Tuesday, December 02, 2008

AIFF - Features in Competition Schedule and Notes

In a previous post I wrote about the different classifications of films. The "Films in Competition" are the ones selected by the pre-screening committees to be in the running for awards - Golden Oosiks. Below is a table of the Feature films that are in competition - when and where they will be shown. You can double click the image to enlarge it. The intent here was to help people who want to focus on the Features in Competition and figure out to see them all.

Below is an eclectic collection of information about the six Features in Competition. I've tried to match the title colors to the colors in the chart above - but the light colors don't show up that well on the white background. I haven't seen any of these films. In any case, this should give you some ways to get a sense of the films.

[Technical note: I feel kind of dumb. I've never put a link in a picture before. Never thought about doing it. But I needed to here, so I tried, and it worked. So, most of these pictures link to the sites they came from rather than enlarge. (The schedule above enlarges!) If you see a little hand when you move the cursor over them you know it's a link.]

Features in Competition:

1. Bart Got a Room
USA 80 min • Comedy • 2008 • In Competition
Saturday, December 6 at 5:45 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre
Thursday, December 11 at 7:30 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre

Here's the director Brian Hacker explaining the film at the Tribeca Film Festival.
For a more entertaining discussion of the film, see this video of minor actor in the film Brandon Hardesty talking about being in the movie.

2. Chronic Town

USA/Alaska - 94 min. - Dark Comedy • 2008 - In Competition
Directed by Tom Hines
Written by Michael Kamsky
Saturday, December 6 at 7:55 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre
Friday, December 12 at 5:30 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre

This is an Alaska themed movie, shot, at least in part, in Fairbanks. The director was born in Fairbanks when his father was stationed there in the Air Force, but did most of his growing up Outside. What I saw of the trailer seems to have some of that “Outsider gee whiz I’m in Alaska feel” but it also looked like a real movie. And we have to give him lots of credit for really shooting it in Fairbanks. Here’s a bit from an email interview when he was headed for the Sundance Film Festival.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making the movie?

We faced a lot of challenges in making the film, but I think that's what made the film so worth making. Most of our crew was from LA, but we had some great Alaska crew that kept all of us LA knuckleheads from freezing to death. Our Gaffer, Greg Kern, was from Anchorage and he brought his Key Grip, Billy Marr, over from Valdez, AK. Billy is not only a Key Grip; among other things he also picked up survivalist skills from a past career. When we were shooting JR with his shirt off during one scene, it was about 25 below freezing. Billy informed us that we had about 45 seconds until the exposed skin cells would begin to die.

3. Coyote (Coyote)
USA • 95 min - Action/Drama • 2007 • In Competition
Written & Directed by Brian Peterson
Producer, Writer & Editor Brett Spackman
Friday, December 12 at 7:45 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre
Sunday, December 14 at 7:15 PM - Fireweed Theatre

From the Coyote website blog, this is actress Marina Valle:

COYOTE holds a special place in my heart because I feel it sheds a new light on the humanity behind the immigration issue. This issue is important to me because my parents came to the U.S. from Mexico, where my dad started as a migrant worker. I grew up very aware of this issue and have always looked for ways to share the stories I heard growing up.

Growing up in South Texas, I remember hearing in school about “wetbacks” and “illegals” being caught and sent back to Mexico. As an 8-year old, the thought of having my family ripped apart was unsettling to say the least. I would hound my poor mom endlessly for proof that they would not be taken away. She always reassured me that they had papers and permission to live in the states. This is where I learned of the intricacies involved in permissions, governments and paperwork in order to chase the American dream.

4. Half-Life
USA • 116 min • Drama • 2008 • In Competition
Written & Directed by Jennifer Phang
Saturday, December 13 at 5:30 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre
Sunday, December 14 at 4:45 PM - Fireweed Theatre 

The website looks really classy, but ultimately doesn't have much hard information. This is NOT the New Line Cinema feature of the same name. The IMDB site says

As troubling signs of global cataclysms accelerate, a brother and sister react to their father's desertion and the powerful presence of their mother's new boyfriend
and a commenter who apparently saw the film at Sundance compares it to Donnie Darko and Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Best of Sundance, 16 February 2008
Author: chuck-391 from United States
The film explores major-themes in Multiculturalism and the human angst for the 21st century. What is specifically startling is how vibrant the aesthetic approach is in production value. Although reportedly not a high budget project, Phang's mis-en-scene is breath-taking. Also worth noting is the extremely likable performance by Alexander Agate, who rivals any child performance to date (reminded me of the powerful performance by Anna Paquin for THE PIANO.) While the pacing may not be for everyone, I think this is a film for the type of audience who enjoys a cerebral experience similar to DONNIE DARKO or Pink Floyd's THE WALL. The original score takes a post-modern approach of incidental music, which is very innovative in keeping the film from being too sentimental.

5. How To Be

UK/England • 85 min • 2008 • In Competition
Written & Directed by Oliver Irving
Produced by Justin Kelly
Wednesday, December 10 at 5:30 PM - Bear Tooth Theatre
Friday, December 12 at 7:30 PM - Fireweed Theatre 

There are good actors in this, the trailer looks interesting, but the website and blog are more promotional than insightful. Here's the trailer.

How To Be Trailer from How To Be on Vimeo.

6. Streetsweeper (Streetsweeper)

Australia • 77 min • 2007 • Arthouse • In Competition
Directed by Neil Mansfield
Produced by Toby Ralph
Saturday, December 6 at 2:30 PM - Anchorage Museum
Wednesday, December 10 at 8:00 PM - Anchorage Museum

The website describes this movie as:

Streetsweeper is an idiosyncratic Novocastrian feature film. Shot in three days and made for virtually nothing, it is a bold portrait of an eccentric pedestrian in an urban Australian landscape…
I was wondering what sort of post-modern school of philosophy Novocastrian referred to so I looked it up. It means: "A native or resident of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia."

From a July 17, 2007 interview by Anthony Scully

I guess it’s what archaeologists do, they go and they try and piece together what a society is like from the fragments that are left behind

In the film’s credits Mr Mansfield thanks “the people of Newcastle for being themselves”, as many of the scenes include exchanges between the actor and pedestrians. It was an approach the director was worrying about up until the night before the first day of shooting.

“I actually started to panic and think ‘hang on, we’re about to make this film with only one actor, and maybe I need to get some other actors to pretend to be pedestrians and set up more conventional encounters’,” he said.

Fortunately additional actors were not enlisted, resulting in a film in which chance encounters with the public enhance and even change the way the story unfolds.

“Part of my philosophy was if you go out on the street, and stand there long enough, something interesting happens,” he says. “The timing of some of these pedestrians was absolutely incredible.”
Something about the website tells me that this film is going to be quirky and different - the kind of film I like. (There are shots from the film, but I couldn't get their Quicktime player to work on my Mac.) It is a well made website, but it has much more authenticity about it than say the one for How to Be which is blatantly promotional. This looks like the kind of film, film festivals were made for.

And the filmmaker is coming to the Festival. From his blog, Nov. 29, 2008:
Domestic Economic Crisis averted. Just. So, yes, I’ve finally paid for my return ticket to Anchorage, Alaska. I am going next Sunday and will be back in just over a week. (Yes, I know.)

The price of the ticket/s kept fluctuating whilst I was waiting for my new passport to arrive, which also cost me… Anyway, I ended up having to take my money box down to the bank to get all my coins counted just so I could cover the return air fare. And I ended up with about $1.50 to spare (including a New Zealand 20c piece, an Indian Rupee and an American Dime!?) and at this point in time this is all the money I have: so it’s going to be a quiet weekend indoors listening to the rain pour down the gutters I still can’t afford to fix. NM

[After all these years I still end up having to “shop with coins” at least once a year: bring on the recession.]

Note: There is another movie called Streetsweeper coming out in April about a guy on a giant sweeper machine in San Diego. A much different film. There's a review on Worldsweeper - a website with the logo "World's Largest Power Sweeping Resource."


  1. Hey, Steve. Did you know there is a dead link blog called 'What Do I Know' (without the question mark) from 2001 out there?

    Another thing. I'm looking at putting together a blog on the idea of Alaska ceding to Canada. Why not, right? So I'm wondering if you might be a consultant on how to do various tech stuff... I look at the learning curve and hope to have a little help here and there.

    Is this a possibility and do you have a good recommendation for a basic guide out there on the web? Thanks!

  2. I once found two other blogs called "What do I know" and I think I even posted about it, but that's a hard title to search on this blog. Every post shows up.

    When you're ready to start blogging we can try skyping. You have a cam?


  3. Steve, I have a MacBook Pro with a camera so I'm set. No rush for our first skype, and thanks for the offer to help! BTW, I am in contact with Josh so we're starting our work.


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