Stars and critics from the world over have gathered in Hi-Brough, Nebraska for the municipality’s first annual international film festival. The exclusive week-long event has opened its screenings and discussions only to world-renowned film professionals as well as the town’s 571 residents. The amateur critics have weighed in on this year’s selections.
White Is the Luckiest Color (Turkmenistan)
Ashgabat Tourist Center and TurkmenOil collaborated to produce this glowing documentary of Turkmen president and protector, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The former vice president — who was thrice elected by 97 percent of his constituents — loves the lucky color white, and you will too if you want to travel to Turkmenistan. President Berdimuhamedov’s skeptics have criticized his decision to ban dark-colored automobiles in the capital “City of White Marble,” but this state-sponsored documentary dives into the undeniable power of light colors to bring about wealth and prosperity to the Turkmen people. With stunning, cinematic views of the Kopet Dag mountains and the 65-foot-tall golden statue of President Berdimuhamedov, White Is the Luckiest Color will compel you to book a flight to Ashgabat and drive the whitest car you can find around the marble city, as long as you aren’t a woman.
Hattie Wood (stay-at-home mom): “I had no idea that Turkmenistan’s president invented natural gas extraction, dentistry, and the internet. Maybe we should think about implementing a color-based car ban here.”
An Orchid Is Not an Ending (France)
The Chevrolet household is turned upside down when the enigmatic stranger Jean-Baptiste arrives at their countryside goat farm. Prolonged scenes of silent family breakfasts are interrupted by passionate drama in this sharp contender for the festival’s coveted Palme d’Corn. Intimate portrayals of lovemaking abound in An Orchid Is Not an Ending as the mysterious traveler beds each member of the Chevrolet family without uttering a single mot. In dazzling hi-definition, the film’s iconic final scene statically observes the rural French family sharing a brunch of baguette, fromage, and Chenin Blanc for a harrowing 47 minutes — even longer than the (rumored to be real) depictions of intercourse.
Donna Claiborne (agricultural contractor): “What happened to the goats? They have to be milked every day. These people supposedly run a dairy farm, but you don’t once see them milking their does.”
Dale Johnson (semi-truck operator): “It was good.”
Mighty Jurij (Slovenia)
Born from the tremendously popular comic book series, Mighty Jurij is the first animated adaptation of Slovenia’s favorite badger superhero. Of course, the comic reached its height of popularity in 1976, so younger audiences might be puzzled at Jurij’s glaring communist overtones. In this feature-length film that Ljubljana Magazine called “a startlingly graphic depiction of revolt that leaves little to the imagination in the way of global politics,” Jurij contends with a monocle-sporting dragon trying to return its hoard of gold to the people of the kingdom and convince workers to settle for a sort of market socialism.
Jennifer Meier (convenience store cashier): “The movie was cute, but now my daughter is begging me to buy her a plush toy of Jurij’s sidekick, Proletariat Pigeon.”
Love Like Ice (Sweden)
“You’ve never seen virtual reality like this before!” claimed one critic after experiencing the world premiere of this devastating Scandinavian eco-romance. Audiences are besieged with three and a half hours of immersion into the stark world of Lukas, the film’s 87-year-old protagonist, as he ambles the Swedish tundra in desperate — yet arbitrary — search of something he lost long ago. Something mysterious and immaterial. Something he can never find, despite the omnipresence of a bodiless female voice that whispers to Lukas (and the audience) nihilistic suggestions of suicide.
Jeannie Fritz (accountant): “The voice represents God, I think. Or maybe Satan. The virtual reality helmet gave me a headache.”
Beau Clyde (local business owner): “He’s on an island. That’s the twist at the end.”
Too Rich to Fail (United States)
Pop sensation Katy Perry makes her directorial debut in this zany, will-they-won’t-they comedy about an on-again, off-again, on-again wedding between two middle-aged executive types played by Neve Campbell and up-and-coming actor Kirk Cameron. She’s a bigwig financial consultant, he’s a straight-talking COO at the biggest marketing firm in town. The only problem? They’re entirely incompatible romantically.
Leon Walsh (electrician): “I preferred the Swedish movie to this one, and that’s saying something.”
Read Jeff Brown’s “High Art at Pike’s Peak” from 1968.