We’re back home from Silverdocs now, having spent a few days in a hotel closer to the venue. (It was a total extravagance, but it was lovely to have a room to go back to, for those times when there were two or three hours between films…) The kitties seem to have forgiven us for our absence (if they even noticed – a neighbor came in to feed them while we were gone), and all else is fine at home.
So, here are the last movies that we saw:
- Brooklyn Castle – Probably my favorite (now that I’m through with all my viewing, I can say that more definitively…), this film is about students at a Brooklyn middle school where 70+% of the kids live in poverty, and where the *chess* club is the cool extracurricular. The kids have won state and national titles dozens of times over the past several years. The film profiled about a half-dozen kids and took us through a year of competition and budget cuts. This movie made us *feel* what the kids were thinking, getting frustrated with them as they made mistakes and lost faith in themselves, cheering when they succeeded. During the discussion after, two of the most successful kids were there, along with their families. Wow. Just wow.
- Manufactured Fortunes – A short, showing the mechanics of how fortune cookies are made. The film was simple, *very* short (four minutes), and fun in a quirky way.
- Step Up to the Plate – A film I really, really wanted to love, about Sebastian Bras taking over the three-star Michelin restaurant built by his father, Michel Bras. Alas, in the end, the emotional content wasn’t there, and the film’s pacing just … felt … too … slow. Also, the tone of the images, the cinematography, seemed too dark. There were a few key scenes that leaped out, but overall, this film wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
- Radio Unnameable – A rather straightforward documentary about Bob Fass, WBAI, and the freeform radio show, Radio Unnameable. The directors combed through *incredible* amounts of archival footage to create the film, but ultimately I wasn’t emotionally sparked by the movie. Bob Fass was there for the panel, though, and he’s an entertaining storyteller.
- Missing – A short, about people going to absurd lengths (psychics, “pet rescue” dog trackers) to find missing pets. This short film was too long (almost 20 minutes), and the pet owners didn’t seem to realize that they were the butts of a joke. Probably my least favorite of all the films we saw.
- The Central Park Effect – This film is about birdwatchers in Central Park. It covers a calendar year, going through the seasons and the birds present during migration. The nature footage of the birds was *incredible*, but this non-birdwatcher would have appreciated subtitles, telling me what birds I was watching. The Q&A after was a bit taxing – lots of birdwatchers comparing notes about their favorite birding sites (and similar deeply detailed personal statements, rather than questions.)
- Don’t Stop Believin’ – The final film for us, and the one that actually kicked off the festival last Monday night (but was sold out when we went to get tickets for it.) This movie tells the story of a Philippino singer who was tapped to replace Steve Perry in the band Journey. The film does a good job of showing contrasts between rock star life and the slums that Arnel Pineda came from. The middle dragged a bit — the challenge of showing how the tour dragged — and the conclusion (a concert in Manila) was rather inevitable. Still, I was struck by the sensitive portraits painted by the filmmaker.
So. That’s it. Docs done. Until next year 🙂
Mindy, had a wonderful time, and glad to be back home!