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Nashville Film Festival Is Music to the Eyes

The Nashville Film Festival turned 40 last year, and while "41" doesn't cut the same dash, the South's oldest film festival shouAdrien Grenierld keep crowds plenty fortified over the next eight days: Running April 15 to 22, 2010, at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas, NaFF has a lineup of 230 films.

Naturally, music themes bloom brightly among these. Titles in the popular "Music Films/Music City" competition include several non-fiction films. There's The Bass Player, Niall McKay's road trip with his Irish jazz-performer dad, and Clark Stiles' Don't Quit Your Daydream. The latter, produced by Adrian Grenier, follows two musicians crisscrossing America in an RV and jamming with folks they encounter along the way.

The Entourage star directed another buzz-making film, Teenage Paparazzo. Closing the Festival with it is a bit of programming mischief that NaFF artistic director Brian Owens calls "almost deliciously subversive … in a town full of celebrities" where fame is downplayed. Bolded names from Alec Baldwin to Noam Chomsky bob up in this documentary about celebrity obsession.

Grenier will make the scene together with country music artist Brad Paisley, whose short film, When Mom's Away, opens the April 22 event.

Robert Patton-Spruill's Do It Again is surely the hoot of the tune tales. The documentary tracks a middlescent journalist's mission to reunite '60s rockers The Kinks. As sad sack as he and his profession may be, America comes off as sorrier still.

NaFF's Opening Night film, Nowhere Boy, cocks a snook at the British Invasion from the other side of the pond. UK director Sam Taylor-Wood dramatizes the young John Lennon's coming of age in post-war Liverpool with his mother, caretaker aunt and the US culture that helped raise him.

Other music-flavored events at the Festival are a "One On One" with composer Carter Burwell. The Coen Brothers staple will take this year's Mike Curb Career Achievement Award For Film Music.

A chat is also scheduled with Mario Van Peebles and the cast of his latest drama, Black, White and Blues. Shot in Nashville, this tale of spiritual redemption and the Memphis blues is one of nine films that will have its world premiere at NaFF.

One of the most hotly anticipated screenings is Radu Mihaileanu's The Concert. It centers on Bolshoi orchestra conductor Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, who was fired during the Brezhnev era for hiring Jewish musicians and who now seeks to reunite them for a Paris concert that the current Bolshoi was slated to perform. French screen veteran Miou-Miou co-stars with Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds).

Like The Concert, Provinces of Night comes to Nashville as a "Special Presentation." Set in rural Tennessee, Shane Dax Taylor's work in progress stars Grammy Award winner Kris Kristofferson as a musician, womanizer and drunk. Character actor W. Earl Brown scripted this translation of William Gay's novel, featuring music by T Bone Burnett. You'd think Crazy Heart might have exhausted the field, but judging by Provinces' reception at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where extra screenings were added, the film co-starring Val Kilmer, Dwight Yoakam and Hilary Duff will garner its share of kudos at Nashville.

For the rest of the international lineup that NaFF artistic director Owens either invited or winnowed down from 2,000 submissions, see

The Regal Green Hills Stadium 16
Apr. 15 – 22, 2010
3815 Green Hills Village Drive

Nashville, TN 37215

If You're Going to San Francisco ... International Film Festival

Four thousand film festivals populate the globe. But more than many, the San Francisco International Film Festival may satisfy a collective hunch of what such a gathering should be. Perhaps age has something to do with it; at 53 years old, SFIFF, held this year from April 22 to May 6, 2010, is the oldest film festival in the Americas.

Then there's the topography of San Francisco, which rises, falls and yields vistas that themselves cop filmic metaphors. Or maybe it's because San Francisco natives form a cultured urban tribe. And if not all that, then its timing — following the previous year's key festivals and preceding mighty Cannes — is enough to drive any fest into compensation mode. Graham Leggett's four years as head of the San Francisco Film Society have spread the enterprise's sticky tentacles in ambitious and effective ways.

Whatever the reason, the Festival styles itself with distinctive flair for its 80,000 or so annual attendees. This year's spin will set in motion some 150 films and live events. By Festival's end, it will have pinned more than 20 ribbons on industry worthies.

Don't you wish you'd been a fly on the wall when the SF Film Society chose John Waters as the man to present Ang Lee's writing partner, James Schamus, with the 2010 Kanbar Award for screenwriting? The transgressive cult director and the Focus Features honcho make one odd couple. By all appearances, the Society's sense of humor has survived the lumpy economy intact.

Walter Murch is its pick for this year's trippy address about "cinema and visual arts, culture and society, images and ideas." The film editor, sound designer and nine-time Oscar–nominee will retell cinema's genesis from the 19th century to now, and dip into the legacies of Beethoven, Flaubert and Edison. Asked to play prophet as well, Murch will foretell how cinema's formative milieu will beget future audiovisual expression.

Such inspired vapors should hover over the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas when Walter Salles receives the 2010 Founder’s Directing Award. For his tribute, an hour-long preview of In Search of On the Road will be screened alongside his other clips. Specially cut for the Festival, this work-in-progress chronicles Salles's efforts to shoot a documentary about Jack Kerouac, his seminal road-trip novel On the Road and the post-war artists, poets and pharmaceutical enthusiasts of the Beat Generation.

In another mix of the vintage and the new, SFIFF will once again screen a silent film to the live accompaniment of an original score by a contemporary musician. This year's pairing is Stephin Merritt and his newly unveiled score for the 1916 epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The event will take place at the landmark Castro Theatre.

A whiff of the quaint surrounds "An Evening with Roger Ebert and Friends," when directors Jason Reitman, Terry Zwigoff and others will gather at the Castro to give the well-known film critic the Mel Novikoff Award. Named for San Francisco's pioneer art-house exhibitor, the award honors those who have made significant contributions to Bay Area filmmaking.

An especially hot ticket is the Midnight Awards, a cocktail toasting an American actor and actress. Taking the cue from late-night talk shows, the witching-hour event features a confab with the two and a sampling of their work. Live music will be performed by Marc and the Casuals.

Each year the Festival heralds an up-and-coming talent via a "Centerpiece" screening of his or her work. The 2010 choice is Josh Radnor and his directorial debut, happythankyoumoreplease. Zoey Kazan, Malin Ackerman and Pablo Schreiber are among the ensemble joining him in front of the camera, where he plays a struggling writer in this Manhattan tableau of Gen Y in post 9/11 Manhattan. Radnor, who also wrote the screenplay, is expected to attend the Kabuki Sundance screening and Centerpiece party at Manor West.

This year's Peter J. Owens Award goes to Robert Duvall at an event featuring an interview with the actor and a look back on his half-century of performing in such standouts as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Great Santini and Tender Mercies, for which he took the Best Actor Oscar. Also screening will be Aaron Schneider's Get Low, in which Duvall plays a pariah from the Tennessee sticks who opts to put on his own funeral while still breathing.

Don Hertzfeld, one of a handful of animators who produces all aspects of his films, is slated to take the Persistence of Vision Award. The Academy Award–nominated shorts filmmaker will be on hand during a rewinding of his career, including such popular titles as I am so proud of you and Intermission in the Third  Dimension.

SFIFF's roster of trophies — which culminates with the Golden Gate Awards — unfolds alongside a vigorous regime of partying. Following the Opening Night film, Micmacs, celebrations will carry on amid the Beaux Arts architecture of the Regency Center. The Closing Night party will feature music inspired by the brash comedian Joan Rivers, who is the subject of Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's documentary, A Piece of Work, which will be screened during the Festival.

Students of the human comedy will have a chance to see Hirokazu Koreeda's newest work, Air Doll. The conceit is flippy, or at least Mannequin-esque: an inflatable "love doll" comes to life and falls in love in present-day Tokyo. Billed as an "anti-fairytale," this meditation on love and loneliness stars Korean leading light Bae Doo-na.

Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara returns to San Francisco, following his 2008 film, The Forsaken Land, with Between Two Worlds. His new drama about the scars of his country's 20-year civil war will screen in the New Directors category.

Civil war, or at least its gathering clouds, also informs White Material. Claire Denis' somber tale of a French matriarch (Isabelle Huppert) who insists on weathering Africa's political chop marks the director's first film situated in that continent since Beau Travail. White Material will be screened under the World Cinema rubric, as will Around a Small Mountain, by her fellow French auteur, Jacques Rivette. Erring on the lighter side, his newest film follows the love story between a French circus performer and an Italian quester who hopes she'll trapeze over her fears.

The full lowdown on San Francisco's two-week cinema circus is posted at

San Francisco International Film Festival

Apr. 22 - May 6

Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
1881 Post Street

San Francisco

Castro Theatre
429 Castro Street
San Francisco

Pacific Film Archive Theater
2575 Bancroft Way


Clay Theater
2261 Fillmore Street

San Francisco

Havana Film Festival New York Ready to Rumble

Jointly presented with Havana, Cuba's International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, the Havana Film Festival New York is close, but no cigar. Subways and skyscrapers just can't match that fallen Habanero elegance as a habitat for Latino cinema. But if Cuba isn't on your itinerary and Manhattan is, you could do worse than to savor a week of Big Apple screenings from and about Latin America and the Caribbean, and about Latinos in the U.S.

HFFNY's 11th fiesta is set to rumble April 16 to 23, 2010, with special events on April 7 at El Museo del Barrio and April 9 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. More than 40 films fill the calendar, alongside parties and chats.

Opening Night will kick off at the Directors Guild Theatre, with the New York premiere of Los Dioses Rotos / Broken Gods. The maiden feature by Cuban director Ernesto Daranas traces a love triangle within present day Havana's underworld paralleling that of early 20th-century politician and gigolo Alberto Yarini. Actress Silvia Aguila will be on hand to discuss the award-winning film.

Earlier on April 16, the New York premiere of Veronica will take place at the Quad Cinema, HFFNY's main screening venue. The thriller by Brazilian director Maurício Farias narrates the escape of a school teacher and her young pupil after the latter's parents are found slain in the Rio de Janeiro slums.

Closing-night rites begin with a screening of Gigante. Set in Montevideo, Uruguay, Adrián Biniez's drama plumbs a night-shift security guard's obsession with a cleaning woman. The Uruguayan-Argentine co-production, which won the Silver Bear in Berlin, is followed by the U.S. premiere of Eso que Anda. Ian Padrón's documentary trails a recent tour by Los Van Van — Cuba's favorite band for 40 years — which attended by more than 1 million people. Padrón will entertain audience Q&A. Filmgoers should be properly jazzed up to conga at the closing-night party at LQ.

Abiding Festival tradition, each year a renowned Latino filmmaker is graced with a tribute. The 2010 honoree is Cuban writer, director, poet, actor and dramatist Enrique Pineda Barnet. Cosmorama, an early forerunner of today's video art movement, will be screened together with such works as La Anunciación, his most recent film about the reunion of Cuban émigrés to the U.S. and their families back home, and Giselle, celebrating the 90th birthday of prima ballerina Alicia Alonso.

Other films about performance include The Extraordinary Journey of Fernando Bujones, dancer Israel Rodríguez' valentine to his mentor; Mambo City, Bette Wanderman's portrait of Puerto Rican singer Awilda Santiago and Salsa/Latin jazz band Grupo Latin Vibe; and Mundo Alas, about a group of disabled artists on tour with "the Argentine Bob Dylan," León Gieco. Gieco fans will have the chance to talk with him following the film, which he co-directed.

To mark its second decade, HFFNY created the Havana Star Prize to salute the Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. These new Havana Star prizes will be handed out at the closing-night ceremony at the Directors Guild Theatre.

Among the Festival's most heralded Havana Star contenders is Huacho, winner of the Grand Coral in Havana. The drama by Alejandro Fernández Almendras portrays a family in grappling with poverty in Chile. Here are some of the other titles competing for Havana Star prizes:

Fans of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s classic Memorias del Subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment) might be curious to see its sequel. Memories of Overdevelopment, by maverick filmmaker Miguel Coyula, presses onward with a Cuban intellectual who emigrates to the U.S. and becomes disillusioned with the "developed" world. The film is based on the novel by Edmundo Desnoes.

From veteran Chilean director Miguel Littín comes Dawson Isla 10 (Dawson Island). It recalls the political imprisonment of toppled President Allende’s cabinet after the 1973 coup.

One of several competition entries from Argentina is Historias Extraordinarias (Extraordinary Stories). Mariano Llinás's Borgesian triptych of seemingly unrelated narratives has a running time of four hours. The three stories in Carlos Enderle's Crónicas Chilangas (Chilango Chronicles) are not only entangled, they become more so as the film progresses. This urban comedy set in Mexico City tracks the lives of a retired teacher with a quadriplegic daughter, a young man who fears extraterrestrials and a fleshy woman obsessed with adult movies.

The national cinemas of Colombia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru, Venezuela and the U.S. are also represented on the slate.

As in past editions, HFFNY will join forces with The Metropolitan Museum of Art to present "Latin American Films For Children." Together with the Queens Museum of Art, it will show Fantasma de Buenos Aires, about a 20th-century ghost awakened by mistake in contemporary Buenos Aires. Other educational partners include El Museo del Barrio, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and NYU’s Cantor Center, Tisch School of the Arts and King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center — site of a Latino film industry panel — with the goal of offering free or low-cost screenings, panels, and programs for all ages.

In a special program marking Mexico’s Bicentennial of Independence and Centennial of its Revolution, the Festival will showcase 26 minute-and-a-half shorts from five of the top Mexican animation directors.

For Festival founder and executive director Carole Rosenberg and programming director Diana Vargas, the more than week-long event offers U.S. audiences a rare, if not singular, opportunity to see new and old gems from the more than century-old Latino film industry.  

All foreign language films are subtitled in English. Additional details are available at

Havana Film Festival New York
3 East 69th Street

New York, NY 10021
(212) 946-1839

Newport Beach Film Festival Catches the Wave

Ranked by as America's richest city, Newport Beach, Calif., can afford to throw a serious party. Newport Beach Film Festival is known to do just that, and even its Web site touts it as a "leading lifestyle" event. So revelers and cinemaphiles are primed for another Orange County-class fiesta this April 22 to 29.

Despite lingering economic challenges, NBFF Executive Director and CEO Gregg Schwenk hopes to build on last year's record attendance of 51,000 strong. Run almost entirely by volunteers, the Festival makes the most of what he touts as its "coastal resort setting, amazing community support and strong filmmaker participation."

The 11th NBFF will show more than 400 films from some 50 countries and host red carpet galas, yacht parties and filmmaker discussions.

Five Star Day holds the Opening Night slot. A romantic comedy starring Cam Gigandet and Jena Malone, it marks the directorial feature debut of Huntington Beach native Danny Buday, who also wrote and produced. The title refers to the protagonist's auspicious birthday horoscope, which turns out to be disastrously inaccurate.

Following the film's world premiere, the opening-night gala on Fashion Island will present specialties from 26 local restaurants, a fashion show and a performance of Mystère by Cirque du Soleil.

The Festival will close with Letters to Juliet, Gary Winikc's modern-day story of star-crossed lovers starring Amanda Seyfried, Gael García Bernal and Vanessa Redgrave. To culminate the week's celebrations, filmgoers will then head over to the closing-night party in the Via Lido Courtyard.

Festival rap surrounds a number of comedies, including Electra Luxx. The sequel to Sebastian Gutierrez' lippy Woman in Trouble tracks the existential crisis of its eponymous porn star, now facing motherhood. Carla Gugino, who is married to Gutierrez, stars alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Timothy Olyphant.

Parenthood and sex also play for laughs in Chris D'Arienzo's Barry Munday, whose titular character — played by Patrick Wilson — loses his testicles. Chloë Sevigny co-stars in this screen adaptation of Life is a Strange Place, a novel by Frank Turner Hollan.

For campy kicks, there's Suck. Featuring a cast of music legends from Iggy Pop (who plays an aging producer) and Alice Cooper (as a bartender) to Moby (a metal rocker), Rob Stefaniuk's vampire spoof may require stronger substance than popcorn to appreciate its aspiring band's quest for immortality and an album deal.

In an action sports lineup to rival Tribeca's, NBFF will kick off a half a dozen world premieres. Surfing culture comes under consideration in such documentaries as Nathan Apffel's essay on anti-commericalism, Lost Prophets-Search for the Collective; Ann Chatillon's Newport Beach remembrance, Living It Forever; and Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story, in which Brian Gillogly traces Malibu surfer-turned-cultural-phenomenon Kathy "Gidget" Kohner Zuckerman.

Non-fiction films also abound in a program exploring art, architecture and design. A highlight is Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, in which Tamra Davis looks back on the Lower East Side graffiti artist's cult mystique.

Family stories, shorts and productions by filmmakers from area colleges comprise other returning categories. The Festival also promises the annual harvest of world cinema, with seven titles from Russia.

Upholding a cherished tradition, NBFF will continue with its John Wayne retrospective, which was launched in 2007 to commemorate the actor's 100th birthday. A remastered, Blu-ray edition of The Stagecoach will serve this year's tribute screening.

Were the former Newport Beach resident still alive, he'd surely join other glitterati from nearby Hollywood who add to NBFF's twinkle without detracting from its folksy accessibility. 

For tickets and more information, visit

Newport Beach Film Festival
4540 Campus Drive

Newport Beach, CA 92660
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
949 253 2530


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