Monday, June 19, 2006

SIFF Wrap-up

Way back in May I think I said something to the effect that I hoped to see 40 films this year at SIFF.

Well, I wound up seeing 45. Adhering to my ratings system of 'great', 'pretty good', 'good', 'okay' and 'sucks' I can break down my SIFF experience into the following statistics. Of the 45 films I saw %6.66 were great, %24.44 were pretty good, %28.88 were good, %26.66 were okay and %13.33 sucked. As you can see, I saw more films that sucked than were great, but I saw far more films that were good or better than were okay or worse. So, a pretty decent batting average. Of the 45 films I saw, my favorites were:
The Proposition
Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis
49 Up

My second favorite films were:
My Quick Way Out*
The Chances of The World Changing
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Princess Raccoon
The Days
Linda, Linda, Linda
The Iceberg
Who Is Harry Nilsson?
Time to Leave
Melodic Meshes

*My Quick Way Out was withdrawn from the festival, but I saw it on a screener so I count it among my SIFF experiences.
My least favorite films were:
Another Gay Movie
Ski Jumping Pairs
The Puffy Chair
Initial D

Curiously, all the terrible films I saw as screeners and I should note that I didn't watch several of them all the way to the end. Perhaps I shouldn't be commenting on films I didn't completely see, but if they were so bad I had to turn them off, then it's a fairly strong indication I didn't like them.
A lot of the films I liked were really sad. My favorite sad films of the festival were:
The Chances of The World Changing
Time to Leave
Brothers of The Head
The Science of Sleep

The most visually striking film I saw was Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis, but the most visually striking clip I saw was the Slavko Vorkapich 'Furies' sequence from the 1934 film, Crime Without Passion, which was shown as part of the Melodic Meshes Program. BTW, for those who enjoyed that show, many of those films can be found on Unseen Cinema
Even more arresting than the Vorkapich clip was the sight of Michel Gondry doing a funky dance at the closing night party. Most of the films I saw at SIFF I probably could have seen somewhere else at some other time, but the sight of Gondry shakin' it like a character in one of his videos was a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you, Michel Gondry.
Tomorrow, I think I might post a few thoughts on my favorite musical moments from the festival, but for now I've got some sleep and housecleaning to catch up on.


  1. I liked Brothers of the Head a lot, too. I'm worried that selling it as a "mockumentary" will really hurt it when it runs in wide release. Sure, it has a little fun with documentary conventions, but the overall story was rather sad.
    I'm sad that I missed seeing the Gondry dance last night. Was he spirited away to the VIP zone?

  2. I think Science of Sleep has also been mischaracterized as a quirky comedy, which it does start out as, but then it becomes really sad.
    I keep wondering if Gondry was influenced by 'L'/acume des Jours', a novel which possesses pretty much the exact same sensibility. Vian is such a revered figure in France, it's hard to imagine he didn't read it.

  3. Way to go! I usually see around 30, but slacked this year due to circumstance, and lack of funds (unf. press screenings were during my work hours, yargh!). But - next year I will be back in full SIFF madness form. And, I, uh, will get those other film reviews up...soon?

  4. I interviewed Keith Fulton while he was in town. Like you, he really resists the "mockumentary" tag. I have faith that the film will not be promoted that way; I hope writers will also do their best to resist the phrase. I haven't read Brian Aldiss's book yet, but I understand it's written like an oral biography (though fictional). Fulton and co-director Louis Pepe did their best to recreate that form on screen.

  5. Here are my picks from the 98 films I saw at SIFF '06, in alphabetical order -
    Documentary and Performance,
    The Refugee All Stars
    Walking to Werner
    Feature films,
    A Comedy of Power
    Conversations with Other Women
    House of Sand
    The Proposition
    The Puffy Chair
    The Science of Sleep
    Time to Leave
    Au Bonheur des dames
    Black Orpheus
    The Flowers of Saint Francis
    Lonely Are the Brave
    The Man Who Cheated Himself
    The Scarlet Letter
    The Window
    Honorable Mention,
    The Heart of the Game
    A Prairie Home Companion
    Sketches of Frank Gehry
    Who is Harry Nilsson ,AeP
    The Neptune (1921)
    The Moore (1907)