Grab the popcorn – film fest coming up |

Grab the popcorn – film fest coming up

Mini-reviews of three films below hint at how different the dozens of short films are. In the next three Prospectors, more mini-reviews will prime you further toward a too rare movie showcase, coming August 14-17.

“El Hilo de Oro” means “The Golden Thread” in Spanish. Just to cause trouble, I predict that women are going to love this twenty-minute film. I predict that sensitive men (of which there are many) will roll their eyes at the intangible connection shared by the two women in this film. However, they will appreciate the creatively economical way their stories are interwoven.

One woman searches for strength to redirect the course of her dead-end family life. Another woman searches for courage to resurrect emotional normalcy after having it cut out of her. It is a lovely film that bridges some of the difficult terrain of love.

“American / Sandinista” is an excellent, poised documentary about Americans working in war ravaged Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Could a juggling unicyclist with clown paint on his face, a civilian American helping to bring electricity to impoverished rural areas, be a just military target? Apparently, yes, if he is seen as complicit in a “communist reign of terror.” (Electricity in a health clinic = a terrorist component.) It must be just if a United States President assured, “there will be no Soviet beachhead in Central America” and that clown and the civilians he is helping are at odds with the President’s global influence.

If you can’t help but think about war, see “American / Sandinista.” This 30-minute film is a grounded and substantive way to shine enlightenment on war.

“Al’s Beef” is not for everybody, even in an independent film festival crowd, but it surely will be a big hit with many.

Start with a thick foundation of homage to Clint Eastwood’s early Westerns. Mix an irreverent and ridiculous story with effective tweaks to stereotypical character parts. Stir in the well-worn know-how of a recognizable Hollywood veteran and the disproportionate confidence of an unknown female lead. She’s very appealing despite and because of the absurd seriousness the script puts her through.

A bloodstained woman makes quite an entrance into a sparse desert town. She’s got a score to settle. She dispenses with Wild West riff-raff. She establishes a somehow respectful rapport with the sheriff.

“Al’s Beef” is grade A … if you eat that kind of meat.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at For the complete schedule of festival screenings, go online at

They can’t do it without you

The call for volunteers has gone out: The Nevada City Film Festival needs you. Opportunities range from box office sales to filmmaker liaisons to everything in between.

Go to where Erin Melugin is awaiting your inquiry; include in your e-mail what you’d like to do as a volunteer.

This festival of independent filmmakers will be Aug. 14-17, and tickets are on sale now online.

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