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DIFF Diary: Day 7 – Yay For Narrative

by Roger Young and Sarah Dawson / 29.07.2010


Everyone of importance has left town. It’s just us and the little seen films building up to Saturday’s closing film and award ceremony. Four Lions is getting tons of talk but all screening are sold out and it looks like it’ll hit the circuit so, from tomorrow, I’m intending to (but will probably be distracted) use this time to catch up on my Bergman and obscure Iranian films, but first the one film I saw last night.

WINTER’S BONE: Dir: Debra Granik (USA)
There is nothing like a good detective story with closed society poverty stricken drug manufacturing Appalachian mountain folk intermingled with a dose of social realism. Especially if it’s a good story told from an underused perspective by strong and restrained performances. Shot in blue tones and low light Winter’s Bone is a study about a seventeen year old girl, Ree, who upon discovering her father has skipped the bail bond he took out on the family home. Realizing that herself and the chronically withdrawn mother and two siblings that she looks after might soon be without a home she sets off to find her father and faces the stony silences of a community of people hiding their own sins and just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean she’s in less danger, these are, after all, stoic crank cooking hillbillies and their beaten wives. The closedness of the communities reaction to Ree’s attempts to uncover their secrets shows a people who, in their poverty, only have their pride left and how this begets cycles of violence.


Not much extraneous to my film viewing to say about today. It’s right in the middle of things when not much is going on. The weekend will bring a little more excitement. But then it will be over. And I will be sad.

A screening of shorts kept me away from watching Blessed tonight. Pity. There were one or two well executed bro-humour type shorts, in between an assortment of badly executed African stuff with far more interesting content. I suppose that’s not unusual.

WINTER’S BONE: Dir: Debra Granik (USA)
Set in the American backwoods, a 17 year-old-girl’s meth-cooking daddy is on the run from the cops. Problem is that he put up their house for the bond on his bail. So if he doesn’t turn up, Ree Dolly, and her sick mom and little brother and sister are gonna be kicked out of their log cabin “to live in the fields like dogs”.

So Ree sets out to find him. She’s tough cookie. In a community that lives close to the earth and sees life as somewhat dispensable, there are people she must cross wouldn’t blink to leave her to be found in a roadside ditch. Everyone is related, but rather than looking out for one another, thethis is a tribe of humans, amongst whom survival comes before blood or compassion.

The film is enormously atmospheric. The sounds of banjos ring through the cold forests on the mountain-side. Mist blows from Rees nose as she traipses throught she redwoods in search of her father.

Behind the mountain hillbilly drawl, there’s a kind of poetry in the dialogue. It’s a rough, abusive environment, but the characters we love are the ones behind whose eyes we see a soft, melancholy for the inevitable hardships of life.

Sarah Recommends
Life Above All – Suncoast – 20:00
Brotherhood – Suncoast – 20:00
The Ape – Suncoast – 22:15

Roger recommends
Surfing Soweto – Suncoast – 18:00
Life, Above All – Suncoast – 20:00
Brotherhood – Suncoast – 20:00
The White Ribbon – Suncoast – 22:00

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