Movies at the 2003 High Falls Film Festival
ANGELA (Feature, Italy, 87 minutes).
With her two previous features, Roberta Torre created the outrageous mini-genre of the Sicilian gangster musical, but she comes into her own as a serious director with this spare, dark drama about a Palermo Mafia wife, caught between the mob code of honor and her adulterous passion. In a nervy, haunting screen debut, theater actress Donatella Finocchiaro captures the inner turmoil of the seemingly dutiful heroine. As Angela plunges into an affair with her husband’s womanizing cousin, she experiences something far more intoxicating than illicit sex – a taste of freedom so compelling that she’s willing to court tragedy in its pursuit. (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: Delta Stratagem
ANYTHING BUT LOVE (Feature, USA, 99 minutes).
Rose (Isabel Rose) is an old-fashioned girl – a struggling lounge singer, who idolizes Audrey Hepburn and combs second-hand stores for the gloves, veiled hats and swinging skirts that signify 1950s glamour. Just when Rose’s career prospects look most bleak, she finds herself pursued by not one heartthrob but two: a successful corporate lawyer and a shy but raffish piano player (played by a disarmingly sexy Andrew McCarthy.) Like its heroine, “Anything But Love” makes the most of a thrift-store style, ingenuously creating a couple of Vincente Minnelli-like musical numbers on a shoe string budget. (Amy Taubin)
Writer/star Isabel Rose will introduce the film and
will be available for questions after the screening.
Sponsored by: Warm 101.3 Continuous Soft Rock
BALZAC AND A LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS (Feature, France/China, 116 minutes).
At the height of the Cultural Revolution in China, two teenage boys who are best friends are sent to the depths of the countryside for a Maoist re-education. Sons of reactionary intellectuals, Luo is a violinist who manages to save his precious instrument from immediate destruction by pretending to local headman that Mozart is an important figure of the Revolution and playing his tunes. His friend, Dai, is a lively and well-read storyteller, who tailors his tales to entrance the peasantry after the back-breaking labor they share in the fields and coal mines. The boys’ resourcefulness is taxed constantly in this alien and malevolent environment. Dai’s talent causes the chief of the village to send them to a larger town to watch melodramatic movies of the revolution and bring those stories back to the village. During one of these trips, they fall in love with the local beauty (daughter of a renowned tailor), and they meet another enemy of the people: a boy like themselves who happens to have a secret stash of subversive literature, including Flaubert, Tolstoy, Balzac.
With these stories, especially Balzac, they woo the girl, who begins to evolve emotionally and intellectually. Beautifully shot in the remote Chinese countryside, this film is a romantic paean to European thought, which makes it unusually accessible to western audiences, who will also delight in the performances of the three young actors. (Catherine Wyler)
Sponsored by: Messenger Post
BLIND SHAFT (Feature, China/Germany, 91 minutes).
Every day, thousands of people risk their lives in China’s dangerous and often illegal mines. Song and Tang are two of them, but they have a plan–one that involves murder and extortion. But having won the trust of young Luan, the two have a crisis of conscience that leads to an unexpected turn. Definitions of right and wrong become blurred in this chilling tale of Chinese workers trying to get by any way they can. Winner, Silver Bear, 2003 Berlin Film Festival and Audience Award, 2003 Tribeca Film Festival.
BLUEGRASS JOURNEY (Documentary, USA, 86 minutes).
As straightforward and audience-friendly as the music it pays tribute to, “Bluegrass Journey” directed and produced by Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer, captures the talent and spirit of Bluegrass at its two biggest events: The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Ancramdale, New York and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention and awards ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky. Opening with a four-minute jam, videotaped up-close, the film keeps the music front and center without neglecting the input of its dedicated fans, many of whom come to the festivals with their instruments, ready to play in workshops and parking lots. The performances by such passionate, virtuoso musicians as the Del McCoury Band, Nickel Creek, Bob Paisley and Southern Grass, Tim O’Brien and The Crossing, and Tony Rice will have audiences all but levitating. (Amy Taubin)
Directors and producers Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer will be at the Festival to introduce the film and take questions after the screening.
Sponsored by: Greater Rochester Visitors Association, Inc.
CATCHING OUT (Documentary, USA, 79 minutes).
The phrase ‘Catching Out’ describes the act of hopping a freight train. Here, the adventure begins on the porch of a grainer hurtling through the arid expanse of the Mojave Desert. The journey continues into the unconventional terrain of an American sub-culture. The film features a seasoned eco-activist named Lee, a young nomad named Jessica, and a twenty-something tramp couple named Switch and Baby Girl. In three interwoven stories, CATCHING OUT follows these contemporary trainhoppers as they navigate between the constraints of society and the freedom of the road.
Director and Producer Sarah George will be at the festival to introduce her film and take questions after the screening
THE COMPANY (Feature, USA/Germany).
Special Closing Night Film at the Dryden.
With THE COMPANY, esteemed director Robert Altman (GOSFORD PARK) teams up with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and talents Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell to create an airy, colorful and penetrating look at the intense day-to-day work of a ballet company. Altman has explored the grittier side of artistic pursuits before from his wry compassion for aspiring country musicians (NASHVILLE) to his double-edged tribute to painting (VINCENT AND THEO) and the film industry itself (THE PLAYER). THE COMPANY pays homage to one of the most delicate of the arts, one dedicated to the joy and exuberance of movement. The film is a startlingly intimate pas de deux between Altman’s fluid, expressive camera and the pulsating life force of ballet. The director delves into the subtleties of the dancers’ interactions , both on and off the studio floor, through the story of a woman (Campbell) poised to become a principal dance and wrestling with the astronomical physical and emotional demands of her vocation. One source of anxiety is the company’s autocratic artistic director, portrayed with exceptional insight by McDowell. Campbell drew on her experience studying with the National Ballet of Canada to develop the story in collaboration with screenwriter Barbara Turner (co-writer of POLLOCK). (Toronto International Film Festival 2003)
Co-writer Barbara Turner will be at the festival to introduce the film and take questions after the screening.
Sponsored by: Strong Health Women’s Services
DIVAN (Documentary, Hungary/Ukraine/USA, 77 minutes).
Filmmaker Pearl Gluck was raised in Borough Park, Brooklyn’s insular Hassidic Jewish community. When she was fifteen, thanks to what she wryly terms “ the miracle of my mother’s divorce,” she escaped to Manhattan. As much as Gluck enjoys her more secularized life, she longs to win her father’s approval. But even when she receives the first Yiddish Fulbright grant to Hungary, he is unimpressed. . “Divan” is the narrative of a journey during which Gluck reaffirms both her emotional and intellectual connection to Hassidic culture and also her desire to forge her own identity outside the confines of her father’s house. (Amy Taubin)
Filmmaker Pearl Gluck will join us to introduce her film and
take questions afterward.
GIRL HOOD (Documentary, USA, 82 minutes).
Award-winning documentarian Liz Garbus follows two teenage girls, Shanae and Megan, as they make the transition to the outside world from the juvenile institution where they served time for extremely violent crimes. The film investigates the situations that gave rise to the girls’ violent acts, and also their desperate desire for maternal love. Empathetic but never sentimental, GIRL HOOD is far removed from Hollywood’s vision of growing up female, but its two heroines are more courageous and deserving of attention than any teen movie idol. (Amy Taubin)
GUARDIAN OF THE FRONTIER (Feature, Slovenia, 100 minutes).
Despite news reports of a serial killer on the loose, three Slovenian college chums head out on a summer rafting trip. The winding river and the deep woods along its bank are filled with dangers, but the greatest threat comes from within the women themselves as they attempt to define their sexual identities and desires. Director Maja Weiss expertly maneuvers between realism and fantasy and among three distinct female subjectivities. (Amy Taubin)
IN AMERICA (Feature, USA, 114 minutes)
Like Jim Sheridan’s acclaimed MY LEFT FOOT and IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, IN AMERICA is an intense, deeply personal film. Based on the Irish director’s experience of living in New York City in the 1980s with his family—and trying to pay the rent while looking for work in the theater—it’s a volatile mixture of memory and raw, immediate emotion. Johnny (Paddy Considine) brings his wife (Samantha Morton) and two daughters to New York in the hope that they will be able to begin a new life. But the family is still suffering the death of Frankie, the youngest child, and the highs and lows of the city itself mirror the chaotic inner experience of mourning. The film is anguished, exciting, and hilarious, sometimes all at once.
Naomi Sheridan will be on hand at the Festival to talk about the film and take questions from the audience.
INCH’ ALLAH SUNDAY (Feature, France, 97 minutes).
Set during the 1970s when France relaxed its immigration policy to allow Algerian workers to bring their families to live with them, the first fiction feature by documentarian Yamina Benguigui is a graceful, moving, and occasionally quietly funny account of a woman caught between two cultures. Literally wrenched from the arms of her mother, Zouina arrives in France with her three children only to find herself a prisoner in her husband’s house. Her mother-in-law treats her like a slave and her confused, insecure husband follows his mother’s lead to prove his manhood. But on the rare occasions when Zouina manages to get out, she finds an intriguing world, where people are unexpectedly supportive. (Amy Taubin)
LAST DANCE (Documentary, USA, 84 minutes).
It was a most unlikely artistic collaboration: Pilobolus, the decades old experimental dance company and Maurice Sendak, writer and illustrator of such famed children’s books as Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. When Sendak explains during his first meeting with the company that the subtext of all his work is the Holocaust, you can see Pilobolus’s collective jaw drop. Mirra Bank documented the process of this merger, capturing some of its stormy moments and also the exhilaration of everyone involved when it bears fruit. (Amy Taubin)
Mirra Bank, the film’s director, will attend to introduce her film and discuss it with High Falls audience members.
LOS ZAFIROS: MUSIC FROM THE EDGE OF TIME (Documentary, USA, 85 minutes).
Long before the term “fusion music” was coined, four young Cuban singers and a guitarist, who were crazy for American groups like The Plattters and The Mills Brothers, put together a group that combined doo-wop and surf music with salsa, calypso, bossa nova and every other Latin beat imaginable. At the most chilling moment of the standoff between Kennedy and Castro, the music of Los Zafiros (The Sapphires) was the passionate artistic marriage that Cold War politics tried to forbid. Thirty years after the group fell apart, director/producer Lorenzo DeStefano and executive producers Randa Haines and Sandra Levinson bring together its two surviving members in a film that rivals THE BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB in its combination of irresistible music and charming codgers against the background of one of the world’s most fascinating cities. (Amy Taubin)
Producer Randa Haines will join us at the screening to introduce the film and talk with the audience.
Sponsored by: 4D Advertising
MARK OF CAIN (Documentary, USA, 73 minutes).
The tradition of tattooing in Russian prisons is a form of outsider art dating back to the early Soviet gulags. Created by prisoner-artists with a potentially lethal mix of soot and urine, the tattoos are a coded language from which can be read everything about an inmate’s status in the prison hierarchy, the crimes for which he or she has been convicted, and the length and times of incarceration. Alix Lambert gained access to eight Russian prisons, where she interviewed thieves and murderers in their cells as well as prison officials, who are remarkably forthcoming about the terrible conditions. MARK OF CAIN suggests what Dostoyevsky might have done, had digital cameras been available in the 19th century. (Amy Taubin)
Meet Alix Lambert, the film’s director, as she comes to High Falls to introduce her film and take questions after the screening.
MR. AND MRS. IYER (Feature, India, 120 minutes).
On an afternoon bus trip through the seemingly peaceful Himalayan foothills, a diverse group of multi-generational passengers bicker about seating arrangements and the noise made by a bunch of excitable teenagers. Mrs. Meenakshi Iyer is a Hindu woman traveling with her young son. Raja, a photographer who is a casual acquaintance of Meenakshi’s father, is charged with looking out for her during the long journey. When the bus is stopped by a road closed as a result of the burning of a Hindu village by Muslims, the police announce that Hindu extremists are seeking revenge and command that everyone remain on the locked bus for the night. Raja reveals to Meenakshi that he is Muslim and when Hindu rioters board the bus, Meenakshi saves his life by claiming him as her husband. Through the ensuing day and night, “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer” must trust each other if they are to survive the violence that is exploding around them. As an intimate friendship develops between the pair, Meenakshi must come to terms with her own class and religious prejudices and always-on-the-move Raja with his loner lifestyle.
MONIQUE (Feature, France, 92 minutes).
Middle-aged photographer Alex is so bored with his life that he barely speaks to his son, his wife or his boss. When his son goes off to school and his wife leaves him to move in with her sculpting instructor, Alex is surprised find himself home alone with a full-size life-like silicone doll of a buxom younger woman that he ordered over the Internet one drunken, lonely night. As Alex becomes enamoured with the idea of living like a hermit with “the perfect woman,” his friends alternately worry for his sanity and are inspired to engage in increasingly erotic behaviors themselves but ultimately question their own desires and perceived imperfections. When you get what you want, do you really want what you have? By turns comic, sexy and somber—and definitely outrageous—MONIQUE explores the complex issues of love, relationships and the search for perfection in our lives. (Karen vanMeenen)
MY ARCHITECT (Documentary, USA, 116 minutes).
Louis Kahn was described in his obituary in The New York Times as America’s preeminent architect, but he died alone and on the verge of bankruptcy, of a heart attack in the men’s room of Pennsylvania Station in 1974. The obituary mentioned that Kahn left a wife and one daughter, but omitted the less known fact that he had fathered another daughter and a son during successive, extended relationships with women who worked with him on architectural projects. Roughly twenty-five years after his father’s death, his youngest child, Nathaniel Kahn, decided to make a film about the man who was such a seductive and mysterious figure in his life. (Amy Taubin)
Producer Susan Rose Behr will join us at the screening of this film, and will be on hand for Q&A.
Sponsored by: K2
MY LIFE WITHOUT ME (Feature, Spain/Canada, 106 minutes)
Gifted Canadian actor Sarah Polley combines gossamer and steel in her portrayal of Ann, a 24-year-old wife and mother of two young daughters who goes to the hospital thinking she’s pregnant and discovers that she is dying of cancer. . Director Isabel Coixet is wonderfully sensitive to Polley’s performance; in an excellent supporting cast, Mark Ruffalo is achingly romantic as the lover Ann meets in a Laundromat and Deborah Harry brings the bruises of a lifetime to the role of Ann’s mother. (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: Buck & Pulleyn
NOGO (Feature, Austria, 90 minutes).
An isolated highway gas station is the point of intersection for three stories, each featuring a couple, united against what it perceives as a hostile, threatening world. The debut film of Austrian writer-directors Sabine Hiebler and Gerhard Ertl, NOGO displays the punked-out visual style, dark humor, and edgy eroticism that defines recent German-language cinema. (Amy Taubin)
OSAMA (Feature, Afghanistan, 82 minutes).
The first entirely Afghan film made after the fall of the Taliban is also the debut of director Siddiq Barmak. Based on a newspaper account Barmak read while in exile in Pakistan, it tells the harrowing story of a twelve-year-old-girl forced to a disguise herself as a boy in order to support her widowed mother and grandmother. She is soon rounded up and sent to a Taliban boys’ school, run by a monstrous mullah, in whom religious fanaticism and misogyny are inseparable. Working with limited resources and in chaotic conditions, Barmak has produced a film that is both raw and thoughtful, combining neorealism with elements of self-reflexivity, much in the manner of the Iranian master, Abbas Kiaristami. (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: Craig Autometrics
OUR TIMES (Documentary, Iran, 75 minutes).
Rakhshan Bani-Eternad, one of Iran’s leading and most prolific filmmakers, takes as her subject the power of women in the 2001 presidential election. Opening with the pragmatic and exuberant campaign waged by young artists, filmmakers, and college students (including Bani-Eternad’s daughter) in support of the re-election of Mohammad Khatami, the film then focuses on Arezoo Bayat, one of 48 female nominees for president whose candidacies were all refused by the government. The film is an inspiring tribute to a remarkable woman and also a tough-minded, unblinking depiction of the conditions Iranian women struggle against every day of their lives. (Amy Taubin)
THE SAME RIVER TWICE (Documentary, USA, 78 minutes).
In the late 1970s, Robb Moss was part of a small group of twentysomethings, who worked as whitewater guides on the Colorado River. Moss filmed his friends’ sojourn in this wild Paradise where the only dress code was to go naked whenever the tourists were absent. Twenty years later Moss, now a film professor at Harvard, decided to visit his old friends, show them his record of their hippie idyll, and find out how their lives had developed in the intervening years. THE SAME RIVER TWICE weaves past and present into portraits of baby-boomers who have become wiser but not cynical in middle-age. (Amy Taubin)
Editor Karen Schmeer will offer unique insights at the screening, as she introduces the film and takes audience questions following the screening.
SEASIDE (Feature, France, 88 minutes).
Julie Lopes-Curval’s bountiful debut feature is set in a formerly fashionable French beach resort, and you can feel the sea breezes and the sense of bonheur they inspire –even on damp winter nights – in just about every shot. Curval weaves the lives of about a dozen residents and summer visitors into a tapestry of friendships, romances, marriages, feuds and divorces. In a delicately balanced ensemble cast, three actresses stand out: fast-rising French star Helene Fillieres, Ludmila Mikael, and, best of all, Bulle Ogier, who brings to her character the knowledge that the psyche and the body do not necessarily age in concert. (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: Mercury Print Productions, Inc.
SHANGHAI EXPRESS (part of the Women’s Preservation Fund Screening).
Also showing: A FOOL AND HIS MONEY.
Shanghai Express FEATURE, USA, 1932. Directed by Josef von Sternberg
With Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, Warner Oland, Clive Brook, Eugene
Irresistibly enjoyable. Marlene Dietrich gets to deliver what is pehaps her most memorable line: “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.” In this glossy mixture of sex and intrigue, Shanghai Lily and her exquisitely stoic beloved (Clive Brook) fall into the hands of sinister Chinese revolutionaries led by Warner Oland. (He gets to deliver a camp classic -”The white woman stays with me.”) When this Oriental chieftain questions Lily about why she’s going to Shanghai, she answers “To buy a new hat.” The scriptwriter, Jules Furthman, must have had a special affection for this line, because he gave it to Lauren Bacall, in her debut film,TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT in 1944. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, this movie has a style – a triumphant fusion of sin, glamour, shamelessness, art, and perhaps, a furtive sense of humor. (Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies)
SHANGHAI LILY will be preceded by this recently recovered short film:
A Fool And His Money USA, 1912, 12 minutes. A FOOL AND HIS MONEYwas discovered in the summer of 2000 in a trunk purchased at a flea market. It is a “lost” film by the first woman director Alice Guy Blaché for her Solax studio.
In 1894, she was hired as a secretary at Gaumont studio in Paris. In 1896, she directed her first film, and by 1897, she was running all production at Gaumont. When she married Herbert Blaché, 8 years her junior, they formed Solax studios in the US.
Eager to depict itself as an American company, Solax interestingly played an important role in depicting Jews and Blacks in a more kindly fashion than the times dictated. A FOOL AND HIS MONEY is the first American film with an all Black cast.
It was recently preserved by the American Film Institute with a grant from the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film and Television. Mary Lea Bandy, Chief Curator of Film and Media at the Museum of Modern Art will introduce the film.
For information on Alice Guy Blaché, thanks to Tara Taghizadeh, “Alice in Wonderland,” Pop Matters, June 12, 2002.
SHE GOT GAME: BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE WOMEN’S TENNIS TOUR (Documentary, Canada, 78 minutes).
Abbey Jack Neidik and Bobbi Jo Krals take a hard look at the less glamorous aspects of women’s professional tennis. While the filmmakers get some revealing face-to-face interviews with Martina Hingis, Jennifer Caprioti, Serena Williams, and the sensible, straight-talking Martina Navratilova, their focus is the players who don’t achieve a top-ten ranking, and in particular, Canadian Sonya Jeyaseelan, whose turbulent career they follow for three years. (Amy Taubin)
SISTERS (Feature, Russia, 85 minutes).
A fast-paced tale of two Russian girls on the run, SISTERS is the first and only film directed by Sergei Bodrov Jr., who became a movie-acting idol in Russia with his performance in THE BROTHER (1997) and died in an avalanche while scouting locations for his second feature. SISTERS is set in the same gangster milieu as THE BROTHER, but unlike most gangster flicks, it looks at the underworld from a female perspective. As teenage Sveta and her younger half sister travel about the city, looking for food and a place to sleep, we get a glimpse of the chaotic new Russian society, where the cops are no match for organized crime. (Amy Taubin)
SISTERS IN CINEMA (Documentary, USA, 62 minutes).
Filmmaker and scholar Yvonne Welbon traces the history of Black women directors in the U.S. She discovers that although only two Black women—Euzhan Palcy and Darnell Martin—have made films within the Hollywood studio system, the number of African-American female directors making independent movies has risen significantly in recent years. Directors Julie Dash, Kasi Lemmons, Cheryl Dunye, Caulleen Smith, DeMane Davis, Bridgett Davis and Maya Angelou (who, at age seventy, after twenty years of knocking on doors to no avail, finally got to direct her first feature DOWN IN THE DELTA) are highly articulate interview subjects. (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: The City of Rochester
STOKED: THE RISE AND FALL OF GATOR (Documentary, USA, 82 minutes).
The aggressive style of Mark Gator Rogowski (a.k.a. Gator Mark Anthony)—his unpredictable lines, and outrageous personal antics—made him a favorite on the 1980s pro skateboarding circuit, and for years he rode a career wave of fame, wealth, and world travel. At the end of the decade, Gator found himself with personal and career troubles, and tried to reinvent himself with a name change, new sponsor, born-again Christianity, and a split from his longtime girlfriend. No one knew how bad his mental state had slipped, until in the spring of 1991, when—at the age of 24—he confessed to the murder of a 20-year old girl known well by many in the skateboard scene. Gator is now serving 31 years to life in prison for rape and murder. This chronicle is the result of six years of persistence and investigation, and about how the commercialization of a once authentic youth culture curdled the fortunes—and psyche—of its first golden boy.
Sponsored by: 94.1 the Zone. Rochester’s New Rock Alternative
THIS IS A GAME, LADIES (Documentary, USA, 114 minutes).
For enthusiasts of women’s basketball, college basketball, or basketball in general, this is a must see movie. Director Peter Schnall follows Rutgers University’s Scarlett Knights for an entire season as their incredibly tough, smart, determined coach, C. Vivian Springer, tries to take them to a national championship. One of only two African-American women coaching college ball, Springer has already gotten three Rutgers teams all the way to the NCAA Women’s Final Four, so expectations are extremely high. As the season progresses and the team gains cohesion, the emotion that the players and their coach feel for the game and for one another is as close to true love as you are likely to see on the screen. (Amy Taubin)
Executive Producer Hilary Sio will be on hand to answer questions from High Falls audience members.
Sponsored by: Christa Construction
THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG (Feature, United Kingdom, 94 minutes).
It’s tempting to compare this lean, mean, horror machine to such celebrated depictions of rural vigilante violence as DELIVERANCE or SOUTHERN COMFORT, but woman director Bille Eltringham’s approach is visually more original and psychologically more penetrating. Two petty criminals find themselves in deadly trouble when their car runs out of gas in a wild and desolate corner of Britain. Eltringham uses digital video to unusually expressive effect, and her direction of the two leading actors, Michael Colgan and Kenneth Glenaan, is impressive. (Amy Taubin)
THE TRUE MEANING OF PICTURES: SHELBY LEE ADAMS’ APPALACHIA (Documentary, Canada, 70 minutes).
For thirty years, Shelby Lee Adams has been photographing the people of Appalachia—not middle-class people like himself, but the families who live in remote “hollers” where poverty has been entrenched for generations. Director Jennifer Baichwal and cinematographer Nick de Pencier show us Adams at work and engage with the controversy that rages around his undeniably powerful photographs. (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: Gelfand-Piper Photography
TUPPERWARE! (Documentary, USA, 62 minutes).
Documentarian Laurie Kahn-Leavitt digs into the Eisenhower era to tell the story of the “Tupperware ladies,” a woman’s workforce that hosted parties to sell the airtight-plastic food-storage containers manufactured by Earl Silas Tupper to homemakers just like themselves. Tupper knew that plastics were the future, but it took the vision of Brownie Wise, his charismatic head of sales, to turn Tupperware into a multimillion dollar business. The first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week, Wise eventually hit her head on Tupperware’s plastic ceiling. (Amy Taubin)
Director Laurie Kahn-Leavitt will come to High Falls to introduce her film and lead the discussion following the screening.
VENUS BOYZ (Documentary, Switzerland/USA, 104 minutes).
Meet Storme Weather, Dred Gerestant, Diane Torr, and a half-dozen other glorious gender-benders who were born female but masquerade as male on the cabaret stage and often in real life. Woman director Gabriel Bauer documents the international drag king scene, focusing on its mid-1990s heyday when Sunday night cabaret performances drew crowds to Club Casanova in NYC’s East Village. Mixing fragments of performance, backstage and at-home interviews, and on-the-street encounters, Bauer uncovers the pleasure and motives of a wide variety of kings, who enjoy sending up machismo but also relish the power that comes with being perceived as male (Amy Taubin)
Sponsored by: 96.5 WCMF. The Rock Station
Written and directed by Marzena Grzegorczyk
Produced by Marzena Grzegorczyk and Iwona Witowicz
Los Angeles, California, 2002, color, 15 minutes
In Polish with English subtitles
A mysterious letter implicates a successful politician in a lengthy extramarital affair and sparks a conflict among three women: the politician’s wife, her sister and his alleged lover. The man’s unfaithfulness becomes marginal as the women confront the limits of their own honesty while trying to uncover the truth.
Marzena Grzegorczyk, a native of Warsaw, Poland, received her MFA from the University of Southern California and has worked as a director, writer and cinematographer on over a dozen short films.
The Most Beautiful Man in the World
Written and directed by Alicia Duffy
UK, 2003, color, 4 minutes
A young girl briefly experiences a sense of freedom. Alicia Duffy’s short films have won awards around the globe. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MAN IN THE WORLD was nominated for a BAFTA.
Exercise with Ching Yung
Written, directed, produced, photographed and edited by Wenhwa Ts’ao
Chicago, Illinois, 2003, color, 8 minutes
An autobiographical exploration about being the daughter of an old-fashioned Chinese father, whose lifelong wish had been to have a son to carry on his family name. Wenhwa Ts’ao, a native of Taiwan, received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and currently teaches film and video at Columbia College in Chicago. Her films have been widely exhibited in festivals.
Directed by Elissa Down
Produced by Jimmy Jack, Elissa Down and Dale Hynd
Edited by Leanne Cole
Western Australia, 2001, color, 13 minutes
In the summer of 1964, three unusual incidents took place on Lake Grace. The first two were totally inexplicable. The third and most disturbing provided one clue, the diary of 16-year-old Gwen Howard. Elissa Down’s short films have won several awards. She is currently working on two feature films.
Strange and Charmed
Written and directed by Shari Frilot
Produced by Effie Brown
Photographed by Denise Brassard
Edited by Lisa Ginsburg
Los Angeles, California, 2003, color, 16 minutes
The love lives of three women are examined through the point of view of two subatomic particles flying through space and time. Shari Frilot has received multiple awards and fellowships for her filmmaking, and was recently named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces in Independent Film.” She is currently a senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival and a programming consultant for OUTFEST.
On My Knees
Written and directed by Kim Wood
2003, black and white, 13 minutes
Scenes documented in the diary of nineteenth-century British maid Hannah Cullwick are re-enacted in this mesmerizing tale of obsession and ownership. From Hannah serving her mistress to posing for a photographer (at the request of her upper-class lover, with whom she had a 54-year relationship) in fetishistic scenes, Hannah’s diary reveals a depth of experience far beyond her mundane servitude. Brooklyn based filmmaker Kim Wood’s work has screened internationally in such environments as the Sundance Film Festival and the Guggenheim Museum.
Written, directed, produced, edited and photographed by Christina Spangler
Glenham, New York, 2002, color, 8 minutes
An unearthed potato is given a wondrous glimpse into the visible world in this stop-motion animation. Using its newfound sight, the curious tuber happens upon a discarded bag of potato chips and must come to terms with its own mortality. Christina Spangler obtained her BFA in Film/Animation/Video from Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 and made UNEARTHED as her senior degree project, one of three vegetable themed stop-motion films.
Written and directed by Giulia Oriani
Rome, Italy, 2002, color, 12:30 minutes
In Italian with English subtitles
The flu forces Nunzia to stay home while her family goes on vacation. Her son, overly caring to the point of selfishness, arranges for home care for Nunzia. In her brief taste of freedom and independence, Nunzia rediscovers her dormant energy and enthusiasm for life and meets a man. Giulia Oriani is a film director, drama teacher and actress.
Total Running Time: 89:30 minutes
SHORTS PROGRAM 2
Gaza Book of Longing
Directed by Jessica Allee, Shane Flores and Wago Krieder
New York, New York, 2003, color, 2 minutes
The landscape of a botanical conservatory drives the memory of dispossession as a woman yearns for the climate of her homeland. Her search and discovery of a solitary olive tree in the metropolis reveals a longing that cannot be bounded by artificial constructions. Working within the crossroads between architecture, art, and activism, Jessica Allee is a New York designer who explores the impact of architectural and geophysical environment on the actions of cultural identity.
Written and directed by Vivienne Jones
Produced by Maggie Ellis
London, England, 2003, color, 8:32 minutes
A unique film combining live action shots of women with mental disabilities as they explore their own lives and memories through drawings and the animations the filmmakers have created from these artworks. The project stemmed from art workshops conducted in a group home between 1996 and 2000. Vivienne Jones earned a degree in animation at West Surrey College of Art & Design in 1992. She freelances as an animation director and costume designer for film and television and is currently working on the next Harry Potter film as a costume buyer.
The Candy Machine
Written, directed, produced and edited by Ami Z. Cuneo
Photographed by C.T. Oyster
Los Angeles, California, 2002, black and white, 7:20 minutes
A young girl savors the sweetness of her grandmother’s treats. Or does she? A graduate of UCLA’s School of Film, Television and Digital Media, Ami Z. Cuneo currently works in documentary and narrative feature screenwriting and production.
Spring in Awe
Written, directed and photographed by Martina Radwan
Produced by Martina Radwan and Moira Demos
Edited by Moira Demos
New York, New York, 2003, color, 4 minutes
The realities and absurdities of the war in Iraq are obscured by the blurring of the lines between news, entertainment and advertising in the lights of Times Square.
Martina Radwan worked in the film industry for many years as a cinematographer. Spring in Awe is her first work as a director. She worked as second camera for Personal Velocity, which screened in the 2002 High Falls Film Festival.
Written and directed by Irina Sitkova
Edited by Natalia Tapkova
Moscow, Russia, 2002, color, 15 minutes
In Russian with English subtitles
A man who sees the world in indistinct spots finally gets eyeglasses. But he soon witnesses a murder and gets a second chance to change the outcome. Irina Sitkova has worked in television and film in various capacities and has won several awards for her film directing.
Kitchen Bird Cocoon
Written, directed and edited by Julija Naskova
Produced by Julija Naskova and Katia Belas
Los Angeles, California, 2003, color, 24 minutes
This eerie tale follows the psychology of the non-symbiotic relationship of two mismatched roommates, a Macedonian woman and an American man. Julija Naskova received her MFA at UCLA. Her short films have been screened around the world and have won several awards.
Written and directed by Barry Jenkins
Produced by Jasmin Tiggett
Edited by Meghan Robertson
Tallahassee, Florida, 2003, color, 8 minutes
In English and Arabic with English subtitles
An immigrant yearns for the affections of his coworker as they work through the night washing American flags. Jasmin Tiggett is an undergraduate student at the Film School at Florida State University. Meghan Robertson is an undergraduate student at the Florida State University Film School and a graduate of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida.
A Girl’s Best Friend
Written, directed and edited by Eileen White
Produced by Andrea Struble and Tom Reid
Photographed by Catalina Santamaria
New York, New York, 2003, color, 19:30 minutes
This lighthearted comic romp follows the adventures of Gwen, “the perfect woman,” and the jealous men in her life, one of whom needs to be “fixed.” Eileen White, who recently received her MFA from City College where A Girl’s Best Friend was selected Best Fiction Film and Best Screenplay, has directed several award-winning short films and videos which have been exhibited in the New York area. Catalina Santamaria of Bogota, Columbia holds an MA from The New School for Social Research and also has her own company, Tren del Sur, which is based in New York City. Andrea Struble, a native of Michigan, recently graduated with an MFA with a concentration in producing from City College.
Total Running Time: 88:22 minutes
Jumping For Joy
Director: Timothy Nelson; Costume Designer: xx, Casting: Catrine McGregor
Starring: Sam Hennings, Laurence Lau, Victoria Jackson, Rance Howard, Joe Estevez
and introducing Lindsay Pulsipher as Bobbie
US, 2002, color, live action, 94 minutes
Recommended for ages 9 to adult
The year is 1964. Tomboy Bobbie Dean is a whiz at basketball, but is stuck playing girls basketball with “girl’s rules” that all but nullify the game. When a coach sees Bobbie playing after school with a group of boys, he assumes she too is male and offers her a position on his team. Because he knows how badly his daughter wants to play the real game, her father agrees to temporarily go along with the scenario as long as Bobbie promises never to lie. Very quickly, Bobbie’s talents emerge not only on the court, but on the sidelines as a coach to her teammates. Suddenly the previously losing team finds themselves moving up in the finals…and in the midst of all the attention, Bobbie’s gender is revealed. When she is kicked off the team first by her outraged teammates and later by a court order from a girl’s basketball coach who fears for her safety playing “boy’s rules,” everyone involved is forced to grapple with their definition of what makes an athlete, and whether the time for change has come.
Special short before the feature:
Australia, 200x, color, live action, 4:10 minutes
This humorous and rather sly poke at gender politics explores what happens when two classmates, a boy and girl, sit side-by-side building houses. The boy carefully constructs his “edifice” using exact measurements, all the while extolling the superior qualities of his gender (women, he says, should stick to having babies). His female classmate rolls her eyes, makes quiet objections, all the while building her own rather free-form architectural creation. When the boy’s father comes in to pick him up, he mistakenly assumes the girl’s “creative masterpiece” is his son’s work. Will the children tell him the truth?
Children’s Shorts From Around The World
Director/Writer: Manasa Rao, 11 years old
India, 2002, color, claymation, 2:32 minutes
A careless bunny throws a banana peel onto the sidewalk, oblivious to the trash container beside him. The banana peel comes to life, and decides to teach the bunny a lesson about littering – if he can ever catch up with him that is.
Up And Down
Producer: Paula Tiberius
US, color, mixed media, :36 and :49 seconds
While most of us are quite familiar with Sesame Street, it is easy to forget the enormous opportunities the program has offered animators. Here are just two delightful examples of the little fillers that make up each show.
The Elephant And The Snail
Director: Christa Moesker; Producer: Petra Goedings
The Netherlands, 2002, color, 6:26 minutes
After Elephant climbs inside Snail’s house to visit, he accidentally breaks Snail’s shell when he hits his head on the ceiling. Although Snail is initially quite upset, when he pieces his shell/house back together with glue, he notes that the hole Elephant left behind allows him to see a star.
Director: Abhijeet Thomas Kurian, age xx; Studio Manager: Tiersa Christine
India, 2002, color, animation, 3:50 minutes
A fairy sends a spoiled prince to work on an animal farm. After holding his breath to no avail, he learns not only how to work, but how to appreciate all the things he has been given in life.
I Want A Dog
Directed by: Sheldon Cohen; Produced by: Marcy Page
Canada, 2003, color, animation, 10:09 minutes
In this charming animated story set to doo-wop vocals, young May wants a dog more than anything in the world. When her parents tell her she is too young, May comes up with several ingenious ideas to show them how responsible she is. Based on the book by celebrated children’s author Dayal Kaur Khalsa.
Director/Writer/Animator: E.J. Barnes
US, 2001, color, gouache-on-paper animation, 3 minutes
Based on a traditional Appalachian folk ballad, the bats and birds complain and rejoice over their love lives…night and day, day and night.
Director: Emily Skinner; Producer: Maria Manton
UK, 200x, color, claymation, mixed media, x minutes
During a trip to the boardwalk, a little girl wanders away from her mother and into an empty video arcade. All sorts of trouble ensues as she is enchanted by a prize bunny inside a dipping game. Luckily for her she is “scooped up” by a helping hand who directs her back to her mother where she belongs. A visually arresting cautionary tale, sure to engender discussion.
Director: Leigh Hodgkinson; Producer: Maria Manton
UK, 200x, black and white, pen and ink, mixed media, x minutes
A little girl (with a bad cold) and a cow are inseparable, until one night the cow jumps over the moon and doesn’t quite make it. Stuck on the moon with an irritable bumblebee, the cow begins to eat everything in sight to try to push the moon down to earth with his weight. While the results are a tad surprising, the little girl does end up with the perfect remedy for her cold.
Director: Joshua Muntain; Animators: students, ages 9-10, from the Capital Children’s Museum, Washington D.C.
US, 2002, color, claymation, 1:20 minutes
Students imagine the story behind Paul Gaugin’s 1889 self-portrait.
What Happened Was
Directors: Michelle Cardulla & David Cowles; Producers: Cardulla/Cowles/Latasha & Nyshjae Brown; Writers: Caitlin Harris, Julien Quintana, Najee Brantley, Xania Hillman
US, 2003, color, animation, 5:50 minutes
With a grant from Citibank, facilitators from the Museum of Kid’s Art (MOKA) collaborated with students from Rochester’s Charter School of Science & Technology to animate these six special stories.
Yoko! Jakamoko! Toto!
Directors: Tony Collingwood & Andrea Tran
UK, 2002, color, animation, 5:00 minutes
A bird, an armadillo and a cheeky monkey learn a lesson about the meaning of friendship when two of them discover they make beautiful music together, while the third can only make a funny sound.
Children’s short program sponsored by TV DINNER; additional outreach and education tickets made available through a grant from Citibank.
Children’s Program Curator RUTH COWING is also the Managing Director of the High Falls Film Festival. In addition, she does ad and web-related work for the Little Theatre. Prior to her work with the Festival, Cowing was Assistant Director of the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film & Video Office and Coordinator of the video collective TV Dinner. Other jobs have included photography and management positions for City Newspaper and the arts journal Afterimage.
Children’s Programming brought to you by the generous support of Citigroup