Message in a film can
Movies entertain, enlighten and inspire us. And sometimes they show us truths we dare not ignore. Three filmmakers will be in Flint during the next nine days to share their visions and elaborate on the messages in their films.
Using his credit cards and his home computer, Timothy Gorski has made an award-winning documentary about man's relationship with wildlife. His film, "Lolita: Slave to Entertainment," is featured in the Global Issues Film Festival beginning Feb. 3 at Kettering University and Mott Community College.
Gorski will be at the 8:45 p.m. Feb. 4 screening of his documentary of the multi-billion dollar aquarium industry, in Kettering University's McKinnon Theatre to discuss the film and answer questions.
During a 2002 visit to Miami's Sequarium, Gorski was appalled at the state of the facility and its inhabitants. After doing some research, he discovered that the main attraction - Lolita the killer whale - was at the center of a nationwide controversy to retire her to the wild. He felt compelled to document her plight.
"The film really took on a life of its own," Gorski said. "It became much bigger than we ever imagined and we never would have finished without the support of concerned and talented individuals that helped along the way. In essence, we created a feature documentary on a $10,000 budget and a whole lot of coffee."
"One of the most memorable moments during this project was when Valerie and I visited Lolita's family in the wild," he said. "Some of the orcas I was filming were actually present during her capture in 1970, one of them probably her mom. When we returned to South Florida I had the opportunity to spend some time with her alone. That was intense for me. I had no money, but at that point there was no turning back. We already had a script and five interviews. I had made a promise to Lolita. So I refinanced my house, paid off the credit cards, charged them right back up again and here you have it, "Lolita: Slave to Entertainment." I hope it touches your heart. I hope it makes you think. I hope it makes you question."
Shown in 35 film festivals across the nation, "Lolita" has won 11 "Best Documentary" awards including the Newport Beach Film Festival and the New Jersey International Film Festival. It is also a recipient of the Telly Award. The Telly Awards honor outstanding local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions from all 50 states and five continents.
Hoping to give Lolita and her situation more exposure, Gorski is currently approaching venues such as Cinemax, HBO and PBS. He is also pursuing the foreign market.
Global and human rights issues are the focus of the annual Global Issues film festival co-hosted by Kettering and Mott Community College (MCC). This year's festival has expanded from showing Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival films to include independent films focusing on a broad range of issues including beauty as politics, Palestinian/Israeli relations, outsourcing of jobs and the culture of consumerism.
All films are free and open to the public.
The festival will again span two weekends presenting a total of 10 films. On Feb. 3, 4, and 5, films will be shown in McKinnon Theatre in the Academic Building at Kettering, on the northwest corner of Chevrolet and Third avenues in Flint. On Feb.11 and 12, films will be shown in the Regional Technology Center at MCC, off Robert T. Longway Boulevard in Flint.
The schedule includes:
Feb. 3, 2005, 6 p.m.
(200 ,USA, 78 minutes)
Produced and directed by Carlos Sandoval and Carol Tambini
In some ways, it's a familiar American story: an influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico to do work the locals won't; a flourishing "low-wage" labor market that depends on them; rising tensions with the resident Anglo population; charges and counter-charges of lawlessness and racism; organizing and counter-organizing - then a violent hate crime that tears a community apart. But this isn't the story of a California, Texas or other Southwestern town. It's the story of Farmingville, New York, on Long Island.
In the late 1990s, some 1,500 Mexican workers moved to the leafy, suburban town of Farmingville, population 15,000. Many were illegal immigrants, and most found ready employment in Suffolk County's thriving landscaping, construction, and restaurant industries. This didn't prevent many ofthe town'scitizens from being shocked at the sudden influx of employment-hungry Spanish-speaking men crowding their street corners and over-crowding rented houses in their neighborhoods. Farmingville, after all, is about as far from a border town, or traditional employer of immigrant labor, as you can get.
Feb. 4, 2005, 7 p.m.
(2004, USA, 90 minutes)
Directed by Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson
What would you do if you discovered that 13 people slated for execution had been found innocent? That is exactly what faced Illinois Governor George Ryan in his final days in office. He alone was left to decide the fate of 167 death row inmates. Documented as the state's clemency hearings unfold, "Deadline" is a compelling look inside America's prisons, highlighting one man's unlikely and historic actions against the system. The film, the best documentary of the Black Point Film Festival, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is part of the Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival.
Feb. 4, 2005, 8:45 p.m.
Lolita: Slave to Entertainment
(2003, USA, 60 minutes)
Written and directed by Timothy Gorski
This is a grassroots investigative documentary about Miami's biggest entertainer, Lolita the killer whale on display at the Miami Seaquarium. Through rare interviews and undercover footage, viewers are dragged into the dark secrets of the multi-billion dollar marina theme park industry and the life of Lolita who has been caught in a net of lies for three decades. One of six young orcas captured in 1970 and sold to marinas, Lolita is the only survivor. The award winning documentary deals with man's fragile relationship with wildlife - and a film the marina industry would not want seen by its customers. This film has received awards from the New Jersey International Film Festival, the Eclipse Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the EarthVision 2003 Festival.
Feb. 5, 2005, 1 p.m.
Dying to Leave: Slaves of the Free Market
(2003, Australia, 69 minutes)
Directed by Aaron Woolf
Every year, three to four million people are placed in containers, snuck across bordered and shepherded through sewers, all in the name of a better life and happiness. A by-product of globalization has become the trade in human cargo. People -old and young - come illegally to wealthier countries than their homelands in search of a better life. But, what most found is a life of servitude or worse. This film documents the travesties that exist in a world where human beings, all too often, are viewed as commodities to be bought, sold and traded. Through interviews and news footage, Woolf provides not only an overview but several poignant segments demonstrating the human toll. This film has been viewed at the United Nations Association Film Festival and the 2nd International Film Festival on Human Rights(Geneva).
Feb. 5, 2005, 3 p.m.
Dying to Leave Part 2 -
Feb. 5, 2005, 8 p.m.
Molly and Mobarak
(2003, Afghanistan/Australia, 85 minutes)
Directed by Tom Zubrycki
'The process of humanizing someone can be a political act. When people can identify with someone or a situation, it is then that they can gain insight, or an awareness of, wider issues', said director Tom Zubryki. Mobarak is one of 4,000 illegal boat people who arrived on the coast of Northern Australia between 1999 and 2001, fleeing persecution and ethnic cleansing during the height of the Taliban era. He is given a 3-year Temporary Protection Visa and goes to the small town of Young, where the local meat plant had begun employing Afghani refugees. Sharing an apartment with fellow refugees, he takes English lessons organized by local volunteers. Molly, the 25-year-old daughter of one of the volunteers, offers to teach Mobarak how to drive. From this relationship love blossoms, at least on Mobarak's side, as Molly always insists she has a boyfriend who lives in another town. Against the backdrop of their relationship and as we see how Mobarak changes over a period in Australia, a picture of the town emerges, a typical small town where opinions regarding the refugees are divided.
Feb. 11, 2005, 7 p.m.
Surplus: Terrorized Into Becoming Consumers
(2003, Sweden, 52 minutes)
Produced and directed by Erik Gandini
Utilizing an MTV style to film this documentary, Gandini asks if consumerism has brought us happiness. He explores attitudes towards consumerism in the U.S., India, Cuba, China, Italy, Sweden, Hungary and Canada. His cinematic style, from an emotional rather than factual perspective, offers a view designed to provoke discussion of our motivations as consumers.
This film won first prize at the 2003 IDFA Amsterdam Silver Wolf Competition, the award for best sound and music at the 2004 One World Documentary Film Festival (Prague), first prize at the 2004 FICA International Festival of Environmental Film (Brazil) and an honorary mention at the docAviv 2004.
Feb. 11, 2005, 8 p.m.
Diverted to Delhi
(2002, Australia, 55 minutes)
Written, produced and directed by Greg Stitt
Where have all the call center jobs gone? They've been diverted to Delhi. This documentary follows Indian college graduates as they learn to put aside their cultural identity, modify their accents and change their names so they can interact with their western customers. In a state with large job losses, this documentary explores one aspect of out-sourcing and off-shoring of jobs. It also looks at the phenomenon from the Indian viewpoint where 30% of college graduates cannot find work. Issues of globalization, outsourcing to developing nations and the cultural impact the jobs have on the employees are part and parcel of the call centers. The film has been viewed at the Commonwealth Film Festival, world Social Forum and SE Asia Film Festival.
Feb. 12, 2005, 1p.m.
Beauty Will Save the World
(2003, New Zealand, 62 minutes)
Directed by Pietra Brettkelly
It started as an idea to hold the first Miss Net World beauty pageant. Then Axis of Evil leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi agreed to host the pageant in Libya. BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD follows 19-year-old Teca Zendik, the American contender for the crown. She sets out with her political loyalties in check, even refusing to wear the competition uniform: a t-shirt emblazoned with Gaddafi's likeness. She returns, however, as Honorary Consul to the U.S. for Libya, with a Libyan citizenship to boot.
Feb. 12, 2005, 3 p.m.
(2004, USA, 62 minutes)
Produced and directed by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman
Documentarians Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman had just lived through the "energy crisis" in California when they started hearing talk of privatization of water. Is there a new economy of water? Is water part of a shared "common", a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold and traded in a global marketplace? "Thirst" tells the story of communities in Bolivia, India and the United States that are asking these fundamental questions. "Thirst", utilizing a variety of cuts to meetings and interviews along with historical and present-day footage in communities in these three countries, explores the issue of water as a commodity. What could be timelier as the Canadian and American government talk about the future of the water flowing in the Great Lakes? This film has won awards at Hot Docs, the Seattle International Film Festival, the Amnesty International Film Festival and the United Nations Association Film Festival.
Feb. 12, 2005, 7 p.m.
The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream
(2004, USA, 78 minutes)
Directed by Gregory Greene. Produced by Barry Silverthorn.
MEET THE DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER
Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream. But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American way of life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. What does Oil Peak mean for North America? As energy prices skyrocket in the coming years, how will the populations of suburbia react to the collapse of their dream? Are today's suburbs destined to become the slums of tomorrow? And what can be done NOW, individually and collectively, to avoid The End of Suburbia?Director Greene and Producer Silverthorn will be at the screening to talk about their work and answer questions.
Written by Dawn Hibbard