by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
APPY FEST:  Symbolic Films Depict Redemption through Platonic Love; Warfare as a Daily Ingredient of Living --- not bullets, bombs & tanks.

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – You can still see some of the film finalists of the Appalach

ian Film Festival today, Feb. 26. The awards banquet comes at 6 p.m. and the Four Oscar nominee special , “Winter’s Bone”  at 8 p.m.

On Friday evening, “The Colonel’s Wife” brought tears to one’s eyes as a dying Vietnam vet seeks redemption by following advice given by Gandhi. Having killed more Vietnamese than he can count, the peace philosopher had told one individual to pick one individual from the race he maligned and raise them.

Thus, Colonel Bill orders a bride from Vietnam, about one-third his age and with little English speaking ability. He teaches her to drive. He helps her learn basic English. He’s supportive of her adjustments to life in the U.S., which gives her opportunities not available to those still in her country.

Since the elderly man does not function sexually, the romance between he and his wife is a platonic friendship, yet, the young woman forgives both this and his alcoholism. She sees him as a good man; she loves him as a husband who truly focuses on the provider factor, while she stands strongly supportive by treating their marriage as more than convenience but of affection and love --- of two people from different cultures.

War again was the theme of , “The Human War,” shot in Youngstown , Ohio. Set against the backdrop of the preparations for the assault on Iraq, members of the Youngstown community reach via talk radio or on the street to the upcoming conflict. Interestingly, the filmmakers make an imperfect attempt to smoothly relate the horrors of modern warfare as symbolic of the daily atrocities and challenges experienced just by living for another 24 hours.

Teenager Mark Swift  has the most questions. Having once attempted suicide, it’s his perspective that dominates. For instance, he and two friends patronize a strip bar, but he asks, should we be preparing our souls for the conflict , not absorbing intimacy.

Youngstown , Ohio, a washed up former steel manufacturing city provides at crude symbolism to the Mid-Eastern poverty and the devastation occurring in Iraq. Twice characters remark, “wonder if they will bomb Youngstown?” The question would bring thoughts of fallout shelters during the Cold war, but the pondering has two aspects --- no one would want to bomb Youngstown and Youngstown has already been “bombed” by the movement of manufacturing jobs to other locations (overseas?) .

“Human War” lacks the fullest possible impact as it seems to amble and stray from its intended message which could have been much more powerful. Still, have to smile at one scene that depicts the city’s crumbling fortune with a bit of graffiti stating --- “dumpster dive here.”


Saturday, Feb. 26

At Keith-Albee Theater, 925 4th Ave., Huntington

10 a.m. (Short) "Little Horses"

10:20 a.m. (Documentary) "The Duke of Bachata"

11:25 a.m. (Feature) "True Nature"

1:05 p.m. (Documentary) "On Coal River"

2:35 p.m. (Feature) "Joyride"

4:20 p.m. (Feature) "Work it Out"

6 p.m. Awards banquet (on stage)

8 p.m. (Non-Competition Feature) "Winter's Bone"