For those of you who have readers of Musings of a Streaming Junkie for a while, you know that I am low-key obsessed with all things French. So I was super excited when I found out about the Paris International Film Festival. This year’s Paris International Film Festival boasted diversity-inclusive films of all genres, with 43 films and TV pilots, of which 26 are directed by female-identifying filmmakers (60%) and 15 are first-time directors’ (34%). Running from Feb. 1- 14, 2021, I couldn’t wait to dive into these works.
I was also super excited about the fact that the festival was hosted on Filmocracy’s website. It was my first time “attending” a virtual fest on Filmocracy (which is a cool, gamified streaming site that you should check out). I will say that the festival had a fun little setup that tried to replicate the set up of a live, in-person festival.
Each landmark served a different function, from a networking hub to the theatre for screenings to an area for the panels and Q&As and even a virtual tour of the Louvre (how cool is that?!). So that was a fun little addition from the other virtual film festivals I’ve attended since Covid (Sundance and their VR/New Frontier section was pretty dope too). Its so exciting to see the innovations that film festivals are implementing to adjust to current world, but still make sure that they’re still fostering a sense of community — because film festivals aren’t just about the films, its also about being around other folks who love and appreciate cinema and building a community. Kudos to PIFF and Filmocracy!
So let’s talk about the films I saw — that’s what you’re here for right?! Although I didn’t get to see everything, I appreciate the variety of the films I caught. The festival had several different categories — from “Documentaries for Change” to “Epic Stories” and “Take Care” highlighting mental health stories. The festival has a “film for change” underlying theme — which is right up my alley since I truly believe in the transformational power of film. So my festival journey started with the English-language film “Green Flake” directed by Mauli B. which was a Mormon + Slavery in Utah + “hero story.” This film was doing a lot and kind had almost like a “John Henry”-type feel to it. It kinda felt like the filmmaker/actor was living out their super hero fantasy in the way some of the scenes were shot and the storyline/dialogue was a little iffy. But the soundtrack was really good! After doing a little research (I was curious about the intersection here because I’m not super well-versed in Norman history but didn’t think that Black played a significant role in its history), I realized that Green Flake was an actual person and the one of the first African-American members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and was one of the first of three African-Americans to enter the Salt Lake Valley on July 22, 1847. Learn something new everyday!
Next up was “SURVIVING THE SILENCE: The Untold Story Of Two Women In Love Who Helped Change Military Policy” fiction feature directed by Cindy Abel. This was an interesting documentary about a woman who was discharged from the Army for being gay and it was crazy because the female soldier who handled her discharge proceedings was also gay, but the military didn’t know. This was an interesting watch just because this was hit close to home as I have a sister who is in the Army and is gay. Just seeing the history of the military and its dealings with those individuals who are LGBTQ+ was interesting AND maddening. I just don’t understand why it was ever an issue — it has no bearing on your capabilities to protect and defend your country…but what do I know?!
Then I watched the Hungarian romantic comedy “Cream” (“Hab”) directed by Nóra Lakos. This film was super cute and I really enjoyed it. It was super charming and the casting and acting were great. The film is along the same lines of like “We Are the Millers” where someone has to enlist the help of a fake family — in this case, it was to enter into a family business/entrepreneurship incubator program (which really didn’t have anything to do with running a business lol) that her Ex had entered. I loved the fact that the lead was obsessed with movies and famous romantic couples and even named the pastries in her bakery after them (Alain Delon & Romy Schneider, etc.) — that was a cute touch. It was an odd collection of couples in the program and of course, shenanigans ensue. The little boy who plays her son was adorably precocious and the stand in husband was ruggedly handsome and funny — the chemistry between the three (Vica Kerekes, László Katona and Erik Gyarmati) was electric and the characters very likable. The acting was great all around and it just seemed like everyone had a great time filming this — just fun, good time, feel-good watch (much needed right now, especially since most of the films I’ve been seeing recently have been really heavy). This was hands down my favorite film of the festival (and it’s win — see below — was well-deserved)!
I also got a chance to watch “The In Between,” another English-language film. This one had a lot of potential in the story, but the execution fell a little short and it just felt weird at times. There was also “The Big Kitty” directed by Lisa Barmby and Tom Alberts, which was classified as an “experimental” film and it was bananas and over the top, but actually kind of fun to watch. Think “film noir, but make it funny.” Overall, this was a great festival and I wished I had time to check out more of the selections. Check out the video of the winners below. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year!