Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dogme film comes to Reel Affirmations

Some of the 5 PM shows at the Reel Affirmations festival are free, and on Wednesday Oct. 17 the festival presented a film certified as Dogme-41, the first Dogme film from Canada, in this case, Quebec. The film is Lonely Child (2005, dir. Pascal Robitaille, Quebec, 50 min). This seems true to Dogme, with hand-held cameras and no artificial or exogenous music score. The film is black and white, but looks grainy; to be effective Dogme, when in black and white, needs the power that crisp black-and-white photography can provide. The story starts with a mother getting mad at the behavior of her gay teen son, who goes on an odyssey to summer camp. The story starts to ramble, whereas normally in a Dogme film you need tight plotting. Also, the filmmaker often talks while he films other people. This was not the most effective use of the technique. The French was hard to follow. I usually can follow Parisian French in the movies, but (in Quebec) this sounded different, particularly with slang and idioms and pronunciation. I’ve noticed that with Spanish, too. Castilian Spanish (Madrid) seems easier to follow (for an Anglo person) than the language in Mexican film.

Three Summers (2006, "Tre Somre", Super16 / Nordisk, dir. Carlos Augusto de Oliveira, 28 min, Demark, Cinemascope, R) In the marshes of the Denmark coast, a middle aged man ("Jorgen") of some wealth struggles with appearances and possible marriage problems, when he meets a most precocious teenage boy ("Thomas"). The “teenage brain” is a dubious topic indeed. The subject matter may be more acceptable in Europe than in the US. Indeed, if this happened in the United States, Jorgen might wind up in a cinder block cell with the light always on, and some day give Chris Hansen a Dateline interview about the need to resist temptation which it comes out of the blue. However, the "story" ends rather happily, with the prospect that Jorgen, rejuvenated, may rebuild his "real" marriage. The film technique resembled Dogme, as a lot of the work appeared to be hand-held (though you shouldn't have wide screen and background music).

The shorts program Wednesday night is “Men on the Edge.”

Police Box (2006, dir. Josh Kim, Hong Kong, 8 min) is a goofy spoof of life in the big city.

(dir. Michaeline Babich, USA, 14 min) has an appealing young man hooking up (legally) with Internet chat. The “partner” even pays his cab fare. He spends a wonderful evening with a slightly older man, only to find that the man has a partner dying of AIDS.

The Manual
(dir. Sarah Spillane, 14 min, Australia) has a boy sent away for “developmental” problems which could be “homosexuality” but the boy is too young for that. When he returns as a 28 year old man, it's not clear what's real, as now a sister is in the same fix, being criticized for having an imaginary playmate. This really is a “mainstream” film.

Wet Shave ("Die Rasur", 7 min, Germany) is like a miniature of the “Barber Shop” movies, literally. The fantasy doesn’t go as far as it could.

Testify (2006, Think! Outside the Box / Clarendon, 12 min) An African American preacher visits an African American young man dying of AIDS in a hospice. The young man does not welcome him. Soon, he learns that the young man, to his surprise, is straight. That provokes some soul-searching in the congregation.

Parting Words ("Derniers mots", 2006, dir. Joe Balass, Quebec). A guy on monitors is transferred from a hospice to the hospital (rather odd), or perhaps to his own end. At death’s door, he is interested in the orderly. (What comes to mind is a 1986 indie film about AIDS called "Parting Glances".)

Slideshow (2007, dir. Greg Atlkins, 4 min), Just stills.

Miss Popularity
(2006, dir. Wayne Jung), 6 min, Germany) a spoof of sitcoms, in black and white..

Le Weekend (2007, Attack, dir. Timothy Smith, UK). A gay film student from France comes to London, goes clubbing and picks up a "straight" man who plays along for the ride and eventually “tells”. The movie is shot somewhat in Dogme style with the student photographing his film as he makes it.

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