ass shorts!
ASWANG NEXT DOOR: The Aswang is a terrifying monster from Filipino folklore. And what if he were living next door, and looked perfectly human during the day. Except that he came over and warned you that he will probably shape-shift and kill you and eat the fetus right out of your womb. So...stay safe!
RUNNER: A woman in San Francisco is training for a run. A run for her life. A life in a post-apocalyptic world with a biohazard on its way up the coast. An intriguing and exciting mini-thriller.
SANZU NO KAWA: THE RIVER OF THREE CROSSINGS: Based on the Japanese Buddhist belief in a river crossing in the afterlife (similar to the Greek myth of the river Styx) a boy deals with the loss of his sister, and the memories of her.
SPACE BUTTHOLE: It seems every film festival is in love with David Chai's latest. I thought the string of poop jokes was pretty childish to begin with. But now I'm really getting tired of this shit.
THE TROUBLED TROUBADOUR: From South Korea, a wandering minstrel is proud to have peed in every ocean in the world. But his servant almost leaves without him, pushing the gondola on rails. Then they meet some little kid demons, who take him on a journey. Pretty freakin' weird!
A VACATION IN HOLLYWOOD: Some AirBnB rentals are nice. Some have strange things going on in them. With nifty nods to GHOSTBUSTERS and THE RING, among other horror film classics I'm sure.
YOUR HAND IN MINE: Relationships can be scary. Especially when your ex-boyfriend is not at the institute where he's supposed to be, but shows up in your home. You gotta shut that down fast.
Total Running Time: 162 minutes
My Total Minutes: 478,470