3X Real Doc Shorts & This is Where We Live Day 5 FFF 2013

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Described as a "Sleeper" at it's World Premier at SXSW this Year

This is Where We Live Premiered at SXSW Film Festival this Year

After enjoying the classic 8½ with Mrs. LanceAround last night, tonight we went back for the regular features and shorts that typify the FFF. It began with 3X Real Documentary Shorts:

Monday's at Racine

Mondays at Racine is so Much More

Mondays at Racine
This 2013 Academy Award Nominated short documentary says it about a beauty shop on Long Island that provides free haircuts one Monday a month to women undergoing chemotherapy. But it’s much, much more than that. It’s a comprehensive look at several women struggling with the grim realities of their cancer; how it affects them, their loved ones and the support they get from places like this beauty salon. Top quality production in every way. DO NOT FORGET YOUR HANDKERCHIEFS!

Quest for the Gold

Quest for the Gold Falls Short

Crooked Lines
Last year, Lucy Walker’s film The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom won the Audience Award for Best Short Film. It was a visually stunning work of art. So I was eager to see her submission for this year, Crooked Lines. The story is about a Brazilian rower who everyone thought would compete at the Olympics. But when the trials occurred, he failed to make weight and was not allowed to compete. In my opinion, there was no movie when this happened. But the director had obviously put in a lot of time and energy so she finished up what she had and that’s what was presented. She is clearly an incredibly talented documentarian whose subject matter just fell short.

Open Heart

Open Heart Will Open Your Heart

Open Heart
Another 2013 Academy Award Nominated short documentary, Open Heart, tells the heart wrenching story of several Rwandan children with rheumatic heart disease who must endure a perilous journey to a Sudan hospital for treatment. It’s the only hospital on the entire African continent where a patient can get free surgery for rheumatic heart disease–which is often caused by not having any antibiotics to treat strep throat. It was started by an Italian surgeon and gets 75% of its money from private donations and 25% from an agreement with the Sudanese government. The recent turmoil in Sudan and the devaluation of their currency has drastically reduced the amount they promised to provide the hospital, which is now struggling finacially. This movie chronicles several Rwandan children who had to travel 2500 miles without their parents for life or death surgery; including one unlucky child who had to have a second operation. Watching the parents engage in their first Skype call with the children after the operation is worth every moment you spend crying during this film. Seeing the children skip and run a month after the operation is as uplifting a moment as you will find in any Hollywood epic. Go out of your way to find and watch this short!

Responses From the Audience
Delores said, “It was really good.” “Which one?” “The first (Mondays at Racine) and the third (Open Heart.)”

Several filmgoers in a row declined to comment–most of them obviously emotional and teary after such heart wrenching films.

“I enjoyed the films, I’m looking forward to more. This was my first session at my first Florida Film Festival.” “So what do you think after attending your first session?” “I think I’m glad I finally found the theatre because I’m not familiar with this area and got lost a couple of times. I enjoyed it a great deal. I’ve been to film festivals before but they’re usually a much shorter amount of time at much smaller venues. I’m really impressed with the quality of the films that they’re showing.” “And how shall I identify you in the blog?” “The Georgia boy in Florida!” Georgia boy then asked for our help in how to use the tear-numbered ballot to rank each film for the competition.

After speaking with several people who watched 3X Real Documentary Shorts, we spoke to some people in line getting ready to watch the next movie, This is Where We Live.

“So far, so good,” says one moviegoer. “And how many films have you been to?” “Four, Unfinished Song, which was great. This is Martin Bonner, we loved the talkback after that with the director and the writer. And we just saw Renoir. I can’t remember the fourth movie.” “Have you been to the FFF before?” “One time we went to a lot of films.” “And how shall I identify you in the blog.” “Susan. Susan and Alan.” “And are you guys a couple?” “We are!” “Okay, so it’s Susan, the talkative one and Alan…” “The silent one,” chimes in her partner.

This is Where We Live
One of the most difficult aspects about writing film reviews occurs when you feel emotionally attracted to the subject matter or members of the cast & crew or to what the film is trying to accomplish; but then you have to write that the film fell a little short. That’s the bottom line for me when it comes to This is Where We Live.

This was a personal film for famous actor Marc Menchacha (best known for a recurring role in season two of the TV hit series Homeland) who wrote the script, co-directed and stars in the movie. For over twelve years he has been a friend with someone who has cerebral palsy so severe he can’t even speak. Marc pours his soul into this movie–and it’s obviously a sensitive and touching soul.

When Benjamin graduated from local Full Sail University, his first roommate in New York was Marc. Benjamin was chomping at the bit to produce a movie and Marc had a script. Marc’s concern that he couldn’t both star in a movie and direct at the same time encouraged him to bring Josh on board. The cast was loaded with old friends, like Marc’s acting teachers, and shot on location at a hunting home owned by a recently deceased football coach who meant a lot to Marc.

The story is a very moving account of the struggles of dealing with difficult circumstances, such as dementia, the death of a child and a brother as well as the challenges and stresses of such a cruel infliction as cerebral palsy.

Obviously, for many people in the audience, the movie hit home. Several praised the film and were clearly touched by it. For myself and Mrs. LanceAround, the movie fell a little flat. Perhaps I’m too jaded by the need for more structure–a beginning, middle and end. Perhaps I want more than just a rough “slice of life.” Maybe I need answers, not just questions.

Movies like this one are important. They help bring a broader awareness of issues to light. Certainly Mrs. LanceAround and I had a stimulating conversation on the ride home. We found a lot we really like about this film. We’re glad it was made. We only wish that it, somehow, was structured just a little better so that it can find the wider audience that films like this deserve.

In the meantime we’ll keep going to the Florida Film Festival where we find that even imperfect films provide us with a richness that’s hard to find at the regular cinema.

Marc Menchaca at Q&A

Marc Menchaca at Q&A

Q & A with Marc Menchacha, Josh Barrett and Benjamin Fuqua
After the film, the writer/co-director, Marc Menchacha, co-director, Josh Barrett and producer Benjamin Fuqua did a Q & A with the audience. Marc began by telling the story of a friend of his who has cerebral palsy and how the character in the movie was based on him. As usual, I asked the first question.

“Did your friend see the movie and what did he have to say about it.”

At first, Marc began to look at his phone, like he was texting. Then, unexpectedly, he lowered his head and started to cry. He handed the microphone to Josh, his co-director.

Josh explained that the film had its world premier at the SXSW (South by Southwest) film festival a few months ago and Marc’s friend attended the screening. They have been friends for about twelve years. The actor who had CP in this film spent four days with Marc’s friend to help develop his character in this movie. Afterwards, Marc’s friend (who cannot speak, like the character in the movie) sent him a text that he painstakingly typed out. the text read:

Knowing me was on the reel. Life is reading thoughts. You took the pain of no speech. You have my thoughts and sincere friendship. Thank you!

At this, the audience broke into applause.

Several members of the audience just wanted to express their congratulations for the movie. They complimented the “authenticity” of the film. Cerebral palsy has impacted a couple of members of the audience and they expressed their appreciation for how sensitively the film treated the subject matter. It was touching to see the interaction between the audience and the filmmakers. It is what the FFF is all about.

After the movie, Mrs. LanceAround and I drove to the Enzian to enjoy some snacks provided by Whole Foods Market and to pick up the online tickets we ordered for Sunday Morning’s brunch with Cary Elwes where we’re going to enjoy watching The Princess Bride. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, you’re out of luck. It’s sold out. There might be a few tickets available on standby, but you’ll have to get to the Enzian early Sunday morning and wait in line. This is a hot ticket.

We hope to see you there.

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