My movie choices at Newport Beach Film Festival on Tuesday were stories filled with humanity, love, and compassion.
From Ireland came Sanctuary, a film that features actors of the Blue Teapot Theatre Company who have intellectual disabilities. Larry, who has Downs, and Sophie, who has epilepsy, are in love. When the group from their sheltered workshop takes a trip to the cinema, Larry bribes their companion/caregiver to get them a hotel room so they can spend some private time together. While that happens, the others in the group begin to wonder where they have gone to and some set off in search. By the time the companion gets back, the group has gone several different ways. It is a comic disaster. But we discover that these people are really very like the rest of us. They love, they flirt, they want recognition, they want independence. Of course, there are consequences for all of this. Eventually some very severe consequences.
On October 30, 1938, Orson Wells and his radio theater company did a production of H.G. Wells’s story War of the Worlds. Many listening believed it a real Martian invasion and panic set in. All that is true. Brave New Jersey is a fictionalized story of what happened in a small rural town in New Jersey. The town has a group of zany characters who set out to protect their town. In the process people’s real nature comes out. Some step up, others run away. And some, facing the possibility of their last night of life, seek to make known the love they have kept hidden. It was a cute and fun take on the War of the Worlds legend.
As I’ve mentioned before the tag line for NBFF this year is “Go Deeper”. That is certainly what The Longest Road has sought to do. This documentary features a group led by Iraqi War veteran Richard Campos on a humanitarian trip to Kurdistan. Campos has been taking medical supplies to the region for several years, knowing the need that is there in light of ISIS and it’s violence. A Gold Star father who lost his son in Iraq asks to go along to honor his son. Filmmakers come along as well to document what faces the refugees here. We hear many horrific stories and see terrible living condition of both Kurds and Yazidi refugees. We also learn of the Kurdish soldiers who are seeking to protect their land and people from ISIS. There are many people of compassion and commitment who strive to aid those in such a dire need. I’m conflicted a bit about this film. It is always important for us to know about the needs of the very disadvantaged in places such as this. There needs to be more attention paid to the victims of the war that has been going on there for some time. This film certainly opens our eyes to these people we may have known nothing about. But at times the many, many stories of violence and need became a bit too much. Even as it shows humanity and hope, it also overwhelms us with the darkness of the situation.