I’ll be speaking at the Pop-up Cinema screening of “Reel Injun” on 27 July, with Berlinale NATIVe in association with Humboldt Forum. The event takes place at MACHmit! Kinder Museum at Senefelder 5/6 in Prenzlauer Berg, 10437, Berlin. Please follow BerlinaleNAtive to learn of upcoming events, as several more are planned through the end of summer, with films from around the world.
Screening now at the Pacifica Film Festival and many others around the world, a documentary we reviewed last year that shares the stories of Pacific Islanders making their way into the NFL…and at what cost.
(Photo from their Official site please follow the link to read more.)
Country: USA | American Samoa
Release Date: 23 January 2015
Filming Locations: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, America Samoa
Description: “In Football We Trust” captures a snapshot in time amid the rise of the Pacific Islander presence in the NFL. Presenting a new take on the American immigrant story, this feature length documentary transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah. With unprecedented access and shot over a four-year time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through American football. Viewed as the “salvation” for their families, these young players reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting and rigors of societal…
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“Autism in Love follows the story of four adults with autism spectrum disorders as they search for and manage romantic relationships.”
Director: Matt Fuller
Writer: Ira Heilveil (concept by)
Originally shown on PBS, this low-key yet heart-touching, even heartbreaking documentary included expressions my son has made, especially those of the young man Lenny. Most people know the word autism or have heard the term Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some have, at least, a vague definition of what that means, but usually a stereotypical view of how people with autism or Asperger’s spectrum disorders act, how they look, speak, learn and live. This has also been evident in film, such as in “Rain Man”, which stereotype is pervasive. Those with the diagnosis, of course, share some similarities, some baseline behaviors, but individuals can greatly vary as the word spectrum suggests. Not all act like “Rain Man”, and some of the most hurtful words you can say or they can hear is, “You don’t look like–“, “You don’t act like–” as if that is some kind of compliment or something they should be proud of because you said it.
In any case, what the majority of people don’t have is personal interaction or knowledge of these ones, their homes or even more so, how home life, growing up, teaching them, every day interactions go. My son was “normal”, meaning higher spectrum, but a head injury at eleven years old, a result of being bashed in the head with a locker by a bully, resulting in a hole in his skull. It changed his behavior and personality in definite ways. There was cognitive issues, loss of memory but also, and in some ways more devastating, the terrible blow to his self-confidence, self-esteem, trust of people, especially other young people, and of any school setting as staff had repeatedly dismissed or ignored his and our requests for help with and protection from harassment.
Young adults are often very cognizant of being “different”, real or perceived. They want to be “normal”, just as the subjects of the film repeatedly expressed, but as autists or Aspies, being treated like they’re dumb, weird, unworthy, or strange is too often what is normal. Because of some of the inabilities they have such as with self-expression or self-defense, they can come to live in fear of not just others, but also of life never changing: of always feeling/being useless, a perpetual flawed child, of being “stupid” or incapable. Continue reading
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers: Mark L. Smith (screenplay), Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson & Full Cast
With its honest portrayal of life spend in nature, the shifts between intense action and often tedious but necessary patient waiting and work, “The Revenant” was rumored to be an unforgettable film centered on Leonard DiCaprio’s performance and it delivered. “The Revenant” is directed by Mexico-born Alejandro González Iñárritu, an award-winning writer, director and producer born, an artist known for works highlighting the complexity of human motivations and needs. Self-described as music more often influencing for his work than other films, one easily discerned this in his latest offering for it was like watching a movie equivalent of a symphony: slow movements, a rising crescendo, and at last a finalé and resolution.
There have been survival dramas in the past, and the closest equivalent I can think of is “Jeremiah Johnson” (1972), whose titular character was played by Robert Redford. A similar theme of vengeance against those who wronged and murdered his adopted native family is central, as well as the poignant ending. DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass was left to die after a bear attack, though mostly because his former comrades rationalize this eventuality is best to save themselves from threatening natives. Thomas Hardy’s character, John Fitzgerald, is most outspoken to abandon Glass along with a half native son, whose people and all natives John deeply hates. However, he volunteers to stay behind to witness Glass’ passing, but as soon as the others leave his rancor is made evident to both Glass and his son. Continue reading
Director: Michael Bennett
At times a little disjointed, “Matariki” is the story of how lives can coincide just through one senseless act then overlap and metamorphosize into a new network of connections.
Everyone has their struggles, their strengths and weaknesses in this “slice of life” drama, and we see a common thread of wanting and needing love, of belonging, of being accepted for who and what they are. Sometimes it works out, at other times it doesn’t, but more often they just don’t really know what to do and things just happen. They keep trying, however.
Each of the actors believably portrayed their characters: a gay couple wanting to be accepted by their families, a young couple with a baby imminently due that neither wanted in the first place, a mentally challenged man whose dog is his greatest friend, and a couple of teenagers just wanting to get away from the rules and misunderstanding with their parents. The central focus is the act of violence that has left a Maori former sport star in serious condition. Never having felt accepted by his family, his Anglo wife remains at his bedside faced with a heartbreaking decision that she feels she should not make alone. Continue reading