Egret and crab

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rock and a hard place

Fallbrook had its third annual Film Festival this weekend. Having had to actually view all of the roughly two hundred entries already as the head judge for the Festival (some of them multiple times), I didn't really feel the need to see them again. But everyone seemed really pleased with the new venue in Bonsall and I hear attendance was good. I was told that some of them really translated well to the big screen.

My favorite movie this year was an animation film called Prayers for Peace. It is the story of a man whose brother has been killed in Iraq. I would have been tempted to give it a Best of Show award if we had one, but it won best animation. Very powerful.

I also liked some of the more twisted shorts, Delaney and House Rules in particular. It was a good year for animation, which was lacking last year and a pretty weak year in general for narrative features.

I may or may not continue on after three years judging the Festival. It took up a lot of my time. Some of the entries were difficult to sit through. But I really enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow judges and our spirited discussions. Smart people that all come from a different vantage point.

We came for the opening and the awards ceremony and party. The George Hamilton was our honored guest this year and he was at ease, charming and very likable. And very tanned, of course. Great spread of food afterwards. I have to congratulate the hard work of the organizers and the Fallbrook Film Factory.


I got embroiled in a minor kerfuffle when I voiced my displeasure at a film that got slipped in at the last moment, when I was in San Francisco and the Director in India. A local woman spent a year or two of her life working very hard making a film about the nearby proposed Liberty Quarry and its potential impact on people and the environment. I have been quite vocal about my opposition to the quarry, produced an anti quarry concert a view years ago and have blogged repeatedly about the nasty habits of the proponent, Granite Construction. They already have a permitted quarry nearby and we need this one like a hole in the head.

My hackles were raised though when a women approached me at breakfast on Sunday, who had seen the film, and wanted to know if I realized that the film suggested that quarries caused earthquakes? I had not, having never had the opportunity to view the work, and started asking questions.

Now I am not a seismologist, but I spent two years of my life full time fighting a landfill once and know about the dangers of making unsupportable statements that can damage your credibility. I know that as a judge I have the responsibility to be balanced and objective and not allow the festival forum to be used for propagandist purposes.

So after a flurry of emails yesterday I started looking into the issue of seismic events and earthquakes. Was there a nexus? Well there very well may be, but it doesn't look like it's accepted canon by any stretch of the imagination. Seismologist Tom Rockwell evidently thinks there is a connection. The gigantic dam in China with its enormous weight and excavation may have contributed to seismic events. Ditto a mine in Pennsylvania. My cursory review of the linkage yesterday seemed to suggest that the problems were a result of massive flooding rather than fracturing. But there may be a connection. But enough of a connection to make a blanket statement that" quarries cause earthquakes?" Which we have always have been told were caused by massive earth forces that shift the tectonic plates.

So now I look like a dilettante because I question the scientific validity of the assertion and wonder if it has been subjected to critical peer review? The film maker sent me an email this morning and said that she ran P.R. for a major engineering company for years, and appears comfortable with the content. Jerry Arganda says that all of the film's claims were vetted by Dr. Matt Rahn from San Diego State University. Interesting.

I am not happy at all with the whole episode.


Emergefit said...

Funny, I heard a USGS seismologist speak on this topic during an NPR program a year so back -- not relating to our local proposed quarry, but man's impact on Earth movement in general. He's blanket statement to the blanket topic was something like this; when man undertakes an endeavor which might be seen from space, or underground, but large enough to be seen from space, there might be a correlation in the movement of local geology. Lesser undertakings, probably not so much. This is paraphrased of course, and the source was a government employee. Wish I could remember is name.

Maybe I don't get out much in town, but had NO IDEA the festival had already come and gone.

North County Film Club said...

We really enjoyed the Film Festival but missed having it downtown.
How in the world did "The Way to Dance" and "Undying Love" get in?
We didn't see them all but liked most of the others that we saw. We're going to go back and see the winners.
Judging is probably a hard and thankless job...thanks for doing it. I'm sure you were a voice of reason.

Blue Heron said...

I took my victories where I could find them. I pushed hard for some films and graciously deferred and kept my mouth shut at other times. It is the nature of the business. As they say in the art business, there is an ass for every saddle. But I agree there were a few I absolutely hated.