SXSW Day 5: Tuesday

SXSW Day 5: Tuesday

I did my morning duty of work til 11am. Now, I didn’t have anything I just had to see first thing, so I decided to check out some shorts. I went over to Alamo Lamar to watch Reel Shorts 3.

I stuck around for The Devil Came on Horseback and was completely blown away. It is the story of Brian Steidle and his time in the Sudan and Darfur with the African Union as a ceasefire monitor. While he was there he took pictures of the slaughter that was going on. He wasn’t able to actually do anything because of the position he held there, but he figured he would document it anyway. After coming back to the States armed with huge books of picture after picture, he decides to let the new York times to a story on him and what he saw. Once that happens, politicians want to speak to him and testify at hearings and whatnot. He has hope at this point that the US will actually do something. But it starts to become very clear that nothing but grandstanding is going on. The US politicians don’t care because no one is making them care. The US people don’t even seem to know what’s going on over there. I freakin loved this movie. Best of the festival so far. No doubt. I cried liked a little girl while watching this, and with nothing but strangers around, that is saying something. I try really hard not to cry when it's just me and Mikey. It was beautifully filmed, and the use of Brian Steidle's photography was well done too. It amazes me that he could take picture after picture, and not go nuts with hopelessness. Instead, he has taken his anger over the senseless violence and tried to rouse a sleeping nation to the nightmares in Darfur. I think if anyone can do it, Steidle can. His passion for this is contagious and makes you want to do anything to help. I spoke with one of the directors for a bit while we were waiting in line for the restroom. She seemed really excited about the response they'd gotten so far on it. So, I hope everyone gets the chance to see it. 10 out of 10

While still at the Alamo South Lamar, I got right back in line for Manufacturing Dissent. The documentary about documentarian Michael Moore. The line was already crazy, so I wasn't sure if I would make it in, but I manged to. I even managed to get a decent seat. Manufacturing Dissent is basically a biopic of Moore. The filmmakers seem to be fans of his, and try very hard to get interviews with him, without success. Over the course of the film, they evaluate how Moore uses "truth" to get his point across. Is he more concerned with his own fame and popularity than seeking the truth to give to the public? They point out several blatant inaccuracies in his films and wonder if he is doing more harm than good to his cause. Overall, I will say I liked the film, but I didn't LOVE the film. I liked the subject, and I liked at how it felt like facts were given, but not forced upon you. The audience is very much given the opportunity to make their own opinion on the information provided. Something they obviously feel Moore does not do. I can't quite put my finger on what it is that I felt was missing. Maybe a lack of enthusiasm or charisma. I'm not sure, but it did feel slightly lacking in some sort of feeling. 6.5 out of 10

Over to The Paramount for The Last Days of Left Eye. This film used footage of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' last 27 days in Honduras. She was in the process of filming herself for a documentary during a 30-day retreat in Honduras, where she brought family and friends. Now, I would certainly call myself a TLC fan, but I was nowhere near prepared for who Lisa Lopes was. She was an extraordinarily talented person. Not only with music, but she was a great artist and fashion designer. She seemed to pick up any instrument she wanted to without effort. I think it is safe to say that she was an artistic genius. But, she also had her own personal struggles, which she battled very openly at times. During the film, she was very open about all the negative things that have happened to her, and what was going on in her head when it was happening. It never seemed like she was trying to make excuses, but just that she was laying it out for you to see. Knowing the footage was literally the last 27 days of her life was extremely powerful, and the filmmaker did not get in the way of that. You did not see interviews of T-Boz, or Chili, or even her family members if she wasn't speaking to them herself on camera. This was Lisa's story and the film allowed her the time and space for it. A very surprising treat of a film. 7.5 out of 10

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