Thursday is the new Friday, or something like that. I was able to fit in a #BOATS panel, three films, and a showcase. Remember when nothing happened on Thursday? Good thing I’m taking a day off today. Anyway, here’s the rundown.
Based on a True Story Conference (1:30 – J-School)
Maybe the smartest thing the J-School has done (I said maybe) is align themselves with the fest. The panels are filled with filmmakers and film experts/journos/bloggers while an audience mostly made up of journalism academics grill them. It was friendlier than that, but only mildly.
Sometimes it’s hard to live in a town of so many journalists. Everyone’s looking for a particular kind of truth. So, during a panel on transparency, the journalists wanted more transparency while the film folk didn’t care for it. They didn’t run from transparency, but they also didn’t see the need for announcing that scenes were staged or the fact they, as filmmakers, were interfering with their subjects’ lives. I have to side with the filmmakers on this one. There are many truths, even some not taught in the J-School. When I watch a well-crafted nonfiction film, I’m not always concerned with the filmmaker’s manipulation to get a shot. If that shot is beautiful, let it play and just enjoy. These films are more art than newscast. Yes, they tell true stories and feature real subjects, but it’s art.
There were more intellectual discussions than that, but that’s another discussion for someone else’s book.
The Waiting Room (4:30pm – Forrest Theater)
What a way to start the fest. The Waiting Room is gut-wrenching watching people down on their luck spend a day in the ER waiting room. Each story is harder to watch than the last. I knew I was in for a tough watch as soon as the father worrying about his daughter was introduced within the first five minutes. The film shines a light on what a disservice our current (pre and post-Obamacare) system does for people’s well-being while simultaneously capturing the subjects’ humanity. Really, this was an excellent start to the fest.
Nature Walk were the buskers. I got a big Violent Femmes vibe as they ripped through their set, doing whatever they could to keep the crowd entertained. The video below shows them in a somewhat more somber tone, reminding of One Foot in the Grave-era Beck.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (7:00pm – The Blue Note)
I Tweeted this…
From my perspective, it seemed as if the filmmaker sort of stumbled upon a feature film, finding a great subject and being smart enough to let the camera roll. Ai Weiwei is maybe the most engaging subject I’ve seen at T/F. For what
1/2 Revolution (9:45pm – The Blue Note)
Maybe the most incredible footage I’ve ever seen took place in this film. I felt like I was in Cairo during the people’s uprising. However, the dude needs an editor. There’s no story and I can only watch so many minutes of dudes shouting f-bombs into their cell phones from their apartments. So, the whole experience was chaotic, even amazing, but I would have liked a story.
Busking in the Blue Note were the Toughcats. The ‘Cats are part of a contingent of Maine residents who make an annual pilgrimage to CoMo for the fest. Their drummer is the most energetic thing I’ve seen.
Mojo’s Showcase (Bassdrum of Death, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, and Ming Donkey One-Man Band)
I missed the openers, but Jerusalem and Bassdrum were plenty to make the late night worth it. Jerusalem and the Starbaskets added a second guitarist that really filled out their sound. This was followed up by Bassdrum of Death and their punk rock dirge. I swear they were eighteen-year-olds from 1992 behind all that hair. They were pretty great, even if they did rip us a new collective…
Check Day 1 here and come back for day 3.
Photo credits: top photo is Rebecca Allen’s; screenshot of the Tweet is mine, and the rest belong to Benjamin Gross