Saturday, October 13, 2007

Well, it's finally over, the New York Film Festival press screenings. Yesterday was quite a day. It started with "Calle Santa Fe", Carmen Castillo's long but engrossing memoir of the Left in Chile (due to problems on the subway, i missed the short that played with it); the afternoon screening was Koji Yamamura's animated "Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor" and then Jia Zhangke's "Useless". Then there was a reception for Sidney Lumet at the Armstrong Room of Rose Hall.

Then Larry and i went to the opening of "Here Is New York" at the New York Historical Society. Then i went to the screening of Irene Sosa's documentary "Shopping to Belong". Quite interesting how these films all worked together. Irene's documentary is about immigrants from Latin America and how they adjust by becoming consumers. In "Calle Santa Fe", Carmen Castillo was one of the many Chileans who became political exiles. And "Useless" begins with a section on the fashion designer Ma Ke. In the little press kit handed out, Jia Zhangke says: "Following the lead of clothes, we shot in three areas and discovered the real lives of people along different economic chains. The clothes can cover us, convey feelings and also carry the ultimate way of life. Clothes, a layer of substance in close contact with our skins, also have memories."

So Carmen Castillo's documentary was about the dislocation caused by the seismic political changes (and the violent, drastic measures used to achieve those changes) in Chile, and how many of those forced in exile have tried to return home; Irene's documentary is about how consumerism reconciles some people in exile to an idea of belonging to a consumer society; Jia Zhangke's documentary shows how the rapidly changing economy in China is creating huge discrepancies in social classes, often obliterating artisanal professions (such as tailors).

Also seen this week: Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi's "Actresses"; the short "The Vulnerable Ones"; Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's "Persepolis".

And now, The New York Film Festival's press screenings are over. Much to reflect on, but have to admit that, for all its flaws (which are readily apparent), the most exciting movie of the festival (for me) was Todd's "I'm Not There".


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