Starting with Sundance, back in ’06, I have made a habit of trying to sit on the aisle, in a row near the back of the theatre, whenever I go to film festivals. Sometimes you need to get out quickly to get to another screening and other times you discover that you’ve chosen unwisely and just wanna slink out without causing other audience members to be taken out of the film by your rustling and excuse-mes as you squeeze past them out the row.
Well, wouldn’t you just know it, but the only time I ended up having to sit down at the front of the theatre at this year’s Hot Docs was for the one film I absolutely hated and wanted to get the hell outta before it was finished. There was nothing I could do but just gut it out.
The write-up on this thing described it as being about Carlos Castaneda‘s five “wives”, who mysteriously disappeared right after his death—never to be seen again. Sounds like it might be interesting, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But when the director introduced her film by saying that she doesn’t normally make her films for an audience—she makes them for herself—and then added, ‘I hope that if you don’t find what you are looking for in this film, you find something else’, well… As it turns out, I didn’t find what I was looking for and all I found in its absence was frustration and boredom.
Minou Norouzi’s Anatomy of Failure reminds me of something that was made by a self-absorbed teenager who doesn’t know 1. how to construct a story, 3. how to capture something interesting within the frame, 3. how to draw a comprehensible story from the people she sets before her lens, or 4. how to focus her fucking camera!
I sat and seethed through this self-indulgent thing. What on earth the programmers saw in this, I dunno. I saw some blurry navel-gazing shit on a beach and then a bunch of interviews with flaky nouveau-hippies.
At least the opening film was interesting. It was called The Apology Line and was a rather poetic little film about an anonymous phone line in Britain that you call when you need to apologize for something and you don’t feel you can make your apology to the person who deserves it. Some of the apologies are funny while others are wrenching. Directed by James Lees, it won the Best Short Documentary award at the festival.
Minou, the number is 0800 970 93 94.
→ originally published 2008-04-26