Thursday, March 7, 2013

QWFF 2013 Day 2: The Jackson Five

The Queens World Film Festival is a six-day event which showcases films from around the world at venues within the New York City borough of Queens. Throughout this week, I'll write about select films from the show. For more information about the festival, visit the website.

The worse part about getting this sore throat now of all times is that it's the first time I've gotten sick all winter. I thought I could get away scot free for the first time in I don't know how long, especially since this winter hasn't been all that harsh, relatively speaking. (Snow flurries have come and gone both yesterday and today.) I got home last night around 11:30 or so, earlier than the night before, and I didn't get a whole lotta sleep. I'm a little better now, though. I bought some more cough syrup and tonight's schedule is lighter.

The old, but still lovable Jackson Heights Cinemas
I spent yesterday evening at the Jackson Heights Cinema. It hasn't changed much since my last visit there - in the auditorium where they were showing the QWFF films, there was a broken chair somewhere in the middle rows. I don't recall if it was there last year. I don't wanna make the Jackson sound like a dive; like I've written before on several occasions, I still have a lot of affection for this place, even after all these years, and I'm glad it's a QWFF venue, but it is a bit of a letdown after the grandeur of the Museum of the Moving Image the night before. There is a bit of good news, however: one of the volunteers said that next year QWFF will have use of the center auditorium, which is much, much nicer and looks like a proper old-school movie palace. That'll be a great improvement.

I had to hurry to get there on time and as it turned out, I was way earlier than expected. Seems there was some manner of cross-promotional deal with a local restaurant tied into this specific block of movies, and the would-be moviegoers were still in the process of completing dinner by the scheduled showtime. I heard Don Cato say that he had to encourage them to finish up and head on over to the theater so they could start the block, and eventually a big flock of people made their way inside. Councilman Daniel Dromm was there, with a small entourage.

"Pollicino"
There were five films in this block; one of them was the Italian short Pollicino, from the previous night. I wanna talk about this a little more because it's definitely one of the best films I've seen at the fest so far. The director is Cristiano Anania; IMDB says this is his only directorial effort so far. It's a silent film, carried by one actor, Cristian Marazziti as Pollicino. The Facebook page translates Pollicino as "Tom Thumb," which is a kinda dumb-sounding title; it smacks of mockery. I prefer Pollicino. It has already won several festival awards around the world.

Marazziti is very subtle as Pollicino. Much of his performance is in the eyes (no full-retard here). Because Pollicino has Alzheimer's disease, he has no long-term memory, and he relies on Post-it notes to get him through the day - notes to remind him what things are, where they are, what he needs to do, etc. As I watched this a second time, I wondered whether or not he writes them. There's no indication of a caretaker. By presenting his life straightforwardly, Anania side-steps sentiment, and by having it end on a bit of a cliffhanger (my opinion, anyway), the film has a Neo-realist feel to it. I'm not sure how a feature-length version of this would work - it might be harder to avoid sentiment completely - but as a taste of one person's life, it's utterly compelling.

As for the other films in the block: Olivia's Cross is about a father-daughter camping trip, in the wake of the mother's death, that takes a turn for the worst. Lots of Malickian nature shots mixed with flashbacks of the mother in life. Didn't suck, but it didn't do a whole lot for me either.... Suicidio Lamprea: La Balada De Simon is a Spanish comedy about suicide! Old dude wants to check out early, only he ends up fighting Death Himself for the privilege. Not as satirical or as farcical as I thought it might be; there's the germ of a better movie in here somewhere, but I felt like it was a bit scattershot, too goofy to be profound and too profound to be goofy. Woody Allen used to do this sort of thing much better.... Confidante is about a young maid whose boss sends her on an errand to check up on her estranged brother. Again, there was something here worth exploring further, but I didn't care enough about these characters.

"My Day"
My Day had a small cheering section in the house. Turns out Don Cato worked on this as director of photography and editor, as well as co-producer. IMDB says this is the second film directed by Paul Kelly (no, not THAT Paul Kelly); he also co-wrote and co-produced it. It's a two-person character study; a mother and daughter with what appears to be some deep-seated, Eugene O'Neill-caliber issues that they attempt to hash out on Mother's Day, of all days. Lots of sneering and snarling at each other with what sound like lines layered with subtext. Judith Roberts and Patricia Randell make the whole thing watchable; the whole thing comes across like a filmed one-act play you'd see on public television.

You would not believe the mob of people waiting in the lobby for the next block when this block let out. Katha Cato said it was something like 180 people, all there to see a film called Mikey Boy, which, according to the QWFF program, is about an arranged marriage in Albania. I had wanted to see it too, but by this point I had felt no better physically, and opted to go home instead. I bring it up as an example of the kind of crowds QWFF sometimes attracts. Don't let its size and relative obscurity fool you.

------------------------
Previously:
Day 1: The old neighborhood

4 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for your comment about my short Pollicino...:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome! Hope you got more films to come.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you very much...tell about the short in all the festivals you know...it will help me a lot of...it is a little bit difficult to me to manage my short in the u.s.a...thank you

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe one day you can make it over here, after more people know who you are.

    ReplyDelete