Just a quick report on last evening (more 5 Point Festival happening today, starting at 7:00 pm).
In all, the evening for me was one of gratifying surprises, along with amazement at the 5 Point Festival production values. All the films have been re-mastered if necessary, with detail and saturated colors that most film makers could only dream about up to several years ago. The sound system is mind blowing, but operated with crafted levels that rock you good, while still preserving your inner ear anatomy so you can carry on a conversation later.
A few “review” type thoughts:
“Chasing Water,” a film that covers the full length of the Colorado River and explores water use issues, was more documentary than I expected. My only crit is that the story seemed to wander a bit, though perhaps that’s good because I’d imagine the film makers were sorely tempted to make the narration one long environmental hellfire and brimstone enviro-sermon. The stunning visuals carried it, as well as tiny sub-plots such as film maker McBride getting together with his pilot father to do aerial photography.
I left “Chasing Water” with the feeling that, yes, the way we’ve used the Colorado River is an amazing feat of human engineering, but perhaps we could do a better job? And thinking through that, I had the realization that of all the people and things that influence events, I’ll bet it’ll still be the engineers and economics that have the most effect on the future of that big “plumbing” system, as it was termed in the flick and not as a compliment.
Speaking of saturated colors, what took the cake last evening for visuals was “Life Cycles.” I was simply blown away by the miraculous but still appropriate visual effects in this flick. Of special note is an effect they did using a wipe that obviously combined shots from different seasons, to simulate a change of time from, say snow to green, or green to fall. You’ve got to see it. Amazing. And it went on from there. Indeed, more than a few jaws were dropped by the time “Life Cycles” was over. This Shimano produced ode to the bicycle had decent writing and narration as well, telling a story about just how cool bikes are, with some philosophizing about entropy that sort of worked, and at least sounded interesting. We give it 4 Skis UP (and honey, can I buy a new bike fork with more travel?).
I wasn’t expecting it, but my favorite for the evening turned out to be Skateistan, which covered kids who skateboard in war torn Afghanistan. I’m a big believer in the human spirit, and this 11 minute short was an evocative statement about how good and positive and yes, just plain fun things can rise from the ashes. Also a good anti-war piece as well, as seeing all the bombed out buildings and thousand-yard stares makes you think, why?
This evening, highlight might be the Baffin Babes, or perhaps Scrapertown? Or just maybe a dark horse? Judging from yesterday, better wire up your jaw if you’re attending, otherwise it’ll be dropped to your knees by the time all is done. Below, preview Scrapertown:
Oh, one other thing. Last night they screened “Fly or Die,” a flick about solo rock climber Dean Potter’s pioneering climbing with a parachute and nothing else. Idea being if you fall, you end up BASE jumping and live. I know nearly nothing about BASE jumping except that an unfortunate selection at 5 Point last year was a film that addressed the dangers of the sport in what Lisa and I thought was a shallow and unpleasant fashion.
Potter is much more introspective and easier to take, but I’ve got mixed feelings about “Fly or Die.” On the one hand, this flick IS that proverbial reach through the limits. Yet it is obvious from the film that the parachute is only going to save you in certain situations, as once you fall you’re dropping like a stone and you’ll hit ledges and stuff unless you have time and enough vertical distance to fly away from the cliff to safety, then deploy your chute. Thus, in that sense, however stunning the visuals are in “Fly or Die,” and however intellectually stimulating the concept of climbing with no rope and a parachute, I felt like I was viewing a novelty stunt documentary rather than anything truly ground breaking. Yeah, I could be wrong and “Free BASE,” as Potter calls his style, could catch on and be the next big thing. But somehow I doubt it.