Sunday, June 12, 2011

SIFF Dispatch #5

Click here for
SIFF Dispatch #4


The 33rd
Seattle In-
ternational
Film Festi-
val
conclud-
es tonight at
6:00pm with
Kevin Mac-
donald's Life
in a Day
at the Cinerama. Produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, Macdon-
ald constructed the 90-minute documentary from 5,000 hours worth of
YouTube-submitted footage. Editor Joe Walker will be in attendance.

One of my co-workers signed a release form, so she's hoping her video
made the cut, but won't know until she sees the final result (she's a fine
photographer, so I wish her the best). As with The First Grader, Life
is a product of Nat Geo Movies, a logical extension of the enduring print
publication (they also released SIFF '10's Oscar-nominated Restrepo).



I was unable to attend the press screening, which took place two weeks
ago, but my friend Kevin says it's worth the price of admission, and I've
enjoyed Macdonald's other films, including Touching the Void, The Last
King of Scotland
, and the underrated State of Play, his feature-film ver-
sion of the BBC miniseries (I still haven't seen One Day in September, for
which he won the Academy Award). John Hartl also gave Life a rave in
The Seattle Times
. The closing night party follows the film at 8:00pm
at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Life in a Day opens nationwide on July 24.

Other closing day highlights include Belgium's Illegal, which plays Pacific
Place at 7:00pm, and Japan's Norwegian Wood, which plays the Egyp-
tian at 3:30pm. I attended last week's press screening for Vietnam-born
filmmaker Tran Anh Hung's Haruki Murakami adaptation, but decided to
leave once I realized the digital projection would not include subtitles.



A few hardy souls remained, one of whom, Brent McKnight, wrote a piece
about the experience. McKnight says that there isn't much dialogue, so he
could still appreciate the 133-minute feature, but I found that option less
than ideal, especially since I just read the 1987 book a few months ago.

Although I missed the Paris-based director's last film, I Come with the
Rain
, I found his Vietnamese trilogy enchanting. That said, Norwegian
Wood
features music from Can and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, which
sounds appealing, but no such music appears in Murakami's semi-autobio-
graphical novel. He intends that title literally: it's all Beatles, all the time.



Sadly, the same thing happened when I returned to Pacific Place two
days later for another 10am press screening, this time for South Korean
blockbuster The Yellow Sea. Once again: no subtitles. That was bad
enough, but in both cases, the films continued to play and staffers made
no announcements. It was hard to figure out what was going on or why.

Fortunately, SIFF rescheduled a press screening, which went off with-
out a hitch. Though longer than necessary, I found Na Hong-Jin's thril-
ler riveting. No exact date has been set, but it opens in Seattle this fall.



Here are five other selections opening in the next few months: The Last
Mountain
(July 8), Winnie the Pooh (July 15), Tabloid and If a Tree
Falls: A Story of the ELF
(July 22), and Another Earth (August).

I caught the final screening
of Errol Morris's Tabloid, and
would definitely recommend it,
though I haven't met a Morris
film yet that I didn't like (I re-
viewed his 2008 Abu Ghraib
documentary, Standard Op-
erating Procedure
, here).

At its worst, his latest is slightly
less substantial than the rest,
but that just makes it more en-
tertaining, since comely sub-
ject Joyce McKinney, former
beauty queen and S&M prac-
titioner, is a hoot and a half.

Morris, who won an Oscar for
the similarly-structured Fog of
War: Eleven Lessons from the
Life of Robert S. McNamara
, never states definitively that McKinney real-
ly kidnapped Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, and the object of her ob-
session declined to appear in the film, but the facts speak for themselves.

Though McKinney agreed to participate in the Showtime project, she's
since been protesting it with every fiber of her considerable being and
even showed up after Thursday's screening with one of her cloned dogs
in tow (I managed to miss this spectacle). She claims that Morris lied a-
bout his intentions and edited the documentary to make her look bad.

Watch for yourself and decide, or better yet, read the statement "truth-
teller," likely McKinney herself, posted on the SIFF website. In the film,
the tabloid sensation states, "You can tell a lie for long enough that you
believe it." She isn't talking about herself--but maybe she should be.

Endnote: Images from Screen Daily and The L Magazine.

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