2007: The Garcias
Cinequest: The Christopher J. Garcia Awards for Outstanding
Achievement in the Field of Maverick Filmmaking Excellence.
This marks Garcia's fifth year handing out these awards. That
doesn't make them any more legitimate, perhaps, but it shows
some darn fine dedication. Who needs Harry Knowles? We've
got Garcia. And he talks a bit less about himself.
go wrong with Cinequest. While not every movie is a winner,
the experience of the festival is always worth it. This year's
bests are as good as any other year's, and in a couple of
cases even better. I'm revived from just hanging around all
week and not sleeping!
for you gentle reader, are my picks for the Festival Bests
Filmmaker Friends a Guy Could Ask For- The Team from The
Town That Was
OK, so on the first Sunday, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch
of great folks, no one as awesome as Melinka and Chris from
the Viewers Voice winner The Town That Was. We got
to chatting and had a wonderful, if completely scattered and
politically incorrect, time at the bar. On Tuesday, Georgie,
the co-director, was added to the mix and a couple of days
later Chris' girlfriend Lanie showed up. We ended up spending
a lot of time drinking together and bowling and playing pool.
Oh yeah, and their movie's freakin' fantastic too. Single
highlight: Lanie and I
beating Chris and Melinka at Team Cricket darts 596-160.
Post-Screening Drinking Spot- Cinnebar
A San Jose institution known for its scruffy clientele and
exceptional jukebox. Seriously, it's one of the best I've
ever seen. Paragon, the official night spot, proved far too
expensive for many who retired to the Cinnebar and made it
a secondary home for the fest. It's where most folks go after
the other bars roll up there carpets at midnight. The jukebox
alone is worth a full evening's visit.
Cameo- Alan Cumming in Full Grown Men
While I had troubles with the way the story of Full Grown
Men unfolded, Alan Cumming was genius in his slightly extended
cameo. There's a scene where Cumming has a gun and the car
gets pulled over on the way to Diggityland that's just about
the funniest thing ever.
Viewer (Kid Division)- The Little Guy Marco
I led a program called Critics for a Day where we invited
kids from around the city to come and watch some short films
and then we critically analyze them. It's a fun program and
this year I asked what movies the kids had seen. Marco, God
bless him, said "The Marine". I asked "Did
you like it?" and he said, and this is verbatim "The
romantic stuff felt tacked on." Then, he kept asking
if the next movie had John Cena in it. He's my 8 year old
Science Fiction Film- Blood Car
On the surface, Blood Car is an ultra-splatter horror
film, but in reality, it's a political Mad Scientist science
fiction film in the tradition of Frankenstein...only with
amounts of blood and a golden shower shot. It's absolutely
hilarious and there are some moments that just had me screaming
and howling. The Atlanta-based filmmakers were also good folks
and the Q-&-A session afterwards ended up being huge.
It also might have been the best job of pre-film announcing
that I did the entire festival.
Thing Peter Bogdanovich Said to Me- "Hey kid, you
got the time?"
Moment- The catch
There I was, walking up the Camera 12 escalator (because I'm
not the kind to let myself be carried up the escalator) and
I heard 'Crap!' yelled from above. I looked and saw that someone
had dropped a cell phone. I leaned over and caught it, saving
it from falling all the way to the first floor from the 3rd.
It was a one-handed masterpiece worthy of highlight reels.
the BIG Awards
Short Film- Validation by Kurt Kuenne.
This is the guy who gave us hits like Rent-A-Person
and Drive-In Movie Memories. He's done it again with
this short that's related to Rent-A-Person. I'm a big
fan, and since the lead actor happens to be on Numbers
now, it's even topical! Here's a short about a guy who lives
to make people feel better about themselves who falls in love
with a girl who just won't smile. It's tender and beautiful
as well as really, really funny.
Documentary Short- Spitfire
A local doc that really used the traditional medium with all
sorts of fun editing and animation. The basic premise is that
the director found a bunch of films from World War II when
his grandfather died and went out to find the guy who piloted
the Spitfire that crash landed in one of
them. He found him and showed him the film. The interview
is good, watching the reaction of the old man watching his
film was amazing. Great film.
Dramatic Feature- We Shall Overcome
It's Danish, so it's got to be good! The story is wonderful.
Frits is a kid who is inspired by the recently deceased Martin
Luther King. His father goes away to a mental hospital and
he gets beaten by the school headmaster, setting off a series
of events that leads to much trouble for his family. The film
is touching, powerful, funny and smart. I'm amazed at how
good the kid was. He really carried much of the film.
Best Comedy Feature- Military Intelligence and You
Sometimes you can take a simple thing, like old World War
II films, and re-edit them, add voice over gags and some new
footage and make it totally about the current political situation.
Military Intelligence and You may not be my political
point-of-view, but it's damn funny no matter what your take
on the world today. The fact that we get cameos from folks
like Elisha Cook Jr., Alan Ladd, Ronald Reagan and William
Holden makes things even better.
Feature (Documentary)- Shootdown
It's a tough doc that walks several lines. It deals with the
1996 shooting down of two civilian aircraft by the Cuban government.
It's more than that, really, as those aircraft were a part
of Brothers to the Rescue, a group that gathered Cubans who
were trying to float to the US from Cuba. With just a slight
bit of unattention it could have completely vilified any number
of people or governments, but it manages to make it all the
way through without going too far in any direction. This is
a rare doc that is both angry and reasoned. It's a very powerful
In Fest- Super Amigos
It's a documentary that might have been made just for me,
but it was also a powerful film that the audience loved. Super
Amigos tells the story of several of the Social Justice
Crusaders of Mexico City who work tirelessly while wearing
traditional wrestling attire and masks. There's Fray Tormenta,
the basis for Nacho Libre, and Super Gay, who fights
homophobia, and Ecologista Universal and Super Barrio. The
star to me is Super Animal. He's an actual wrestler and shoot
fighter and he's also a vegetarian who works to save animals
and stop bullfighting. He pushes his way through a line of
about 200 cops at one point. That's a bad, bad man!