Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rambling: Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF), Day One

So, we went to the first day of the Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) and had a grand time. However, my brain is full and I feel an unprecedented urge to go hide without even a television screen in front of me. And that was with only four film slots; we're doing five a day through Monday. We'll see how I'm doing by then.

But the films were great!

We started with Four Faced Liar. If I had paid attention to the description, I might have skipped this one, expecting it to be another arty movie about whining twentysomethings that fails to engage. Nope. Twenty something yes, whining or unengaging no. I'll be waiting for the chance to see this again.

Then there were tacos and chips at Agave. Which is, I believe, a supporter of the film festival. So I encourage you to go eat there. If, y'know, you're in Ashland.

The next slot was three shorts: Born Sweet, The Solitary Life Of Cranes, and Salt.

Born Sweet is about a boy (and a village) in Cambodia dealing with arsenic poisoning - for once, not arsenic caused by uncaring industry, but by wells dug by "well-meaning aid organizations" that tapped into natural arsenic deposit. Boy, village, a new aid organization, and education-by-karaoke all combined to make a good film, though one that was a little more heartwarming than is usually my preference.

Then, The Solitary Life Of Cranesabout the giant load-lifting things in the sky, and, really, about the men that work in them and what the experience is like.

I thought it was going to be about birds. I really should read the descriptions more slowly at ticket ordering time - though in this case they would have made me more likely to go see this one, because I don't much care for nature films.

I liked it very much - the contrast between the solitary job and the birds-eye view of society and individuals that's an inevitable part of it was very interesting. It got just a fraction too peaceful and meditative at times, but I'm not a peaceful person, so it may hit the average person just right.

Then, Salt, about the photographer Murray Fredericks and his photography of the salty expanse of Lake Eyre, where he camps for weeks at a time, taking photographs. I assume that the poster is copyright protected, but here's a link, including one of the photographs of the photographer's tent in the midst of the lake. I liked this one, too - an entertaining constant shift between the quirky situation of the photographer, the magnificent setting, and the surreal and alien aspects of the magnificent setting.

Then there were cookies and iced tea.

Next, we saw Sister Wife, a short, and Passengers.

Sister Wife was about DoriAnn, a woman who is a wife in a polygamous marriage, the second wife after her younger biological sister. This one bothered me, which I'm quite sure is at least part of the function of the film.

DoriAnn entered this situation as an adult, and chooses to remain within it. She has a convincing argument for why she feels that the parts that make her miserable, have value. Convincing not in the sense that I would dream of ever doing the same, but in the sense that I can't tell this strong, intelligent woman, who clearly knows her own mind, that her philosophy is wrong and I know what's best for her.

Passengers was a feature-length film about a marriage and what happens to it during an evening drive through Southern California traffic. It was very good, but for me exhausting and depressing. Himself didn't seem to have the exhausted reaction.

Then there was pizza and Sprite.

And in the last slot, Easier With Practiceabout a writer, a road trip, a phone sex relationship, and that's all I'll tell you for fear I'll give too much away. Very good. Very absorbing.

The consistently good films all day give me confidence that it'll be a good Festival all around. And now I'm going to cheat and backdate this to pretend I posted this last night, when we came home from the last film.

Image: By Holger Ellgaard. Wikimedia Commons.

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