The Boston Independent Film Festival, Day 3

Just a quick post to report on yesterday's festival proceedings before I head out for another day of films.  I had the good fortune to check out Julia Loktev's remarkable The Loneliest Planet (above), a spare and visually stunning drama about an engaged couple (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) backpacking through the Caucasus Mountains with a Georgian guide (Bidzina Gujabidze).  The film was followed by an engaging Q&A with its editor, Michael Taylor, who observed that there are only about a hundred shots total in the 115-minute film (I wasn't timing them, but some are well over five minutes long, and one shot late in the film, as Gujabidze and Furstenberg chat and drink around a campfire, seemed closer to ten.  The film also has a tendency to go five minutes at a stretch with no dialogue).  Out of these astonishing, almost Tarkovskian long takes set against the stark beauty of rural Georgia, Loktev spins a quietly heartbreaking tale of betrayal, resentment, and forgiveness that's gorgeously modulated; it's a film intimately tuned into the subtle colors and shadings of relationships, even as its characters often find themselves dwarfed by the pitiless grandeur of their surroundings.  This is set for release later this summer; highly recommended. 

I also caught a package of documentary shorts that included Brent Hoff's The Love Competition, in which seven people compete to love the hardest (they're judged by neuroscientists measuring brain activity); Howard Libov's Aglow, a portrait of Massachusetts-based artist Paul Chojnowski, who uses water and a blowtorch to create mesmerizing cityscapes; and Cynthia Wade's tear-jerking Mondays at Racine, which follows several Long Island women as they cope with cancer treatment.  Wade and Libov, along with several of their collaborators (including Chojnowski) attended and took questions after the films.  

I ended the evening with Bryan Wizemann's Think of Me, which features a fantastic performance by Lauren Ambrose (she appears in every scene of the film), playing against type as a distressed single mother forced to decide whether or not to give up her eight-year-old daughter for adoption.  The film also stars Dylan Baker in a supremely creepy role that perhaps consciously recalls his turn as a pedophile in Todd Solondz's Happiness.  While a slightly imperfect film, it's worth seeing for the acting alone, and for Wizemann's clear-eyed, unsentimental approach to material that could have easily devolved into the stuff of cliche.  Sadly, in choosing to check out this film I missed seeing Julie Delpy present 2 Days in New York (her follow-up to 2 Days in Paris) at the Brattle.  C'est la vie, I guess.

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