It’s time. Oh, yes, it’s time. The restlessness and giddy anticipation usually begins in December for me, and reaches a fever pitch by the time of the Festival Launch party, when the catalogs are delivered into our hot little hands. I spend an afternoon charting out my festival cruise, an afternoon which mixes joy, frustration, accommodation, bargaining and a twinge of disappointment, as I realize that despite my best attempts, I can’t see absolutely everything. “I’ll have to see this on screener,” I say to myself dejectedly. “I won’t be able to get from the Castro to the PFA in time for that one.” Life sucks. But it’s oh, so good.
I often have festival dreams the week prior to the SFIAAFF. A few years ago, I dreamt of giant heart-shaped bubbles streaming from Japantown – San Francisco becoming pure love. This year, I dreamt I was commiserating with CAAM staffers about the small font size in the catalog and mini-guide.
Yes, I’ve gotten older.
But at least I know which way happiness lies, and SFIAAFF is the path. So I spend weeks eating carrots and watching screeners, trying to get my eyes, ears, mind and heart right for the big journey.
I hope there’s some distinction between addictions, obsessions, habits and rituals – though craving is a common element. Maybe the best we can hope for is that our habits are benign, and our rituals are constructive. My fix, our mutual fix, is all in flicks. But really, it’s the belief in the power of stories, the power of others, to entertain and transform us. Eric Byler called it the power of truth, in his festival catalog essay.
It sounds so serious – but it’s also a seriously good time. Let’s have fun. “Tiger Mom, can I have a play date?” Whatever she says, I’m sneakin’ off to the movies.
What can I possibly recommend, given that I love so much? Perhaps only to follow your bliss, and try some new things as well. I’ve rarely seen an out-and-out dud at SFIAAFF; usually, the festival experience itself buoys up films that are otherwise flawed.
They’re both about punk rock, identity and spirituality – the first about Muslim Americans and the second about a Buddhist monk. Music, and the human spirit, are transcendent messengers.
The just-announced special presentation, THE MAN FROM NOWHERE already has 128 Facebook “recommends” to its credit, more than any other film I’ve noticed. Yo, save me a seat!
Shorts are essential, since you may never be able to see them again. (The FUTURESTATES shorts will be available online after the festival here http://www.futurestates.tv/, and the wonderful ONCE UPON A ROOFTOP – winner of the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary – in PLAYHOUSE SHORTS will supposedly be up for streaming at CAAM’s website soon. But the big screen is always best!)
The 3rd I South Asian International Shorts 2011 is perhaps the best collection of this annual festival staple that I’ve ever seen.
I’ve loved every one of these that I’ve seen so far. They overlap with the special South Asian focus, which is guaranteed to please. No bias, really.
There are other unnamed themes as well – music, love, spirituality and aloha. ONE VOICE mixes all four.
SURROGATE VALENTINE stars my friend Goh Nakamura and his music, which has definitely inspired me to think about love and life (see “Goh Love Someone” http://www.sfpsychiatry.com/Bio_files/Goh_love_0905_v4final.pdf).
Folks, we got fest. Live life to the fullest! I’ll see you soon!
Ravi Chandra, M.D. is a psychiatrist and writer in San Francisco. He invites you to check out his new, occasional blog, The Pacific Heart http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-pacific-heart , at Psychology Today, and consider adding him to your newsfeed.