My film Call of the Hummingbird is screening in just two days at Hot Docs. Launch time is on Earth Day — Sunday 4pm at the Bloor and I am heavy into countdown mode.
Forgive me if I'm writing in NASA-speak but I watched the opening film at Hot Docs last night and I guess it got to me. In the Shadow of the Moon is a visit with nine of the men on earth who have actually stepped foot on the moon and a recap of the space program that launched them there. And a fine movie to watch, it is. These former astronauts who are now in their mid-70s are an amazingly vital crew with fascinating memories/points of view and best of all, unpredictably willing and able to share their feelings. The addition of this emotional tone to the incredible archival footage of the Apollo missions, is what makes the film a spectacular story.
But I must say that for me — from my newbie film-making perspective — it was encouraging to see what a good film experience can be created from the film's ultra-simple ingredients — a bunch of talking heads and some archival footage.That and a great message since in the end, these adventure-junkies all seem to have come home to planet earth with an appreciation that has never left them — of the planet's tininess and fragility in the grand scheme of things and it's essential one-ness and great beauty. "Our real-life garden of Eden," as one of the astronauts put it.
I liked that — a lot — partly because it is just true. And partly because I'm in film-promo mode and that is very much one of the key themes in my film — the idea that this earth where we live, is paradise and what do we need to have in our lives so that we can actually remember that we live in this paradise instead of mindlessly destroying it. (Have I invited you to go see my film Call of the Hummingbird yet?)
But wait, that was my pleasure in the film. The shocker came in the Q and A when Brit filmmaker David Sington revealed that what had really motivated him, in terms of making this film, was the idea of telling Americans a story of their greatness! Gag me. Watching Kennedy make those speeches just made me wonder at the madness and seemingly symbolic nature of the whole enterprise. This kind of ga-ga persepective is not what I was expecting from a British film-maker but I guess it is what you should expect from a film-maker who could get his paws on that level of military footage and personnel as well. Live and learn. Forgive and forget....
All made easier at a party with an open bar. And at the well-appointed Design Exchange, very nice. Most fun conversation was with Rick Caine, (pictured below) co-creator of Manufacturing Dissent which has already sold out its Bloor screenings and is making waves in the US and Europe. An attack on the veracity of Michael Moore's film-making (deservedly) and on the character of the man himself (like, so what), Rick is a great story-teller and a wonderful soul-brother when it comes to the idea that those of us on the left need to be able to navigate both our loves and hates with the same self-awareness and sense of complexity.
Speaking of soul, my fellow Toronto first-time filmmaker with a film shot in Brazil, Simonee Chichester was also at the party. Her film Chichester's Choice is about re-connecting with her homeless father living on the streets of Rio de Janero. And her mom invited me to stay at her place next time I'm in Brazil. Not a broadcast sale, but a good score nonetheless!
And thanks to film fest head Chris MacDonald, also pictured below.