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‘The Blue Umbrella,’ ‘God Loves Uganda,’ Highlight Our Day 4 Hamptons Film Festival Oct 13 2013

Day 4 HIFF Oct 13 2013

Day 4 HIFF Oct 13 2013


We saw five shows today.  ‘God Loves Uganda’ tells a terrifying story of what is happening in this post-Idi-Amin (murderous dictator) African nation invaded by evangelist missionaries, promising Ugandans that they will only have everlasting life (after they die) if they take Jesus Christ as their savior.  The International House of Prayer, abbreviated ‘ihop’ just like the pancake house, has moved into the country, espousing their wacky anti-homosexual preaching that has produced extreme hate and murder of homosexuals, and a bill in their parliament (not yet passed) that calls for jail for those performing homosexual acts and even a death sentence if one is caught as a repeat offender.  This is in a time of increasing international tolerance for gender and race.  We  are shown that the ihop ministry, centered in Kansas City, Missouri, doesn’t want to take over the world with weapons, no – – they do want to do it with prayer and religion and Jesus Christ.  By  2020 this church wants to visit every town on Earth, and spread ‘The Word’ according to how their leaders interpret the Gospels.  Their influence, via providing Christian schools, and Christian propaganda, aiming especially for the children under 15 who make up half of Uganda’s population – – also providing money and clothes and food, along with fear and the ever lurking spectre that only their version of religion can bring peace to obedient conservative believers – – has been the primary cause for an INCREASING rate of AIDS afflicting Ugandans thanks to ihop’s preaching against sex and condoms, and pushing for abstinence.

What really stunned me, when I, in my naivete, thought missionaries were a thing of the past, denegrating local cultures, and pushing their usually white supremacist rhetoric on people of color whom they want to convert (and Jesus is always white in images, statues, books, that ihop, for example, shares with their subjects – –  or is it ‘objects?’ – – ) is the vastness of ihop’s contamination of the globe as displayed on a map of the Earth in this movie, with each of thousands of nightmarish red dots thickly stippling every continent but Antarctica, representing ihop’s presence.

The Reverend Scott Lively, a really crazy man, who is an ihop leader, and a hero in Uganda, is shown preaching that homosexuals want to take over Uganda, they are recruiting your children, the great homosexual conspiracy, and he spearheads the homosexual hate too prevalent in a now terribly intolerant Uganda.  Meanwhile, he has been charged with inciting hate crimes on the other side of the planet, where his influence is minimal, but his fomenting energy continues to surge.

Ihop provides over a million hours of video/television to the world every month, I believe one of their leaders said in the movie.

This is a frightening developing tragedy that those who made ‘God Loves Uganda’ for us, have made evident.  Ihop wants to use Uganda as a prototype so they can then overrun the rest of Africa, and then the world, with their brand of religion and guilt-tainted monomanic culture.  Can’t people just accept other people’s view of the world? is a question that must continue to be asked.  But when it comes to religion, there seems too often to come that obsession to save others in the name of some god or charismatic person, there comes that next crusade to subjugate the minds of unbelievers, compromising a fertile future, making nations like Uganda ripe for more conservative assaults on unthinkers, their resources, and their political processes.

‘The Last Safari’ was another African based movie, recounting a young white woman’s (Elizabeth L. Gilbert) re-visiting places she had visited and photographed 7-10 years earlier.  She laments about the changes that have come so fast to cultures that will be extinct in just a decade or two, including especially that of the Maasai warriors of the Rift Valley.  The colorful weeklong event that takes place every seven years, celebrating the end of the warriors’ duty to protect their people, is featured.  Plus interviews with people Ms. Gilbert has photographed, and the usual touristy foreigner-comes-to-Africa in a convoy of jeeps, steeped with problems and floods (they camp in a riverbed that was dry that when they pitched their tents) and logistics.  Not really a very cosmic movie, as again, it’s just a bit too much about Ms. Gilbert and her valiant western hope-for-help for the poor poor Africans, than it is about meditatively appreciating Africa and its beauty and its threatened cultures.

‘Haleema’ is a beautifully photographed African short that takes place in Sudan.  ‘Scout’ the little dog, is the hero of this story, about this wartorn nation, but only focusing on a small family of three people, one mother, and two children, who are escaping their village’s destruction, trekking across the dry hot landscape, and run out of that precious resource: water.  Message at the end of the short: 7.1 billion people now on Earth; 2.3 without adequate amounts of potable water.

‘Under The Redwood Curtain’ is an underwhelming film about the plight of the magnificent redwoods that can live 1500 years, and grow to heights of 400 feet.  We hear a limited number of voices of people involved in saving these trees, and the perspective of a couple of local loggers.  What is missing is the beauty of the trees, as there are no artful shots capturing the trees’ beauty –  –  instead we have more photos of the bottoms of the trees and indistinctive aerial blanket images of greenery with spaces where trees have been cut down, including ‘clear cuts’ where no trees are saved.  Loggers want the road to be widened so more trucks can come into the area, which may lead to more redwood old growth trees falling to the loggers’ chainsaws.  The ‘Redwood Curtain’ is a certain area in the Richardson National Park in northern California where big old growth trees currently block access to large vehicles, which young idealistic foresters want to protect, for if the old growth trees are cut, this will lead to more cutting, possibly clear cutting, by a thinning brigade of loggers who have been earning their bread from cutting down redwood trees for a hundred years or more.

The ‘Shorts For All Ages’ usually is the best bet show in the festival, I’ve discovered over the years.  Fantastic un-cliched animation usually is featured, without gratuitous violence.  However, though children were present in the audience, some seeing cartoons in a theater for the first time, the set of six works started off with an old-style black and white cartoon in 3-D that was full of violence from the blustery threatening villain character.  ‘Get A Horse’ then was a big disappointment to me, inappropriate, I thought, for the young viewers in a crowd that were grossly, coarsely affronted by the baloney of smashes and bashes without feeling pain.  It can be argued that that has always been the way in old school vaudeville cartoons.  But this is 2013, and this is the Hamptons Film Festival. The violent ridiculous Doritos’ advertisement – – Doritos sponsored several of the shorts shows – – at the beginning of this screening, was especially disturbing to have to see at our festival, where many of us come to evade the crap and sensationalism of senseless images of action and destruction so present in our worst action and murder/kill/rape films perpetrated upon us from the commercial end of our society.

Yes, the 3D affects of ‘Get A Horse’ were stunning, all of a sudden in full color, amazing.  And then came the wonderful ‘The Blue Umbrella’ – also in 3D – but without the violence.  This is a wonderful short: beautiful, magic, very creatively animated.  Especially notable is the so-simple few lines utilized on the protagonists’ blue and red umbrellas to depict facial expressions and emotions.  Saschka Unseld’s fascination with rain also led to him to use water-dispersing images that he named as characters to further the plot of this seven minute work.  I liked the one he calls ‘Gusty’ the best – – the bottom of the drainpipe that opens and closes, letting out water, and one time blowing the blue umbrella out of harm’s way, with a blast of water.

‘Miss Todd’ also was wonderful, a cartoon about a real-life woman back at the beginning of the days of the airplane, who was the first woman to build an airplane.

‘Fear of Flying’ was cute, but too suggestive sexually for little ones, I thought.  Also has the classic line, of course uttered by a male bird, alighting from a tree limb besides other female birds: “Let’s get the flock out of here.”  I loved the beautiful yellow treehouse and the so-tall ladder leading up to it from the ground, that the non-flying (yet) timid bird protagonist has to climb, as she is still afraid to fly like the bird she is.

‘A Cautionary Tale’ utilized poetry as narration but had way too many evil ugly frightening images, especially the one of the male doctor STOMPING on a very juicy thick red heart; wielding a big needle; very frightening to little ones’ minds in an inappropriate manner, I thought.  Just too much violence for me in this short.  And how will its young young viewers fear the doctor when they next have to visit him (or her)?….  The stomping on the heart scene made my wife wince.  I hate to imagine what that produced in the minds (and viscera) of the kids there.

‘Woody’ was creative, worked in a wood milieu with violent fantasy, that had me cringing again.  Problem here is that the people involved in programming this set of shorts probably did not have children of their own, and failed to understand how to organize what shorts they would show without including shorts that would needlessly traumatize the welcoming minds of young innocent kids.  For the adults that attended expecting a higher road of entertainment, this set, overall, probably was disappointing too.  Yet, technically, all the seven shorts were excellent.

The Golden Starfish Award shorts were all terrific, an adult show, including the interesting ‘The Horse and the Nightingale,’ following a Turkish teenager and his grandmother during a day in the Nederlands.

‘The Runaway,’ which took the prize for best short at the Berlin film festival, was also excellent, about another wayward youth (female this time) who doesn’t appreciate the magnitude and seriousness of her second offense for stealing a car, driving without a license, and on this occasion, hitting someone with the vehicle, permanently disabling the person.  The confrontation, the lack of being able to express herself, her running away, make for an interesting film.

‘Kush’ takes place in India on the day Indira Ghandi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards.  There are seventeen children on the bus returning from the outing at the park, and one is a Sikh named Kush.  The racial intercultural hate present in India is made all too evident in this potentially brutal tale of bravery and cowardice.

‘Whale Valley’ takes place in an isolated part of Iceland, cold and weary, with a noose and two brothers, the older being very depressed, again.  Filmmaker Gudmundur A. Gudmundsson told us after the movie that suicide is a big problem of teenage boys in Iceland’s small towns especially, noting that there were four suicide attempts in his town of about 100 people recently; one resulting in death, three surviving their attempts.  This grim film was chosen as the best Golden Starfish Award short (not the Audience Award short) at this HIFF festival.

‘Gypsy’ was an interesting confrontation of two men in Portugal, one clean white diffident driver of an SUV, not knowing how to fix a flat tire, the other a gypsy who helps the driver, then inserts himself in the vehicle, the passive (?) driver not verbally reacting to how the gypsy man keeps pushing his way into his afternoon, but then….

Last Day coming up: Oct 14, will see 3 or 4 movies

(C) 2013  Conrad Miller M.D.



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