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The Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival—the longest-running documentary film festival in the United States—celebrate 33 years at the American Museum of Natural History from Thursday, November 12 through Sunday, November 15, 2009 at the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater, Kaufmann Theater, Linder Theater, and the People Center, all at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, in New York City. Screening an outstanding and varied selection of titles culled from more than 1,000 submissions, the Festival is distinguished by extraordinary films that tackle diverse and challenging subjects, as well as exciting discussions with filmmakers and special guest speakers. The Festival presents a far-reaching selection of documentaries and other non-narrative works as well as animation, experimental films, and indigenous media.
This year, the Mead will highlight a series of films in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition Traveling the Silk Road. This series includes Hair India (Raffaele Brunetti and Marco Leopardi, NY Premiere), a stirring story about a destitute family’s religious sacrifice of hair that is processed and ultimately sold for profit; and Cooking History (Péter Kerekes, director in person, NY Premiere), an exploration of the customs and conflicts of food on the frontlines, from serving up savory blinis to Soviet soldiers fighting off Nazi armies to feeding French forces during the Algerian War. Other Festival highlights include Babaji, an Indian Love Story (Jiska Rickels, US Premiere), a captivating tale about a centenarian man near Hazaribagh, India who has dug a grave next to his late wife’s and descends into it each morning to await death; Beyond the Game (Jos de Putter, director in person, US Premiere), a behind-the-scenes look at the tight-knit and competitive community of cybergamers that follows the top players of Warcraft III, the most popular game globally, on their way to the professional world championships; and Blind Loves (Juraj Lehotsky, NY Premiere), an emotional story about four non-sighted subjects as they demonstrate and discuss their passions and anxieties while managing independent lives. Also included is an exploration of the science and history behind Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica, a new multimedia performance by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), which incorporates the sounds of melting ice recorded by Miller in Antarctica.Films are set in Austria, Bosnia, Czech Republic, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, The Netherlands, and United States.Tickets can be purchased by phone at 212-769-5200, online at www.amnh.org/mead, or at any of the American Museum of Natural History admission desks. For more information, the public should call 212-769-5305, or download the schedule at www.amnh.org/programs/mead.
This year’s selections are highlighted by the new film by Francois Ozon, best known for the creepy Swimming Pool and whose Angel had its local premiere at BAM in this series two years ago. But the best film among the five chosen is Alain Cavalier’s Irene. Although his 1986 film Therese, a quietly poetic biography about St. Thérèse of Lisieux, is among the true masterpieces of the past quarter-century, Cavalier’s name registers nary a blip on anybody’s radar nowadays (with the partial exception of a recent re-release of his debut, Le Combat dans l’île), so seeing Irene—an achingly emotional tribute to his late wife, actress Irene Tunc, who died in a car accident in 1972—is a rare privilege.
None of the other films is up to Cavalier’s level, but Grown Ups, Anne Novion’s modest character study, shows a level of maturity for a first-time feature director. When a middle-aged divorcee takes his 17-year-old daughter on her first trip to Sweden, their rental house is occupied by two women, a tense arrangement which Novion smartly uses to transform all of her characters, creating an original coming-of-age film across three generations even as it concentrates on the teen, wonderfully played by Anaïs Demoustier.
For those who like spotting French actors and actresses, Park Benches, by actor-director Bruno Podalydes, is a “Where’s Waldo”-type diversion. In his sprawling canvas (86 speaking roles!) of various relationships in the thriving city of Versailles, Podalydes is just one of dozens of stars who barely make an impression: in 110 minutes of soap opera-ish antics, we move among so many people and places that no one and no plot line register. As minor compensation, there are the likes of Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditti and Denis Podalydes (Bruno’s brother).
The series’ biggest disappointment is Please Please Me! by actor-writer-director Emmanuel Mouret, who doesn’t deserve the “French Woody Allen” appellation he has gotten. Mouret deadpannedly plays goofballs who somehow attract all sorts of attractive women (here it’s Judith Godrèche, Déborah François, Frédérique Bel), but with no screen presence, he further drains his already arid and unoriginal concepts of any comedic life. At least his last mess, Shall We Kiss?, was brightened by the presence of Virginie Ledoyen. And, apropos the English title, there’s not even a Beatles song to pep things up.
New French FilmsBAMCinematekBAM Rose Cinemas30 Lafayette AvenueBrooklyn
November 11-15, 2009
contact for a full schedule: bam.org
The 12th Annual Savannah Film Festival runs October 31 through November 7, 2009, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Some films will also be screened at the Trustees Theater, a 1946 cinema house, and the Lucas Theatre, a former vaudeville theater. In addition to the special screenings, the Gutstein Gallery will be host to informative panels on various aspects of filmmaking, including a session with Adobe's Final Cut Pro.
The Festival has also reinstated the surprise Director’s Choice screening on Thursday, November 5, featuring a major studio release that will be kept secret until the opening credits roll.
On opening night, the university’s president, Paula Wallace, presents the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award to Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster for recognition of their work in the acclaimed drama, The Messenger. The film’s director and co-writer, Oren Moverman, will also be present.
In The Messenger, Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front.
Other honorees for the Festival's annual awards are:
Hugh Dancy and Jeremy Renner will receive Spotlight Awards—Dancy for his performance in this year’s release Adam, and Renner for his performance in The Hurt Locker, which will also screen at the festival.
Patricia Clarkson will receive an Achievement in Cinema Award at a screening of her new film, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works. Emmy Rossum will be honored with the Young Hollywood Award prior to a showing of her film, Dare.
Feature films showing are: Jean-Marc Vallée’s The Young Victoria, Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces, Lone Sherfig’s An Education, James Ivory’s The City of Your Final Destination, the United States premiere of Nick Moran’s Telstar with Moran in attendance, Jodie Markell’s The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (from a screenplay by Tennessee Williams), Bette Gordon’s Handsome Harry, and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon.
Films in competition include:
Short films: Horn Dog, written and directed by Bill Plympton, the fourth film in the famed Oscar®-nominated Dog series; and I Am So Proud of You, by director/writer Don Hertzfeldt, the second chapter to Everything Will Be OK.
Narrative features: Dear Lemon Lima, by director/writer Suzi Yoonessi, with Savanah Wiltfong, Shayne Topp, Zane Huett and Melissa Leo in the cast; Love Hurts, by director/writer Barra Grant, starring Richard E. Grant and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Documentary features include:
No. 4 Street of Our Lady, directed by Barbara Bird and Judy Maltz, the remarkable yet little-known story of Francisca Halamajowa, a Polish-Catholic woman who hid 16 of her Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust while cleverly passing herself off as a Nazi sympathizer;and An Unlikely Weapon, directed by Susan Morgan Cooper, about photographer Eddie Adams.
On closing night, the Festival is screening the highly acclaimed Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Director Lee Daniels and star Gabourey Sidibe will be in attendance.
Adam and Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt, starring Michael Cera, is included as a special screening.
Jurors for the 2009 Savannah Film Festival's are renowned for their work in the film and entertainment industries. This year’s jurors are:
Patti D’Arbanville, winner of the Best Actress Dramalogue Award, has enjoyed an outstanding career in film, television and on stage, with noteworthy roles in The Main Event, The Sopranos, Guiding Light and Third Watch.
Award-winning actress Rita Gam starred in more than 30 feature films before launching a second career as an author and documentary film producer. She has won numerous accolades for her documentaries and books, including the Literary Medal of Excellency from the United Nations Society of Writers for her contribution to better understanding between nations.
Ingrid Rockefeller has written, performed and produced original material off-Broadway and wrote and directed the award-winning short film Melting Ice. She recently started her own company, Light is Sweet Films, and is producing and co-directing a documentary on the life of photojournalist Lisl Steiner.
Michael Sucsy is the writer, director and producer of the Emmy Award-winning Grey Gardens, a made-for-TV movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. The movie also won the 2009 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series, and Specials.
David Twohy, both a writer and director, was named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the most creative people in Hollywood for his work in films such as The Fugitive, Waterworld and The Chronicles of Riddick.
The Savannah Film Festival brings world-renowned filmmakers, producers, actors and journalists, as well as other film enthusiasts, to SCAD and Savannah for eight days of feature films, lectures, workshops, panels and competition films from a range of genres. The festival was started by SCAD President Paula Wallace to provide students with opportunities to network with, meet and learn from entertainment industry leaders and to showcase the university’s talented students and unique resources.
The Savannah Film Festival also plays a significant role in preparing talented students for creative careers. From dramatic writing and performing arts to animation and sound design, almost every department at SCAD-and every student-benefits from the multifaceted festival experience.
For more information, visit www.scad.edu/filmfest.
SCAD: The University for Creative Careers
The Savannah College of Art and Design is the most comprehensive art and design university in the world, offering more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university. SCAD is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees in distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers students a choice of degree programs in 46 majors and more than 50 minors at locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, in Lacoste, France, online through SCAD eLearning, and soon in Hong Kong.
For more information, visit scad.edu.
Jennifer BinsMedia Relations ManagerSavannah College of Art and Design
Lights, Camera, and SAIFWednesday, Oct 28th to Tuesday, Nov 3rd, 2009
The Sixth Annual South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) kicks off this year at the new, state-of-the-art SVA Theater in New York City. The festival has become a landmark event within the United States exclusively dedicated to showcasing the very best in emerging South Asian cinema and independent filmmaking.
The Festival schedule is filled with screenings, panel discussions and post-screening events that represent the identity, culture and perspectives of South Asians in the 21st century. “We are especially excited this year to have more North American premieres than ever before,” said Galen Rosenthal, SAIFF’s Programming Director.
The Official Opening Night Premiere, and a world premiere for the film, at the Paris Theater, is Aladin, the Festival's first Bollywood film to be the Opening Night Presentation since its inception in 2004. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Aladin is a classic tale about a bullied orphan whose life changes when a genie enters his life to grant him three boons to fulfill his contractual obligations. This journey is full of twists and turns; secrets and obstacle; and fantasy adventure that keep the mind guessing and heart pumping.
“We are excited and honored to kick off the weeklong festival with Sujoy Ghosh’s first feature film,” said Shilen Amin, SAIFF President. “SAIFF’s continuing mission is to discover new artists and provide an international platform to emerging independent South Asian filmmakers to showcase their creativity. Sujoy is exceptionally skilled in storytelling and brings the latest in Bollywood’s foray into special effects, establishing never before seen practices in its film production history! Aladin will offer audiences a chance to see how films have changed and what is still to come out of our beloved film industry.”
The festival's Closing Night Premiere will be Paresh Mokashi’s Harishchandrachi Factory at the SVA Theater. This film depicts the true story of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s quest to create India’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra. Released in 1913, Raja Harishchandra was a big hit and the starting point for the emergence of “Bollywood,” the biggest film industry in the world today.
This is also the directorial debut of theater director and actor Paresh Mokashi, whose critically acclaimed and appreciated works are known as experimentations in vivid yet atypical humor. Mokashi started writing the script in 2005 and finished it after only three months. “For me, the inspiration to make the film was Phalke himself. Learning about how he made the film and what he went through prompted me to base the movie on the subject,” he said.
This is also the North American premiere of the Film Federation of India’s official Oscar® entry for the 2010 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category. It is only the second Marathi film after Shwaas (2004) to be selected for the Oscars. The film has already won several awards, including for best director, best film and best art direction at the 46th Maharashtra State Film Awards, and also for best director at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) held earlier this year.
“We are honored to present the first full length feature film of Paresh Mokashi as the festival’s official closing night presentation,” said SAIFF President Shilen Amin. “Paresh entertains and educates moviegoers, many for the very first time, on a true Indian hero with the story of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke and how the birth of Indian cinema took shape nearly ninety-five years ago. This is a very special film for everyone to see and we are proud for him and his team for their 2010 Academy Award nomination.”
In the last five years, SAIFF has surpassed all expectations with its track record of quality films and growing attendance. “SAIFF understands and recognizes the exceptional stories and perspectives in a common era that is characterized through nuances of filmmaking,” said Rosenthal.
The South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting South Asian/Indian filmmakers in the U.S seeking maximum visibility and absolute distribution. SAIFF was founded in New York City due to the lack of support for many emerging filmmakers and the overall underrepresentation of Indian cinema in a capital that is recognized by the world as the birthplace of independent filmmaking! The Festival is committed to exhibiting films from South Asia (i.e India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal) and within the Indian Diaspora. With a focus on dynamic, visionary cinema, SAIFF annually creates unprecedented exposure for filmmakers and unparallel experiences for its attendees. For more information, visit: www.saiff.org.
For more information about the 2009 SAIFF, please log on to: www.saiff.org.
Oct 28th to Nov 3rd, 2009
SVA Theater333 West 23rd StreetNew York, NY 10011
The Paris Theatre4 West 58th StreetNew York NY 10019
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