Film Festival Time Again

Well, it’s time again. Soon, the streets of Toronto will be buzzing about the latest films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Each year I try to go. Last year, I only had time to see two movies – a documentary and a martial arts film (Kung Fu Hustle starred and directed by Stephen Chow). This year, Nathan and I bought 10 coupons in advance so we get to pick 5 movies to see and get advance tickets. I still have to pick my movies though. Somehow, Nathan and I will decide on which 5 to see. So far, I know we’re going to see Jackie Chan’s new flick, The Myth, which is a move away from his usual slapstick comedic martial arts. That’s not to say that he won’t be doing some serious fighting, I’m sure we’re still going to see some amazing Jackie Chan moves.

Aside from Jackie Chan’s new movie, I still have to determine what other movies might be interesting. I need to go through the Programme Book and read through the film descriptions. As I’m not quite as fast a reader as Nathan, this will probably take me some time so I don’t expect to have picked my first draft of movies until later this afternoon or later tonight.

For those who have yet to experience the Film Festival, below is a review I wrote on the documentary I saw last year at the Festival – perhaps it might inspire people to check out the Festival this year (and the documentary, if it’s available). The movie was called Scared Sacred and was directed by Velcrow Ripper. I originally posted this review on a previous message board I started and wanted to post it here. The message I discuss in the review is extremely relevent to this website and in many ways has helped push me to get the website up.

September 16, 2004 8:01 p.m.

Scared Sacred by Velcrow Ripper

“Breathe in suffering, breathe out compassion”

The above is a Buddhist philosophical concept, but in the documentary
Scared Sacred by Velcrow Ripper, it becomes a survival technique.

Each year, I go to the Toronto International Film Festival to
experience something different than what is normally dished out from
Hollywood. This year, I was quite amazed by the documentary, Scared
Sacred. Perhaps it is because it falls in line with a view I’ve held
the past few years and each year that view grows stronger. The movie
sparks inside me the sense of urgency that the world is in danger, it
is suffering, and long in need of healing. Ripper seems to feel as I
do that the time is now for US to make changes in the world, to take a
stand and say what needs to be said.

The documentary is a summary of the travels of the director, Velcrow
Ripper, in an attempt to find and encapsulate some sense of hope, if
it exists, for the world. Ripper does what not many individuals would
dare do – he visits various sites of disasters. In the darkest
shadow, perhaps we may find some sense of hope, a gleam in the
darkness shining out for us to reach for, something to hold onto that
says that perhaps there is an end to all the cruelty and suffering of
this world.

This sense of hope appears to Ripper and to the audience in various
forms – from a doctor in Bhopal, India setting up a medical practice
for survivors of the Union Carbide disaster; a musician in Afghanistan
finally having the freedom to play again; an Afghani woman exiled in
Pakistan fighting for women’s freedom, a young woman dressed as an
angel in New York City, and finally an Israeli father, who vows NOT to
seek revenge for the slaying of his 14-year-old daughter.

Along the way, some messages stay clear in my mind. First, is the
artist in Bosnia, who is still living in the same apartment as that
day when the bombs first fell, who says that it is her work, her art
that has helped her survive. It is in the mind, she states, where
freedom lies. Later, toward the end, the Israeli father of the slain
14-year-old states that he has a choice in how to react to his
daughter’s death. Does he go out and take revenge for her death as is
so common around him? Does this ease his pain? Or does he instead
find compassion and continue to say his story and tell of his pain and
therefore, hope that others will listen, not just hear, but listen and
understand? It’s obvious he has chosen the latter. The message here
is that ultimately true freedom is in our mind and in the choice of
how to respond and react to a disaster, a crisis, a personal tragedy.

In this world, for some it may seem there is no choice but to take
revenge, but yet there are some who still feel the freedom of making
the choice. Is there something that makes these individuals stand out
from those who feel there is no choice? Perhaps. Perhaps there is
something that makes a person naturally resilient to tragedy and
disaster. Perhaps only certain people are meant to carry the hope in
the world. Perhaps only certain people are meant to understand what
it means to truly feel compassion.

Ultimately, someone will ask why I would watch such a movie. Maybe
just like Ripper, I need to see if there is some hope in this world of
suffering and cruelty. In some way, I’m still uncertain. Perhaps the
only hope left is what is carried in my heart. But then again, Ripper
did make this movie. His documentary has an important message to say.
So I am not alone with this hope of mine.

I must commend Velcrow Ripper for this documentary – not just for
making it but for deciding to make it and visit those people and
places.

Hopefully, more people will see this documentary and hear the message.
As Ripper said during the Q&A after the screening, there is a sense
of urgency in the world. I agree, the urgency is there. But also,
more people are needed to respond to it. “…Breathe out compassion”
We need it to survive.

Hope you enjoyed the review. Got the message I hope.

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

One Response to “Film Festival Time Again”

  1. Ecstatic Spirituality » Blog Archive » Commentary on Deepa Mehta’s Water Says:

    […] Water and the issue of Hindu widows has become sensationalized by an primarily emotional audience who have yet to put the movie into a larger perspective. Yes, there is an inequality being presented here, but there is also inequality and injustice all over the world. (Visit Amnesty International.) There are women being abused in every country of the world. There are other people besides women being mistreated in many parts of the world. Someone somewhere is suffering (I’m reminded of the documentary Scared Sacred). Who’s to say if one group’s suffering is greater than another’s? If one really believes in equality, one should show compassion just as equally. Don’t get fixated on the small picture. The real issue here is about human dignity – not just women’s, but every single human being. As humans we need to treat each other better – regardless of race, gender, culture, spirituality or religion, age, social group, disability (politically correct to call it “differently abled”), or intelligence. […]

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