Another day at DIFF, another bunch of films seen. So far I have yet point out which are the real favourites, but documentaries have been a highlight.
The morning started with a viewing of Iraq in fragments, a film that explores via honest and candid talks, the present situation in Iraq and how 3 sets of indigenous people, Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, feel about it. Like any well made documentary, it is objective and informative, but transcends being ordinary on the strengths of its visuals alone. To call a documentary cinematic is certainly rare, and 'Iraq in fragments' is both at once rivetting and a joy to look at. Read the complete review here.
Reel bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people, certainly is another documentary that deserves much praise. At a brisk running time of of a little over 45 minutes, it packs within more information than anything I have seen at the festival so far. Watching it is like reading a few chapters of a good book in less than an hour. Let me not talk more about it and just point you its review to make up your own mind about whether its worth your time.
'Our daily bread' has to be the most pure form of documentary filmaking at the festival. Featuring no voiceover narration, no interviews, no score and no facts, it is unique in the way it is presented, with the entire running time consisting of a set of 30 second shots one after the other, where the camera neither moves, nor zooms but stays still focused on workers at a huge food processing plant somewhere in Eurpoe just going about their daily jobs. The documentary has little to say and therefore has no point of view, but it has a lot to show and reveal and therefore it is left to us to make up our own minds about everything we are witness to. From eggs and chicken, milk and beef, salt and fruits, everything is covered, sometimes to startling effect, such as when we see workers travel deep underground (the elevator keeps moving for a good 25 seconds or so) to mine for pure white salt. How is food made? Let Our daily bread enlighten you.
Documentaries eventually give way to mockumentaries, and the most popular this year has been 'Death of a President' which has received its fair share of media coverage throughout the world already for skillful way in which it fabricates an incident in our future (precisely, October 2007) when American president George Bush is shot at a Chicago convention. The strongest portion of the film is the first half, when the assassination occurs, but then it delves into exploring the conspiracy and investigation by witholding facts about the shooting from us to surprise us with an ending we never see coming. In doing so, the film falters and is never able to fully recover. I will let you make up your own mind about it, just click here to read my colleague Adnan Khan's excellent take on it.
A report about DIFF cannot end without playing spot the celebrity. Today it was the prominent journalist, television personality and now author Riz Khan. He looked awfully busy, drowned in work, but was nice enough to shake hands and politely say hi.