Berkshire International Film Festival 2010 Programming

BIFF 2010 PROGRAMMING AS OF 4/15/2010

FEATURE FILMS
1981 (Canada, 2009) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Ricardo Trogi
Print courtesy of Film Movement
It’s 1981 and the Trogi family moves into a new house. Ricardo, 11 years old, senses the weight of the move without understanding the significance of the word mortgage. He’s the new boy in class and the other pupils seem to come from richer circumstances than him. To avoid being discovered for who he really is, Ricardo decides to invent a life that he must carefully maintain if he is to find his place at the new school. But soon enough it becomes essential to tell the truth, and the youngest Trogi decides to forge his own identity.

Alamar (Mexico, 2009) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio
English subtitles
Print courtesy of Film Movement
Jorge and Roberta have been separated for several years. They simply come from opposite worlds: he likes an uncomplicated life in the jungle, while she prefers a more urban existence. He is Mexican and she is Italian, and she has decided to return to Rome with their five-year-old son, Natan. But before they leave, Jorge wishes to take young Natan on a trip, hoping to teach him about his Mayan origins in Mexico. At first the boy is physically and emotionally uncomfortable with the whole affair, and gets seasick on the boat taking them to their destination. But as father and son spend more time together, Natan begins a learning experience that will remain with him forever.

Atletu (USA/Germany/Ethiopia, 2009)
Writers and Directors: Davey Frankel, Rasselas Lakew
Running the streets of Rome in 1960, an unknown, barefoot Ethiopian man stunned the world by winning Olympic gold in the marathon. Overnight, Abebe Bikila became a sports legend. A hero in his own country and to the continent, Bikila was the first African to win a gold medal, and four years later in Tokyo, the first person in history to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the marathon. This soldier and quiet son of a shepherd is considered by many the greatest long-distance runner in history.

But his life story only began with Olympic medals. One evening while returning to his home in Addis Ababa after training in the Ethiopian countryside, fate would present this remarkable champion with his greatest challenge to dig deep within, not just to run the next mile, but to find the will to live. The race of his life had a new beginning and would lead him to places he could never have imagined.

A truly unique approach to the biographical picture, Atletu focuses on the final years of Bikila’s life, his quest to regain Olympic glory, his tragic accident, and his determination to compete again. Shot from the Arctic Circle to the equator, Atletu is an extraordinary narrative feature that seamlessly blends autobiography, biopic, drama and documentary. This beautiful and moving independent film investigates the inner workings of a man who is ceaseless and single-minded in his journey for greatness.

Cairo Time (USA, 2009)
Writer and Director: Ruba Nadda
Cairo Time is a romantic drama about a brief, unexpected love affair that catches two people completely off-guard against the romantic backdrop of Egypt. Juliette (Patricia Clarkson), a fashion magazine editor in her 40s, travels to Cairo to meet her husband, Mark, a UN official working in Gaza, for a three week vacation. When he is unavoidably delayed, he sends his friend Tareq (Alexander Siddig), who had been his security officer for many years, to escort her throughout the beautiful and exotic city. The last thing anyone expects is that they will fall in love.

Dear Lemon Lima (USA, 2009) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Suzi Yoonesi
Print courtesy of Visit Films
As sweet and colorful as a snow cone, this delightful happy-sad confection follows an awkward
Alaskan teen as she discovers her Yup’ik heritage while rallying her fellow misfits to compete in
her school’s Snowstorm Survivor competition.

The Extra Man (USA, 2010) MA Premiere
Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Print courtesy of Magnolia
A sophisticated and moving comedy, The Extra Man follows Louis Ives (Paul Dano), a lonely dreamer who fancies himself the hero of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. When a deeply embarrassing incident forces him to leave his job at an exclusive Princeton prep school, Louis heads to New York City to make a fresh start. He quickly finds a nine-to-five job at an environmental magazine, where he encounters an entrancing, green-obsessed co-worker, Mary (Katie Holmes). But it’s Louis’ new home life that really sparks his imagination. He rents a room in the ramshackle apartment of Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline), a penniless, wildly eccentric but brilliant playwright. When Henry’s not dancing alone to obscure music or singing operettas, he’s performing with great panache the duties of an “extra man”, a social escort for the wealthy widows of Manhattan high society. These two men, separated in age by more than forty years, develop a volatile mentor/apprentice relationship. Through a series of urban adventures where they encounter everything from a leaping lion to a wildly jealous hirsute neighbor, from drunken nonagenarians to a shady Swiss hunchback, Louis and Henry form a memorable bond that bridges their differences.

Eyes Wide Open (Israel/France/Germany, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Haim Tabakman
English subtitles
Print courtesy of New American Vision
Aaron, a respectable butcher in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, is married to Rivka and is a dedicated father of four children. One day, he meets Ezri, a handsome 22 year old student, and soon falls in love with him. He then starts to neglect his family and community life, swept away by his love and lust for Ezri. But guilt, torment, and pressure from the community will catch up with him, leading him to make a radical decision.

Gaia (USA, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Writer and Director: Jason Lehel
Filmmaker in attendance
A group of Native Americans pass through the desert brush at dawn and discover a young woman, Em, left for dead under the scorching sun of the barren Arizona desert.
Em is taken to the reservation under the care of Ed, a 50-year-old Native American farmer, who lives with his granddaughter, Jerica.

Resisting their hospitality and care, Em lies barely conscious for days, while her nights are filled with disturbing and haunting images from her earlier life. Eventually, the innocent free spirit of Jerica breaks through Em’s defenses and slowly, day by day, she ventures further away from her past.

As Em learns from their ways with the land and community, she starts to connect with her own nature and a peace that has been absent for many years. At a feast in honor of Jerica’s parents, Em meets Fuego, a deaf and dumb Navajo man in his thirties. His Adonis looks, warmth, gentle attitude and traditional ways are irresistible to Em; unfortunately, so too are some of her older habits. She starts to slip back down a darker path, abandoning young Jerica, drinking, and before long, Em is right back where she was after her arrival at the reservation.

Images and dreams flood her consciousness, which in turn, illuminate the sad truth of her time prior to the reservation and force her to make a choice to surrender, embrace rebirth out of chaos, or to die in the grips of darkness.

Hungry Ghosts (USA, 2009) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Michael Imperioli
Filmmaker in attendance
Five New Yorkers— of different ages, races, and backgrounds— hunger for sensual, emotional and spiritual fulfillment. Their intersecting and colliding paths reflect the zeitgeist of our times, in which the desperation of the West smacks up against the religious teachings of the East.

I Am Love (Russia/Italy, 2009) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Luca Guadagnino
English subtitles
Print courtesy of Magnolia
I Am Love tells the story of the wealthy Recchi family, whose lives are undergoing sweeping changes. Eduardo Sr., the family patriarch, has decided to name a successor to the reigns of his massive industrial company, surprising everyone by splitting power between his son Tancredi and grandson Edo. But Edo dreams of opening a restaurant with his friend Antonio, a handsome and talented chef. At the heart of the family is Tancredi’s wife Emma (Tilda Swinton), a Russian immigrant who has adopted the culture of Milan. An adoring and attentive mother, her existence is shocked to the core when she falls quickly and deeply in love with Edo’s friend and partner Antonio and embarks on a passionate love affair that will change her family forever.

Lebanon (Germany/Israel/France/Lebanon, 2009) MA Premiere
Writer and Director: Samuel Maoz
English subtitles
Print courtesy of Sony Picture Classics
Like Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir, Samuel Maoz’s military drama is based on the director’s own experiences serving in the Israeli army during the 1982 Lebanon war. Whereas Folman’s film was a quest for lost memories, Maoz uses his vivid recollections to bring us inside a single Israeli tank during the first 24 hours of the invasion. Maoz restricts the film’s action entirely to the tank’s interior, showing us the outside world only—as the soldiers themselves see it—through the lens of a periscopic gun sight. The blisteringly intense result offers a one-of-a-kind snapshot of the camaraderie, terror and gallows humor of wartime.

Les Signes Vitaux (Vital Signs) (Canada, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Sophie Deraspe
English subtitles
Print courtesy of Visit Films
Les Signes Vitaux follows Simone who suddenly finds herself back in Quebec City following her grandmother’s death. She has no idea her student existence is about to be scuttled…by the discovery of life itself. A switch is mysteriously flicked, and she decides to embark on a journey to help those about to die. Perhaps to fill the emptiness that follows her wherever she goes, from her apartment to the old snowy streets and even with her lover.

Sophie Deraspe walks away from the temptation to fill the awkward moment, while slipping radiantly sly humor into the plot. The director of Rechercher Victor Pellerin transforms this silent quest into a superb wintry poem about life and death and why we reach out to strangers.

Mad, Bad, Sad (UK, 2009) East Coast Premiere
Writer and Director: Avie Luthra
With family like this…. who needs enemies? Atul is a sitcom writer who despises the work that everybody else loves. Rashmi lives at home with her mother, craving a life of her own but dreading all that goes with it. And Hardeep is a psychiatrist who can diagnose everyone’s problems but his own. Award-winning writer and director Avie Luthra turns a sharp observational eye toward an ensemble of often extreme and complex characters, played by a talented cast that includes Meera Syal (The Kumars; Anita & Me), Nitin Ganatra (Bride & Prejudice; Shifty) and Andrea Riseborough (Happy-Go-Lucky; Margaret Thatcher; The Long Walk to Finchley).

My Year Without Sex (Australia, 2009) East Coast Premiere
Writer and Director: Sarah Watt
When Natalie collapses one August day and undergoes emergency surgery for an aneurysm, the doctor tells her she must avoid all stress and overexcitement including sex. The story follows Natalie, her husband Ross and their two children over the course of one messy year. Forced to take stock of everything in their life, Natalie and Ross must navigate trouble-prone family holidays and Ross’s job insecurity and financial worries over Christmas. It’s a wry look at twelve months in the life of a family under pressure.

Olhos Azuis (Blue Eyes) (Brazil, 2010) USA Premiere
Director: Jose Joffily
David Rasche in attendance
Before his compulsory retirement, on his last day of work, Marshall, JFK airport’s chief Immigration officer, detains a group of Latin Americans and exposes them to a series of humiliating situations. Blinded by prejudice, Marshall ends up by causing the death of a young Brazilian. After a period in prison, Marshall goes to Brazil, deadly ill and in a desperate search in order to purge his guilt. In his quest, he is guided by Bia, a young prostitute.

Ondine (Ireland/ USA, 2010) Berkshire Premiere
Writer and Director: Neil Jordan
Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan’s Ondine centers on Syracuse (Farrell), a lonely fisherman who one day pulls a beautiful woman named Ondine (Bachleda) out of the sea in his nets. His young daughter Annie is convinced that she is a “selkie” a creature from Irish folklore much like a mermaid. Syracuse has his doubts, but as Ondine brings some luck and joy to his otherwise downcast life, he starts to come around as well.

The Owls (USA, 2010) Berkshire Premiere
Writer and Director: Cheryl Dunye
A funny, mysterious and humane generational anthem, The Owls is an experimental thriller/film noir about four “Older-Wiser-Lesbians” who accidentally kill a young lesbian and try to get away with it. Raised in the shadow of “pathological lesbian” films like The Fox, The Children’s Hour and The Killing of Sister George, the OWLs once embraced the utopian vision of Lesbian Nation. Now, approaching middle age, the revolution has eluded their dreams. Caught between a culture that still has no place for them and a younger generation indifferent to their contributions, the OWLs face an emotionally complex set of circumstances that have yet to be compassionately and truthfully addressed.

The Owls screenplay is by Sarah Schulman (best known for her novels After Delores and People in Trouble), based on a story by writer/director/professor Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman; She Don’t Fade; Stranger Inside), and stars some of the most popular underground artists in Lesbian Cinema, including Guinevere Turner (Go Fish; The L Word; American Psycho), V.S. Brodie (Go Fish), Lisa Gornick (Tick-Tock Lullabye) and Deak Evgenikos (The Itty Bitty Titty Committee).

A Shine of Rainbows (Canada/Ireland, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Writer and Director: Vic Sarin
Maire O’Donnell is a loving woman as rare as a double rainbow. Joyful, warm and caring, she adopts a young orphan named Tomas and whisks him off to a new home on remote Corrie Island, off the coast of Ireland. Maire shares with Tomas the joys of her island home and introduces him to the whimsical local folklore, including the secret of the seals, and teaches him that everything you need is inside of you if you really look. But Maire’s stern husband Alec silently disapproves of Tomas’ timidity and halting speech. He can’t hide his disappointment that Tomas isn’t the kind of child he was hoping for, and his reluctance to get to know the boy makes Tomas unsure of whether he really belongs. Soon, though, Tomas too falls in love with his home, befriending local children, descending into a secret bat-filled cave and saving a stranded baby seal. When tragedy strikes, however, Tomas is faced with his greatest challenge yet. He’ll lose everything unless he can find and share the unique gifts inside of him. Risking all, Tomas embarks on a perilous journey where he will need to call on his ability to see joy and color, even when in the darkest place, in order to triumph and come home. A Shine of Rainbows is a story about the transformational power of love, about finding acceptance, discovering ourselves and realizing that rainbows are all around us and within us.

Soul Kitchen (Germany, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Writer and Director: Faith Akin
In Fatih Akin’s Soul Kitchen, young restaurant owner Zinos is down on his luck. His girlfriend Nadine has moved to Shanghai, his customers are boycotting the new gourmet chef, and he‘s having back trouble. Things start looking up when the hip crowd embraces his revamped culinary concept, but that doesn‘t mend Zinos’ broken heart. He decides to fly to China for Nadine, leaving the restaurant in the hands of his unreliable ex-con brother Illias. Both decisions turn out disastrous: Illias gambles away the restaurant to a shady real estate agent and Nadine has found a new lover! But brothers Zinos and Illias might still have one last chance to get Soul Kitchen back if they can stop arguing and work together as a team.

Taqwacores (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Eyad Zahra
Yusef, a first-generation Pakistani engineering student, moves off-campus with a group of Muslim punks in Buffalo, New York. His new “un-orthodox” housemates soon introduce him to Taqwacore, a hard-core, Muslim punk-rock scene that only exists out west. 

As the seasons change, Taqwacore influences the house more and more. The living room becomes a mosque during the day while it continues to host punk parties at night. 

Ultimately, Yusef is influenced by Taqwacore too, as he begins to challenge his own faith and ideologies.

Taqwacores deals with the complexities of being young and Muslim in modern-day
America.

Toe to Toe (USA, 2009) MA Premiere
Writer and Director: Emily Abt
At a politically correct prep school in Washington, D.C. two girls, one black, one white, go toe to
toe. Jesse is a privileged but troubled white girl whose slutty tendencies pull her toward self-destructive behavior. Tosha is a fiercely determined African-American from Anacostia, one of D.C.’s most impoverished areas. Both new seniors and star players on their school’s lacrosse team, the two girls click despite their differences. Their fledgling friendship begins to falter when they discover their shared interest in Rashid, a dashing Lebanese deejay.

Things unravel further when Tosha and Jesse have a shoving match on the lacrosse field and racist graffiti appears on Tosha’s locker soon after. Jesse is expelled from school and spirals deeper into self-destructive behavior. Surprisingly, it is Tosha who comes to her rescue. Jesse then returns the favor by sacrificing her own well-being for that of Tosha’s. And so the two girls, once mired in mutual hatred, become each other’s salvation.

Welcome (France, 2010) MA Premiere
Writer and Director: Philippe Lioret
Bilal, a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee, has struggled his way through Europe for the last three months trying to reunite with his girlfriend, who recently emigrated to England. But his journey comes to an abrupt halt when he is stopped by authorities in Calais, on the French side of the Channel. Left with no other alternatives, he decides to swim across. Bilal goes to the local swimming pool to train, where he meets Simon, a middle-aged swimming instructor in turmoil over his imminent divorce. Simon agrees to help Bilal, hoping to win back the affection of his wife, who does volunteer work helping immigrants. But what begins as a relationship based on self interest, develops into something much bigger than Simon could ever have imagined, as he too will ultimately risk everything to reach happiness.

DOCUMENTARIES
Ahead of Time (USA/Israel, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Robert Richman
With her love of adventure and fearlessness, Ruth Gruber defied tradition from the moment she became the world’s youngest PhD at the age of 20 in 1931. Ahead of Time tells the remarkable journey of 96-year-old Gruber and is the directorial debut of noted cinematographer Bob Richman (The September Issue; My Architect; An Inconvenient Truth). Gruber continued to make history throughout her trail-blazing career by becoming the first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935 and escorting 1000 Holocaust refugees from Naples to New York in a secret war-time mission in 1944. She covered the heart-wrenching ordeal of the refugees aboard the ship Exodus in 1947 with photographs that helped change the world.

Bananas!* (Sweden, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Fredrik Gertten
Juan “Accidentes” Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food in a ground-breaking legal battle for its use of a banned pesticide that was known by the company to cause sterility. Can he beat the giant, or will the corporation get away with it? In the suspenseful documentary Bananas!*, filmmaker Fredrik Gertten sheds new light on the global politics of food.

Climate Refugees (USA, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Writer and Director: Michael Nash
Climate Refugees is a documentary film that uncovers the unbelievable plight of people around the world displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters. The documentary illuminates for the first time the human face of climate change, as civilization now finds itself facing the confluence of overpopulation, lack of resources and a changing climate. Traveling the world and interviewing several of the 25 million climate refugees now on the run, along with scholars, politicians and the like, Climate Refugees brings to light the heart-wrenching truth of what is quickly becoming mankind’s greatest challenge.

This documentary examines the creation—and migration—of hundreds of millions of climate refugees who will be displaced as a result of climate change. A cautionary tale, the film demonstrates that climate change isn’t a political issue; it’s a geopolitical one, one that literally transcends the concepts of nationhood and ethnicity. In this situation, we truly are all one people.

Con Artist (USA, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Michael Sladek
A product of post-Warhol commodity-based “business art,” Mark Kostabi is one of the world’s most divisive and successful living artists, selling more than 1,000 paintings every year, all of which were conceived of and painted by his employees. Through overt self-interest and lampooning of the art business, Kostabi catapulted to international fame via New York’s explosive 1980s Post-Punk/Hip-Hop-driven art scene but quickly fell from grace by the 1990s. Although a pariah in the upper echelons of the A-list art establishment, his employee-centered studio persists and thrives today as he continues to sell paintings to mid-level collectors worldwide. In addition, Kostabi now produces and hosts a strange weekly game show called “Title This” wherein celebrities, art world luminaries and aging punk rockers compete for money to title “his” paintings. Critics accuse Kostabi of being obsessed with money, fame and spin and claim he’s either reflecting America’s obsessions back on it or is simply a mess of a person. Con Artist follows this enigmatic, self-conscious eccentric as he pursues love interests and attempts to re-establish his reputation while preparing for a major trip to Italy to meet the Pope at an unveiling of a Kostabi statue. Although the breadth of his subterfuge and neuroses are hard to define, Kostabi’s “fame is love” mentality and his attempts to take over the direction of the film itself lead to a fascinating and humorous portrait of a truly original character. Inspired by films such as Terry Zweigof’s Crumb, Barbara Koppel’s Wild Man Blues, and Orson Welles’ F for Fake, Con Artist takes an intimate look at a controversial, jaw-dropping subject who serves as an amazing lightning rod for debate about much larger issues.

Countdown to Zero (USA, 2009) MA Premiere
Director: Lucy Walker
Countdown to Zero traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities, with others racing to join them and the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy or a simple accident. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker (The Devil’s Playground; Blindsight), the film features an array of important international statesmen, including President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Tony Blair. It makes a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament, an issue more topical than ever with the Obama administration working to revive this goal today. The film was produced by Academy Award-winner Lawrence Bender (Inglorious Basterds; An Inconvenient Truth) and developed, financed and executive-produced by Participant Media, together with World Security Institute. Participant collaborated with Magnolia on last year’s Food, Inc., recently nominated for an Academy Award, and the upcoming Casino Jack and United States of Money. Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Bruce Blair and Matt Brown are the film’s executive producers.

Drumming Men (Berkshire/USA 2009)
Director: Sanjiban
From the edge of elderhood this wild bunch of Berkshire characters looks back at a series of gatherings now many years past. Sanjiban’s new film explores and exposes the vortex between exaltation and fractious feral energy. The journey of remembering these extraordinary meetings is intense and amusing.

Family Affair (USA, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Writer and Director: Chico Colvard
At 10 years of age, Chico Colvard accidentally shot his older sister in the leg. This seemingly random act detonated a chain reaction that exposed unspeakable realities and shattered his family. Thirty years later, Colvard ruptures veils of secrecy and silence again. As he bravely visits his relatives, what unfolds is a personal film that’s as uncompromising, raw and cathartic as any in the history of the medium. 

Driving the story forward is Colvard’s sensitive probing of a complex dynamic: the way his three sisters survived severe childhood abuse by their father and, as adults, manage to muster loyalty to him. These unforgettable, invincible women paint a picture of their harrowing girlhoods as they resiliently struggle with present-day fallout. The distance that time gives them from their trauma yields piercing insights about the legacy of abuse, the nature of forgiveness, and eternal longing for family and love. These truths may be too searing to bear, but they reverberate powerfully within each of us.

Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (France, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea
English subtitles
In 1964 Henri-Georges Clouzot, the director of thrillers such as Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques, began work on what was to be his most adventurous film to date. L’Enfer (Inferno) was a dark psychological study charting the mental disintegration of hotel owner Marcel (Serge Reggiani), consumed by jealousy at the supposed infidelity of his pretty, flirtatious wife, played by Romy Schneider in her prime. Clouzot wanted to make a film unlike anything he or anyone else had done before. The story of the obsessive husband and the wife he believes is cheating was similar to his earlier work, but the style was to be wildly experimental, closer to Man Ray than Hitchcock, to whom he had been frequently compared. The film was never finished, but famed film historian/preservationist Serge Bromberg made it his obsession to find the footage from the 18 days of shooting, and with the help of Clouzot’s widow Ines, he did. It is the surviving material from Inferno itself that is the star, a kaleidoscope of color, angles, filters and technique that show what an extraordinary masterpiece Inferno could have been.

How to Fold a Flag (USA, 2009) New England Premiere
Directors: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker
When the American flag is folded at a memorial service, each fold is said to represent a virtue: liberty, unity, justice, perseverance, hardiness, valor, purity, innocence, sacrifice, honor, independence and truth. These are the things soldiers are said to fight for. Then they come home. Independence Day parades, young politicians, cage fighters, hog slaughterers, death metal guitars, God-angry mothers, cursers of fate, American flags of shocking number and flapping violence— these are the images that populate the American phantasmagoria of How to Fold a Flag. A portrait of America today, of men returned from war, of the crazy amalgam of hope, snake oil and innocence called patriotism, this new film by Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein is a poetic evocation of the everyday reality of those who fought as seen against the fantasies of those who sent them away so proudly.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (USA, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Tamra Davis
Print courtesy of Arthouse Films
In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place.

Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neo-Expressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat’s own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man.

Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work (USA, 2010)
Writer and Director: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
A Piece of Work takes the audience on a year long ride with Joan Rivers in her 76th year of life; it peels away the mask of an iconic comedian, laying bare both the struggle and thrill of living life as a groundbreaking female performer. Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (The Devil Came on Horseback, The Trials of Darryl Hunt) expose the private dramas of this irreverent, legendary comedian as she fights to keep her career thriving in a business driven by youth and beauty.

Last Train Home (Canada/China/UK, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Lixin Fan
In Mandarin and Sichuan dialects with English subtitles
Each year in China more than 130 million migrant workers travel home for the New Year’s holiday—the one time they’ll reunite with family all year. The mass exodus constitutes the world’s largest human migration. Amid this chaos, director Lixin Fan focuses on one couple, Zhang Changhua and Chen Suqin, who embark upon a two-day journey to see their children.

The Zhangs left their rural village for factory jobs when their children were just infants. Now a teenager, daughter Qin resents their continual absence. Yearning for her own freedom, she quits school to work in a factory herself. Her parents, who see education as their children’s one hope, are devastated.

Through its intimate and heartbreaking observation of the Zhangs, Last Train Home places a human face on China’s ascendance as an economic power. To overwhelming effect, Fan illustrates the cost incurred by fractured families and reveals a country tragically caught between its industrial future and rural past.

My Neighbor, My Killer (USA/France, 2009) New England Premiere
Director: Anne Aghion
Could you ever forgive the people who slaughtered your family? In 1994 hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s Hutus were incited to wipe out the country’s Tutsi minority. From the crowded capital to the smallest village, local “patrols” massacred lifelong friends and family members, most often with machetes and improvised weapons. Announced in 2001 and ending this year, the government put in place the Gacaca Tribunals, open-air hearings with citizen-judges meant to try their neighbors and rebuild the nation. As part of this experiment in reconciliation, confessed genocide killers are sent home from prison while traumatized survivors are asked to forgive them and resume living side-by-side. Filming for close to a decade in a tiny hamlet, award-winning filmmaker Anne Aghion has charted the impact of Gacaca on survivors and perpetrators alike. Through their fear and anger, accusations and defenses, blurry truths, inconsolable sadness and hope for life renewed, Aghion captures the emotional journey to coexistence.

The Oath (USA, 2010) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Laura Poitras
English subtitles 
Print courtesy of Zeitgeist Films
Filmmaker in attendance
Abu Jandal is a taxi driver in Sana’a, Yemen; his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan is a Guantanamo prisoner and the first man to face the controversial military tribunals. Jandal and Hamdan’s intertwined personal trajectories—how they became Bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver respectively—act as prisms that serve to explore and contextualize a world which has confounded Western media. As Hamdan’s trial progresses, his military lawyers challenge fundamental flaws in the court system. The charismatic Jandal dialogues with his young son, Muslim students and journalists, and chillingly unveils the complex evolution of his belief system post-9/11. Winner of Best Documentary Cinematography at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, The Oath offers a rare window into a realm too long misunderstood—and the international impact of the U.S. War on Terror.

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home (USA 2010) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Jenny Stein
Filmmaker in attendance
Combining the gripping testimony of farmers breaking a long-held code of silence with rare footage demonstrating the rich emotional lives of farm animals, this new documentary from the award-winning filmmakers of The Witness invites viewers on an epic journey of awakening conscience.



School Play (USA) New England Premiere
Directors: Eddie Rosenstein Rick Velleu; Co-Directed by Idahella Therp
In this hilarious, award-winning coming-of-age film, the drama of childhood is magnified through the lens of a 5th-grade production of The Wizard of Oz. The kids in the play are “us”, including the class clown, the overachiever, the chubby kid and the stutterer. As opening night approaches, moments become are taut with magic and mania. In the end, this award-winning film is about more than putting on a play. It’s about discovering who we are inside.

Sweet Crude (USA, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Sandi Cioffi
Sweet Crude is the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta–the human and environmental consequences of 50 years of oil extraction, the history of nonviolent protest, and the members of a new insurgency who, in the three years since the filmmakers met them as college students, became the young men of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Tanztraume (Dancing Dreams) (Germany, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Director: Anne Linsel
English subtitles
Filmmaker in attendance
The dance performance “Kontakthof” bears the unmistakable signature of Pina Bausch: it deals with forms of human contact, the encounters between the sexes and the search for love and tenderness with all the attendant anxieties, yearnings and doubts. It is about feelings, which pose a big challenge, particularly for young people. For almost a year, teenagers from more than eleven schools in Wuppertal went on an emotional journey. Every Saturday 40 students, ages 14 to 18 rehearsed under the direction of the Bausch dancers Jo-Ann Endicott and Bénédicte Billiet and under the intense supervision of Pina Bausch herself.

The film Dancing Dreams by Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffmann accompanies the rehearsal process culminating in the opening night. We watch the teenagers making their first, still clumsy attempts to transform the subjects of the dance performance into motion and choreography and to develop their own, individual body expression. They discover themselves in a process, that leads to great personal growth.

Vlast (Power) (USA/Russia, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Cynthia Collins
English subtitles
Filmmaker in attendance
Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky, formerly the wealthiest man in Russia, was arrested at gunpoint on a snowy Siberian runway on October 25, 2003. After challenging the absolute power of Vladimir Putin in the name of an open society, his oil company, YUKOS, was seized, followed by a trial that caused international outrage. He remains defiantly imprisoned and is currently being tried on new charges of having stolen a larger sum from YUKOS than its annual gross receipts.

A Woman Like That (USA/Italy, 2010) World Premiere
Director: Ellen Weissbrod
Filmmaker Ellen Weissbrod merges her own coming of middle-age story with her pursuit of the truth behind the myths of 17th century female painter Artemisia Gentileschi’s dramatic art and provocative life. A Woman Like That upends typical artist biographies and delivers instead a funny, engaging and altogether different kind of documentary. A freewheeling tribute to an artist who leaps across centuries to speak to us all, the enduring power of storytelling— in paintings, in films and in our lives — is revealed, as the filmmaker learns that who gets to tell the story matters, and that maybe she too can be A Woman Like That.

Waste Land (Brazil/UK, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Lucy Walker
Filmed over nearly three years, Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores” — or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they re-create photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to reimagine their lives. Walker (Devil’s Playground; Blindsight) has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.

What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s “State of the Union” (US/Berkshire, 2010) World Premiere
Director: Ethan Dufault
Filmmaker in attendance
This is the story of dissident American poet, Peter Kane Dufault— activist , WWII pilot, musician, boxer and 1968 Congressional candidate — as he struggles to come to terms with the U.S. Government’s assault on the Law of the Land and on the land itself. Peter is that rare poet willing to write about the collective betrayals that we as a people have endured while also addressing his own personal losses.

Through conversations with actor Chris Noth, two Nobel Laureate poets and his son, Peter reveals how poetry can bridge the chasms that separate us from one another and from the larger environment and political landscape. His rich language is able to articulate the American nightmare and point to a path out of the predicament we are in. As he observes a colony of seals, or a hawk in a snow storm, he reminds us of the splendor and fragility of our world.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You Mommy) (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Stephanie Wang-Breal
English subtitles
Filmmaker in attendance
Did you know that American families have adopted more than 70,000 Chinese children in the past 15 years? Wo Ai Ni Mommy explores this new subculture of American families by following the Sadowsky family as they fly to Guangzhou, China, to adopt eight-year-old Fang Sui Yong (aka Faith Sadowsky). Through Faith’s bright eyes we witness what it feels like to say goodbye to your birth culture and native country to embark upon a new life and family in America.

Thanks to the Sadowskys’ openness, Wo Ai Ni Mommy gives us an honest look into the emotions and complications inherent in international, transracial adoption.

SHORTS

Andheri (India, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Sushrut Jain
Andheri is the story of Anita, a live-in maid, who after years of living a quiet, lonely existence, finds the courage to run away in search of a better life. She gets on a Mumbai city bus where she meets an affable stranger. What transpires next will shake Anita’s being.

Archive of Dreams (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Lindsay Goodall
Carlo Roda is from the Italian coastal town of La Spezia. For over 30 years he has collected thousands of films, from Italian neorealist classics to Hollywood horrors. Having once trawled shutdown cinemas and rubbish dumps for forgotten gems, his life’s work now sits in a damp, dusty warehouse. This is the story of an incredible film collection and its cynical owner, whose world is turned upside down as a group of local film lovers try to restore these pieces of cinematic history to their former glory. How will Carlo react to the invasion of his archive of dreams?

Banana Bread (USA, 2010) MA Premiere
Writer and Director: Barton Landsmann
Matt Meyerson has a worried Jewish mother. In his case, she actually has good reason to worry.

Breaking Boundaries: The Art of Alex Masket (USA, 2009) Berkshire Premiere
Director: Dennis Connors
Filmmaker in attendance
Breaking Boundaries: the Art of Alex Masket was completed in December, and since then has received a Director’s Choice award at the 29th Black Maria Film Festival, which is currently touring. It will also screen at the sixth NYC Downtown Short Film Festival on May 1st, having been selected by audience vote at screenings earlier this month. 

The Cat Piano (UK, 2009)
Directors: Ari Gibson, Eddie White
In a city of singing cats, a lonely beat poet falls for a beautiful siren. When a mysterious dark figure emerges, kidnapping the town’s singers for his twisted musical plans, the poet must save his muse and put an end to the nefarious tune that threatens to destroy the city.

Diego’s Story (UK, 2010) New England Premiere
Writers and Directors: Alex Garcia, Wayne Yip
Diego’s Story follows a single event, a terrifying ordeal that, while over in a
matter of minutes, leaves lasting repercussions. Diego, a 30-year-old living in
London, becomes the victim of a brutal crime while returning home from work.

Drumming Men (USA/Berkshire, 2010) World Premiere
Director: Sanjiban
Filmmaker in attendance
From the edge of elderhood this wild bunch of Berkshire characters looks back at a series of gatherings now many years past. Sanjiban’s new film explores and exposes the 
vortex between exaltation and fractious feral energy. The journey of remembering these extraordinary meetings is intense and amusing.

Elko (Australia, 2010)
Writer and Director: Christoph Kusching
Alex, a laborer and trucker, has his day of reckoning when attractive 14-year-old Lili appears in his pickup truck. “Actually, I only wanted to throw myself in front of the prettiest car,” says Lili. Their exchanges produce conflicting emotions in Alex: his physical attraction to this woman-child is countered by his instinct to shelter and care for her. He is likewise intrigued by the unusual comic book she carries. A difficult and passionate dynamic quickly bonds two lonely people, a dynamic that is just as quickly undone as Alex learns both the history and fate of the young girl.

Emby (USA, 2010) World Premiere
Director: William Thompson
Morgan “Emby” Bulkeley has lived in the Berkshires for the greater part of his life. From a young age his deep appreciation for nature was evident, and he has spent years learning about the animals and plants native to the mountains, one of his greatest pleasures in life, next to his art. Many times bizarre, otherworldly and metaphorical, Emby’s artwork takes many forms, including painting, carving, sculpture and film. With interviews from friends and family, his life and art are explored, as well as his mystical connection to nature.

Eyes on the Street (UK, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Director: David Newbigging
A documentary crew explores the world of community wardens: council-funded “street teams” dealing with minor crimes and antisocial behavior. How do they spend their days, and what’s their relationship with the police and the community?

Finger Trap (UK, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Julia McLean
The elderly but young at heart Wilson Brown becomes stuck in his Chinese finger-trap toy while preparing an anniversary surprise for his wife. His increasingly desperate attempts to free himself result in him swinging from the light fitting, providing his wife with an altogether different surprise.

The Jacket (USA, 2010) Berkshire Premiere
Writer and Director: Matt Roshkow
Filmmaker in attendance
The Jacket centers on an upper-middle-class family in Westchester whose members are in various stages of denial concerning recent unemployment of the father, Mark from his longstanding position on Wall Street. In a frantic attempt to keep up appearances and ward off neighborly gossip, Mark’s wife Wendy buys her daughter an expensive jacket at a local store. When her daughter turns her nose up at it, Wendy offers it to her cleaning woman, whose husband has also suffered from the economy. Yet after Mark informs Wendy that the job offer he was hoping for has fallen through, Wendy is forced to question not only her act of charity but the emotional moorings quickly giving way in her privileged world.

Keep Dancing (USA, 2009)
Director: Greg Vander Veer
After celebrated careers, legendary dancers Marge Champion and Donald Saddler became friends while performing together in the 2001 Broadway production of Follies. When the show closed, they decided to rent a private studio together, where they have been choreographing and rehearsing original dances ever since. Keep Dancing seamlessly blends 9 decades of archival film and photographs with present day footage to tell a story through dance of the passing of time and the process of aging.

Kelp (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Director: Benjamin Dorhmann
Filmmaker in attendance
After a revelatory swim in the ocean, a man begins regularly bathing with kelp. When his wife discovers this new habit, she leaves him.

Love Hate (UK, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Writers and Directors: Blake Ritson, Dylan Ritson
A romantic comedy with a difference, Love Hate is the story of an affair between a sweet-natured young charity worker and a woman who turns out to be the physical embodiment of his hatred.

Milestone (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Julie Tortorici
Filmmaker in attendance
When tubs of ice cream, drinking with friends and sad movies don’t get you past your heartbreak… it’s time to pull out the big guns. Milestone is a short comedy with a big gun.

Nothing Happened (USA, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Director: Julia Kots
Filmmaker in attendance
On her lunch hour, Barb shows up at her best friend’s gallery bearing sushi and a smile. 
But Liza senses she also has a secret. In a gallery of erotic art and curious patrons, Barb
wants to confide in Liza, but she’s scared this is the one secret girlfriends shouldn’t share.

The Response (USA, 2010)
Writer and Director: Sig Liebowitz
The Response is a courtroom drama based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. In the vein of Twelve Angry Men, the film revolves around the trial of a suspected enemy combatant and the three military judges who must decide his fate. Starring Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Kate Mulgrew and Peter Riegert, the film was shortlisted for the 2010 Academy Awards, named the 2009 ABA Silver Gavel Award winner as best of the year in Drama & Literature, and has screened at the Pentagon, the Dept. of Justice, the French Embassy, Harvard, Yale and West Point. The film’s writer/producer, Sig Libowitz, Esq., recently returned from Guantanamo where he was invited by the Pentagon to serve as a legal observer to the Military Commissions.

Some Boys Don’t Leave (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Maggie Kiley
Some Boys Don’t Leave is the story of what happens when the breakup happens but the break does not. “Boy” is forced to come to terms with the fact that “Girl” no longer wants him around. The only problem is, he just can’t seem to leave their once shared apartment. “Girl” decides to keep living her life around him while he remains, watching at a distance. In time, each decides to go in his or her own distinctly different direction. Or do they? “Boy” soon finds that sometimes the greatest distance we are asked to travel is one within ourselves.

Speck’s Last (USA/Berkshire, 2010) Berkshire Premiere
Directors: Mark DiChiazza Michael Dowling
Filmmaker in attendance
Speck’s Last tells the tale of three siblings who find an unopened note from their older brother after his suspicious accidental death when struck by a train. The baby sister Greta (now a big-city lawyer), middle child Tuck (the reclusive drinker) and Ivan the eldest (dumb as a stump) do battle over what should be done with the note. This darkly comic short film looks at what’s left of this small-town, New England family, their grudges, rivalries, and ultimately the deep connections that bond them— whether they like it or not.

Speed Grieving (USA, 2010)
Director: Jessica Daniels
Filmmaker in attendance
A driven corporate climber struggles to balance her hectic work schedule with her father’s terminal illness, only to learn that certain things in life can’t be done efficiently.

Stone River (USA/Berkshire, 2010) World Premiere
Director: Hal Clifford
Filmmaker in attendance
Deep in the Northeastern woods, working alone, one man is building a better world, one stone at a time. One very, very big stone. Placed very, very carefully. His tools are his hands, his back, a few metal implements. His vision encompasses all of modern culture— and its reformation.

Touched by a Stranger (UK, 2009) New England Premiere
Director: Derek Boyes
Hope can be found in the darkest of places. 

Trampoline (Australia, 2010) East Coast Premiere
Writer and Director: Miranda Nation
The story of a girl who is determined to fly

The Tree (USA, 2010) MA Premiere
Writer and Director: Paul Starkman
Filmmaker in attendance
It’s a hot, steamy summer day in Brooklyn, and Spano gets an idea to plant a tree for some relief. Shaded and relaxed, he reads his newspaper in peace. Now the entire neighborhood wants in, driving Spano out of his shade and over the edge.

True Beauty This Night (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Peter Besson
Last night Rhett Somers, so far scraping by on good luck or just plain ignorance, met the love of his life: Elise. Try as he might, he can’t let go of the vision of her, so he decides to ask her out on a date. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, considering how they met. But there’s the chance Elise might feel the same way about him. Willing to dismiss common sense and embrace what might be, Rhett takes the leap. Consequences be damned…

Un Jeugo Absurdo (Argentina, 2010)
Director: Gastón Rothschild
Javier is in love with Romina. At a party, we hear his thoughts and sometimes he even talks to us. Playing between reality and fantasy, Javier will try to overcome his fears and get the girl of his dreams

Wasting Daylight (USA, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: J. Wallace Parker
A man named Carl creates a nonprofit group to fight daylight saving time. The semiannual custom of “changing the clocks” is not only wasteful and impractical— it also ruined his childhood. Follow Carl as he battles apathy, group infighting and government opposition to spread his message: “Don’t change your clocks!”

With Anchovies…Without Mama (US, 2010) New England Premiere
Writer and Director: Thomas Justino
Filmmaker in attendance
An anchovy inexplicably makes its way onto a pizza, triggering a series of bizarre consequences. Mama is an investigative look at love, loss, pizza and the depth of circumstance.

BEST OF NY INT’L CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL KID FLIX MIX 2009 (SHORT FILMS)
Recommended for ages 3 to 8
The world-renowned New York International Children’s Film Festival presents this kaleidoscopic collection of the best animated short films from around the world, for ages 3 to 8. The program features musical and narrative works from Sweden, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, and offers a spectacular array of traditional, CGI, collage and stop-motion animation styles. Program is in English.

Posted on April 16, 2010 in News & Updates
Site Menu