The Third Coast FilmLESS festival, sponsored largely by Chicago Public radio, just can’t fit into Twitter posts. Been there, tried that.
So here’s my rundown of my favorite segments so far:
1. Lucy and the Bike Girl, by Hillary Frank, aired in 2007 on This American Life. It’s the story of Lucy, who has cystic fibrosis, making her very susceptible to germs. Every day she sees this girl in red pigtails ride a bike by her house, and when she finds a picture of this same girl on an internet message board for CF, she chats her up. They become awesome friends, better than Lucy’s in-person friends. But she doesn’t tell her she lives right down the street, because they might be tempted to meet. …Lucy’s tempted, though, despite the bike girl’s having a type of bacteria that could kill Lucy.
2. Invisible Girl, by Scott Carrier with Ira Glass, aired in 2007 on This American Life. How did no one in Salt Lake City notice, despite the pictures of her posted everywhere, Elizabeth Smart waltzing around her own neighborhood for several months? One theory is that people thought the kidnapper would look like a monster, not a loser like the guy who actually did it. (People just generally pegged him as incompetent.) The second, also explored in this audio documentary, is that in Salt Lake City, you can still sometimes pick up on polygamy. And everyone just looks the other way. With Smart, people thought she was just her abductor’s younger second wife and didn’t ask questions. When the perp was caught, the city had “feelings of being duped in a serious and scary way.”
3. Fanatic Reactionary Pedestrian, by Abner Serd, aired on PRI’s Living on Earth in 2005. When a good friend (or was it a family member?) of Serd’s was seriously injured in a car accident, he took to walking. It had been one of her wishes to hike the Appalachian Trail, and now that she couldn’t, he makes up for her. He walks thousands of miles across the country. And he is a fanatic—an awesome fanatic—so I’ll let him speak for himself:
“It’s sad no one walks on the beach anymore. I see Valentine’s Day couples driving up and down the beach. Driving! It kinda makes me feel like like I’ve lost somehow.”
He tells a police officer who accosted him for walking in a space not usually walked-in: “Look, all the successful criminals all drive cars. In fact, the nicer the car, the more successful the criminal. So I told him, ‘you should be arresting people in BMWs.'”
“It is becoming illegal to get across this country on foot.”
4. Independent audio producer Roman Mars gave a Q&A following the screening of his piece on sending someone to Mars without providing them a return trip. Someone asked him whether he thought he would do it—providing the world with information that couldn’t come any other way—if given the chance. He said he would if he didn’t have a family. “There’s a lot of pointless ways to live,” he said.
I got out of my last screening at 3, so here’s my entry with half an hour’s writing time. You’ll get updates on the rest of the festival as the day goes on.