Sunday, November 16, 2008

Awards and stuff

I got up early, got dressed up, and went downtown to the Renaissance Worthington for a free brunch and the chance to watch the festival's awards ceremony. Turns out the honors are a great way of framing my description of my day on the last day of the festival, so that's what I'm going to use.

The award for Best Short Subject went to Clay Liford's "My Mom Smokes Weed," a humorous bit filmed in Dallas about a young guy whose aged mother goes to buy pot from a group of intimidating black guys. I saw it yesterday and didn't find it as funny as the rest of the crowd did, though I suppose it was as deserving of the award as anything else. (If Liford's name sounds familiar to Weekly readers, it's because I profiled him a while back.) None of the shorts at this year's fest overwhelmed me. I caught one of the shorts packages as my last viewing act of this festival, which included Eva Webber's 'City of Cranes,' which juxtaposed lyrical shots of cranes over the London skyline and audio interviews with British crane operators discussing the solitary, high-up nature of their job. If you'd turned the sound off, it would've been dull, but the disembodied interviews made it interesting. I was also struck by "Spider", Nash Edgerton's Australian comic short about a guy who plays a practical joke on his girlfriend while she's driving, with horrible consequences for both of them. (You can actually watch the entire short here.) Some shorts use the duration just to tell a glib joke or score a bit of cheap irony. This one does that, but I have to say the cheap irony can be very funny.

The winner of the Best Foreign Film was 'The Banishment,' which I discussed in an earlier post. The winner of Best Documentary was 'Visual Acoustics,' Eric Bricker's profile of Julius Shulman, an architectural photographer who became famous for taking pictures of iconic modernist buildings. The 98-year-old subject is a marvelously energetic subject, and the film looks gorgeous. I don't know that it's any better than 'They Came to Play,' which I mentioned earlier, but the two films are so different that it's difficult to compare. I saw 'Visual Acoustics' at the Kimbell Art Museum this afternoon. None of the festival's buzzing atmosphere was at this screening, probably because the venue is so far away from the other theaters showing LSIFF's movies. In fact, much of the museum was closed to the public because it was changing over from its recent Impressionist exhibit, so the museum was downright sleepy. Too bad -- it's a great place to show a movie. The screen and digital projection are quite clear, and the screen is easy to see despite the auditorium's odd dimensions (long and narrow).

The last award for Best Narrative Feature went to 'Nirvana,' Igor Voloshin's thoroughly strange Russian film about two young female roommates who wind up owing money to a drug dealer and have to work frantically to pay it back. That doesn't sound strange, but the characters wear weird costumes: Venetian masks, body glitter, fake eyelashes, and makeup you wouldn't see outside of one of Paris' wilder fashion shows. It's as if Baz Luhrmann directed '4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.' I watched the film in the late afternoon after getting back from the Kimbell, and found it growing on me.

So the festival is at an end, and it's now time for us to render some final judgments. I ask my fellow bloggers: Did you have any issues with the award winners? Were there other films in competition that should have been recognized? Do we all agree that 'Let the Right One In' was the hit of the festival? Did anybody get out to see 'Wendy and Lucy'? At the risk of sounding like an ophthalmologist, was this year's fest better, worse, or about the same as last year's? And what would you like to see next year?

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