WORKED AT THE SAN DIEGO ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL Image

Friday

I finally got to take a look inside my goodie bag and was wowed again at the mixture of snacks, beer bottle opener, trinkets, tea and a “School of Rock” DVD. The only things missing were condoms, a whistle and a saddle. Only then, perfection.

After some more Chinese food and a quick trip to the guest lounge to say hello to the divas, I head for the theater to catch “The Outer Limits” block of shorts.

The Outer Limits

As the title suggests, these shorts are a little different from your average story, kinda like something you would see on “The Outer Limits” or “Twilight Zone.” Yeah, you get the point. “System of Units” gives us a glimpse into an all too probable future where actual human contact is sacrificed for a network of supercomputers that people co-exist with each other on. But, one man’s love for a woman threatens to disturb the balance. Man, love fucks everything up. “Buoi Chieu” gives us a family ghost story as a dead grandmother makes a surprise visit to her family. “Outside” is a sci-fi tale focusing on a young woman shut away from society in a little dingy bunker where she toils away and works for the Man, with little contact with the outside world, except for a window that allows her to gaze out at the desolation around her, ultimately leading to an unlikely love interest. More on this film here. “Memory Collector” proves that maybe all painful memories shouldn’t be completely erased. “5 x 90: The Wake” is mostly made up of one single shot. The scene is of a wake and in this single shot there are five different situations going on. We are played back this scene five times, the only difference is that with every playback, we can hear what’s going on with one of the different situations with the others being blocked out. A very interesting way to get the scoop behind this family’s grieving process at their loved ones wake.

I decided to skip the awards gala taking place that evening, so I could stick to my movie watching mission. The outcome of that awards gala can be seen here.

Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World

I had to prepare myself for this one as it was almost two and a half hours long. I did some jumping jacks, push ups, ran some laps, but, as I found out later, it wasn’t really the length of the film I had to prepare myself for, but instead, how goddamned depressing it was. Ow!

There’s a lot going on in this film, but I’m going to keep this super brief in order not to over-complicate things and to keep the surprising twists and turns intact when and if you do check this film out. Through a series of audio tapes, a couple, soon to be married, set off on their own little journeys as these tapes take them back to a time of their childhood and young love that lasts eternal.

This charming love story takes a turn for the dark and dreary and it just jackhammers at you with an overwhelming sense of sadness as the audio tapes continue their tale. You’re a weeping ball of putty by the end of the two and a half hours. Not that I cried or anything, I don’t do things like that. It’s a good film, and it accomplishes what it sets out to do, but be forewarned, if you’ve lost anybody recently, this is not the movie for you because it’ll make you want to ram your head into the toilet and keep it there.

And, yes, the two and a half hour running time is unnecessarily long. Thirty minutes, at least, could have been removed and it would’ve been a stronger film. I’m convinced that the movie is as long as it is for torture factor alone. Those cruel, cruel bastards!

I needed a drink, or two, or three. I honestly don’t remember the count, but I had to make it quick as I had some queer shorts to check out.

My So-Called Queer Life

The queer shorts were a hot ticket that night. The program was showing in the theater’s biggest auditorium and the place was absolutely packed, hardly an empty seat in the house. No doubt, the San Diego gay community is strong and proud.

It was a well-rounded program, mixing experimental, narrative and documentary. “Barefeet” kicked it off with an experimental film about an Indian woman, living in the U.S. with her gay lover, making a trip back home and struggling to get her family to understand her way of life. “Ariana” debunks the three’s company myth, especially when it’s a gay couple trying to live with a dotty old relative. A young doctor starting a new job at a practice decides to move in with his grandmother and brings his lover to live with him. The living situation is awkward at best with the needy grandmother disapproving of her grandson’s boyfriend. Straining the situation more is the workload that the doctor is drowning in, seeing him absent from homelife most of the time, leaving his boyfriend to have to deal with crazy old grandma. Let the fireworks begin. A stressful, yet touching story. “Muni to the Marriage” takes a look at the parallels between criminally banned gay marriage and mixed race marriage when that too used to be banned not that long ago. “Two Women, a Brother and a Baby” takes a look at a lesbian couple who yearn to become parents. They decide to contract a sperm donor and they set their sites on the brother of one of the women. Of course, it’s not like asking for a cup of sugar and weird feelings arise. In “Mother / Country”, a six-year old girl is sent from her home in Iran by her mother to live with her father. The film begins with this girl, now a grown woman, returning to her childhood home to confront her mother about her decision to send her away. In “Gender F*****g”, genders get just that to the tune of spoken word. In “Last full Show”, a young teenage boy and an older man meet at a movie theater in Manila and watching movies isn’t the primary thing on their minds. The two form a relationship by attending various screenings together to the disapproval of the older man’s friend and the boy’s limo driver. An interesting and sad love story.

Still in a funk over “Crying Out Love,” I headed back to my hotel to freshen up for the party that night which was getting ready to start. And here’s where I ran into a minor problem. La Pensione is a cool little hotel, but man does their parking garage suck. It’s the smallest, cramped prison of a parking area you’ve ever been in. I had been lucky enough, up to that point, to barely find a parking spot in its close quarters, but that night, it was three of us lined up inside, trying to squeeze into impossible parking spaces. After debating this for a while, getting out of our cars to try and figure out a way to make this happen, we gave up, backing out of the underground facility and found parking elsewhere. I chose a paid lot just a block away, opting not to drive around looking for a spot on the street. Minor problem solved, I just had to get my car out of there by 2am. I only bring this up because it leads into an interesting little adventure later that night…

It was a raging party at another club, once again in the bustling Gaslamp. It was Friday night, so everyone was out looking for some booty. It was a meat market extravaganza. The club was packed, but it was a nice break from being in a movie theater all day. The club was open to the public, with an upstairs area reserved for the festival only. That was cool, except for the bouncer at the foot of the stairs playing traffic control. You had to wait awhile before he would let anybody up, not that the upstairs area was overly packed, it was just a power trip for this guy and one can only hope that he got his jollies. Fortunately, after waiting for a few minutes, a full-blown fist fight broke out right next to the stairs, not amongst anyone from the festival, just a few tanked dudes with something to prove. Thanks, guys! Not only did you provide a great show, one guy hit the floor and was getting stomped on, but the bouncer had to leave his post to break things up, providing clear path to the real party upstairs for the few of us waiting to reach it.

It was a cool space! More drinks and conversations later, several of the festival partiers decided they wanted to move things over to a karaoke bar. Wanting to go, I decided against it, keeping in mind the 2am time limit I had on my car waiting for me in that public parking spot. So I stayed at the club a little longer, had more drinks, watched some of the dirty dancing going on at the dance floor below and then started walking back to my car, probably a good twenty minute walk. No problem.

Here’s where that interesting little adventure I previously mentioned comes in. I’ll start off by saying that being drunk really sucks for one’s sense of direction. Now, thinking back, I can see exactly where I went wrong – right outside the door of the club. So, heading in the completely opposite direction I needed to be going, with about an hour to get to my car, I started getting a sinking feeling when I began crossing bridges over freeways and hitting areas that were all but familiar to me. Panic set in as I had thirty minutes left to get to my car and I realized I had no idea where the hell I was. Some of the streets sounded familiar, so I knew the right path must’ve been close. Ten minutes to get to my car and I was more clueless than ever. Just when I was ready to drop to my knees and cry to the great Yahoo Maps in the sky, a taxi pulled up to drop some people off. Now, I had somehow wandered down a dark, quiet street, so this was definitely a stroke of luck as traffic was nil around these parts. I grabbed the taxi and told the driver where I was heading to, confessing that I was a bit lost. He chuckled and off we went. A five minute ride later, I realized his chuckle was meant as a “no, s**t you’re lost.” I had wandered way off track and what’s worse, the panic inside me had done little to sustain my buzz. Finally, I made it back to my car, with a minute to spare. It was the only car left in the lot and a tow truck was idling across the street. Well, I guess I can say I got my money’s worth out of that parking spot. I got back into my car and headed back to the hotel to find one parking space right out front, the best spot in the whole place, open just for me. It was like it was saying, “Hey, it’s okay, Eric. Everything’s alright.” And everything was alright. I mean, even if my car did get towed, there’s worse things that could’ve happened that evening. I could’ve been the guy at the club getting stomped on. Sucks for him. I slept well that night.

The story continues in part three of WORKED AT THE SAN DIEGO ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL>>>

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