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February 8, 2005 / jnolen

SB Film Fest: Day 9 (the end)

This is it: last day of the festival! And I only saw one movie: Miyazaki's Porco Rosso. Review after the jump….

If you’re familiar with Miyazaki’s work (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, et al.), you know to expect great things. This movie did nothing to dull his stellar reputation. Porco Rosso is actually one of his older films that has been released in English for the first time. Apparently Disney has bought Miyazaki’s entire back-catalogue and are planning on slowly releasing them in the US. It’s had a new translation and new English voice-work (starring Michael Keaton).

As usual, it is a completely enchanting movie. The story is wonderful, the animation is terrific, and the character/set/costume/prop design is lovely. The story is set in the Adriatic in the 30s and Miyazaki paid an unusual amount of attention to period detail. And despite the fact that the main character is a anthropomorphized pig, Miyazaki manages to place his story in a more-or-less accurate political and historical context. Impressive.

At the end of another Film Fest, I’d like to do a brief wrap-up of the whole week. First of all, the movies were of the same high caliber that I have come to expect over the last three years. I don’t feel like I wasted my money on any of them. There is no other time during the year that I see so many enjoyable movies in such a brief amount of time.

However, I have enjoyed previous years’ selection of movies more than I did this one. This year’s festival had a sustained focus on Asian cinema, and while I enjoyed the films I saw, I found myself wishing there had been more films from Europe. Perhaps that was because of the preponderance of horror films in the Asian submissions; it isn’t my first choice of genre.

Also, there were almost no older films in this year’s festival. In previous years I’ve seen some wonderful old movies (8 1/2, Les Diabloiques, King of Hearts) that I might not have ever bothered to see otherwise. I greatly missed that opportunity this year.

The crowds this year were even more difficult to manage than in year’s past. The festival’s popularity is obviously growing. But I was routinely forced to arrive at the theatre more than an hour prior to the published start time (and the movies frequently started about half an hour late). I spent move than an hour and half in line on more than one occasion.

There were large groups of people turned away from many of the more popular movies. I failed to get into Being Julia, for example. Worst of all, by the time one movie finished, it was frequently too late to get in line for the next film. If it hadn’t been for friends, I would have failed to see half as many films.

I applaud the festival’s growth, and it is well-deserved. But if this trend continues then the festival must find a better way to accommodate the crowds. The best options would be to take a second theater for the week (The Metro Five seems the most likely candidate). More screenings of the films would go a long way to alleviating this problem. But I don’t know if that is financially feasible. Probably not, but I am not privy to those details. But there must be some better solution for the crowds, or all the hard-won publicity will go for nothing if festival-goers are repeatedly turned away from the movies they wish to see.

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