For those among your friends who would disparage the film fest, citing its allegedly foul “Hollywood” or “elitist” tendencies, allow me to furnish you a handy one-word refutation: AppleBox. The all-free family-oriented programming—which derives its funny name from a theatrical device used to boost both cameramen and vertically challenged actors (it’s also sometimes called the Michael Douglas box)—is already in its fourth year of bringing back a lost aspect of American culture, the kiddie matinee. And it isn’t just an oddity: Last year, the AppleBox screening of Christopher Lloyd’s Call of the Wild drew an audience of 1,700, second only to the Clint Eastwood tribute.
This year, AppleBox presents a film that ought to top most people’s best of the year lists: Up, Pixar’s triumphant animated story about lifelong dreams and everyday heroisms—as fun as it is emotionally moving. But the fest’s programming triumph is a Spanish film called Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime (ahem, I might know a possible corporate sponsor near the Arlington where mostly these films are screening), a gorgeous, witty film about plucky, soccer-crazed orphans escaping a foul headmaster. It’s in Spanish with subtitles, which might challenge some English-speaking audience members, but I’ve heard there might be a few Spanish-speaking kids in this community who enjoy fútbol. Know any?
Add to these blockbuster enjoyments a fine Irish film about farm kids on Go-Karts (called The Race) and one of the more enjoyable diversions of the fest—screenings of short films for (and about) kids—and you’ve got the kind of thing you don’t get to see in those elitist Hollywood festivals you hear about.