Monday, December 02, 2019

AIFF 2019 - Features 2 : Dying and Ghosts, Maybe He's Not, Tossing The iPads, Road Trip [UPDATED]

The Anchorage International Film Festival begins this Friday.

Here's a quick overview of the second half of the Narrative Features.  The first half is here.
[UPDATED Dec. 6, 2019 - I've confirmed that Those Who Remained will be showing - Thursday at the Museum at 7:45pm]

Laugh or Die
Director:  Heikki Kujanpää
103 minutes
Showing:  Sun, Dec 08, 2019 6:00 pm
Bear Tooth Theatrepub

"In a detention camp in 1918, a group of Finish actors are sentenced to death. When an important German general arrives, the camp’s vicious commandant forges out a cruel plan: The prisoners have to perform a play - and if they can make the visiting general laugh, they will be spared. Due to the brutal conditions within the camp, this goal seems to be impossible to reach. But after some time, even the commandant’s wife starts to sympathise with the prisoners, watching them rehearsing dressed up in woman’s clothes."
Straight Up    [If we still had a gay-la night this year, this would be the feature]
Director:   James Sweeney
95 minutes
Showing: Saturday Dec 07, 2019 8:00 pm  Bear Tooth Theatrepub

"Todd's truth is that he doubts he's the gay man he thought he was. Years of failed dating, and a disgust/fear of the bodily excretion that is the primary ingredient in a Dirty Sanchez, have brought him to this point. Clearly, as he tells both his sarcasm-prone therapist (Tracie Thoms) and his befuddled friend group, he must be straight. That in itself is another deflection, though it will take a feature film's length of time to identify the real culprit. (Hint: It's the L-word — not that one.) Until then, he'll work through his hang-ups with struggling actress Rory (Katie Findlay), with whom he meets-cute in a library and who proves to be in almost every way his soul mate. 
She's the Hepburn to his Tracy (don't you doubt that Katharine and Spencer get name-checked). And the duo grow closer as they play house in the sunlit California residences that they look after to make ends meet. The pair heatedly dissect Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" and participate in an uncomfortable "Truth or Dare" evening. They even go to a party dressed as Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in the movie version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which begets an exegesis on the sublimated homosexuality of Newman's injured character Britt."
Here's a fund raising video link.  You'll either decide this is someone you want to spend 95 minutes with or not.

Straight Up - Seed&Spark from James Sweeney on Vimeo.


Team Marco   
Director:  Julio Vincent Gambuto
90 minutes
Showing:  Saturday Dec 14, 2019 10:00 am
Anchorage Museum Auditorium

This film's world premier was October, 2019 at Mill Valley Film Festival, so we're seeing it pretty early on.  In the interview below it is touted as a great family film - it's showing Saturday morning at the museum.  

"The title character is obsessed with his electronics and hardly leaves the house. But when his grandmother dies and his grandfather moves in with his family, Marco’s life is turned upside down and he’s forced to play outside.
When “Nonno” introduces him to bocce and the neighborhood crew of elderly Italian men, Marco finds a connection to other people “in real life” -- and inspires a team of neighborhood kids to put the devices down and band together to take on his grandfather and his pals.
'This film is really about getting kids up and off their iPads and into the world," Gambuto said. "This is my love letter to Staten Island and all the communities involved in it. It is quite possibly everything I wanted from this experience.'"
Here's part of an interview with the director and other members of the film crew after the premier at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October of this year.

TEAM MARCO – Mill Valley Film Festival Q&A from Mill Valley Film Festival on Vimeo.


The Ghost Who Walks 
Director:  Cody Stokes
100 minutes
Showing:  Tuesday Dec 10, 2019 6:00 pm  Alaska Experience Theatre - Small

For St. Louis fans, this is done by a St. Louis native in St. Louis.  It's also fairly new (this year) and hasn't been seen by that many folks yet.  From St. Louis Magazine:
"Just as writer/director Cody Stokes’ career began to take off in New York City—meaning that he was traveling a lot—his first child was born. The St. Louis native began thinking about what it means to be gone and miss things back home, from his, his wife’s, and his child’s perspectives. He knew he wanted to make a film about it. But rather than create a simple kitchen sink drama about fatherhood, he set it in a world beyond, made it exciting, turned it into a crime thriller. “I wanted people to feel like they’re going to watch some sort of Liam Neeson movie but by the end be completely moved,” Stokes says. And he shot it in St. Louis, having moved back home with his family. The Ghost Who Walks screens as part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase later this month."


Those Who Remained (Someone To Live For) 
Director:  Barnabás Tóth
89 minutes
Showing:  Thursday, Dec 12  7:45pm

Another film only recently shown brings us a post Holocaust story of survivors.  
"Many films deal with the suffering of the Holocaust years, but far fewer focus on those who managed to return from the camps. The achingly tender Hungarian drama “Those Who Remained” fills that gap. Perceptively directed by Barnabás Tóth, it taps into a deep well of honestly earned emotion as it tells the story of two traumatized survivors whose relationship helps them to heal and provides them with someone to live for. Set in the period between 1948 and ’53, the period drama also takes on the purges of Hungarian politician Mátyás Rákosi’s Communist regime. Following its world premiere in Telluride, this exquisite, poignantly performed tale will be released in North American by Menemsha Films.
After the war, the gentle but haunted Dr. Aládar “Aldó” Kőrner (Károly Hajduk), 42, returns to his ob-gyn hospital practice. His wife and two small boys perished in the camps, and he lives alone, with only his medical journals for company, until Klára (Abigél Szőke), a 16-year-old force of nature, storms her way into his life."


Director:  Will Dennis
87 minutes
Showing:  Tuesday Dec 10, 2019 8:00 pm  Alaska Experience Theatre - Small

Everything about a film is how it's carried off.  Here's a snippet from one reviewer who thought it went well:
"We have an odd couple on the road, so funny stuff happens – and this is a funny movie.  Naturally, the audience is waiting for the two to jump into bed together.  But Vanilla is fundamentally a portrait of these two people, both comfortable in their ruts.  Elliot is posing as an entrepreneur, and Kimmie is posing as a comedian-in-the-making; something is going to have to shake up these two so each can grow.  Kimmie seems utterly intrepid, but we learn that she can be paralyzed by self-consciousness, just like Elliot.
Vanilla is written and directed by its star, Will Dennis, in his first feature film.  It’s an impressive debut, rich in character-driven humor."

Vanilla (Official Trailer) from Will Dennis on Vimeo.


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