Sunday, December 10, 2017

AIFF 2017: Awards Ceremony has begun

Rebecca Pottebaum, the director of the Anchorage International Film Festival thanking everyone whose made the festival work.

It's dark in here and I'm rushing to get this up, so I didn't lighten it before posting.  But here's the audience.

And here's Noah and his crew from the short doc Perception:  From Prison to Purpose.   Going to switch to awards post.

AIFF 2017: Caught By Surprise By Wonderful Film - Arctic Daughter

Jean Aspen after the showing
I didn't know anything about Arctic Daughter except that it was about a woman who had lived in log cabins above the Arctic Circle inAlaska.  And it was the only thing showing today at noon, and I'd seen the shorts being shown at 12:30pm.

Tom Irons, Aspen's husband, post showing
I was caught up in a film that was beautiful in so many ways.  The visuals were beautiful - even the Ken Burns affect enough for me to notice it.  I wasn't conscious of the music but for a few times when the original piano score was perfect for the shot.  Then it faded back into the background of my consciousness.  I'm starting to have some trouble with hearing all the dialogue at this festival, but not in this film.  And the story is the great Alaska story of going out into the wilderness, building a cabin by hand, and surviving well through the winter.  But it's not a macho conquering nature movie, but a thoughtful reflection on the place of humans in nature.
Composer Lindianne Sarno
though a lot of it was made up of old photographs, it didn't feel like it was.  And they didn't use

It's a beautiful and inspiring film that I hope is seen by all Alaskans, and by all citizens of the U.S. and the world.  It's about the meaning of life, our relationship to nature, about change and human strength and fragility.  It's narrated by a beautiful woman who shares the wisdom she's gained from her experiences of life pared down to just the essentials.  But she's also lived in Arizona.  I've focused on one woman Jean Aspen, but it also involves some men - her first and second husbands and her son.

I'm not easily carried away like this by a film, but I was today.  The only quibble I might have is that toward the end it seemed to be getting a little too long, but there were two important things the film makers needed to say at the end.

This is as eloquent a statement as I've seen about our human place in the natural world.

And it turned out that this was the world premiere showing.  Even the film makers had never seen it on a large screen!  I learned that at the short Q&A right after the film was shown and then more time to talk to the film makers in the Port Room.  I was supposed to take J home and then come back and see the Best of the Shorts, but I in the end I went home and took a break to work on this post and now I'm at the Panel "From Short to Feature."

This reminds me of being surprised by another Alaska film that I saw under similar circumstances - Greg Chaney's The Empty Chair.  A really good and important film about Alaska that was getting its world premiere here at AIFF.

From the Festival description:
"D.K. Johnson, moderator, will be joined by Writer/Director Levi A. Taylor (Conspiracy P.I.E., Way Up North), Cinematographer/Gaffer April Frame (Frame by Frame Productions), Director/Editor Quinton Oliver Smith (Ruthless Rhymer, Find Me) and Director Logan Dellinger (Moose the Movie, Sudsy Slim Rides Again). Each filmmaker has taken part in both large and small-scale productions including feature films, music videos, commercials and reality television."

AIFF 2017: Last Day, Lots To See

A quick rundown of events/films:

Arctic Daughter - haven't seen it the link gets you a description.  Sounds like a video memoir of a woman who grew up in the Arctic.

Short Docs 2 has some very good films.  One of my favorites is "He Who Dances On Wood."  "Hairat" was by the same film maker and is an eerie short about a man who feeds the hyenas.  "Unwelcome' is narrated by a Syrian boy who lives as a refugee in Greece and the film maker (Ida Theresa Myklebost) has been here all week and I expect she'll be there for this showing.  "Family Rewritten" is about a teen in foster care and is 'in competition.'  I have video of Myklebost and Family director Yasmin Mistry here.  Bear in the Bedroom is an unexpected (by me, of course)  film that lets us into another person's life as he sees it.

Keep Talking was shown first at the museum the day before the festival officially began.  It's an interesting doc about the attempts to revive the Alutiiq language in Kodiak.

Best of the Fest Shorts - They haven't said which ones will be in this program.  This will probably be a sneak preview of the award winners in this category.   My favorite short was Game  But there were a bunch of good ones:  8 A.M., Toby, Cold Storage, 7 Beds, Yochi, and The Geneva Convention to name a few.

Aerial Films - "best aerial films from around the globe" Based on Alaska Aerial Media's website, we're talking drones here.

My comments continue below the schedule.

Sunday, December 10









Shorts to Features is a panel discussion.  Getting to hear film makers talk about their craft  always gives me lots to think about.

Awards Ceremony - I plan to blog live as they announce the winners.  Should be sometime around 6:30 - 7:00 pm but I'll just keep updating posts and give you a heads up.  Better yet, join folks at Williwaw and see it yourself.  I toyed with live-streaming on Youtube, but my first attempts today to make that happen haven't been successful.  I don't think I have time to figure it all out before 7pm tomorrow.

Best of the Fest - They'll be showing some of the top films, including audience choice awards.  But they only have three slots - so we'll see Best Feature winner, Best Doc winner, and an audience favorite, either a doc or a feature.

The winners should be announced by 7pm - 730pm.  You can check my blog, the AIFF website, or come down to the Williwaw (601 F Street - The old Coventnat House Building) around 7:30 and then pick your theater.

If you haven't seen any films yet this year - I'd recommend the best of the fest shorts at 2:30 in the AK Experience Theater.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

AIFF 2017: Lots of Films - Saturday Suggestions

There's way too much for me to cover today.  Click on the colored bars for more description of the films and the locations.

Family Films is free and it's animated films.  It's kid friendly, but not just for kids.  I might go see that program.  It's at Loussac.

Check It was the Gay-la documentary.

The Music in Film panel is for film makers, but people interested in film might want to go too.
"Join special guest, Liz Storm, and other industry professionals to discuss music licensing for film, copyrights, and distribution royalties."
Pale Blue Dot is a great Indian film.  I posted a homework assignment for it last week, but after watching it, you don't need to know the Hindu legend before hand.  But you might want to read about it afterward.
I did a second Pale Blue Dot post just now with video capturing people's reaction as they came out of the theater after seeing the movie last week.

More comments below the schedule.

Saturday, December 9












Between Earth and Sky is a documentary about climate change featuring Alaska.

Over the River is an Italian documentary about the town of Caselle in Pittare,, and how the young are leaving and the old oral traditions are dying.  

Life Hack was an interesting feature about two people whose lives are disrupted when people hack their phone and computer.  

I'll go see Animation 2 - though at Animation 1 last night computer problems marred the program and we didn't really get to see a couple of films, at least not the way we should have.  This one is also in the E Street Theater so I hope they change computers or whatever it is they need to do.  It was my first time in the theater and it's a good venue - if the films show right.  

AlphaGo is a riveting documentary about a human (the best go player in the world) playing against a new computer program (AlphaGo).  It follows the model of sporting event documentaries as we see the preparation (of the AlphaGo team anyway, not of the Korean champion) and then get nail biting coverage of each game.  It was well done.  A strong contender for best documentary.

What If It Works? is a fun feature.  The synopsis sounds a little strange, but it worked well due in part to strong actors playing interesting characters.  He's OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and she's got multiple personalities.  It takes place in Australia.  

Shorts on the Edge  is the same program as opening night.  

As I'm writing this I'm realizing that I've seen a lot of films this week with two full days left.  
A warning for Sunday evening.  I've live blogged the Awards Galas for the last couple of years.  I might even try to set up a live YouTube feed this year.  Though I've never done that before and I'm not sure I can pull it off between now and then.  But look out for the announcements.  

AIFF2017: Pale Blue Dot - Audience Reaction

I saw "Pale Blue Dot" last week and it plays again

Today (Saturday, Dec. 9) at 
2:30pm in the 
Alaska Exp Theater

 I think I'd rank it right after "The Drawer Boy" among the best features that I've seen.

It takes place in rural India and middle aged man, happily married with a son he loves, gets distracted by the idea of death after several friends and relatives die unexpectedly.  I communicated with the director Girish Mohite via Facebook before the festival.  He told me it was based on a Hindu legend and was about death and the meaning of life.  I was a little concerned about it being too abstract and esoteric, but it turned out to be a charming movie with interesting characters.  It's also a way to take a 90 minute trip to rural India.

 I posted about the legend and included the trailer last week.

Girish had asked to tell him how it was received, so I asked audience members if they would talk about it as they came out of the theater.  Here's what they said:

Friday, December 08, 2017

A Break From Movies - Watch Live on YouTube US National Boys Under 18 Soccer Championship

I got notice of this game and live presentation because I know someone on the Washington State team.  It starts about now.  You can watch it here.  Or below.

2017 National League - 18U Boys - 

Field 2- 4pm - Day 2 - 

Washington Premier 00 vs. NCFC Elite 

Here's a link to the US Soccer Youth website.    [UPDATE 2pm (Alaska time):  The game ended in a 1-1 tie.  It seemed to be raining pretty hard most of the game, which should have given the Washington team an advantage since they often play in cold rain.]]

I would mention that there is criticism of soccer programs in the US because they are relatively expensive and require a lot of parent participation particularly for driving to games.  The concern is that lower income kids - particularly immigrants from countries with soccer traditions - are kept out of the professional soccer pipeline in the US.  

AIFF 2017: On Tap For Friday

Hard decisions again.

Martini Matinee offers a good selection of shorts:  Brainstorm, Cigare, Baggage, Conspiracy PIE, Second to None, Gator Aide, Happy End, and Game.

Game is probably my favorite narrative short.  But Brainstorm is very well done too.

You can link to each program by clicking on the colored bars.

I haven't seen any Animation yet this festival, so I'm looking forward to that since I've already seen Painless, one of the features in competition.  The director, Jordon Horowitz, will be there to answer questions.  Here he is Wednesday night telling me about the film.

[Sorry,the titles in the movie disappeared.  I'll try to figure out why and fix it.] Friday, December 8








The director of AtoB Rollerski was here earlier in the week.  I'm not sure if she's still here.  Her film is about a Latvian Olympian who roller skis from Arctic to Baja.  

Muse is a feature about an artist whose muse expects a lot..