Movies at the 2005 High Falls Film Festival
AFTER INNOCENCE – Documentary, US, 2004, 95 Minutes
“Can you imagine being accused of the worst crime and being sent to a prison that was condemned by the U.N. for torture; where you aren’t allowed to speak for two years?” The man posing this terrifying question was an ordinary American citizen who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder. After spending 23 years on death row, he was exonerated, thanks to the work of The Innocence Project. Jessica Sanders’s hard-hitting documentary follows what happens to this man and about a half dozen others after they were released, often with no apology, no compensation, and no record of exoneration, by a criminal justice system unwilling to acknowledge mistakes, incompetence, and in some cases, blatant sadism. The extraordinary work of The Innocence Project in using DNA evidence to win release for over one hundred wrongly convicted prisoners since 1992 has been the subject of major news stories. But AFTER INNOCENCE is the first documentary to focus on what happens in the aftermath of injustice. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Sundance Film Festival: WINNER Special Jury Prize
2005 Seattle International Film Festival: WINNER Women in Cinema Lena Sharpe Award
2005 Newport Beach Film Festival, CA: WINNER Special Jury Prize
Director: Jessica Sanders
Producers: Jessica Sanders, Marc Simon
Screenwriters: Jessica Sanders, Marc Simon
Jessica Sanders is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker for her short documentary film SING! (2002). She was associate producer and camera operator for two primetime seasons on the NBC documentary series Crime and Punishment, and an associate producer for the 2003 Academy Award-winning documentary short film, TWIN TOWERS. Her short film LOS ANGELES received the Gold Plaque Award at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Lagniappe Best Film Award at the New Orleans Festival.
BALLET RUSSES – Narrative, US, 2005, 118 Minutes
Dayna Goldfine’s and Dan Geller’s magical documentary traces the rise and fall of the three companies that went by the legendary name, Ballet Russe. The film combines ravishing clips from the 1920s through the 1950s – some shot with a wind-up 16mm Bolex by dance critic Anne Barzan – with interviews with icons of ballet history. The interviews include the last footage of the very proper Alicia Markova, the irrepressible Mia Slavenska and the vivacious Tatiana Riabouchinska who was one of the three “baby ballerinas” chosen when they were in their early teens by the audacious, young Georges Balanchine, to be stars of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Irina Baronova – another of the baby ballerinas – and the acid-tongued Frederic Franklin, still dancing and teaching at age 90, are excellent informal historians. (“The Russians treated each other terribly” comments the English Franklin.) All the dancers display the combination of wit, romanticism and pragmatism that made them captivating performers on stage and off. (Amy Taubin)
Directors: Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Robert Hawk, Douglas Blair Turnbaugh
Writers: Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Celeste Schaefer Snyder, Gary Weimberg
For more than sixteen years, Emmy-award winning director/producer Dayna Goldfine has worked jointly with Dan Geller to create critically acclaimed multi-character documentary narratives, including their award-winning ISADORA DUNCAN: Movement from the Soul. Geller and Goldfine’s work includes NOW & THEN: From Frosh to Seniors, which aired on PBS in October 2000;and KIDS OF SURVIVAL: THE ART AND LIFE OF TIM ROLLINS + K.O.S. (1996), which received two national Emmy Awards.
BEARING WITNESS – DOCUMENTARY, US, 2004, 90 Minutes
Celebrated filmmaker Barbara Kopple teamed with Marijana Wotton to direct and produce this documentary about five female war correspondents in Iraq where, in the past four years, 152 journalists have been killed. Her subjects are seasoned, multi-award winning photographers, videographers, and writers (Molly Bingham, Marie Colvin, Janine Di Giovanni, Mary Rogers, and May Ying Welsh) whose previous assignments have taken them to war zones in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Following them from the early days of the U.S. invasion through the increasingly chaotic and violent occupation and insurgency of 2003-4, we get to see how they go about getting their stories and witness a behind the scenes view of Iraq that’s more raw than anything on TV. Often physically and emotionally drained, pursued by nightmares and anxieties, these five extraordinarily courageous and committed women generously allow the filmmakers into their work and private lives. (Amy Taubin)
Directors: Barbara Kopple, Marijana Wotton, Bob Eisenhardt
Producers: Marijana Wotton, Barbara Kopple
Two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple recently directed the narrative feature HAVOC. Her nonfiction films include A CONVERSATION WITH GREGORY PECK, MY GENERATION, WILD MAN BLUES and FALLEN CHAMP: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MIKE TYSON, for which Kopple received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing. She produced and directed HARLAN COUNTY USA and AMERICAN DREAM, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Kopple also directs episodic television and commercials.
BEE SEASON – NARRATIVE, US, 2005, 104 Minutes
Eleven-year-old Eliza (Flora Cross) is the odd one out in a line of over-achievers. Her father Saul (Richard Gere) is an esteemed professor of religious studies, her mother Miriam (Juliette Binoche) is a scientist and her brother Aaron (Max Minghella) is a top student. Quite accidentally, Eliza displays a talent for spelling which she keeps secret from her family until she asks her teenaged brother to drive her to a citywide competition.
When Saul does learn of her successive spelling bee wins, he takes on the role of coach but his growing preoccupation with Eliza’s gifts draws his attention away from his wife and son. The psychic vacuum this shift creates provokes a chain of events that shakes the family’s very foundations.
The casting is exactly right. We expect – and receive – well-rounded and moving work from seasoned veterans Gere and Binoche. It is, however, Minghella and Cross who are revelations, providing grounded and touching performances in their cinematic debuts.
Based on the best-selling novel by Myla Goldberg and beautifully adapted by Academy Award nominated screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (RUNNING ON EMPTY), BEE SEASON offers its viewers gifts that are rich and varied.
(Jane Schoettle, Toronto International Film Festival 2005)
2005 Toronto International Film Festival: OFFICIAL SELECTION
2005 Telluride Film Festival: OFFICIAL SELECTION
Directors: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Producers: Albert Berger, Dr. Winfried Hammacher, Ron Yerxa
Writers: Myla Goldberg (novel), Naomi Foner Gyllenhall (screenplay)
Cast: Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche
Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for RUNNING ON EMPTY. She also wrote and produced A DANGEROUS WOMAN and LOSING ISAIAH. Gyllenhaal recently completed GRACE, a biography of Grace Metalious, the author of Peyton Place, and is at work on a film about Victoria Woodhull. Gyllenhaal was involved with the development of Sesame Street and The Electric Company at the Children’s Television Workshop and is actively involved with the Sundance Institute’s Writer’s Laboratory.
BEING CARIBOU – Documentary, Canada, 2004, 72 minutes
There are not many places left in the world where an explorer can boldly go “where no one has gone before,” yet filmmaker Leeann Allison and her husband, Karsten Heuer, found such a place: the northwest Canadian Yukon territory and the northeastern corner of Alaska where tens of thousands of caribou migrate, mate and bear their calves. Allison and Heuer follow the 1,500-kilometer migration of the caribou on foot through the alternately frozen and brittle, then bug-infested wilderness from April through September. For most of this time they are the only human beings in that vast expanse. Their goal: Bring the story of caribou migration to the White House to make a case against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Spectacular photography and the compelling tale of man and woman working with nature make this a fascinating film. (Randi Minetor)
Directors/Writers: Leanne Allison, Diana Wilson
Producer: Tracey Friesen
Leanne Allison’s journey with the caribou is not her first expedition– in 1998, she and Karsten Heuer hiked 3,400 kilometers from Yellowstone to the Yukon to highlight the need for Rocky Mpuntain wildlife corridors. She was also part of the first all-women’s expedition to the top of Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan. An emerging filmmaker, Allison worked with glaciologists and avalanche scientists in Antarctica and BC’s Caribou Mountains. BEING CARIBOU is her first feature length film.
Diana Wilson is an independent producer and director whose previous credits include producing and co-writing the hour-long documentary 100% WOMAN, and associate producing the Leo Award-winning documentary CULTURE JAM: HIJACKING COMMERCIAL CULTURE. Diana is currently producing her first dramatic short, KATHLEEN’S CLOSET, and also teaches part-time at the Gulf Islands Film and Television School. BEING CARIBOU is her first feature length film as a director.
CHRISTA MCAULIFFE: REACH FOR THE STARS – Documentary, US, 2004, 75 Minutes
A gifted and dedicated educator, Christa McAuliffe originated a high school course on women in social history. When President Ronald Reagan launched a search for a teacher who would become the first civilian to go into space, McAuliffe applied and, after a long series of interviews and tests, was chosen. Thus she won a place in history as one of the pioneer women whose qualities of courage and resilience she often held up to her students as role models. When the Challenger spacecraft on which she had planned to teach via satellite exploded during launching, she joined those women, many of whom died too soon. Renee Sotile and May Jo Godges weave their celebration of McAuliffe’s life from home movies, video footage taken during her preparation for the space mission (including an appearance on the Johnny Carson show), and testimonials by family and friends. The portrait that emerges is of an immensely vibrant, generous, intelligent woman. (Amy Taubin)
Directors/Producers: Renée Sotile, Mary Jo Godges
Renée Sotile has won two Emmy awards for her work as a video-journalist in Los Angeles. She has extensive experience working in television news covering high profile events and headline stories. A native of Rochester, NY, Renée holds a B.A. in Television Communications/Technical Theatre from Brockport State College.
Mary Jo Godges is an Avid/Final Cut Pro editor and journalist with a strong background in music. Her career began as an on-air radio personality in Los Angeles. Godges is from Redondo Beach, CA, and holds a B.A. in Communication Arts in Media from Loyola Marymount.
CZECH DREAM – Documentary, Czech Republic, 2004, 87 Minutes
In Czech with English Subtitles
This smash international hit, a darling of festival-goers and critics alike, has a set-up so wickedly delicious it’s easy to forget we are witnessing real events as they unfold. Vit and Filip are two smart and wryly humorous Czech film students who decide to create an elaborate ad campaign for an imaginary new “hyper” market. One part prank, two parts sly wink at their post-communist consumer-oriented society, these “lads” are so clever we are on their side before we know it. Enlisting the aid of the best in the advertising industry, they saturate Prague with I-Pod-brilliant print, radio and TV spots that work the population into a frenzy. Their success is mirrored in numbers: opening day finds 4000 people standing at a gate looking across an expanse of empty field at a giant, convincing façade. As the crowds begin to rush the “store” with shopping lists in hand, we don’t know whether to laugh or cringe, or start running in the opposite direction with our suddenly flustered filmmakers. One thing is clear: we are complicit in this rather scandalous hoax, with quite fascinating results. (Ruth Cowing)
Prize Be TV for Best Film at the Brussels European Film Festival 2005 (Belgium)
Best Non-Fiction Film Award at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival 2005 (US)
Golden Gate Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 48th San Francisco IFF 2005, (US)
JJ-Star Award Jeonju International Film Festival 2005 (South Korea)
Best Czech Documentary Award 2004 and Audience Award International Documentary Festival Jihlava, Czech Republic 2004
FIPRESCI award; International Film Festival Ljubljana , Slovenia 2004 :
Best Documentary, Kristian Award (Czech Film Critics) ; Febiofest 2005, CZ 2005
People’s Choice Award for the best film at the 45th Cracow Film Festival 2005 (Poland)
Honorable Mention Eurodok 2005 by the Norwegian film Institute at the European Documentary Film Festival, Oslo (Norway)
Honorable Mention ‘Message to Man’ Film Festival 2005- Board of Directors award for ‘Art polemic with capitalism’ (Russia)
Golden Knight Award for the Best Directing to Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda at Chelyabinsk Film Festival 2005 (Russia)
Silver Grape Award, Lubuskie Film Summer 2005- Lagow, Poland
Best Documentary Award Aarhuus Film Festival, Denmark 2004
Directors: Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
Co-Producer: Irena Taskovski
Originally from Bosnia, Irena Taskovski studied in Prague, London and Jerusalem. She produced VILLAGE B, which won first prize at Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2002. She has also worked as production manager for Czech TV and has organized and programmed several film festivals, including the festival of Czech film in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1997) and Tribute to Stephen Friers at the 2001 Sarajevo Film Festival. She is currently running her own film production company in London.
DUANE HOPWOOD – Narrative, US, 2005, 89 Minutes
Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, Matt Mulhern’s bittersweet, psychologically savvy feature will have you whispering “oh no” at almost every turn. David Schwimmer, doing his best acting since “Friends,” plays the titular Hopwood, a divorced father of two. His alcoholism has destroyed his marriage and now threatens his relationship with his two young daughters. Duane works as a bouncer in a tacky Atlantic City casino but his impulsiveness and bad judgment prove his undoing there as well. Avoiding melodrama, Mulhern makes Duane’s plight moving and real. Although Schwimmer is at the center of almost every scene, he’s supported by an unusually strong cast, in particular Janeane Garofalo as Duane’s ex-wife and Judah Friedlander as his casino co-worker who yearns for a career as a stand-up comedian. Mulhern’s understated, empathetic directing style allows us to appreciate the complexity of characters and the mix of pathos and humor in their tangled lives. (Amy Taubin)
Director/Writer: Matt Mulhern
Producer: Lemore Syvan
Cast: David Schwimmer, Janeane Garofalo, Dick Cavett
Lemore Syvan produced THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE, SOME KIND OF HEAVEN, a Sundance Lab project in post-production, and KING OF THE CORNER. She recently finished filming the psychological thriller FIRST BORN. Her long list of credits include CASA DE LOS BABYS, PERSONAL VELOCITY, SPRINGALL’S SANTITOS and ANGELA. Projects currently in development include THE WOODY and HUMAN CAPITOL, with Noam Murro of Biscuit Filmworks attached to direct.
DUCK SEASON – Narrative, Mexico, 2004, 90 Minutes
In Spanish with English Subtitles
In a knock-out feature film debut, Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke transforms an ordinary apartment into an expanding universe of emotions and experience. Two teenage boys are doing their usual Sunday home-alone thing playing videogames and downing giant bottles of sodas. When the power goes out, the slightly older girl next door comes by to use their oven to make herself a birthday cake – which incorporates a secret ingredient – and a thirty-something pizza deliveryman is inspired by the laissez-faire ambiance to take stock of his strange life. The humor, which ranges from deadpan to sidesplitting, is laced with melancholy, tenderness, and heartbreak. Eimbcke creates his “magical mystery tour” on a shoestring budget. He has a genius for framing images, and his odd camera angles and peculiar sound effects pay off in a transcendent climax. While the exceptionally lively actors seem to be making it up as they go along, the film’s underpinning is its marvelous script by Eimbcke and his writing partner, Paula Markovich. (Amy Taubin)
2004 AFI Fest: Winner Grand Jury Prize
2005 Ariel Awards, Mexico: Winner FIPRESCI Prize, Mayahuel Award for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Original Score
Director: Fernando Eimbcke
Producer: Lemore Syvan
Screenwriters: Fernando Eimbcke, Paula Markovitch
Screenwriter Paula Markovitch has among her credits the screenplays for LIGERITA (2003), AL BORDE (1998) and ELISA ANTES DEL FIN DEL MUNDO (1997). She wrote the story for SIN REMITENTE and directed her first feature, PERRIFERICO, in 1999.
THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX – DOCUMENTARY, US, 2005, 76 Minutes
Teenager Shelby Knox is a heroine for our times – a brilliant, clear-spoken, principled political activist, who in 30 years may well be President of the United States. Filmmakers Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt follow Shelby as she battles to have sex education included in the curriculum at her high school in conservative Lubbock, Texas. Although Shelby’s parents are, like the majority of Lubbock’s citizens, Republican and members of the fundamentalist Baptist church, they support their daughter’s right to advocate for her beliefs even as they wonder we she got them. Shelby, who has taken the church’s “True Love Waits” virginity pledge, is also aware that Lubbock has one of the highest rates of teen STDs and pregnancy in the nation. In fighting for her belief that sex education saves lives, she faces off with the school board, the principal, and her pastor. She may not win the battle, but there’s no doubt she will win the war. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Sundance Film Festival: WINNER Cinematography Award
Directors/Producers: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt
Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt met while working on THE HUMAN LANGUAGE, a series on how language works and what it is. Later that year they formed a partnership, co-directing THE ABORTION PILL, about the controversy over the French drug RU486. Next came FATHERHOOD USA and LIVE FREE OR DIE (PBS/POV 2000), about a small town abortion provider and his community. Most recently, they produced THE TRENCHCOAT GANG, about the most successful bank robbers in U.S. history.
ELLIE PARKER – Narrative, US, 2005, 94 Minutes
Scott Coffey’s wryly humorous, cautionary tale stars Naomi Watts as a talented actress struggling to make it in Hollywood. Coffey gives the mercurial Watts the opportunity to do a comedic version of her career-making role in MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Using her car as a dressing room and a practice studio, she drives from one audition to another, changing clothes, switching accents and applying makeup as agilely as she negotiates L.A. traffic jams. No one – not her boyfriends, not her agent, and certainly not the directors who casually humiliate her – seems to realize that she is one of the most luminous actors of our time. ELLIE PARKER is a showcase for Watts and, implicitly, a tribute to all the nameless actors who may be just as talented but haven’t gotten the break they deserve. Shot on low-tech video over a period of four years, it is clearly an act of love by both director and star. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Seattle International Film Festival: WINNER New American Cinema Award Special Jury Prize
Director/Writer: Scott Coffey
Producers: Scott Coffey, Naomi Watts
Cast: Naomi Watts, Chevy Chase
Naomi Watts had already been a working actress for over a decade when she earned notice as a promising newcomer in MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Watts landed her first film role in FOR LOVE ALONE (1986). She appeared in many films before her career escalated with THE RING (2002). Balancing her genre work with potentially headier fare, Watts also appeared in the Merchant-Ivory romantic comedy LE DIVORCE. ELLIE
THE FUTURE OF FOOD – Documentary, US, 2004, 88 Minutes
In English and Spanish with English Subtitles
There is a revolution going on in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America; a revolution that, in quite alarming ways, is transforming the very nature of the food we eat. This film by GRATEFUL DAWG collaborator Deborah Koons Garcia offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing trends behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled US grocery store shelves for the past decade. Shot on location in the US, Canada and Mexico, the film gives voice to farmers whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology and by the multinational corporations that are slowly beginning to control the world’s food system. The film argues there is a food crisis and that organic and sustainable agriculture alternatives may be the only real solutions. This is a film whose point of view should be carefully considered, particularly before you sit down to your next meal.
Director/Writer/Producer: Deborah Koons Garcia
Deborah Koons Garcia fell in love with filmmaking when she first picked up a Bolex at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her educational series All About Babies, narrated by Jane Alexander, won a Gold Medal from the John Muir Medical Film Festival. Her feature film POCO LOCO won awards at the Philadelphia, Rivertown and Central Florida Film Festivals. She was the chief creative consultant for GRATEFUL DAWG, the film about the musical friendship between her husband Jerry Garcia and David Grisman.
THE GRACE LEE PROJECT – Documentary, US, 2005, 68 Minutes
What’s in a name? Growing up the only Asian American in a Missouri small town, filmmaker Grace Lee thought she was unique. Then she moved to California and discovered that everyone she met knew at least one other Grace Lee and they all ascribed to her the same characteristics – intelligent, nice and quiet. Bothered by dozens of descriptions that just about screamed ‘”generic Asian girl,” Lee decided to track down some Grace Lee’s to find out the relation between their name and their identity. This lively, subtle film is an investigation into what makes an identity and also a series of portraits of women who are remarkably different from one another. They range from a California evangelical Christian 22- year-old who impresses the filmmaker as remarkably sure of herself, to a single mother in her forties who rescued her best friend and her children from the abuse she had suffered as a child, to the remarkable 88-year-old Detroit civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs. (Amy Taubin)
Director: Grace Lee
Producers: Grace Lee, Amy Ferraris
Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” Grace Lee received her MFA from UCLA Film School in 2002. Her thesis film, BARRIER DEVICE, starring Sandra Oh, won a 2002 Student Academy Award, a Directors Guild of America Student Award, LA Asian/Pacific Film Festival’s Golden Reel Award and Urbanworld’s Grand Jury Prize, and was broadcast on the Sundance Channel. She also directed BEST OF THE WURST, a documentary essay about Berlin today.
HIDDEN (CACHE) – NARRATIVE, France/Austria/Germany/Italy, 2005,
121 Minutes In French with English Subtitles
Michel Haneke’s most restrained and involving film deals with the relationship between personal and political responsibility. Two great French stars, Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche, play an upper-middle-class Parisian couple whose seemingly perfect life gradually disintegrates when they begin receiving surveillance videotapes of the exterior of their house. Who could be making these tapes and what could the motive be? As the tapes become increasingly personal and suggest that the person sending them knows the couple and may be a threat to their teen-age son, the husband’s defenses against a guilty secret from his childhood crumble and his anger and paranoia are unleashed. Haneke’s target is the racism that shapes Western Europe’s relationship to African, Asian and Middle Eastern societies. “Terrorize me and my family and you’ll regret it,” says Auteuil’s character to the Algerian man whose future he destroyed when they were both children. While the ugly history of the French in Algeria is the film’s direct reference, Haneke’s indictment could easily encompass the U.S.’s war in Iraq. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Cannes Film Festival: WINNER Best Director, FIPRESCI Prize, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury
Director: Michael Haneke
Producer: Veit Heiduschka
Cast: Juliette Binoche
French actress Juliette Binoche first earned recognition in 1985 for playing a modernized, teenaged version of the Virgin Mary in Jean-Luc Godard’s controversial JE VOUS SALUE, MARIE/HAIL MARY. She gained true international acclaim when she played Tereza in THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING in 1988. Binoche gave a captivating performance in the art-house hit CHOCOLAT, and she most recently appeared with American star Samuel L. Jackson in director John Boorman’s political oriented drama IN MY COUNTRY.
THE HOLY GIRL – Narrative, Argentina/Italy/Netherlands/Spain, 2004, 106 Minutes
In Spanish with English Subtitles
No sophomore slump for Lucretia Martel whose second feature THE HOLY GIRL is guaranteed to appear on many critics best- of-the-year list worldwide. As in her immensely promising debut, LA CIENAGA (THE SWAMP), screened at HFFF in 2001, THE HOLY GIRL is set in a crumbling middle-class region of Northern Argentina where the director grew up. Martel’s subject is the confusion of the sacred and the profane in both erotic and religious life. When a married doctor gropes 15-year-old Amalia (Maria Alche) on the street, she takes his action and her excitement as a sign from God that she has been chosen to save him. Alche and Mercedes Moran, as her divorced mother who has her own interest in the doctor, are superb. THE HOLY GIRL is the work of a filmmaker bent on remaking traditional cinematic language to reflect the interaction of the mind and the senses and to discover, amid the fragments and chaos of everyday life, if not evidence of the Divine Plan, then at least the possibility of a perfect form. (Amy Taubin)
Writer/Director: Lucrecia Martel
Producer: Lita Stantic
Lucrecia Martel was born in Salta, Northern Argentina, in 1966. In 1986 she moved to Buenos Aires to study communication. She made a few short films, among them REY MUERTO (DEAD KING), which received several international awards. Between 1995-1998 she directed widely acclaimed documentaries for television and children’s programs with a dark sense of humor. In 1999 she received the Sundance+-/ NHK Filmmakers Award for her script LA CIENAGA (THE SWAMP) about families in Northern Argentina.
HOW I KILLED A SAINT- NARRATIVE, Macedonia/Slovenia/France, 2003, 82 Minutes
Teona Mitevska’s debut film is set in Macedonia in 2001. Viola (Labina Mitevska, who played the young Albanian girl in “Before the Rain”) returns from college in the U.S. to Skopje dominated by gunfire and bombings. Returning to her family she discovers that her beloved younger brother Kokan has grown to become a confident, NATO-hating, nationalist ‘freedom fighter’ and a runner for black marketeers, dreaming of ‘killing a saint’. The film tells their interwoven story as he leads her into danger across the border carrying illicit goods and she reveals she is searching for her three year old daughter (a secret to him). Mitevska creates a totally convincing presentation of a country in conflict with itself, of people in a state of continuing uncertainty, plagued by outbreaks of violence. Kokan’s youthful arrogance and pride in his ‘terrorism’ hides his real need for identity. SAINT was beautifully photographed by the Belgian Alain Marcoen (La Promesse and Rosetta). Mitevska has been praised by VARIETY as a talented young director and someone to watch. (Wanda Bershen)
2004 Rotterdam Festival Nominated for TIGER AWARD
2004 Sarajevo Festival Best Actor Award for Milan Tocinovski
2004 Brussels European Film Festival Nominated for Golden Iris
*Special thanks for rights and prints: F for Film ((Paris), Mitevski Sisters and Brother (Skopje)
Director: Teona Strugar Mitevska
Producers: Labina Mitevska, Sisters and Brother Mitevski Pro.
Writers: Mathew Bardin, Teona Strugar Mitevska
The director and co-screenwriter, Teona Mitevska studied painting and graphic design in Skopje before enrolling in film courses at the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. She made the award-winning short Veta (2001), about the psychosis of war, followed by the documentary Amer in Amerika (2002). Vuk Mitevski, another family member, is the film’s production designer.
INTO THE FIRE: AMERICAN WOMEN IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR – Documentary, US, 2002, 60 Minutes
In July 1936, as war broke out in Spain between the newly elected democratic government and a fascist military wing led by General Francisco Franco (supported by Hitler and Mussolini), 80 American women rose to join the 2,700 American soldiers who volunteered to assist in the fight for democracy. Filmmaker Julia Newman embarked on an 11-year odyssey to locate 16 of these women, and interviewed each of them extensively for this detailed and involving film. As nurses and journalists, these women engaged in this battle because they saw parallels to German anti-Semitism and racial prejudice in the United States, and the stories of their heroism leave Ernest Hemingway’s romantic notions of this war in the dust-they describe 24-hour medical shifts, bombing raids and miserable conditions. This meticulously researched documentary also reveals the personal battle these women fought against their own countrymen back home, who either ignored the Spanish Civil War entirely or found it beneath their notice.
2002 Seattle International Film Festival: Winner, Third Place
Director/Producer: Julia Newman
Consulting Producer: Marjorie Kalins
Associate Producer: Fredda Weiss, Mary Lou Rekker
As a senior producer in advertising for the past 25 years, Julia Newman has worked on both television commercials and promotional pieces for New York’s Lincoln Center Theatre Company, Volvo, Procter & Gamble, Bell Atlantic and many others. As a journalist, she has written investigative and feature articles for U.S. magazines and newspapers, including The New York Daily News and The Miami Herald. Newman produced a theatrical short, THE VIOLIN LESSON. INTO THE FIRE is her first directing credit.
LITTLE JERUSALEM – Narrative, France, 2005, 96 minutes
In French with English Subtitles
Karin Albou’s vivid and intelligent debut feature is set on the outskirts of Paris in a bleak neighborhood with a large Jewish immigrant population. Eighteen-year-old Laura lives there in a crowded apartment with her widowed mother, her older sister, her sister’s husband and their kids. A gifted philosophy student and particularly drawn to the work of Kant, Laura has begun to question the beliefs of her orthodox, Tunisian-Jewish family. Problems in her sister’s marriage, her attraction to an Algerian Muslim exile, and the upswing of anti-Semitic violence which touches frighteningly close to home, intensify the intellectual and emotional conflicts of a young woman coming-of-age. Like the brilliant French filmmaker Claire Denis, Albou depicts female desire and the female body with remarkable frankness and without any trace of prurience. In a fine ensemble cast, Fanny Vallette and Elsa Zylberstein as the sisters and Aurora Clement as an informal marriage counselor are outstanding. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Cannes Film Festival: Official Selection, Critics’ Week
Director/Writer: Karin Albou
Producer: Isabelle Pragier, Laurent Lavole
After studying acting, dance, Hebrew, French literature and Arabic, Karen Albou enrolled in a film school in Paris. Her first short film, CHUT, was awarded the Cinécinéma Best First Film prize. After a documentary [MON PAYS M'A QUITTÉ], she chose to talk about Algeria, her father’s homeland, in her second fiction AID EL KÉBIR, winner of the Grand Prize at the Clermont-Ferrand Festival. LITTLE JÉRUSALEM is her first feature film.
LIVE-IN MAID – Narrative, Argentina/Spain, 2004, 83 Minutes
In Spanish with English Subtitles
Argentina’s economic collapse is the impetus for Jorge Gaggero’s depiction of the symbiotic relationship between two women. Beba (played by the great Latin American star Norma Aleandro) is a diva-like divorced businesswoman. Dora (played by brilliant newcomer Norma Argentina) has been her servant for 30 years. When the now penniless Beba can no longer pay Dora, they are forced to go their separate ways. As expected, the maid proves more resourceful in finding ways to earn a living than does her former mistress. But, although the power dynamic between them has changed, the bond between Beba and Dora, woven over years of intimacy, cannot be easily undone. Gaggero’s direction is sympathetic without being sentimental. LIVE IN MAID is a bittersweet, occasionally hilarious social comedy. With characters this vibrant and complex, you will think twice about referring to this virtual two-hander as a small movie. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Sundance Film Festival: WINNER Special Jury Prize, World Cinema-Dramatic
2005 Toulouse Latin American Film Festival: WINNER FIPRESCI Prize
Script finalist of Sundance NHK Award
San Sebastian Film Festival. Zabaltegui Section
Norma Aleandro. Best Latinamerican actress, Brussels Film Festival
Director: Jorge Gaggero
Producer: Verónica Cura
Art Director: Marcela Bazzano
Born in Buenos Aires, Marcela Bazanno began work in 1988 as an assistant art director on commercials and feature films. Working alongside production designers such as Anthony Pratt, Carlos Conti and Jorge Ferrari, Bazzano was set designer on the films CORAZÓN ILUMINADO (FOOLISH HEART), PLATA QUEMADA (BURNING MONEY), AMERICA MIA, UN MURO DE SILENCIO (A WALL OF SILENCE) and EL SUEÑO DE LOS HEROES (The DREAM OF HEROES). As art director she worked on ARREGUI, LA NOTICIA DEL DÍA.
LOVE, LUDLOW – Narrative, US, 2005, 89 Minutes
With a gleeful wink to a more innocent cinematic era and classic 1950s romantic comedies, LOVE LUDLOW invites us into a crisply constructed and smartly stylized universe that exists almost outside of time, filled with delightful anachronisms like typewriters, hair rollers, “gentlemen callers”, and characters who say things like “he’s a card.” Within this constantly surprising and charming world lives Myra – a tough, straight-talking temp from Queens. At the office Myra takes no guff; but at home life is dominated by her eccentric unstable younger brother Ludlow who occupies a fantasy world inside their tiny flat and depends on her for his every need. When Reggie, a sweetly nebbish “suit” from work takes a shine to Myra, she slowly lets down her guard and cautiously attempts to carve out a life on her own. But a deeply threatened Ludlow throws up serious roadblocks and Myra must tread a thorny path if she if to salvage happiness. (Sundance)
2005 Method Fest: WINNER Best Screenplay, Feature Film
Director: Adrienne Weiss
Producers: Amy Hobby and Joshua Blum
Adrienne Weiss has directed theater in New York, London, Berlin and Poland. She also consults and teaches workshops throughout the country through her company, Directing Actors for Film. (www.directingactors.com) Her first feature, LOVE, LUDLOW, premiered at Sundance ’05 and has been screened at numerous festivals around the world. The film will soon be shown on Sundance Channel, Starz, and on DVD via Time/Warner releasing.
CLASSIC FILM: THE LOVEMAKER – Narrative, Spain/France 1956, 99 Minutes
SHOWN WITH: SHORTS BY MARY ELLEN BUTE
A coolly elegant masterpiece from 1950s Spain, THE LOVEMAKER brilliantly balances a delicate psychological drama with a style that has a hint of Federico Fellini, a touch of Douglas Sirk, and a lot of neo-realism. Betsy Blair is Isabel, a sweet and pious mid-thirties spinster in a small Spanish town. When the local boys decide to play a provocative trick on her, Isabel falls hopelessly in love – and that difficult moral dilemma remains at the heart of the plot. Director Juan Antonio Bardem was considered a threat to Franco’s political agenda and, in spite of its seemingly censor-proof appearance, THE LOVEMAKER (film titled CALLE MAYOR at that time) swayed the Spanish government enough to thwart its competition in the 1956 Venice Film Festival. Since it was a French co-production, however, the officials relinquished and it went on to win the festival’s International Critics’ Award. Betsy Blair, with her warm and intelligent rendering of Isabel, won two awards for her role. (Margaret Parsons)
Director: Juan Antonio Bardem
Producers: Cesáreo González, Manuael J. Goyanes
At sixteen, Gene Kelly picked Betsy Blair out of a New York chorus line and whisked her off to Hollywood. Declining the glamorous lifestyle, she became a political activist and was blacklisted-finally landing the plum role of Ernest Borgnine’s girlfriend in MARTY (for which she won Cannes’ top acting honors). As an expatriate in Paris, Betsy worked with Antonioni and Gavras and finally moved to London with a new husband, director Karel Reisz.
MIDNIGHT MOVIES: FROM THE MARGIN TO THE MAINSTREAM – Documentary, Canada/US, 2005, 86 Minutes
A history and exploration of the phenomenon of midnight movies through six landmark films: El Topo, Night of the Living Dead, The Harder They Come, Pink Flamingos, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Eraserhead. This documentary includes interviews with the filmmakers including Alexander Jodorowsky, George Romero, John Waters, David Lynch, and exhibitor Ben Barenholz whose fertile imagination launched the craze. MIDNIGHT MOVIES is smartly written, directed, and produced by Stuart Samuels whose filmic erudition is put to good use here. With this film, the HFFF lays claim to new territory: late night movies. For our 2006 season we will actively search out late night movies like those described in this documentary, without regard to the gender of the participants before or behind the camera. We’ll seek good, twisted entertainment that, for whatever reason, is most sweetly appreciated around midnight. (Catherine Wyler)
Director/Producer: Stuart Samuels
Writers: Stuart Samuels, Victor Kushmaniuk
Cast: George A. Romero, John Waters, David Lynch, Roger Ebert
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS – Narrative, UK, 2005, 103 Minutes
Based on a true story, this deliciously witty period comedy from the sure hand of Stephen Frears stars Dame Judi Dench as the wealthy, just-widowed, Laura Henderson who has no intention of quietly retreating to the genteel pastimes 1930′s society deems acceptable for her situation. From the window of her chauffeured Rolls Royce, she notices a “For Sale” sign on the dilapidated shell of a London theatre, proceeds to buy it and hires Bob Hoskins to manage it. The sparkling script uses the talents of these two great character actors to wonderful effect as they spar with each other on every level: social, psychological, and sentimental. The luxurious sets and costumes are a delight for the eye, as are the gorgeous women who populate the theatre’s groundbreaking nude reviews. They are involved in their own dramas, and soon the opulent musical numbers contrast sharply with the ugly realities of war-time Britain. With high standards in all departments, this film is brilliantly produced by the HFFF’s Susan B. Anthony “Failure is Impossible” awardee, Norma Heyman. (Catherine Wyler)
Director: Stephen Frears
Producers: Laurie Borg, Norma Heyman
Cast: Judi Dench
Norma Heyman was the first woman to complete her own solo independent film production in Britain in 1984 when she produced THE HONORARY CONSUL. She went on to produce BURNING SECRET, BUSTER, DANGEROUS LIAISONS (Oscar nomination), MARY REILLY, THE SECRET AGENT and GANGSTER NO 1. Heyman was a founder of Women in Film & Television UK and she was the first woman producer to receive a Lifetime Achievement award from the London Film Critics Circle.
ON THE OUTS – NARRATIVE, US, 2004, 82 Minutes
Sometimes fiction is better equipped to depict a complicated reality than documentary. This is certainly the case with Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolnik’s gripping, multi-layered feature about three teenage girls struggling to survive in a drug-ridden New Jersey inner city. The film grew out of the creative workshops that the filmmakers and one of the actors, Paola Mendoza, held at a detention center for youthful female offenders. After weeks of improvisation that involved both inmates and actors, a script emerged rich with incident and unexpected turns. The cast, a mix of actors and non-professionals, is so fine that it seems wrong to single out any one performance. Still, one can’t deny the exceptional work of Judy Marte as Oz, the lesbian crack dealer, who’s too smart not to know that the price of her autonomy is someone else’s addiction. Marte is an actor of great range and promise. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Slamdance International Film Festival: WINNER Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award
2005 Cinequest Film Festival: WINNER
2005 Independent Spirit Awards: NOMINEE John Cassavetes Award and Independent Spirit Award
Directors: Lori Silverbush, Michael Skolnik
Producers: Jon Cohen, Lori Silverbush, Michael Skolnik, Rob Stone
Writer: Lori Silverbush
Lori Silverbush will direct BLUESMAN, based on the novel House of Sand and Fog, and is currently writing HIGHER GROUND, a film about the U.S./Mexican border. She is adapting Alice Hoffman’s novel Illumination Night for Prospect Pictures. In May 2000, Lori was chosen to participate in the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. MENTAL HYGIENE, the film that resulted, won the Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the 2001 Deauville Festival for American Cinema.
PUNK: attitude – DOCUMENTARY, UK/US, 2005, 90 Minutes
Don Letts’s exhilarating, oddly tender history of punk rock spans nearly 30 years taking us from such antecedents as The Velvet Underground, the MC5 and Iggie Pop to the logical conclusion in Nirvana. Using an inspiring collection of performance clips and interviews, Letts, the former London “punky-reggae” DJ, segues between New York’s CBGB’s circa the Ramones, the New York Dolls, and Television and London’s King’s Road where the Sex Pistols fashioned their sound and image at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Mclaren’s boutique. Punk didn’t lack for exciting female performers and Letts gives time to some of the most memorable: Chrissie Hyde, Siouxsie Sioux, Patti Smith, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Specs and Ari-Up of the Slits. Among the highly articulate group of talking heads – not simply the usual suspects – are Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, John Cale, Glenn Branca, and two filmmakers: Mary Harron and Jim Jarmusch. (Amy Taubin)
Director: Don Letts
Executive Producer: Krysanne Katsoolis
SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC – Documentary, US, 2005, 70 Minutes
Silverman is magic and a comic genius to boot – more outrageous than Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and Whoopie Goldberg rolled into one. There is no cow too sacred for her to skewer. Despite her toned biceps she projects an image as fragile and flighty as Parker Posey while her breathy, girlish voice turns her acid tongue into a stealth weapon. A brilliant social satirist, Silverman ferrets out our hypocrisies, sentimentalities, denials and repressions and makes us think about them while we’re laughing. The whiff of so-called political correctness is to her as blood to a shark. The film surrounds a live recording of Silverman’s one-woman show at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood with clever skits and some hilariously obvious special effects. (Don’t worry, she didn’t really sing that dreadful song to a group of octogenarians. It just looks as if she did.) And, by the way, she can belt out a tune as well as anyone on Broadway. (Amy Taubin)
Director: Liam Lynch
Producers: Heidi Herzon, Randy Sosin, Mark Williams
Writer: Sarah Silverman
There is no doubt that Sarah Silverman’s star is definitely on the rise. Currently, she can be seen in the documentary feature THE ARISTOCRATS, and was last seen in THE SCHOOL OF ROCK. She has guest starred in a slew of television shows, such as The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, Star Trek Voyager and Jag. Silverman’s film appearances include THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, THE WAY OF THE GUN, EVOLUTION, THE BACHELOR and SAY IT ISN’T SO.
SIR! NO SIR! – Documentary, US, 2005, 85 Minutes
There is no mention of the war in Iraq in David Zeiger’s documentary, which tells the story of the war in Vietnam from the point of view of the veterans and active duty military who became the strongest and most courageous voices of the peace movement. Still, this is obviously a timely cautionary tale. Zeiger is an insider to an aspect of Vietnam that has been written out of history. A civilian, he helped run the Oleo Strut, a coffee house on a military base in Fort Hood, Texas. In the late 1960′s it became a center of anti-war activism. Some 35 years later he decided to document the story of veterans and soldiers who opposed the war, which began with a handful of resisters (among them the eloquent Dr. Howard Levy, former Green Beret David Duncan, and purple heart recipient Terry Whitmore), and ended with massive disobedience in the killing fields by thousands of soldiers who refused to fight in a war they came to regard as criminal. (Amy Taubin)
Director/Writer: David Zeiger
Producers: David Zeiger, Evangeline Griego, Aaron Zarrow
Featuring Jane Fonda
Evangeline Griego is an independent award winning documentary producer whose credits include THE NEW AMERICANS (2004 IDA Limited Series Award), MY JOURNEY HOME (2004 Cine Golden Eagle Award), CALAVERA HIGHWAY, and her documentary BORDER VISIONS. In 1996, Griego directed the award-wining documentary PAÑO ARTE: IMAGES FROM INSIDE. She is currently producing and directing the independent documentary, GOD WILLING (PBS), about a bible-based nomadic cult.
SISTERS IN LAW – Documentary, Cameroon/UK, 2005, 104 Minutes
Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi’s documentary focuses on a town in Cameroon where a judge and lawyer, both female, have gradually been able to make a difference. The film follows three cases: a little girl who has been physically abused by her aunt; a teenage girl who was raped by a neighbor; and a woman who brings divorce proceedings against her violently abusive husband. The divorce case is particularly important since it’s the first time in this Muslim community that a wife who brought charges against her husband has had the courage to go through the court process to the end. The sense of joy and liberation that her female neighbors and relatives feel is palpable. The filmmakers secured excellent access, going behind the scenes in the lawyer’s and judge’s offices and also getting inside the local jail. A Women Make Movies release, SISTERS IN LAW is intimate, intelligent, and in many ways, unexpected. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Cannes Film Festival: WINNER C.I.C.A.E. Award
Directors: Kim Longinotto, Florence Ayisi
Producer/Director of Photography: Kim Longinotto
Kim Longinotto ‘s accolades include the Amnesty International DOEN Award at IDFA and Best Doc UK Spotlight at Hot Docs for THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET; the Grand Prize for Best Documentary San Francisco International Film Festival and Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival for DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE; Best Documentary at Films de Femmes, Creteil for DREAM GIRLS; and Outstanding Documentary at the SF Gay and Lesbian Film Festival for SHINJUKU BOYS.
Florence Ayisi studied producing and directing at the Northern School of Film and Television (NSTV) in Leeds, England. She co-directed the documentary REFLECTIONS, about a black British dancer-choreographer in Cardiff in 2003. She has just completed a short film, MY MOTHER: ISANGE to mark International Women’s Day 2005. She teaches practice-based research at the International Film School Wales, University of Wales, Newport.
SKETCHES OF FRANK GEHRY – Documentary, 2005, US, 83 Minutes
The film begins quietly with a conversation between movie director Sidney Pollack and architect Frank Gehry, two major American artists talking about the terror inherent in starting a new project, every single time. Gehry and Pollack have been friends for several years, ever since High Falls Advisory Council member Suzanne Weil brought them together with just this outcome in mind. Although this is Pollack’s first documentary, his experience and artistry are evident in the intimate feel of the story-telling and the gentle handling of the diverse cast of clients, colleagues, critics and assistants (plus Gehry’s shrink) from whom he elicits absorbing insights and anecdotes. The cinematography is a feast for the eyes, but the greatest strength of this documentary is the interaction between two men from very different disciplines who understand each other from the core. As Pollack says, “We’ve spent a lot of time together bemoaning the difficulty of finding personal expressiveness within disciplines that make stringent commercial demands.” Editor Karen Schmeer did a magnificent job of wrestling this material into an engrossing whole. The viewer feels privileged to have this access to Gehry, his ideas and his work. We thank Sydney, particularly for making it available to screen at High Falls. (Catherine Wyler)
Director: Sydney Pollack
Producer: Ultan Guilfoyle
Editor: Karen Schmeer
Karen Schmeer graduated from Boston University with a degree in Anthropology. She has been editing since 1995, beginning with Errol Morris’ FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL. Since then, she has gone on to edit many documentaries for film and television, including THEME: MURDER, WELL FOUNDED FEAR, MY FATHER, THE GENIUS, THE SAME RIVER TWICE, MR. DEATH and Academy Award-winning THE FOG OF WAR.
SOME SECRETS – Narrative, Czech Republic, 2002, 100 Minutes
A dark and absurd road-movie comedy in which Grandmother fulfills her dream, Mother stops treating her daughters like kids, the daughters stop treating their husbands like idiots and father’s ashes get spread all over the country. Determined to scatter her son’s ashes in his Slovakian birthplace, grandma and the family set out in two battered old cars. Removed from the inhibiting influence of home, the daughters start to talk. Zuzana gets drunk with her mother in a bar, while Ilona and Pavel discover their previously unknown attraction for one another. Moments of neat visual humor abound, as when the mother warns granny to mind her eyes when drinking a cocktail with sticks in it. Scenes at the Czech-Slovak border, where the group is refused passage with the ashes, sharply satirize the absurd bureaucracy that has sprung up after the breakup of former Czechoslovakia. With a carefully crafted script and a compassionate perspective on human weakness, SECRETS make for a quietly affirmative experience. A prizewinner at San Sebastian, Thessaloniki, and Tribeca (NY) the film has been invited to numerous other international festivals. (Wanda Bershen)
2002 “THE GOLDEN ARC” the main award: Paris IFF 2003 (Festival du film de Paris)
2002 “THE BEST ACTOR” award for Igor Bares: Tribeca IFF – New York
2003 “THE BEST SCREENPLAY” award: Festroia IFF – Portugal
*Special thanks for rights and prints: Pavel Solc (Prague), Czech Center (Prague)
Director: Alice Nellis
Producer: Pavel Solc
Screenwriter: Alice Nellis
Alice Nellis, barely into her 30′s, specialized in English and American studies at Charles University of Prague. She worked as writer and director in Czech TV and then moved to features. Her first feature EENY MEENY began as an exercise for a Film Academy scriptwriting class, where it won a prize and thereby went into production. Garnering a slew of Czech awards, the film went on to international festivals and won the SKYY prize at San Francisco IFF in 2000.
SOMERSAULT – Narrative, Australia, 2004, 106 Minutes
2004 Australian Film Institute: WINNER of 13 awards including Best Film, Actress, and Director
Director/Writer: Cate Shortland
Producers: Anthony Anderson, Jan Chapman
Cate Shortland has a graduate diploma in directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (2000) where she received the Southern Star Award for most promising student. She has written and directed four award winning short films: STRAP ON OLYMPIA (1995), PENTUPHOUSE (1998), FLOWERGIRL (1999) and JOY (2000)–all of them in collaboration with producer Anthony Anderson. SOMERSAULT (2004) is her feature film debut.
STOLEN LIFE – Narrative, China, 2005, 90 Minutes
In Chinese with English Subtitles
Li Shaohong is one of the only female directors among China’s famed “Fifth Generation filmmakers.” Like THE GREEN HAT (shown at HFFF 2004) STOLEN LIFE reflects the difficulties and confusions of young adults trying to find their way in the rapidly changing economic and cultural landscape of the new China. The film’s heroine leaves her rural home to attend college in the city. Her naiveté makes her easy prey for a sweet-talking truck driver who romances her, gets her pregnant, and then betrays her in the worst possible way. What’s marvelous about the film, besides the way Li’s supple DV camera follows the young woman like her own shadow, is the way she gradually overcomes her pain and desire for revenge and finds agency through her misfortune. Together Li and her expressive lead actress convince us that this change, rather than being grafted on to fulfill a political agenda, comes from within the young woman herself. (Amy Taubin)
2005 Tribeca Film Festival: WINNER Best Narrative Feature
Director: Li Shaohong
Producer: Li Xiaowan
Li Shaohong is one of the most famous female directors in China. She’s also considered one of the Fifth Generation directors together with classmates like Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Tian Zhuangzhauang. She shot her first thriller, THE CASE OF THE SILVER SNAKE, and won international acclaim for BLOODY MORNING (Silver Leopard in Locarno and top prize in Nantes). She later directed two series for Asian TV: Ren Jian Si Yue Tian and Orange Turn Ripe.
STOLEN – Documentary, US, 2005, 90 Minutes
Art lovers and mystery fans rejoice: this film about the largest art heist in history – a $300 million 1990 robbery at Boston’s palatial Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – is filled with tales of missing Rembrandts, Vermeer’s “The Concert” (the world’s most valuable stolen painting), Irish gangsters, back-room politicians, eccentric collectors and a palazzo style private mansion-turned-museum with possibly the worst security system on record. At the heart of this fascinating whodunit is 75-year-old detective Harold J. Smith, famous for recovering millions in stolen art and antiquities. With filmmaker Rebecca Dreyfus and cameraman Albert Maysles in tow, the unstoppable Smith continues his lifelong obsession with solving this one final crime, despite a clearly distressing battle with degenerative skin cancer. A “treasure trove of outrageous characters, rampant speculation, personal obsessions and a glimpse into the rarefied world of art collecting,” this is a tribute not only to irreplaceable masterpieces, but to irreplaceable people as well. (Ruth Cowing)
2005 Sarasota International Film Festival: Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
2005 NY/Avignon Film Festival: WINNER Best Documentary Film and Best Original Film Score
Director: Rebecca Dreyfus
Producers: Rebecca Dreyfus, Susannah Ludwig
Rebecca Dreyfus is an award-winning director, writer and producer. Her first award-winning feature film, BYE-BYE BABUSHKA, opened to critical acclaim in New York and Los Angeles and has been shown on television in more than 25 countries. Her two short films, THE WAITING and ROADBLOCK, have also received prizes around the world. Dreyfus was recently named a filmmaking fellow by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and a screenwriting fellow by The Sundance Film Institute.
STONED – Narrative, UK, 2005, 102 Minutes
The specter of sex, drugs and rock and roll has never been so powerfully epitomized as by The Rolling Stones in their early heyday. Tales of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards abound to this day. Their once equally iconic band mate Brian Jones, however, has slowly been relegated to a footnote. Considered by many to be the musical genius behind the band as well as the driving force that helped push the Stones out of the London clubs and onto the world stage, the enigmatic Jones led a rather spectacular if brief life of hedonism and fame during the ’60s. His incessant drug use led to his astonishing downfall, pushing away his band mates, girlfriend Anita Pallenburg, and leaving him with unsavory strangers in his bed and in his house. By 1969 he was face down in a pool; the first of the major rock stars to die in their youth. In his directorial debut, Neil Jordan’s longtime producer Stephen Woolley reproduces both the glory of the free-wheeling sixties, and the price Jones paid by flying just a bit too close to the sun. (Ruth Cowing)
Director: Stephen Woolley
Producer: Finola Dwyer, Stephen Woolley
Born in New Zealand, Finola Dwyer was a film editor before turning to producing, and moved to the UK in the early 90′s. Her producer credits include Iain Softley’s acclaimed debut BACKBEAT and Stephan Elliott’s WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP, an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. Dwyer produced THE LOST SON, directed by Chris Menges, and ME WITHOUT YOU, directed by Sandra Goldbacher. Last year she produced the multi award-winning festival favorite HAMBURG CELL.
THE WAR WITHIN – NARRATIVE, US, 2005, 90 Minutes
What turns an unassuming engineer into America’s worst nightmare: a suicide bomber walking up the steps of Grand Central Station? In this tautly-crafted and quietly stunning thriller, award-winning director Joseph Castelo turns his lens on terrorism from the “other’s” point of view, weaving a complex and nuanced character study of would-be terrorist Hassan and the trusting family he has come to visit. Friend Yaseed welcomes Hassan into his home with the openness of a man made complacent by years of American suburbia. Little does he realize his once gentle companion has just emerged from a year in which he was kidnapped, sent to Pakistan, and tortured into the ideology of hatred. While Yaseem and his unknowing family throw neighborhood BBQs, Hassan meets with his cell and turns a flirtatious date into a hair-raising scout of the train station. In the end both Hassan and Yaseed will have to choose between the men they once were and the men they have become. And, in a chilling final scene, so too will the Americans. (Ruth Cowing)
Director: Joseph Castelo
Producer: Joana Vicente, Tom Glynn, Jason Kliot
Writing: Tom Glynn, Joseph Castelo, Ayad Akhtar
Cinematography: Lisa Rinzler, Joseph White
Joana Vicente is the co-founder with Jason Kliot of Open City Films. Her long list of producing credits includes BUBBLE, ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON, COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, THE GUYS, NEVER GET OUTTA THE BOAT, LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONEY, LOVELY AND AMAZING and many others. Upcoming films include HANCOCK, DIGGERS, ALL FALL DOWN, QUID PRO QUO, AWAKE and HUNTER.
Cinematographer Lisa Rinzler’s career began in the early 1980s with films including FIST OF FEAR and REVERSE ANGLE. Among her many shooting credits are JOHN HUSTON AND THE DUBLINERS, DEAD PRESIDENTS, THE BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, POLLOCK, LOVE LIZA (2002 High Falls Film festival closing night selection), THE SOUL OF A MAN, LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE and DRUM.
TRANSAMERICA – Narrative, US, 2005, 103 Minutes
Before she became a “desperate housewife”, Felicity Huffman gave this riveting bravura performance as a diligent, conservative transsexual woman awaiting her final sexual reassignment surgery in Los Angeles. A phone call from the New York City police reveals that a teen-age son she doesn’t know she fathered during her life as a man is now in trouble and looking for his father.
When her therapist insists that she confront her past and withholds legal permission for the operation until she has met the boy, she grudgingly agrees and flies to New York. But the boy mistakes her for a social worker and she encourages his misconception, agreeing to take him to LA to find his father. Thus begins a road trip between a rebellious kid and an uptight transsexual that results in a transformational journey for both. Possibly the oddest couple every stuck together in a road movie, TRANSAMERICA is anchored by Felicity Huffman’s tour de force performance. (Catherine Wyler)
2005 Berlin International Film Festival: WINNER Reader Jury of the “Siegessäule”
2005 Tribeca Film Festival: WINNER Best Actress Felicity Huffman
Director: Duncan Tucker
Producers: Linda Moran, Rene Bastian, Sebastian Dungan
Cast: Felicity Huffman
Linda Moran’s career spans both the film and music industries. After forming a partnership with Rene Bastian in Belladonna Productions, her first producing credit was SUE, which won the International Critic’s Prize at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival. Since that time, her credits include L.I.E., SWIMMING and FRIENDS AND FAMILY. In addition, she has produced BRINGING RAIN and JAILBAIT through Belladonna. Moran is a recipient of the 2002 Independent Spirits Motorola Producers Award.
WHEN THE SEA RISES – Narrative, France/Belgium, 2004, 90 Minutes
In French with English Subtitles
Irene is touring the provincial towns of northern France with her deadpan-comedic one-woman show called “A Dirty Business of Sex and Crime”. She performs in a mask, distancing herself from the persona she creates, and every night she chooses a man in the audience who must come on stage to perform with her. One very reluctant subject, Dries, finds himself so intrigued with the actress that he shows up night after night until this oddly mismatched pair begins a tentative romance. Yolande Moreau, actor/co-writer/co-director of the film, is a true original and a delight to watch. This performance won her the 2005 César (French Oscar) for Best Actress. The film is based on her life as an actor touring with the above-mentioned show, which she also wrote. Cinematographer Gilles Porte (who also co-wrote and co-directed) shoots with a distinctive flair. The acting is faultless throughout and the glimpses of small town life are rendered with generosity and humor. The ensemble is a post-modern romantic comedy, bittersweet, utterly real and very French. (Catherine Wyler)
2005 César Awards, France: WINNER Best Actress & Best First Work
2004 Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Film: WINNER Golden Bayard Award Best Actor & Actress
2004 Paris International Cinema Meeting: WINNER Audience Award
2004 Prix Louis Delluc: WINNER Prix Louis Delluc Award Best First Film
Directors/Writers: Yolande Moreau, Gilles Porte
Producer: Humbert Balsan
After working in children’s theater for a few years in Brussels (Théâtre de la Ville de Bruxelles), Yolande Moreau trained with Philippe Gaulier. In 1982, she wrote and performed A Dirty Business of Sex and Crime, a tragi-comic one-woman show that toured all over France, Switzerland and Quebec. Moreau’s recent film credits include THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS, A PIECE OF SKY and FOLLE EMBELLIE. WHEN THE SEA RISES is her first feature film writing and directing credit.
THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN – Narrative, New Zealand/USA, 2005,127 Minutes
When Roger Donaldson was a budding young New Zealand filmmaker, he heard about a crusty eccentric named Burt Monro who had taken his souped-up 1920′s motorcycle (the Indian) from Down Under to Bonneville Flats to set a land speed record in 1967. Roger talked him into making the trip again and made a short film of his exploits. Never satisfied that he’d done justice to the character of Burt Monro, Donaldson has now written and directed the feature film he envisioned so long ago: the story of a man of extraordinary belief in himself and his dream.
Personified by the masterful Anthony Hopkins, Munro is a multi-dimensional character, full of determination, creativity, charm and eccentricity, whose big dream is not taken seriously at home in Invercargill, New Zealand. Once he’s wiped out the competition on his home beaches, Utah beckons and Burt and his Indian embark for the other side of the world.
Burt is open to anything in pursuit of his goal so the trip is full of adventure and fun. Diane Ladd has a terrific cameo as a tenderhearted woman he meets along the way, and the journey culminates triumphantly in a land speed record that stands today. (Catherine Wyler)
2005 San Sebastian International Film Festival: Nominee
Director/Writer: Roger Donaldson
Producers: Roger Donaldson, Gary Hannam
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Diane Ladd
Diane Ladd just finished co-starring with Ashley Judd in COME EARLY MORNING, to be released early spring 2006, and filmed WHEN I SEE THE OCEAN, also to be released in 2006. Last year, Ladd starred in Steven King’s 15-hour mini-series for ABC Primetime. Previously, she filmed CHARLIE’S WAR, in which she co-stars with Olympia Dukakis and Lynn Redgrave.