Though its scope might be a little large, more and more this year's CIFF strikes me as an extraordinarily well curated film festival. For one thing, they're covering their bases as far as programming goes, with a healthy balance of foreign and domestic, micro-indie and name talent – and people are coming out in droves. Every public screening I've so far attended has been packed, if not oversold. Not only that, but the films have been scheduled extremely well amongst themselves; when you're sitting through three or four films back to back, it's always nice when it feels like each slot has been filled with purpose, so that the films bounce off of and react to one another. It certainly makes my job a little bit easier, and that's even nicer.
I sat through just such a double feature yesterday: Everlasting Regret, a film from Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang, and Free Zone, from Israeli auteur Amos Gitai. Both films are primarily concerned with bringing major political conflicts down to the level of the personal conflicts of beautiful women. Results are, perhaps predictably, mixed: Regret, a gorgeous-looking film, gets bogged down by its determination to hold a mirror up to forty years worth of Shanghai history. Free Zone is a greater success, but it seems to dance around its true aims a little too gracefully; it fails to pack a significant punch.