Thursday, March 19, 2015

QWFF 2015 Day 2: They say it's your birthday

St. Patrick's Day always comes right before my birthday, but Tuesday night was the first time I had ever bothered to take advantage of it by getting drunk the night before. Who cares if everyone else is getting plastered for a completely different reason? I've always considered myself a kind of honorary Irish by virtue of being born the day after, anyway!

The crazy part is that it only took me one beer to get drunk! But that one beer looked like this. I think the bar where the Queens World Film Festival Opening Night after-party was held at was offering a special, but it was an odd one: either that one humongous beer or two smaller ones, and I couldn't get one now and the second later, so I bought the one big one and carried that mug around with me all night as I talked to old friends and made new ones. 

Long Island City,
where the Secret Theater is located
How did I get home? Well, I wasn't totally out of it. I was coherent enough to get on the train and then the bus, but what it came down to was that I told myself one thing, over and over: DON'T FALL DOWN.

Yesterday, I treated myself to a late lunch/early dinner before heading to Long Island City for Day 2. I had salmon. And that was the extent of my celebrating...

...because I had other plans. The Secret Theater in LIC once again hosts QWFF screenings. I wouldn't mind coming back here for something else one day, though it's easy to see what puts the "Secret" in Secret Theater: if you were walking past it, you'd think it was just another loading dock to a warehouse. Yes, despite all the development in LIC, there are still warehouses, and artists' spaces. My friend Nancy has an art studio there, not unlike what you'd see in SoHo or DUMBO.

I stayed for the first two movie blocks of the night; this is what I saw (Reminder for all you newbies: QWFF shows mostly short films, so they're arranged in "blocks," and the audience pays by the block and sees about an hour or two worth of short movies):

- Into the Dark. In the future, two prisoners shipped on a space-worthy vessel headed for their execution find the only comfort they can - in each other. It always amazes me how modern software technology can make outer space and computer graphics and spaceships look as slick as anything JJ Abrams can come up with, and that's the case here as well, but the story by writer-director-star Lukas Hassel is equally compelling. It's a one-man show, like recent films Buried and Locke, with all other characters off-screen, a format that I think works better for short(er) films like this one. Genre fans will dig it.

Filmmakers from the first block of films at the Secret Theater
- 4AM Gas Station Muzak. Heaven and hell compete for the soul of an ordinary guy just trying to put his life back together. Maybe a little too clever for its own good (did they really think that by showing an angel and demon playing chess together that we wouldn't think of Ingmar Bergman?), but it's still a game effort. Multi-cultural cast, nice use of location shooting in the California prairie, among other places, good editing.

- Reuber. From Germany comes this Gilliam-esque modern-day fairy tale, a bedtime story about a boy whose act of negligence leads him to run away into a magic forest with some bizarre characters. Like The Wizard of Oz, characters in the real-world framing sequence play double roles in the fairy tale, which is a nice touch, and there are funny moments, as you'd expect, but I thought it rambled far off course at times and wrapped up too neatly. Worth a look, though.

- Bright in Here. A one-night stand between two lesbian women on New Year's Eve. A nice character study, but that's about it. One would like to spend more time with these characters, though, to see where their relationship leads.

- Middle Man. At a tele-texting service for hearing-impaired people, a phone operator facilitates a conversation between two gay dudes trying to patch up their relationship. Clever premise, well-executed (although it took me awhile to figure out why one half of the couple didn't speak), but this is a Scottish film, with very, very thick Scottish accents. That, plus the fast pace of the dialogue made it difficult for this Yank to follow the story. Subtitles would help tremendously.

- Intrinsic Moral Evil. From the Netherlands, a very unusual short that's more of a performance video than a narrative, in which the concepts of homosexuality and youth are expressed in interpretive dance. Excellent cinematography and editing that uses the Zack-Snyder-slow-down-then-speed-up trick well. Quite fascinating and hypnotic.

Filmmakers from the second block of films
- Fire Island. Could the end of this marriage be decided by pure chance? Shot on location at the titular strip just off of Long Island (right before Hurricane Sandy hit!), the dodgy American accents by the actors were a distraction for me, but otherwise, it was okay. Good mix of comedy and drama.

- The Blood of Love. A woman goes to any and all lengths to keep her husband from dying of an unusual blood disorder. If there's one genre that QWFF has been far too short of over the years, it's horror, and this one had a good mix of gore and genuine drama. I was worried that the audience was laughing in places that weren't meant to be funny, but director Jeff Meyers said afterward that the laughs, intentional or not, didn't bother him.

- Remains. I'm sorry, but this Israeli drama about two gay guys bored the living hell out of me. I was already a little drowsy by this point in the night, but I swear, it seemed like all the characters did was bicker and I didn't care about either one of them - and of course it was the longest one in the block. Ugh.

More pictures from QWFF at my Tumblr page.

Day 1


  1. I'm late, but Happy Birthday! The festival looks like a good way to celebrate!

  2. Yeah, it is, although today wasn't all that great. Will post about it tomorrow.


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