In case you missed it, my column in last night’s Columbia Tribune took a look at the surprising star turn of food in this year’s True/False Film Fest.
While we’re on the subject, might as well run down a few impressions of the festival, which immediately became my favorite week of the year…can’t wait for March 2012. We saw 13 movies over the four days, but here were our favorites…
To say Mrs. SMEs was less than thrilled to be dragged to a documentary about an 85 year-old translator of Russian literature is to put it mildly, but it ended up being one of our favorites. Svetlana Geier was (she died in November) a woman of surpassing grace, dignity and intelligence. As my wife pointed out, we should all want to age like her. After barely surviving World War II by working for a Nazi commander, Svetlana embarked on an unmatched career translating Russian literature into German. The “five elephants” refer to the five great novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Along the way there are great family scenes, amusing disagreements over translations and a touching visit to her home for the first time since the war.
An “instructive” documentary with real motion, Jarreth Merz crafts a riveting account of the disputed 2008 presidential election in Ghana. The demagoguery, grandstanding and vote-wrangling will seem all too familiar to Americans, but that’s one of the central appeals of the movie. This is not Africa as the “other,” it’s Africa as us…and it’s extraordinarily compelling. Wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it ends up in the mix for an Oscar.
This one flat blew us away. It could have been the low-grade hangovers and 9:00 a.m. start time, but it wasn’t. Director Brent Green tells the story (and at T/F he also played the music and performed the dialogue) of a man turning his house into a “healing machine” for his wife, who has cancer. She dies eventually, and he keeps building for another 15 years before falling off the roof. Shot in stop-motion with a dreamlike haze and spectral figures, it’s Bob Vila meets Tim Burton. “Gravity” is a film of stunning beauty and originality. Heartbreaking. We walked out, dazed. As I told Mrs. SMEs afterward, “that dude is hogging the awesome.”
- Buck Brannaman walking onto stage at the end of “Buck.” I’ll admit it, there were tears.
- Ameena from “The Interrupters” thanking us, thanking Columbia…for being inspirational.
- Running into her a few minutes later in line for food and saying “hi” to Caprysha from the movie (on her phone).
- Getting pulled into the March March in the pouring rain.
- The “Q Queen” at Forrest Theater (who we also partied with at Tonic).
- Running into friends all weekend and comparing notes.
- The end of Secret Screening Purple.
- Realizing that it must be so much easier running T/F with five Pauls and three Davids.