Film Fest 2006: Post 1

Opera Jawa

Sadly, not Star Wars-related at all. I had images of this sort of thing, really:

But such was not to be. Probably just as well, really. A Jawa Opera is probably a true hamsmacker of an idea.

Opera Jawa does provide an hour's worth of steamy dance-based erotic storytelling, cranking up its very charistmatic stars and building a fearsome tension in the protagonist, a good woman caught between two men. Her struggle to resist her own lust and remain true to the husband she loves is thunderously captivating. Unfortunately for the audience, she settles that struggle an hour or so into the picture.

Which leaves the audience sitting there watching, well, not very much for the second hour of the film.

A New Day in Old Sana'a

Important note for filmmakers around the world: just because you know a guy who speaks English doesn't mean you should cast him in your film, no matter how good looking you may think he is. Find out if he can act first. And whatever you do, dear god, please don't film him performing with those little ribbony things rhythmic gymnasts use. Please.

A New Day in Old Sana'a isn't as bad as this urgent plea might make it seem. The bits with the English guy are tedious in the extreme, yes, but he's not on screen for very large portions of the film. Though yes, he does perform with those little ribbony things. Swear to god.

This film is really driven by the hilariously over-the-top performances from the women. THEIR story is the one you really care about -- Bilquis the queen bitch of Sana'a and humble Ines the ngash painter.

But damn, those ribbons are really a problem.

Sound of the Soul

Why don't more festival films sell DVDs at the theatre? Probably for complicated and dull reasons, but fortunately these folks weren't so shy and we came home with this amazing documentary about the Sacred Music Festival in Fez, Morocco. More highlights than I can reasonably fit into a single post, unfortunately. Awesome.


Women Who Love Soccer and the Men Who Keep Them From It.

Filmed, it seems, DURING the Iran/Bahrain qualifying match for the 2006 World Cup, Offside is yet another film anchored by tremendous female performances, but in this film the women, who risk imprisonment to sneak into soccer matches (where women are not allowed by Iranian law), are bolstered by a laconic, exhausted performance by the guard who just wants to get through the day without getting into trouble with his bosses. He has no answers for the women who challenge him on the law he's trying to enforce, and eventually their willingness to work with him comes from their personal sympathy with him rather than their submission to an insane law.

GREAT film, one of the standouts of the festival so far.