.Cinequest 2011 – Final Week

ANOTHER SIDE OF LIFE: ‘Bardsongs’ director Sander Francken in Africa.

LET YOUR GUIDE during these last days of Cinequest be whether a film is a “Charlie” or not. Cinequest’s representative in the Czech Republic is Charlie Cockey. Cockey selected some of the best of this year’s fest: Bardsongs, War Games and the Man Who Stopped Them, Life of Fish and Raavanan. In many ways, this year looks like the year the festival really came back boldly: the crowds were out over the first weekend, and the VIP lounge had some money behind it, as opposed to the hungrier years of W., when it was nothing but bagels and a bowl of M&Ms. Years ago, Cinequest predicted social networking would be a part of the festival, and it’s now firmly in place. Enough so that an invasion of Justin Bieber fans crashed the #Cinequest tag in honor of director John Chu’s appearance.

Director Sander Francken of Bardsongs (March 12 at 7:15pm, Camera 12) says that he would like to get permission to make a film in a Burundi refugee camp. His aim, as in Bardsongs, one of the best of Cinequest 21, is to show another side of life in the Third World besides depredation and histories of violence. Mysterico Fantastico! director/producer Anita Doron, is originally from the trans-Carpathian region of the Balkans. She says she met her star Beatriz Yuste in Toronto, where they both live, but a series of crossed signals kept them from working together. First, Doron didn’t respond to an audition tape, and then Yuste ignored an inquiry from Doron. Eventually, the two went to Oaxaca’s Playa de los Muertos to shoot in the permit-free guerrilla-filmmaking style. Seeing only the trailers and watching Yuste (a big girl) enjoying the sands and the cenotes, I flashed on Marianne Sagebrecht, Percy Adlon’s plus-sized fish-out-of-water star in ’80s comedies like Bagdad Cafe. The name Adlon drew a blank from Doron, though.

Dropped in on two films that I hadn’t seen: Rosa Morena (March 9 at 6:45pm, Camera 12), which sounded like the kind of baby-fever drama that clogs the Lifetime channel. It wasn’t at all. Workaholic Thomas (Anders W. Berthelsen of Mifune) takes a long overdue holiday in Rio and decides to adopt an underprivileged baby. It’s a mission he carries out with the delicacy and sensitivity of an Albert Brooks character, even though the film is not overtly comic. Procedural rather than sentimental, the movie notes the angry terrain of the class divide.

Worse luck with Oxygen (Adem) about a pair of Dutch brothers who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Young Tom gets caught in a class struggle of his own between his poor old friends and a new Porsche-driving one; meanwhile there’s a hospital romance with a “bubble girl.” It didn’t leave me gasping, unlike the heroes, though there’s always something you get from even a weak movie. Take Tom’s way of cheering himself up. It could be worse, he says. “We could have been sick in America.

Cinquest runs through March 13



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