Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Volunteer Shift

Tuesday was my first day of volunteering at the theatre. I seriously had no preconceived notions of being able to see the films but lo and behold my first day I was an inside usher with a headset and everything. Ushering inside the theatres means watching for pirating, making sure cell phones and other electronic devices are off, and of course directing people to the loo. It also means you get to watch the films and the Q&As with the filmmakers before cleaning the theatre for the next screening.

Wearing the headset was kind of interesting because at least at our theatre, the manager is very strict about not letting people into the theatre once the film has been introduced. The filmmakers are usually seated close to the door and besides people coming and going being distracting to the viewers, supposedly it drives the filmmakers mental. Inevitably as the movie was about 5 minutes in I’d hear someone outside the theatre message to our theatre manager because someone was begging to get in. The answer was always the same, sorry.

So I got to see three documentaries on my first shift so after that day, I didn’t feel like seeing films in the evening and just headed on home.

Here are the titles and a few brief words about each.

Miss Representation – I hope this gets distribution because it needs to be seen by everyone, especially parents and teachers. The documentary does an excellent job of depicting the media’s images of women in a very non-partisan way. There are some excellent women in media, the arts, and politics interviewed.

Granito – I think I would have responded more to this film if I’d seen the director’s earlier documentary When Mountains Tremble, since I had no knowledge of the genocide and conflict in Guatemala. However, it was very interesting and amazing to see how sometimes true documentary filmmaking can be capturing a moment in time that no one else is capturing. I think so often people take for granted that they don’t live in a country where the situation is so horrible that they must leave to make a better life.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 – I had skimmed through the description and the word “mixtape” made me think this would be more music-related. Instead the filmmaker was using that term to describe the mixture of footage he compiled together of Swedish journalists interviewing key players in the black power movement happening in the United States. During this film I really wished I wasn’t wearing my volunteer uniform because I really wanted to ask some questions. I was curious if during the making of the film if the Swedish filmmaker had watched interviews that maybe American journalists had done with these same players in that time period to see how different the interviews were. Without the internet and the freedom of talking to someone outside the U.S. I wonder if they were more expressive about their feelings. Again, really nicely put together, and many of the cast of Pariah were in the audience watching this film.

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