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Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal

Today "J" and I had thought about evening shows, but after the press screenings in the day we were pretty worn out, so we settled for those three.

The morning film was the world premiere of Watch List (Maria), a Philippine drama about a couple who had both been drug abusers years earlier, but had gone straight after the birth of their children, and yet were still placed on the Duterte government's drug watch list, which put them at risk for extrajudicial killings by police or their collaborators. Soon Maria was given the choice of collaborating with corrupt police or being killed by other collaborators. This was an excellent drama.

Unfortunately, there was a technical difficulty that caused occasional flashes of mostly-white frames on the screen. The first time I saw it I thought it might be a glitch in the film, but it happened often enough that I can't imagine it would have gone through editing without being fixed, so I'm pretty sure it's a projection problem, rather than something wrong with the film. I hope SIFF resolves the problem before the film screens for a general audience.

The noon film was Ghost Fleet, a documentary about the Thai fishing industry, which has a history of supplementing its chronic labor shortages with enslaved workers. The film focuses mainly on human-rights activist Patima Tungpuchayakul, who with her husband founded a worker rights organization that originally fought child labor, but expanded to fight fisherman enslavement. The film was impressively photographed, but rather aimlessly edited. Overall, I rate it good.

The afternoon film was Socrates, a Brazilian drama about a poor young man whose mother dies in the opening scene, after being rejected by his father long before. It was made largely by young people, ages 16 to 20, in the poor neighborhood where the film is set. Judged as a student film, it's excellent. Acting and directing are strong, but the story is rather thin. Judged in general, it's almost good; the thin story is a mark against it, though it has the benefit of being only 71 minutes long, rather than stretching the story out too much.

If schedules and our endurance had allowed, we would have liked to see Alice at 4:30 pm, either Meeting Gorbachev or "DJ Nicfit presents Fantastic Planet" at 7 pm, and Carmen & Lola at 8:45 pm, but we weren't up to it. Maybe we'll be able to catch them at other screenings (except DJ Nicfit, which was a one-of-a-kind live event), or put them on our list to stream.

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