Pacific Rim Film Festival
Host the 17th Annual Free International Film Series
When Strangers Meet
October 5-15, 2006
Santa Cruz County residents can thank the Hawaii International Film Festival for inspiring local authors Jeanne and Jim Houston and businessman George Ow, Jr., to launch the Pacific Rim Film Festival in the spring of 1988.
Now, 17 years later, Jeanne recalls, "I was very impressed with this special festival because it had a theme When Strangers Meet and films were shown absolutely free to the community." According to Jeanne, George was so impressed with the concept, he proposed, "let's bring a festival like this here!" There have been changes for the Hawaii International Film Festival, but, says Jeanne, "the Pacific Rim Film Festival has remained basically the same: Free to the public and guided by the theme When Strangers Meet and dedicated to peace among peoples through education and exposure to other cultures."
". . . exposure to other cultures" is no overstatement. During the ten-day Festival, viewers will have an opportunity to visit the Mongolian steppes; a Beijing theme park and family-run bathhouse; rural Thailand in the first half of the 20th century; El Salvador's brutal civil war of the 1980s; a Bollywood spectacle in India; and go behind North Korea's preparation of the mass games, the largest and most elaborate choreographed gymnastics performance in the world. But, wait. India, Mongolia, and El Salvador, on the Pacific Rim? Jeanne's response, "We've always tried to show a film from Mexico and other Latin American countries on the Pacific Rim -- and sometimes even if they are not. We've shown films from Iran and Afghanistan...and hope to screen others, if they fit our theme and are enlightening."
In addition to a collection of award-winning provocative international films -- absolutely free -- several of the writers, actors, and directors will be on hand for after film discussions. Innocent Voices (directed by Luis Mandoki) is based on the actual childhood experiences of Oscar Torres, who wrote the screenplay. Torres survived the brutal 12-year Salvadoran civil war between the military and the guerilla movement known as FMLN. This harrowing account of war from a child's perspective illuminates the fact that more than 300,000 children currently serve in armies in over 40 countries. Torres reveals that working on the script was "more like therapy than writing. What I had recalled and held onto were the things my friends and I had done to find the games inside the nightmare."
Ann Marie Fleming, the director of the documentary The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam will also be in town to discuss the six-year-long process of researching and making her film about her great-grandfather Long Tack Sam, a Chinese vaudeville magician, acrobat, and musician, who traveled the world in the first quarter of the 20th century. Fleming's imaginative film uses animation, photographs, interviews, and archival footage in the inventive spirit that would surely have made her conjurer ancestor, whom she never met, proud. About her film, Fleming says, "We are affected by the world, and what we do affects generations to come. Everybody. This is a film about one extraordinary person, but I think he is a contemporary person! And what he dealt with people are dealing with now, all over the world."
This year's Pacific Rim Film Festival's impressive line-up assures that attendees will see friends and meet strangers, both in person and on the silver screen.
In addition to Innocent Voices and The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam :
Mongolian Ping Pong
A young boy from the endless grasslands of Mongolia discovers a ping-pong ball floating in the river near the yurt where he and his family live without electricity or running water. "What is it?" A pearl from heaven? A must-see film for adults, and suitable for children old enough to read subtitles.
Meet the surfers of the Great Lakes who ride the wind-swell waves on the midwest's huge "freshwater seas" that sprawl to the shores of Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario. The amazing footage includes Santa Cruz's own world-class surfer Omar Etcheverry. Director, Vince P. Deur, will attend the screening.
Considered one of the best films of 2004, this film revolves around the tumultuous love affair between two workers at a Chinese theme park. Through their story provides an inside look at the heartbreaking lives of the poor men and women who rely on this example of consumerism to eke out a living.
Rang De Basanti
In keeping with the current Bhangra dance craze comes this Bollywood extravaganza. The story follows a young English woman to India, where she plans to make a film about famous Indian revolutionaries who led the way to Indian Independence from the British. She asks a group of carefree Indian college students to perform in the film. But they are only concerned with parties and having a good time. But fun and games come to an abrupt end when the film turns serious and history seems to be repeating itself. A provocative picture of contemporary Indian youth.
A lyrical depiction of rural Thailand in the first half of the 20th century, this beautifully photographed narrative film is loosely based on the life of Luang Pradit Pairoh, the legendary master of Thailand's national musical instrument, the ra-nad ek (the Thai xylophone). The film features astonishing musical performances.
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