I remember Friday much better than I remember Thursday. There was no drinking Friday night. However I was warned by one the staff members that I was going to get wasted on Saturday evening.
Cultural observation of the day. The one thing that we are having difficulty getting over is how early everything shuts down here in Patzcuaro. This little group of us that huddle together at each screening have all come from major metropolises so the notion of shutting your doors by 10pm is so alien to us. But everything is closed by ten or eleven in the evening and when you have a hankering for some eats, corner store munchies just does not cut it. And what else does that mean? No karaoke bars either. Which, if you are a regular on the festival circuit, is a big deal.
At the same time, though, that means that they are under not obligation to stick around for the full length of the film either. Folks 'round here vote with their feet. If they are not impressed then they are walking out that door. I found that out during the first couple screenings I attended Friday. Arguably not good movies with all sorts of flaws - more in a moment - and I soon found myself with a good two to three row buffer between myself and the next attendee by the end of each film. Since they did not pay for their tickets they have no investment in it either; they got their money's worth when they walked through the door.
Tying in with some of the Luchador films that were playing in Friday's program there was an evening of Lucha Libre wrestling in one of the church squares in the west end of town. By the time we hiked up the event was in full swing and the crowd was loving it. They were screaming and cheering at every body slam and leap from the top ropes. They were chanting slurs about everyone's mothers, something to that effect. Wrestlers were yelling at the fans. Fans were taunting the wrestlers. The energy under the tarp was amazing. We conversed as well as we could with the curious locals; all proud to be born and raised in Patzcuaro. We were able to watch a few rounds before heading back to Teatro Emperado Caltzontzin.
Film-wise the day started a tad rough...
My first film of the day was Mil Mascaras vs. The Aztec Mummy. The film stars one of the great legends of Mexican wrestling, Mil Mascaras (A Thousand Masks). The man is a legend. He is also 70 years old and still wrestling to this day. So it is a big deal. Not a great film but goofy enough that it was not without it's charm. However, the script needlessly ties up inconsequential loose ends. There really is not a need to explain how the resurrected Mummy knows and speaks English. But the script explained it not once but twice. Editing was a major issue as well. Especially during the wrestling sequences. Three cuts per blow. Raise arm. Throw arm. Land arm. It just made these sequences very confusing and static. Now, it does need to be mentioned that this was a film 'by committee'. The creators of the film had a handful of directors attached to the project throughout production. Jeffrey Uhlmann, who wrote the screenplay, played the Aztec Mummy and produced his film also went back to his alma mater and recruited students to help with production so there was an amateurish feel to the production as well. They in turn would get experience and course credit. So despite the film's flaws there is still some good to come from the project itself. Lots of voting with feet however.
The second film of the day was Frankenstein: Day of the Beast. The story of the film centers around Victor Frankenstein and his bride Elizabeth. On the day of their wedding Frankenstein's monster attacks them and their hired guards. This movie was all sorts of bad. The acting was stilted. The screenplay was bad. There was all kinds of gore effects but you got the sense that it was violent just for the sake of being violent. There really is not anything redeemable about this movie. I was all alone in the back of cinema by the time it was over. Out of a sense of obligation I didn't vote with my feet but it was pretty evident in the first few minutes that this was a bad movie.
My third film of the day, Dame Tus Ojos / Give Me Your Eyes, was an odd experience. The studio did not see fit to provide the festival with a subtitled screener. The film was also quickly rendered for the presentation so there were awkward stutters during the show. That being said though I still think the film has a lot going for it. As more plot points came together I was able to piece together the story. Landero is on the road looking for her real father. She is accompanied by her girlfriend, April. April manipulates Landero into committing these awful murders complete with eye trauma; which is always a winner if you ask me. Hot on their trail is an alcoholic cop and his ex-wife, a television tabloid reporter. There is a love triangle sub plot in their for them as well. I would really like to get my hands on a subtitled version of this film because despite the obstacles during the screening I could still get the gist of it. It does come recommended.
The final film of the evening was The
ABCs of Death. Adrián García Bogliano and Marcel Sarmiento were in
attendance for the screening. As I understand it this cut of ABCs is
different from when it first started making the festival circuit a
couple months ago. Adrián's short was originally Y is for Yeti.
During this screening it was B is for Bigfoot. What the change does
is start the show off with two Spanish language shorts; Nacho
Vigolando's A is for Apocalypse being the first. Which is
understandable as it helps this specific audience get into the show
right away. Then from there it was a two hour joy-ride. Not every
short is going to hit the mark and with a couple of them, if I were
the producers, I would have asked for my production money back
because they just came across lazy and real letdowns when so many of
the shorts are quality work. It would be interesting to see, in this
digital age, if different international cuts could be made to
highlight local directors and ease the transition of one short to
another. I was glad to have caught it with an appreciative audience.
Saturday would end up going a fair bit better and indeed did conclude with copious amounts of alcohol. More on that later.