Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A head wrapped in yarn, a couple trapped in a hoodie…

A man with a vacuum hose suctioning his crotch.

From the photos that greeted me , I knew I could be in no other lobby but that of the Goethe Institute.

(God bless the Germans)

Die Wolke (The Cloud) was the second movie I saw from the DC Environmental Film Festival, depicting the town of Schlitz (right next to the burg of PBR) before during and after a nuclear power plant meltdown. Antonia – a Brazilian film about four friends who form a band – was the first. Those the moods and sensibilities of these movies were worlds apart, they shared these things in common:

• Both put the characters ahead of pontificating. In Antonia, these were not the typical “poor but proud” archetypes of the favela up on the screen but rather four young women with personality traits that could be found anywhere from Brooklyn to Bahia to Bangalore.

• Neither felt like a Very Special Episode…and Die Wolke could have easily slipped into this territory, too. But the director kept the anti-nuke protests and graffiti to a minimum. Frankly, the graphic scenes of the fleeing citizen mobs and post-cloud hospital wards got the point across far more effectively: Nuclear radiation does bad bad bad things to Mother Earth and its people when unleashed unwittingly. *

• Both were an engaging and moving way to spend a few hours

*Although the main character seemed selectively radioactive. One moment she’s quarantined like the boy in the bubble, the next she’s off having sex and walking bald among the populace. And how did she lose her hair yet keep her lush eyelashes and delicately arched brows? An interesting form of contamination…

When one hears the words “Environmental Film Festival,” one imagines video of a crunchy off-the-grid tinfoil engineer in his A-frame survivalist cabin, lecturing you on how to reuse your bread wrappers. Or endless footage of birds and sunsets (ground which, frankly, HDTV’s Sunset channel covers much better).

Fortunately, the Washington DC Environmental Film Festival delivers far, far better than this - and it’s going on through this Saturday.


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