I’ve been delinquent in writing some important reviews regarding the Human Rights Watch film festival, or so my editor, The Rabbi, reminds me. Well, it’s true. And what better way to combat my recent bout of pneumonia than to sit through about a dozen or more documentaries about the pain, suffering, war ravaging, and sometimes downright brutal goings on around the globe? While there was certainly a lot of cringe-worthy moments through the various films, more typically, I found myself profoundly moved and inspired. Herein are some of the festival’s highlights.
-Adam The Devil Came on Horseback
Dir: Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern
Former U.S. Marine, Brian Steidle, returns to Darfur as an official military observer with the African Union. With camera in hand Steidle documents the atrocities in areas of the war ravaged country that no western journalist would have access to. With that came the inherent dangers of threatening confrontations, being shot at, and having to bear witness to violence on innocent men, women and, most painfully of all, children. To say that the former marine Captain becomes a changed man, is a profound understatement. The documentary successfully conveys his sense of outrage at the complete lack of western intervention. Also interviewed in this powerful documentary are New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristoff, Luis Campo chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Nobel Peace Prize winning author and professor Elie Wiesel.
One of the indie fixtures here at the Galway Film Fair (the co-production and development market side of the festival) is Jeff “The Dude” Dowd. A producer’s rep by trade, Jeff also happens to be the model for The Dude in the Coen Brother’s film, The Big Lebowski. Now, the indie film world pretty much all know this, but once in a while it’s a trip to be in a place with Jeff when his connection to the film isn’t known. The scene: The Dude checks in at the Fleadh. Girl: “Wow! You look just like the guy from The Big Lebowski!” Ah, the innocence of the uninitiated. Of course, like everywhere else in the world (probably) The Big Lebowski has a huge cult-like following here and as word got around, The Dude was swamped. Messages started appearing on the sidewalk:
One evening, as he was introducing himself, Jeff said: “Jeff Dowd. Or the Dude. Or El Duderino, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing.” Fecking brilliant! And of course, there’s the craic: