Monday, March 12, 2007

Sun. SXSW Film


My first narrative film so far. I generally avoid them at festivals because they're often disappointing and I could be seeing a good documentary instead. I went for this because of the talent involved. Written by Ken Marino (ex-The State, Veronica Mars), exec. produced by David Wain (ex-The State, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer), and starring Paul Rudd among others. It was competent. Kinda cliche indie ensemble film with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies. Great visuals though shooting digital but keeping the 70s film look.

King Corn

If you anywhere close to a typical American or Canadian, your body is rife with corn. Something like 90% of the carbon in your body was corn at one time. King Corn is full of scary/interesting facts like these. Two college grads move to Iowa to farm one acres worth of corn and fill us in on how ubiquitous corn is in our diet. I was dubious that they could keep it compelling over a feature-length documentary, but they pulled it off. I thought I was well-informed on how pervasive high fructose corn syrup is and its probable role in declining health. It's scarier than I knew. As one interviewee put it, it's a good thing that cows are slaughtered when they are, because they'd be dead in six months anyway from the massive corn diet. Apparently eating mostly corn gives them stomach ulcers an makes them acidotic, a supabad condition in people for sure. Im going to suggest that my nursing school buddies see this. Highly recommended.

The Devil Came on Horseback

A brutal, necessary experience. This doc is told through the eyes of Brian Steidle, an ex-Marine officer who gets a job with the African union monitoring the cease-fire between Northern and Southern Sudan. While there taking photos and collecting interviews, he becomes aware of the genocidal massacres happening in the Darfur region. Helpless to avert the killings, rapes, and destruction, Steidle leaves Sudan to return to the U.S. and get the word out. So far, despite the U.N. and the U.S. labeling it as genocide - a label that legally requires intervention - there have only been stern reprimands.

As I said, a brutal, necessary experience. The world needs to know that 13 years after Rwanda, it's happening again and history will judge us harshly if we do not act. Steidle was at the screening encouraging the audience to contact their legislators and come to the Capitol on Monday to register in favor of a bill to divest Texas investment in Sudanese-involved companies. I was moved to do just that. Happily, I saw strong support in the Senate and House for the bill so unless it gets pushed down the agenda it looks likely to pass.

Brian Steidle was at the Capitol as well and I made sure to thank him for his work. There's a sense of sadness and resolve about him that is inspiring and also heartbreaking. It's probably the former Catholic in me talking, but I wanted forgiveness from him for what I haven't done.

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