“There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces.” Nikos Kazantzakis
Today, I had my First Film Festival and the dominant theme that emerged was “woman.” Is that a theme? I didn’t choose these movies as much as they chose me. Interesting, considering I just spent last night at a club in-drag, apparently confusing both men and women. Each film was a powerful documentary and gave me so much more to consider about the depth of women. These women were wives, mothers, baby-mamas, artists, activists, murderers, victims, thieves, drag-queens. I didn’t realize until I had watched all of them in succession that the true underlying themes were “love” and “woman.” I did not purposely choose them for those themes, that’s why I believe that the movies chose me. I suppose “love” and “woman” are the underlying themes of life itself.
Here is a list of my film festival picks, with a brief description. NO SPOILERS. You must watch these movies! I would recommend all of them (except the last one – Kurt & Courtney. Soaked in Bleach was a much better film, in my opinion, on the same topic).
- Dear Zachary: A Letter to A Son About His Father – If you get through this movie without crying you earn the Heart of Stone Award. Andrew Bagby is the definition of a great guy. However, I was moved by the love and strength of his mother. I admire this woman beyond words. I advise you not to read any reviews on this movie, not even the Netflix synopsis. Just watch it.
- Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present – WOW. If you are not an easterner, you may not have heard about this installation at the MOMA in NYC in 2010. I got to the east coast for my temporary stint in 2011, but I remember hearing the buzz about this. This woman believes in suffering for her art. The film is a historical reflection of her life in art and her most recent MOMA presentation: being present. Deep.
- Iris – Do I love this woman? I want to be her! You may look at her apartment and instantly think of an episode of Hoarders (TV show). Oh, but the items that this woman owns! This was my favorite of the film festival. She is a fashion icon. She doesn’t care what you think. She is a bad-ass. Waiting for the next scene just to see what she was wearing was pure joy for me. Iris is fearless in fashion and I love her for it.
- What Happened, Miss Simone? – This was hard to watch. If you know anything about Nina Simone (songstress, activist, so much more) you will understand why. Her journal entries and the live footage made me feel as though I was watching the unraveling of a genius. So sad.
- Paris Is Burning – Definitely an education in compassion. This documentary chronicles the Drag Queen Balls in NYC in the 80’s. It really brought home the relationship between “mothers” and “children” in a very broad sense. If you don’t think you can open your mind, it’s probably best for you not to watch. But if you can, all I can say is: “You better work!” (finger-snaps)
- The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne – I don’t know where to start on this one. Let’s start here: 83 year old, foul-mouthed, formerly stunning ( like a model, stunning), diamond thief. Need I say anymore? This woman was too much! Watch this film.
- The Testimony – This was the shortest of the films, only a half-an-hour and all sub-titles. Heart-wrenching. You think it’s tough being a woman? You live in the U.S. You have no idea how hard it is for women with no voice and no rights to just live. To just live.
- Kurt & Courtney – Not sure what your feelings are on 90’s grunge, but it was my thing. It’s still my thing. Kurt Cobain became a member of the 27 Club in 1994 and there is still much mystery and conspiracy surrounding his death. Since I’m familiar with the story and have seen another documentary on this subject, I prefer the other one. But you may like it. Give it a go.