Having heard from my old friend Jamie who just celebrated his birthday last week…Happy Birthday James…that he was enjoying reading the blog…Thanks for the encouragement James…I am making a pledge to write at least once a week instead of feeling overwhelmed and not writing anything at all!
Assuming of course I am in a place with internet connections,that should be manageable.
So wish me luck and poke me if I get slack!

PS We just saw a film called HOST, a Korean monster movie with a heart. It was the first time we got to see Chris Paul’s name up on the big screen! What a great feeling for both Joe and myself…

Congratulations Chris! Way to GO!

Reminded me of the story I heard, after the fact, when my nephew Stuart saw my name in the end credits of Indian Summer and he jumped up pointing at the screen yelling, “That’s my Aunt, that’s my Aunt!”
It feels good all the way around! So you can be proud of yourself CHP and we anticipate many more opportunities to jump up and point at the screen yelling, “There’s Chris…that’s my step son…that’s our man!” in the future.

Well I’m finally back at it. The skiing was so good the Thursday I went. Sunshine and fresh snow in spots. I never got to catch up with my friend Mark because he had to teach a class,but it was fun to be back on the boards again after a nearly two year hiatus. I loved the freedom of exploring the mountain without any real preconceived notions of where I should be or what was the best run. I managed to roam from one end of the resort to another in half a day which was pretty good,considering Deer Valley’s size.
Friday I went over to the Eccles which,for those who have never been there, is the largest screening space in Park City. It’s attached to the high school and is used for all sorts of theatrical presentations and assemblies. It holds over twelve hundred people and screens all the big premieres with the huge entourages. I usually try to see atleast one film there through the festival. Out of the ten possible theatres screening films this year in PC I made it to eight of them. Of course three of those theatres are at our venue while another two of them were press and industry venues. So in reality I was only at three other physical buildings.
I saw two films that day at the Eccles, “Wristcutters:A Love Story”, and “Little Miss Sunshine”, the three o’clock TBA.
Wristcutters was a quirky look at the world of suicide where everything is grey and no one smiles. The protagonist finds himself hooked up with a wacky Russian whose whole family has ended up in this odd universe,and a young woman who is convinced she is there by mistake and needs only to find the guys in ‘white coats’ to get things straightened out. They set out on a road trip in a beat up station wagon with a black hole under it’s front passenger seat,discovering a few things about themselves along the way,not to mention a miracle or two instigated by Tom Waits’ character,Kneller.
Little Miss Sunshine follows the antics of a dysfunctional family under pressure to get its youngest member,Olive, to a LMS beauty pagent in Los Angeles in time for the registration and competition that Sunday afternoon. Climbing into their battered VW van,Saturday morning, they travel from New Mexico through Arizona to California. There’s grandpa who was kicked out of the retirement home because of his penchant for heroin,Olive’s 16 year old brother, Dwayne who has taken a vow of silence until he can become a fighter pilot,her uncle Frank, a leading Proust scholar,just out of the hospital after an attempted suicide with no place to go but his sister’s,Olive’s dad a motivational speaker with a nine step program that noone wants to really hear about,and her mom stalwart and calm(sort of) supporting Olive all the way.There are predictable moments but overall it was a sweet study of a family thrown together unwillingly,then pulling together for one of their own.

Saturday the 27th I actually managed to drag myself out of bed after about four hours sleep to take in two more documentaries,and despite my exhaustion I was really glad that I had.

The first one called “American Blackout” was about the historical disenfranchisement of the black vote,zeroing in on in particular the 2000 and 2004 elections in both Florida and Ohio. Woven into the film is the story about Cynthia McKinney, an African American Democratic Congress woman from Georgia. She is someone who asked difficult questions about the election irregularities in Florida, 9/11, and the handling of it by the Administration,wondering out loud how much was known before the strike, not to mention what connections it had to Iraq before the war started. She paid dearly for those questions…losing her primary in 2002…then regaining her seat through hard work and grass roots organizing in 2004.

Her aim has always been to get at the truth, something the Bush Administration has been loathe to provide.

I think every eligible voter black,white,latino,whomever,but especially the young voting public, should see this film, mostly to be reminded of the importance of our right to vote and how easily it can become derailed by a few well placed people willing to subvert the democratic process.

The second film I saw that day was called an “An Inconvenient Truth”. An equally powerful and disturbing film about global warming and the inconvenient truth that science presents regarding its existence.

The film follows Al Gore in his round the world powerpoint presentation of the global warming crisis. One of the reasons I really liked this film was despite his obvious Democratic connections it was a non partisan film. It was strictly presenting the facts as he and most of today’s scientists see them. He lays them out in a calm ,cool, collected,manner but with an understanding that there is an underlying urgency to change the way people think about global warming. He is  ultimately persuasive,outlining the indisputable correlation between CO2 emissions with exponentially rising temperatures, which in turn are wrecking climatic havoc around the world.

It’s ” activist cinema at its best,for it serves to popularize and demythologize a problem long obscured by those most threatened by the solution….inaction is no longer an option – in fact, it is immoral.”(Caroline Libresco)

Truely this is a film that needs to be seen or better yet, get your high school, church, university,community centre, local chamber of commerce,city council,state or provincial government,etc. to sponser Gore and his presentation in your neck of the woods. From what the director said after the film Gore is constantly updating and adding the latest facts and figures to his presentation. That means you are getting the most relevant and recent information available not something that is stagnant or stale. Go for it..I mean it…
Another thing… if we could all become carbon neutral,ie., expend the same amount of carbon we produce we could have a huge impact on the environment….for the better.

Saturday night after our shift a few of us ended up back at our condo where we imbibed and laughed and took photos and were generally silly until very late or should I say early in the morning….Oh my aching head the next day when housekeeping came bright and early to boot us out.

I met up with my sister and a friend and after getting organized and out of the condo we headed over to Powder Mountain about an hour north west of Park City, very near Snow Basin where some of the skiing for the 2002 Olympics were held.

We rendezvoused with more Colorado gal pals and had three fabulous days of powder skiing..untracked runs until the lifts closed at four pm. Our signal that the day was over was when the signs would go up in the liftie’s booths…. “Ski back to the lodge”…which we dutifully did…I happily, as I am a mere flatlander! But boy oh boy I was feeling pretty chuffed by the end of the three days…good food,good wine, awesome female company….Joe called us the middle aged women’s Olympic ski team. Thirteen hot mamma’s going for the steep and deep.

Skiing under a lift on day two someone going up the lift recognized us and yelled out wondering where all thirteen of us were? How did our reputation get so far so fast? Especially since none of us knew who he was…. Needless to say we were amused:)

We had over two feet of snow dump on us over the three days which meant the heli- skiing enthusiasist’s were thwarted but we managed to have good days anyway…cough cough.

Going up Lightening Ridge behind a Snowcat was an experience and a half. Two or three ropes about fifty or sixty feet long with loops spaced at five foot intervals  dragged behind the cat. We were instructed to slide our poles through the loops and then sit on them(more like lean against) like a T Bar while the cat pulled us up the ridge. It was very cool. Snowboarders would just hang onto the loops flipping their boards back and forth if they got tired.

It took quite a while to dig out my car before heading home Thursday morning. Thankfully the conditions were much clearer this trip and it was an easy drive to Boise where I met Joe. We spent the night in Baker City,then drove through Pendleton where he and Kathy lived for several years before they moved to Portland. I met some of his old neighbours and visited an old favourite haunt where I met another old friend. Luckily for me he drove most of the way home…while I got to snooze.


We got some fresh snow last night and fortuitously a friend has offered me a pass to ski at Deer Valley today so I’m heading out to get a few runs and take in the snow and sunshine.
Here’s a brief rundown on the films I have seen since I’ve been here.

Jan 21 “What Remains” was a very interesting documentary about a photographer heralded as a US treasure,Sally Mann. She garnered controversy around her first big show called “Immediate Family” in the early nineties.This film looked at her more recent work which revolved around death and decay.Beautifully shot and compelling.

Jan 22 “DeNadie” and “God Grew Tired of Us” were both documentaries that shared one similar aspect, emigrants moving to the USA .

Denadie focussed on the trials that Central Americans trying to escape the crushing poverty in their respective countries experience traveling to the US while passing through Mexico. Many of them travel via train despite having to face horrors from beatings to rapes to extortion at the hands of rail security,police,or violent gangs called the Maras. Gangs that come from El Salvador principally but who are not held in check by the authorities.

God Grew Tired of Us followed the stories of three Sudanese men who at a very young age had been forced to leave the Sudan along with 27,000 other young “lost boys”, ranging in age from 3 to 13, during the major civil unrest that occurred in southern Sudan in the early 1980’s. They trekked thousands of miles across the desert, first to Ethopia staying until it’s government collapsed when they were forced to move once again this time to Kenya.
They landed in a refugee camp called Kakuna for ten or more years until the US opened it’s doors (pre 9/11) to provide some safe haven for them.
It was quite endearing and sweet to watch as they experienced the culture shock of airplane rides,running water,electricity,refrigeration,supermarkets,etc.
With their efforts to improve their lives here through hard work and perseverence they find themselves increasingly isolated from the comraderie they knew from home and learn to juggle their spiritual and emotional survival with their financial ones. Never forgetting the boys back home they stay in touch,send money back and are working to have schools and medical clinics built for them.
An Aside ….not in the screening I attended but at our theatre, two women were so taken with them they each wrote cheques to the tune of 30,000 dollars for the medical clinic John is building in Sudan. WOW

Jan 23 “The Giant Buddhas” was a story about the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in the hills of Afghanistan. It also looked at the larger picture of the why the west didn’t get involved before hand (as in create it as a World Heritage site prior)instead of when it was too late to save them.
“The Trials of Darryl Hunt” searched for the reasons of the injusticeness of the justice system here in the US in Winston Salem North Carolina. Despite DNA evidence proving his innocence Darryl Hunt,an African American, lost trail after trail in the murder of a young white woman. Never giving up he and his lawyer were only succesful in obtaining his release once they found the real killer. Incredible testament of faith on Darryl’s part and perseverence on the part of those who never gave up his cause.

Jan 24 “Unfolding Florence:The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst. A story about an Australian woman who managed to continuously reinvent herself finally landing on her feet as a designer of exceptional wallpaper and fabric, and her still unsolved murder from 1977. It was the style of filmmaking that grabbed me the most. I liked their use of animation and dramatization in a documentary.

“Black Gold” a very thought provoking and disturbing look at the coffee industry of Africa.
Did you know that coffee originated in Ethopia? me neither.
We follow in particular one man,Tadesse Meskela, who has organized a farmer’s cooperative and is tireless in his efforts to improve the lives of the farmer’s he represents.
This film looks at the unbalanced trade practices of the western world. Africa has only 1 percent of the world market. In the last 20 years as other lesser developed countries have managed to move forward some what, Africa has managed to go backwards and receives more aid now than ever before. If they could increase their world share by only 1 percent they could take in 70 billion dollars.
When will Multi National Corporations recognize that a hand up is better than a hand out?

An Aside…the Holiday theatre is going to become known as the charity theatre. In the premiere screening of this film a patron wrote a cheque for 10,000 to go towards building a school for the cooperative’s children.

Jan 25 “The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends” this is a must see.
While it uses Iraq as its starting point, it’s really about the men and women who go do the killing for the rest of us. However the problem is in today’s war there isn’t an obvious enemy…any civilan could be a terrorist… and because of this soldiers find themselves having to deal with the guilt and confusion of killing innocent people. Post traumatic distress disorder is a common ailment that many return home with,yet the army continues to dispute it is truely a consequence of armed conflict and is slow to help those returning with it. Many groups have sprung up in an effort to help where the government they go to war for will not.

“So Much So Fast” It’s incredible what a family will do when one of their own comes down with a horrible and incurable disease…ALS..Lou Gehrig’s disease. Stephen Heywood at 29 was diagnosed and given a 3 to 5 year life span. His whole family refusing to give up hope jumps in and creates a foundation searching for a cure. It’s an compelling journey to follow….and so far Stephen while now in a wheelchair living with the aid of a respirator and a voice machine is fighting the odds and winning.

Animation spotlight included ten short films ranging from 27 minutes to 4 minutes. Some more amazing than others all fun to watch despite some morbid topics. More on these later.(sorry Chris)


So the thing about being new to blogging is that items written can disappear without you even being aware of it. I am distressed to discover a blog I started Sunday and finished yesterday didn’t get saved even though I thought I had. So my descriptions of working the night shift along with films I had seen have disappeared into the thin cyber air! Damn! I’ve been having some internet connection trials which has taught me the hard way that you can’t try to send without a good connection. Oh well live and learn.
I’ve seen some terrific doc’s since I’ve been here. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait to hear about them because it’s time for my shift!

Last night was our first shift which went pretty well for the most part,still working out the kinks with the crew but everyone seems enthusiastic and excited to be here so that’s good! We had a full house in each theatre even the late screening. Tonight we will have a full slate which means we will seat six films over the course of our shift,two of them at the same time.
Hopefully either one will be busy and the other not so busy or neither of them will be busy or the nightmare option….both of them will be crazy…won’t know till I get there….always curious to know what goes on in the programmer’s minds when they do this to us.
I met the film critic for the Oregonian yesterday in our theatre,very approachable nice guy. Forgot to ask him what his picks were for the fest.

I did see a documentary called The World According to Sesame Street, which I suppose could be construed as an informercial for Sesame Street because it was all about their international program called Sesame Workshop where they go around the world creating Sesame Street TV shows for different countries.
However I thought it was very much a feel good film because what they are doing is going out there educating children and promoting tolerance. They are extremely concious of not imposing the American way of life but instead incorporating the cultures and values that the children come from. Giving them programming that relates to their own life experiences.
It did feel like a PBS TV special but hey it’s still a great thing they are accomplishing and if the kids are benefiting how can it be bad?
Especially if they’re teaching them about Aids/HIV in South Africa or promoting tolerance between the Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo,or trumpeting their heritage in Bangaldesh?
More later.