September 26, 2010

Edmonton Day Two.

Saturday was relatively quiet. I slept off a wine hangover from Friday's after-party, and realized that the first film I wanted to see didn't start until 5pm.
After party on Friday, where I know 0 people. I was also under dressed.
I spent the first part of Saturday afternoon in search of wireless internet, then the rest wandering around Edmonton's gigantic City Centre mall. As a visitor, I felt it was my duty. I could then say with reasonable authority that malls are in fact stupid, American or otherwise. Edmontonians don't seem particularly in love with the mall, either. It was mostly full of teenagers and people with no taste.

The rest of Saturday I spent watching movies and chatting with the folks who work for the film festival. In chronological order:

Kerrie Long: Festival coordinator, and lover of short films. She's been in charge for four years, and seems to share conceptual/programming responsibilities with a fellow named Guy Lavellee (The most French Canadian name I've ever heard, but he sounds like he's from Cleveland). I was using my laptop outside the Festival theatre area, and upon passing me, she invited me into the nearby Elephant & Castle (A sponsor of the fest, and general place for hanging out between shows). She apologized for not being able to "offer" more to short filmmakers who visit the festival, all while buying me a beer, letting me into any film I want free of charge, and putting me up in a swanky hotel for two of my five nights. I thought, "next year, it'd better be TWO beers."

Made In Dagenham: A surprise of a film, which had me misty eyed through the entire second half. Not in a Dancer In the Dark kind of way, but in a Mr. Holland's Opus kind of way. It's a great ensemble, but Sally Hawkins definitely had a chance to shine the most. It's the story of a group of female Ford factory workers in Britain in the late 60's, who are re-classified as "unskilled labor" in order to cut their wages. The result of which sparks a women's labor rights movement across most industrialized nations. It's a pretty cool story, though the trailer makes it look really cheese-ball. [Link]

Gisela: A very friendly volunteer at the festival, who chatted with me for awhile between shows. She also gets brownie points because she helped make room for my film's promotional post cards on the big "promo table." She is German-born, but spent several years in Ireland, and now travels across the world volunteering at film festivals. Her story sounds insane (in a charming way), but you can read about it in her own words at her blog: Life Is A Festival!

Let Me In: An understandably controversial remake of a very recent and successful European thriller (Let The Right One In). The original is probably one of my favorite thrillers of the last decade, so I went in skeptical, but not cynical. Honestly, it was incredibly good. No hint of American Twilight fever, no watering down of the two kids' darker sides, and no softening of the torment that the central characters endure on a daily basis. It made enough changes to satisfy my desire to see something "new," but keeps enough to capture every bit of spirit and tone from the original. In light of the rash of J-Horror remakes that were nearly all pointless and bad, consider this closer to The Ring than The Grudge. Remake or not, the cast, the attention to detail, and the script were all handled masterfully. The two lead kids alone make this movie unbelievably fun to watch. I found out later that the director (Matt Reeves) last helmed Cloverfield, which was a second surprise, because I didn't really care for that movie. Let Me In means I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever he does next. [Link]

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