CPH:DOX Festival: Day One

Schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated! For those who don’t know (all of you) I’m currently in Denmark (doing it my way) covering the CPH:DOX film festival in beautiful Copenhagen! First off, I should mention that this is my first trip overseas and so far it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Aside from the plane ride and long security line ups at the airport, everything has gone according to plan.

The first day is a fairly light one considering the fact that I’m still getting over the time difference. (Denmark is six hours behind Canada. Normally it would be only five but their daylight savings time change isn’t until the end of October.) While there are many great industry events taking place I’ve opted to stick to mostly film screenings. Gotta take full advantage of CPH:DOX’s eclectic line up! So, after a nice four hour nap, I ended up catching Errol Morris’ ‘Tabloid’ for a second time. I had seen it at TIFF in September and loved it so much that I wanted to give it another go. It was even better the second time! It was especially interesting re-watching the film following the recent DOC NYC screening in which Morris’ protagonist Joyce McKinney surprised everyone with an on-stage appearance during the q&a. Here’s the video:

I guess it’s safe to say Joyce wasn’t 100% thrilled by the final film. While I do think that much of Tabloid is played for laughs, it seems to me that the film draws its humour mostly from the situation and the lurid details of Joyce’s story as portrayed by the tabloid papers. The details are ridiculous and the story is at times absurd, but I felt that there was a conscious effort to separate Joyce as a person from Joyce as a tabloid scandal. It’s only natural that she might find a few inaccuracies in the details of her life story (inaccuracies which totally fit the tabloid theme of the film). Based on her comments, a Joyce McKinney-approved version of Tabloid might have been more factual but certainly wouldn’t have been as entertaining.

The second, and final, film of the day was director Dylan Goch’s musical-road-trip-rockumentary Separado!, featuring Gruff Rhys of The Super Furry Animals. Here’s the trailer:

Being a fan of the Super Furry Animals, I was very interested in seeing what Gruff Rhys had to offer in terms of documentary filmmaking. While there are many off-beat musical interludes throughout the film, it’s actually a pretty straightforward concept. As a child, Gruff was enthralled by a South American singer/songwriter named Rene Griffiths who sang latin-infused love songs in Welsh. This curiosity lead to the discovery that Griffiths was actually a distant relative, having settled in Patagonia, South America, where a community of Welsh immigrants had settled years ago. This is the impetus for an unusual road trip that’s cleverly described by the films official synopsis as ‘Star Trek meets Buena Vista Social Club’.

Overall I thought Separado! was a lot of fun and it was great seeing Rhys investigate his family tree while doing some cool one man performances in some unusual South American locations. The concert tour aspect sort of reminded me of the White Stripes film ‘Under Great White Northern Lights’, in which they find some of the strangest locations to perform in. Lucky for us, Gruff was on hand at the screening and actually did one of his solo performances after the show. The result was an awesome (and often hilarious) live rendition of many of the songs featured in the film, accompanied by a similarly related slide show of his time in South America. The highlight was Gruff’s dry sense of humour as he fiddled with the many electronic gadgets he’d assembled on stage. I commend thee, Gruff.

Well that about wraps up day one. Tomorrow’s line up includes screenings of Nenette, Freakonomics and Ride, Rise, Roar. Should be another great day in Copenhagen at the CPH:DOX Film Festival. Stay tuned!

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