Potluck fun & more movie madness

Despite having moved here less than two months ago my potluck here last night was well-attended and a lovely affair all around. It’s nice to know I have friends in this city, and it helps that so many people I’ve met in Waterloo have landed here over the years. Shannon, ever the baking diva, brought me a birthday cake iced with rolled fondant on which she had painted a gorgeous butterfly, but no-one had a camera so you’ll have to take my word for it. Very rich but very yummy. The layers were filled with a mixture of white chocolate, cream cheese, and walnuts… mmmm. Thanks to all who came, and for those who couldn’t make it, I promise it will happen again.

And now, the final installment of reviews from the documentary festival:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Named after a Christian heavy metal song about achieving salvation in Jesus, this documentary follows Ivan Martinez through the streets of Camden, New Jersey, as he attempts to kick his drug habit with the only help available, a faith-based drug program called “My Brother’s Keeper”. Once again I was amazed at the access the filmmakers were able to gain into the private moments of people’s lives. My only complaint was that the festival organizers should have scheduled more than 15 minutes for discussion with the director after schlepping him in from Köln.

Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Good biography of American professor, historian and social activist Zinn, including the events leading up to his authorship of People’s History of the United States and the reactions to it. Zinn has had an interesting life, from teaching at a Black college in the southern US during the civil rights era, to visiting North Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. Somehow he’s managed to remain his passion and concern for the world instead of wallowing in cynicism at the injustice of it all. I’ve been feeling hopeless myself lately and needed a kick in the ass like this to get back into social activism. Russell watched this with us too, as he was in town briefly.

Tarifa Traffic

Every year ten thousands of illegal immigrants from Africa try to cross the strait between Morocco and Spain in rubber boats; many succeed, but just as many do not. On the coast of southern Spain it has become an almost daily routine to find their corpses on the beach. “Tarifa Traffic” tells the stories of the drowned and the people from the city of Tarifa whose everyday life is is influenced by the constant flow of illegal immigrants looking for a better future in Europe. Very sad, and solidly produced, but I was annoyed that they interviewed just Spaniards, plus one deceased migrant’s brother, but none of the migrants themselves. It verged on the exploitative.

Shannon and I had tickets for one more movie on Saturday, about a taxi driver in Argentina who spends spare moments between fares culture jamming billboards, but we had had enough cinema and just spent a quiet day at home instead. I’m sure it was a good film, though :)