I began the second day with two friends and “Corpo Celeste”—a coming-of-age story set in Calabria, Italy. Marta is the 13-year-old protagonist, who has just moved to town with her overworked mother and her mostly critical older sister. Shy Marta is sent to catechism class to make friends. She doesn’t. Instead, Marta questions the hypocrisy of the adults around her and the church itself. One friend, a non-practicing Catholic, couldn’t get past the hypocrisy of the church, which overworks its female parishioners, but disrespects them at the same time, and the uncaring priest and his underhanded political activism. The rest of us liked the film, found the slow-moving story and contemplative quality of the film appealing—three stars, a B.
“David is Dying” was a big disappointment. It’s a dark and disturbing film about a destructive man with a troubled past. It’s shot mostly in extreme close-ups of conversations between David and his on again/off again girlfriend Carla, and his shrink. David, jealous and possessive, “interrogates” Carla after they bump into an old friend (male) of hers: Did you sleep in his bed? Did you steal a kiss? He threatens her, he stalks her, they get together again, they break up again. I can appreciate “dark and disturbing” when it’s well-told. This was too much in my face—rated C.
“Dear Zachary” was a heart-stopper! Owing to a scheduling conflict, I almost didn’t see it, and wouldn’t know what I had missed. Directed by Kurt Kuenne—this year’s Director’s Spotlight choice—it was conceived as a video letter to the son of Andrew Bagby, Kuenne’s childhood friend, who was killed by his former girlfriend. Twists and turns in this lovingly-made documentary leave the audience ready to take arms against the government of Canada—an A.
Another disappointment came when it was discovered that “The Art of Love,” a French comedy arrived in Cleveland without subtitles. We quickly turned around and went to see “Love Free or Die” instead. Disappointment turned to delight with this documentary about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay partnered person to be consecrated in the Episcopal Church. The film follows Robinson, who retired recently, from his civil union in 2008 to the Episcopal General Convention in 2009, when—after long and painful discussion—the church voted to consecrate gays and lesbians and to bless marriages in states where gay marriage is legal. A solid A for this stand-up documentary.