[SIFF Week One]

…part one.

* The Punk Singer is easily the most important film I’ve seen at festival so far. A documentary about Bikini Kill & Le Tigre lead singer Kathleen Hanna, it tackles feminism (obviously), music, writing, health, women’s voices, the importance of riot grrl to other artists (especially Nirvana & the Beastie Boys), the media’s desire to force marginalized voices into a narrative, and more. Really fantastic stuff, and I hope it gets distribution. I saw it with a press screening crowd (“It’s not my kind of music, but that was really great!”) & I bet it kills with an audience of fans. Also, this is a weird thing to mention — but the correct aspect ratio in archival footage was such a relief.

* What Maisie Knew is excellent & intense, but I would really love to know why the filmmakers chose to make a quite significant change from the source material. It makes me think they didn’t get the point of the book at all, in the end. Based on the James novel, but updated to current day New York, it follows six year old Maisie who is treated not as a person, but as a pawn in the breakup of her parents (Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan). Onata Aprile is stunning in the title role. (And in case you worry excessively about this sort of thing, Maisie never comes to *physical* harm. At least in the film. Her ACE score is whole other story.)

It comes out in Seattle this weekend, so I’d love for more people to see it so we can discuss it. It inspired me to read the book, because I had so many feelings about the ending.

* After Winter Spring is a documentary shot over three years, following family farms in France as they struggle to adjust to a world increasingly hostile to family farming. It’s a good story, and the families are great (they range from idealistic newcomers to folks who have worked the land for generations), but I was turned off a bit by the unnecessary Eat Pray Love-esque narration. I would have preferred title cards or less self-asserting narration.

* Inequality for All is basically Robert Reich’s An Inconvenient Truth, a 101 course on wealth distribution in America. Told through lecture, graphics, and interviews, it’s information we all have (at least, if we’ve been paying a tiny bit of attention), but presented in a concise & clear format. So now what are we going to do about it? Screens this Sunday & Monday at SIFF.