Our general approach to film festivals is "just because it's foreign/indy doesn't mean it's good," which means that, while we occasionally miss a gem, we don't have to sit through a lot of poorly structured crap. Our sources report many Istanbul Film Festival screenings have fallen into that category. Our time is too valuable for that.
However, the Festival presented us with the rare opportunity to see the classic Holocaust documentary Shoah for the first time. It seemed a mistake to pass it up. Astute readers know that Shoah is 9 1/2 hours long and astute-r readers know Carpetblogger has a YouTube attention span. We were relieved to see that, according to the festival program, the screening was only two hours long.
The existence of a Shoah highlight reel raised some important questions though. How, exactly, was that going to work? Did they let the Turks edit it to remove all references to Jews or genocide?
Clearly, Festival management missed the memo that Shoah is 9 1/2-hours long and they should carefully consider the best time to schedule it so people can watch it. When we arrived at the theater for the 930pm showing, hand-printed signs informed us that last night's showing would include the first 300 minutes (here's the math for you -- five hours) and the rest would be shown the next day.
Of course, Shoah is worth seeing -- it's a documentary in the strictest sense of the word. And Director Claude Lanzmann's point that "just because you can't see any evidence that a genocide took place doesn't mean it didn't, especially since a great deal of effort is usually made to cover it up" must have been an interesting insight for other people in the audience.
Also, Shoah came out in 1986 and this year is its 25th anniversary. This made us realize that we graduated from high school 25 years ago and we are old. This was probably not what we ought to have taken away from a screening of Shoah, but we didn't watch the whole thing.