27 October 2007

Right Back Where We Started From...

Arrived in SFO on October 5 (stick with me, we’ll catch up eventually) at the tail end of the day, but with plenty of activity still ahead of me. And as luck would have it, my cheapo car rental company didn’t have any more Hyundai compacts available, so I was granted the keys to a (drumroll) . . . red . . . convertible . . . Mustang! Rode that beauty over the Golden Gate Bridge into Mill Valley during a spectacular sunset, feeling like a rock star. Vancouver who?

Mill Valley, place of legend. It was an honor to have been selected for the festival, and I was tickled pink to be there. Arrived just late enough though for all the restaurants to be closed, so I finagled my way into the Ang Lee tribute dinner, which was a lot of good food and lively chatter. No lust or caution though (tank you, I’ll be here all deh veek). Did reconnect with Janis Plotkin, who in 1998 programmed my short doc Mah-Jongg:The Tiles That Bind in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and set me on the filmmaking odyssey I’ve been on since. It was great to see her, and to briefly catch up on the last nine years which had landed me back in California and her at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Having her be a part of this new fest tour of mine felt like coming home.

The next day, I threw myself into film watching and postcard pushing. Made a few local friends even as I fretted about my screening the next morning, fearing an onslaught of political questions, which my film decidedly and deliberately doesn’t address. Was there a place in the hearts of committed Free Tibet-ers (which I assume Marin County is packed with, and more power to ‘em), for a film about the rural, 85% of the people who will in fact be free if/when Tibet is free, but for now don't have it nearly as bad as their city-dwelling counterparts?

YES! And phew. For a Sunday morning at 11am, we had a great turnout to the Throckmorton Theatre. And again, a lively Q&A with a smattering of politically-oriented questions but a majority of thought-provoking ones about life at the top of the world (where I was sitting at that point!) Celebratory lunch (sense a theme?) followed with my father’s old elementary school buddy Bill and his family, and my old college…uh….friend, Eric (speaking of a whole other story…), and my dear friend and field sound recordist Caleb who had flown up from LA for the occasion, even though he still hasn't really forgiven me for not taking him to Tibet. Good times.

Monday morning, Caleb and I were off to Napa, topless, on special invitation to visit the exclusive Grace Family Vineyards. I had encountered Dick Grace when I was looking for a wine sponsor for my Brooklyn Film Festival World Premiere party, and googled ‘Buddhist Winery’ on a lark. Lo and behold, there he was! Wine donations at that time were not an option since his costs $800 a bottle (gulp – or rather, slowly sip and savor) but we chatted for a long time about all things Tibet and that greater part of the world, where he himself does exemplary humanitarian work. How better to spend a morning than in the company of such a kindred spirit. Lunch with Caleb at a beautiful patio’ed restaurant before our triumphant return south to the Oakland Airport to meet his plane. Talk about the profound to the ridiculous.

I wish I could continue to write about the wonderful momentum at the festival and the exciting adventures that continued apace. However, bad news from home brought me back to earth and to the east coast earlier than expected. Won’t take you there with me, but will pick up on what happened next very soon.

Onwards and Upwards...

So where was I? Ah, yes...still in Vancouver, awaiting what turned out to be an additional two sold-out shows. Go Vancouver! A word though on the second screening, where I had the chance to reconnect with an old friend, James Wilson. James and I met when we part of a renegade faction of volunteers during 9/11 that set up a Tent City along the West Side Highway and didn’t budge for 12 days, effectively and efficiently doing what the ‘official’ bureaucracy couldn’t – doling out supplies, hot food and coffee, and *humanity* to the rescue workers.

That’s a whole other lonnnng story, but the bottom line is, James and I met on the side of the road under the worst of circumstances and became friends at the tail end of his three (?) years in NYC as an actor/student, and then he moved back to Canada – Vancouver to be exact. So my festival visit was also a reunion for us. And even better, I found him in the midst of heavy rehearsals for a new play he was directing for his own reACT Theatre Ensemble. Break a leg, James!
James joined in the festivities at a post-screening celebrational dinner with Eva (my Swedish hostess extraordinaire), Elvira (my now friend-for-life via Halifax), Graham (my Q&A leader extraordinaire), and of course Carla, my editor turned official festival sidekick.

The following morning, the sun was ablaze for the first time since the day I arrived, which was just the airport send-off I needed to remember that fair city with all the fondness it deserves. We shall meet again, I’m sure.

14 October 2007

Passing Gastown

With deepest apologies for my negligent lack of writing, and with promises for new entries in the very near future, here is a little trifle to tide you over. This is Episode 3 of "What in the World...", a series of videos made during the festival tour of DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM. This comes direct from Canada during the Vancouver International Film Festival. Enjoy!

02 October 2007

"What in the World...." Volume 2

Welcome to my next installment of 'What In The World..." in which yours truly delivers riveting entertainment from her film festival tour....And now, live from the Minneapolis Airport en route to Vancouver....

There's no place like hem

I am writing now from a beautiful apartment off of Commercial Drive, a strip of health food stores, vegetarian restaurants and cafes west of Downtown Vancouver. Wonderful Eva, one of the Swedes I met the other night, graciously offered her apartment as she left the city yesterday for her home two hours north. It was a sad parting for me and Jennifer the fish - she of course stayed behind at the swanky hotel, but I feel like I've left the lap of luxury but won the lottery. Took some doing this morning, but enjoyed a round trip quickie ride on the *sea bus* over to North Vancouver to get keys from my future sister-in-law, and then the *sky train* out to my new home (transportation here is SO Sesame Street!)

Following that adventure, I had to scurry back into downtown for a full hour chat about DAUGHTERS on the Smiling Yogi's radio talk show over at the local Coop Radio (think WFUV - or WHRW for you Bingalings). I was daunted by the hour format but then we had so much to talk about that we even skipped the last PSA she was supposed to play. It was really a great hour of talking serious spirituality, which of course is not what I usually get to chat about regarding the film. Great interview, Farah, thanks!

Got back in time to see the second three astounding eps of Jennifer Fox's "Flying: Confessions..." which landed my new friend Sofia and I in a long wander around the city and eventual cafe stop engaged in a discussion of gender and identity. Did I mention it was a full day?

So now it's raining pretty hard, for a change, but I just feel so cozy sitting near the fireplace surrounded by the requisite Dalarhäst (the red Swedish horses) and Kn
äckebrod (read: Wasa Crackers) and yellow and blue painted viking figurines found wherever Swedes are housed. There's no place like hem.