Sunday, September 23, 2007

If sanctuary still exists, it's among the shaking fists

- Sub Domestic - the Constantines

There are a number of reasons why you've gotta love film festivals.
You get to see films you would never see at the Super-Mega-Walmart-Time-Disney Cineplex Dome, you get to hang out with the cool people downtown and deconstruct films like an auteur, and the independent theatres hosting the films always have the best popcorn in town.

We took in two films at the Calgary International Film Festival this weekend, and we are watching another two next weekend.

Last night we watched It's Gonna Get Worse, which is a look at the Czech youth counterculture during the communist era. Olin is a young man who evades military service by cutting his wrists and serving time in an insane asylum, thereby having himself declared unfit for the military. He and the like-minded disenfranchised youth of his town spend their days and nights drinking, screwing, organizing illegal soccer matches, and dreaming of escaping the Iron Curtain.

A black and white film, based on an underground cult novel, which was banned during the Czech communist era, It's Gonna Get Worse is a raw portrayal of a generation who do not so much fight the political system they are living under, as ignore it with utter disdain.

It is a film not without its problems, but also not without its power and charms.

Today we took in a film that I was really very excited to see, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Bomb It is a documentary about the history and cultural variations of graffiti. Bomb It traces the roots of graffiti from the first cave drawings through the exploration of the pyramids and up into its place as subversive and surprisingly life-affirming guerrilla art-form of today.

Through interviews with graffiti artists, graffiti writers, muralists, and taggers in five continents, the film is a fascinating examination of the compulsion which drives people to make their mark in public spaces. And while most of the artists began their craft with the simple desire to leave their name as proof of their existence, the artists interviewed were surprisingly thoughtful in their awareness of the impact of their actions upon their environs. Most saw themselves as attempting to beautify an otherwise soul-destroying environment, and viewed graffiti as an attempt to reclaim public spaces from the marketing blitzkrieg they have become.

And the arguments against graffiti as a means of artistic expressions were not suppressed in this film. Community activists, police forces, government officials, citizens were all given, if not equal time with the graffiti artists, then at least ample time to explain the basis for their objections. What struck me most though, was the moral code by which these artists lived, only using public spaces, never tagging schools, churches or homes.

Bomb It is a fascinating documentary to see if you have any interest at all in this art-form.

SUB-DOMESTIC - the Constantines
Put this confession in your sensitive files. Here’s some kindling for the schizophrenics. The new sick sleepless ex-patriot congress is living sub sub sub-domestic. If sanctuary still exists, it's among the shaking fists, seeking out a living free of the postures of politics. Plant a paintbomb in the market. Sing it to the whispering bats. Beneath the poison traffic, caught up in the wires. Echolocation. Call your targets out by name. Spraycans and stencils, moonrats and flowerpot snakes. Reconstructive scavengers, termite sympathizers, all sick and sleepless, caught up in the wires.


She's Crafty said...

Bomb it sounds very intriguing! Film fests are pretty great. I haven't been since my Kootenay days.

Next on my list of things to do this very moment - watch SPACED on showcase. Hurray for Simon and Nick!

Deb said...

I agree, Bomb would be a must see...sounds like it would be right up Allison's alley.

I think I have some catching up to do here...haven't been firing up the ol' puter much lately. Which isn't really a bad thing - giving the eyes a much needed break. And getting caught up on some laundry, etc. (blah)

Bubs said...

Very cool. I'll be looking for those movies in the future. I miss going to film festivals, I haven't been to one in 20 years.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Iam sooooooo jealous of you for having great events like this in your fair city. We get nothing like that here. I can't wait to see that Czech film if it ever makes it to DVD.

Splotchy said...

Nice descriptions!

I have seen one Czech film from that era -- Closely Watched Trains, which struck me as very reminiscent of a French New Wave film.

Bomb It sounds nifty! Just curious, have you ever seen Style Wars? It's also a great documentary about some graffiti artists, though it concentrates exclusively on guys in NYC.

Karen said...

I am supremely jealous. Compared to the Calgary Festival, Edmonton's sucks the big fat one. I need to move to Calgary!

Can I sleep on your couch for a few nights? The cats won't be a problem, I promise...

Allison said...

Oh wow, I need to see both of these! Its been so long since I've been to a good film fest, I was spoiled in Kingston.

Its Gonna Get Worse certainly sounds like an intriguing film, from your description it reminded me a bit of The Dreamers, by Bertolucci which is about the riots in France in 1968 when.

Of course I would see Bomb It without any arm pulling. I am happy to hear that the docu attempted to show both sides of the story. I'm going to go and search out where I can find these films now :)

justacoolcat said...

I wonder if the hippy is making the tree or I more happy? They look like good films, but though graffiti can be art; I'm skeptical to brand it as such.

Dale said...

They both sound interesting and I'll keep my one good eye open for them. A few days ago on my train ride to work, I saw graffiti written on a tree trunk. Weird.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Spaced is on Showcase, Serah? I get Showcase! I am going to investigate.
I love film fests so much that I even put butter on my popcorn for the duration.

I was thinking Allison would love that film, Deb. Actually a lot of people would.
Laundry? Aren't you a wild one lately?

You must remedy that, Bubs. Film fests are worth leaving the house for (as you well know).

It would be a great excuse for you to make a roadtrip sometime, Dr M - going to a film fest. That Czech film could be really hard to find - I'm not even sure if it's IMDBed.

Style Wars sounds pretty great, Splotchy. I love that it's so much easier to watch docs now than it used to be.
Did you pick up any Czechoslovakian while watching Closely Watched Trains? I'm pretty sure I know a few Czech swears now.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

To tell you the truth, I didn't even know Edmonton HAD a film fest, Karen, so yeah I can see that it isn't getting too publicised.
The spare room awaits, we just need to figure out how to keep my cat from attempting to kill yours.

I've not heard of the Dreamers, Al, but it sounds promising. I think later this week we're taking a trip down to the only good video store on our side of the city. I'll need to check some of these out.
You would love Bomb It, I think. It was excellent!

I think the tree is pretty happy, Just A, in fact it's pretty woody! hahaha!
Many of the artists in the doc would agree with you on not labeling graffit as art. The whole commodification of graffiti was a major sore point.

Neat! I assume it wasn't of the DW loves BB varietyDale?
I love when I am stuck waiting for a train to pass and it's covered in really great graffiti.

Karen said...

Spaced was hilarious Barb! I watched the episodes online and loved it. Jessica Hynes is fabulous!

JustRun said...

Oh how cool! I'm jealous!

Beth said...

I need to watch out for these.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Supa fantastico link, Karen! Thanks loads; I've got a pile of Spaced watching to do now.

You should be jealous, Justrun, because I am a champion at sitting in a movie theatre, eating popcorn.

There are some good ones coming up all week as well, Beth. I'll fill you in on the ones that I see.

mellowlee said...

Oooooh, I really want to see Bomb it!!!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You'd love it Mel. It'll have you viewing those billboards a bit differently from now on.

Toccata said...

I so want to see Bomb It. I kind of fell in love with graffiti this summer. The creative kind of graffiti not the random scribbling or scratching your name into something. There's something so incredible and uplifting about seeing a wall splashed with colour which is often surrounded by bleak buildings in decline. We have a film fest coming here soon and I hope this one is on the program.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

There is some wonderful graffiti in Bomb It, Toccata. And that was one of the major points that was made in the doc, that the artists were adding beauty. I hope you get to see this.