Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Doha Tribeca Film Festival -- part two

Okay, back to the movies I saw last week at the film festival...

Africa United

Attendance: about 90%

A movie about some kids in Rwanda chasing a dream. One of the kids is apparently an excellent football player and gets spotted by a scout who is holding tryouts in the capital for kids to be part of a team that will perform at the opening ceremony for the World Cup in South Africa. The kid, his "manager" (a street savvy kid who makes soccer balls out of condoms and plastic bags), and the manager's sister take a bus to the tryouts, get on the wrong bus, and wind up in the Congo. Realizing he missed the tryout they all decide to journey to South Africa to catch up with the team. Various hijinks along the way and they also pick up a couple of other people while they travel through various countries in southern Africa.

Overall I liked it and thought it was a pretty entertaining film. The film touched on some pretty deep subjects (HIV, child soldiers, war atrocities, prostitution, poverty) but on many of the subjects it was only touched on in a roundabout way so adults watching the film would understand what they were referring to but a child watching the film probably would not (the film is rated G). Despite the touchy subjects the film is a lot more upbeat than you think.

Rating: 4/5. Worth taking the family to but be warned that there is a bit of PG language

Itto Titrit

Attendance: maybe 20%, but the show did start at 22:30. I felt bad because the director and the producer were there as well.

A film from Morocco and one of the first films to be made in a native Moroccan language – Tamazight. According to the director in the past, for whatever reason, you were not allowed to make films and TV shows in that language. He was very pleased to be able to make this film where the characters all speak Tamazight.

The film takes place in 1950s Morocco in a village up in the mountains. The villagers still live traditionally and deal with a number of dramas: forced marriage, protests against French occupation, education for girls, and dealing with the modern world as it encroaches on their village.

Unfortunately when you shoot a film in a language that is not widely spoken you do not have a wide berth of acting talent to choose from. The acting in this film was generally pretty bad. Also strange was that this film dealt with so many issues, all of which could have made a movie on their own, yet were usually resolved quickly and in many cases offscreen. For example one young woman falls in love with a French soldier, the family plans to make her marry some old guy so she runs off with the soldier. But we never see her leave, run away with the soldier, say goodbye to her family, nothing. We find out she fled when 2 people gossip in the village "can you believe she ran off with that French soldier?” We never see her again. This entire romance and drama took all of about 90 seconds of film split over three scenes. You see the soldier once. One could have made an entire movie on this.

Rating: 2/5. It got a bonus point because at least it showed life in rural Morocco in the 1950s, which I thought was kind of interesting. The acting, lack of on-screen drama, weak script, and what I consider a nonsensical ending kind of killed this movie for me.

My Perestroika

attendance: around 70%, the director and one of the editors was also there

A documentary that follows five people who were all in their teens when the USSR shifted away from communism to capitalism in the early 90s. All five were classmates in the same school and the film shows how they have led such different lives and coped with the changes. One is a successful businessman, a married couple are history teachers, one is a single mother (her fiancé got killed by the Mafia) who repairs billiard tables, and one is a musician who became a punk rock star in the early 90s. They discuss how things have changed, they discuss where they were and what they did during big events in Soviet history, and how by about grade 8 or 9 they could see that the propaganda did not reflect reality.

Rating: 4/5. It was insightful, all of the people followed were pretty intelligent and open in their discussions about their views during those times. The documentary also included a lot of home movie film footage of the people and the events.

Meek's Cutoff

Attendance: I think around 50%, not bad for a late night screening

A Hollywood film set in 1840 following three covered wagons with settlers in it crossing Utah heading towards Oregon, led by a hired guide named Steven Meeks. They get lost, start running low on water, and capture an Indian in the hopes that he can lead them to water. That is pretty much the entire two-hour film summarized right there. This film is slow and contemplative and has a lot of scenes of people crossing prairie and salt plains.

Rating: 1/5. I was waiting for something to happen -- and very little did. I found the ending annoying at first but then realized that at least the film ended. This is definitely a movie for people who like slow, contemplative films but be warned -- this film makes 2001: A Space Odyssey look like a Jet Li flick.

And so ends another Tribeca. I love film festivals, yeah a lot of the films I saw weren't that great but that's the chance you take, some will always be good and some will be bad, but given that many of the films are independent of foreign films there's little chance you'll get another opportunity to see them.

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