AFI Fest Day 10 – the final stretch…

Day 10 I attended the TIMESTALKS 2 – The War Documentary: A Panel Discussion with Eugene Jarecki, Stephen Marshall, Jehane Noujaim, Michael Tucker, Garrett Scott and moderated by New York Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzonati. Admittedly I walked in 30 minutes late, but it seemed to me the panel was really more about why these filmmakers make the films they do. And the number one word of the day was nuance. Everyone up on the panel was discussing nuance. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word nuance used quite that much in such a short period of time in my life. Their reasoning is the difference between the media and documentaries, how the information is presented.

A few quotes from the panelists:

    “News can’t provide everything.”

    “Making the viewer learn how to figure stuff out from themselves.”

    “Trying to put on the screen what you wish people were talking about in your society.”

I left the panel a little early to jump into Through the Fire. Let me start by saying that I only know a couple things about basketball.

    1. Los Angeles has 2 basketball teams.
    2. You have to put the ball through the hoop to score.

Other than that I’m pretty clueless. Through the Fire follows Sebastian Telfair through his senior year of high school basketball. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this film is gonna be good. About 20 minutes in I looked at watch and noted in my notebook, “I’m invested.” That says a lot! For someone who couldn’t care less about basketball to want all the hopes and dreams of a Coney Island high school baskeball player to come true. Sebastian Telfair is charismatic, he loves his mom and for a 5 foot 10 inch player he kicks ass on the court.

I loved this movie. It has suspense, great music and editing, it shows passion and confidence, fleshed out real characters and as I sit here while the festival awards ceremony is taking place I predict it will win an award or two.

Emmy award winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock has done a tremendous job illustrating the exuberance of an athlete born to play basketball. I even found myself searching my TiVo today to see if I could find Telfair playing any games coming up. And…that speaks tomes for someone who has never watched a televised basketball in her life. The film will air on ESPN in March 12, 2006 and be available on DVD 2 days later.

I didn’t make it to the festival today, the final day. But I had a great run of it seeing 11 documentaries, 6 fiction films, one tribute to Johnny Depp and a New York Times panel discussion on war documentaries. Not bad.

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