Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Seven of my trip to the Cinequest Film Festival. Today I saw yet again five films! Yup just another typical day at the office for me.
The first film I saw was the documentary MONEY AND MEDICINE. Directed by two-time Oscar nominee Roger Weisberg, the film spotlights on out of control health care spending. The film focuses on two of the country's top medical facilities: UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Intermountain Medical Center in Utah. The film compares the different practices by both hospitals as the film interviews with doctors, CEOs and analysts. The film questions some of the choices that doctors make regarding testing, opting to perform operations that are unnecessary, and so forth. Over at Intermountain Medical Center, the doctors care more about their patients and would rather treat them by reducing unnecessary procedures and testings, thus causing the hospital to lose money because the of the backwards system that pays doctors and hospitals per procedure (not per outcome). Over at UCLA Medical Center, they will treat the patient anyway they can, by conducting unnecessary procedures and testings. Yup, our health care system is so out of control.
The film was preceded by the short film entitled AFTER THE SHOCK. Though very brief, it really made a powerful impact on me as it's about the filmmaker herself coming out to her family and the aftermath of her announcement.
While MONEY AND MEDICINE is very informative, it didn't feel like documentary film. It looked and felt like it would be shown on MSNBC or on a PBS station. It is thought provoking and well researched, but the film doesn't have a soul. I did like, but it doesn't fit here at the festival. The film will be shown again on Thursday, March 8th at 6:45pm and again on Saturday, March 10th at 2pm.
My second film of the day was HOW TO CHEAT. The film was directed by Amber Sealey and stars Kent Osborne (MONSTERS VS. ALIENS) as Mark, who is married to his wife Beth (Amber Sealey, THE GOOD NIGHT). They are trying to have a child, but with no such luck. Plus add to the equation their busy and hectic schedules. Trying to escape the pressures of marriage, Kent seeks out to have an affair that will excite him and make him feel alive once again. He finds this in the form of Louise (Amanda Street), but things become really complicated for Kent when Beth finds out about the affair as well as Louise's big surprise.
The film was all improvised, and that gave it that extra spark. It was raw, it was real, it was emotional, and it was funny. During the Q&A, director/actress Sealey said that there was no script, but an outline for each scene. So before they would shot, she would go over with the actors what the scene was about. An awesome film to see here at Cinequest. The film will be shown again on Wednesday, March 7th at 9:45pm. Also check out the film's official website at www.howtocheatfilm.com.
Movie number three for the day was PAST SUMMER. Part of Cinequest's Picture the Possibilities program, they along with RFDZ, China's leading high school, brought to the festival a film that was made by sixteen year old students. The film focuses on two sisters Past and Summer who were seperated years ago. Summer is the adopted daughter of a wealthy family who is often referred to as the Princess. Past, however, is a poor but sweet girl next door, who also works as Summer's maid. But soon their two worlds collide as mysterious secret hidden from them comes to light.
Though it was rough and very amateurish, the film is remarkable for the simple fact that it was made by fifteen year old high school kids that was given the opportunity to make a film and to express themselves through this medium. I can't wait to see what these kids will make next. This was the last showing of the film but I encourage you to learn more about the Picture the Possibilities program by visiting the website at www.cinequestptp.org.
The fourth film I saw was the comedy PERCIVAL'S BIG NIGHT, and it was funny as hell! Percival (Tommy Nelms) has a B.A. but works as a bartender. His best friend and roommate Sal (Jarret Kerr) sells weed and like to smoke it as well while watching bad B-movies. The night gets better for Percival because the girl of his dreams Chloe (Sarah Wharton) is coming over to do some business with Sal. Joining Chloe is her best friend Riku (Angelica Reeve) who Sal has a crush on as well. Tonight the boys' New York apartment becomes the setting for a night that all four will never forget.
Based on the off Broadway play, the film is set in real time (scenes were shot in increments of 15 minutes because that was how much information their camera was able to hold and then edited together to make the film look seamless) and is beautifully captured on HD that was, believe it or not, put through a process filter that made it look like a Super 16mm film. The actors were all phenomenal and to have the entire film take place in one location (Sal's room) was incredible. Also worth noting was that the apartment that the film was shot at Kerr and Reeve's apartment! Another hilarious and touching comedy that really deserves to be recognized! The film will be shown again on Friday, March 9th at 1:45pm. Also visit the film's official website at www.percivalsbignight.com.
The fifth and final film of the day was the documentary JASON BECKER:NOT DEAD YET, directed by newcomer Jesse Vile. The film's about a young and gifted guitarist named Jason Becker, Drawing inspiration from greats such as Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, and Bob Dylan, Jason became one of the most respected and sought out guitarist during the late 80s and early 90s. However, only five years into his career, while recording for David Lee Roth's new solo album, Jason was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease at the age of 20. Thought to have died, Jason is still alive and continues to make music despite being confined to a wheelchair and breathing apparatus.
Again another powerful documentary that shows the will of the human spirit. Here is a man that was so damn talented and was virtually on the cusp of stardom when the ALS took it all away. But despite this tragic outcome, Jason continues to remain optimistic as well as making music.Vile was present tonight and participated in a stellar Q&A session. He also mentioned that Jason himself will be here at the festival for the other screenings of the film so make sure you attend them! The film will be screened again on Friday, March 9th at 2:45pm and again on Sunday, March 11 at 2pm. Also please visit the film's official website at http://jasonbeckerfest.com. Also to learn more about ALS and to make a donation to help find a cure, please visit the website www.alsa.org.
What a incredible day of movie watching! 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!