CIFF 36 carried away balloons
Day 7 of the 36th Cleveland International Film Festival and I am truly getting carried away. The CIFF team has created what Small, Beautifully Moving Parts director Annie Howell today called an "extremely well organized event." I couldn't agree more. And as a friend of the festival, I encourage all of you filmgoers to consider giving even a dollar to this year's challenge match in recognition of a tremendous festival.
And on to the details, where the devil is said to reside, but at this festival the population is all angels! I was lucky enough to catch another round of amazing shorts right of the proverbial bat today. The Shorts Program 8 gave perspective on everything from mining as it pertains to national politics and race relations (Divide); to the "its-a-small-world-after-all" theme (The Runaway), and on to the inevitable hardship and truly unfair circumstances that sometimes surrounding the frailty of human nature, which make us all too human (in the animated Who Lasts Longer).
Tilt was a rough-edged Bulgarian film about friendship, and star-crossed love through the lens of social, economic and personal unrest in eastern Europe in the days following the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism at large. Poverty and infighting leave relationships strained and futures limited for the vast majority of Bulgarians, especially a group of friends slowly divided by opportunity in this unruly climate. For Stash though, it's more than an idea, it's the separation from his love as mandated by her father The Colonel. A once over-protective police chief, he is now a Mafioso leading a ring of thugs. And his sole intent is to make life for Stash unlivable in Bulgaria as long as he pursues his Daughter Becky. The rocky road Stash must take to years of exile in Germany, a covert life back in Bulgaria and eventually to prison is worth every second he can see his love. This is a tale skates the line of parable in a beautifully tenuous display.
More of a visual-based character piece, Craft left a little to be desired but was ultimately a Hollywood dreams film set in Brazil. Few dreams of becoming an accomplished actor or even having that breakout performance are ever realized, but even those are no guarantee as Bianca learn the very hard way. As she makes her way through the maze working odds and ends jobs, she gets a sweet break that soon turns sour. The film uses texture and cinematography extremely well, creating a very Synecdoche, New York feel with its "film within a film" approach. The viewer never quite knows which parts are copies of the real and which are the real life of Bianca until the final scene.
My vote for the day, however, goes to the all-too-short Small, Beautifully Moving Parts. As a gadget lover and technofile, Sarah is curious about how technology affects us as humans in our social interaction as well as our private lives. She is removed somehow from the more emotional side of life, whether a product of technology or her relationship with her estranged mother is up to the viewer. One of my favorite lines from Sarah comes as she is appreciating the inner workings of a pregnancy test when she discovers she is pregnant. As she show her boyfriend the test which says "pregnant" she states "its really is an impressive font for a throw-away pregnancy test." She soon recognizes that she is emotionally detached from the mothering experience to come and seeks out her mother to her own disappointment. This film is a solid Hollywood-esque foray into a brilliant look at modern life and emotion as we live it. Catch this film.
See you at the show!