Monday, October 19, 2009

Embargo Collective

Embargo is an adventure into rule-based filmmaking by seven indigenous filmmakers, urged away from their familiar styles and genres into unexplored territory. Attracting some of the most accomplished filmmakers in the festival, each met their own challenge in their own way - not always with success. I was very sorry to miss the first two films, especially because the tail end of the second, Helen Haig-Brown's "The Cave", was visually spectacular and kinetic even without the setup. Documentary specialist Lisa Jackson ventured into musical territory with "Savage", which follows a mother's kitchen-table lament with a covert residential-school zombie dance a la "Thriller". Sadly, the parts neither cohere nor feel fully realized on their own. Taika Waititi's "White Tiger" got the biggest reaction of the night with its self-referential mockery of tradition fetishism, although it did have to break if not flaunt the program's rules to do so. Naughty naughty. Sterlin Harjo's "Three Little Boys" follows a group of kids on a reluctant trip to church; the film is the most dramatically fluid of the program, but the slice-of-life ambiguity of the ending is frustrating, and the nods to iconoclasm impossibly mild. "b. Dreams" drags Blackhorse Lowe kicking and screaming into the realm of romantic comedy, and while he provides some inspired situations, he ultimately suffers from a lack of comic timing. No such problem with "First Contact"; Rima Tamou's endearing shaggy-dog tale features two Girrimae brothers whose hilarious banter leaps language barriers and more than makes up for a rather abrupt ending.

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