Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Borrego Springs - Film Festival Review


Last updated 1/18/2016 at 9am

"The Newsletter" – Directed by Alicia Wszelaki & Mathew Nothelfer: 37-Minute Documentary

With great passion and an inner drive counter to traditional Japanese family customs, Yausko Yokoyama used her unbridled energy to head up a small English-language monthly international newsletter for 30 years. She and her dedicated staff, working and living near the city of Hiroshima, did it for the love of it, receiving only enough money from sales and subscriptions to keep the paper going. They wrote mostly about local stories and issues, but they poured their hearts and souls into the effort as if it was a major media publication. Yausko's tearful outburst following the paper's 150th and last issue revealed not sadness but rather as solid and meaningful a personal triumph and group achievement as they come.

"One is No One" – Directed by Marissa Losoya:

30-Minute Documentary

A 57-year old Puerto Rican woman known by the locals as "Mama," struggles in an impoverished economy to improve the lives of her children and grandchildren by collecting and selling recyclable bottles and cans. With local politicians procrastinating about a recycling center (read jobs and minimal income), one need only to go to Wikipedia to discover the U.S. provides a $4.2 billion dollar yearly subsidy to Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory under control by Congress with President Obama as its head of state. A critical question naturally arises as to where the hell all that money is going if not to improve the stagnant economy and the desperate lives of people like Mama and her family?! The one saving grace for Mama and fellow Puerto Ricans in the same position is, like Mama says, "If you don't have family, one is no one."

"Spirit Warriors" – Directed by Randall Wilson:

30-Minute Documentary

Paying lip service to the job of serving one's country during war is a long-standing American tradition, made even more uncomfortable when it comes to persons of color receiving accolades for their service. The Navajo nation contributed greatly to the war effort in both the Pacific and European theatres during WWII in the form of providing Navajo Code Talkers (unbroken by the Japanese or Germans) as American and land-loving patriots as any, but the few living survivors feel they have been ignored. Well, guys, you have company.

"Power's War" – Directed by Cameron Trejo:

65-Minute Documentary.

A shootout in Arizona, following the outbreak of World War I, pits a survivalist-type father, Jeff Power, and his two non-draft registered sons against both local law enforcement and a nation very much against anyone maligning the war effort. What begins as an unconvincing justification for draft-dodging turns into a legal injustice for the Power boys. Yes, there were threats made by the father (who was known to idolize outlaws) if anyone came to get his sons to fight in a war they had no business in, and yes, a sheriff and his deputy were killed in the exchange of gunfire. But the judge in the case disallowed hearsay testimony that the two law officials, in a dawn confrontation where they did not identify themselves, gunned down the father after he raised his hands in surrender at the front door. The assertion that the two sons had no idea the intruders were law enforcement officials could therefore not be tested in court. Hearsay testimony is usually admitted if it's considered "an excited utterance" or "a deathbed confession," and a jury would surely have taken those matters into consideration. But they weren't allowed to hear the evidence, and the two sons and their mining worker/friend at the scene of the crime were all sentenced to life in prison. It wasn't until a local reporter stirred up dust in the case that the brothers finally got a parole hearing and were later pardoned after over 40 years in prison. It shows how human beings, perceived by the public to be guilty, can be left to rot in prison when the world, and a small but important legal point of defense, goes against them.

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