A man in a wheelchair rolled up towards me with a sign saying hungry on the front of it, his eyes met mine, at first I feel his pain, I do not look away, I stay with it, this man right now is my present reality, and I am his. His anger falls away, his defensive position as a man wrongly tortured by a system that crushes him melts and he just is with me. He is a part of the desert that surrounds him, in it he submits himself to a state of decomposition, with the same self destruction that keeps the perishable under a sun scorched sky. On one level he chooses to stay here, to assume this vessel and to play out his role in the game of life. He knows little of the significance his actions made as he crossed that street, I saw myself through his eyes, the times when I am blind to the significance of each moment that we spend in the presence of another person. We form who they become in the next moment that passes and they form who we become, not by assimilation but by adaptation, we all fit together as we are suppose to. Change can only truly take place from deep within, the impact and repetition of an experience forges it's association in our memory thus shaping our world view. Now as I sit recounting my desert friend and you read about him, the impression he marks on us reaches far beyond his expectations. When we turn around leave the other at the corner where we met, we have shaped the other's identity.
I turn the corner onto Congress street where the film festival takes place, quite another world, though not quite a slice of glamour from the remnance of Los Angeles, the world of film maintains its reverential heirachiachal order and that corner seems further away with each step take towards the Festival. No one is wearing a suit, we all dress as we would on vacation. To get most directors out of their Star Wars T-shirts into a suit, takes a big deal so that's not so much of a surprise, but even the producers and actors in attendance dress somewhere between a local and a Los Angelean. Possibly because of our location, possibly because of the nature of the films on show; independent in spirit.
We walk down the road in the hot Arizona sun to 5 points cafe, as the name suggests we sit at an intersection on the edge of downtown Tuscon, a 10 minute walk from the theatre where most of the film festival takes place. Out front is a mural dedicated to Cesar Chavez, who was born in Arizona in 1927, his family lost their land in the depression so he was thrust into the culture of farm workers in California, working on other people's land, which is where he gained first hand experience of the oppressive conditions for the proletariat in his time. Forming the UFW through non-violent civil rights participation organizing the workers through unions he was able to make significant advances in working conditions for his people.
"When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit our lives are all that really belong to us. So It is how we use our lives that determines the kind of men we are"
Doing a little research on Chavez online I found this movie trailer which came out in 2013 and slipped through my fingers somehow, starring Michael Pena.
Before heading into a screening of Sunny In The Dark. If your a frequenter of film festivals you may catch this interesting indie by Courtney Ware doing the rounds at the moment.
Jake Wilganowski's cinematography crisply captures the angular modernist architecture of the isolated loft apartment in which our protagonist Jonah takes residence. The slight OCD habits of Jonah are worked into the editing, three stirs of his coffee, tap the stirrer on the edge of the mug and place it down. His domestic comfort is forcibly intruded on by a girl Sunny (in an endearing performance by Hannah Ward) who lives in his air conditioning unit. The most touching aspect of the film is Sunny's desire for the simplest of interactions with the man who unknowingly provides her dwellings, she keeps a journal, takes care of a pet rat, and watches his every move through a peep hole in the ceiling. Needless to say this film would be incredibly creepy if the genders were reversed, as it stands its actually a very touching character portrait of an outsider looking for a simple human connection.
After a night of drinks and lively conversation spanning the injustice of Zoos to UFOs, we retire to our respective desert retreats. I sit outside looking up at the stars, with Celaya's Lone Star in my mind, I remember that my solitude is only an illusion. As my audience begins to grow with writing and film, I consider what it means to enter my star into the cluster of stars that is the night sky. What it means to speak with my own voice in a larger ecosystem, I prepare myself for the festivals to come from both Mother & Brother and Road To The Well. I think about the professional personae which people often project, as putting their best foot forward, as if you can hide anything in life and as if the personal and professional aren't one and the same. For artists, especially actors this is deeply linked. If someone projects a concept of a person they wish to be without living it, it becomes immediately apparent, onscreen, in interviews and interpersonally. It stirs something deep in me when I feel I am interacting with a personae instead of a human being. I feel this is both the root of bad acting and the more destructive aspects of the celebrity system, which to many suggests that they should try to be something other than they are. I hope to maintain my authenticity through all this, following my desires and living by my own code. As is my liberty.
Alan Watts on the game of life
"We have an absolutely extraordinary attitude in our culture and in various other cultures, high civilizations to the new member of human society. Instead of saying frankly to children: ‘How do you do? Welcome to the human race!’, we are playing a game and we are playing by the following rules. We want to tell you what the rules are so that you know your way around and when you understood what rules we are playing by, when you get older, you may be able to invent better ones. But instead of that, we still retain an attitude to the child that he is on probation, he is not really a human being, he is a candidate for humanity. And in just this way, we have a whole system of preparation of the child for life which always is preparation and never actually gets there. In other words, we have a system of schooling which starts with grades. And we get it always preparing for something that’s going to happen."