Yes my friends I'm still here at the Cinequest Film Festival! For Day Five and I'll be reviewing five films for all of you. Nice touch, huh? So let us begin folks!
The first film I saw was the documentary DAVE, directed by filmmaker Eric Geadelmann. The doc follows a young African American student named Dave who's life is changed for the better by Adam, a star basketball player who turned down a coaching job at a prestigious college to help kids in under appreciated schools. It is here that Adam meets Dave, who is hanicaped intellictually. Shy and quite but a good kid at heart, Adam is astounded by his size ands sees potential in him. He convinces the basketball coach to let Dave try out for the team. Adam work with Dave and soon hebecomes a basketball star among his peers, gets a girlfriend, and becomes a honor student. All this hard work leads up to Dave graduating and Adam becomes inspired by his strength, determination, and his heart of gold.
This was such a moving and touching film. This is what a great documentary should be. The film is about Dave, but in actuality it's about the deep friendship between Dave and Adam, and how both of them influenced one another and how the grew from their time together. The obsticles that Dave had to go through was hard enough, but to add that he hadn't seen his father in years and would like to see him come to his graduation was just heart breaking. Though it all Dave remained the same guy: kind, loyal, and a good friend to have. Adam too grew and took some lessons from Dave and applied it to his own life as well. One of the best documentaries at this year's festival! The film will be shown again on Friday, March 9th at 3:45pm. Also check out the film's website at http://dave-movie.com/.
The second film of the day was the wrestling comedy BEAT DOWN, another film from our friends up in Canada. Directed by Deanne Foley, the film stars Marthe Bernard as Fran, a young, spunky, feisty 18-year-old who is a big time wrestling fan. After having a big fight with her father Whitey (Robb Wells from the hit Canadian TV comedy show TRAILER PARK BOYS), she runs away and joins a small, indie wrestling promotion run by a wrestler named Dark Thunder aka Jimmy (Tony Nappo). Little does Fran know that there is a deep secret involving Jimmy, her dad, and her long lost mother Roxy (Janet Kidder, niece of Margot Kidder). During all this family drama, Fran meets and falls for Jimmy's nephew Michael (Mark O'Brien) and soon there's an all out family battle royale between everybody that can only be settled within the squared circle.
The film is a fun, light-hearted comedy filled with humor, snappy dialogue, and wrestling. What more could you want? Oh and the production value looked fantastic and the acting was top notch. Wells had some of the best one-liners in the film, Kidder was foxy as Roxy, but the young Bernard hit it out of the park with her performance as wrestling rebel Fran. After the film, director Deanne Foley was in the house fielding questions from the audience. The film will be shown again on Wednesday, March 7th at 1:45pm. Visit the film's official website at http://www.beatdownmovie.com/.
The third film on my agenda was SHUFFLE, the new film by my friend and fellow De Anza alum Kurt Kuenne (DEAR ZACHARY from Cinequest 2008). His new film centers on Lovell Milo (T.J. Thyne, Erin Brokovich), a gifted photographer who whenever he falls asleep, he wakes up at different ages at different points in his life. Thus his life is out of chronological sequence (of shuffled). He soon discovers that he has been granted this "curse" (as he likes to call it) for a purpose, which may involve his beautiful wife Grace (Paula Rhodes). Now Lovell must unravel this mystery while his life is out of order.
When Kurt came to Cinequest with his documentary DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER back in 2008, it won both the audience award and the juror award. Kurt returned to the festival several times after that, screening his award-winning short films. During his Q&A session with the audience, her said that he had written the script after the event of ZACKARY and shelved the script, only to return to it a several years later. The film looks incredible; the lighting and being shot in black and white triggered up images from the classic CITIZEN KANE. Kurt's script was very, very clever and original. Also both Thyne and Rhodes had great on screen chemistry, which only made the film even better. One of Kurt's best films and thanks for bringing it to Cinequest! The film will be screened again on Tuesday, March 6th at 11:45 and again on Wednesday, March 7th at 11am. Also visit the film's official website at http://www.shufflethemovie.com/.
Film number four was the documentary THE BULLY PROJECT, directed by Lee Hirsch. This powerful and disturbing film showcases five kids from different areas of the South who are victims of bullying. Following these kids and their families for a whole school year, we see the ramifications of bullying and how some schools ignore the problem, which caused some students to commit suicide.
I really cannot find the words to express how I felt watching the film. I was shocked, angry, sad, and devastated by what I saw in the film. Children go to school to learn and to be safe and protected while their parents are at work. After seeing what actually goes on, I was totally surprised at just how bad this problem has become. The film will touch your heart, and will make you want to look more closely at the schools your kids go to. I recently became aware that the distributors The Weinstein Company is having problems with the MPAA, who originally gave the documentary an R rating. I found this to be grotesque and illogical. Yes it has some profanity, but the bottom line is that this is a film that kids should really go see, to show them that bullying is a problem that must be addressed by the kids themselves. There is a petition that you can sign to have the film receive a PG-13 rating instead. Click here to sign this petition. The film will be screened again on Tuesday, March 6th at 4:45pm. Visit the film's website at http://thebullyproject.com/.
The last film I saw for the day was I'M YOURS, directed by Leonard Farlinger and starring Robert (Rossif Sutherland, Poor Boy's Game) and Daphne (Karine Vanasse, TV's PAN AM). Yet another Canadian film (I'm starting to see a pattern here), the film has Robert celebrating his 30th birthday with his friends, but feels empty. While having a drink at the bar, he sees the Daphne, who together look for an escapism. While tripping on what looks like Ecstasy, they go to a hotel room where they have intense sex. He awakes with her driving his car across the Canadian border, which is only the beginning of his troubles. Daphne makes this proposition to Robert: he comes with her to parents house and pretend their married, and then she'll return his briefcase full of money he took form his work. However during their roadtrip, the two get to know each other and soon they begin to develop feeling for one another, but will it only last till they get to her parent's house?
The film is more drama than romantic comedy. While there are a few laughs to be found, the film is more of a character driven film, so as a result we are told to be emotionally invested with these characters. I found the film to be entertaining, although I felt that the script could've used some fine tuning, but Sutherland Vanasse are great up on the screen. A bit slow and predictable, but still an interesting film to see. The film will be screened again on Saturday, March 10th at 12pm.
Another fun day at the Cinequest Film Festival! Remember the festival will be running till March 11th so there's plenty of time for you to join in on the fun here in San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at http://www.cinequest.org/.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!