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For its 13th installment, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival opens with Kings of Pastry, about a French chef competition. The gastronomic theme pairs well with Full Frame's closing barbecue, a tradition that incarnates the Southern hospitality associated with this Durham, N.C., event, taking place April 8 to 11, 2010.Yet not so long ago, a film celebrating quiche-eaters might not have enjoyed such a visible U.S. premiere. That this Gallic bakeoff by husband-and-wife filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus whets moviegoers' appetites suggests a cultural shift, since French fries were renamed "freedom fries" in the early days of the Iraq War.America's battles, however, rage on, and one of the most highly anticipated films to be screened at this Full Frame follows a U.S. platoon in the deadly Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. Titled Restrepo, this collaboration between Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger won the Grand Jury award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and is touted as a corrective to the liberties taken in The Hurt Locker.Another combat-themed film at Full Frame is How to Fold a Flag (pictured on our front page). The fourth installment in Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's Iraq War series tracks the four U.S. soldiers introduced in Gunner Palace (2004) as they readjust to civilian life. An especially poignant scene concerns dishonorable discharge, which a vet suffering from post-traumatic disorders sees as a ruse to manage the demands on VA hospitals.Compared against the recent past, programming director Sadie Tillery "would not say this year's films were especially bleak." The selection committee "culled together a mix from such a broad spectrum … some celebratory, some grim," she commented.Of the more than 1,200 submissions that swarmed the Festival inbox, only 57 made it to the 2010 "New Docs" section.Alex Gibney — whose Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) and Oscar laureate Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) graced previous Full Frame editions — returns with Casino Jack and the United States of Money. The gripping saga of lobbyist Jack Abramoff spans his early years as Republican cheerleader through his incarceration for fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials, by way of Indian casinos, Russian spies, Chinese sweatshops and Mafia-style murder in Miami, Fla. As depressing as it is enlightening, Gibney's crash course in the commerce of democracy bares the nightmarish potential of the American Dream.
Yoruba Richen's Promised Land also vies in the "New Docs" competition. This study of land claims cases in South Africa follows two black communities struggling to reclaim their inheritance from white citizens who gained ownership under apartheid.Screening alongside the competition will be a program of films about labor, identity and globalization. The series, which was curated by the directing team of Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, includes China Blue. Micha X. Peled's clandestine exposé of blue-jeans manufacture in China squints the human aspects of globalization, and makes you rethink what really comes between you and your denims.Bognar and Reichert's latest film, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant, will be screened in the "Invited" category alongside such works as Michel Gondry's family album, The Thorn in the Heart, and Steven Soderbergh’s look back on monologist Spaulding Grey, And Everything is Going Fine.This year's Career Award honors Liz Garbus and Rory Kennedy, makers of films on the legal system, AIDS, human rights and other social issues involving everyday heroes.The four-day Festival, which is jointly presented with Duke University, offers conversations with filmmakers, workshops, parties and a handful of free community screenings.For now, it has no plans to follow a small but growing roster of film festivals entering the distribution business. This could change under new executive director Dierdre Haj, though Tillery doesn't consider herself "a distributor or someone who can negotiate that deal.""We made a conscious decision not to be a market," she adds. Nor does the Festival require premieres. "It's important for filmmakers to show as at many platforms as possible," explains Tillery.The current thrust of Full Frame's industry ambitions is to allow "filmmakers to see one another's work and…have time to sit down with and enjoy coffee and discuss what they just saw." Set within a single downtown block, the Festival nurtures an atmosphere of sanity by the mere fact that "you're not running to the next shuttle or screening," says Tillery.For further details, consult www.fullframefest.orgFull Frame Documentary Film Festival324 Blackwell Street, Suite 500Washington Building, Bay 5Durham, NC 27701(919) 687-4100
And for FFTraveler's coverage of Durham proper go to: http://filmfestivaltraveler.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=678:durham-nc-&catid=105:travel-feature&Itemid=107
For 39 years now, the first sign of spring is a mating dance between the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Society of Lincoln Center called New Directors/New Films. The series culls the latest creations from directors who themselves tend to be recently hatched.
Noteworthy selections include Mia Hansen-Løve's Father of My Children (Le père de mes enfants) and exiled Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men. Coincidentally, both stories pivot on a suicide.
The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival runs March 11-21, 2010 at the Castro Theatre and Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco, and other venues, and, in conjunction, the festival is also being held for the ninth year in San Jose on March 19-21. Presented by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the 28th edition showcases an array of films that span the genres, from international horror and romantic comedies to documentaries on poet/ activists and a Japanese American Black Panther. This year's edition of the largest festival dedicated to Asian and Asian American films also coincides with the 30th anniversary of CAAM, and to celebrate they present a lineup of live events, interactive projects, online contests and more. Leading films are:The Opening Night Gala film, Today’s Special, directed by David Kaplan, starring Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Naseeruddin Shah and celebrity chef Madhur Jaffrey. A sous-chef whose life is turning to hash finds renewal with some unlikely characters. The Centerpiece Film, The People I've Slept With, directed by Quentin Lee, is a new comedy about a promiscuous young woman who suddenly finds herself pregnant. Starring Karin Anna Cheung (Better Luck Tomorrow), Archie Kao (CSI) and James Shigeta.The Closing Night Gala film is Au Revoir Taipei, directed by Arvin Chen, which follows a lovesick boy and a female bookstore clerk through the sights and streets of nighttime Taipei in their quest for love.Other features in this awesome lineup include:God is D_ad, directed by Abraham Lim, won the Best Picture award at last week's Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles. This road trip gathers together some strangers headed for a gamers' tournament in Chicago for a journey that prompts the question: are we bound by free will, an omniscient God or the roll of the Dungeon Master's dice? The U.S. Premiere of The Message, directed by Chen Kuo-fu and Gao Qunshu. In Japanese-occupied Nanjing, “the Phantom” is leaking Japanese secrets to the resistance. Five suspects are rounded up: will they destroy one another—and the resistance—to save themselves? Starring Li Bingbing and Zhou Xun (Suzhou River).Hong Kong’s entry for this year’s Academy Awards is Prince of Tears, directed by Yonfan. Two young sisters come of age during Taiwan’s brutal anti-communist crackdowns of the ‘50s.Documentaries include:The World Premiere of Lessons of the Blood, directed by James T. Hong and Yin-Ju Chen. This film is a brilliant exploration of the explosive and contested history of Japanese atrocities and biological warfare in China during WWII. Aoki, directed by Mike Cheng and Ben Wang, highlights the life of Bay Area Japanese American activist Richard Aoki (1938 – 2009), a founding member of the Black Panther Party. From a Japanese internment camp to the Vietnam War and a friendship with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, Aoki’s remarkable life and activism is covered through interviews, contemporary footage and archival material.State of Aloha, directed by Anne Misawa reveals that despite its reputation, the 50th state in the Union is far from an idyllic paradise. Narrated by Hawai’i resident Jason Scott Lee, this documentary explores the hot-button controversies surrounding Hawai’ian statehood and all that it has entailed.Other special presentations:A Retrospective of Lino Brocka, the first Filipino director to screen at Cannes. The four films selected for screening are:Manila in the Claws of Neon, about a young provincial looking for his lost love in Manila; You Have Been Weighed and Found Wanting, about a sensitive young man who is drawn to the outcasts of his small town; Insiang, about a young woman in the slums of Tondo whose efforts to respect her "serpent-like" are blown apart by the mother's younger lover; and Bayan Ko, about how depoliticized individuals are still, no matter what, destroyed by economic circumstances. The film’s Cannes screening caused a furious Marcos regime to revoke Brocka’s citizenship.This year’s "Spotlight" is on Oscar and Emmy-award winning producer, director and writer Freida Lee Mock (Maya Lin: a Strong Clear Vision). Two of her latest documentaries are screened, and she will be present for discussions following the screenings.Lt. Watada – Lieutenant Ehren Watada is the bravest man in the military, or the best friend of Al Qaeda, depending on whom you ask. Mock’s riveting documentary tells the lieutenant’s tale, from heroic enlister in the armed forces to famed resister of the Iraq War. Sing China! – The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus tours across a China preparing for the Beijing Olympics. Part travelogue of a nation on the verge of change, part cultural investigation of American preteens having their eyes opened to a new world, and all an extraordinary musical experience. Other festival events include The Bonesetter’s Daughter: Making of an Opera (Working Title ) is a work-in-progress screening of a new opera written by Amy Tan from her novel, sung by the San Francisco Opera."Up Close & Personal with the Asian American Film Industry," a session with top film producer Karin Chien (The Motel, Robot Stories). "Imagining Atrocity: City of Life and Death and the Nanjing Massacre on Film," presented by Michael Berry, Associate Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies at UC Santa Barbara. "Best Fest Photo Contest": Attendees can submit their Festival photos and enter to win a Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder plus two Fast Passes to the 2011 SFIAAFF. Entries in three categories: Paparazzi – Snap photos of favorite Festival celebritiesPlaces and Spaces – Get shots of the many beautiful & iconic venues of the FestivalFest Faces, sponsored by shu uemura – Capture all the fabulous faces of the FestivalAbout the FestivalThe Center for Asian America Media presents the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) every March. The SFIAAFF is the nation’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian films, annually presenting approximately 120 works in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose. Since 1982, the SFIAAFF has been an important launching point for Asian American independent filmmakers as well as a vital source for new Asian cinema.For more information, visit festival.asianamericanmedia.org. San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival March 11-21, 2010Castro Theatre29 Castro St., San Francisco415-621-6120Sundance Kabuki Cinemas 1881 Post St., San Francisco415-346-3243
For the fifth consecutive year, New Directors/New Films presents a matinee series comprised of past festival highlights.
This year, the focus is on France, a country whose emerging filmmakers have been an integral part of the ND/NF program since its inception.
It has included such future masters of world cinema as André Téchiné, François Ozon and Laurent Cantet. The following five (re)discoveries from the past two decades — none of them currently available on DVD in the U.S. — are no exception. Blame It on Voltaire (La Faute à Voltaire) (ND/NF 2001)2000. FranceDirected by Abdel KechicheThe new “face” of Europe, belonging to African and Arab immigrants, has rarely been as powerfully captured as in this remarkable debut film by writer-director Kechiche (L’Esquive, The Secret of the Grain). Young Moroccan Jallel (beautifully played by Sami Bouajila) comes looking for the lights of Paris but instead finds black-market jobs and crowded hostels. Yet he also discovers a bracing solidarity between newcomers like him and other outcasts from French society — especially Lucie (Élodie Bouchez, from The Dreamlife of Angels), a disturbed young Frenchwoman who gives Jallel a very distinctive experience of his new country. Avoiding sensationalism, Kechiche renders one man’s dreams, fears and desires, as well as the concrete concerns of his daily life.130 min.Tue Mar 30: 3:15 (FSLC) Hometown Blues (Le Bleu des villes) (ND/NF 2000)1999. FranceDirected by Stéphane Brizé.How many versions of a life can one live? Are we stuck with our first choice? In his sweet but sturdy first feature, Brizé (Mademoiselle Chambon, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2010) asks these questions and many more. Florence Vignon, who co-wrote the script, plays Solange, a put-upon meter maid married to Patrick, who slaves away at the local morgue. Ready to make the move into a new house, life jseems okay for these two until Solange’s childhood friend, now a celebrated TV weather-girl, gives her a glimpse of other possibilities. With visions of a new life in her head, Solange returns to her first love — karaoke singing — and suddenly those house plans fall by the wayside. Moments of deadpan humor buoy this bittersweet tale of upsetting the status quo. 105 min.Mon Mar 29: 3:15 (FSLC) Sound and Fury (De bruit et de fureur) (ND/NF 1989)1988. FranceDirected by Jean-Claude BrisseauThe real-life experiences of French cinema’s enfant terrible Brisseau (Secret Things, Exterminating Angels) inspired this powerful and provocative opening-night film from the 1989 edition of New Directors/New Films. Set in the Paris suburbs, Brisseau’s film explores with sensitivity and signature urgency the loneliness and disaffection of two teenagers, Bruno (Vincent Gasperitsch) and Jean-Roger (François Négret) — innocents in the jungle of high-rises and savage school gangs. Tenderness gives way to violence and back again as these “lost” youths must rely on their street smarts to survive. Winner of the Prix Spécial de la Jeunesse at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. 95 min.Fri Apr 2: 3:15 (FSLC) Victor (Victor…pendant qu’il est trop tard)(ND/NF 1999)1998. FranceDirected by Sandrine VeyssetOn a cold winter’s night, a young boy runs away from his parents and their kinky sexual fantasies, and winds up spinning on the merry-go-round of a carnival that’s come to town. After fainting in the arms of Mick, one of the workers at the fairgrounds, he is taken to the home of Trish, a young prostitute who doesn’t really know what to do with this young thing — she’s got problems of her own. But Victor seems to be the impetus for Trish to take control of her life, and likewise, Victor comes to life in her (maternal) arms. Veysset (Will It Snow for Christmas?) finds the poetry in reality in this down-to-earth fairy tale, and turns the concept of family on its head. 88 min.Wed Mar 31: 3:15 (FSLC) When the Cat’s Away (Chacun cherche son chat)(ND/NF 1997)1996. France. Directed by Cédric KlapischIn this delightful opening-night film of the 1997 New Directors/New Films, young and hip makeup artist Chloé (Garance Clavel) can’t find anyone to watch her cat while she goes on vacataion, so she leaves her precious Gris-Gris in the care of an eccentric old woman. When she returns, she finds the cat has disappeared. Aided by a cadre of senior citizens, who search for the missing feline with an enthusiasm not seen since D-Day, Chloé encounters myriad locals that she would never have otherwise met. Likewise, writer-director Klapisch (L’Auberge Espagnole, Paris) lets his camera wander in unexpected directions as we discover how the disparate characters of a neighborhood come together to form a community. 91 min.Thu Apr 1: 3:15 (FSLC)
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