I’ve reached the final day of the Newport Beach Film Festival. I’ve managed to take in a load of films, but there are a whole lot more I could get to. I finished off the week with a romantic thriller hybrid, a story of a police investigation that goes very wrong and the injustice a young woman and her family endure, and a very interesting program of shorts.
In I Hate the Man in My Basement, Claude is still grieving for his wife, but when he meets Kyra, he may have found someone who will help him move on in his life. The only thing holding him back is that he’s keeping the man who murdered his wife chained up in his basement, torturing him. Although Claude is generally a kind person, his anger towards his prisoner is excessive and violent. But as he begins to return to life and love with Kyra, he begins to soften toward his prisoner. But as long as he has this secret, he will never be able to fully move on with his life with Kyra. It made for an interesting blend of psychological thriller and romance.
You may know that I like to take in some shorts when I go to festivals. More than once I’ve seen Oscar nominated shorts at NBFF (including at least one that I know took home the prize). The festival creates thematic programs for the various shorts it chooses. The program I watched was called “Short Notes on Life.” The nine films from four countries had a bit of a philosophical bent with an eye towards the meaning and challenges of life. The films, which ranged from 5 to 17 minutes, were:
- Smile, an Italian film that shows us four people, each in bed, as they worry or escape worry during their sleep or sleeplessness.
- Breath (Respiro), also from Italy. A Syrian refugee seeking to cross the border, is instructed that the key to it all is breathing.
- Anatomy, from Sweden. A humorous animated look at one man’s body and why he has become the way he is.
- Dear Kid (Alskade Unge) also from Sweden. A woman is suspicious of a swimming coach’s relationship with one of the kids. Is there reason? Should she do something?
- Dreamkeeper, from the US. A man who goes around through dreams, making sure everything is working properly, discovers a little girl who was managed to wander out of her dream. Before he can get her back, she gives him new insight into what he should be doing.
- Glimpse, from the US. A young couple get a glimpse into their future. Would we really want to know what lies ahead?
- Bathrooms, from Australia. What secrets are there in a family’s bathroom? The whole film is set in the bathroom, as we discover the hidden part of each family member’s life.
- Ernie, from the US. A man who believes his life unimportant attempts suicide, but in the process discovers how his life can be meaningful. It’s humorous and inventive. The entire set is made out of paper and cardboard.
My favorites of the shorts were Glimpse and Dreamcatcher. To be honest, I would love to have Glimpse find its way to Oscar consideration. It was very special.
The final film for me this year was an Irish film, Out of Innocence¸ based on true events. When a newborn infant washes ashore, it is discovered that the baby was stabbed before being thrown in the ocean. As the police begin their investigation, a woman fifty miles away miscarries the baby she has been secretly carrying. In time, the police come to believe that the child she lost is the one found at the shore. They develop an elaborate scenario that involves the woman’s whole family. The police proceed in a very abusive manner to get confessions from each member. In time the tables turn and the police are being investigated for their actions. But in that investigation, the woman becomes the main focus – the victim as defendant. She becomes a cause célèbre for Irish women. The cry for justice had an important impact on Ireland. But it also had an impact on the young woman’s life. Police errors and abuse are not limited to any one country. I found it interesting that driving home after this film I heard a story from one of the West Memphis Three, who spent 18 years on death row for a murder he had nothing to do with. His story had many similarities to this film.