Friday, December 02, 2011

AIFF 2011: Anchorage International Film Festival Begins Today - What's New?

I've barely scraped the surface of things this year. I ended up being more focused on the animated films in competition. But here are a few things I've noticed about the festival that are different this year.

1.     Reduced Role of Bear Tooth
Rand Thornsley, as manager of the Bear Tooth theater, was half of the Tony Sheppard and Rand team at the heart of the festival.  He's moved to Oregon [Washington] to run his own theater there, and while I'm told he still programs the Bear Tooth he's not been involved in the festival this year. [UPDATE Dec. 5:  I ran into Rand Sunday night and Monday again.  He's in town for the festival.  He did have a small role in the festival.  He move to  Washington, not Oregon.  Camas to be exact - east of Vancouver, WA. and owns the Liberty Theater.]  Last year the Bear Tooth was non-stop film festival which included showing all the winning films again the week after the festival.  This year there are eight showings at the Bear Tooth, all features, all at 8pm.  A key festival staffer says that the manager at Bear Tooth has been very supportive. 

2.  Increased Roles of Out North and Alaska Experience Theater
These two venues will take much of the load from the Bear Tooth.

3.  Tickets and Passes
Individual tickets remain $8 - a bargain for film festivals.  (I think we paid $11 Canadian at the Vancouver Film Festival).  There is only one pass this year - all films.  The all events pass is gone.  The all films pass is $90, up from $80.

4.  All Animated Films in Competition in One Program
In the past it was a hassle to see all the animated films that were selected to be in competition (ie eligible for an award) because they were scattered over different programs. (Program meaning a grouping of films that all showed together.)  But this year there weren't that many animated films that got selected for the festival and all those in competition are in one program.

5.  Awards Ceremony moves to Organic Oasis
The awards ceremonies have been in the Bear Tooth the last two years.  This year they are out again.   I haven't been in the Organic Oasis for a while.  It will be interesting to see how they organize the awards there. 

6.  Cyrano's and Wild Berry Theater Join the Festival
There will be two showings (in HD) of the film  at Cyrano's of "A Director Prepares" on Tuesday at 7pm and 9pm.  The description says:
A DIRECTOR PREPARES is a 94 minute "hybrid" documentary/narrative-drama chronicling Alaska's foremost playwright/director, Dick Reichman, as he prepares his cast for the world premier of his play "The Big One" about the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Until 2010, the spill was the largest in history.

The Alaska Wild Berry Theater will show "The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising"  at 2pm on Saturday Dec. 10.  The description for that movie is:
In 2004 Rick Finkelstein was paralyzed in a ski accident on Aspen Mountain. With a severed spine and severe internal injuries, he wasn't expected to live. Six years, nine surgeries and a lifetime of rehab later, cameras capture his dramatic return to Aspen.

7.  More Visiting Film Makers
And there's supposed to more film makers coming from around the world this year, partially due to an Academy of Motion Pictures grant to help pay for the airfare. Don't be shy about going up to them and welcoming them to Anchorage.  They mostly don't know many folks here and will appreciate it.

See you soon at the Bear Tooth tonight for the Greenland movie, Inuk, at 8pm.  For the last couple of years, the opening film has gone on to win the Best Feature.  If it happens again this year, we'll know there's a pattern.  This is the gala opening so it will be $20 ($10 with an all films pass) and includes a party.  The short A Day in Our Bay:  Views and Voices from Bristol Bay Alaska will be shown too tonight.

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