I’m so grateful that I made it to the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) this month, March 5-8th. As Festivals of all kind are being cancelled for the next few months, it was wonderful to gather with other film lovers to appreciate some local and International cinema. It was only a few weeks ago, but the Coronavirus was not yet the only topic of conversation. A few people were washing hands but no masks, no “social distancing” and just the beginning of elbow bumps.
Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało), the Polish film nominated for the International Film Academy Award, is an incredibly moving film. A young man who’s found God, leaves a violent juvenile detention center on work release and through a series of fortunate misunderstandings, takes over a local parish. The entire cast is remarkable. The lead, Bartosz Bielenia, has incredible expressive eyes. Those saucer eyes fill with tears as he’s overcome by religious passion and shine with joy as he gives a sermon. The film builds to a slow burn. Will he be revealed? Will he heal the deep sorrow of this small town or is his meddling making it worse? How will he deal with the young woman, the lovely Eliza (Eliza Rycembel) who’s beginning to have feelings for him?
The story is both unsettling and profound. The moral ambiguity of the young man, Daniel, as he tries to navigate his calling and his human nature, create a frission in the film. He’s both a savior and a troubled man in need of saving. I believe the film would’ve been better served to have ended at the big revelation at the altar. Not only is it filmed beautifully, it’s also a reminder of the youth of Jesus Christ and a call to rethink who’s allowed to be a religious leader. The choice to end on a horrific act of violence left me reeling. His face transformed by pain and blood, the image of Daniel running for his life wasn’t the one I wanted to take from the film.
Drinks With Films rating: 4 shots of Polish vodka (out of 5)
The main reason I made the long journey from the mountains was to support my friend Suzanne Heintz. I had the pleasure to get to know her when I programmed her short films about her mannequin family, Playing House, in the Front Range Film Festival. The documentary created by Karen Whitehead, Imitating Life: The Audacity of Suzanne Heintz, is an inspiring look at her creative journey. The film is a warts-and-all portrait that reveals Suzanne’s health struggles and the insane amount of work she put into creating her Internationally-known photographs. Her work calls out our cultural stereotypes and roles society pressures women and men to step into. Imitating Life is a film that I want all my friends to see and made me admire Suzanne even more.
Drinks With Films Rating: 4 1/2 glasses of fine French wine, served at a lovely French cafe, as photographed by Suzanne with her “husband” Chauncey.
The British film, Hope Gap, could’ve easily fallen into trite maudlin territory. Rescued by the blistering performance of Annette Bening, this is a story of a marriage long-dead but surviving on fumes and memories of love. Having enjoyed Bill Nighy’s performance in Emma, it was a pleasure to spend more time with him. The two actors give nuanced performances as a couple who should never have married each other trapped in a cycle of dissonance that’s finally broken by a surprising late-in-life love. There’s a lovely setting in a seaside town and the mother’s poetry is a wonderful insight into the mind of this complex character.
Drinks With Films Rating: 2 cups of British tea with milk (out of 5)