True/False Fest Preview

Well, I finally did it.  I managed to post for a month long about nothing but documentaries.  I enjoyed this little exercise in focusing on one genre of fillmmaking for a month and it was all for my lead up to the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, MO.  The fest takes place on March 1st through March 4th and the focus is on the art of documentary films.  While there are a few that toe the line to non-fiction genre, the aim of the fest is to open a dialogue channel between audiences and filmmakers.  I have been excited about this fest as it will be my first, heavy film festival to take part in.

So with my pass purchased, the hotel booked and my time off from work put in, I am poised to experience around 17 films within the span of 4 days.  It might seem daunting and not much of a vacation for most people, but I am going for the experience and enjoyment of film.  Also this will give me a ton of content to write about and also gain experience on festival writing.  So if any potential film sites want to send me to, oh, Sundance or anything, please let me know.  Just throwing that out there.

My aim is to do micro-updates, highlighting short blurbs on the films and experience each day and then taking a bit of time later in the month to fully review each film.  If you aren’t following me on twitter, do so to get tweets from me while I am there and my attempt to get a photo with Morgan Spurlock and other filmmakers there.  Follow me at @PlotDevices on twitter!

So to get you pumped or somewhat interested in my little venture, I am posting some trailers and synopsis about some of the films that I am seeing at the True/False Fest.  Just a taste before you dive into what I have to say.  Enjoy!

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Documentary of the Day – Waste Land

Now I come to the close of my month long documentary posts.  I had to think about what would be a good documentary to close out this little venture, thinking I needed a grand opus of a film to make my closing mark.  I could have gone many ways with this post, choosing something provocative or entertaining.  I decided to continue with the theme of art, mainly because I enjoy my previous post on “Exit Through The Gift Shop”, which was an entertaining look at the street art world through the lens of hype and commercialism.

Today I chose Waste Land, a documentary that marries a beautiful style of art and humanity.  It is one of the more emotionally challenging films, viewing art through those that inspire the artist and how a piece of them makes its way into the work.  Portraits made of rubbish, all made to look like the people who work with the garbage everyday and there is a story and face behind each work.

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Documentary of the Day – Harlan County, U.S.A

A topical selection for today since we seem to be in the midst of a class warfare, I mean workers struggles, I mean whatever the fuck is happening to the middle class.  I can’t say that I am a blue collar worker, so I don’t necessarily have a strong opinion about labor unions, but I can see why they are needed, especially when a company refuses to increase pay at a considerable amount and reap untold profits.  I will stop with the political talk since this is not the forum or pulpit to spout off about workers rights.  Just know, I care at least.

I think I chose this today because in order for us to understand our current dilemma, we need to realize that this struggle is nothing new.  This has been going on for decades and will continue to go on.  I am not saying there isn’t an end to this struggle, but something needs to be done.  I realize that is big of me to say sitting in a arm chair that my dog Dexter has so thoroughly chewed to hell.  So today, to bring a little light to on an ongoing plight, Harlan County, U.S.A.

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Documentary of the Day – Exit Through The Gift Shop

I am not one for art, well still/performance art, but I do considering film to be art so I like film more than traditional art.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate art, I mean I took several classes in college over art, have friends who are artists and generally enjoy the occasional gallery showing.  I will say, that I am not how movies portray art crowds, with a lot of black clothing and quasi-intellectuals being all hipstery and un-ironic while chewing on their chunky glasses.  I mean I have chunky glasses, but that is more so because the shape of my face is framed nicely by them, not because I need them since all the other cool/uncool kids have them.  Wire frames on glasses are not my thing.

Anyways, what I am getting at here with all of this is my general issue with art, particularly modern art.  Some will say that I am just some simpleton who doesn’t get it, but in reality, I don’t think they get it.  It seems like a fade to immediately dismiss someone who isn’t a fan of that style as not getting, while seeming to look cool by going against the grain.  So while I am unfamiliar with the movement of street art, mainly by choice and the fact that I think an artist just reusing the image of Andre the Giant (Shepard Fairey) over and over again on different locations doesn’t seem necessarily exciting.  I am sure that there is a subtext to the “Obey” image, but I just think about watching Princess Bride again to see Andre the Giant.  So if there is one thing that my time here on Earth has proven to me is that there is one universal thing that everyone likes, particularly white people, is that everyone loves Banksy.  So my excitement is at a fever pitch to see a film directed/not directed by him, but I am most excited since we can view street art the hype surrounding it through a lens.

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Documentary of the Day – Grizzly Man

A descent into madness or misguided good deeds of a man who’s only goal in life is to interact and raise awareness of bears in North America?  Those are the things that comes to my mind when watching Grizzly Man.  Without context, we would assume that the man known as Timothy Treadwell is a crazy environmentalist and animal advocate, doing something outrageous to bring attention to a cause by placing himself in the environment in which his cause resides in.  It is a man that might be on the edge of sanity, taunting death at every turn by trying to help and understand the bears in their environment.  But to better understand the reasons and situation better, instead of making conjectures, it took the documentary skills of German Werner Herzog to comb through 100’s of hours of footage to create the chronicle of one man’s tragic journey to save the Grizzly bears.

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Documentary of the Day – Hoop Dreams

This is the portrait of the American Life.  I have never really seen a film that explores the complex issues of life through the story of basketball.  Hoops Dreams is one those films that catch you off guard when you first watch it.  I went in expecting to watch a documentary about two high school kids, competing and hoping for the chance to chase their dream of being drafted into the NBA.  It’s an underdog story with a goal at the end, but the film ended up being something more than a sports film.  How often can you say that a sports film expertly captured the nuances of American life, exploring complex issues like race, poverty, class, and education.

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Documentary of the Day – Bowling for Columbine

Before everyone starts calling me un-American for posting this liberal documentary against the pervasive gun culture, let me say that I at least pay my taxes, thus allowing me to harp on America if I want.  Also Free Speech bitches.  Anyways, another Michael Moore selection this time around and probably his best work in my opinion.  While Roger and Me was the foot in the door to the surprise interview documentary, Bowling for Columbine is a well reasoned and thought provoking on the subject of gun culture in America.

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The 84th Annual Academy Awards

Well, the Oscars are this Sunday and I haven’t put together my Oscar Ballot.  Mainly I am a wait to the last minute sort of guy, but also I wanted to try and catch a couple more Oscar films before making an informed decision.  So while I nailed the Golden Globes, I am hoping that magic will carry over to the Oscars and net me zero dollars since I am not: betting in a pool of some kind.  But that shouldn’t stop any of you from using my predictions as I like to think that I am good at knowing what Oscar bait films will win the crowd over.  Also I watch way too many movies, so there is that going for me.  So I will start from the bottom, meaning the technical awards and then move on up to the big dogs of the evening.  Enjoy and good luck.  One more thing, there are a lot of categories, so I broke the post out into a few pages, so please click through for additional content.

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Documentary of the Day – Waltz with Bashir

Well this is my first and only, animated documentary selection.  Actually, this is the first and only documentary film out there.  I was fascinated with the premise of a documentary that utilizes animation to tell a story that is both harrowing and insightful, framing the atrocities and hardship that only existed in the experiences of one man.  A truly engaging documentary that takes the experiences and memories of one man, reflecting and searching for meaning during his time in the Lebanon War in 1982, and brings them to life through the use of animation.

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Documentary of the Day – Sans Soleil

I have been selecting documentaries that border on voyeuristic, but also more or less a social documentary.  There were a few films that I selected that were using the medium to showcase an existential point like, Man with a Movie Camera or The Up Series, which look to capture life and transcend the genre of documentary.  Today’s selection goes beyond the typical look at a social struggle or personal struggle, Sans Soleil is more of a film essay, positing about a fundamental question about life and how it is shaped by our memories, either effectively or altered by our recollection.

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