TIFF my day two…

Yesterday was Monday, and while it marked day 5 and the middle of the festival for folks that started their TIFF experience on the first day, I wanted to start my first full day off early. So with a few hours sleep under my pillow I shot out into the world at 8:30 for the Documentary Breakfast at Doc Corner. Most people were probably feeling the exhaustion that creeps up by day 5 and slept through the breakfast making it an intimate gathering to meet writers and TIFF staff and programmers. I caught up with some other journalists and we all got books signed by photographer Charles Peterson and rock writer and drummer Michael A in honor of AJ Schnack’s Kurt Cobain About a Son.

Tamara  Charles and David
Tamara Krinsky shoots a quick interview with Charles Peterson and
Michael Azerrad on the fly for iklipz.

Packing for a trip is always a pain. This time I just didn’t pack warm enough, but before I could say, “there must be an H & M around here,” one appeared on Bloor and I made a few quick purchases to layer on.

Mohammed Naqvi’s portrait of Mukhtaran Mai, Shame, is a festival crowd pleaser complete with standing ovations, huge applause and a Q&A full of inappropriate questions. The film explores the life of a Pakistani woman who is gang-raped after her brother is accused of molesting a relative her predators. She overcomes adversity and starts a school for young girls in her village. The film was shown as a work in progress and was produced for Showtime.

If I was going to make it through any more of the day I would need a nap. I grabbed some take-out from the Thai place across the street from my hotel and took it back for an hour of quiet. I wanted to be ready for Kurt Cobain About a Son. I walked into the movie not really knowing much about it. I don’t like to read about films until after I’ve seen them. I want to be surprised; I want to make my own discoveries, opinions and theories. This film not only surprised me, but also overwhelmed me in ways I could not express after the screening because I was so moved. It almost makes me not want to write about it, so people can have the same experience I had. You can stop reading here, if that’s what you want.

Sunrise at interview house

I went to the press screening and it wasn’t even half full. But I felt certain electricity in the air. The film starts with aerial views of Aberdeen, Kurt Cobain’s hometown. There’s a little time lapse, a sunrise and music, it’s stunning. About a Son is a combination of audio only interviews between Michael Azerrad and Kurt between December ’92 and March ’93 collaged together with mostly current images relating to Kurt’s life in Washington, a soundtrack of meaningful music that honors Kurt’s life and his taste, some innovative animations by Tomorrow’s Brightest Minds as well as a few well placed photographs by Charles Peterson. About 20 minutes into the film I realized, I’m not going to see Kurt yet. I told myself to relax and pay attention. It was a very personal moment. I focused. The film forces you to listen to it and puts thoughtful and provoking images in front of you. A little Baraka never hurt anybody. However, the film seems to be polarizing the masses. As I was gushing last night at a party about how much I loved it and it moved me, I got an equal amount of people talking about how they wanted to see interviews, see pictures of his father, see, see, see…but, that would be a completely different movie. That would be a traditional documentary biography. About a Son is a piece of art. Now I’m starting to sound pretentious, but there’s just not that many films that take you someplace special. If Kurt really did come from a UFO, this film may have too, and it makes it all the more unique and inspiring. Listening to the conversations between the two men is like sitting in on someone’s analysis and watching their dreams at the same time. The whole thing builds and builds until it erupts and then ends, thankfully with Kurt still alive. I felt a huge emptiness as the credits rolled across the screen. As though I spent 90 minutes getting to know someone and then remembering that they are gone. There was an eerie silence, no applause. I sat through the credits to compose myself. There have been a number of books and movies about Kurt. Upon hearing that there would be another, I questioned why? But Kurt Cobain About a Son is not about Nirvana, it’s not nostalgic, or exploitive or even investigative. It’s just a young man talking about his life. There’s nothing simple about the life of this man, why should there be a simple film about him?

Kurt from behind 7 25

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