Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Phil attends Cinequest 24: Day 2-March 5, 2014

Hello again everyone and welcome to Day Two of my trip to the Cinequest 24 Film Festival! Today I had the pleasure of seeing four diverse films so let's get on with the show!

The first film I saw today was the poetic MAPA over at the Camera 12. This documentary tells the story of a young Spanish filmmaker who is making a "video diary" of his journey to India to heal from his devastating break-up with his ex-girlfriend. After being fired from his directing job as a children's television show, he begins his quest of finding life and love while searching for himself.

Before the film, the festival screened a short film entitled SHOTGUN CYANIDE, which is part of their Picture The Possibilities (PTP). The short is about three friends who all seem to be your happy-go-lucky teenagers. However one is carrying a dark secret that could cost him his life, if his friends don't get to him first.

The documentary proves once and for all that no matter what dialogue you speak, we all can speak and understand the language of love. This hits all too close to home for myself, having been on the receiving end of a break-up, the trials of self healing and self discovery are all too familiar areas that we must all travel through in order to heal. Director Leon Siminiani gives us an inside look at his heart break and his rites of passage of self healing. 3 out of 5 stars! The film will be screened again on Monday, March 10th at 6:45pm and on Tuesday, March 11th at 6:15, both at the Camera 12.

The second film I saw over at the Camera 12 was the animated film CHEATIN'. Now this was a real treat for me to see! The plot is very simple: Girl meets Boy. They both fall in love. After some miscommunication, Boy cheats on Girl. Girl finds out and plots her revenge. But all isn't as it appears to be.

The film was created by the one and only Bill Plymton, who's animation is the stuff of legends! What sets him apart from other animators is that he still draws his films ONE FRAME AT A TIME!! Because of this, his films take on this surreal look that borders on the beautiful and the nightmarish. It's a little rough around the edges, it's in-your-face, it's the look of a genius at work! This being his seventh film, it proves that Plymton is still carrying the torch for traditional animation! And I applaud him for this! This film is another example of history that filmgoers don't get to see too often! 4 out of 5 stars!! The film will be screened again on Friday, March 14th at 9:30pm at the Camera 12 and again on Saturday, March 15th at 9:15pm at the California Theatre.

For film number three for me I headed over to the California Theatre to see LIFE IS LOVE.  The documentary tells the story of a group of young Cambodian women who were sold into human trafficking (some by their own family because of the the Khmer Rouge, so they sell one child so that the other can live), which has become a major issue in select countries. The women interviewed are, without question, some of the bravest women in the entire world. To overcome such abuse and devastation, these women find salvation and hope in Somaly Mam, a survivor herself, who has helped these women transform their lives. Mam is a leader in fighting against human trafficking and for human rights, and she continues to become a beacon of hope.

This powerful documentary was produced and directed by Cinequest co-founders Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen Powell. Originally intended to be a Picture the Possibilities short, the project continued to grow and grow until it became the full length feature is has now become. Watching this film is the equivalent of getting hit in the gut by a Mac Truck! It made me an emotional wreck, just hearing these stories of these women being locked in their rooms, serving clients at the age of 10, and then to hear from the clients themselves, who suggest that they need more "romance" but in reality, these men (and I use that term very, very loosely) are nothing more than sick, rich, perverted child molesters who should be sent to jail and raped themselves! Thanks goodness that there is Somaly Mam, who is providing hope and love to these abused young women. One of the most powerful documentaries I've seen so far! Try not to cry during this film! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! The film will be shown again on Sunday, March 9th at 2pm at the Camera 12.

For the forth and final film of the day I stayed at the California Theatre to see the foreign film CLASS ENEMY. In this intense drama, a strict, emotionless teacher arrives to teach a German class midway through the year and shows no contempt towards his students. But when a female student who he has last seen with commits suicide, the students direct their anger towards their new teacher, who carries on like nothing happened, which only adds more gasoline to this already out of control fire.

This is a prime example of what I love about watching foreign films: excellent acting, compelling story, great cinematography, astounding directing, and interesting subject matter. Here we have teenagers that are three dimensional that look and sound like real teenagers, not the generic Hollywood stereotypes that we are used to seeing. The subject of teenage suicide is handled with the utmost care and respect; showcasing the dramatic effects it has on teenagers and how they handle it, but because we are in a different country, it treated in a more adult way. It thoughtful, intense, dramatic, and absolutely reviting!! I loved this film! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! The film will be screened again on Thursday, March 6th at 2pm at the Camera 12 and on Saturday, March 15th at 12pm at the California Theatre.

After all the movies were over, I made my way over to the Maverick Meet-Up, which was at The Farmer's Union, where I just hung out with friends and filmmakers. However I found myself mostly hanging out with Harry Knowles, the man behind the website Ain't It Cool News. We talked about everything; from movies, Elijah Wood, and shroom brownies. It was the best conversation I have had in a long time.

And folks, there you have Day Two of Cinequest 24! All together I've seen 5 films in 2 days. So far I'm right on track to reaching 60 films! Remember the festival ends on Sunday, March 16th so make sure you come out here to 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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