Thursday, March 29, 2018

BFI Flare: Making Contact

Rain did not stop play at Flare, as I managed a full day of screenings, socialising and a very informative Makers session with producer Elizabeth Karlsen. In response to questioning from Tricia Tuttle, Karlsen outlined her extraordinary career, moving between  London to New York, as she made early contacts with figures such as Christine Vachon and Todd Haynes who grew into film-making colleagues. She also grew quite emotional explaining how her first feature was Parting Glances, working with the late Bill Sherwood as he shot in his apartment. Quite the creative life. I also caught two features, one old and one new that were intense experiences.

Montana, despite the name, has nothing to do with the US state, but is a slow-burning Israeli drama written and directed by feature debutante Limor Shmila. I found myself quite confused by the large ensemble cast, supporting Noa Biron's star turn as Effi, wondering who all those people were and how they knew each other. This somewhat mirrors Effi's dislocation, arriving back home after an absence of 15 years to find not only romance with a neighbour but a disturbing dynamic developing within the family unit. It proved rather too disturbing for one audience member who chastised the festival and the director in the Q&A for not providing a trigger warning and for the inaction of the title character. Shmila and Biron were gracious enough in response, defending the complexity of the situation being depicted. Ultimately, in this film the silences proved to be the most powerful moments, allowing things that could not be said to hang in the air.

"Goodbye Sadness" is the song by Yoko Ono that plays over the closing credits of Silverlake Life: the View from Here, a film I have long wanted to see. It proved to be a captivating watch, one punctuated by vocal exclamations from the audience as we watched a long-term couple, Tom and Mark, live out their AIDS diagnoses on-screen, moving from good-humoured joshing to hospital procedures to physical decay and death. The KS lesions dotting Mark's back brought shock to some. I guess for many it was their first sight of such things, now not so common. Which is a good thing, I guess. Lives cut short, but lived well.

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