The Global Peace Film Festival is back and weirder than ever
Published: September 15, 2011
As a whole, the program shines when tacking toward the poetic and personal rather than the political; the better films are also the most universal and least geopolitically specific. One of the strongest, Eva Is Leaving, touches on the struggle between a café owner who’s becoming more religiously observant and his wife, who resists his increasingly stringent demands. Director Aya Somech does a nice job capturing the push-pull of resentments between longtime partners and the way that an expression of need on one part can look like an exertion of control on the other. The couple’s brief détente, elbows on the counter as they steal a coffee break, is the sweetest and most emotionally grounded moment of the entire program.
Is Eva Is Leaving an allegory for the wounds Israel and Palestine have inflicted on each other? Who knows, who cares. It doesn’t lean on a political crutch nor grind any philosophical ax, making for a much stronger piece of art than the other overtly metaphorical tales here. This program is likely to appeal to those who already have some grasp of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but won’t serve to further much understanding; it’s more likely to confirm opinions already held. – JBY
Fire in Babylon
This lively documentary chronicles the dominance of the West Indies cricket teams of the 1970s and ’80s that became a symbol for any number of social injustices – racism, classism, xenophobia – and inspired a nation long beaten down by colonialism. It’s a lot to bite off, and director Stevan Riley doesn’t always allow for proper audience chewing. For one thing, what the hell is cricket and do they do anything except pelt each other with a ball/bullet? (The doc skips the explanation in favor of shot after shot of doubled-over players in excruciating pain.) But whatever its failings as a sports film, Fire in Babylon more than makes up for it with fascinating, charming interviews with historians and former star players like Michael Holding, whose awesome nickname was “Whispering Death,” and long-view context, including a downright inspiring segment on the team’s boycott of a tournament in South Africa due to that country’s apartheid policy, and the self-admitted moral corruption of at least one star player who couldn’t resist the payday.
Even with its relatively short running time of 84 minutes, the narrative begins sagging toward the end and fills time with lengthy detours into the connection between the cricket team and Bob Marley and grudge match after grudge match with their archnemesis, the Australian team. But overall it’s a revealing look at the true dark-skinned masters of an otherwise all-too-white “gentlemen’s game.” – JS
The premise of this 2010 doc sounds like science fiction: The nation of Finland is working with a private company on a secretive plan to construct an elaborate series of tunnels drilled into the earth’s bedrock into which it will entomb 250,000 tons of hazardous nuclear waste; there it must sit, hopefully undisturbed, for 100,000 years. If disturbed before then – by, say, an earthquake or an ice age or nosy humans who discover the radioactive vault thousands of years from now – it could cause a massive and tragic nuclear event.