First film of the day (very early - 11am) was the Narrative Competition Winner: Stolen Life. A Chinese film, directed by Li Shaohong, about a girl who tries to escape her unsatisfying family life by going to University, only to fall into a relationship with a young man who, it turns out, is manipulating and using her. After he basically ruins her life, and she figures out what's going on, she realizes that he has done this before is already setting up another young girl to do it again. Not exactly uplifting material, but a very interesting and well done film. A lot of the film took place in an underground urban tunnel setting, with a very gritty documentary feel. But there were scattered scenes that were composed like beautiful, gritty photographs.
Next up was the Made in New York Narrative Competition Winner: Red Doors. A film about a Chinese-American family living in the New York area. The parents and youngest daughter lived in the suburbs, the two older daughters lived in the city. The father of few words repeatedly tries (half-heartedly) to kill himself. The youngest daughter is entangled in an ever-escalating courtship of dangerous pranks with a classmate. The oldest daughter is caught between her (Anglo) fiance's desire for a "fashionable" wedding and her mother's desire to see it infused with some traditional elements. And the middle daughter is a doctor, whose storyline I will leave untold, just to retain a little bit of the mystery and fun.
This movie isn't particularly earth-shattering, but I found it really, really enjoyable. I was just thinking the other day that you see so much in movies or TV that is cliched and unbelievable. I really prefer things to be (at least) either a) original or b) authentic. Preferably both. This film tells a story with a lot of surprising, original elements, and yet it feels very authentic. I hope it gets a distribution deal soon.
As my last screening of the festival, I saw a program of six shorts called Urban Landscapes, all of them about New York. Some were documentaries and some were narrative. I didn't really get to watch all of them, because I was running around a little. One called "The Kings of Christmas" (by David Katz) was really interesting. It was about several people who get very serious about their Christmas decorations. My favorite, though, was one called "Bicycle Gangs of New York," by Cheryl Dunn. The whole opening sequence (which was almost half of the film) had no narration, and very little dialog. It was just a montage of shots of the various bicycle gangs featured in the film, set to music. It was very, very cool. You can see a clip of it on the filmmaker's website.
And that was it, the festival was over. At least, for me. My brain is completely filled with movies now. Time to decompress.