87 minutes, 2002, DVCAM

The Californian, September 12, 2002
by Paul Jacobs

There always seems to be something happening in and around Temecula and I wonder if other locals, like me, miss out on a lot of it. In seven years my wife and I have only made it to one Balloon and Wine Festival. Our tours of Wine Country and Old Town have usually been reserved for entertaining visiting friends and family. Sometimes I think our lives become so filled with daily obligations we forget to stop and smell the vineyards.

One event we will be attending is next week’s Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival. The few commercial films we get out to see before they make their way to cable or Blockbuster are often a disappointment for their lack of substance. Movie moguls seem to cling to remakes and predictable film formulas for the safety of making a buck and apparently have a paralyzing fear of projecting and promoting something resembling a new idea on the big screen. Since the Temecula Valley lacks an art theatre, the film festival offers moviegoers something more substantial than the regular cinema fare.

Normally, I’m not the film snob I’m starting to sound like. My interest in the film festival was born out of research I did for my previous column on the proposed Temecula Wal-Mart. My Internet search led me to the High Plains Films website and a documentary titled This is Nowhere. I e-mailed the filmmaker, Doug Hawes-Davis, and encouraged him to enter his documentary in our local film festival and it was accepted. I obtained an advance copy of the documentary that features 15 or more couples who travel the country in RVs and plot their course according to the Wal-Marts that dot the their special edition Rand McNally map books. They often spend their nights in Wal-Mart parking lots and sometimes refer to the campsite as “Wally World.”

This is Nowhere is a quirky film that provides a view into a small segment of society that makes the RV their primary residence. There are roughly 3 million people who have chosen this as their lifestyle that the census used to refer to as the “affluent homeless.” I was drawn to their unique way of life and the sense of contentment many of the couples exuded from the freedom of mobility. We haven’t made a down payment on one yet, but the film piqued our interest in RV’s. Maybe in our retirement years we too can vacation at Wally World.

Film and music are the most prevalent expression of art in our society. Most of us are exposed to movies that are marketed to us on TV and radio. The film festival lets us look behind the curtain to see not what has been sold to us, but a truer expression of cinematographic art.

An all-day movie pass is a bargain at $15 to watch up to 12 hours of movies and short films. With the wide variety of films selected for the festival, everyone is bound to find one or more movie to their liking.

It is a great time to appreciate America’s freedoms and support films that hopefully entertain while expanding the freedom of thought between our ears and each other.