Monday, October 19, 2009

Shout Out Loud Youth Program

Excavating lived experience for personal truths is not guaranteed to move an audience; as always, the trick is to give it form, On that score, the films I caught in this program were the expected mixed bag. The fascinating cultural complexities depicted in "Bollywood Dreaming" - portrait of a cocky teenage Aboriginal Afro-American skater/boxer/movie star in waiting - gain no resonance with the businesslike TV-profile presentation. As the title suggests, David Sam's bullying confessional "This Is Me" is more direct, balancing auto-peptalk with memorable first person imagery. Kiefer Collison's "Our World" ties together scenes of Haida Gwaii with an elder's reflections on youth in a brief affirmation that is ultimately kind of scattered. Of the two big-budget New Zealand films, Ainsley Gardiner's wonderful "Mokopuna" tackles race and class complexities among pre-teens with minimal dialogue and maximum impact, while Wiremu Grace's "Kehua" offers a window on a Catholic/Maori funeral ceremony - fascinating, but less elegant in its arc and mysteriously sour in characterization. Of the two Toronto filmmakers, Joel George's death-in-the-family allegory "Memories" is touching and successful except for the central, kinda heavy-handed necklace theme, while Adam Garnet Jones's "Go Get Dad" is a bit too rushed and superficial in its treatment of the First Nations generation gap. Finally, in "Kir Otei Ntcotco (For You, Mom)" young filmmaker Mariana Niquay-Ottawa uses video as a platform to reconcile with her long-suffering mother, and it is both touching and beautiful; but the pictorial beauty is of a familiar, arty sort that was almost certainly imposed by her mentor/cameraperson, and as a result it doesn't quite mesh.

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