AFF Day 10: Wrap-up

Ah, movies. Plus, The People Vs. George Lucas

Well, another festival in the books. I saw many solid features and a great slab of short films too. Kudos to the organizers, sponsors and volunteers. Aside from someone sleeping in and not making it to the Park Lane to let us in for the media screening of Barney’s Version on Thursday morning (it started an hour late as a result) the Empire Theatres folks should be complimented as well.

I will say, the festival did feel a little more low-key this year, and I’m having trouble putting my finger on why. The selection of films were solid, the opening night party was a hoot, it all ran well enough. But instead of the 200+ films---including shorts---of previous years, the number of films this year was 183. Still more than anyone can see over 10 days, but a sign of a reduction in scope, which can only be a reflection of budgetary issues.

That said, intimacy is one of the things that's great about the AFF, and I saw a number of features I very much enjoyed, with my estimation’s upper tier including Suzanne Bier’s In A Better World, the Richler adaptation Barney’s Version and the first film by Michael Goldbach, Daydream Nation.

To that I’ll also add last night’s documentary, The People Versus George Lucas. In it the phenomena of Star Wars is dissected by its width and length to great effect. Hardcore fans are interviewed about their fan films, websites and overarching passion for the space opera movie series, but academics, authors and artists also speak about Star Wars as both a work of art and the force it is---no pun intended---in our society over the past 30+ years. It shows how those (of us) who feel most profoundly affected by what George Lucas created, are also the ones most likely to feel betrayed by the way he’s treated his masterwork more recently---the Special Editions that added effects and changed key character moments (Han Solo always shoots first!)---and then the prequels, which upset people even more by, well, just sucking so bad.

A good point is made that new generations of fans love the prequels as much as the original trilogy, and don’t have a problem with the changes in the Special Editions at all. The fanaticism around this material is very well analyzed, as is Lucas’s need to tamper with his work, and whether that is the right of the artist, or if a work that has had the impact of Star Wars doesn’t, in some way, belong to the fans. A must see for any Star Wars geek, or anyone who’s interested in the study of popular culture as art.

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