Reviewer Ed Farolan

Vancouver International Film Centre


Everlasting Moments

131 min., Sweden, dir. Jan Troell

Dates and Venue 6-10 Nov | Vancity Theatre, Vancouver

A brilliantly executed docudrama by this excellent veteran filmmaker. The title refers to photographs that capture "everlasting moments" in our lives, and it documents the life of Maria Larsson from the point of view of Maja, her daughter.

Maria is a Finnish emigrant to the port city of Malmo, Sweden, at the dawn of the 20th century and is a working-class woman. She is a talented phtographer and married to a drunken, philandering and abusive man. However, she finds consolation and intellectual independence through a Contessa camera she wins in a lottery.

It's an excellent film, but sometimes it's difficult swallow some scenes which show her husband violently abusing her. However, the film is impeccably executed by this Swedish director who can verily be compared to Ingmar Bergmann. The docudrama is based on the real-life story of Troell's wife's grandmother which makes the narrator of the film, Maja, the director's mother-in-law.




82 min., USA, dir. Chris Smith

Dates and Venue 17-23 Nov | Vancity Theatre, Vancouver

Human nature is such that we don't want to listen to the truth. We think truth is for fools, and when some "fools" like Mike Ruppert who is interviewed in this documentary about his thoughts, he sounds like a doomsayer when he comments that the American culture, economy, and national identiy have collapsed.

In this down-to-earth interview with filmmaker Chris Smith, Ruppert had predicted the collapse of the American Empire as far back as 2001 after 9/11. But he refers to many things we already know: that the Bush administration went to war because of oil, that CIA coverts end up dead before they blab secrets of the White House, and so forth and so on. We've heard all these in the documentaries of Gore on global warming and Michael Moore who continues his battle against "everything worng about the USA", and has come up with a film recently about how capitalism doesn't work.

Ruppert probably got the same same sources as Moore--that indeed, capitalism is a farce, and that we have to think differently now, but are too lazy to do that. We got so comfortable with the capitalist lifestyle--credit cards, mortgages, and the good life, tht now we have to have what Ruppert refers to as a change inside of us, a revolution from within, a different way of thinking. He refers to Thomas Jefferson, not Abraham Lincoln, Obama's icon. Obama is himself a prisoner of the government he runs, according to Ruppert.

What this collapse boils down to, according to Ruppert, is Saint Timothy's statement that money is the root of all evil.

This is a very enlightening documentary, and at the end, we are told by the filmmaker that Ruppert lives in Culver City, California with his dog, and is about to be evicted from his home for failure to pay rent. Another biblical case of a prophet rejected and humiliated.



At The Edge Of The World

90 min., USA, dir. Dan Stone

Dates and Venue 17-23 Nov | Vancity Theatre, Vancouver

This documentary won the VIFF 2009 Audience Award, and I understand why: it's thought-provoking, spectacular, and well-documented.

In late November 2006, a documentary crew accompanied 46 international volunteers from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as they embarked on their third Antarctic campaign to stop Japanese whaling. What emerged was this film, a heroic record of modern-day piracy and the ongoing battle between big business and ecology. When you look at heroes and martyrs of the past--Jesus Christ, Che Guevara, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa--these were simple folks who fought the greed of establishment in search of justice.

It's admirable that we have heroes in our midst, especially the leader of these ecological pirates, the Canadian activist Paul Watson, who has been battling different poachers in the past, and recently, the Japanese vessels that continue to hunt whales despite an international ban. These poachers use a loophole that allows killing for scientific research, but the meat usually ends up in restaurant kitchens.

Despite their efforts, however, the governments of the countries who signed this treaty in 1986 banning the hunting of extinct mammals don't do anything to carry it out. In this film, the a citizens' arrest was attempted made on these Japanese, but it wasn't supported by the countries who signed the treaty. But because of the efforts of Sea Shepherd, we are informed at the end of the film that this last campaign saved 500 whales.

. © 2009 Ed Farolan