Following on from yesterday’s Home screening day three for me continued to delve in to documentary territory and behind the projects for an industry panel on three features at the festival.
Sadly proving you can’t be everywhere at once I had already forfeited viewing the first two by attending other events. Luckily The Mountain Thief is on Saturday’s horizon and Redress Redux has a life beyond a screening with their new media packed website.
Taking turns the trio showed clips from each of their films as an opening taste to the discussion. Each was linked by a presence of social justice and breaking conventional documentary filming rules of the past.
Andreas Hartmann’s Days of Rain followed a family in Vietnam relocating to a future away from flooding on higher ground. The German director used the former communist common ground of his country and established cultural exchanges to instigate the project. Remarkably proving that after the departure of his translator a month alone with no language was not a barrier. After having his footage scrutinized by the government he returned home to face another vocal hurdle having to reduce the footage from thirty hours to fifteen without knowledge of the dialogue in order to secure another translator’s services. I’m curious to see if removing one sense has heightened his visual story telling.
Gerry Balasta’s The Mountain Thief shows life at the Payatas dump which is populated by those scavenging for things to sell. He recruited those living there to act out his narrative, providing acting workshops and point and shoot video cameras for the traditional doc aspect. His use of social media with clips posted to Facebook and YouTube aiding funding to his project and he has since found that as the credits roll the wallets open without asking.
Closer to home Lesley Loksi Chan’s Redress Remix uses testimonials, animation and music to address the Canadian Government’s apology for Head Tax and Exclusion Act and the history of immigrants. The cross media approach and online dialogue seems like such a fascinating way to educate and involve everyone with the events of 1885, 1923 being remembered and informing the world today as an article called “Too Asian” surfaces online.
Hearing each director speak has definitely given a that extra insight and invested interest to keep my eyes peeled for future presentations.
With a brief break before the evening performance I revisited the opening night movie Gallants with a more in depth discussion at the Munk School of Global Affairs. It was here everyone learned the director’s secrets and trials in getting the film made. Originally Gallants was conceived with music instead of Kung Fu as the skill the old timers were using. This idea was rejected as was the subsequent notion of switching type cast villain actors role reversed and placed on the side of good. An amalgamation of the two proved to be a winning force.
Going back to the “Fake Asian” glib remark of the opening night there is surprisingly a top ten of pirated DVDs on Hong Kong stalls which when checked Gallants routinely features highly. This measure of success was also celebrated more officially by an unheard of five week run in theaters. When Stallones’ The Expendables was released it was known as the Hollywood version of Gallants. His new feature also stars Teddy Robin Kwan in a polar opposite love story that spans sixty years, a far cry from the nightclub scene and hilarious flirting seen in Gallants. While touching on matters of the heart he also explained how he came to be in Hong Kong after the betrayal of a best friend and girlfriend who’s family thought he didn’t meet their standards.
Colin Geddes of Kung Fu Fridays and TIFF’s Midnight Madness turned the panel in to a show and tell piece as he handed round various lobby cards that he had rescued from skips when theaters shut down. I felt like I should be wearing white gloves as the images were delicately passed from person to person.
A non-hopping Vampire Zombie Movie is next on the agenda which will hopefully return to Reel Asian or even Geddes’ Midnight Madness programing in the future.
As the two hour session drew to an end a foil tray banquet was served. My suspicions of the elderly came true as the most senior at the event magically materialised at the front of the line. I had no time to nibble or savour the aroma filling the room as the next pressing engagement swept me out of the building.
The busiest evening performance I had attended steadily filled the corridors of the Innis Town Hall for the Canadian shorts presentation On The Flip Side. Before the proceedings began a ballot was held for an upgrade to The Nation Bank premiere seats including. I’ve got a thing for contests but decided to not put myself in the draw as my blogger access has been an unbelievable privilege on it’s own. While mentioning prize draws I’d recommend those who attend screenings to fill out the questionnaire to be in with the chance of winning some amazing gifts just from offering feedback.
The nine shorts shown were whittled down from a vast nation-wide call. The eclectic mix ranged from site specific art performance to animations. Each had a unique charm but A Dragged Out: The Musical dazzled the audience with the tale of drag queens from rival establishments falling for each other in the best cross-dressing love story since Gweneth Paltrow put on a moustache in Shakespeare in Love. This project was funded by a win at the 2009 So You Think You Can Pitch? event. I’m sure this cash injection went largely on the outrageous dresses and recreation of Toronto’s very own Church Street. This film sure has legs and I can’t wait to see where they end up strutting. It also leaves you thinking what you’d call your lip syncing alter-ego or maybe that’s just me I’d be Kelly KaPOWski, Saved by the Bell meets Mario Bros inspired wardrobe like a Super Nintendo Bikini.
The shyest pack of directors I’ve ever seen took questions from the audiences who fed then with claps and woops. If the meek are inheriting the Earth this bunch have dibs on screens everywhere!