Self woke up at 10:30 a.m. Eeeek! She had to throw on her clothes and dash out of the house.
She grabbed her Googlemaps print-out of the directions to Sundance Kabuki in Japantown. Only later, much later, did self realize there was one crucial direction that was missing (You know how sometimes your printer gets low on memory, and then either things print out weird or documents fail to print entirely? Well, that happened today, only self didn’t realize it until she was waaaaay far from Japantown. Then she had to double back. Poor Stella K had already paid for self’s ticket. Damn, damn, damn! She rushed into the Kabuki and . . . well, nevermind. Suffice it to say, afterwards self chatted with Stella and got her responses to the documentary, Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker on a Voyage. But self actually didn’t need to know Stella’s responses as it was very, very evident from the way she sat tilted forward in her seat, drinking in every frame, that she was absolutely enthralled!)
Afterwards, there was Q & A. The film’s director, Mona Lisa Yuchengco, revealed that she had 17 hours of interviews with Diaz-Abaya. Stella said the film didn’t include interviews with any of the late director’s family members. It was mostly her, talking, talking, talking. She was a woman who felt she still had “so much left to share.” In the end, she said she was ready to die. She was 57, felled by breast cancer.
After all these years of knowing Stella K, only today did self discover that Stella once contemplated being a filmmaker! But that is why her shots remind self of — Wes Anderson? Really, they do, especially in terms of their color saturation.
Marilou Diaz-Abaya made 26 films, among which were: Brutal, Jose Rizal, and Muro-Ami. There are no copies of her earlier films. Yuchengco tried to locate as many as she could. “It was a labor of love,” Yuchengco told the audience in the Q & A.
Self makes a mental note to watch Muro-Ami.
After that, self decided to stay for When Night Falls, a film from China, about the very sad true-to-life case of a young boy falsely accused of stealing a bicycle, who cracks and runs amok in a police station, killing six people. This film was stark and painful, like watching a Michael Haneke film. It was told in the aftermath, when the boy is in jail awaiting sentencing, and the stoic mother goes on her lonely rounds. The little apartment is tiny and claustrophobic and depressing, and the details of the mother’s absentmindedness, such as one scene where she walks in the door and drinks a pot of stale coffee without bothering to pour it into a glass, and then tears off the pages of a wall calendar, letting them scatter at her feet, are so excruciating.
There is no closure, only a shot of the sad mother sitting in the apartment, with a blank look on her face. Self knows what she is thinking. She is thinking: What do I do now? Why go on?
BTW, the woman who played the mother, a beautiful, willowy actress named Nai An, is listed in the Festival programme as an “independent Chinese producer.” In the scene where the death sentence is announced, two officials dressed in black suits address a silent audience of perhaps 20 people in a small, sterile room. The mother stands without speaking, absolutely motionless, but it’s like the Pieta: she is frozen, numb, grief projecting from every pore.
Afterwards, Festival ushers hand out survey forms asking viewers to rank the movies they have just seen, and self gave it three (out of five) stars. But now, mulling it over, she should have ranked it higher.
Self will try and catch a few more movies. The festival ends on Mar. 24.