Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AIFF 2010 - Feature Films in Competition Overview

Feature Films are full length narrative films.  Fifteen features were chosen by the screening committee as "Official Selections."  Of those, seven are "In Competition" and the jurors will choose the Best Feature of the festival from among these films. 

In this post, after listing the films and times, I'm going to briefly introduce the Feature Films in Competition. In separate posts I'll write up a little more about each film. At this point I haven't seen any of the films so I'll be putting together background information that I find of interest.  My goal is to present information that will:
  1. help you decide whether you want to see it, 
  2.  make it more interesting if you do,
      and will NOT
  3. spoil the film.

The last criteria, for me is most important, because I assume everyone wants to see every film. :)

Here's the list of the Feature Films in Competition with the Directors, Countries, and times and locations.

FM* indicates that the film maker is scheduled to be at the showing and available for Questions and Answers after the showing. Note:  all but one film will have someone here to talk about the film after the show. This is one of the neatest parts of a festival - the chance to talk directly to the film maker.

Also, all but two of the films (Empire of Silver and Last Station) will be shown twice.

Bai Yin Di Guo [Empire of Silver]
5:15 PM     Sat, Dec 11
    Bear Tooth
Christina Shu-hwa Yao

The Drummond Will
7:20 PM     Mon, Dec 06    Bear Tooth

5:15 PM     Sun, Dec 12     Bear Tooth
Alan ButterworthUK

Hello Lonesome
5:30 PM     Tue, Dec 07  Bear Tooth FM*
5:10 PM     Sat, Dec 11   Out North  FM*
Adam ReidUSA

Karma Calling
7:45 PM     Fri, Dec 10  Bear Tooth FM*
8:30 PM     Sat, Dec 11  Out North  FM*
Sarba DasUSA

Son Istasyon [Last Station]
5:30 PM     Sun, Dec 05 Bear Tooth FM*
Ogulcan KircaTurkey

The Temptation of St. Tony
7:55 PM     Sat, Dec 04  Bear Tooth FM*
8:30 PM     Sun, Dec 05 Out North  FM* 
Veiko ÕunpuuEstonia

The Wild Hunt
7:30 PM     Fri, Dec 03  Bear Tooth FM*
7:45 PM     Tue, Dec 07 Bear Tooth FM*
Alexandre FranchiCanada

After checking out all of the films online (but not watching them) I can give a little intro to them, but I'll have a separate post for each film with more details.  As I get those posts up I'll put up links below.  (The links above go to the Anchorage International Film Festival website page for the films and have trailers and summaries of each film.)

The Wild Hunt Post - posted November 24  (Canada)
The Temptation of St. Tony - posted November 27 (Estonia)
Son Istayon - The Last Station - posted November 30 (Turkey)
The Drummond Will
Hello Lonesome
Karma Calling
Bai Yin Di Guo (白銀帝國) (Empire of Silver)

The list above is in alphabetical order.  The very brief overviews below are in chronological order that they first show in the festival. 

From Moviegoods
From Fandango
There are two films - The Wild Hunt (Fri/Tue, Dec 3/7) and The Temptation of St. Tony (Sat/Sun, Dec 4/5) - which work off old myths or stories.  The Wild Hunt is a modern reenactment of a mythical medieval hunt involving the spirit world.  St. Tony's middle manager main character's trials in this film are loosely based on those an early Egyptian monk - St. Anthony.  In both films, the protagonist faces his wife/girlfriend's lover/seducer.  The Wild Hunt's trailer suggests there is a blurring of reality and fantasy as the reenactment and reality clash.  The trailer suggests an adventure epic spliced onto a modern love drama.   St. Tony's look - and the reviews - suggest more cerebral black and white films reflecting Estonian director Veiko Õunpuu's Swedish neighbor Bergman.  This looks good to me, but reviewers hint it might be too obscure and bizarre for many.  A perfect film to see at a festival. Wild Hunt won Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and is the opening film in Anchorage.  The Temptation of St. Tony has been nominated for best European Production Designer at the 2010 European Film Awards.  Coincidentally, the awards will be announced in Tallinn, Estonia - the film maker's home - on December 4, the same day the film first shows in Anchorage.

From Son Istasyon website
Son Istasyon (Last Station) (Sun Dec 5) is Turkish and looks to be a good one.  It takes place in modern Turkey as a man's retirement dreams clash with his children's dreams.  It should offer us a glimpse of life in a country few of us know.  The actor playing the main character is a famous Turkish comedian and is directed by his son.  I haven't found much on this film, so I'm guessing this might be one of the first showings in the US.  And the music from the website has found its way into my brain. 

From Screengeeks

In the black and white English murder/comedy The Drummond Will (Mon/Sun, Dec 6,12), bodies begin to pile up.  This film recalls an earlier era of British films.  David Minkus at Screengeeks gave it a 4/4, with the caveat that he is a sucker for a good English comedy.  Marty Mapes, at Movie Habit  said, "It’s often funny, and it sometimes works."   The Drummond Will just won the People's Choice Award at the River's Edge Film Festival and the Best Feature at the Ferndale (Michigan) Film Festival, in early November 2010.

From Hello Lonesome site

Hello Lonesome (Tue/Sat Dec 7/11) has some outstanding actors  (James Urbaniak, for example, played comic book artist Robert Crumb  in American Splendor) and won the Best Ensemble Performance at the LA Film Festival.  Adam Ried produced, directed, wrote, and filmed these six characters in three stories exploring human relationships.

Karma Calling's (Fri/Sat Dec. 10/11) website has one of the best promo lines I've seen for a film:
From Karma Calling Website
"What happens when a bunch of hapless Hindus from Hoboken get mixed up with an underworld don with connections to an Indian call center?"
This is the story of an immigrant family that doesn't meet the stereotype of the highly educated and successful Indian-American family.  This one looks like lots of fun.

Karma Calling won the  Best Feature Film at the New Jersey International Film Festival (hometown favorite here), and the Audience Award at the LA Asian Film Festival, and the Grand Festival Prize at the Berkeley Film and Video Festival.

From Flixster

Bai Yin Di Guo (白銀帝國) (Empire of Silver) (Dec 11) has an actual historical setting in late 19th Century China and tells the story of the son of a banking mogul in Shanxi province, north central China.  The film was released in 2009 and except for the cinematography has not gotten the best of reviews.   The movie is based on a trilogy by Cheng Yi titled "Valley of Silver."[It looks like all the references to this are copied from the same source and I can't find anything on the trilogy besides reviews of the movie.  I'm checking on it and will let you know what I find out.]

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