Sunday, January 31, 2010

A FULL WEEK A FULL SCHEDULE

This morning it was hard getting up. Probably the first morning where I had to consciously make the choice of getting up with a little coaxing. Breakfast was great though. A good start to the day. Brad got up and made breakfast for those who had a film at 930. On the menu were scrambled eggs in a bowl and fruit salad in a mug. It was so tasty.

Today was kinda a rough day just because one im was really tired from going to bed at four and then having to wake up just four hours later PLUS my shins have been hurting me for the past few days. The pain will start in my ankles and shoot up to my shins whenever I walk down slight hills. Yesterday ibuprofen didn’t work so im greatful that I didn’t have to walk down hills much today.

Headed out for the 930 screening of Lourdes which thankfully was in a theatre near the church so we didn’t have to walk along ways which translated into more sleep and shins hurting less. After the film was over I honestly had no idea what I thought about it. It left you with more questions then answers and gave you so much to think about. The story follows a woman named Christine who was paralyzed from the neck down and was on a pilgrimage with a big group to go to the healing baths in hopes of….obviously, being healed, though not a very pious or religious person herself.

The main story line in a nutshell: Christine gradually becomes healed over the course of the film and about her journey through the process of getting her mobility back and what to think and do with her supernatural experience. One thing that I found interesting was that the priest with the group took her to a medical office to “officialize” the supposed miracle. To make sure that it was a genuine miracle. It took me back that this obvious miraculous event would have to be solidified or confirmed by scientific methods. Why wouldn’t you just rejoice in the fact that she could walk and eat for herself?

One sub-story that was really powerful to me was one that dealt with a mother and her daughter who were separate from the main group, there on their own. Her daughter had some type of mental retardation that confined her to a wheelchair, having little or no response to things around her, unable to talk or express feeling, and drooling on herself constantly. You can plainly see that the mother is dedicated and a devout religious person and would do anything to have her daughter healed. She prays continuously and goes to all the sacred places fervently praying for her daughter. At one point, they are at a shrine of some sort where you light a candle and then lift up your prayers. Well, the mothers prayers were answered and her daughter Anne becomes aware of her surroundings, you see the glow in her face, and you know that she is with it and what looks like completely healed. At this point I was celebrating with the mother cause I could only imagine what it felt like to basically not have a coherent daughter because of an illness and I was happy that her prayers were answered. But, later on in the film [after Christine had been healed], we see the same mother and daughter looking on at Christine and you notice that the daughter is back to her state of mind before the healing. She was again mentally handicapped and unable of communication.

This tiny side part of the film I think was the biggest thing I took away at the end of the screening. Though, I don’t even know what exactly it is that I took away from it, I cant put words to it quite yet. If I do in the future – ill be sure to share them. It just hit me as sad, confusing and I kept asking, “Why didn’t see stay healed?”

One of the most prominent questions asked by the film or one that was evident as being a main point in the film [of course this is my opinion and how I interpreted the film as with all the other films seen and talked about on my blog] was the one of “Why me?” This question was presented within the two different stories of the mother/daughter and Christine. The mother, a very pious and religious person, her daughter was not healed for long while Christine’s healing lasted [that being assumed since the ending didn’t say what happens next]. Why did Christine, one who might be considered less worthy, get healed while the mother/daughter who were fervent and very religious not get a lasting healing? It kinda reminds me of Sympathy for Delicious in the fact that both Dean and Christine had something supernatural happen to them that they didn’t understand why it happened [Dean-healing touch and Christine-the healing] and happened to them of all people. In Lourdes one of the characters with the pilgrimage group asked the priest the very same question, “Why did Christine and not someone else get healed?” The priests answer was this, “God is free.” God can do whatever he wants and wills. The second part of the priests answer was, “….and thats life.” We may not understand why something happened to either someone we know or ourselves, but God is free and that’s life.

Another aspect of Lourdes that was throughout the entirety of it was that there were settings, shots and characters who would question the authenticity of passed and present miracles that had happened or were happening, showing the opposite view of the core principle of why Christine was there in the first place. The scene that I think showed it the clearest was the very, the very last shot. It was at the celebration for the end of the pilgrimage. Christine was slow dancing with a man when she fell. She went over to a wall to steady herself and take a break. An older lady comes over to her with her wheelchair she once depended on but Christine refuses it. After a long shot of just her and the older woman looking out onto the dance floor Christine sits back down in her wheelchair, the screen fades to black and the credits roll. I think this scene is so important to begin understanding what Christine believes about her own healing let alone of the mother/daughter or any of the other stories she had heard about the miraculous healings. Even though she feels the affects and sees the results first hand she still doubts the power of the miracle and if it will last for long. She is afraid of the possibility of becoming paralyzed again because of what she saw happen to the mother and daughter from before. She doubts if there is a god or not. I think this last sentence is the key theme or question of the film, asking if there is a God or not.

[After writing this blog I read over it and realized that I actually did know what I thought about it. Funny.]

After Lourdes, I decided to head back to the church to kinda chill out and sleep a bit to prepare for the long day ahead. Went to quiznos to get the amazing basil tomato soup again and this time I got two flatbreads and walked back to the church and sat down to eat my feast.

3oclock finally rolled around and people started coming in for class. Other people from the church started setting up stuff and re-arranging the room so I went outside and called Karyn Roe since I haven’t spoken to her in about a month since shes been in Prague. It was a nice chill conversation, one that made a good day better. Came back inside cause I was freezing out side and sat down on a bench….woke up about a hour later. At least I got a little nap right?

Today we had Jeffery Blitz come in and speak. He directed Lucky that screened here and also directed Rocket Science [great film] and Spellbound which I still need to see. He also directed a few episodes of The Office and worked on the Star Trek films [brownie points!]. his Sundance film Lucky is about people who have won the lottery and how their lives are drastically changed because of the amount of money that they won. It went through their issues that came out of it: family qualms, being looked at as a bank, and one guy’s brother had a hit out for him….crazy. Sadly I didn’t get to see this film but it was interesting to hear what the director had to say. I guess there was a quote by a character in the film named Buddy I believe and he put it perfectly, “The lottery is like putting Miracle Grow on a person’s defects.” We also had Ralph Winter come in a speak as well. He was the producer of the X-Men films and Fantastic Four along with MANY others. He is being honored this year with the Windrider Spirit Award and that was presented to him tonight. Ralph made some really cool comments about Sundance that really affirmed why I love independent films. He said that its not a controlled environment, its pure and has a certain purity in its passion for film and it brings you back to why you love making films….all that I wanna do with my future! He also said something that I have heard over and over again, “I don’t know how you can do this by yourself. I don’t know how you can do this alone.” This is one piece of advice that I will take away from this entire experience, that I cannot make a film by myself. I need the people around me to help me along the way to create a successful piece of art. Everyone should watch out for Ralph making Redeeming Love into a film and possibly a trilogy about King David that isn’t sugarcoated. He wants it to be gritty, bloody and true to the story. So keep a look out for those possible future projects from Ralph Winter!

We watched Jitensha [Japanese for “bicycle”] which was a short film that had won the Choice Award at the Heartland Film Festival. I really enjoyed this short. It followed a guy who worked at a go-nowhere job who never went out and seems to just live in a routine with no excitement and who also had just recently been beat to a pulp. We see his bike slowly disappearing piece by piece. Once the entire bike was gone he received notes from “god” telling him where to go to find the individual pieces. This short followed his journey not only to find his bike but to re-discover himself. I think the person who

Then we started watching another film called After the Storm which was a feature length documentary about three guys who wanted to do something for a small part of the New Orleans youth in the community. So they decided to put on a musical and hold try-outs for the show Once on This Island. It was really interesting but a few of us had to leave early sine we had tickets for the Grand Jury US Documentary winner screening. We had no idea what film it was so we were hoping it was one we hadn’t seen….it ended up being Restrepo. We turned around and headed to the Eccles Theatre to see if we could instead get into the Grand Jury Dramatic Narrative screening. Some of the group had tickets already so about five of us went into wait-listing and got numbers 103-108. After a long process of trying to buy tickets and being jipped by some girls next to us we finally all got in and met up with the other half of the group. We got great seats for coming in a bit late so I was happy. The film was Winter’s Bone which is great since I hadn’t seen it yet.

Winter’s Bones was an intriguing film to say the least. Its about a family who might loose their house because the father [an expert at creating and sustaining meth labs] put it up for his bond and if he doesn’t show for his court date then the law will take the house away from them. Well, of course he doesn’t show and the daughter Rae, who is basically the mother of the house [taking care of her sick mom and raises/feeds her two younger siblings], is determined to find her father so she can save the house and ultimately save her family. She calls it “huntin for dad.” Its quite gritty and raw. Later on as Rae asks around her extended family if they have seen her dad you found out that her dad isn’t too popular and that no one wants to really help her and she is warned to leave the subject be. But Rae being very stubborn/determined/and a very dominant personality she pushes on despite the warnings and so she gets the crap beaten out of her by her three aunts. Great family right? The story goes on and you end up with the fact that someone in Rae’s family killed her dad because he was gonna spill some beans about the family trade. Rae has the task now of proving that her dad is dead and one night her aunts show up on the porch and tell her they will take Rae to her dads body. Rae has to cut off both of her dads hands [well her aunt does it with a chain saw] as proof that he is indeed dead so the house wont be taken away. In Winter’s Bones the women are so freakin bad ass its terrifying to be quite honest. Im glad my aunts wouldn’t beat me to a pulp and my extended family wouldn’t kill my dad over family dirt. Those women have to be strong and you could tell that through Rae as well. She was going to join the army just so she could get the sign up cash to help her family, she took the brutal beating which knocked a tooth out, gave her a split lip and a bashed up eyebrow and jaw. I think a lot of the film dealt with the issue of survival and protection of the family you love.

Me and ryan gates then booked it over to another theatre to catch the midnight showing of Skateland at the Prospector Theatre. It too was a great film. Set in 1983 it was chalk full of fantastic 80’s music [which I am proud to saw that I knew the entire soundtrack minus one song], really short shorts….on guys, cassette tapes and record players, the Polaroid camera as the only camera, the good ole MTV made an appearance and then of course the skate rink as the cool hang out spot everyone went to. The basic jist of the film was this young guy who works at Skateland and its shutting down, he doesn’t know what he wants in life, his parents get divorced and one of his best friends dies in a car accident. Oh, and how could I forget, there is a little romance involved too. It was great to see the 80’s portrayed so well. Granted I wasn’t around then but from what I know it was done really well….plus an older guy in the Q&A applauded the set designer of the accuracy so ill take his word for it. My favorite quote was this [talking about everything wrong happening], “Like all things, it to will pass.”

Thankfully, me and ryan caught a bus that went almost right to our condos door so the walk wasn’t bad at all and it wasn’t too cold out in the first place. Got in, took off my boots, got changed, went to bed. Good night.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

DAY SIX: BRUSH WITH FAME

Windrider Forum this morning was buzzing with excitement when we welcomed Mark Ruffalo [director and supporting character: Father Joe] and Christopher Thornton [screenwriter/main character: Dean] to discuss their film Sympathy for Delicious. I hadn’t seen their film up until this point so I was really interested to hear about it before seeing it. The general consensus was that it was very well done and with a great story line. Since I had no idea really what the film was about or experienced it for myself I couldn’t connect with what everyone was saying at the forum. But there were a few quotes that were said that really stuck out to me:

“The ‘F’ word right next to a healing [service], I loved that!” ~Craig Detweiller [CD, our prof. describing the film’s two extremes of secular and religious]

“….from the sacred to the profane.” ~Mark Ruffalo [MR]

“Faith is believing in something for the sake of believing it.” ~MR

“[this film] grew out of the worst part of our lives.” ~Christopher Thornton [CT]

“[the film] doesn’t question the miraculous but rather the motives behind it.” ~CD

“[talking about the ending of the film] The garment was my idea, the water was Mark’s and the wind was God.” ~CT

This last quote was really cool to hear from a filmmaker who necessarily wasn’t spiritual at all even and yet he still acknowledged that there is something bigger then himself controlling the elements.

The quote from CT about how the film came from the “worst part of our [CT’s and MR’s] lives” was such a heavy and personal story and I was honored/blessed that they were able and willing to share it with us. At twenty-five CT was in a rock-climbing accident and ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair, MR had brain cancer and over came it and then his brother was shot in the head in Beverly Hills in December of ’08 one month before they started shooting Sympathy for Delicious. And from these experiences CT wrote this amazing film and MR brought so much depth to his character and others. [more about the movie later on]

They could only stay for forty minutes since of time crunch im assuming for interviews or more screenings. But the thing that really impressed me was how kind and genuine they were. They actually were humans and not movie stars if you know what I mean.

So once they left class resumed as normal. To be honest – a lot of the times I either don’t get half of what CD is saying cause he uses really did theological words or its just not really interesting. BUT today I figured out why I couldn’t explain why I liked and felt connected to Obselidia or more like I found an explanation for it with this definition given by Peter Rollins in his book The Fidelity of Betrayals: epistemological incomprehension – not knowing why something affects oneself. So when I watched Obselidia is had an epistemological incomprehension =]

“Instead of being limited by the poverty of absence we are short-circuited by the excess of presence [of God].” ~Peter Rollin [out of his book How (Not) to Speak of God]

So there was a film I wanted to see real bad called Skateland but ended up not being scheduled for it since we only got two tickets. Well, at the screening of Life2.0 last night Alex was sitting next to a lady named Sherry who had heard of Taylor and wanted to sell two tickets to Skateland. A received a mass text and responded immediately saying how I really wanted them. So Alex got Sherry’s number and gave it to me so we could meet up today and I could buy them from her. So I gave her a ring and we decided to meet up at 130 at a café on main street. Of course, me with my crappy memory, forgot what café it was so I called her again asking for the name. We end up finding out that we are going to the same movie 3 Backyards so we decided to meet up in the lines. Well we found each other but then I lost her when she went into the theatre since she went before me. Funny thing is I called her to see where she was and she was sitting two seats down from me. Anyways – I bought the two tickets for tomorrow at midnight and we then got into a great conversation about the films we have seen etc. She would be a kick butt grandma.

Due to having 3 Backyards at 1115 me and a few other left class early to arrive at time to get good seats. It was the only movie so far that I wished to have back that time. I rather have taken a nap. It was three separate stories about people in a suburban neighborhood and how they never intersect with one another. To me, the film had no point and went nowhere. That is until the director explained it in the Q&A. A film needs to be able to stand by itself without any explanation to be understood. The director said that it was all about connections within each of the individuals’ story. Even after his explanation I couldn’t completely see where he was coming from. The other thing that was distracting was the soundtrack. It didn’t fit what was being shown on the screen. For example: the intro was showing all things nature like flowers, bees, and sunshine but the music was setting a different mood sounding more on the dramatic/eerie side which would seem to be the opposite of what was trying to be portrayed. I think the only redeeming quality in this film was that it had Kathryn Erbe from Law&Order: Criminal Intent as one of the main characters.

A small lunch stop came next on main street with Brent before our next film A Film Unfinished in the Egyptian theatre! This was the film that I put as number one when we had to rate our top documentaries that we wanted to see. Its about a Nazi propaganda film on the Warsaw Ghetto that was discovered and this director showed the majority of the film and then interviewed one of the men who actually took the footage and also showed the propaganda film to Warsaw ghetto survivors. The reason I wanted to see this so badly was because I did a yearlong project on the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and ever since have been interested in the subject. Sadly I dozed on and off for the first half of the film because I was so tired but then I ate something and was awake for the rest of it [the power of food is a mystery]. The film was very disturbing. You saw actual footage of mass graves and people starving to death, only skin and bones. The most disturbing part for me was seeing a body fall off a cart. The body was so flimsy and frail that it looked so grotesque and unnatural [as it should look]. The other part was when Jewish workers were burying the dead in mass graves and to get them in the grave they would literally throw them down a wooden slide. The interview with the man who took the footage was really well done. Mostly close ups with brilliant lighting which made him look a bit sinister and yet regretful or sad at the same time. You could really tell that this man regretted what he had done even though he didn’t know what he was filming it for. The narrative voices were phenomenal too. Different voices for the different diary entries and then the director narrated all the other material. One quote that really hit hard was said by a woman who had survived the ghetto and was watching the propaganda footage, she said as she covered her face and began to weep, “Im human again. Im not immune anymore. In thankful I can cry again.”

After A Film Unfinished we decided to go wait-listing for Sympathy for Delicious since it had such good reviews from many people plus it just looked like a great story. So me and brent met alex klaver and josh at the raquet theatre where it was being screened to get in line for wait list numbers. Alex and klaver were there before us and got numbers 4/5 while me and brent got 14/15. Josh came a bit later and got a number somewhere in the mid twenties. Since we had an hour and a half to kill we went to starbucks and quiznos to grab a bite to eat or for me I just got a coffee. Got back in line with forty minutes to spare. Ale and klaver actually bought tickets off someone so they gave us their numbers and we gave our numbers to some people behind us. We were praying and hoping that there would be some seats open….at least five so we could get in and justify the waiting around for three hours. Thankfully we did get in and the film was fantastic. One of my top five for sure.

Sympathy for Delicious was about Dean who is a paralyzed DJ who ends up having the gift of healing. Throughout the story his priest, Father Joe, encourages him to use his gifts to heal those around him, in Skid Row, an area overtaken with the homeless and sick, which is where he lives ass well. Dean ends up joining a band, after Father Joe uses him for the benefit of collecting donations for the healings, to be the scratch artist and uses his gift of healing as a performance and to get the band famous. Whats so interesting is the fact that Dean has this amazing gift of healing and can heal everyone but himself. The one person who wants it most. To me it seems that in the beginning Dean is somewhat ashamed or embarrassed of his gift and yet totally switches his approach by selling out with this band to make some cash. As Dean searches for why he cannot heal himself or be healed at the few healing services he attended in the beginning of the film another priest says such a great line, “What your soul needs may not be what you want.” There are so many other great things about Sympathy for Delicious such as the soundtrack which was fantastic. It went so well with everything.

Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Thornton, Wednesday Standley [the first assistant director] and another chick who I have no idea what part she had all were there for Q&A afterwards. Someone asked if this film was a religious film and CT responded with this, “Its not a religious movie it just happen to have religious characters in it.” I thought this was really interesting because the film opens with Dean in a healing service and MR’s character is a priest.

We all waited around outside after Q&A to see if we could get a chance to talk to MR and CT which luckily we did! They really surprised me with how nice and genuine they were towards us. Normally celebrities are jerks and don’t care about people and it was really quite refreshing to see a filmmaker genuinely interested in what we were doing and wanted to do later on. So for all you Mark Ruffalo fans out there – I got to chit chat and shake his hand! Haha =P MR was so cool – he asked us if we were filmmakers and we said we were trying to laughing a little about it but then he said, “You either are a filmmaker or not.” He then put his hand on josh’s shoulder and said to us, “Starting today, you are filmmakers.” It was very encouraging and just a cool moment.

Got on the bus and started to head back to wherever when Alex got a call from the director of Kavi [a short film we saw from the Angelus Student Film Festival] and wanted to know if we wanted to hang out somewhere on main street for a bit. So we all headed to the Red Banjo [a small restaurant] and ate some food, drank Cherry Coke [they put actual cherry sauce in normal Coke to make it] and talked film. It was great to be able to sit around a table with a successful and young director with some of his friends and just talk about film and life. Very fun and very eye-opening.

We headed back to the condo around midnight and got in twenty minutes later. I of course instantly sat down to start blogging and four hours later here I am finally finishing up. You are probably wondering why it has taken me four hours to write about my day and I shall answer….

Me, ryan gates, and Julia all started at the kitchen table with plans to be completed. Ryan was writing a paper and me and Julia were blogging. Well lets just say with the combination of ice cream, YouTube videos of funny falls/grannies punting children and making air bags go off, time passing by making which made us more slap happy and with that emerging stupid words and even dumber quotes which resulted with much laughter it is obvious that work was put off.

Well now im done and im going to bed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A CHILL DAY....FINALLY

"poets have no advice to give. they only want people to see differently, to re-vision life." ~Walter Brueggemann [from his book Hopeful Imagination]

thats basically what i learned this morning in class....until of course some of the cast, the director and the producer of Dry Land came and talked to us and was broadcasted as a live podcast [you can listen to it here].

these are the people who were present....
Ryan Piers Williams:Director
Heather Rae:Producer
Ryan O'Nan:James
Jason Ritter:Michael

our prof started off and hosted the majority of the questioning but then it was opened to a few questions from the students and prof/others present. it was really interesting what was said and such. i thought it was really cool how Melissa Leo, who played the mother who passed away, wanted the role even though it was a small role because she wanted the responsibility to be the one who represented the mother's love towards her son. the director said she wanted the role for this single sentence, "We've all done things and i love you no matter what." and then some other stuff that i dont really feel like writing since its about 1AM and i tired =]

though one quote that i did remember was said by Jason Ritter, "its good to break hearts."

i was gonna ask a question but it had to deal with the ending and since it was live i didnt wanna ruin it for those who havent seen it. so afterwards i waited around and after about forty-five minutes i finally got up to Ryan Piers Williams to ask my question. and i wont say it here because i am sure that you people will have the good sense to go and rent it when it comes out because i am sure it will.

[oh, guess what? Mark Ruffalo (who was in Collateral, 13 Going on 30, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, etc) is coming to our class and talking baout his film Sympathy for Delicious which i hope to wait-list tomorrow]

so after that me a few others waited around for an hour or so at the church to kill time since our next film was at 3. food was a priority so quiznos was on the menu. got the most delicious tomato basil soup i have ever had and their flatbread was so fluffy and yummy =] to kill more time me and ryan gates went to the filmmakers lodge and sat in on a discussion panel talking about film and social justice issue. the two directors/producers from Enemies of the People and the directors of Freedom Riders were there. sadly they didnt start getting into any of the real issues till we had to leave for our 3oclock film.

Its a Wonderful Afterlife was the film. directed by the same women who did Bend it Like Beckham which in our house is a regular that me and mother watch for fun and enjoy quite thoroughly. the first few minutes set the tone of the entire film. a man dies and then his torso explodes in the hospital due to crazy amounts of spicy curry. just to give you a taste of what this film is like here is one of the scenes in a nutshell: think Carrie prom scene set at an indian engagement party.....yeah its crazy and funny. mother, i think you would like it =]

dinner next up at some pizza place that was actually quite good. me josh and treat had to split early to catch the wait-list numbers for Holy Rollers at the library theatre. wait-listing is when you dont have a ticket for a film so you go in about two hours early to get a number that basically saves your spot in line when you come back forty minutes early to see if you can make it in where people dont show etc. so we got our numbers [in the early 60s] two hours early and the line was already long so we were only hoping to get in at that point. so we hung out in the library for about and hour and a half just chilling and waiting for the time to pass.

830 rolled around and we got back in line and met a really cool couple that we started to chat with. they had just got in that day and this was their first film of Sundance. we obviously talked about films we had seen and we got on the topic of how we were here for class and it was cool to see how interested they were in why we were here and they even asked us questions about what we wanted to end up doing with our chosen majors. we finally got to the front of the line and yes did make it in.

the movie was pretty good. great story that i havent seen before. about a hassidic jewish teen turn drug dealer. it was crazy how naive he was in the beginning as to what was going on. his friend Yosef offered him a job to transport "medicine" from europe that "was for rich people and helped them." Sam [main character] did not catch on even after he had transported the drugs what they were. he only found out cause the client mentioned the word drugs. only then did he realize what he did. the culture of the hassidic jews portrayed was also really interesting to see play out in the film. i know nothing of it so it was fun to learn a bit about it and it was nice to know that the director had a friend who knew the religion/culture who made sure that things were accurate. for instance: the thing that really pushed Sam away from his family and deeper into the job given by Yosef was the fact that the girl his Rabbi and parents set him up to marry rejected him. to me it was weird to see how much it disturbed him when he found out even though he didnt even know her or love her and yet he freaked out. me personally, id be so relieved to find out that the guy that i was made to marry went off and found someone else.

the other thing was how different the two cultures Sam ended up living in during the movie. he started out as a lower middle class, strict living person to a place with no rules where you can have and get whatever you want. from money, to sex, to drugs/ecstasy, etc etc. the soundtrack helped and was brilliantly written to go from hassidic traditional to tech-no club music in the same scene. all original by the way.

so now my brain is pudding cause its late and im tired =] see ya tomorrow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

LESS WORDS, MORE PICTURES

so i thought that by this time you would be a little tired of reading about my everyday, detailed and lengthy happenings at Sundance so i decided to let your eyes rest from all the words and to just do a picture blog....so i will shutup and post.






but please, keep reading about Sundance!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MY SOUL WAS SUCKED OUT....DAY FOUR

this morning was brutal is many different ways:

first, we had to get up at the most un-godly hour of 7. for some that may not be early but for me that is. second, today was the day of emotionally draining films that liked to suck out your soul, rub it in the dirt and then stomp on it a little bit more.

the most draining film of the day of course happened to be the first one screening at 830 in the morning. it was called Dryland. it followed the life of James who was in the Army and has just returned from Afghanistan and realizes that he is dealing with a serious case of post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. at night he becomes unknowingly violent while sleeping towards his wife, choking her until he wakes up, major mood swings, deals with severe anxiety and he doesnt remember what happened at "the hit" [the event that sent him home on an honorable discharge]. it goes through his humiliation of going to the doctor and admitting he needs help and has issues, his wife separating from him till he "gets his shit straight," finding a job and then ultimately whether or not he was going to commit suicide.

this film was super intense and really hit home on many levels for me. at parts i couldnt even look at the screen. in the beginning James finds a job at his father-in-laws slaughterhouse and they show a live slaughtering of a cow. as many know im a vegetarian and so of course it disturbed me quite a bit but even without that fact, the film showed the entire process from knocking the cow un-conscience [where they showed blood gushing from the nose] to the actual slitting of the throat [and the cow isnt actually un-conscience] which is shown with no discretion. the other part that i couldnt watch was at the end when James is under so much distress that he is in his house deciding if he should take his life. he is a mess and he takes out his gun and sits on his bed. his dog is next to him and he is crying while he puts the barrel in his mouth. i couldnt watch it felt so real.

Dryland hit home with other points as well. James' mother dies and for some reason it reminded me of my gma. the character and my gma are nothing alike in personality but his mother's death resinated so powerfully i instantly connected it to my grandmother.
James was a medic in the Army and thats the same with a good friend of mine [i consider him more as a brother then just a friend] and the entire time i was thinking, "what if he came back and had PTSD?" my heart would just break. James also reminded me of my cousin's husband Roger. he was in a humvee accident and had some brain damage but thankfully is doing alot better and is almost fully recovered. but the similarity between James' hit [his truck/vehicle was hit by a RPG] and Roger's and then how James couldnt remember what happened and Roger's brain damage were too similar to look over it.

and then the other thing that hit me hard was how James was going to commit suicide. over the years i have become sensitive to the issue of suicide and dont like watching people go through it in films since it reminds me of a few close friends who dealt with and attempted suicide. just seeing James with the gun in his mouth was overbearing to think that some of my closest friends were going to do the same thing as him but just in different ways. it hurt.

i would recommend this film but not to the faint of heart. the director is hoping to release it in August of 2010 so be on the look out.

Dryland ended at around 1030ish and i was still thinking and processing it by the second film of the day 12th and Delaware that showed at noon. this film was about the goings ons of the corner of S. 12th and Delaware in Florida. whats so interesting about this particular corner is that on one side is an abortion clinic and then right across the street is a pregnancy help center. the documentary shows what i thought to be quite a balanced view on both sides of the debate. it interviewed the two owners and some of the patients of each following their journey
through the decision. the two co-directors and one cinematographer spent a year on the corner filming a variety of protesters, patients and this was the first time that anyone has filmed inside one of the pregnancy centers and abortion clinics.

one story that shocked me was the one of fifteen year old Widline. she accidentally went to the pregnancy care center instead of the abortion clinic and started talking to Anne the owner. thankfully she ended up keeping the baby but didnt actually want it. she said she drank vinegar and lifted heavy objects to try and miscarry because she didnt want to have the child. she gave birth last October and is now in the ninth grade.

the directors' objective they said was to be a "fly on the wall" and i think they did a pretty good job. both the owners of the centers saw the movie and said that they gave an accurate portrayal of the centers.

i would recommend this film but with a warning that it is somewhat slow but the thing that kept me interested was the topic and people in the story.

after a quick run to grab some food at a nearby starbucks we headed to see our third film of the day Restrepo. the directors of this documentary took ten trips over the span of fifteen months with a platoon who was sent to the Korengal Valley. this outpost is considered the most dangerous postings in the US military where they would have action multiple times a day.

this film i cannot describe really with words at how powerful and moving it was. you saw the action as if it was right next to you - no CG, no stunt doubles and no fake blood. it was real. there were scenes of the troops being fired at and intense retaliation, you saw a fallen soldier and the reactions of his comrades which was a heart breaking and sickening sight to see. these men wept aloud in the field and you could hear the agony in their voices.

there were quotes in the film that just astonished me and here are some of them just to get the feel of this film and what these men went through:

"Holy shit, we're not ready for this." ~Hijar [said after their helicopter turned a sharp corner to reveal the Korengal Valley]

"My mindset was that i was going to die here." ~Cortez

"Felt like a fish in a barrel." ~Aron [describing what it felt like to be in the outpost in the valley]

"The only hope i have is that one day i'll be able to process it differently." ~Joshua McD. [talking about how he might deal with the affects of war after he came back home]

and the most jaw dropping, crazy quotes were these, i couldnt believe my ears:

"Can't get a better high, its like crack." ~Steiner [describing the feeling of shooting a gun and being shot at]

"I wish they [the Taliban] were closer so i could see them when i killed them." ~Pemble

the film was named Restrepo after one of the soldiers in the platoon who was one of the first to fall. and near the end of the film it showed an emotional memorial evening on the anniversary of Juan "Doc" Restrepo's death [July 22, 2007] where the platoon shot up flares at the place where he fell to honor and remember not only Restrepo but also the other comrades that had fallen along side him through out the fifteen month deployment [the first to fall Kim Vimoto, on June 5, 2007, was another soldier that was remembered especially to that platoon].

again - a highly recommended film but with caution to those of faint heart. this documentary shows the most real and true depiction of war i have seen. the soundtrack is beautiful and the filming and editing is superb.

the fourth and final film thankfully was not such a downer as the last three. Obselidia was not a winner by hardly anyone in our group with the exception of me and John. i honestly cant really explain what this film is about other then it is obscure, somewhat slow but has such great characters and dialogue that it enraptured me and captivated my entire being. the dialogue kind of reminded me of Catcher in the Rye for some reason. very thought provoking and i guess therefore only interesting and intriguing to a few. alot of deep, life conversations. the two main characters George and Sophie were so different in their mind set that it was brilliant their banter between the two of them. i dont want to put things or opinions in your mind for this film so i will just say that i found a connection with these characters and their conversations just hypnotized me. i cant explain it. i loved it.

we ended the night at Flippin' Burgers to eat some grub since many of us hadnt eaten a decent meal since breakfast. back at the condo chilling out and doing nothing involving emotions since they have all been sucked out.

THREE FILMS ON THE THIRD DAY

Oh goodness….where to begin. I apologize if my thoughts aren’t coherent and a bit confusing. Its about 1230am here and ive been up since 8 and saw three films today.

So we had our first Windrider Forum “class” this morning. It was ok. Not too terrific. Craig Debtwiler is our prof and he basically took us through a brief history of Sundance and talked about the films that had won awards, got sold, one that where sold but made no money, flops, etc etc. We did have a very short discussion with other students from either Fuller Seminary or BYU in which I probably had the best luck of the day.

There was a film that I REALLY wanted to see called Freedom Riders but iwasnt scheduled for it and amazingly enough a kid at my table didn’t want his so I bought it. Best thing of the day.

Fun fact of the day [and one of the few things I took from the forum today]! A “anknupfunspunkt” is a point of contact between God and your situation whether that’s through film, music, nature etc. yes it is a real word I promise. German I believe.

We then watched another Angelus short film called Joburg. Not too impressive. It was really slow and some of the shot were either too long or weird cuts. The story was ok but not great. Also a very slow: about coincidence that two very opposite people meet and the empathy for each of the main characters.

After that me and a few others headed over to Kick In Iran in single file line. It reminded me of a family back-packing out in the wild where the youngest go in the middle so the bears wont eat them. Anyways, it was the world premier of the documentary and it was pretty good. The story and characters were very interesting. It followed Sara something-or-other [an Iraqi] who made it to the Olympics for Taekwondo in 2008. And it focused on the trials she had getting there and competing as well and her journey/relationship with her coach. Other then the capturing story line that was about all. There were a lot of lengthy shots of nothing too important that could have been better used as establishing shots. Also, about 40% of the film was in soft focus so it distracted me from the characters. Though by watching this documentary it gave me a bit more understanding into the Iraqi culture concerning women. One quote that struck me was this, said by Sara’s coach describing laws towards women: “The less you understand the easier it is to live here.”

After a short Q&A session with Kick In Iran’s director and some crew we headed to find a bite to eat which ended up being Burger King or Starbucks for me. And then off to another film. This one though was phenomenal! Freedom Riders was a documentary about a group of civil rights activists who decided to test the segregation laws by riding the greyhound and trailways bus lines into the deep south only switching where they sat: blacks sitting in the white only sections and whites sitting in the colored sections. It was really quite powerful to see what these people went through and what their example did for he country and the south specifically. It had a great mixture of photos, interviews and never-before-seen footage of the infamous bus burning that happened when they arrived at Birmingham, Alabama. At the end of the screening the audience gave a standing ovation. It was something else. When it came time for Q&A the first guy to ask a question could barely get out it because he was so emotional with gratitude that the film was made and how well it was done. The director, Stanley Nelson, brought along two of the original freedom riders to the Q&A and it was so cool to hear some of their experiences first hand out of their own mouths. I think the thing that hit me the hardest through this doc was the dedication and all seriousness some of the students had for riding the buses. Granted you had to be serious since it could have killed you literally. There was this one particular girl, Diana, and she got a call from a official from the government asking her to stop and not go on the bus [there had been serious attacks on the freedom riders earlier resulting in hospitalization] and he asked her, “Do you know what you are doing?!” and she replied with, “Yes, yes we [the group that was going to ride] do. We just signed our last will and testaments last night.” And then the director challenged us with these: What would you ride for today? Would you have ridden the buses? and What would you get on the bus for?

So then me Julia and Brad headed back to the church hoping to get some sleep in before our last film but it was only averted but yet another film. It was called Dreams and sadly we couldn’t finish it since we had to go to another film. This doc was about three people who are dream interpreters who have a Biblical foundation to their “practice” I guess you could call it. It was so interesting and thought provoking. Do I believe that people can interpret without it being phony? Do dreams really mean anything more then what you ate the night before? Etc. Etc. I cant really explain how I felt towards the film. I was bewildered, stunned, and wanting to know more. I wish I could have finished it but oh well.

Finally we got food – like real food. We went to a Mexican restaurant and got to sit down and have great conversation over ok food. Then we headed….yes you guessed it….to another film.

This one was a first for me in many ways. One because I have never seen a full length film all about cane toads and two because it was in 3D and I have never seen a 3D film before. So it was an all around new experience. It was called Cane Toad: The Conquest and it was set in Australia basically talking about how the cane toad got there to hopefully help the sugar cane crops by eating all the insects that were killing it and how it was an utter failure. It was quite humorous too. I jumped so bad in the very beginning because there was a huge toad on screen and it scuttled really fast towards us and every time after that that there was a big toad on screen I tensed up and got ready for it. Yeah but there were no more jump out parts so I was tense the entire film for no reason. Anyways, we had fun with the 3D glasses a little too much where I said the dumbest sentence in my life and will never live it down. Wanna know it? Too bad. Haha! Anyways – these glasses were crazy, they had a freaking anti-theft shindig in them! So me and Ryan G tried to figure out ways that we could sneak a few out without getting caught but then the director Mike Lewis came up and guilt tripped the entire theatre not to take them. Oh well, it was fun coming up with ways to borrow them forever.

What next you asked? Thankfully not another film and we just headed back to the condo where everyone went straight to bed….except me and Julia who stayed up to blog. =]

Monday, January 25, 2010

SECOND DAY OF THE DREAM

Thankfully got to sleep in a bit till 930. Only woke up to eat breakfast which was a tasteful half of a large lemon poppy seed muffin and a sliver of orange juice and a glass of milk. Last night I was out right when I hit the pillow. I think both me AND Julia slept like rocks. Today was more of a chill out and catch up on sleep day which was nice. Me and a few of the guys stayed back at the condo to hang out before we headed down to Main Street at around noon-ish to check out some of the events that our credentials get us into.

We got to Main Street around 1-ish and me and a few others went to the Filmmaker’s Lodge to attend a discussion panel about a couple of the films about war. The three that were on the panel were Restrepo directed by Sabatian Junger [ill be seeing it on Wednesday], Son of Babylon directed by Mohammad Al-Daradji and A Tillman’s Story [aka Pat Fucking Tillman’s Story or I’m Pat ______ Tillmam] directed by Amir Bay Lev [sadly I wont be seeing either of these]. The discussion was so interesting with great question and answer and also showed a clip from wach of the films. There were so many quotes that I took away and things that I learned that would take way too long and too much space to write them all down.

Sadly me and Josh had to butt out of the discussion early cause Kathy sold her and Julia’s ticket for the short program we saw yesterday and got two tickets to Metropolitan. Its one of the films from the Sundance collection and was shown in my birth year: good ole 1990! [I found out that Harold and Maude is being shown be yet again sadly I cant go see it….very sad day]. Metropolitan was being shown at The Egyptian which is basically the face of Sundance. It’s the venue you see on all the brochures. The film style and type of film used reminded me of Pretty in Pink and also Harold and Maude. Over all I really enjoyed the film. The writing/script was really well done and very witty – I would never have thought of half of what was said. The only thing that wasn’t that great was in the beginning it seems like it wasn’t going anywhere. It was following a group of young adults with no real plot greatly written and well filmed but going nowhere but then thankfully something happened and we had something to follow!

At first I didn’t really know why I liked the film so much but then about a few hours later I realized that its because of the relationship between Tom and Audrey [the two main characters]. Basically in a nutshell: Tom and Audrey’s relationship is somewhat hesitant in going any deeper then the typical get-together conversation or the conversation for show and through that Tom is totally oblivious to the fact that Audrey has a thing for him. Of course there is more behind it but it just was something I could relate to.

On our way back to the church for the Windrider orientation/welcome we passed by a place called Bing-Bar and all you could see was paparazzi surrounding the door and sidewalks. Supposedly Mark Ruffalo was in there. Whatever.

So the Windrider thing was good. It was a typical welcoming of people with the introduction of important people who did all the things that made it possible to even get here. Then we got to see four films that were a part of the Angelus Student Film Festival that Jon and Eddy Pirddy have founded to help students, duh, get started and such. The four short films were: On the Road to Tel-Aviv, Kavi, Dessert Wedding, and Waiting for a Train. They all were MUCH better then the shorts program of yesterday. Only thing: WAY too much black on the panel =] the q&a that followed was pretty good too.

One thing I noticed was that every place has really comfy seats.

Kathy was still feeling a little blue – she thinks she has the flu [that rhymed and I didn’t even mean to do it!]. so if you keep her in your prayers that would be much appreciated.

The landscape is so beautiful. Being here reminds me of when I was in Colorado for spring break last year. Surrounded by mountains that you wake up to every morning. And not only are the mountains breathtaking but so are the massive ice-cycles! We have to be careful so we don’t get hit by any from above. They hang from every building and some are ridiculously big! I never knew they could be so large.

Our condo is so nice. There is plenty of room and a great kitchen where some of the group have busted out their cooking ability and have succeeded to the delight of the group. Another great feature is the hot tub. The guys are eating that one up – last night they relaxed for a good forty-five minutes. I personally have not been it yet due to the fact that I don’t have a suit and that I hate being in water. But I might go in a bit later in the week since ive never been in one outside on a balcony while its no more then 30 degrees out. What better place to try something new then at Sundance?!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

SUNDANCE DAY UNO

didnt go to bed since we had to be ready and leave at three in the morning. good stuff. so we drove for about an hour and a half to the indy airport where i fell asleep but was rudely awakened by the fact that we had arrived and i had to move. first flight i tried to read but the above light was burnt out =[ so instead i fell asleep in an instant. probably a good thing. second flight same thing - out before we even left the ground. kathy started getting quite sick after the second flight - major motion sickness. she felt like she was going to pass out so we sat down and chilled out for a bit. tried going back through security to get some food but brad was stared down with a quite evil one at that. got our two mini-vans to drive around in and headed to the church where we are gonna have a class and yet again the majority of us conked out. i ended up doing a face plant on the table.
our first film seen was a program of shorts. eight in all. there was an....interesting mixture of films. the first one was a cartoon of this guy who is getting his wisdom teeth stitches out of his mouth and it ends up being a baby. others then come around and kick him to death then take out "giant knives." there were two shorts that were basically just vulgar and had no story line. funny yes at times but it was thirty minutes of my life that i miss and wish i had back. there two other one that i thought were pretty good but one named Echo didnt have an ending at all - it surprised me at how abruptly it ended. its filmmaking was great though. the other one was called The Armoire and i really enjoyed it but its story was kinda all over the place. you had to piece it together for yourself to get the whole picture. over-all the shorts were ok, not too impressive.

went back to the condo and had dinner and are now chilling around the living room area playing games trying to just relax. some of the guys are going to go see Highschool i believe later tonight. thankfully i get to sleep in tomorrow - maybe ill waitlist for a movie. who knows.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A LETTER TO A FRIEND

"thankfully i know now that my grandma has gotten the peace she needed and deserved. she was taken to be with the Lord last night while she slept. the most peaceful way to go. hannah i cannot tell you how much i am grateful for your friendship and your true sincerity and care for me. i have never found another person like you who has such pure sincerity for another human before and i am blessed to have you as a friend and sister in christ. it has been a tough few days for me....getting ready for my trip to utah to fulfill a dream since high school has put butterflies in my stomach and has put doubts in my mind, dealing with this boy and realizing that he is honestly not worth my time and at the same time wondering why i have these feelings for him but knowing i deserve better, having to come to grips with the fact that yet again one of my best friends is transferring after this school year which means that the reality of me most likely never seeing her again is starting to set in and then finding out about my grandmother today has put alot of strain on my emotions and will power to trust in God. i have lost faith that he has a plan for my life that is to prosper and not to harm me even though he tells me directly thats not the case in his holy word. the devil is attacking me from every part of my life: friends, family, work, my dreams, and my faith what there may be left of it. you have reminded me that there is good in life and in the world around me. psalm 27:14 is now written in sharpie on my laptop so that i can look at it and remember that i can be strong in the lord and that waiting may be hard but it is for the betterment of my life. and you know me - i suck at waiting. i too wish i could be sitting next to you watching pride and prejudice right now and just going back to the days in high school where we would look at other's and roll our eyes at the pettiness of puppy love. where we would give each other one look and know exactly what the other was thinking and then laugh. i wish my gma was still alive but its selfish of me and i know she is in a better place where alzheimers is not even known. but death is a part of life and i must come to grips that the next time i go home i will not see her there asking me what day it is or asking who i am and how she knows me. i dont want to give up on the idea of finding love one day with the person God has made for me but it is so hard. i have no words to describe the love i share for you. thank you for giving me a piece of hope that He is still watching over me through these times of trials. i hope to see you soon. with all my love ~ erica"

SHE'S GONE....

i cant believe shes gone.

today i found out that my gma passed away last night in her sleep. her Alzheimer's had gotten so bad i guess it was good for her to go. what hits me hard is that last night i guess she asked my gpa if they could talk but it was so early in the morning that my gpa just said to go back to sleep. and after that she passed away. what would she have said? i know this fact is killing my gpa.

the funeral is sunday. ill be in utah. my parents want me to go on my trip and so do i. i guess its a good thing that i wont be there - i dont handle funerals well. i hate them actually.

"LAST MINUTES WITH ODEN"

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MARC JOHNS

you really should check out this guys website....

www.marcjohns.com

Monday, January 18, 2010

BE FREE IN THE TREES

be free in the trees

this was a mass spontaneous snow ball fight in Times Square last December....i wish i was there

ingenious

what would you write on your toast?

what is blinding you today?

ive always wanted to hold smoke and this looks like the closest someone will ever get to holding it....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

FOURTH SET WITH THOUGHTS

i think love is not what it used to be....but then who am i to speculate since i have neither lived back when or have loved anyone? i hope that i am right though. cause if love was how it is now then my hope in it would be just a fools hope

sometimes i wish this lie would be true....cause how can you know if something is going to be ok or not when you are not the one in control?

"In the Waves" [also known as "Ondine"] by Paul Gauguin....painted in 1889. i went to the Cleveland Museum of Art over break to see Paul Gauguin's exhibit that was only showing in two places in the whole world: Cleveland, Ohio and Amsterdam. and this was the painting that had the most impact on me. i wont really explain why because i think it would loose some of its meaning for other viewers if i were to tell of my experience with this painting. look and ponder and see what it does for you.


dont be a hot head....