Cornerstone 2007, Day 4: Only Yesterday, Haibane Renmei, Slam Dunk & Cornerstone Nostalgia

Today was the final day of Cornerstone 2007 for us, and like all final festival days, was bittersweet.

First up was a screening of Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday, a Studio Ghibli film that most probably haven’t seen — due to Takahata’s career being overshadowed by that of his colleague, Hayao Miyazaki’s. Which is a shame, because this is a truly wonderful film, and one that I have grown to appreciate more and more with each viewing.

The film follows a young woman named Taeko who is gearing up for a vacation with her sister’s in-laws on their remote farm. Interspersed with Taeko’s travels and experiences on the farm are flashbacks to her fifth grade year, a year that held tremendous impact on her adult life. As such, the film, with its themes of memory and nostalgia, became incredibly poignant in light of my experiences at this year’s Cornerstone.

In many ways, I felt like Taeko. When I came to Cornerstone this year, my “old” Cornerstone self tagged along, and much of the fest was spent reliving past fests as I walked around, attempting to reconcile my nostalgia for the fests of yore with the way I am now, and the way I was experiencing this year’s fest.

I almost wasn’t sure I’d be able to lead the post-film discussion because I found myself tearing up during the film’s closing scene, in which Taeko comes to a final sense of closure. It’s a beautiful and truly moving scene, and the perfect end to a beautiful — and sadly unknown — film.

Afterwards, I followed another one of Nathan’s hunches and checked out Slam Dunk. Nathan described it as a “ludicrous” and “retarded”, and so it was — in the best way possible. Imagine a couple of hardcore guys singing hardcore songs, but with crunked out hip-hop replacing the screaming vocals and distorted guitars. It’s the sort of thing that, in small doses, is simply hilarious, especially when you throw in some manic stage diving and a nicely circling pit, and topped off with a cover of Blink-182’s “I Guess This Is Growing Up”.

Later that night, we had our final screening of Haibane Renmei, and I’ll just say, this is what I was happiest about at the fest. Haibane Renmei was a huge success, in my opinion, with about 30 people or so watching all of the episodes. The final discussion was very exciting, as people threw out a lot of great thoughts and ideas concerning the series, which is very ambiguous and thought-provoking.

I was most excited by the number of younger kids in attendance. You could see the wheels turning in their heads as they chewed on the series’ themes of sin, redemption, death, and transition.

I was hoping to stick around to catch I Vitelloni, but after Only Yesterday, I think I’d had my fill of nostalgia and poignancy. Renae and I wondered around the fest for awhile, just soaking in the sights and sounds. We caught a couple of interviews in the press tent, including one faciliated by John Morehead on missions, syncretism, and Wicca.

After that, we spent some time at the Gallery Stage, listening to Leeland, a Coldplay-ish praise and worship group. Not usually my cup of tea, but there were some strong songs in there, and there’s no denying the group’s passion and fervor.

We finally made it over the Imaginarium for our final event. We weren’t able to stay for all of The Host, but we did experience Dave Canfield at his most delirious, as he officiated the Imaginarium giveaways. In hindsight, I wished I’d entered the drawing, because there was some cool stuff in there, e.g., mecha model kits, stacks of DVDs, an autographed poster for The Host. I snagged a free Hot Fuzz poster, though, so I can’t complain too much.

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