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At 64, the Edinburgh International Film Festival (June 16 to 27, 2010) brings off another program of discovery, classics and special events -- and every indication that its admirers will still need it and feed it. Birthday greetings, bottle of wine to the world's oldest continuously running festival.
There is also evidence that Artistic Director Hanna McGill has once again gone for something sentient but fun -- and for something that embodies the United Kingdom.
Edinburgh of the 1950s is the setting of The Illusionist/L'Illusionniste, which opens the Festival. Sylvain Chomet's (The Triplets of Belleville) animated film is about an aging vaudevillian taken for a real magician by a young woman on his performance circuit. That the main character is an avatar of French director and comedian Jacques Tati (Mon Oncle, Playtime) is traceable to the story's origins as a letter Tati addressed to his eldest daughter.
The Closing Night selection is Third Star. Hattie Dalton's directorial debut unfolds in West Wales as four friends embark on a coastal trek that ends badly, if comically. It's one of 22 world premieres at the 2010 Festival, along with Morag McKinnon's Donkeys, the second feature of the "Advance Party" trilogy from Scotland's Sigma and Denmark's Zentropa.
The EIFF docket carries further glints of British sense and sensibility in Ben Miller's Huge, a poke at making it in stand-up comedy, and in Mr. Nice, Bernard Rose's screen translation of the best-selling memoir by former drug smuggler, Oxford alum and spy Howard Marks.
For this year's retrospective, the Festival will present "After the Wave: Lost and Forgotten British Cinema 1967-1979." Rescued from cinema's hidden "closets" are such exemplars as Ken Russell's biopic of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Savage Messiah; Michael Hodges' subversive crime thriller, Pulp; Stephen Frears' first feature, Gumshoe; and a spanking new print of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's last collaboration, The Boy Who Turned Yellow.
The coveted prize for Best New British Feature Film bears Powell's name. Sponsored by the UK Film Council, the award will be presented at the Festival's British Gala. Shakespearean-actor-turned-Star Trek-headliner Sir Patrick Stewart helms the jury, and will take the stage at the BAFTA in Scotland interview.
EIFF will draw additional sheen from the participation of L.A.-based producer Graham King (Oscar-awarded for The Departed) and actress and EIFF Patron Tilda Swinton (I Am Love/Lo sono l'amore) among other cinema luminaries. However, Edinburgh is not the natural habitat for hype; it's more about smoking out fresh and emerging British filmmakers -- and giving them a helpful push -- than it is about the care and feeding of celebrities on red carpets.
Not that much arm twisting will have been required to toast such longtime patrons as Sir Sean Connery on the occasion of his 80th birthday. John Huston’s classic The Man Who Would Be King will be screened in his honor -- it's his favorite film -- and the man who would be Bond will attend a Gala in his honor at the Festival Theatre (13-29 Nicolson Street).Also hailing from Great Britain are several concentrated efforts to spook the audience: Paul Andrew William's (London to Brighton) urban thriller Cherry Tree Lane and – returning to Edinburgh as the backdrop -- Outcast, a horror flick from Colm McCarthy, and A Spanking In Paradise, Wayne Thallon's black comedy set in a brothel. Late-night screenings of the latter two stand to enhance their cult creepiness.
Though by no means is EIFF limited to domestic productions. One of its most anticipated works comes from German grizzly man Werner Herzog. The title alone of his latest effort, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done tells you that the doyen of inspired whackdom has outdone himself, an impression only deepened by the producer credit given to David Lynch and the casting of Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier and Chloë Sevigny.
The film enlarges on the true story of Mark Yavorsky, a San Diego man who took the cue from Sophocles' Electra and stabbed his mother to death. Candidates for Madame Tussaud's, all.
Another buzzed-about Festival number is Steven Soderbergh's documentary And Everything Is Going Fine, which fashions a posthumous autobiography of monologist Spalding Gray using his archival performance and interview footage.
Films from beyond the U.K. receiving their world premiere can contend for the Projector.tv Best International Feature Award. Ryan Denmark's Chase the Slut, Rona Mark's The Crab and Zach Clark's Vacation! are but three entries that fit this bill.
The Festival began as a documentary showcase when it first bloomed in August of 1947 under the shade of the Edinburgh International Festival. (It moved to its current June slot in 2008.) EIFF's romance with true stories lingers with Superhero Me, Steve Sale's merry crusade to save L.A. from iniquity, and with Lucy Martens’ Out of the Ashes, among nearly 20 other non-fiction features.
All told, the 2010 Festival will screen 133 films from 34 countries, a simmering of 1,500 feature films and 2,500 short films that swelled its submissions box.
More about EIFF 2010 awaits you at http://www.edfilmfest.org.uk
Filmhouse (Festival HQ)88 Lothian RoadEdinburgh EH3 9BZ
Edinburgh Festival Theatre13-29 Nicolson StreetEdinburgh Midlothian EH8 9FT
Cameo35 Home StreetTollcrossEdinburgh EH3 9LZCineworldFountain Park130/3 Dundee StreetEdinburgh EH11 1AF
Collective Gallery22-28 Cockburn StreetEdinburghFruitmarket Gallery45 Market StreetEdinburghEIFF +44-(0)-131-228-4051
Caphirinas, dee-jayed dança and Brazilian beats in Central Park.... Even if Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil (June 5 to 12, 2010) weren't bringing a week of new Brazilian cinema to New York, it'd still be a pretext to samba.Back for its eighth run, the week-long carnival will lead off with the Opening Night film The Well Beloved One/O Bem Amado, followed by a festa brasileira. Guel Arraes's feature adaptation of playwright Dias Gomes' classic comedy sends up small-town politics and mores with its tale of a mayor fixated on opening a cemetery. It's one of 12 films competing for the audience-balloted Chrystal Lens Award, to be presented on Closing Night as part of a tropical bash at Central Park's Summerstage. Screening under the stars (though out of competition) will be the Closing Night film, Oscar Niemeyer–Life Is a Blow. The documentary by Fabiano Maciel entwines a portrait of the nation with a biography of Brazil’s legendary modernist architect. You may not recognize the name Oscar Niemeyer, but if you've seen photos of Brazil's planned capital city, Brasília, you've surely seen one of his signature works: the spiky, spidery Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida.Brasília turns 50 this year, and Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil has seized the occasion for a multi-hued salute. Prior to the Closing Night screening, Brazilian superband Paralamas do Sucesso will rock Summerstage with rising star and fellow Brasília denizen Maria Gadú. And the Festival program includes several films set in Brasília or made by brasilienses, such as Sunstroke/Insolação, Felipe Hirsch and Daniela Thomas' anthology of unrequited love stories.Also to mark the jubilee is an exhibition tracing Brasília's construction by Niemeyer and fellow architect Lúcio Costa, who designed its wing-shaped urban plan. The show will be on display at Festival headquarters, Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick Street).Like the 2002 international hit City of God, most Brazilian movies are produced with the support of Globo Filmes, a corporate sibling of the country's largest television network, TV Globo. Since having entered the film scene in 1998, Globo has had a hand in Brazil's most successful commercial titles, many of which crossed over from -- or to -- telenovelas.One example is the aforementioned The Well Beloved One, which debuted as a stage play and became a well beloved series on TV Globo. Another is So Normal 2/Os Normais 2, which comes to New York amid titters and expectations of sold-out screenings. Building on the popular sitcom and on the series' first feature film, So Normal 2 director José Alvarenga Jr. swings the lead couple into a ménage a trois.Presented by Inffinito Group, Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil also offers Q&A sessions and other opportunities to chat with many of the filmmakers and actors featured in the 15-film program. Variations on the Festival travel to other cities, including London, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rome, Madrid, the Brazilian town of Canudos and -- for the largest competitive festival of Brazilian cinema outside of Brazil, with 40 productions -- Miami.Full details on the Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil are posted at www.Brazilianfilmfestival.com.Cine Fest Petrobras BrasilJune 5 to 12, 2010Tribeca Cinemas54 Varick StreetNew York, NY 10013(at Laight Street, one block below Canal Street)646-827-9333
Reading what Brooklyn International Film Festival executive director Marco Ursino has to say about "Stunt," the theme of this year's edition (June 4 to 13, 2010) in Brooklyn, New York, I can't help but wonder if he's been fraternizing with his title sponsor, Bushmills Irish Whiskey:"With Stunt, the festival intends to take a snapshot at some of the hottest issues affecting our times while emphasizing the weight and gravity of being on a critical collision path with history. By acknowledging the fact that like never before our single and organized actions may affect both local and global environments, we invite everybody to get ready to discuss with us local issues of planetary proportions."I'll have what he's having.Not that, lord forbid, there's anything wrong with like-worried souls pondering weight, gravity and things that go bump in history's night. On the contrary, how refreshing that a film festival -- and one that's a bridge away from Wall Street -- would mention "issues of planetary proportions" on its program. It's just that we here at Film Festival Traveler seldom see such copy or, for that matter, the pink elephants that helped write it.Established in 1998, New York's first international competitive film festival isn't all teach-ins and rebirths. One of its stated aims is "to connect filmmakers to distribution companies and expose them to the media," and its roster of past premieres that snagged theatrical releases and/or a retail life is a point of Festival pride. Contemplating the Earth, even at its blog Meridian, only gets a filmmaker so far.BiFF struts into its 13th year with more than 100 premieres, drawn down from some 2,400 films that regaled its inbox from 92 countries. The Festival takes care of its native sons and daughters; 16 of the films hail from Brooklyn filmmakers, and 12 are set in Brooklyn.The Opening Night films are Gabi on the Roof in July, a tweak on relationships and callings from Brooklynite Lawrence Michael Levine, and Madoffesque romp Welfare Worker/Der Fürsorger, from Swiss-based Lutz Konermann. Both will be shown at Brooklyn Heights Cinema (70 Henry Street), followed by an after-party at Dumbo gallery, boutique, book store and performance space, The powerHouse Arena (37 Main Street).
If Opening Night's double bill was selected for its "Stunt"-worthy commentary on the way of the contemporary world, so too are two of the Festival's world premieres: Corey Wascinsky's The Minutemen Movie and Sebastian Conley's Blogging Colin Heart's Kay. The former chronicles a group of real life rebels along the U.S/Mexico border who take the matter of undocumented immigrants into their own hands. And in the latter, Park Slope cartoonist Colin Jenson looks humorously back on his failed love with a fellow blogger.
Also Stuntalicious is Queen of the Sun, the new documentary by Taggart Siegel (The Real Dirt on Farmer John). about today's threat to the world's bees. To crib a sobering teaser from the program blurb, "Without bees, Albert Einstein said, 'Man would only have four years of life left.'" Which was sort of the theme of Bee Movie, come to think.
This year, the Festival will also show films at indieScreen (285 Kent Avenue), a recently opened cinema and bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For example, it will share hosting honors for the annual kidsfilmfest, BiFF's offering for families and children. The Long Island Children's Museum, (11 Davis Avenue) in Garden City, New York, is another kidsfilmfest venue.Fun and toys are also being dangled before the Festival's vying filmmakers, who stand to gain $50,000 in film services, products and cash come the Closing Awards ceremony.Get the full fest lowdown at www.brooklynfilmfestival.org.
Brooklyn Int'l Film Festival
June 4 to 13, 2010
indieScreen285 Kent AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11211Brooklyn Heights Cinema70 Henry StreetBrooklyn, NY 11201powerHouse Arena37 Main StreetBrooklyn, NY 11201
Long Island Children's Museum11 Davis AvenueGarden City, NY 11530
BAMcinemaFEST is back for year two at Brooklyn's BAMcinématek, where its slate of New York premieres stands to fuel its rep as a local Cape Canaveral of independent films. The June 9–20, 2010 spectacle is challenging lazy Manhattanites like me to rethink our scout pledge, "I'll never leave the island for culture."P.T. Barnum paraded 21 elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge, so an hour subway ride shouldn't be such an ordeal. Especially not when it comes to attractions like Opening Night, featuring Jay and Mark Duplass's gleefully squirm-causing Cyrus. The siblings behind The Puffy Chair and Baghead wrote and directed this not-always-romantic comedy of family dysfunction starring Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener and self-proclaimed Shrek-look-alike, John C. Reilly. One of 16 New York premieres at the Festival, the screening will be followed by an Opening Night party in the BAMcafé and Dorothy W. Levitt Lobby (30 Lafayette Avenue).Another fine reason to cross the East River is critic Kent Jones's parlay with Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Demonlover, Irma Vep). The French director has cherrypicked two of his favorite movies for the Festival: Maurice Pialat's We Won't Grow Old Together and David Fincher's director's cut of his crime thriller Zodiac, based on the true story of San Francisco's notorious serial killer of the same name. (Zodiac will be screened prior to Assayas's sit-down with Jones.)Tiny Furniture also carries the stain of real life. The seriocomedy by Lena Dunham tells the semi-autobiographical tale of a recent college grad who returns home while sorting out her future. It won top narrative feature award at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, among other decorations, and Dunham was tagged as one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film" in 2009. One of BAMcinemaFEST's avowed goals is to spotlight emerging voices, per curator Florence Almozini.
However rapturously the film may be greeted during its New York premiere at BAM, its young maker and lead actress is keeping a level head about it. At the Independent Feature Project's annual Script to Screen Conference this March, she acknowledged that the "festival bubble" doesn't reflect reality. Confessing concern that her mini-budgeted film might not have an "afterlife" -- despite its North American acquisition by IFC Films -- she further endeared herself to the crowd with her comment, "It's so important to prove I'm not a big leaky bag of money."
Though I've yet to see Tiny Furniture, I can believe the hype about Dunham's sharp dialogue, and look forward to the schlep on the "N" or the "R." One possibility is the Sunday, June 13 screening under the stars, co-sponsored with the Rooftop Films Summer Series (BAMcinématek parking lot at Fulton Street and Ashland Place).
But it could be a toss up with the 3-D spectacle of Mark Lewis's Cane Toads: The Conquest. Yet another temptation is the closing night showing of G.W. Pabst's silent classic Diary of a Lost Girl, starring Louise Brooks, with live accompaniment by Irish ambient rockers 3epkano.
And how about the Festival's designated "Special Screening," Wake in Fright? Newly restored, the long-lost Ozploitation flick by Ted Kotcheff (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, First Blood), puts the screws to a young schoolteacher in Australia's menacing Outback. (You may know the film as Outback.)
BAMcinemaFEST inherited its mantle from Sundance at BAM, a three-year collaboration between BAMcinématek and the Sundance Institute that showcased fiction and non-fiction features and shorts. This year BAMcinématek marks its 11th anniversary in operation as Brooklyn's lone year-round repertory film program.Repertory programming is also a BAMcinemaFEST highlight, as are American indies, international imports, live music, filmmaker Q&As and parties. During these 12-days in June, I may just need a new Metrocard.Go to www.bam.org/view.aspx?pid=1193 for a deeper dive into the Festival program.BAMcinématekPeter Jay Sharp Building30 Lafayette AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11217
BAMcinématek parking lotFulton Street and Ashland PlaceBrooklyn, NY 11217
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