The first weekend at SFFilm

From Friday to Sunday, I watched five feature films, all of which played at this year’s SFFilm Festival. You may notice I gave all of them good grades. Do I love every film I see? Maybe I was lucky. Perhaps they’re showing a lot of good movies this year.

A Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Easily the best comedy I’ve seen in this festival, – and it’s actually a very serious film. One thing you need to know about this film is that it’s Ukrainian, and was made before the war. Two brothers set out on a road trip to Luxembourg to find their dying father. They try to create a badass vibe, but don’t quite make it. Kolya is horrible as a bus driver (he runs over an old lady). The first half of the film is frequently hilarious, often in a very dark vein. But as the story goes, the comedy slips away as they look for the father they never really had.

A Mel Novikoff Award: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

This year the Mel Novikoff Award goes to Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith, a married couple that raising films that are not likely to bring in much money. Before the film, Amber Love interviewed Nelson and Smith, discussing the problems of raising the money to make a film. Mostly they get the money from PBS. After the talk, they screened Nelson’s 2015 feature documentary: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

I’ve seen other documentaries, and fictional films too, about the Panthers, but I’ve never seen one so detailed, so fair, and so long. Nelson didn’t only interview aged Panthers, but aged police, as well. Nevertheless, the film is clearly on the Panther’s side. How could it not be. The entire FBI was doing everything it could to destroy them. It deals with court trials, anger within the ranks, and how the organization died.

A- Tuba Thieves

The festival calls it a documentary, but it can’t fit any genre. It’s certainly not about burglars in the brass section. There’s nothing like a story. It’s really about sound – it’s existence and the lack of it. There are people, including a couple talking in American Sign Language (yes, there are subtitles – even for the sound effects). There are the sounds of birds, airplanes, leaves, and people creating music. Before the movie started, director Alison O’Daniel gave us all balloons to blow up so that we could feel the vibrations. And just at the point when it was becoming boring, the movie ended.

A- Snow Bear

I came out of the film shivering from a cold created not by the theater’s thermostat but by the deep snow and wind of the movie. It’s set in a remote, horribly freezing town that makes you shiver. A bear is moving about (which seemed strange since bears hibernate in the winter). Asli is the new nurse in the settlement. But one man becomes a problem. He’s married, his wife is pregnant, and he seems to be getting closer to her than she cares for. With the big screen and great sound, you’ll be shivering while you watch it.

B+ Love & Mathematics

This is something unusual for SFFilm: A romantic comedy. Okay, it’s not like most romcoms. The couple are already married with a baby. The husband takes care of the infant while hoping he having a singing career. There’s a little dog involved, but I don’t want to tell you about him. I wish I was fluent in Spanish; I suspect that many of the gags would have been funnier without subtitles.