With CineVegas no more, and the rest of Vegas' film festivals mostly small niche events (although plenty of them are excellent), I really wanted to check out a large-scale general-interest film festival this year, so I'm in Los Angeles for a few days at AFI Fest. I'm attending just as a fan, so I don't have a press pass, and my selections have been dictated by the availability of the festival's free tickets (the entire event is free, which is awesome for people who don't have industry or media connections). Still, I have a pretty full schedule. Here's a quick look at what I saw on my first day at the festival:
saw Israeli director Riklis' film The Syrian Bride at the Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival in 2007, and this movie is similarly balanced between mainstream accessibility and serious examinations of sociopolitical issues. Like The Syrian Bride, The Human Resources manager is concerned with the place where two cultures intersect, as the title character, who works for a large Jerusalem bakery, travels to Romania to represent the company at the funeral of an employee who was killed in a suicide bombing. What's meant as a face-saving measure of course becomes more meaningful, and the manager bonds with the sullen son of the dead woman. It's a little too cutesy at times, but Riklis mostly holds back on the big emotional moments, and instead lets his capable actors quietly demonstrate the coming together of both individuals and traditions.