Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AIFF 2009 - Features in Competition

[Updated December 8, 2009 - BIRTHDAY is also a feature in competition.  The Festival materials identify the the films in competition quietly with an * online and from what I can tell, not at all in the printed program.  Birthday doesn't have an * online or in the list I got so I didn't cover it in this original post.  So after watching it last night I emailed Tony Sheppard to find out why it wasn't in competition.  He emailed back that it is.  Good.  Go here for my review of Birthday.]
There's a second showing Saturday night at 10:15pm at the Bear Tooth.  The director and co-producer/lead actor are also here.  Monday night's showing was a World Premiere (I think that means outside of Australia, I need to check) and I'd recommend doing whatever you can to see it.

[Updated November 24]
The Festival awards will go to those that have been selected to be 'in competition.' (For clarification of the Festival terminology go to this post from last year.)   There are five features in competition - a total of 7 hours and 53 minutes.  They are listed below.  Times and locations (all these are at the Bear Tooth) are now up.

Features are the movie equivalent to fiction.  Over 55 minutes is a 'feature.'  Under 55 minutes compete in a different category - Shorts.  Click the link to see a similar post on   shorts in competition.  Documentaries in competition will be up soon. 
1.   Hipster, first showing is part of the opening night Gala - $25 ticket includes movie and  party afterwards.  All Films AND All Events Passes include both movie and party free.  "All Films Passes" DO NOT get you in.
2.   Bomber is only scheduled once - at the beginning!  Sat. Dec. 5 at 7:45pm at the Bear Tooth.  
3.  There will be additional showings of the winning movies Dec. 14 - 17.  Check AIFF Website and this blog. 

Against The Current  US, 84 minutes
 • Directed by Peter Callahan
Wed.  12/9 5:30 Bear Tooth
Sun    12/13 3:15 Bear Tooth  (right before Dear Lemon Lima)

With the five-year anniversary of his wife and child’s death rapidly approaching, Paul (Joseph Fiennes) recruits his friends Jeff and Liz to help him realize his all-consuming goal of swimming the length of the Hudson River. Sensing that Paul is hiding something, Jeff discovers that the trip is Paul’s way of saying goodbye to a life that has dealt him too much tragedy. Despite his friends’ efforts to convince him otherwise, Paul is firm in his belief that there is nothing left for him now that his wife and child are gone. Justin Kirk turns in a particularly strong performance as Paul’s sarcastic, unsentimental best friend. Appearances from Michelle Trachtenberg and Mary Tyler Moore round out an excellent ensemble cast. Set against the backdrop of the Hudson River Valley in summertime, the film explores the dark landscape of life after loss and delivers a strong finale sure to stay with you long after the film’s conclusion.
This is clearly a film with established actors.   Here's the trailer from the Against the Current's website:

 You can also hear a radio interview with the director from Woodstock, NY on  WAMC.

Bomber  UK  85 minutes
• Directed by Paul Cotter 
Sat.   12/5 7:45   Bear Tooth (right after Dear Lemon Lima) 
(There's only ONE SHOWING)
 In this bittersweet comedy about love, family and dropping bombs, an 83-year-old man returns to Germany for a long planned journey of atonement. When his useless son Ross agrees to drive him there, a nightmare family road trip ensues.

Bomber Trailer

Bomber, The Movie | MySpace Video

Here's a glimpse into Paul Cotter from an interview on Spout:
Let’s get hypothetical: You’re on death row. The night of your execution, you’re allowed to watch any two films of your choice. What would you pick for your last-night-on-Earth double feature?

Ikiru (aka “Living”) by Akira Kurosawa.  This is the greatest film I’ve ever watched, and I never tire of seeing it.  It’s so small, yet so big.  A tiny film about a clerk in a city municipal office who is dying of cancer.  It is small in where the plot goes, but massive in where it takes you as a human being.  If I could ever get close to what Kurosawa did in that film, I would die a happy man.

The second film would be harder to say.  Kieslowski’s Dekalog maybe, because there’s a lot in there, but that’s kind of a depressing collection isn’t it.  So maybe “Zulu” because it’s a mindless war film with lots of bright colours and that might cheer me up - especially if I’m about to get executed.

Have you noticed a pattern here?  Road trips with friends/relatives where people explore who they are and their relationships?

But the next one should be quite different.  It sounds like the misfits kids show the world type movie. 

Dear Lemon Lima  US  87 minutes
• Directed by Suzi Yoonessi  [Lima is pronounced like the bean, not the city in Peru]
Sun    12/13 5:30  Bear Tooth  (right after Against the Current)
Sat.     12/5  5:30  Bear Tooth  (right before Bomber)
In this charming coming of age comedy, a 13-year-old half Yup’ik girl in Alaska navigates her way through heartbreak and prep school by rediscovering the spirit of the World Eskimo Indian Olympics.

A couple scenes of this film were entered as a short in the 2007 Anchorage International Film Festival.  The colors were brilliant and children were real, developed characters, just in the ten minutes maybe the short lasted.  That's a pretty remarkable accomplishment.  I can still see the scenes vividly.   So I was surprised to learn that the film is set in Fairbanks, Alaska.  The light and structures and scenes were distinctly not Alaskan in my memory.  I chided the filmmaker in the blog for planning to make the rest of the movie in Washington State, and not doing it in Fairbanks.  Amazingly, she responded asking if I had suggestions for overcoming the costs of doing it in Alaska.  [The new law that supports filming in Alaska wasn't yet in effect.]  I blogged about her needs and also contacted Fairbanks bloggers.  I don't know what happened, but based on what I saw on the Dear Lemon Lima website - there's a trailer there I couldn't embed - I suspect that I may like the film as film, but be disturbed by what I'm afraid will be its pseudo Alaska-ness.  And regular readers know I have concerns how Outsiders portray Alaska Native culture.  We'll see.    I'll check and update.  [Update Nov. 18:  I've got an email from Suzi and I'll post it when she says that's ok.  She does sound like she made great efforts to make this as genuine as possible within her budget.] But do go look at the website.  It's not your run-of-the-mill website.

The next movie will be shown as part of the Opening Night Gala.* 

Hipsters (Stilyagi)  RUSSIA, 125 minutes
• Directed by Valery Todorovsky
Fri. 12/4   7:00pm  Bear Tooth  * $25 or free entry with ALL FILMS & EVENTS PASS. (All Films pass is not good for this)
Sat. 12/12 7:30pm Bear Tooth
An energetic, impressive production already garlanded with four Nikas (the  Russian Oscar) for best film, production design, costumes and sound, Valery Todorovsky’s attempt to revive the immediate post-Stalinist era may appeal initially to Russian audiences, but should easily navigate international markets after an enthusiastic reception at Karlovy Vary.

A portrait of a grim period, Hipsters is almost a Russian version of Grease – as fanciful and unrealistic as its American counterpart, but with more of a political subtext to sustain it. It’s set way back in 1955, when, in an attempt to establish their independence against the backdrop of grey uniformity surrounding them, young Russian rebels (“hipsters”) copied American fashions, hairdos and slang.  Featuring a cast of young energetic hopefuls and several seasoned veterans in cameo roles (Sergey Garmash, Oleg Yankovsky), critics might carp that Hipsters offers perhaps an overly gentle and forgiving image of that time, hiding behind colorful sets and costumes which border on caricature. But general audiences are likely to be much more forgiving.

Hipsters centres around a shy, nerdy Communist youth (komsomolchik) called Mels, played by Anton Shagin, who falls for luscious blonde hipster Polya (Akinshina) and turns his back on his pretty but strict brigade commander girlfriend (Brik). He takes up the tenor saxophone instead, raises some hell of his own and ends up marrying his blonde bombshell and even having an unlikely child with her before Todorovsky wraps it all up in a rousing finale.

Hipsters’ score, a lively mélange of updated Soviet hits and fresh numbers written specially for the film, pumps away energetically, while clever art direction blends real-life locations with studio sets to create a world apart. Throughout it all, the cast seems to be having the time of its life.

Son of the Sunshine  CANADA  92 minutes
• Directed by Ryan Ward 
Tues.   12/8    8:00 Bear Tooth
Fri.     12/11   5:30 Bear Tooth

From the dirty streets and cool fields of low-income Ontario, Canada, comes the story of Sonny Johnns, a young man with Tourettes Syndrome.
Fed up with his existence in an angry, co-dependent relationship with his maudlin mother and his tough as nails sister, Sonny spends his savings from years of disability payments to undergo an experimental procedure that promises to eradicate his symptoms.
Upon his recovery, Sonny, entirely cured of spontaneous outbursts, garners the courage to live a normal life - but not without a price. Sonny discovers that the surgery has somehow smothered an amazing supernatural gift he has had all his life: the uncanny ability to heal the sick and the dying.
A story of the truly extra-ordinary, littered with the fiery angst of a young man and his quest for the all-healing power of love.  [This synopsis and the photo come from the Son of Sunshine website. ]
  This was a Sundance Selection and has won prizes at a number of festivals.  The summary raises an interesting paradox I've come to notice, but I don't think is commonly understood by people who are not close to someone with different brain activity.  While they have some issue that makes them seem, to most people, "less" than normal or 'disabled', they also have some abilities - usually invisible to most - that also make them 'more' than normal folks.  Should be an interesting movie.

Go to the AIFF website for more festival information.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.