Duped into Documentaries: Starz Film Fest Coverage

Written by  //  November 18, 2008  //  Cinematical, The Theatre  //  No comments

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INT. STARZ PR DESK – NIGHTTIME

After waiting in line, Fritz Godard finally arrives at the front of the line.

FRITZ GODARD
I’d like a ticket to ‘Terribly Happy,’ please.

NOBLE STARZ EMPLOYEE
I’m sorry, that is almost sold out. The best I can do is make you wait in that line for rush tickets.

FRITZ GODARD
Rub elbows with people without a VIP badge? I think not. How about a ticket to the Denver Directors Shorts package?

The Noble Starz Employee ruffles through some envelopes and pull out a ticket.

NOBLE STARZ EMPLOYEE
It looks as if that is almost sold out too, but-

With ticket in hand she is reaching over the counter to hand it to our hero. She stops an inch before the transaction is complete.

NOBLE STARZ EMPLOYEE (cont’d)
-’Microcosms’ is another short package.

FRITZ GODARD
???

NOBLE STARZ EMPLOYEE
One of the films was just shortlisted for the Oscars.

FRITZ GODARD
I’ll take it!

The Noble Starz Employee hands Fritz the ticket.

FADE TO BLACK.

 

It sounds like a fairy tale ending, yet I was blinded by the prestige of the other Academy and went into mindless consumer mode, failing to ask any further questions. Walking into the theater I was handed a ballot for the shorts only to realize I was getting involved with an hour and half of rich white people helping impoverished minorities tell their stories. None of the films in the package were nominated for Oscars, but one of the filmmaker’s brother knew a guy in his office who had once bid on George Clooney’s Oscar swag bag on EBay, so I forgave the Noble Starz Employee’s error.

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Earlier in the evening I was duped into view another “hot doc.” A documentary titled ‘Megalopolis’ sounds like an examination on how close our cities have become to a giant version of Superman’s hometown, and having sci-fi greats narrate the film made it sound like a can’t miss screening. However, I learned pretty quickly there were a lot of must-miss elements to the screening.

The film was shown on a DV projector which made the picture pixelated and the sound scratchy. The screen experience was miserable. The filmmakers added to the misery by dragging their two-hour film out by using the same editing techniques throughout. Contrasting a rich prostitute in San Palo with homeless people waiting in line for food is an effective tool, but after seeing the same thing in the last ten cities, the most I could do was yawn at the screen.

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After two substandard documentary screenings, I was debating on just heading home and reading the new issue of Film Comment, but I scanned the big board in the court yard to see if there were any narrative films left on the schedule. The final showing of  ‘Chocolate’ from ‘Ong-bak’ director, Prachya Pinkaew, was beginning in an hour.  The film redeemed the night. Forget everything Disney Sports franchise has taught about underdog stories, ‘Chocolate’ is an underdog story. The film is about an autistic girl who loves watching ‘Ong-bak’ and learns how to fight like Tony Jaa, then uses her skills to help her dying mother. It is two hours of seeing someone you’d never expect to kick ass demolish everyone she has contact with. The film reminded me of why action movies are so much fun. Queue this mother up and pray for a speedy release date.

Tonight you should look forward to ‘Slingshot Hip Hop’ about Palestinian Hip Hop influenced from bootleg CDs of Tupac and Public Enemy. Or there is a segment from Michel Gondry & ‘The Host’ director Bong Joon-ho in ‘Tokyo!’

About the Author

Fritz Godard

Fritz Godard is Donnybrook's film columnist, world-renowned filmmaker, and reason behind Marilyn Monroe's demise.

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