directed by Frank Pavich
"Jodorowsky's Dune" is overall a really fun documentary. You may think a documentary chronicling a 70 something year-old man explaining a movie he didn't get to make almost 30 years ago might be tedious or boring, but it isn't. Jodorowsky is a genius storyteller and combined with the photography from the famed concept book, this doc is a real inspiration. It reminded me how important it can be to see our own vision through at times. Lastly, "Jodorowsky's Dune" is the only time I have heard someone use the phrase "rape with love," not to mention, get an entire audience to laugh at the turn of phrase.
directed by Emir Baigazin
Our protagonist is Aslan, an outcast teen who lives a very desolate life with his grandmother. Part of the immediate appeal to Aslan is his deliberate proclivities. Baigazin does a compelling job of thrusting the audience into his day-to-day experiences. The audience is introduced to Aslan as he captures and slaughters a lamb with precision and cleanliness. Aslan is a character that I could not get out of my head. He stayed with me for some time after viewing this film. Watching as Aslan is driven to taking matters into his own hands is the real terror within "Harmony Lessons," more so than the bullying on display. The audience watches as a boy becomes a product of the bullying, and what he becomes is one of the real highlights to this film.
The pacing that director Emir Baigazin plays with will be off-putting to some audiences, however I found it fitting to the nature of the subject matter. It also tells me that Emir Baigazin isn't afraid to allow scenes to play out from one, maybe two angles in long form. Blocking, there is some exceptional blocking going on. For instance, the hierarchy of teens within the Kazakh school system. It is not often that I go out of my way to bring up blocking, but here Baigazin does a proper job of adding character development as well as depth with the blocking of his cast.
The effects bullying can have on a individual is not easy subject matter to sit through. "Harmony Lessons" does a tremendous job of building a traumatic experience and balancing it with a web of intrigue along with corruption. The audience slowly realizes that the bullying seen in the schools is only the tip of the iceberg, the system goes much deeper, to a point where the audience is made privy to a broken system. "Harmony Lessons" is a film that grabbed me from the onset and never let go. It is a film that I want to share with everybody. It is a film I want to talk about with people who have seen it. Like all great films, it is a movie that will leave you with an active mind that is reeling from what you just witnessed. See it!
Stay tuned for more breakdown of each day at AFI FEST 2013. Check out more coverage from Day One, Day Two, Day Three, and Day Four.