Norway’s “The Wall” was such a moving film, with its post-apocalyptic tale of a boy on one side of a towering stone wall and the message in a bottle tossed over that pleads “save me,” that the jury at the Palm Springs International ShortFest over the weekend, wanted to give the filmmaker a special mention. Not quite as rewarding as the official category prizes that came with a check, but a mention nonetheless.
Given “The Wall’s” haunting look and provocative story – it involves a starving boy, a loaf of bread, and whether he will choose to answer that message in the bottle – that the three of us – fellow jury members actress Missi Pyle and Netherlands-based film distributor Sydney Netter – decided we had to make some note of the film during the gala awards ceremony Sunday night. We could not forget it, so it seemed only right that was make sure the Festival not forget the filmmaker.
"The Wall" is riveting from the first frame, its hollow-cheeked urchin scurrying through the devastation in search of food. The loaf of bread discovered. The mumur of voices that he can barely hear, ear pressed tight against the wall. The tone and texture of the film did not suggest a happy ending was on its way, yet the final moments still came as a shock.
I don't think anyone expected Lars Klevberg either.
The director bounded up on the stage, bypassing the steps and looking for all the world like a quarterback who could bench press 300, rather than some sensitive soul as lean and haunted as his soulful star. So much for stereotypes.
And then Klevberg started the most enthuastic round of thanks that anyone delivered all night. There was his beautiful girlfriend he wanted to tell us about first – she was -- but especially he wanted to let all the “old people” that had come to see his film how much he appreciated them. They had embraced him, he explained, apparently quite literally surrounding him with hugs every time the film screened during the weeklong fest.
The moment was electric, Klevberg’s enthusiasm infectious, his fist-pumping made the moment great fun. By the time the writer/director finished his thanks, he had the packed house in the palm of his hand. So maybe he was a lot like his film after all.