Thursday, December 4, 2008

December 6th

Happy Birthday! Best wishes of the day.

I got to watch 3 documentaries ahead of the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival. One of them is good, but too traditional for Kathmandu: the audience here loves gimmick, doesn't have the acuity of intellect to separate content from vehicle, and will probably like I Want My Father Back, which, in my opinion, is a crap-chute of a documentary, with the chute part attached at your throat, so that crap can be shoveled in. Problem is: it is like a fleshy snake stuck on an elegant spine. The flesh is the corpulence of a hate-mongering Vandana Shiva--for that is what she comes off as, albeit she hate mongers against a form of hate--and a self-besotted filmmaker, who thinks that showing a younger, different woman, Priyanka!, is enough to go to absurd, fabulous lengths to disguise her propaganda as an act of documentation.

Similar is the self-importance of Kunda Dixit in The Frames of War. It is a project about a project that cannibalized the work of many photographers who worked during the war. Again, the real people inching towards the camera to tell their stories, the old frail under the burden of grief they can't shed, and the young as if bursting at the seams with incontrollable rage and need for revenge, are the real documentary, not Kunda Dixit in his office, very thoughtfully transferring data from one computer to next, showing how he had missed the arch of a woman's eyebrow in his first viewing. The movie would improve tremendously if they removed him and added back whatever footage of actual people pouring out their actual grief.

There was another documentary about Chepangs, called Jawangka Jindagiharu, which restored my faith in documentaries. I have always been deeply skeptical of people's ability to tell stories without making them into propaganda pieces. This documentary does that the least of the lot.

It is hard not to sympathize with disenfranchised farmers. It is hard not to rage against greedy corporations, but it is harder for me to listen to a bunch of narrators who patronize the audience and spew whatever crap they want.

I am tired now.

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