Hot Springs is a charming little town, and last Saturday was an exceptionally gorgeous fall day. I took some time between films to walk around the quaint downtown district. The film festival itself was well-run and we took in a good selection of documentaries.
The first was called Original Intent: The Battle for America. As the film festival summary says, "[The film] examines the merits of originalism, the philosophy promoted by our president and some Supreme Court Justices, that the US Constitution should be strictly interpreted, and argues that the far right is using it to advance its political agenda." Well, fine. But the "far right" was only represented by Robert Bork and Ed Meese. Rather old school, I thought, so I asked the filmmakers if there was an effort to include more contemporary conservative voices. They said that the people they approached from that end of the political spectrum were reluctant to speak on film and were also factually incorrect. Hmmm.
Original Intent was followed by I'm Boricua, Just So You Know! which showcased Rosie Perez exploring Puerto Rican history and identity. Narrated by Jimmy "Senator Sifuentes" Smits. A good balance of the cute (Rosie Perez and her extended family) and the serious (the long list of injustices in PR).
Then we saw 51 Birch Street which is about the filmmaker's exploration of his parents' marriage. It was the most thought provoking of the documentaries for me. It made me reflect about my parents' marriage, how I wish I had siblings to try to decipher what actually happened during my childhood, and my (our?) own marriage. One surprise of marriage for me was realizing that while my love for and commitment to Mohamed remains constant, the intensity of those feelings ebb and flow each day.
The evening ended with a series of short documentaries. My favorite was If There Were No Lutherans ... Would there Still Be Green JELL-O? which featured a pastor with a sense of humor. You mean green jello with shredded carrots is not an exclusively Mormon phenomenon?
Peter Bell, the former president of CARE, spoke at the Clinton School yesterday on poverty in Africa. I asked a question, which he acknowledged was a good one, and then proceeded to dance around it in his response. *sigh* The Clinton School has invited an impressive array of speakers but this was the first time I'd attended. The talk took place in the lobby area, which made for a very cozy audience, and Mr. Bell definitely tailored his remarks to the broad (mainly retired, well-meaning and interested but not specialist) guests.