Sue Lange's 2010 Pleasures
by Sue Lange
When I say it's been a good year for movies, I'm talking about my own personal viewing of indie flicks. The highpoint was when I bought an all-access pass to my local film festival, the 2010 Greater Reading Film Fest. I had ten glorious days of two to three new movies a day. I slogged through like a hero and came out bleary-eyed, not knowing what hit me. Yes it was exhilarating, and at times numbing, but I saw some great new films: Backyard, Gasland, Linoleum, Dirty Oil, Snow and Ashes, Chameleon, for starters.
Backyard, which took first prize for the best narrative feature, depicts the horror of Juarez, Mexico where in the past twenty years, hundreds, or possibly thousands depending on who you talk to, of women have been abducted and murdered, motive undetermined. The story is difficult to watch, but Juarez's plight is common, I fear, in border towns where one side is fabulously wealthy and the other is incredibly poor. The poorer community swells with immigrant hopefuls moving in from the hinterlands for a better life but stopped by governmental boundary. With too many people available for easy exploitation, things get unruly, unregulated, and strange. In Juarez's case, deadly, for the segment of population called "woman." Amnesty International blames NAFTA for the situation in Juarez, but Backyard never takes that stance. It remains neutral as far as who is at fault, possibly hoping for sympathy from those that might help if only the blame game is not played. Whatever the reasoning is, the movie tells in blatant terms that something horrible is going on in Juarez. You cannot watch the movie without becoming angry, but with no one to blame it is hard to know where to go with your anger.
Gasland took first prize for best documentary feature. I probably don't need to say too much about this one. It's on the Academy Award shortlist so it's getting visibility. It was a most appropriate film to be chosen for a festival that sits so close to the Marcellus Shale Formation.
Movies, movies, movies. I can't get enough. In fact, I love them so much, I'm delving into the craft myself. My partner (Gary Celima) and I have put together a short narrative movie based on my story "Jump" published by Premonitions in 2008. Making movies is an excellent experience and I recommend it to everyone. Be warned, though, it's a bit like getting a tattoo. Before the scab is healed, you're already planning your next one. If you're curious, visit the funding site for Jump (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/suelange/jump-project) and let me know what you think.
For the other pleasures, very quickly:
Reading--I absolutely loved Howard's End. I'd never read any Forster before and hadn't really thought I wanted to. People say his work is ponderous, too detailed, old-fashioned, perhaps silly and self-indulgent. Pish posh. The writing is superb, and like Aparna Sen's movie, seemingly slow and forgettable, but not.
Listening--Just ordered Hillbillly Moon Explosion's Bourgeois Baby CD because it's got a killer version of Mambo Italiano on it. The CD is not available yet in the U.S. I'll have to wait until it makes its way to our shores. Too bad. I need a rockabilly fix. Who'd a thunk the Swedish could rock so successfully?
Sue Lange's short stories have been published in Adbusters, Apex Digest of SF and Horror, Challenging Destiny and elsewhere. Her novella, We Robots, was published by Aqueduct Press in 2007. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe (http://www.bookviewcafe.com). Visit her website at http://www.suelangetheauthor.com.