Saturday, March 31, 2007

Film The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen; Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Tonight we saw The Lives of Others; I had been looking forward to seeing this and fully expected to like it. Indeed, it was a film about the chilling era of the Stazi East German secret police, made unique in its understated style and lack of predictability. We really enjoyed it but are puzzled why it won the Oscar over Deepa Mehta's Water.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Full Frame Documentary Festival previewing

I'm preparing for the Full Frame Film Festival, the country's largest documentary film festival held here in Durham, NC and just a few weeks away, and have previewed a few films on DVD the last few days. Several nights ago I saw Every Good Marriage Begins with Tears (Simon Chambers, 62 minutes) about two young English sisters of traditional Bangladeshi backgrounds who struggle between two cultures in terms of their marriage choices.

Just before that, I saw Zo is dat (The Way It Is; Elizabeth Salgado, 2006, 31 minutes), a Dutch film about 73-year-old farmer Jan's daily routine in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. The Full Frame site offers this description: "in this meditation on the intrigues of the everyday, a bachelor farmer eats breakfast, does chores, cooks dinner and every so often shaves and goes out for a drink."

Last night I saw an interesting but sad film, Match Made (Mirabelle Ang, 2006, 48 minutes), about a marriage agency that finds Vietnamese women for men from Singapore to marry, in spite of language and socioeconomic differences. It was difficult to see how the women, as well as the economically poor country they were from, are exploited.

Tonight I fully enjoyed the unique documentary Nömadak Tx, a joyful ride showing how music is a universal that brings happiness and shared understanding. Two musicians from Spain's Basque country, Igor Otxoa and Harkaitz Mtnez. de San Vicente, go on a road tour far afield with their Txalaparta traditional percussive musical instrument; it issaid to be up to six thousand years old. The instrument is traditionally made from wood and played by two musicians.

The two musicians travel the world looking for native peoples in remote areas with whom they can integrate the Txalaparta in fun musical jams, building bridges and relationships. They visit India and the Adivasi tribal people, the Sámi (Laplander) people of northern Scandinavia, inhabitants of the Sahara desert, and nomads on the Mongol steppe. Seeing them engineer versions of their instrument out of ice and desert stone and hearing the magnificently resonant sounds from it all is a feast of the senses. The musicians have a lot of fun on their travel and bring smiles to their coopted performers, their audiences, themselves, and, no doubt, their film viewers.