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Thread: Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) 2009

  1. #1
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    Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) 2009



    This is my first post in the festival coverage section. It concerns this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Unfortunately I was able to visit Edinburgh only for a weekend so this is by no means a full coverage, but rather my short impressions.

    I managed to watch three movies during the weekend. I booked the tickets a week in advance but it was too late already and I missed two films that I wanted to see ("No Greater Love" by M. White and the set of international animations). But I still managed to see something pretty special.

    The first (and best) movie I saw was "Sin Nombre": http://filmaster.com/film/sin-nombre/. This picture is going to make it big. A great story about illegal immigrants trying to find their way from Honduras to The U.S. More traditional than "City of God" (but the comparison is intended and makes sense), not as nervous camera and not as violent, but very touching... or even romantic. The director did his research and created a very true picture that I think everyone (especially those of you cursing the Central Americans making it into the US) should watch.

    Director Cary Fukunaga was present on the screening and I managed to film some 2 minutes of his speech about the making of the movie (forry for the poor quality though):

    http://www.youtube.com/v/K47FFhCeeVM&fs=1

    Same day in the evening I watched something much more lightweight, an Australian comedy/drama called "My Year without Sex": http://filmaster.com/film/my-year-without-sex/. The interesting part of this film was the fact it was so ordinary. Nothing spectacular really happened although it might have happened and there were many occasions for it to happen. A few neat observations of life of pretty regular folks. This is very much how I picture Australia, so I guess the director did a good job. Worth seeing, but not mandatory.

    The only movie that I saw the second day was "Wide Open Spaces": http://filmaster.com/film/wide-open-spaces/, an absurd Irish comedy about two folks building a Famine Theme park for some dodgy local businessman. A few montypythonish jokes and romantic (no, not really) adventures of wanna-be-artist losers. It failed to be funny but tried hard. Might become a cult movie for some (I'm not among them). I only wish this one has been directed by Petr Zelenka (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_Zelenka) or some other Czech filmmaker. They are simply the best in the world in creating absurd movies about weirdos of this kind. If you haven't seen "Year of The Devil" or "Wrong Side Up", please do - they are very unique.

    I wish I could have stayed longer and seen more. I especially wish I have seen the picture by Shane Meadows ("This is England", "Somers Town"), and the debut of Duncan Jones: "Moon", but I guess it's going to be shown in British cinemas anyhow.
    Last edited by Michuk; 08-28-2009 at 09:45 AM.
    Borys 'michuk' Musielak

    Filmaster.com -- film buffs community, social movie recommendations

  2. #2
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    Cary Fukunaga's "Sin Nombre"

    This is a review of Sin Nombre, one of the films shown during EIFF 2009, originally published on Filmaster: Sin Nombre: This is Mara Salvatrucha



    Right after I saw Sin Nombre at Edinburgh International Film Festival this year I noted down "This picture is going to make it big."

    The film tells a story of illegal immigrants who, like many others, try to find their way from Honduras to the U.S. The journey of a Honduran teenage girl Sayra (Gaitan) and her father intertwines with the adventures of Willy, a member of the Mara Salvatrucha (regarded as one of the cruelest gangs on the planet), who gets into a completely different sort of trouble.

    Sin Nombre is a début feature film by Cary Fukunaga. The director did his research and created a very true picture of Central America. We get to know the young boys and girls, those who decide to join the gang and those who make the decision to escape. Through learning about their backgrounds we start to understand the motives behind these desperate decisions and begin to support them in their tasks.

    And there is a love story as well, if one can call it like that. But don't expect a Hollywood ending.



    So, how is Sin Nombre as a movie? There are two things that come to mind at first:
    - amazing cinematography which managed to somehow add a romantic feel to the cruel real-life scenery
    - and very natural acting that make you feel as if you were looking at authentic events.

    And actually these are the authentic events and authentic people as Fukunaga engaged some of the real immigrants and real gangsters in the movie.

    A natural comparison that comes to mind is "City of God". This comparison makes sense as both movies touch the subject of teenage gangs in Latin America. They are very different in style, though. "Sin Nombre" is filmed in a traditional way. There is no shaky, nervous camera which makes you feel you are watching a documentary, not a film. It's also not as violent as the Brazilian picture, although it would be a lie to say that there is hardly any violence in it. The crime is not shocking, though. It's not meant to shock. It's part of the scenery. It seems natural or even dangerously justifiable.

    Are there any drawbacks? Sure there are a few. The script could be crafted better. It seems a bit artificial at times, especially towards the end of the movie where some scenes seems to be there just because "some things need to be resolved" or "ought to happen", even though the plot did lead to them naturally. The acting is good but not remarkable, still pretty impressive knowing that most of the actors are in fact amateurs.

    Fortunately those drawbacks did not distract me from enjoying the story. I exited the cinema excited and wanting to know more about those people living in this dangerous area of the world. I also think that this is one of the major reasons "Sin Nombre" is important. It draws the world's attention (at least for a couple of hours) to the problems of Central America and does it without being unnecessarily provocative, violent, sentimental or stupid.

    Great movie worth watching, especially if you are a Hispanic-detesting young white guy from Texas. It may make you think things over again.

    ***

    Fukunaga received the "The Skillset New Directors Award" for his stunning directorial début in Sin Nombre and the "Directing Award" at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The movie also received a "Cinematography Award" at Sundance.
    Borys 'michuk' Musielak

    Filmaster.com -- film buffs community, social movie recommendations

  3. #3
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    Moon

    I didn't manage to watch "Moon" at the festival but I did watch it straight afterwards. I put together a review of this pretty disappointing film on Filmaster at "Moon": a Big Disappointment.
    Last edited by Michuk; 09-04-2009 at 09:32 AM.
    Borys 'michuk' Musielak

    Filmaster.com -- film buffs community, social movie recommendations

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