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February 15, 2013

Cinequest 2008


Disfigured is one of the best films I’ve seen at Cinequest, Ever. It was nothing like what I thought it was going to be, and the audience was completely wowed. To quote one of the viewers, “This is only the second movie of the festival, and I’m not sure how anything else is going to beat this.”

I took 16 year old Catalina and her friend Mark, thinking this was going to be a “comedy” (I don’t know why I thought that since the description clearly states “drama”). Once it began I thought they were going to be bored to tears – until around halfway through when the very nekkid sex scene began… I was pretty sure they were going to kill me after that, or at the very least blame me for all their future psychological problems. But at the end, as we left the theater (after Catalina took a photo of me with star Deirdra Edwards), 16 year old Mark said: “That was a really good movie. It almost got me at the end. I had a little tear. It didn’t fall though, I caught myself… but it almost got me.”

I’ve decided not to write any more about the plot of Disfigured, other than that you should all go see it, because there’s just not much to say without ruining it. When I read the blurbs about films in the Cinequest handbook I only read as far as 1) something sparks my interest or 2) I read something I definitely don’t want to see (child/animal abuse, pedophiles, dead or dying mothers). I don’t read any further because I just want to enjoy every moment of surprise when I watch it. That’s the sucky part of regular movies these days, you’ve practically seen the entire movie after watching all the trailers and tv previews.

So here is what I will say about Disfigured: It’s the kind of movie you feel very lucky to have seen because there is probably not a mass market appeal so there is no other way you could have seen it. That doesn’t mean it’s not an incredible movie – it just means that no Hollywood executive will accept that the public might want to watch a movie about a fat girl and an anorexic girl without casting Eddie Murphy in the role of the fat girl. That is what makes film festivals so awesome, because you get to see things you never would have otherwise. For instance, let’s look at two movies from past Cinequest years:

Andrew Jenks, Room 335 (2006): one of the most incredible movies I’ve ever seen, anywhere, hands down. College student Andrew Jenks decides to do a documentary from the inside of a retirement home. He really has no plan as to what his movie will be about, he just has this idea that he thinks may be interesting. The next thing you know, his life is changed, the residents’ lives are changed, and most certainly the lives of everyone who saw this film are changed. Andrew makes great friends with some of the residents who the viewer also comes to know and grows to love. There’s no explaining the power of this movie – and yet it took two years to get to HBO with no fanfare whatsoever. (Edited: Now available on DVD!)
Monster Camp: Made by my friend Cullen Hoback, it’s another unexpected documentary. Cullen falls in with a crowd of “LARPers”, Live Action Role Players, who all get together at various times to whack each other with sticks and geek out completely, and of course spend all their home time playing World of Warcraft. Losers, right? I think Cullen changed our minds about that. I mean… maybe some of them were losers… heh… but overall it made viewers realize these people were not freaks, they just had a hobby like all the rest of us do. Just because we don’t understand the appeal of their hobby, that doesn’t mean they’re weirdos. In fact, Cullen got caught up enough in it during filming that he ended up taking part in one of the “battles”. I was lucky enough to get a DVD of the movie, which we share with everyone we know.  (Edited: Now available to all on the website!)

Both of these movies left everyone in the theater in tears, either from emotion or just from laughing too damn hard. But no film studio will buy either of these because they won’t be able to make $100 million on them. Lucky for you all, Monster Camp is coming out on a few Indie Theaters this spring, so hopefully you’ll get to see it, and maybe some of you saw Andrew Jenks on HBO.

Anyway, Disfigured is a movie like that. It was incredible and the writing and acting blew everyone away. It won’t change your life like Andrew Jenks, it won’t make you pee your pants laughing like Monster Camp, but it will change your thinking, about yourself and about others – fat AND skinny. So that’s all I’m going to give you about Disfigured. If you have room in your schedule to see it during Cinequest, then you should see it. If it’s scheduled for a film festival near you, then you should see it.  (Edited: Now available on Netflix!!)

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