Friday, March 8, 2013

QWFF 2013 Day 3: Snow business

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.

And now the snow has arrived, in full force. All afternoon yesterday, the snow kept coming off and on, as if it wasn't entirely sure if it wanted to commit to being a full-blown blizzard, but by the time I arrived at the Renaissance Charter School for last night's QWFF block of films, Mother Nature went all in. I don't think it'll make too much of a difference for tonight except I'm going to a location I've never been to before. However, I've been reassured that it's not too hard to find.

The Renaissance Charter School
I'm feeling better. I've opted to take my cough syrup with me because I wanna be at my best when I'm watching all these movies. Last night wasn't too bad, but my throat was still kinda scratchy.

Throughout the two hours or so of the block of films, there were intermittent "blue-outs" where the image blinked out, or tracking problems in which the image went all wavy and shaky. There was a feature length film and two shorts; the first short, Splash, played okay, but the second short, Baby I Love You, and the feature, In Montauk, both experienced these problems. They were eventually corrected with a change of disc, though it was believed to be the Blu-Ray player for awhile.

"Baby I Love You"
Baby is an animated short directed by Faiyaz Jafri, who also did Planet Utero from opening night. I had the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes prior to his film. Originally from Holland, he's lived in the US for fifteen years and has worked in animation for over twenty years, exclusively with computers. Baby was originally meant to be part of a Beatles tribute album as a "video" for the song "Little Child," but rights issues got in the way. The short features a little girl in a nightmarish vignette with surreal, horrific imagery, not unlike that of Utero. Cat (who worked the door at RCS last night and introduced me to Jafri) thinks there's more of a narrative at work in both films, and maybe that's true, but they both struck me as being much more abstract and more considerate of the imagery than anything else. Jafri stated in a brief Q-and-A afterward that some of the imagery in Baby was inspired by other sci-fi and horror films.

"In Montauk"
In Montauk is a drama written and directed by Queens native Kim Cummings, about an extra-marital affair between a photographer and a musician over a winter out on the easternmost edge of Long Island, which doesn't leave either all that satisfied. Shot on location in both Montauk and Queens over ten days, Cummings said in her Q-and-A that it took over two years to edit. In casting, she opted for actors that she said instinctively got her characters. Indeed, they only had time for two rehearsals, but it proved to be enough.

The performances are good, and there are lots of nice shots of the Montauk seaside community, including shots of deer and seals. The motivations of the principal characters aren't obvious, and Cummings admitted that she was going for a subtle approach in her writing. At one point, Julie, the lead female, mentions how she doesn't feel she could balance both a career and a family, and I was disappointed that more lip service wasn't devoted to this idea, as it's certainly a relevant one for many women today.

There's nothing worth saying about the Spanish short Splash; it's a seduction scene between a woman in a pool and a reluctant man that's neither sexy nor interesting.

Day 1: The old neighborhood
Day 2: The Jackson Five

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