For my screenwriting class, we had to attend the Chicago International Film Festival and write a paper on our experiences there.
MCOM 4731 / 6731 & IFDI 5731: Screenwriting
Critical Viewing Assignment – Due: October 29th
Part of the fun of bring a filmmaker is that you’re expected to watch A LOT of films. It’s no different in this class, as one of your assignments is to view and critique a recent narrative film.
We are very lucky to live in the city we do, as film is a very appreciated art form in
Chicago. An example of this appreciation is the Chicago International Film Festival that is being held at the AMC Theatres (River East), from October 9th – October 23rd. You are expected to view one narrative film that is being shown as a part of the film festival. Please be aware that the tickets to the film festival sell out fast, so it’s highly recommended that you buy your tickets ahead of time.
Your paper should be 2-3 pages long (single-spaced) and should include the following elements:
- A summary of the film and it’s structure – what was the film about, who the main characters were, etc.
- Obvious production elements (shooting techniques, editing style, etc.)
- Character Analysis – were the characters within the film interesting, was it an active or inactive protagonist, was the antagonist superior to the protagonist, did the characters have interesting relationships with the supplemental characters within the film, etc.
- Personal reflection on your experience watching the film – would you recommend it to a friend, did you gain something from watching it, etc.
- And finally, what was your impression of the film festival? Did you enjoy the overall experience? Would you attend the film festival again?
The website for the Chicago International Film Festival is the following:
MCOM 4731 / 6731 & IFDI 5731: Screenwriting
Critical Viewing Assignment
On Monday, October 20, 2014 at 1:00 PM, I went to the Chicago International Film Festival at the AMC River East 21 theater to see the movie Tir. It focuses on two men: Branko and Maki. They are truck drivers who take turns driving a freight truck all over the continent of Europe. The film is an Italian-Croatian co-production, and it is spoken in the Croatian, Italian, and Slovenian languages.
Branko struggles with this job because it requires him to be away from home from his wife Isa for what appears to be many weeks and maybe a few months at a time. He was a teacher back home, but changed careers in order to preserve his family’s financial security. Not only that, working as a truck driver enables him to earn three times more money than he could earn working as a teacher. Maki’s role in the film is as Branko’s friend.
It is difficult to discuss the film’s plot. That is mainly because this film does not have a plot. It simply meanders about for around ninety minutes depicting things such as the two men driving, unloading cargo from the truck, Branko talking to his wife on the phone, and lots of things. Nothing really made sense. Things happened for no real reason.
Late in the film, Branko tries to park his truck somewhere, but he struggles to find a place because a large number of men are protesting, I assume, unfair working conditions and such for truck drivers. However, I did not understand, precisely, why they were protesting or what they had to gain from it. It simply made no sense.
The ending also does not make much sense, and it seems as though there is no real, true resolution. Branko simply continues on with his job as a truck driver. Earlier in the film, he received a call from his wife, letting him know that a teaching position opened up, and he could finally give up his job as a truck driver and come home, but he refused to take it because of money reasons. On the one hand, I can understand his viewpoint because sometimes people have to do what they have to do rather than follow their hearts. Branko seems to simply move on with his life as it already is, and he makes no changes. He does not grow as a person, as far as I could tell. He does the same thing at the end of the story as he did at the beginning of the story., and there seems to be no reason why that is the case; there is a lack of introspection and character insight to explain why Branko ends up in the exact same place that he was in the very beginning of the movie.
The look of the film was rather nice. It looked lively during daytime scenes, and the look of the film always matched the mood of the scene.
Closeups were effective in conveying emotional scenes such as the phone conversations Branko had with his wife. There were also several scenes where we saw the perspective of Branko or Maki driving the truck; in other words, it was a first-person view of the road. There were also several beautiful shots of the expressways.
The theme of the film is about how people are often forced to choose give up their passions so that they can earn enough money to be financially stable. The film, however, was not structured well enough to fully explore that theme.
With regards to my experience at the film festival, there was a bit of hassle.
First, I procrastinated. I did not make plans to pick a film and go to the festival until the weekend before. There did not seem to be much of a selection left, and therefore, I was somewhat concerned with there not being anything interesting to see. Looking through the schedule days later, I learned that there were screenings of old, classic movies such as Psycho and A Star Is Born. I would have loved to see films such as that on the big screen.
When I got to the theater I remarked to myself that it is how the film festival will be in a normal movie theater. I figured that the reason was, perhaps, that while things are changing, the film industry in Chicago is not as strong as it is in New York City and, of course, Los Angeles. Also, I was not aware of any famous people coming to the theater.
This was a special experience for me because this was the first time since Father’s Day 2010, when my family and I saw Toy Story 3. Lack of money, time, and people willing to go with me prevented me from being able to see any movies until the CIFF.
I liked the theater. It was the biggest one I had ever been in. The individual screens were smaller than other theaters I got into. A classmate was also there.
This is all I can say about my experience of the festival. I hope to be able to do it again next year.