Monday, June 16, 2014

SF DocFest: Wicker Kittens

On Saturday afternoon I saw an SF DocFest program of 3 light & enjoyable films about unlikely obsessions. The feature Wicker Kittens tracks 4 teams entering the Jigsaw Puzzle Contest at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the largest such competition in the country. Teams of 4 race to complete a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, winning bragging rights & an award shaped like a puzzle piece. It's not quite a spectator sport, but it's a bracing social activity for the mostly female participants. We see team members showing off their puzzle collections & gathering at each other's homes for strategic practice sessions. They're all good Mid-westerners by refusing to acknowledge being hard-core competitors. We also get a behind-the-scenes look at the hapless competition organizer's not-quite-adequate preparations. For some reason there are no post-game debriefings, & the camera operator sometimes zooms in & out repeatedly, causing motion sickness.

Wicker Kittens was preceded by 2 shorts also involving unusual contests. Cherry Pop tells the story of a fabulous show cat of 80s & 90s, in an exuberant style befitting her era. This red Persian with a small grouchy face lived better than you do. Strike profiles Bill Fong, a league bowler in Texas whom even his colleagues describe as an obsessive bowling machine. One night in 2010 it looks like he's on his way to bowling 3 perfect games in a row, & it becomes a turning point in his life. The film has a tight visual style & includes a cool tracking shot of a bowling ball rolling down the lane.

The festival audience was sparse. Perhaps all the sports fan were busy with the World Cup or the Giants. The program repeats Tuesday night at the Roxie.

§ Wicker Kittens
Dir: Amy Elliot, 2014, USA, 52 mins.

Cherry Pop: The Story of the World’s Fanciest Cat
Dir: Kareem Tabsch, 2014, USA, 11 mins.

Strike: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told
Dir: Joey Daoud, 2014, USA, 13 mins.

SF DocFest 2014
OSA, Sun, Jun 8, 12:30 PM
Roxie Theatre, Sat, Jun 14, 2:30 PM
Roxie Theatre, Tue, Jun 17, 7:00 PM

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