Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Venice, Day 5

No matter how much I plan, I always end up on a sleep deficit in Venice. Maybe it's the heat or the screening schedule, but I am struggling to stay awake, particularly when the films are not great.

The surprise film this year was PEOPLE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE SEA, a Chinese feature from Cai Shangjun, a dark and nihilistic violent thriller which is not the usual fare you get from China in the festival circuit. The false fire alarm which interrupted the screening provided some well needed relief from the bleakness. I'm still not sure what I think of the film, but it was certainly very well made.

Francesco convinced me to attend the homage to Armenian documentary filmmaker ARTAVAZD PELESJAN, which included two of his shorts (SEASONS and LIFE) and a documentary about him from an Italian filmmaker, THE SILENCE OF PELESJAN. The original shorts were beautiful, the tribute doc at the end less so. It certainly made me want to seek out his other work.

Gianni Mina is an acclaimed journalist who has traveled to Cuba over the last 30 years, and he has a clear love and affection for the island and the revolution, as I do. So I went into CUBA IN THE AGE OF OBAMA, PART 1 with high expectations. Unfortunately, like the Jonathan Demme doc, the filmmaker let its subject down, with poor camera work, lazy journalism and cloying use of music. A missed opportunity.

Following the international success of THE BAND'S VISIT, Eran Kolirin delivers a boring film about boredom - THE EXCHANGE. Following a university professor as he engages in bizarre behavior with a neighbor, this has moments of humour and originality but ultimately is a short film blown up to feature length.

The buzz on the lido has died off significantly, with screenings half empty and fewer people around in general. You can actually find a seat on a vaporetto! I guess this is the Toronto exodus that happens every year. Perhaps someone needs to reschedule?

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