steev's blog

Live-Blogging From Sedona International Film Festival

I'm not sure what the definition of "live-blogging" actually is and I'm too tired to look it up, but I'm going to just claim that that is what I'm doing right now even if it might not be really true (after all what is truth?). I'm in Sedona, Arizona, for their film festival, the 15th annual. I have a film in the festival, Wild Versus Wall,
and I have a computer that's on the internet and I'm posting something to my blog. Right now. Boo-ya!

oh so beautiful Sedona!

And it's way later than I usually am awake so I'm going to keep this short and in list form. Grumpy, snarky observances I will now make about this festival: 1) as I tweeted a few hours ago, Sedona is really just a big ugly strip mall, painted in tasteful earth tones, surrounded by beautiful nature that would be a lot more beautiful if the town were not there; 2) Our schwag bags that the festival gave out contain many wondrous ads and products, including not 1 but 2 containers of something called "coconut water" - which tastes like if you mixed a few drops of really spoiled milk into 6 ounces of tepid tap water. Mmm. 3) I really hate fast-talking hollywood types but sometimes it's hard to tell from a distance which people they are; 4) They put me in a nice hotel with a nice view of "the red rocks," and under the red rocks is a nice view of a new hotel they're building in the mud down by the river. It's beautiful; 5) said hotels (mine and the one down in the mud) are 2 miles from where all the festival is happening, and there's no shuttle or other transit between. And taxis cost $10. Yes, to drive 5 minutes, 2 miles. I assert that this is inconsiderate. 6) Did I mention the strip mall? Yes, even the theater, a Harkins multiplex, where the festival is happening, is literally in a strip mall. 7) the cost of taxis and soul might be offset by the money I save on the special VIP dinners, which doubtless are a 10 dollar value (20 if you're in Sedona). 8) Festival director Patrick Something stated in Red Rock Tourist Trap Ragazine that the festival's "dark" film to "light" film ratio is down somewhat to 50/50 this year, compared to the usual 70/30. Is this a race thing, Patrick? No, he says it's beacause people have been "challenged" in the last year. Yay lightness! Yay lightness and beauty!

Anyway, back to you, Joe. I'll be here all week, snarkblogging live from the SIFF. Stay tuned.

P.S. I think I might have at least the 2nd most disturbing mustache at the festival. boo-ya.

What's Going On

I've been extremely busy and feeling very overwhelmed for the last few weeks. I'm involved with so many projects and obligations these days that it's hard to keep them all straight. Some of them are:

  • Editing the footage I shot during my News On The Line Transition in the Borderlands trip. This was done thanks to a grant I received from the Institute for Justice and Journalism, although I didn't receive the funds till I had already incurred virtually all of the expenses.
  • Editing several trailers of bouts from the Tucson Roller Derby's 2008 season.
  • Editing Indymedia Newsreal. I wasn't getting enough submissions so I stopped for a few months, but last week I finally did another installment because I had accumulated enough contributions.
  • I'm in the closing stretch, post-rough-cut, for Death and Taxes, the war tax resistance doc I've been painfully laboring over for over a year now, have been in post since May.
  • Adding subtitles to "Wild Versus Wall" for the Sierra Club.
  • Next week Wild Versus Wall will be in the Sedona International Film Festival and I'm spending a few days up there. A chance to get even more behind on all these other things! yay.
  • I'm supposed to be editing a Pan Left demo reel.
  • I'm supposed to be revising the DVD of my film about the Juarez femicide, On The Edge, so that the disc can be repressed. Months behind on that.
  • I'm very slowly editing a training video for the Battered Immigrant Women's task force, but I've been waiting for translations of the Spanish-language interviews, which the client was supposed to be doing, for about 5 months now. I really should get my spanish in better shape so I don't have to rely on this sort of thing.
  • helping my friend Esteban do his radio show.
  • Greta and I moved into a new house a couple weeks ago and are still doing things like put up curtains and hang paintings on walls and organize all our stuff. It's a great house though, and we're really happy to be in it.
  • I'm trying to grow a handlebar mustache. I figured out that I really should be using mustache wax, but I can't find where to buy some. Places like standard drugstores don't seem to carry it. Maybe I need to check barber shops or order it on the internet or something. This is one of those "if you told me 5 years ago" things...

    So anyway, like I said, I'm busy.

  • Wish I Still Had This

    little collage table - 5
    Left it in Portland when I moved. It was cool. Sigh.

    Tripping on Bashir's Feet

    Last night Greta and I went to see the celebrated animation about the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war, "Waltz with Bashir" - for one thing, if you don't like disturbing or violent films, don't go. Greta had to leave in the middle and was shaken for hours afterward.

    Some have criticized the film for breaking from its beautiful animation at the end and showing real video of the aftermath of the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.
    I didnt have a problem with the use of actual footage at the end, but overall, and I will probably get yelled at for saying this, but I don't thinkg WwB was such a great film. It was beautifully drawn, yes. It drew attention to one of many atrocities in the history of Israel, yes. But narratively the film was disappointing. It "contracted with the audience" at the beginning that it would be about one man's transformative journey to remember his past, but in the end it broke that contract - there was no sign of how he reacted and grew and changed from re-discovering his memories. Which is fine if it was a straight documentary, but we were set up to read the film as a story, a personal, character-driven story.

    Also, I don't think the film did enough to put the massacre in context and call Israel to task for it. At this point it's not enough to make yet another film about the horrors of war in general - if it's about Israel's wars it must specifically address the details of Israel's crimes and why they are crimes, not just the unavoidable consequences of unavoidable international conflict.

    Like Watching a Slow-Motion Car Crash

    I'm getting tired of listening to/reading the news lately. The economic crisis is really a bummer. It's like watching a car crash, or a plane crash, but one that takes 6, 12, who knows? how many months to happen. You can see about now the windshield spiderwebbing into a million little fragments, and some of the fragments are starting to bend outward as the passengers' heads start busting through it. The front bumper is crumped and up where the carburator is usually, and you can small gas leaking out somewhere but it hasn't caught fire - yet.

    It's really a bummer.

    What If It were San Diego and Tijuana?

    Randall Kuhn gives us a more accurate, complete, and compelling analogy than the simple ones made recently about the Israel-Gaza situation:

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying "America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana." But let's see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.

    Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

    What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I'm Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

    Be sure to read on.

    Hopefully We'll See More Insights Like This

    The New York Times opinion page ran a great piece about Nativists, the extremist anti-immigrant right-wingers and why they are racists.

    It's an encouraging sight to see this sort of open analysis and decryal of the racism that still permeates our society. Hopefully this is just the beginning of even more to come.. Obama's rise to the presidency is not a sign that we are in "post-racial" times, but perhaps it is rather a harbinger of times in which racists are no longer allowed to hide in the darkness but are brought into the light, exposed, and stamped out.

    A Reassuring Thought

    My friend José posted something to his blog that really gives me some hope in these seemingly dark times. Basically it is the idea that people are divided into 2 schools of thought: those who really want you to be scared that if "law and order" and the "institutions" break down, civilization will collapse into a Hobbesean nightmare of everyone for themselves, and then other people who recognize that people are basically good and will band together to help each other and protect each other from harm and mishap when the going gets tough.

    Like José says in his post, "print out this brilliant comment... and keep a copy handy at all times given the faddish resurgence of doomsday cults."

    It's so easy to panic and be afraid. But hey, let's not, okay?

    Back Home Trying To Get Stuff Together

    It's been a while since I've blogged here but I've been more active over on my new border news website/blog, - this was created, as I explained a couple posts ago, for a new border project, which I call "Transition in the Borderlands" - the idea was to travel along the border during the week before and after Inauguration Day, and talk to people about how they think their communities are effected by the border wall and border militarization, and whether they think things will change and how, now that Chertoff and Bush are out, and Obama is in.

    Now I'm done with the trip and busy catching up on other things and going over my footage. I'll be editing together several little vignettes, in addition to the 2 that I've already done:

    Yesterday's Twitter tweets:

    • 08:54 Getting dressed and watching obama?s limo on tv #
    • 10:15 Heading 2 Calexico 2 do interviews #
    • 11:04 Waiting at the port in calexico 4 my interviewee 2 come thru frm Mexicali #
    • 13:24 Back from Mexicali #
    • 14:37 At Imperial Dunes Rec Area #
    • 21:42 feeling happy to be back in Tucson. #
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