[SIFF week one]

+ I didn’t realize until I got there that The Darkest Matter was actually a student project. It was a feature put together by middle school students in a film camp, and if I had known that ahead of time I might not have gone. But I didn’t so I did, and I didn’t feel my time was wasted.

It was described more or less as Lord of the Flies in spaaaaace, which is accurate enough as it goes. It’s an impressive feat of imagination when you realize that the entire film was shot against a green screen. Kids have amazing brains; I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to conceptualize the entire set, let alone interact at all convincingly in it.

Story-wise I thought the ending was ridiculous, but I loved how the film played out in regards to gender. This might be just an effect of the script being written in broad strokes, but it worked out that both of the leaders were girls, and their gender was never an issue. Hooray!

+ Ex was a cute romantic comedy from Hong Kong, something I need to see more of in general. For reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture, Zhou Yi winds up having to crash at the apartment of her ex & his new ladyfriend. In well-orchestrated flashbacks we see why they broke up in the first place, and the film doesn’t necessarily take the expected road for where they might end up next. Now I need to seek out the prior film from the writer, Love in a Puff, a romcom where the potential couple meets on smoke breaks.

+ Trigger is a difficult movie for me to talk about. It was by far my most anticipated SIFF film, and immediately after I saw it I posted to Twitter that I couldn’t be rational about it. This is still true.

Written by Daniel MacIvor & directed by Bruce McDonald, the film was created as a last project for Tracy Wright, a fantastic actress who died of pancreatic cancer during post-production. Trigger stars her and Molly Parker (also worth seeing in anything) as a pair of rock musicians who are reunited after ten years and spend the evening together hashing out everything from the tangled threads of their relationship to their own mortality and future.

It slays me that it was such a light house for this screening, because Tracy Wright is *the* best actress of this festival. She has a monologue in the conservatory that broke me into tiny pieces. Such a loss.

+ Thanks to a Starbucks voucher, I took a risk and checked out You Are Here just because it featured one more performance by Wright. It’s a difficult film to categorize, a series of odd narratives twisting in and out of each other until we arrive at her character, the Archivist*, who is attempting to discover the order and meaning for the documents. Did I understand it? Probably not. But it was tremendously entertaining all the same.

+ Speaking of entertaining, The Thief of Bagdad is one of the great treats of the festival. This presentation was a transformative work, obsessively scored by Shadoe Stevens with the music of the Electric Light Orchestra. No, seriously. Come back.

The music works freakishly well, but of course the movie itself would be awesome either way, starring Douglas Fairbanks in truly astonishing trousers and with more than his fair share of swashes buckled.

I particularly enjoyed seeing it so soon after The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which is another 1920s take on basically the same set of characters. We’re spoiled for silent film in Seattle.

* “Hooray for archivists!” cheers the girl still paying off her MLIS.