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James J  Cremin Written by James J Cremin
Jun. 26, 2009 | 3:31 PM





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L. A. Film Festival - A Day of Screenings - June 25, 2009

L.A. Film Festival

A Day of Screenings - June 25, 2009

One can’t be everywhere at once but here are time capsule reviews of what this cinephile went to on this particular Thursday.  A day being spent voting on films being shown at the L. A. Film Festival.

REHJE

70 minutes, Directors/Producers: Anais Huerta, Raul Cuesta Writer: Anais Huerta

Part of the DOCUMENTING MEXICO series

The Regent 2:30 p.m.

The main documentary subject is an unhappy Mazhua woman.  It is only her voice that is heard throughout speaking in Spanish.  Her narration is quite montonal and sounds depressed.  The documentary is broken up into various chapters.  The bold capitalized text of the chapters are in the Mazhua language, smaller text in Spanish, subtitled in English.

The chapter titles are one word, such as Fear, Home, Aunt, Mother, etc.  She narrates over images of Mexico City.  The film shows her washing dishes in an apartment.  She complains about being a migrant and being abused by her husband, never shown.

She leaves and goes back to her village and has a reunion with her family.  She goes back to harvesting wood bundles and remembers why she left in the first place.

Visually stunning at times with the strangeness of village culture, this one is really only for those fascinated with native tribes.  The pacing is slow and very depressing.

THE LAST BEEKEEPER

66 minutes, Director: Jeremy Simmons Producers:  Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato

The Landmark 4:45 pm

Part of the DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

This documentary begins with archival footage to bring in context the overall declining population of bees in the last two decades and an increasing demand for California almonds, for which the harvest is dependent of bee pollination.  The demand is so large it demands all bees in the United States.

Also noted is the declining numbers of beekeepers in the United States.  The director cross cuts the stories of three that must transport their harvest of bees on trucks to California.

The first one introduced is a female beekeeper who follows the footsteps of her mother.  They live in the state of Washington where there’s still snow. 

The second one introduced is a family man whose wife is the bookkeeper.  They have a cute daughter and they live in South Carolina.

The third is actually introduced perusing a gay magazine in front of his partner in Montana.  To this beekeeper, the bees come before anything else.

With lingering shots, and with different outcomes, all three must deal with CCD, colony collapse disorder, that have happened in 2008.  All will have to deal with hard choices of what to do the next year.  This documentary is heart breaking but does show the inner strength of all three and those around them.

BIRDWATCHERS (LA TERRA DEGLI UOMIN ROSSIL)

108 minutes, Director: Marco Bechis Writers:  Marco Bechis, Luiz Bolonesi Producers:  Marco Bechis, Calo Gueiliane, Fabriano Guiliane, Amedeo Pagini

The Landmark 7:00 pm

Part of INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE Hosted by Red Nation Film Festival and Human Rights Watch

This is a very entertaining and well acted narrative depicting the white Brazilians having frictions with the Guarani Indians.  The Guarani find their reservation inhabitable due to mass destruction of the forests and natural wildlife.

Their stoic leader leads them to a field just outside the limits of a Brazilian ranch, of which the owner wants them off.  When a young Guarani man chants and prayers with a tribal shaker, he attracts the owner’s daughter.  She gets very determined to make him one of her sexual conquests.

There are other subplots with other characters that play out quite believably as well as thought provoking.  There is humor here as well and I do highly recommend this picture.  Be forewarned that this is not for the squeamish.

OCTOBER COUNTRY

80 min, Directors/Producers:  Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher

The Landmark 9:45 pm

Part of the DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Meet the Mosher family.  Most of them live in upstate New York. They are as dysfunctional as any family has a right to be.  There’s the hardened retired policeman.  He served in Vietnam and had continued to serve as recently as Operation Desert Storm under the first Bush.  He admits to beating up his wife, who shares his love of cigarettes and alcohol.

There’s the daughter who also enjoys booze and alcohol.  She also gets into abusive relationships with men.  In fact, her daughter’s husband is serving time for child molestation.  Though another boyfriend she is raising another daughter.  Her current relationship is definitely not pretty.  She has a sister who is quite camera shy.

Add to the mix a street kid unofficially adopted by the elder Mosher female.  He’s a drug addict and a thief and after a stint in prison, a total drag queen.  Last but not least is the elder Mosher male’s sister who is in a world of her own making.

After getting to know them quite thoroughly, there’s a reunion Halloween party.  It’s as Grand Guignol as anything seen in fiction.  Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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