- Written by Bob Gelfand
09 Oct 2012
CULTURE WATCH LA - Last year at this time, the international film festival known as Le Giornate del Cinema Muto did a retrospective on films from the country known to us as Georgia. To most Americans, Georgia is barely known, if at all, as a former part of the Soviet Union and as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin.
Somehow, Georgia under Soviet occupation was the home of a vigorous film industry. In the 1920s, films of surprising beauty were made there, the best of which involved the steep, high mountains, the villagers who lived there, and the interactions of the mountain people with city folks from places such as Tbilisi. That 2011 festival in Pordenone, Italy, showcased a remarkable collection of silent era films about those Georgian people and their countryside.
Even shot in the black and white film available at the time, these films are remarkable for the stark and steep mountainsides, long shots of peasants ascending winding paths, villages seemingly at the top of the world, and tribal conflicts.
I found myself loving the films (in agreement with a thousand or so other viewers from all over the world), even as I wondered how the shots would look in widescreen color and with a modern plot line.
I'm going to get my chance this Friday, October 12, 2012. The trip will be about 6000 miles shorter though, as The Loneliest Planet will play in San Pedro at the Warner Grand Theater at 8 pm.
This is all by way of introduction to a brand new cultural addition to our community, the San Pedro International Film Festival, or Spiff for short.
As the website will show you, there's more than the Georgian peaks. There is a whole day of documentaries. In fact, the Saturday morning session provides a chance to catch Rock the Boat if you missed it before. It's the story of intrepid kayakers running the LA River, which I wrote about last week.
Sunday should be of particular interest for two groups of people -- those interested in doing videos for fun, and those interested in doing video documentaries as a profession. Festival organizer Ziggy Mrkich and her colleague Maya Bristow have put together a panel of industry professionals to talk about how to get your film made and how to get it seen. If you don't want to join The Industry (as locals call it), you can watch the movies and student films just for the fun of it.
The program includes five feature length films including the aforementioned Loneliest Planet, panels, student shorts, documentaries, and the odd party or two. In keeping with film festival tradition, there will be a choice between a pay-one-price pass and various other subcategories for ticket purchases.
A last minute addition, which Ziggy Mrkich points to with particular pride, is a collection of newly made 3D Shorts, one of which is a zombie film. What would a film festival be without a 3D zombie film, anyway? The 3D event includes a film using photos from the space telescope to bring distant astronomy up close.
Also, and of particular interest to me, is a modern reconstruction of the epic First World War era Battle of the Somme. The British high command commissioned a filmed documentary of this battle starting in its planning stages and continuing through the months of combat. Their 35 mm documentary is the model for all later combat films. The filmmaker has taken a trove of 3D photographs along with some of the battle footage to create The War of Wars.
This last collection will be shown 4 pm Sunday at the Terrace Theater on Western Ave in San Pedro.
Vol 10 Issue 81
Pub: Oct 9, 2012