Report from the Newport Beach Film Festival
How I wish I had unlimited funds and time to enjoy film festivals. This week I made my way to a few of the films being screened at The Newport Beach Film Festival. Film festivals give you a chance to see films that are way off the beaten path. Some will eventually find their way to distribution; some will disappear completely. There are very good films and films that just don’t quite work. You pick a few based on taste or what times you have available and see what you get. Festivals are also a chance to see some of the shorts that are being made.
Without going into full reviews, I’ll note what I saw this year.
A documentary about Rafe Esquith, a fifth grade teacher at Hobart Elementary in
He also teaches them guitar, has a classroom economic system, takes them to
This film is set to air on PBS September 6. Check your local stations for when it will be shown where you are. A must for teachers and for all who love education and dream of what it can be.
Short. A seventeen minute treatment of the poem by Poe. It isn’t, however, a recitation, just a reenactment of a possible interpretation. It’s not badly done, but basically, it’s a step or two above student films. I saw it because it was shown along with…
Walking on the Sky
Six friends in the aftermath of their common friend’s suicide spend a day and evening trying to figure it out. There are many stresses that play on their relationship. In many ways it’s a Gen-X version of The Big Chill, but not as good. The characters just weren’t as well developed. You can tell that there really won’t be an answer to the “why?” so you wonder why they go through all the anguish that won’t lead you anywhere.
Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher
See separate entry.
First Morning (Buoi Sang Dau
A nicely told story of a Vietnamese immigrant family in the midst of various crises. The story slowly unwraps the history and traumas of the family’s past. I suspect at some level it may also be a metaphor for the ways the Vietnamese-American community has tried to deal with some of the issues of their past. This film has picked up a distributor, so it may find its way to some theaters.
Anna Und Der Soldat (Anna and the Soldier)
Nicely done short of memory and revenge. A young woman, five years after the war, is haunted by memories Germans killing several people (who are buried in a mass grave beside her house. One day a young man comes to visit the grave. She recognizes him as one of the soldiers.
Short. An Italian immigrant boy is bullied at school. He wants to win a model plane contest (and of course the heart of a girl). His father helps, but with his own motives.
Short. Strange film with a leaving boyfriend, and/or their meeting, and/or a new boyfriend.
Short. Star-crossed lovers, finger snapping rival gangs, song and dance, Israelis and Palestinians, a wall -- all centered around competing falafel stands (Kosher King and Hummus Hut). A delightful take off on the conflict and West Side Story.
Short. An esoteric look at death. Is life an illusion or is death an illusion?