Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eleven Down

I am ten days into my 36 day movie marathon. I've already missed a few films.

The following list represents the portion of my list that have screened to date. I've seen the films not striked except Slumdog Millionaire.

The Exiles - American Indian Film Festival
Hounddog - at the Roxie
A Throw of Dice - Third I
Maqbool - Third I
Om Shanti Om - Third I
Hell's Ground - Third I
The Glow of White Women - Third I
Slumdog Millionaire - Third I
The Yellow Handkerchief of Happiness - Cinema Japan
Vengeance Is Mine - Cinema Japan
The Passion of Joan of Arc - at the Castro
Shanghai Red - Chinese American Film Festival
Sparrow - Chinese American Film Festival
Gun of Mercy - Chinese American Film Festival
Ganglamedo - Chinese American Film Festival

I misread the Roxie schedule. Hounddog only had a two day run at the Roxie. I scanned the newspaper on November 13 looking for the start time only to discover it missing from the listing. It turns out, Hounddog only played November 7 and 8.

Hell's Ground started at 11 PM on Saturday, November 15 at the Third I Festival. I had already seen three films that day and was physically tired so I went home after the delightful Om Shanti Om.

Ganglamedo (Ganglande in the Chinese American Film Festival listing) shows at 4:20 today at the 4-Star but I won't be able to attend. I had planned on catching the 8:30 showing last night but I had a dinner meeting that ran long.

Slumdog Millionaire opened November 12 or 13 at the Landmark Embarcadero. I had planned on catching the November 16 showing at Third I but decided to watch Shanghai Red in that time slot. I plan on seeing Slumdog at the Embarcadero before November 26.

Speaking of Shanghai Red...I drove to the 4-Star on November 16 to catch the 9:55 PM showing. As I approached the ticket booth, I notice there was a sign saying the 9:55 showing was cancelled. So I took a half day of a vacation on November 19 to see Shanghai Red and Sparrow by Johnny To. Before the film, they announced that there were no English subtitles for the film. Most of the film was in Mandarin which is a language I am completely non-conversant. Having had a crush on Vivian Wu for many years (since The Last Emperor), I decided to stick it out. It turns out her character was an English translator and eventually married an American. About a fifth of the film was in English. I'm still not sure what happened. It turns out her husband was trying to kill her but he changed his mind and married her instead! Vivian kept putting on a tight red dress and sunglasses before killing men (her glasses must have been an homage to Dressed to Kill). Then it switched to Vivian in prison with a pixie haircut causing her lawyer to become flustered and discombobulated.

I also saw The Exiles at the San Francisco American Indian Film Festival. The film was great but the experience left a lot to be desired. First, the program consisted of five films with a total run time of approximately 3 hours. That is an unusally long program. The program started at 7 so I was hoping to be out just after 10 PM. Then the delays started. First, they were about 20 minutes late in starting. Next, they had the longest festival trailer/preview in history. They are usually 30 seconds or so. It seemed the SFAIFF one was 5 to 10 minutes. Then the festival director came out and talked for about 15 minutes. The worst part is that he basically thanked all the tribes, companies and individuals that were listed in the 5 minute trailer. Finally, the program started about 40 minutes late. After two or three short films totaling ~45 minutes, there was an intermission even though there was still over two hours of film left! I used the restroom at that point. When I came back the director of the first film (a 3 minute short called The Creation) was speaking. The director fielded questions for about 15 (5 times the length of his film). Finally, The Exiles screened for about 65 minutes. It ended after 10 PM. The final ~60 minute film in the program was A Shout into the Wind about indigenous people of Finland (Indians in Finland?). It looked interesting and the director was in the audience but I had to get up early the next morning so I left after the director made the introduction.

One of my pet peeves about film festivals is that they are notorious for starting late but this case was the most egregious disrepect for people's time. In this case, SFAIFF probably took more than 4.5 hours to screen 3 hours of film. SFAIFF - get your act together! Michael Smith (Festival Director and Founder) needs to bring the hammer down on his own soliloquy and get on with the show.

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