Wednesday, April 7, 2010

IFF 3: Colony, Birds of Foreign Land, Whip It

Colony is about the disappearance of bees a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the film tells its story mostly through a handful of (rather uninspiring) beekeepers. And since no one really knows why this has happened, it cannot go beyond a few talking head discussing the possible reasons. All this talk, and sound problems to boot (soundtrack was louder than the dialogues), does not make for an exciting viewing.

Birds of Foreign Land (Gurbet Kuşları) is yet another classic I hadn't seen yet. It was shown in memory of its director, Halit Refiğ, who passed away last year. The story is of a family from Maraş (in Southeast Turkey), who come to Istanbul to get rich. Didactic and heavy-handed at times, the film is nonetheless rather daring for its era (1964), especially in terms of showing sexuality. A nude breast! Women sleeeping around! Nonetheless, all those women are whores (some literally are) and have no honor. What I found really interesting were the locations. This year the festival has a special section for films featuring Istanbul (İSTANBUL: INSIDE - OUTSIDE), and this would have fit right in there. It's pretty amazing how empty, but also how shabby and dirty the city looks.
They also showed The Intercessors, a short film Refig made in 1976 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when he was a visiting lecturer there. I don't know what his purpose was, but it feels more like the work of a film student than of an experienced filmmaker.

Whip It, my last film for the day, is not your 'typical' festival film. It's Drew Barrymore's directorial debut about roller derby girls in Austin, Texas. It's also a coming-of-age story told as a typical sports film (although maybe not a very typical sport). There are no surprises, except for maybe how enjoyable and sweet the film actually is. With no high expectations, it was a good diversion from the festival fare.

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