As the Newport Beach Film Festival comes to a close, I want to express my appreciation to the festival for allowing me to take part in so much over the last week. I also want to thank the staff and especially the volunteers for all the work they put in to make the festival run smoothly and for the hospitality they share.
I took in the repeat showing of Rust, directed by Aly Muritiba. This Brazilian film was part of the Latino Showcase on Wednesday night. On a field trip, Tati, a teenage girl, begins connecting with Renet. After Tati’s phone goes missing, an explicit video of her and her ex-boyfriend is soon circulating around school. The story comes in two parts. The first is Tati’s story and the shame and pain she goes through. Part 2 focuses on Renet and his reaction to all that has happened. How much has he contributed to Tati’s pain? How will he deal with that?
The Human Element, directed by Matthew Testa, is one of the environmental films showing at the festival. It was conceived by photographer James Balog who also came up with the Extreme Ice Project seen in the documentary Chasing Ice. Balog wants to show the two way street between nature and humanity. Just as we affect nature in various ways, that comes back to us in different ways. It focuses on the four traditional elements of nature: earth, water, fire, and air. Balog picks a locale within the US that shows how man and nature have interacted and the cost that interaction brings. Perhaps the most telling of these is when he looks at Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay. It is a small community that relies on fishing and crabbing. But rising water levels will soon leave nothing of the island. What is to happen to those who live there? He also looks at air pollution and asthma in Denver, the wildfires in the West, and coal country in Pennsylvania.
Playing with The Human Element was Fishing with Mobile Nets, a short about how Qualcomm has worked with local fishermen in La Boquilla, Columbia to equip them with tablets and a fishing app that allows them to have a much better catch and improve their way of life.