Full Frame Documentary Film Fest 2009: Day Three

This will be another brief rundown because with all these documentaries coming at me I’ve had little time for blogging. Like I said before I will write more about select films after the festival is over and the dust settles. This is what I attended on Day Three:

(Titles in red don’t have IMDb listings yet)

BETWEEN DREAMS (Dir. Iris Olsson, 2009) A 10 minute film about passengers’ dreams on a 7 day Trans-Siberian train ride. Very affecting although dark and blurry at times. Olsson did a brief Q & A after in which she revealed that every aspect of the film including editing and scoring had been done on the train. It really could’ve stood to be longer but it’s pretty striking as is.

CARMEN MEETS BORAT (Dir. Mercedes Stalenhoef, 2008)

When Sasha Baron Cohen picked Glod, Romania to stand in for his homeplace of Kazakhstan for his audience pleasing alter ego Borat Sagdiyev, he left behind a lot of resentful residents. For some probably misguidingly romantic reason the film centers on the daughter of a local businessmen (one of the few well-off members of the community) who felt highly offended by Borat’s ruse. Ionela Carmen Ciorobea, who at 17 is consdered an old maid by her fellow townsfolk, dreams of leaving the poverty of the village and the clutches of unsuitable suitors. The title is misleading; Carmen never meets Borat (Cohen is only seen in recycled footage from the original movie; the photo above is Carmen hugging her father – see what I mean about being misleading?) which is reflected in the different more accurate title on IMDb: WHEN BORAT CAME TO TOWN. Ciorobea’s plight does have its touching moments and the tale of her father and other townsfolks’ ill-fated attempt at a lawsuit prompts some mild chuckles but overall the film doesn’t feel necessary.

THE MEMORIES OF ANGELS (Dir. Luc Bourdon, 2008) I feared this might be a dull travelogue but found it to be a mezmerising extended montage of many different film stocks from 50’s and 60’s Montreal, Canada. An example of the genre “The City Symphony”, which I was unaware of before this weekend, the well timed scene shifting along with the carefully chosen music accompaniment was engrossing from the first to last shot.

THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (Dir. R.J. Cutler, 2008)

As one of the most talked about offerings at the festival, this examination of the pain staking process of finalizing the September Issue of Vogue Magazine more than lived up to the buzz. Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is the real life Devil who wears Prada and her intimidating demeanor levels staffers left and right but not long-time creative director Grace Coddington. Wintour and Coddington never come to confrontation but a palace of passive aggression is built as the labored over layout comes together. As funny as it is fascinating, even if you know nothing of the world of fashion (like me), THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE surely will make a documentary dent when it gets a full release. An insightful Q & A (mostly about whether Wintour is really that mean) followed with guests director Cutler, editor-at-large, André Leon Talley, and Coddington followed the feature.

MIROIR NOIR (Dir. Vincent Morisset, 2009)

As it was nearing midnight on a Saturday it was a perfect time for the US premiere of a rock doc. Actually less a documentary than a hodgepodge of musical segments, both live and studio, featuring Arcade Fire – the cult Canadian band who are one of Merge Records’ (based in Durham) biggest sellers. Despite the lack of context with no venues identified, dates given, or interviews, the film is as artsy, abstract, and absorbing as their music. Most likely a late night favorite in years to come.

Whew! I have got to get some rest for the last day of the festival which will include an award BBQ and re-screenings of the winners. I voted on a number of movies so I’m anxious as Hell to see what wins and maybe view a film I missed. I’ll let you know how it goes.

More later…

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