It’s so nice when the final film you see at a film festival is a good one. After eight straight days of mostly mediocrities, I ended tonight with Drew Tobia’s SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY (can you translate the title into its vulgar expletive?). I was led to believe this was some kind of John Waters-influenced sleaze fest, and went in with low expectations. And, yes, there is plenty of the abject on view. But beyond the bodily fluids and ocean of profanity, the film approaches Cassavettes in raw emotional honesty.
There isn’t really a plot, exactly, the film is more a series of extended situations, and you begin to fear when the tipping point will come - when things are going to spin out of control. This is a portrait of three women who are in unbearable pain, and do not know how to live. And yet it’s also very funny. A real surprise.
I’m still sifting through the rubble for gems here at the Jeonju International Film Festival. There is a lot of rubble. But, given the huge recent staff turnover, I’m cutting the programmmers some slack. They just did not have enough time to craft a program with the level of complexity and risk-taking this festival is known for.
One highlight was the Jeonju Digital Project films. Every year, the festival comissions three filmmakers to make short works. Two years ago, we screened all of the shorts made from 2000 to 2011 - 33 films.
This year’s directors are Edwin (Indonesia), Zhang Lu (China), and Masahiro Kobayashi (Japan). While not exactly household names (except in very special households), they are all well-known figures in world cinema. Though the buzz seems mostly centered on Edwin’s contribution (whose extraordinary POSTCARDS FROM A ZOO showed in this year’s CAAMFest), I think I was most impressed by the piece by Masahiro Kobayashi. A dialogue-free, mysterious exploration of a marriage come undone, the director uses the most basic tools of cinema to express overwhelming emotion.
Another favorite this year was DISAPPEARING LANDSCAPE, by Serbian director Vladimir Todorovic. Shot in Singapore, Serbia, and Spain, it examines three couples and the different levels of tension created by the circumstances and landscapes they find themselves in. Highly sophisticated cinematography (this would have looked so good on 35mm film!), haunting sound design and an overall ambience of loss and dread combine to create a very unique work. Beautiful, and exactly the type of film it is essentially impossible to get an audience for these days. Sigh. If I show it, will you come?
I’m at the Jeonju festival now, in South Korea. I attended it once before, two years ago. This is something of a “transitional” year for them, as the last year or so has been plagued with scandal, resignations and firings.
The programming, while not as adventurous as recent years, is still solid. Especially strong representation from Latin America, India, and, of course, Korea. I’ll be posting throughout the week, on notable films and related news.