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Reality Sandwich Shop

By Josef Woodard
Reality comes in different dimensions and densities at the film festival, in both the fiction and documentary categories. Three docs screened on Saturday presented slices of historical reality, still unfolding, and expanded available understanding of how the world does (and doesn't) work.
In the Mexican doc The Demons of Eden, directed with a fast, loose and furious hand by Alejandra Islas, the tale is told of journalist Lydia Cachao, from Cancun, who uncovered the pedophilia and other transgressions of powerful business leaders. She was subsequently jailed and harassed, and the film spins off in various directions, exploring related systemic problems, from corruption to pollution and exploitation of workers in sweatshops, and a political system rooted in "narcocracy."
Yes Yes Madam, Sir, made with an engagingly and more polished style made by Australian director Megan Doneman, addresses social conditions via its central story of the charismatic and controversial Kiran Bedi, the Indian Police Service's first female. Bedi has initiated impressive changes while marshalling international publicity in posts including as "cop of the world" in the UN.
From yet another distinctly different nook of history, and filmic style, comes Our Disappeared, _ in which Juan Mandelbaum lays out the tragic story of the mid-70s reign of tyranny in Argentina, when dissidents and innocents were "disappeared" by the tens of thousands. An Argentine exile who moved to the United States during the dark years of the military junta, Mandelbaum found himself curious about his college friends. The end result is a film which progresses from the very personal to the socio-historical, through his own personal encounters and a more objective overview of the period, when terror came knocking from "unmarked Ford Falcons" and Henry Kissinger, as agency of the U.S., offered his implicit approval of the torture and murder tactics.
In a Q&A after the screening, Mandelbaum admitted that "something has stirred in me in the making of this film."
Reality comes in a fascinating, fictionalized but seemingly authentic form in what must be one of the very best of this fest, _Tulpan
. This is the official Oscar entry from Kazakhstan, the locale most recently known in cinema from last year's epic Mongol_ and being the butt of Borat's low-blow humor. Director Sergei Dvortsevoy delivers a potently naturalistic and visually stunning film about the life of a sheepherder clan, living in yurts on the endlessly horizontal and dusty landscape of the steppe. Among other unique attributes, it may be the first major film requiring an actor to preside over the actual birth of a lamb (an incredibly moving and metaphorical scene).
Incidental festival note: when asked about the importance of rewriting at the ever-popular Screenwriter's panel at the Lobero, Andrew (Wall-E) Stanton declared "rewriting is writing. If you don't want to rewrite, then you shouldn't be a writer." At which point, moderator Anne Thompson offered this alternate advice: "blog."_

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