I caught a couple of last-minute, random films this week at the Vancouver International Film Festival. On Wednesday evening, I saw a Serbian-Albanian co-production Honeymoons (Medeni Mesec) - another sardonic title although not as dark as Russian film My Joy (which I reviewed earlier). The action parallels two separate stories revolving around weddings in neighbouring countries where the main characters are trying to escape to the West.
The film has promise: rich visuals depicting peasant life of Albania and working class Serbia, and the excesses of the two weddings. The strong ensemble cast bring to life some of the ethnic and familial tensions. But writer-director Goran Paskaljevic has a problem with the pacing of the story. Some scenes were too long and just as the film began to enter a more dramatic phase, it suddenly ends. It feels like an unfinished film.
The VIFF programme description for Belgian drama Pulsar intrigued me enough for me to plump for it on Thursday night. A modern day romance where the two protagonists in New York and Brussels meet by Skype, the programme notes say "Pulsar attempts to make the invisible visible." The issue of how to visualise the ether of our technological world is one that filmmakers constantly grapple with - not always successfully.
In writer-director Alex Stockman's story it manifests itself in the increasingly paranoid behaviour of the lone, male lead Samuel as his network gets hacked into and his lover grows more distant. Pulsar is effective in showing how technology is no substitute for human interaction, but that doesn't make for great viewing. For me, there was too much of, literally, a man and his computer problems.
As I'm busy working on a number of film projects at the moment, finding time to see films at the Vancouver International Film Festival is difficult. I hope to average one film a day, although time restarints mean I wont be seeing 330 minute biopic Carlos, screening today. I'm admirer of Olivier Assayas previous work - Irma Vep, Demonlover - his subtle, stylish touch; the story of Venezuelan revolutionary, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez sounds great and it is probably the kind of subject matter that benefits from a festival viewing.
After VIFF ends (15th October) I'll catch up on my reports of the VIFF Film and Television Forum that preceded the film festival. In particular, I'll have a round up of the Storyville Day, which had even more documentary pitches this year, and pass on some observations from the panels on documentary making.