Monday, April 28, 2008

Tribeca Film Festival - Sunday, April 27 (part 1)

This was my most ambitious day at the film fest. I saw 4 films!

The first film I saw was Chevolution, a documentary about the iconography of Che Guevara. The first section was about Che himself, and the events in Cuba leading up to the taking of the photo, perhaps the most widely recognized portrait in the world. Next there was some discussion of how the culture, politics, and aesthetics of the times helped make it into such an iconic image. With the lack of copyright on the image, and Che's untimely death, the image essentially became the logo of revolution. The next section was about how the image became co-opted and inevitably exploited by capitalism. Oddly enough, the photographer (Alberto Korda) later reclaimed the copyright in the '90s. His desire, which is now upheld by his daughter, was to protect the integrity of the image (and Che's memory) by putting constraints on the way the "Che brand" can be used.

It's a pretty complex issue. The image means so much to so many different people. The film raises many questions:
* What did Che stand for?
* What does the image of Che stand for? Can the two be separated?
* Is it more true to what Che stands for to let people freely use the image for whatever they want, or to keep it only for things he would believe in?
Really fascinating documentary.

Next I saw Terra. I have mixed feelings about this one. It's an animated feature about a peaceful alien culture invaded by humans. I have a pet peeve about movies that are ostensibly for children, but in fact are way too disturbing for kids. The thing is, the director said that he wanted it to be a more dramatic animated film - they don't have to all be comedies, and that's fair. Just take a look at Princess Mononoke to see how an animated movie can be serious, dark, and represent complex moral situations. But, the film used several conventions of traditional animated children's movies - heroic children that rise to the occasion, cute/funny sidekick, thick-necked foil that's eventually won over, and an irrationally evil bad guy who never heard of the concept of "diplomacy." And yet a good portion of the film is a huge battle scene. We're talking explosions, destruction of a city, and hundreds of casualties, quietly glossed over. The film felt like a cross between Horton Hears a Who and Battlestar Galactica (the new one), and, beautifully done as it was, I just don't think that's really appropriate for children.

Getting really tired now. I'll write about the other two films tomorrow.

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