Saturday, March 3, 2012

Phil attends CINEQUEST 22: Day Three-March 1, 2012

Howdy folks and welcome to Day Three of my trip to the Cinequest Film Festival 22! Tonight I once again saw three films: two documentaries and a film adaptation of a classic. So let's get this show on the road!

ABENDLAND: Directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, this experimental documentary focuses on Europe at night. There is no real narrative to the film, unlike most documentaries that do tell a story. Instead Geyrhalter showcases us with several scenes of people working the nightshift. Using a static camera mostly throughout the film, we see people building and painting jet planes, late night television reporters doing their job, politicians duking it out at a late night roundtable discussion, protesters sitting on a railroad in hopes of preventing a train carrying what appears to be toxic waste from being transported, an internet sexcam show being held in a makeshift set housed in a warehouse I believe, hospital workers, and a very packed rave party. Also there was no musical score or soundtrack during the film until the very end with the rave techno music bellowing from the screen.

Now what I found interesting about this film was that no one acknowledged the camera except at the very end when Geyrhalter was shooting the biggest rave party I have ever seen. The kids were all looking at the camera; smiling, dancing, and being their carefree selves. Now when I reflected back, I came to the conclusion that the other people participating in the film knew that they were on camera, therefore, were they acting differently BECAUSE their was a camera there? During the demonstration scene, when the police showed up to arrest the protester, the were very polite and calmly told them that they were going to arrest them. Were the police polite because of the presence of the camera? The woman from the webcam sex show acted different when the documentary camera was on her, even though she just had sex on an webcam. A very interesting documentary to see at the festival. The film will be playing again on Saturday, March 3rd at 11:45am and on Wednesday, March 7th at 5pm. Also you can visit the film's official website at

NO LOOK PASS: Directed by Melissa Johnson, this fascinating documentary focuses on the life of Emily Tay, who is the star of Harvard's women's basketball team. She dreams of playing basketball professionally even though her mother (both her parents came to America from Berma) wishes to see her daughter get married and stay at home and take care of her family. But what they don't know is that their daughter is a lesbian. After graduation, Emily achieves her dream and travels to Germany to play pro basketball in the second division. It's also in Germany where she meets a U.S. service woman who is living under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. With her love of basketball, her parents and her sexuality starting to get hectic, Emily tries to get her life in order while trying to come out to her parents and being true to herself.

The documentary was preceded by a 15 minute short film called THE JOSEPH SZABO PROJECT. It was directed by David Khachatorian and told the story of an art teacher named Joseph Szabo who connected with his teenage students and documented their lives with some amazing black and white photographs that really captured the 1970's beautifully.

I really enjoyed this documentary for a number of reasons. First  it was refreshing to see how being a lesbian and also being a minority can be hard for some. It's one thing to be a minority, but being gay is a whole other set of worries. We even get to see the effects that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" had on her relationship with her girlfriend. Here we see Emily struggle with coming out to her very strict and traditional parents, in fear that they would disown her and bring shame to the family name. The film focuses on several issues that we can all relate to: love, family, commitment, being true to yourself, and following your dream. Emily is proof that dreams really do come true, so for that I salute you!  The film will be sown again on Sunday, March 4th at 11:15am and again on Thursday, March 8th at 11am. Visit the film's official website at

FAUST: Directed by Alexander Sokurov, this was a really a beautiful and amazing film to watch. It was also very, very, very long film to watch as well (its running time is 134 minutes). Basically if you have never read or heard of Faust, then you really should come out of your cave every now and then. This fabled tale has been told for centuries (the silent version of the film directed by F.W. Murnau will be shown on Friday, March 9th at 7pm. Click here to purchase ticket.), but in the hands of Sokurov, it has never looked this breathtaking. The film is gorgeous, from the set designs and costume to make up and stunning locations. Perfectly directed, the film is the conclusion of his tetralogy (the first three films were TAURUS ON LENIN, MOLOCH ON HITLER and THE SUN ON HIROHITO), but it moves rather quickly so it's sometimes hard to follow, especially if you're trying to read the subtitles and you're missing what's up on the screen. But overall, a crowing achievement for Sokurov. The film will be shown again on Sunday, March 4th at 1:30pm and again on Thursday, March 8th at 4pm.

Another night of great films! 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

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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