Adam's Apples (2005, Anders Thomas Jensen)
Opens with a long shot of a lone bus in a landscape of wheat fields. The bus stops in the middle of nowhere to let off a lone passenger, adam. As the bus pulls away, he scratches the paint with a pocket knife. He's left standing until a van pulls up, and we have the feeling this film will be quite heavy. It is, but how surprised are we when it turns out to also be hilarious?
How could it not be with the cast of characters? Ivan, the priest who indefatigably sees the best in everything; Khalid, the Saudi who robs Statoil stations to set right his father's loss of land to a multinational oil company; Gunnar, the former tennis star who went bad and alcoholic when he had one fatefull ball called out when it was in; and, of course, Adam, the "evil" neo-Nazi intent on thrusting them all into the world as he knows it.
Everyone has to accomplish a self-set goal before leaving the church/half-way house, and Adam's is to bake a pie with apples from the church's apple tree. The only trouble is that every time he tries pulling the church residents toward his world, the baking of the pie becomes more and more difficult. The humor is often created in the overcoming each of these hardhsips all the way through to a rather pleasing ending.
This is probably going to be my favourite film of the festival
Ra Choi (2005, Michael Frank)
Not much different from other films of a similar subject. A guy goes to jail for stealing and dealing to get by squatting on the street but realizes the error of his ways. He isn't given a chance because he's an ex-con, and he falls back into his old ways. Squatter kids going what they have to do to keep up their heroin habit (hooking, stealing, dealing). Of course, the one with a kid steals from the kid. One of the squatter girls dies, which prompts another to quit. The young boy turns gay, then tranny, prostitute to keep his habit (and continues even after a gang rape). Yes, it's bad, but not a new tale. The differences: it's in Sydney, and they're Vietnamese.
The Director says the film is supposed to highlight racism in Aussie policing too (3 Vietnamese kids = gang, 3 white kids = 3 white kids), but I didn't really see much of that.