Monday, May 09, 2016

The last three movies

I'm so tired. I got up this morning, knowing it was Monday and the festival is over, and then was surprised when Elaine got up to go to school. Isn't this a day of rest for all of us? Apparently not.

The queen of the volunteers wearing the fingerless mitts

I decided at the last minute to work an additional shift Sunday night because a lot of venues were short-staffed. (There must be a way to get volunteers to stick around to the bitter end, but this year there were lots of unfilled slots in the schedule in the last days of the fest.) We got new ticket scanning software this year and the volunteers who wielded the wands got double rewards -- we get a voucher to see a movie, at the festival or year-round at the Bloor cinema. I had volunteered at the training session for the scanners, taking attendance, and had sort of fiddled around with the system, so when my venue last night was short a scanner, I offered to give it a try.  Zap, zap, zap, no problemo. So, I got four vouchers (it was a long shift!), got to see a movie and got to see the packing up of the box office, the recycling of the extra screening schedules and the taking down of the last posters. Closure of sorts.

My shift covered two movies, and each was preceded by a short. I couldn't get in in time to see the shorts, since I was scanning tickets, even of late-comers, and we had other chores to do, but I did get a chance to see one movie last night, Random Acts of Legacy. It is the story of a Chinese-American family as told by found 16mm home movies. These reels of film came up for auction, and luckily they had the photographer's name, Silas Fung, on them so we have a starting place to find out more. Our modern filmmaker found family members who could identify people, tell us who those white people were at the party, why the mom went to Banff with a bunch of people in 1940 or so, what's up with the Chicago World's Fair.... Also it was really interesting to see what happens to film, even well taken-care-of film, over time! You can digitize the images, but you sometimes end up with digitized damage.

One of the things I like about documentaries is seeing these ordinary people becoming part of the historical record. Everyone has something interesting in their lives, even if we think we are just trudging along.

That can segue neatly into Friday night's movie, Obit. There is a crew of probably fewer than a dozen people at the New York Times who write obituaries of the newsworthy and notable when they pass on. (Though they don't say "pass on." To get in the NYT obits, you "die.") The film shows the day-to-day fact gathering and deadlines, but also tells us about the writers: how they decide who gets in, how they think about living and dying.

My little alphabetical-order-loving heart fluttered at the sight of the morgue, which in this context is where they keep not dead people, but old files and clippings and bits of information. They used to have up to 30 staff in the morgue, but now there is one man, who can't possibly keep track of everything. I think one could make a whole movie about him.

The writing staff try to have "advances," kind of pre-written obituaries, for the big names, but sometimes their planning is a bit off. They wrote up an advance for a teenager who was an aviatrix in the 30s, figuring she'd go down in a fiery crash, but she lived another 80 years.


Sunday morning Elaine and I went to see Suited. I was a teeny bit disappointed that there wasn't more nuts-and-bolts talk about the cutting and the sewing, but the stories told here were pretty wonderful. Someone went to a tailor and got a suit made, and then told all their friends.... The tailor didn't balk at making a fashionable, well-fitting suit for a trans man, and soon filled a niche with needed services. There was a law student who wanted to look good, to match their good grades -- I think even wearing the suit he once got told he was perfect for the job but the firm couldn't handle "the trans thing." There was a couple getting married, a kid preparing for a bar mitzvah, a trans woman who was about to present a case before a high court... all people who want wear clothes that fit their bodies and their lives.

Suited was showing with a short film called Handsome & Majestic, a story about a kid in Prince George BC, of all places. Trans boy in small town gets bullied... His family is supportive, although the dad seems to have taken a while to get used to the idea, but we heard at the chat afterwards that Milan, the kid, has had to leave school. Apparently Telus funds the making of short films about towns across BC, and the filmmakers were just lucky that when they hit Prince George they found this interesting story. Happy, sad, infuriating, but certainly interesting.

Will take some deep breaths and get back to normal. Arthur still pondering the blue hair issue.

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