Thursday, May 31, 2018

Jason goes to CAAMFest--The End

Well, actually the festival continued for a few more days in Piedmont, but Sunday was my last day there.

First up was DEAD PIGS, a weird, interwoven story of different people living on the fringes of Shanghai, and how thousands of dead pigs ended up floating down the river. I mean, the short version is the pigs died of a mysterious illness, the farmers didn't know what to do, so they dumped them in the river instead of calling authorities. But beyond that is a farmer's sister and proud beauty salon owner who refuses to move from her family home. An American ex-pat architect who finds lucrative part-time work as a unique kind of model. A young man who tries to get money to help his father by getting hit by cars. And a spoiled rich girl who is looking for something a little more adventurous. It's a beautifully shot, intriguing film, and the different story threads all come to a climax in a surreal musical number. Cool!

And speaking of music, the next show was Anatomy of a Music Video with Ruby Ibarra. Ruby makes her directorial debut with NOTHING ON US: PINAYS RISING BEHIND THE SCENES. It's the making-of documentary of her music video, US. Easily the best part is the reaction to her open call for Pinays to participate in the video, and over 200 show up, fill a local high school auditorium, and absolutely rule the documentary and the video. Oh, and since it was local, they also ruled the audience. Maybe I was a little out of place as the white dude watching and appreciating it all, but it was still pretty cool from the outside looking in.

Let's stick with the musical theme, with another documentary, HAVANA DIVAS. When you think of Havana, Cuba, you think mostly of Chinese Opera, right? Okay, maybe that's not the first thing, but they did have a thriving Chinatown with a popular Cantonese Opera company, that both attracted stars from around the world and traveled the world. Caridad and Georgina are now octogenarians, but they were the star divas of the company at one point, and will still perform if given the chance. Especially if the documentary producers finance a trip to China for them. They are such lovable, exciting people that they easily carry the film and it's just as fun to hear them reminisce as it is to see their next adventure.

And finally, I ended the night with UNLOVABLE, a biting dramedy about sex addiction. Joy is a sex addict, and hits rock bottom shortly after her boyfriend dumps her (because, of all things, pierogies are a trigger for her, and he catches her with leftover pierogies in the fridge.) So...she goes out and has a drunken orgy that she can't actually remember that culminates the next morning with the realization that everyone else thought she was paid to be there. So she enters a 12-step program. She meets Maddie, a recovering addict who sponsors her and puts her up in her home on the condition that she stick to a severe 30 day cold-turkey abstinence program. Not even masturbation (turns out she has to restart the clock a few times.) When Joy meets Maddie's eccentric musician brother, something serious starts to develop. A friendship that's based not just on fucking--a radical concept. In fact, in keeping with the emergent theme of the day, it's based on music, as Joy picks up playing the drums for the first time since she was a kid. A funny, dark but hopeful story that's anchored by a great performance by Charlene De Guzman, who also co-wrote the script.

And that was how CAAMFest 2018 ended for me.

Total Running Time: 329 minutes
My Total Minutes: 479,829

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