Tumbleweed Film Festival a great experience

For those who missed the Tumbleweed International Film Festival this year, you missed out on a great film-going experience.

Film festival co-founders and Seattle filmmakers Mo Fine and Geoff Klein bring international short films to the area and show them in three great venues. Although some of the films are subtitled in the three years of the festival the foreign offerings are often among the very favorites of the crowds. This year it was no different with two Spanish films, one shown on Friday at Alpine Brewery and another on Saturday at Esther Bricques Winery.

In “036” on Friday, a young woman deals with the bureaucracy of trying to get paperwork approved. While the Spanish bureaucracy is probably greater than that even of the U.S., most of us can relate. The atmosphere in the gray, desk-filled government office takes on a Spaghetti Western feel as our heroine comes up with one signed, stamped and photocopied required document after another, until finally the government clerk, who reminds you so much of those government officials we’ve met over the years and who seem to enjoy putting up roadblocks is beaten to the draw every time. In the end she pulls out a tiny stapler to meet the last petty requirement of stapling two documents together. She clicks the final stamp on the permit herself and the government drone and all his fellow drones appear totally defeated.

Then in “Free Kick” a 60-year-old housewife and Sunday fútbol widow, wins a chance from her bank to kick a goal at the national match to win a big cash prize. She doesn’t tell her grouchy, take-her-for-granted husband, but buys the latest soccer shoes and a ball and goes to a local park to practice. There she meets a similarly aged man who teaches her how to kick.

Then the day of the big game comes, we see her approach the ball, she kicks and the film cuts away to her house and her husband looking for her and finding only empty dressers and a shot of the coach’s empty shack. Did she make the goal? Well, they never tell us, but I guess “yes.”

The films at Veranda Beach Resort were all family-friendly and were shown on their inflatable outdoor screen in the swimming pool area. Folks could sit and dine at the Globe Restaurant, sit up on the deck or lounge by the pool while enjoying the short films. It is a great venue and anyone could attend, whether staying at the resort or not. At Alpine Brewery, an age 21+ venue, you get to enjoy a cold Alpine Beer, munch on one of Uli’s Famous Sausages, “The official Wurst of the Fest,” and watch fine films in the brew pub. And at Esther Bricques Winery you could listen to a band outside, while sampling wine or soft beverages and snacks and then go watch shorts in the cool of their barrel room.

What surprises me is that for an area often starved for entertainment, that more people don’t take advantage of the film festival’s offerings. There were fewer at Veranda this year and while last year it was nearly SRO at Esther Bricques, this year the crowd was about half. Alpine, however, had about what the pub could hold in the way of viewers.

Geoff and Mo are my friends and I’m probably biased, but I think they and their festival need our support if we can fairly expect them to keep bringing it here. They’re not getting rich bringing it here, just the opposite. And, I’ve never heard anyone attending that didn’t have a good time.

These kind of activities are what the north county needs to bring in tourists who will spend their dollars. My advice to anyone who attends one of these kinds of activities is to share with their friends what a good time they had, shop at the festival’s sponsors and encourage the volunteers who put out their time and money by becoming a sponsor yourself.

And for those who missed out this year on the TwIFF, there’s still a chance to catch some great short movies in Osoyoos at the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Center Aug. 16, 17 and 18. See http://tumbleweedfilmfest.com/ for more information.