Santa Cruz Film Festival Diary, Day 6

heistFrances Causey & Donald Goldmacher’s ‘Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?’ and Turner Clay’s ‘State of Emergency’

On Tuesday—for the second time during the course of the Santa Cruz Film Festival—I caught up with a film that had eluded me at the Mill Valley Film Festival last fall, yet another reminder of just how much one inevitably misses at all these shindigs. In fact, it was at Mill Valley that Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher’s Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? made its world premiere; at The Nickelodeon, the documentary screened to an audience that it hardly needed to convince.

The film, which was presented in a free community screening, reveals how American corporations orchestrated the dismantling of middle-class prosperity through rampant deregulation. If you don’t know what that means, you should have a better idea by the end of the film, even if it could do a better job of elaborating. This is, of course, an eminently worthy subject matter, but Heist feels less like a movie than it does a lecture, and a rushed one at that; it’s an entire curriculum crammed into a single lesson.

One would be hard-pressed to compose a double-feature more diametrically opposed than that of Heist and Turner Clay’s zombie outbreak effort, State of Emergency (unless one wants to draw apocalyptic parallels). Indeed, when I checked off the latter on my festival program, it was probably a subconscious hope on my part for a brief respite from Serious Festival Fare. So I was rather disappointed to find that, despite its premise, State of Emergency is a film that takes itself very seriously.

The feature was fittingly preceded by Todd Lundbohm’s short film Infection; the less said about it, the better—to say State of Emergency is an improvement is the faintest praise possible. Actually, the patient pace of State of Emergency would be a plus were it not for the dreadfully clunky dialogue, with stiff acting to match, save for a nice performance by Tori White, despite her inconsistent character. Sadly, the only outbreak of note in State of Emergency is that of iffy screenwriting.

For the complete Santa Cruz Film Festival schedule, visit santacruzfilmfestival.org.

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