I've now officially logged 637 minutes watching movies over the last five days at the 16th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. That doesn't include time spent waiting in line (I have a favorite seat at the Palm Theatre and like to line up early), listening to question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers after their films, attending Sunday's workshop, or driving (ok, I admit I only have to drive a few miles).
But it's been time well spent, to say the least. How often does a major 10-day event span San Luis Obispo County bringing celebrities, filmmakers, VIP industry guests, local and out-of-town film lovers the occasion to immerse themselves in splendid short films, compelling dramas, gripping documentaries, and world cinema features that make us think...challenge the status-quo...and inspire us?
Monday evening I had the pleasure of immersing myself in Breath Made Visible. This documentary potrayed the extraordinary life and career of Anna Halprin, the avant-garde dancer and choreographer, now in her late 80's. Even from a young age, this American dance pioneer's approach to dance broke the social norms. Over the years she told her own story through dance, developing her own modern art form to teach, heal, and transform at all stages of her life. Her sensitive and intuitive immersion with nature allowed a connection with her natural surroundings through dance, and she remains an important cultural icon.
Tuesday evening brought a fearsome Nazi general and a condemned Jewish doctor, both faced with a moral dilemma in a concentration camp during World War II. One rainy night, a series of events transpire that bring basic humanity face-to-face in the gripping drama, The Desperate. The horrors and desperate realities faced by these two men from long ago are chillingly portrayed and based on true events; the story relayed to one of the filmmakers, years ago in Sweden.
Following this unsettling film, the documentary, Certain Adverse Events, exposed the dangerous side effects of fluoroquinolones, an over-prescribed synthetic antibiotic—originally developed to combat threats like anthrax—that has been destroying the lives of healthy people for years. After the screening, the filmmaker shared her story of falling victim to the debilitating side effects of a fluoroquinolone, which took about two years to recover from. Her film also exposes the eye opening, little known aspects of the American prescription drug trade, and why these harmful drugs are still prescribed.
These compelling stories all sent a unique message, influential in different ways.
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