Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Chick at the Festival

This chick has been hanging out at the Atlanta Film Festival for the past few days.  I've found that my limit for back-to-back film watching is about three.  I guess that's about 6 hours of viewing, give or take.  So what have I seen so far?

Tonight I saw a film purporting to be a horror movie called YellowBrickRoad.  I didn't really like it.  First, it wasn't scary and, second, it really did not make any sense.  A group of people go into the woods to figure out why another group went into the woods back in the 1940s.  The group goes crazy from music that won't stop playing and they end up killing each other and  themselves.  Obviously, no one is going home, ToTo.  While the production value was good and the acting was decent, I was just left underwhelmed.  But judging by the size of the audience in attendance, the film will probably do well.

Earlier in the day, I saw a interesting documentary called Complaints Choir.  A Finnish couple has basically been traveling all over the world getting people to put their everyday complaints to song.  The movie chronicles a complaints choir in Chicago and in Singapore.  It was interesting to watch the travails of the Singaporean choir which ultimately could not perform its song due to that country's strict limits on free speech.  It honestly made me thankful for the First Amendment and this country's strong commitment to freedom of expression.  The singing was so-so, but the film is worth checking out.  You can also find out more about complaint choirs worldwide here.

Broken Hill - Framed Movie Poster - 11 x 17Next on my viewing list was Broken Hill.  This was a decent story about an Australian teen living in the outback who dreams of becoming a music composer.  He gets in a bit of trouble, but turns it in an opportunity by turning a group of felons into an orchestra and choir.  Very entertaining and engaging.

A few days ago, I saw American Jihadist, a documentary which I think is a prime candidate for an episode of Frontline.  The film chronicles Isa Abdullah Ali (aka Clevin Holt), an African-Ameircan man who came of age in the projects of southwest DC during the turbulent 1960s.  He joined the military and became an expert soldier during the Vietnam war.  But frustrated by racism and the violence he grew up with, he became Muslim and was recruited by Iran to be an operative in this country.  The man is basically a mercenary who helped militant rebels in Afghanistan against the Russians, rebels in the war in Lebanon in the late 1970s and 1980s, and finally with the army in Bosnia to stop genocide against Muslims in that country.  The man himself is an interesting subject--you don't know if he's good or bad or whose side he's on.  It's quite possible he's working for the CIA, but we'll never know.  A very provocative film.

In addition to the doses of world history afforded by some of these films, I also got a piece of Atlanta history when I attended the screening of Alley Pat: The Music is Recorded.  Alley Pat was a radio personality who appeared on the first black-owned radio station in the country.  He was a very funny and talented host, but he also had a hand in the Civil Rights Movement.  His radio career also allowed him to run a bail bonds business and he would bail civil rights activists out of jail  he didn't words and talked about "white folks" and black folks" in a vernacular that fit turbulent times.  He was also great friends with the late Hosea Williams.  The highlight of the screening when Alley Pat, who is now in his nineties, came forward with family, friends, and even some activists he bailed out of jail.

If you can, go and see some of the great films that will be playing at the festival this week.

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