Thursday, February 28, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Two -February 27, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Two of my trip to the Cinequest Film Festival! Today I had the pleasure of seeing five films today! So let's get on with the show!

The first film I saw was CHITTAGONG. Directed by Bedabrata Pain, the story takes place in British occupied India during the 1930's. It focuses on a young boy named Jhunku, a fourteen-year-old who is betrayed by the man who was aiding him by sending him to Oxford. Because of this act, he joins the underground revolutionary led by Masterda. Jhunku joins his army of schoolboys as they train to take down the British army and liberate India.

Based on a true story, during the end credits, we learn all about the real Jhunku. In fact, there is a video of Jhunku as an old man, telling the video crew just how important that past of his life was. Also during the end credits we learn more about the other people in Masterda's army, and what happened to them. This was really a gripping film, spotlighting a very important point of India history that I wasn't very knowledgeable on. Truly an inspiring film, reminding all of us that we have the power to create change! The film will be screened again on Thursday, February 7th at 9:30pm and on Saturday, March 2nd at 3:45pm. Also check out the film's official website at

The second film I saw was the Norwegian comedy THE ALMOST MAN (MER ELLER MINDRE MANN). Written and directed by Martin Lund, the film's about a man named Henrik, who is a 12 year-old trapped in a 35 year-old man's body. He's basically torn between two worlds: the grown world where he has a job that he dislikes, a beautiful girlfriend Tone, who is also carrying their unborn child. The other world is being an irresponsible person who'd rather hang out with his friends, be gross, and drink all night. But when his relationship with Tone starts to come undone, he must chose what type of person he wants to be.

The movie was preceded by a short film entitled WHERE WE WERE SAFE. The short talked about the shootings that take place in East Palo Alto, how the kids are becoming use to it, and how we can rectify this  situation by giving the kids someplace safe to play and hang out, like a skate park.

This is a very off-beat comedy, but then again, what would expect for a Norwegian film. Lund does a great job combining the comedy with the pathos and sympathy for both Henrik and Tone. The film shows us that the pathway towards maturity is a very bumpy road to travel on! Really an unique comedy that you should check out! The film will be screened again on Thursday, February 7th at 9:30pm and on Saturday, March 2nd at 9:15pm.

Film number three for the day was the very intense PANIHIDA. Directed by Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu, the film focuses on a small village where an elderly woman has died. She is mourned and then taken to a remote cemetery, carried by her family and the other villagers. However the the journey to the cemetery is long and hard, which makes it even more difficult.

The film was preceded by a short entitled ANOTHER CHRISTMAS. It's about a little boy who lives with his grandmother, who watches him while his parents work out of the country. When the whole family is reunited on Christmas Day, the young boy doesn't really know who his parents are. It's quite a sad, little short.

PANIHIDA was a very interesting film to watch. While it looks and shot like a documentary, it's actually a narrative film. It's beautifully photographed; capturing the tranquility of the Moldovan village and the surrounding landscapes. It does contain a touch of humor, but it is also a very heavy film to watch; dealing with death, loss, and a funeral ritual that takes its toll on all those involved. Defiantly worth your time! The film will be screened again on Thursday, February 7th at 7:30pm and on Saturday, March 9th at 1:45pm. Also check out the film's official Facebook page at

After seeing that film, I had to see something more light-hearted, upbeat, and full of life. So the fourth film I saw was called THE SAPPHIRES. Directed by Wayne Blair and set mostly in Australia, the movie is about four Aboriginal girls who get a chance at the end of the Sixties to go entertain the troops as a singing group in Vietnam. Managing them is down and out musician Dave (played by Chris O'Dowd from BRIDSMAIDS). Things go great for the girls, however once they arrive in Vietnam, they all experience love and witness the horrors of war.

Adapted from the stage play written by writer/actor Tony Briggs, the film is inspired by the true story about four extraordinary Aboriginal women; sisters Laurel Robinson, Lois Peeler and their cousins Beverley Briggs and Naomi Mayers. Blair actually starred in the stage production, which made him the obvious choice for directing the film version. All four actresses are fantastic in the film, bring so much humor and attitude. Words cannot express just how mush I enjoyed this film! With it colorful and funny characters, a solid script, great directing and acting, the film was a very welcomed surprise! Now unfortunately, today was the only day that the movie was screened. However, the film has been picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company. So look for this film coming to a theater near you on March 22nd! To learn more about the film, visit both official websites at and

The fifth and final movie I saw today was the amazing documentary FAR OUT ISN'T FAR ENOUGH: THE TOMI UNGERER STORY. The film chronicles the astonishing life of the renegade artist: from his to traumatizing youth to surviving the Nazis to becoming a world famous children's book author and maverick illustrator. Told using old 8mm film footage, personal and family pictures, newspaper articles, and his own words, the life of Tomi Ungerer is a story that really is unbelievable!

It's hard to believe that as a young child, I use to read the books by Tomi Ungerer and to hear him tell the astonishing story of his life in his own words truly is inspiring! This man had a very hard life, especially when he was a small boy growing up. I really enjoyed this documentary for this one simple reason: be true to yourself and following your dream, because dreams really do come true! A very powerful, humorous, and inspirational documentary!! The film will be sown again on Sunday, March 4th at 11:15am and again on Thursday, March 8th at 11am. Also make sure to visit the film's official website at

What a fun-filled second day at Cinequest! So far I've seen six films already! Remember the festival will be running till March 10th 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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