Kevin Young weighs in on the Charleston International Film Festival

Highlights include hooping doc

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On Thursday, Cinebarre in Mt. Pleasant played host to the second night of the Charleston International Film Festival. While the usual cadre of short films, documentaries, and narrative films were present, it was the evening’s fourth block that stood out thanks to the outdoor screening of Amy Goldstein’s documentary The Hooping Life.

Following the lives of several different hula-hoopers, the film serves as a video introduction to artistic dance moves and their affect on the hula hoop’s resurgence into pop culture. While the appearance of Shaquille O’Neal and Kids Say The Darndest Things host Art Linklater were interesting, it was the dancers (also known as hoopers) themselves who had stories to tell. One found hooping helped her to overcome the pain of sexual abuse, another used hooping as a way to reconnect with her mother, and yet another has been able to create a lucrative business from her passion. Personally, the film’s standout profile was that of Baxter, a Carborro, N.C. native who spent his early years practicing hooping alone and blindfolded in his backyard.

After the film ended, local hoopers danced with emblazoned hula-hoops at the front of the screen while Baxter fielded questions from the attendees. To escape the encroaching chill of the evening, the Cinebarre after-party was the place to schmooze or be schmoozed on.

The loudness of the dance music pumping through Cinebarre was replaced by the somewhat tamer presentation of works-in-progress by state filmmakers on Saturday. From Lyon Hill’s dark animation piece supine: a dream to Robin Condon’s quirky Jazz Hands, there was plenty of burgeoning talent displayed on Sottile’s big screen.

What followed the first block of local entries, Banks Pappas’ documentary Stars and Bars Aflame, was the visual equivalent of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, if it had been painted and edited by Andy Warhol and early ’90s Oliver Stone. The film — written, directed, narrated, and produced by Pappas — spans a timeline of the turbulent ’60s that culminated in events like a riot in Augusta, Ga. News clips of the Black Panther Party as well as archival footage of Bugs Bunny dancing with minstrels helped serve the film’s restless tone and militant stance. Loud, bleak, and uncompromising, Stars and Bars Aflame left some feeling uncomfortable while it left me feeling the same way I felt after watching Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing: exhausted. That’s a good thing.

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