Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cleveland International Film Festival

Years ago I wrote an article for Cool Cleveland about the CIFF and I asked "How did it change you?" That was the theme of that year's festival, so it made sense to jump off from there. Every time I see a film at CIFF, I ask that question. As I'm doing this morning after seeing Caesar Must Die and Camp 14 last night.

Caesar Must Die, an Italian film, was marvelously acted and directed. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was staged by inmates at a maximum security prison, and it was often hard to tell when the actors were acting and when we were experiencing reality. We experienced the play in modern language during rehearsals and the stage performance while getting a feel for the inmates' lives behind bars. Prisoners became enlivened by art and life. It took them away from their cells and gave them a reason to live, and then they had none. I felt what it must be like to be a prisoner and have little hope of ever being in the real world again to know love and meaning. The applause at the end was well-deserved because I was emotionally wrapped up in the film from beginning to end.

Camp 14 is a Korean documentary about a young man who escaped a work camp in North Korea. North Korea has 200,000 people in work camps. Apparently, it's easy to end up in these camps where people are tortured and beaten and the women are abused. The film also attempted to give us an idea of what former prison guards felt. They were all flat, not living life or respecting it. The young man who escaped missed the security, the simplicity, of his life at camp where he didn't have to think about how to make money. The story was told in interviews with animation and some live footage. It was an important story to get out into the world, but the film should have been edited by 20%. Still, it was a brave effort to let the rest of us know how hard it can be to live in North Korea.

No comments: