Several features made their debut, including, Noble, the real-life story of the slightly-crazy, Christina Noble. Writer-director, Stephen Bradley, gives us a fictionalized account of Noble’s courageous quest to help the street children of Vietnam. Also premiering was director, Yorgos Tsemberopoulos’ troubling meditation on vengeance, The Enemy Within. Incorporating current social themes in Athens, Greece, this film asks that age-old cinematic question, “How far would you go to protect your home and family?”
But a funny thing happened on the way to devastation… a group of environmental advocates, scientists, politicians and dedicated Klallam crusaders reversed the tide of public opinion and initiated the largest dam demolition in history. It’s the story of life, death and re-birth played out over a century of human manipulation. Aside from the breathtaking cinematography surrounding the Elwha River, co-directors, Jessica Plumb and John Gussman, keep their focus pointed forward. They introduce the somewhat radical notion that dams are transitory structures that will eventually fall prey to the same cost-benefit pressures that warranted their creation. Return of the River is hell-raising documentary filmmaking at its best, packed with natural beauty and a comforting message that hope is not lost for our bruised planet.
Based on his Academy Award-winning short film, Curfew, writer-director-star, Christensen, imbues his adaptation with a Hunter S. Thompson vibe that blurs the line between reality and really messed up. Unfortunately, the blinding reds and throbbing soundscapes make the story appear more vividly portrayed than it actually is. In reality, Before I Disappear has a thin premise stretched far beyond its capabilities. The result is a film that has its moments of inspired lunacy and pitch-black humor, but lacks the narrative engine to arrive at these moments in a timely fashion. As an actor, Christensen tries to infuse Richie with the spirit of Mark Ruffalo circa 2000, but only succeeds in making us miss Ruffalo all the more. As a writer-director, however, it’s a promising first feature for Christensen that hints at good things to come.
Though riveting in most respects, there is no denying the fact that chicagoGirl suffers from the lack of a real-world resolution. Instead, writer-director, Joe Piscatella, uses expert interviews and first-person footage to highlight the impact of social media on modern warfare and revolution, as well as the devastating consequences for those on the front lines. That real people are dying (including some of the people featured in this film) keeps you constantly aware of the stakes; this isn’t a videogame or a wacky home video. Thanks to the immediacy of social media, the pen may, once again, be mightier than the sword.
Coverage of the Port Townsend Film Festival for Sound on Sight will be ongoing from September 19th-22nd.