a movie for mature audiences

I’ve written a good bit on my own travels to India, and many readers expressed quite a bit of interest over the years. No matter what words you use, however, I’ve always regretted that it’s impossible to convey what India is without being able to share the sounds, the colors, the chaos–the wonder–that India is. Hubby and I recently attended a pre-viewing of a wonderful movie that can change that a little, and I want to share it with my readers here. We’re members of a preview audience of movie lovers who are invited to pre-view current movies for free a few days or weeks before their opening dates. It costs us nothing but a few hours of our time plus whatever gas the car uses to get to the theater. All we have to do is give electronic feedback afterwards. It’s a pretty good deal, and out of the nearly dozen movies we’ve pre-viewed I’ve only seen one bomb, at least for my mature age group, and that was American Reunion. There is more to life, after all, than horny sex and bathroom pranks.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened in England the end of February. On May 4 it will open in movie theaters around the United States. An assorted group of English pensioners facing uncertain economic circumstances in their retirement (portrayed by an admirable lineup of mature actors: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup), are  enticed by advertisements for THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, a seemingly luxurious sanctuary for “the elderly and beautiful” in Jaipur, India. Their retirement takes an unconventional turn when, upon arrival, they discover that the hotel falls somewhat short of the romantic idyll promised in the brochure. Most are gradually won over by the ever-optimistic young manager Sonny (Dev Patel from SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE), who has troubles of his own. They tentatively embark on this new adventure, and most find that life can begin again when you let go of the past. The cinematography beautifully conveys the culture shock any westerner will probably feel in any (so-called) third-world country they encounter for the first time. You’ll also vicariously experience the chaotic sights and sound and color–just about everything but the smells (good or bad), and even those are easier to imagine (!) afterwards then anything I’ve ever been able to share through my writing.

So if you or your friends have ever entertained the idea of visiting India yourself someday, or even if you know you’ll never be able to afford that kind of adventure in real life or even desire it, I urge you to go in reel life by seeing this movie. If you watched the trailer above, you  may have picked up on a couple of lines that sum up pretty well my feelings about India. The first is from Sonny, the manager, as he’s fond of saying throughout,  “Everything will be all right at the end,” implying that if things aren’t all right yet, then it isn’t the end yet. The other memorable line is by Judy Dench. “India is about what you bring to it.” Those two lines express very well my feelings about India. It grows on you, just like the characters is this movie. And I believe that’s what you’ll take away if you see this movie.





short-term memory serves well . . . in some cases

A few weeks ago as I was reading what I thought to be a new book I’d picked up at the library, I kept thinking Wait a minute! I’ve read this book already. But it was so funny, I just kept on reading. When I finally closed the book the last time, after nearly 600 pages, I still wasn’t sure that I hadn’t already read it, but that hadn’t kept me from enjoying it, perhaps just as much or more than I had before–IF there was a before. So I decided since I’m unable to garner the time to write the post I had in mind for tomorrow, I’d re-run one that I first published here November 9 of 2009. I shared it at a meeting today with a new writing group I’ve joined as a sample of the kind of things I like to write and it got some laughs, and reminded me how good it feels to laugh out loud sometimes. I think we could all agree that too many things are going on in the U.S. and worldwide that make it difficult to find the funny side of life, even in the interest of keeping your sanity. I leave it to better bloggers than I to write about those serious things. I’m always on a quest for the funny side of life I feel is almost as important. This is a true story. I prefer to present it as a story written in second person because the people you’ll read about here couldn’t possibly be anybody I know! And if I’m lucky, like me, maybe you’ll be old enough not to remember half of what you may have read here in 2009.

* * * * * * * *

For weeks she’d wanted to see the new Michael Moore movie, CAPITALISM. So that morning over breakfast, when she saw the calendar presented nothing more pressing or interesting to do, she suggested that maybe today would be a good day to go to a matinee and see it at last.

But when they arrived at the movie complex–chosen because it had stadium seating–the ticket seller said it was sold out. She glanced at the next showing, and sure enough that show was sold out too. So were the next two. It was barely past noon and no one else was in sight; they’d driven a full half hour to get here–they were several minutes early. Surely that could simply not be right! Were they even showing the movie there? Or was it a ploy to lure people in order sell tickets to one of the other movies?

It made her so angry she said no to her husband’s suggestion to see one of the other 20 or so movies on the schedule. Could they still make it to the one other theater in town where the movie was scheduled to start in half an hour? He said, sure they could make it. The first 10 or 15 minutes after showtime were always used for previews anyhow. Piece of cake. They’d just jump in the car in drive downtown and see it there.

So they did. The problem was, they were so far on the side of town they weren’t familiar with, and they weren’t sure of the theater’s address. While there was no question they could find the it, it might take time and they needed to find it FAST. It would be best to know exactly what street it was on. So she went to work fiddling with the GPS built into the car’s dashboard. The nice voice would tell them exactly where to turn and when. First she laboriously typed in the crossroads where they thought the theater was located. No luck. So then she tried typing in the name of the theater. Still no luck. She scowled every time her husband suggested she try some different. He always thought she was inept at figuring out electronic things. Grrrrrrrrrr!

No the problem lay in the system…at some point in the menu it would shift to another window and a quick decision had to be made about which option to press next and it kept leading her to dead ends anyway. So she tried again. And again. And again.

All the time she struggled, he keeps driving and his foot is pressing the pedal a little harder and he doesn’t even realize it. He’s getting frustrated because she’s beginning to cuss a little. Okay, a lot, calling the instrument panel a…well, just imagine you know, ’cause you surely do if you have a little imagination. He keeps telling her to watch her language, there’s no call for that, and suggesting things she’s tried already over and over again.

All that time she’s getting madder and madder because she knows the problem is not her, the problem is the GPS that won’t let her enter what she needs to enter, dumb machine. This thing is absolutely useless, she cries out in annoyance, at just about the same time she sees him glance in the rear view mirror and hears him say “Uh Oh!” Then she hears the siren and feels the car pulling over to the road’s right, hears a frantic motorcycle cop shout, over there, I’m right in the lane of traffic here! a sitting duck to get hit!” And he was, as they were on an Interstate highway with about five lanes of traffic and cars were whizzing by. Who could possibly know where they were supposed to pull over on an interstate highway when they’d never been pulled over on a multi-laned highway before?!

When they were all finally properly positioned, over to the left of the fassssssssst lanes that were separated from the traffic going the other way by the railings, the young cop–just doing his duty–leaned in and said I pulled you over because you were going 65 mph in a 50 mph zone. At least he didn’t holler as us, she thought.

She began to see dollar signs with wings on them flying out the car window while the two men talked. Her hubby didn’t bother arguing because he knew he was as guilty as they come. He had been driving way too fast all the while he was trying to tell his wife how to program the GPS on the dash, so neither of them noticed the speed change, and how could he help it if his foot kept getting heavier and heavier? After all was said and done the nice young cop only charged them with going five miles over the limit, which was only $105! It could have been much worse.

Now this was a couple who’ve been known to drive miles out of the way just to get something they need for a couple dollars less. They were so careful with their expenses and prided themselves on how inexpensively they’ve managed to live from month to month since their retirement. They even managed to afford some nice travel and new shoes now and then, and they’d never had to go without a meal because they were so frugal. Damned movie anyhow. Because of Michael Moore they were going to have to fork over $105 just like that.

Afterward, they swallowed hard and fought their way back into traffic from the fast lane side and when they got through bickering and trying to fix the blame and she said that he had no one but himself to blame because he was driving and that meant he was the one that had to pay attention to the road signs. She was tired being blamed for everything, so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. After a little more back and forth insulting, they finally cooled down a little, decided to laugh about it, it was only money after all, nobody had been hurt. So there they sat, mostly in silence, while they tried to decide what to do next. Maybe they should just go back home and watch television. That would be such a letdown, though, wouldn’t it?

No! she said emphatically. We can’t go home without doing something to distract us and take the bad taste out of our mouths. In he end, they looked at the clock and decided to go on and see the movie just like they’d planned, only downtown at the other theater. It was a cinch, he said, because the movies wasted so much time on previews anyhow so it wouldn’t matter if they were late. And after that she remembered the Yellow Pages under her seat where she could quickly look up the address in the black pages, so it was decided. Who needed electronic gadgets when they had a printed book of addresses under the seat?

They parked in the garage and rushed to the theater all out of breath. He plunked the plastic down and announced two for Capitalism please. The clerk swiped the card and handed him the receipt to sign. He was scribbling fast when she–just in case–thought it a good idea to ask has the movie started yet?

The clerk checked the schedule and looked at her watch and said Yes, it’s seven minutes in.

 Into the movie? she said.
 You mean into the previews, right? he said.
 No, the movie, the clerk repeated.
Seven minutes! More like eight now, she thought. “I don’t want to miss the first seven minutes,” she said. Sometimes the opening minutes are crucial to the whole film. So the clerk refunded their money, and the two of them walked dejectedly back to the car. At least they were able to get the parking ticket validated, they reasoned, so they wouldn’t have to pay for parking.
 Back in the car, the question arose for the second or third time that day, what to do now? Go home? It still seemed like a defeat go home, especially now that they felt insult had been added to injury. Give up, admit defeat–that they weren’t meant because of who knew what conspiracy by that first theater–to see a much anticipated movie on this day? There had to be something they could do to make them feel better–get control of their lives again.
Just as they were nearing the shopping strip where the Indian store was, she suggested they stop off to see if they could find some pre-made bhatura bread and frozen unsweetened coconut so they could go home and throw themselves into making a good Indian meal. Maybe some choli with the bhatura bread and some delicious coconut chutney. That would make both of them feel better.
There was no bhatura to be had. Maybe next week. Ugh! How many things can go wrong in one day!  Then she saw the fresh okra in the box on the table that held new shipments. It had been pretty much impossible to find fresh okra the whole summer. Not only did they have fresh okra there, it was fairly good okra–the tips still crisp, and the pods mostly small and tender. Fried okra always made her feel good. So she bought a whole lot of it along with the coconut they wanted.
They drove home and she cooked okra for dinner while he went online and paid the department of transportation $105 so he could get it out of his mind once and for all. Afterward, they agreed never to speak of it again. First one, and then the other, would begin to giggle like children who get caught licking the spoon in the candy pot when Mama’s not looking.
To this day they still haven’t seen the movie. Now they figure when they do see it, and they still hope to, they will always also associate it with a $105 speeding fine attached to it, thus it will always have the distinction of being the most expensive movie they’ve ever seen. And therein lies the dig. They figure if they wait long enough it’ll come out on DVD and be available at the RedBox rental kiosk where they can pick it up for overnight for just $1, then it’ll only have cost them $106.

legend of Atanajurat, The Fast Runner

(pictures courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

The Anthropological Film Society in our city screened an especially interesting movie a few nights ago, about the Inuits living on Baffin Island in Northeastern Canada, just above the Arctic Circle. In the pre-movie discussion, we learned that even though “Inuit” is the Canadian preferred, shall-we-say more “politically correct” term, the Inuits themselves prefer to be called Eskimo. If I could ask you–what do you remember about the Eskimo you learned about in grammar school?–chances are pretty good (for sure, if you’re American) that the first answer to pop into your head might be an image of two genderless people pressing their noses together in an icy arctic setting. That was the way Eskimos kissed. For a few days we kids would pretend to be Eskimos, blatantly rubbing our noses together in play because it was weird. We enjoyed annoying our teachers in whatever underhanded way possible for the times, which were admittedly tame compared to the mischief kids can cause these days. Other than that, we also knew that they lived in igloos “way up north,” even further north than “Yankee country” and knew furthermore that we probably would never meet one. That’s all changed now, thanks to a movie Hubby and I attended a few nights ago, Atanajurat (The Fast Runner) .

The goal of this first-ever Inuit written, produced, directed, and acted feature-film was to give international audiences a more authentic view of the Inuit (Eskimo) culture and oral tradition than the silly one I’ve related above. It shows how Inuit communities survived and thrived in the Arctic a thousand years ago. Talk about hard times! You’d think if a culture could survive conditions in the Arctic region then, today would be a piece of cake. But, according to Director Zacharias Kunik, “After four-thousand years of oral history silenced by fifty years of priests, schools, and cable TV,”  a movie like this will give Inuit audiences more positive and correct images of themselves. At the same time, it opens the possibility that this new storytelling medium of film is a way to help today’s Inuit communities, still limited by harsh conditions and limited opportunities, might continue to thrive long into the future.

The running time is 170 minutes, but I was so engrossed with this very different scenario about a people I hardly knew anything about, I hardly felt those nearly three hours! And the seats in the art museum’s auditorium weren’t all that comfortable. Made in the late 90s, debuting in 2001, The Fast Runner went on to become Canada’s top-grossing release of 2002, and in 2004. It was included in the list of Canadian Top Ten Films of All Time, and went on to win many more awards, including one at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. What fascinated me most, however, was that the movie managed all this with a cast made up entirely with members of the community of Igloolik. In earlier Isuma dramas as well as the 13-part Nunavut (Our Land) Series shown on Igloolik community TV (1995-2007), the actors were given a general storyline and then improvised action and dialog. In this movie, the Director (Kunik) required the actors to learn and work from a script. With mixed success, according to Professor Loab, the anthropology professor who held a copy of the script in the air during the post-movie discussion period. The complicated plot is  based on an Eskimo legend of Atanajurat, and difficult as it was for me to distinguish characters and names, it all came together at the end.

In 1000 A.D., evil in the form of an unknown Shaman divides a small community of nomadics, upsetting its balance and spirit. Circumstances require Atanajurat to restore balance by enduring and conquering this evil menace. Basic plot:

Centuries ago, in what would become the Canadian Arctic, Atuat is promised to the malevolent Oki, son of the leader of their tribe. But Atuat loves the good-natured Atanarjuat, who ultimately finds a way to marry her. Oki’s sister, Puja also fancies Atanarjuat, and when she causes strife between him and his brother Amaqjuaq, Oki seizes the opportunity to wreak a terrible revenge on Atanarjuat. The legend this film is based on ends with the hero killing the brothers who have been tormenting him.

Paul Apaq, the writer, rewrote the ending for the film because he felt that a message of hope was needed. If you want to know the ending you’ll not hear it from me, but I’m happy to note the movie is available on Netflix, though only to DVD subscribers. Hopefully, it will be available for instant streaming very soon. I hate to end on a sad note, but writer Paul Apaq–who also played the part of Oki, incidentally–died in 1998, before the film was brought to the screen. Isn’t it too bad he didn’t live to see the impact his new ending gave to this oral Eskimo legend!

learning to unplug

Are you “plugged in” to technology–iPads, iPods, iPhones, laptops, PCs and Macs–for the majority of your day? Think about it before you answer. I became concerned about my own “plug-in” problems a couple of weekends back. It was the Sunday I decided to pull the plug on my computer. The decision started with a concern for my physical health. I was experiencing a lot of neck stress, headaches, and my fingers were feeling stiff. It had been only a little more than two months since my last RA infusion; I’d hoped to make it at least six months, the average length of time between symptoms, before needing another, but each patient reacts his own way so the rheumatologist asked me to call him if I felt a flare before six months. Since chemotherapy last year that left my veins uncooperative (or what the nurses called “shot to hell”) we were hoping for at least six months reprieve between needle stabs. The only way to know if my pain was the beginning of flareup, or simply too much time in front of the computer, as I’d begun to suspect, I decided to pull the plug for 24 hours.

The next day there was a slight difference, but still a lot of neck strain. Then Hubby noticed I was squinting and looking upward, straining to see the computer screen through my bifocal. I decided to pull out some old computer glasses I’d had made a few years ago to use with the computer. Voila, after only a day or two I felt the difference. Experiment successful. I was really happy that it wasn’t an arthritic flare after all. But after that Sunday unplug, I had become aware of another, potentially much more serious mental problem that might require more effort to fix.

It was a lot more complicated than just the time spent keeping up with this blog. There was all that time I spent reading and commenting on other blogs. Much of that part is good, I’ve decided, as it leaves me with a sense of connection with the world. All day long on unplug day, I kept thinking of things I wanted to do that required my PC. Answers. To all kinds of things! I’ve gotten in the habit of running to my PC for every little nonsensical thought or question that occurs to me. I click Google or Bing, insert a few keywords and bingo, I have access to everything I want or think I need to know. Medical symptoms. Recipes. Movie reviews. You name it. It’s all there and then some.

Remember in the old days you’d wake up in the middle of the night with this burning question–really serious stuff. The answer would come to you, you knew that, so after you worried with the question for awhile you’d eventually fall asleep again. If you were lucky, the answer floated into your consciousness the very next day, or maybe several days later. But I don’t remember a time when the answer didn’t come eventually. Alternately, you’d run into a friend or co-worker who might know. They either would or not. But it wasn’t that important anyway. In my class on the neurophysiology of the brain the following week, I asked the professor if google could be injurious to our brains and our ability to remember. She admitted she didn’t know, and that she worried a little about that herself. There just wasn’t enough research yet to know. Another student suggested that the harm may be offset somewhat by the work our brains have to do to come up with the right set of tag words to get answers, suggesting we were still assisting the plasticity of our brains to keep them working better as we age. That’s a little of why I blog. To keep reaching for the right word to convey to meaning in my communications, I reasoned, would be a good exercise for my bain.

Back to the Sunday experiment. It hit me at some point that day that I could use my lazy Sunday afternoon to scan recipes from a library loaned cookbook so I could try them at will and go ahead and return the book. But no! That would require plugging back in–to two machines, my scanner/printer setup AND the PC to store them in an electronic file. Couldn’t do that until tomorrow. When I actually started preparations for dinner, at some point I needed to be close to the kitchen to monitor things, but make that time go faster at the same time. My office is right across from the kitchen, so I’ve gotten into the habit of sitting at my computer with an ear to the kitchen and play online cards. Long story short, throughout the day I was drawn like a magnet over and over again to my computer. But Monday morning I felt triumphant! I’d managed to go a full 24 hours without plugging in, not even to check email.

Which brings me to the video below. Last night, Hubby and I attended a lecture/movie at a local college. The movie by a San Francisco filmmaker, Tiffany Schlain, was entitled CONNECTED. It premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Using animation, archival film footage and much of her father’s writings, the movie explores the idea of how and why people are connected through technology. As in all of life, however, there’s always a balance to be achieved between the GOOD and NOT SO GOOD elements of every new discovery that impacts humanity.

Should you be interested in seeing CONNECTED, it’s available on video (to members) on Netflix. In the meantime, this 16 minute video interview with the filmmaker will give you many things to think about. Maybe you’ll have a clearer understanding, as I do, why we’re hearing “where does the time go” over and over again, even by young people. I understand that the majority of these YouTube sharings are rarely seen, but if you’ve ever wondered “where did my day go” or “is all this focus on technology good for me,” I think you’ll indulge me the nudge to watch. Maybe, like me, you’ll decide technology is good overall (perhaps, though the jury’s still out) but, maybe it’s good to unplug now and then.

amusing myself during a yukky day

Old Man Winter showed up sometime last night to pay us a call here in Utah. Since last night it’s either been raining or snowing, giving our roads up here in the hills a slushy reason to pull out the old winter boots. It’s the kind of day meetings get canceled, and planned outings to the gym seem hardly worth the effort. We are planning to venture out for a movie this evening–a free pre-screening of Morning Glory (Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton & Rachel McAdams) that is scheduled for theaters November 12. It’s always nice to see leading movie characters nearer our ages with wrinkles and droopy eyelids just like us. (If I think it’s good, I’ll let you know.)

I really don’t mind snowy days the beginning of winter; it’s just later on I begin to cry Uncle, around January and February, when I’m just plain sick of snow and slush and long underwear. Today it gives me a good excuse to get caught up on a few household chores, after which I began digging away at more old stuff stored in the unused cabinets in the bar downstairs. As always, when I get into this kind of busy work I find things I’d completely forgotten, then spend the rest of day getting lost in old memories. And things to move to the donate pile. Naturally I brought up the old photo albums to scan and organize in my picture files. The one I chose to do today were from a farewell lunch (for Hubby from Battelle in Columbus) in February 1993, just before he transferred to Battelle in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We moved to Knoxville a few weeks later.

Now that you regular Wintersong readers have gotten to know Hubby from his guest postings during my cancer treatments, I thought you might enjoy seeing this picture that turned up in that file. It was near the end of lunch where everyone has finished making roasting speeches, and the honoree stands up to thank everybody, then somebody calls out Speech! Speech! And he has to make a speech no matter how much it embarrasses him to be the center of attraction.

Is that not the cutest dimple you’ve ever seen? As I look at it, I think what a hunka hunka burning love! But it isn’t Elvis he reminds me of here. It’s Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper on Mad Men.

I’m pretty sure I was still his barber that year. For years I pretended to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Not only did I cook and bake, but I cut his hair as well because he insisted he liked my cuts better than the barber’s. (I think it was because I was cheaper!) I had to give it up not long after because arthritis started to show up in my hands and made the task more difficult. So I showed these pictures to Hubby and bragged on my hair cutting prowess. I told him he looked like Jon Hamm (back then). He knows how handsome my next door neighbor and I think Jon Hamm is, so he laughed at me and said something equal to you’re crazy! We were both in our late forties at the time. All of were younger–Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, and I don’t think Rachel McAdams had even been born yet.

So now I’m sneaking this picture into this post just to see how long before (and if) he notices. And hope I don’t get into trouble.

Humm! On second thought, I think he looks better than Jon Hamm. Don’t you think so? ‘Gotta get busy now. There’s three more old albums to scan. Maybe I’ll find some pretty(ier) pictures of me in them…one is our wedding day in 1969. Meanwhile, it’s still snowing.

Back later in the week with another first India impressions post.

update: nance dude may live again

Here’s an update for fans of Nancy Ann Kerley (Nance Dude). If the moon continues in the second house with Jupiter in line with Mars, it looks like Nance Dude could soon live again–in celluloid that is. (Digital, actually, but pixel might be even more accurate, but that’s a post for another day.)

That post attracted numerous readers, many of whom were descendants of the family, and still attracts many interested in this murder/mayhem mystery of the early 20th century. Quite sometime ago, my post on Nance Dude attracted a reader who commented that a  movie would be forthcoming, and was indeed in pre-production. I decided it was time for a little detective work.

TIMBERWOLF, which is the title at this time, is a story of how the hardships of an 1800’s family in the Great Smoky Mountains is made worse by the ambitions of a powerful man who is set on revealing a legendary secret. (Anyone unfamiliar with Nance’s life who would like to know more can go here.) So it isn’t exactly clear how the movie will feature Nance’s story, but the characters in the movie list are all fictitious, so it’s probably loosely based on that event and sounds interesting. Here’s what I have learned from a June 14, 2009 update.

The movie is an independent film in pre-production by the Collective Development LLC of Lansing MI, which means presumably there are banks in the negotiations, most likely actors too, and any or all of the following information is subject to change. The latest update was June 14, 2009. Here are some names you might recognize: Dan Haggerty, Cloris Leachman, Erin Gray, Cindy Williams, Wes Studi and Michael Spears. At one time I remember seeing Willie Nelson’s name in the lineup but it’s no longer there. (Mr. Willie’s getting on up there in years, y’know.)

Wes Studi played Joe Leaphorn in Thief of Time, and you’d recognize him from any number of films featuring native Americans, like Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. He played himself as the presenter on Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Legacy that was first featured on PBS television in 2006 and rerun earlier this year. The other actor deserving special mention is Michael Spears, who appeared in Dances With Wolves. The others I believe are commonly known, mostly from television series. One more actor I want to mention: Ralphene Rathbone, who portrays a member of the Eastern Star (the female side of the Masons), and to whom I extend much appreciation for leaving the comment on the original post that led to this update for Nance Dude fans.

It’s all in how you say it . . .

If you read a lot, and especially if you’re a writer, you will have heard about flash fiction that is so popular now. It’s a story with the traditional beginning, middle, and a suitable ending in anywhere between 500 to 800 words, the number varying somewhat. The idea is to trim every extraneous word away until you absolutely cannot remove another word without ruining the story. I once spent a week’s worth of classes at a writer’s colony working on just this concept. It’s a very difficult, but satisfying, practice in writing if you’re lucky enough to get the hang of it.

Yesterday I received two emails from a couple of my old friends from when I lived in Las Vegas. Both contained a link to this video via another distributor. It’s the winner of the Fourth Annual Short Film Online Competition from the Cannes Film Festival of 2008, Historia de un Letroro (The History of a Sign). The winner’s name is Alonso Alvarez Barreda. The music is outstanding, the story sincere and . . . maybe you’d better have a hanky or a box of Kleenex handy. It’s not sad, it’s uplifting in the ways that make people tear up or cry a little, or at least their throat burns a bit. Also–and this doesn’t hurt either the film either–the hero is very good looking. I’m sure, Eiko and Ginger, that you didn’t even notice! But thanks to you both!

Since my WordPress hosted account limits my options for formatting videos, I had to search it out and link it to youtube rather than the version I first viewed. The quality is a not quite what I wish, but I think it’s satisfactory enough, and the story heartwarming enough, that you will enjoy it very much. The film’s running time is 4 minutes 50 seconds, but it runs almost 6 minutes if you watch full credits at the end. By the way, it’s in Spanish with English subtitles for the very limited “dialogue.” And just like great flash fiction, when a short film says it right, it’s wonderful.

Author’s note: This video IS still available, although I’ve noticed that it sometimes takes a few moments to upload. It’s worth the wait.

With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another, less fortunate man, reminding us that sometimes the gift of time is far more valuable than mere money.