Sunday over, and finally almost a sense of the marathon, with 4 films seen, with minimal time between each. In the old days, you’d start at 10am and go through to 11pm (or later), sometimes with a meal break, sometimes just as tight. These days we don’t start before 2pm on a weekend and there’s no longer any proper meal breaks. That’s ok, just means I need to be a bit more prepared; thankfully staff are more amenable this year and aren’t forcing us outside to queue to get back in to buy a sandwich at the internal coffee cart :-) I’ve also realised in the last day or so, that all the movie titles in the programme are in English, this may well have been the case for in recent years but I didn’t notice. A side effect of that of course, is that when discussing the movies, you refer to their english titles not that the native language version. When I link to the movies in my reviews, I noticed I was doing the English thing too, so I’ll be trying to use both versions, with one bracketed, for future reviews.

The day started off with a Russian movie, Mishen (Target), directed by Alexander Zeldovich. Set in the future, though a fairly minimalist, upmarket version with the a group of upmarket folk gathering together to gain everlasting life. It was visually lovely, but otherwise shallow and misogynist. Itwas an interesting watch, though indulgent at times, as the group seemed to swing from euphoria and depression.

Things picked up with the second film, a documentary by Errol Morris from the US called Tabloid. Morris is sympathetic to the main players in this revisiting of a 70s tabloid drama where an american woman went to the UK to track down the man of her dreams, who she thought had been brainwashed by the Mormons. It was a somewhat sympathetic investigation of the events including interviews with the girl and some of the folk involved at the time, though not the man in question. It did retain a documentary neutralit in that it did not cast judgment on the participants. It was a very funny retelling, and intriguing in terms of how the main girl feels looking back, and its effects on her life. Morris set out to explore and not mock, though it would have been very easy to go that way.

Third movie of the day was from an American director, Joshua Marston, but shot as an Albanian movie: The Forgiveness of Blood. This was a really good piece of work, and was a story about blood feuds in Albania, with the males of a family effectively banished to their own house while the father remains on the run for his part in killing another man. In some sense, it was about the eldest son and daughter, with the former frustrated at his effective captivity (the possibility of death awaited if he left the house), while for his sister it became a freedom of sorts as was able to maintain the family business and grow it. A subtle tale that well explored the underlying tensions as well as giving a sense of the feuds which continue to be part of life in Albania.

The final movie of the evening was from the US called Cedar Rapids, directed by Miguel Arteta.  Utter shite! Innocent country boy led astray by his roomies and their shenanigans but makes good in the end. This tepid, homophobic, uninitelligent and poorly scripted piece of rubblish has no place in the festival. Mainstream American comedy, and badly done at that. Some folk in the audience seemed to enjoy it and laughed regularly, whereas I sat, grinding my teeth, waiting for it finish. I did not bother staying for the “humorous” out-takes in the credits.

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