You’ll note I never give you a preview of what I’ll see the next day when I make my report each day. That is because one never knows what will be sold out leading me to figure out a plan B (or plans B throughout the day). But then that is part of the charm of film festivals—not knowing where the plot will take you, like in a good movie.
Yesterday started with the documentary The Resilient Heart, which follows the work of cardiologist Dr. Valentan Fuster, who seeks to prevent heart disease through public health advocacy around the world. He has projects in Columbia, Spain, Grenada, Kenya, and Harlem which seek to teach children and communities about healthy lifestyles. His is an ambitious task. The film, however, really doesn’t serve to educate about heart disease itself or about the lifestyle changes that people can and should make.
Another doc from yesterday was City of Joy. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been a place of war and violence for two decades—much of it led by militias funded by multi-national corporations that seek to control the mining of materials used in our smartphones and computers. Some of the most affected victims of all this violence are women, because rape and sexual violence is used as a weapon of the war. In Bukavu, a city now filled with refugees, is a compound known as the City of Joy where women are given refuge and training to return to the world. The program was started by Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has served these violated and often mutilated women; woman’s rights activist Christine Schuler-Deschryver, and playwright and feminist Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. The film includes accounts of horrendous rapes and violence. It also shows the growth that can take place as these women heal and find hope and a voice.
The narrative film I saw is Heaven’s Floor. Based on a true story, it recounts the story of Julia, a photographer in L.A., who goes on a trek across Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic for which she is totally unprepared. When she finds herself alone on the ice, she is rescued by a young Inuit girl, Malaya. Malaya is orphaned and being raised by her grandmother. She seeks a mother. Julia is convinced to bring her to L.A., but her husband wants nothing to do with it. I found the film a bit on the passive side. Julia, especially, seem to let things happen rather that being actively involved. The conflicts that arise never quite give rise to the kinds of moral issues that really should be addressed.