Wow. So, once again, Brenda & I spent part of a February weekend checking out various films at the Boulder International Film Festival, and once again, we were not disappointed. This year, we had a nice manageable program: a movie a day, Friday through Sunday. Two were at the Boulder Public Library and one was at the fabulous Boulder Theater. The surprise of the weekend was that the library has a great theater; we hadn't seen any screenings over there to date, and I was expecting folding chairs and a temporary screen. But it turns out that the Boulder Public Library has a really nice theater, on top of everything else it has going for it. And on Friday evening, at the Boulder Library's theater, we saw "Split Estate", a decent documentary about the shit going on in northwest Colorado and other southwestern states with the oil companies ruining lives and land right here in America. Check your listings on Discovery Channel or Green Planet or whatever, because it's airing on there now. Pretty good.
On Saturday, we saw "Ajami" at the Boulder Theater, and the wonderful venue was a stark contrast to the brutal setting and eventuality of the film's subject matter and gutting plot. The final shot of that film is burned into my brain forever, Gallipoli-style.
Today, it was time for "The Misfortunates", and this film, this film was the highlight of the festival for me.
It seems like every year since Brenda & I have been going to this festival, we have seen at least one film that has resonated with at least one of us, a film that renews your appreciation for why people make films in the first place. Films that strike a chord, films that make you laugh, and cry -- with actual tears, and make you want to do the following: be a better person, call some people on their shit, take better pictures, and write more.
"The Misfortunates" was the film for me, this year, that did it all. A coming of age flick of sorts, set in Belgium; the protagonist, this poor kid, is screwed from the beginning by his situation: crazy family, surrounded by alcoholics and no supervision, no money, crazy uncles, general class angst. And yet this fuels both a fucked up childhood, and, well a fucked up adulthood, but an adulthood that ultimately makes the best of things. This is the best movie I have seen in a long time.
In past years, we have seen "C.R.A.Z.Y.", "Sunshine Cleaning", "Anvil; the True Story of Anvil", and "Diameter of the Bomb"; for the most part, these ended up in mainstream theatres or on cable, but it was fun to see these years ahead of the rest.
I'd say this year was the best of all the years Brenda & I have been attending the festival, but every single year we seem to see at least one memorable film, one that sticks with us forever. I can tell you, "The Misfortunates" is one of those films that will not only stick with me, it will inspire me -- forever.