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Twin Town High (vol. 8)
Three up at the Film Festival
Wednesday 30 March @ 19:47:25
Films from all over world showing in Twin Cities for next two weeks
by Ed Felien
It used to be called the U Film Festival. Then it was the Rivertown Film Festival. Now, it’s the Mpls-St.Paul International Film Festival. Whatever!
It’s happening again April 1 through 16, with over 160 films, so once again, it’s probably going to take a little longer to get around to planting the garden. Some of your options are:
“Suite Havana,” showing at 5 p.m. at the Crown Theater, Block E, Sunday, April 3 and at the Bell Auditorium, Wednesday, April 6 at 9:15 p.m. This is a very measured documentary of the daily life of about a dozen people of Havana.
It starts out slow. There is hardly any dialogue. You think, “This
is tedious.” Then, you think, “This isn’t tedious, it’s
their life.” Then, you think, “This is so beautiful, so painful,
I can hardly watch.”
The first subject is a 6-year-old retarded child. We meet his grandmother who
takes him to school. We meet his devoted father. We are overcome by the love
they have for this precious child. We meet a railroad construction worker who
plays saxophone for evangelical church services and wants to play in an orchestra.
We meet a troubled woman who has her fortune read by Tarot cards, and we find
her troubles are probably related to the relationship she has with her boyfriend
who is a transvestite entertainer. We meet a ballet dancer who takes care of
his grandmother. We meet an old woman who sells nuts on the street.
We meet the soul of Havana, and it tears a piece out of our hearts.
showing at the Lagoon Tuesday, April 12 at 5 p.m. and Crown Theaters, Block
E, Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. This is a touching remembrance of a
child born in a Moroccan prison. Her mother was an actor involved in producing
a play critical of the government. After six years imprisonment, a diet of bread
and water, and endless privations and humiliations, she decides to starve herself
to death in the hopes of freeing her daughter. It is the daughter, Jawhara,
who tells the story. We see the mother through her eyes, so, although you cannot
help but be moved by the pathos, all the characters are broadly drawn in melodramatic
and romantic stereotypes.
Also, it’s very odd that in a film that documents the oppressive nature
of the feudal regime there is no mention of the politics of the opposition.
The Polasario Front had been fighting since 1970 to gain independence for tribal
regions in the Spanish Sahara. Finally, in 1995, there were elections and the
tribal regions were given some kind of autonomy. Jawhara’s mother was
probably active and sympathetic to that struggle. She should have been given
some credit for its success.
“Operation Dreamland,” showing at the Bell Tuesday, April 12
at 7:45 p.m. and Wednesday, April 13 at the Lagoon at 9:30 p.m. The hard
edge of this documentary of the 82nd Airborne occupation and attempted pacification
of Fallujah smacks you with the force of an armored Hummer. You stare at the
screen in disbelief. Just when you think the grunts might get it, they go off
on a patriotic rant that makes no sense. They say they understand how people
might object to a foreign army coming in and patrolling their streets. This
resentment is apparent in the attitudes of the people on the street. The Iraqis
are not afraid of the heavily armed troops. They confront them continually.
Then there is gunfire and the troops pump up and react. They fire back. Their
adrenalin rushes, “I hate these people. I want to kill them all.”
talk about why they enlisted: they were broke, they were in trouble, they didn’t
know what they wanted to do with their lives. It’s a poverty draft and
a draft of the clueless. Soldier after soldier says the military looked like
the only real alternative. Two incredibly muscle-bound recruiting sergeants
try to talk the group into re-enlisting. They’re not buying it. The sergeants
are brutal: “You don’t know where you’re going. You have no
life when you get back. Do you have a house paid for? Do you have a job?”
But the troops say they just want to go home.
If you had doubts about the existence of a warrior cult, this film dispels disbelief.
There are no cultural pursuits for the troops. They can’t go into town
and check out the museum of ancient antiquities. What they do all day is pump
iron in a huge weightlifting arena and look at pictures of naked women. The
major characteristics of a warrior cult are a belief that nature is the enemy,
something to be subdued. Women are objectified and thought of as dangerous.
Male bonding has a homoerotic subtext. And the taste for violence and killing
When the Vietnam vets came home 30 years ago, many of them became a permanent
underclass: homeless and alcoholic. They
were the walking wounded. But we’ll think of them as flower children when
we come face to face with the Iraq Vet next year, and the year after, and the
year after that. The U.S. is building 14 permanent bases in Iraq. The Minneapolis
share of the cost of this war so far is $304 million. That’s money that
could have gone for health care, child care and education. Instead it is money
that has gone into death and human destruction.
Next year, when Johnny comes marching home again, you will hardly know him.
Ed Felien is the
publisher of Pulse of the Twin Cities
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