April 27, 2005
Apparently my priorities were very different from the other IFFBoston audience members as well as the Grand Jury for the festival, as I managed to miss every single one of the winners for both Jury and Audience awards. I therefore cannot give you my own commentary on the winners, so I will instead tell you why I missed each and give my own alternate winner:
Grand Jury and Special Jury Award Prizes
Narrative Feature: BLACKBALLED: THE BOBBY DUKES STORY, directed by Brant Sersen. This is a mockumentary and therefore I question its placement in the narrative feature category. And I did plan to see it but I chose instead to see some real documentaries. I was flying high on idealism after seeing Chain and Mutual Appreciation and didn’t want to spoil the ride with silly cynical Comedy-Central comedy about Paintball players. And I want to know who the hell is on this Grand Jury if they picked this as the best film. I did manage to catch Filmic Achievement, another mockumentary, but was not impressed. It takes a very subtle hand to make an effective mockumentary–a little too much of one thing or another and you just look like a bad imitation of Spinal Tap or The Office. And Filmic Achievement, a mockumentary about film students, looked like that. MY SELECTION FOR THE AWARD: Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation, natch.
Best documentary: Ellen Perry for THE FALL OF FUJIMORI. I did also plan to see this one but couldn’t due to time conflicts. It is not possible to see all films in a film festival, unfortunately. I could’ve made time, but there are very difficult decisions to be made when you are trying to see as much as you can at a festival. Sigh. Such sacrifices we make. MY SELECTION FOR THE AWARD: I didn’t see enough docs in the festival to really have an authoritative opinion, and of those I did see I wasn’t bowled over by any, so I would have to go with The Future of Food, which I suppose you could say did bowl me over–with horror at our government and corporate greed. But if you allow Chain into the documentary category, that would definitely be my choice. It doesn’t really fit into doc or fiction categories, though.
Narrative feature: BROTHERS, directed by Susanne Bier. This was a late addition to the schedule and only had one screening, which I learned of too late, and I don’t really understand how a film can get that many votes from a single screening. It’s not something that I probably would’ve wanted to see anyway, though, and I suspect it got its votes because it is a dramatic and timely war film.
Documentary feature: AFTER INNOCENCE, directed by Jessica Sanders. Another that I was only mildly interested in. The docs in the festival seemed very straightforward and while generally I am more interested in documentary, I am not usually in it for the actual subject matter. If that’s all you want in a documentary, it becomes merely a matter of somebody finding the best/weirdest story. It’s then about journalism, not about filmmaking. The docs I did see (Future of Food, Rhythm Is It, Spew, and Inside Out) were all in this vein. Rhythm Is It, which is about a troupe of troubled teenagers who were wrangled together to put on a dance performance in Berlin, was perhaps the only one that tried to say more than its subject matter. But in a fairly didactic way, which to me undermines the artistry. And I didn’t see anything in the doc lineup at the festival that attempted much in the way of artistry. I could be wrong, of course, as there were a dozen or so that I didn’t see. But I don’t think I’m wrong.
In sum, I don’t think much of these award winners, neither the Grand Jury nor Audience Awards. Pfft.