Best of the Fest: Monica and David at AIFF

The inaugural Anaheim International Film Festival kicks off tonight with screenings of

Jonathan Lynn


Wild Target


Mamoru Hosoda


Summer Wars

, the U.S. premiere of

David Bradbury


Going Vertical: The Shortboard Revolution

and special presentations of short films and the

John Hughes

' Brat Pack classic

Sixteen Candles.

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I have not seen most of those films, but I did check out Monica and David and will go out on a limb and say none of the others showing tonight can be any more poignant than Alexandra Codina's documentary.

The title characters are a young couple in love. And like so many other young couples in love, they get married--much to the chagrin of much of society. That is because Monica and David both have Downs syndrome and life as a couple without any support from other adults is impossible.

Who can deny love? Fortunately for Monica and David, her saintly mother and stepfather insist that no one can--and they insist the couple will live with them in Florida, where the family moves to early in the year Codina's cameras were fixed on them.

Young lovers
Young lovers

Young lovers

This incredible access--Codina is Monica's cousin--shows how difficult it is for everyone to live under one roof (although Monica and David do have a separate section of the spacious apartment all to themselves). Monica's parents are not getting younger, and watching them contemplate what will become of the younger couple when the older couple can no provide care should have lumps growing in the throats of everyone in the theater.

The documentary has more layers than I'll go into here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone going tonight and/or putting the title on their future Netflix list. Anyone with a heart beating inside his or her chest should look at those with Downs differently after watching a true love story.

I have not had the pleasure of seeing the black comedy Wild Target, but I have taken in the black comedy short that will precede it tonight. Barton Landsman's Banana Bread is about an overly protective Jewish mother and her doting adult son. Watching him expertly function on the job while his mom is in his ear via his cell phone is a wonder to behold. You'll never think about a naggy, mindless conversations about mercury levels in tuna the same again.

Banana Bread and Wild Target screen at 7 p.m. in one theater and Monica and David rolls at 7:15 p.m. in another theater at UltraStar Cinemas at GardenWalk, 321 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 399-0300. Tickets are $10 just to see one of the films or $40 to see a film and attend the festival after-party. Go to for other pricing options tonight and throughout the festival, which continues through Sunday.

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