THE MUSLIMS I KNOW
If you yahoo the words “moderate Muslim” today you will get more than 8 million hits on the Internet, the result of a post-9/11 Western world trying to make sense of Islam and its followers. The need to identify “militant jihadists” by distinguishing them from moderate Muslims has cast suspicion on all Muslims in America, and stereotypes are becoming well-entrenched. To break those stereotypes and to educate/highlight that the basic tenets of Islam are often similar to the Judeo-Christian tradition, local filmmaker Mara Ahmed focuses on Rochester’s Pakistani Americans, asking them questions non-Muslim Americans have framed through vox pop interviews. Whether training her lens on Islamic scholars talking about Islamic theology and history, or youth looking to participate in America’s mainstream socio-political discourse, Ahmed takes the audience on a journey into a little-known, but much talked about American community.
Director Mara Ahmed has a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Hartford, Connecticut, and another Master’s in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration in Pakistan. Always interested in writing, art and film, she studied art at Nazareth College, and filmmaking at the Visual Studies Workshop and Rochester Institute of Technology. THE MUSLIMS I KNOW is her first film.
YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG
Documentary, US, 2008, 92 minutes
Director/Writer/Producer: Aviva Kempner
Susan Stamberg and Aviva Kempner in attendance!
In an era when women had no executive power in the American entertainment industry, Gertrude Berg virtually invented the sitcom format and wrote, supervised, and starred in one of the country’s best-loved radio and television programs. Maybe you’ve never heard of The Goldbergs, but for more than twenty-five years, from 1929 – 1955, it dominated the airwaves and made Berg “the Oprah of her day.” Even more amazingly, despite the anti-Semitism of that time, Berg’s fictional American Jewish family was welcomed into homes throughout the nation. Directed by Aviva Kempner, the award-winning filmmaker of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG, YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG tells Berg’s story from her earliest performances to her post-Goldbergs triumphs on Broadway. Joyous, nostalgic, but also painfully honest, it pays a loving and long deserved tribute to the pioneer who paved the way for everyone from I Love Lucy to The Cosby Show and Seinfeld.
Washington, DC-based filmmaker Aviva Kempner produced and co-wrote PARTISANS OF VILNA. She directed, wrote and produced the Emmy-nominated, Peabody award-winning and critically acclaimed THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG. Kempner founded the Washington Jewish Film Festival, and has written film reviews for the past 25 years. She will be the recipient of the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award in July.
Narrative, Germany/Kazakhstan/Poland/Russia/Switzerland, 2008, 100 minutes
Director/Co-writer: Sergei Dvortsevoy
Cinematographer: Jolanta Dylewska
In Kazakh and Russian with English subtitles
Kazakhstan director Sergei Dvortsevoy kept busy during much of last year accepting a trunk load of awards from film festivals around the world for his first feature, TULPAN, a polished, funny, and utterly charming story of a young man who wants nothing more than to live in a yurt (a traditional tent house) and enjoy a hard life herding goats and sheep on the bleak, windswept steppes of central Asia. But before Asa’s older brother-in-law will give him his own herd, Asa must find a bride. Unfortunately, the young woman of his dreams, TULPAN (which means Tulip) says his ears are too big. Mixing gentle humor, endearing performances, and spectacular scenery, with a powerful documentary realism (Dvortsevoy has, in fact, made several notable documentaries) TULPAN tells a timeless coming-of-age tale, while opening an extraordinary window on a culture far different from our own.
2008 Cannes Film Festival: Un Certain Regard Award
2008 European Film Awards: Nominated, European Discovery of the Year
2008 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Two awards
2008 Dubai International Film Festival: Muhr Award
2008 British Film Institute Awards: Sutherland Trophy
2008 Sao Paolo Int’l Film Festival: nominated, International Jury Award
Director: Michelle Esrick
Producers: Michelle Esrick, David Becker
Documentary, US, 2008, 92 minutes
Wavy Gravy and Michelle Esrick in attendance!
Wonder whatever happened to the Hippies? They’re alive and well in the person of Wavy Gravy, aka Hugh Romney, former Beat poet, Bob Dylan roommate, and clown prince of the sixties, who still lives with his extended family on the legendary California commune, the Hog Farm. But he’s always been much more than a clown. At Woodstock he helped feed half a million people, and deliberately adopted his fool persona to lighten the atmosphere when tensions grew. Later, he brought food and medicine to cyclone victims in Bangladesh, and co-founded both the Seva Foundation that helps prevent blindness in the developing world, and a performing arts summer camp that passes his idealism on to younger generations. Though director Michelle Esrick’s joyous, inspiring film overflows with gloriously nostalgic archival footage, its real importance is its portrait of Gravy today, his sixties spirit intact, continuing his truly saintly efforts to alleviate human suffering.
Producer/Director Michelle Esrick is a peace activist, filmmaker, actress, producer and poet. She has worked on documentaries about social change and music, including Barbara Kopple’s film MY GENERATION; and has produced such notable events as “Courageous Resisters” and “Poems Not Fit for the White House” at Lincoln Center. For the past 10 years Michelle has documented the life and message of Wavy Gravy. SAINT MISBEHAVIN’ is Michelle’s first feature-length documentary.
Narrative, 2008, Canada, 93 minutes
Directors: Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu
Writers: Susan Avinqaq, Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu
Editors: Norman Cohn, Marie-Helene Cousineau,
Louise Dugal, Felix Lajeunesse
In Inuktitut with English subtitles
There has simply never been a film quite like this one. Part fable, part social history, it’s set sometime in the 19th century, among a tribe of Inuit people isolated in the unimaginably harsh yet awesomely beautiful landscape of the Arctic Circle. They’ve never seen white people, though they’ve heard disturbing rumors about them. But they carry on with their traditional nomadic lifestyle, hunting, fishing, and living off the seemingly barren land. The story concerns two elderly women and a young boy who go to an island to dry the clan’s food for the coming winter. Combining the most sophisticated cinematic techniques and dazzling photography with traditional Inuit storytelling, featuring amazing performances by its Inuit cast, BEFORE TOMORROW allows us to experience the details of a place, time, and way of life far from our own, and a people who seem so foreign at first, but are really so much like ourselves.
2009 Sundance Film Festival:
Nominated, Grand Jury Prize – World Cinema
2008 Toronto International Film Festival:
Best Canadian First Feature Film
2008 American Indian Film Festival
Marie-Hélène Cousineau is deeply involved in the development of women’s video in Igloolik, Nunavut. She co-founded Tarriaksuk Video Centre and Arnait Video Productions, was Vice-President of the Nunavut Filmmakers Association, taught media courses in Montreal, and produced and/or directed many notable works, including WOMEN IN BLACK, UNAKULUK and DEAR LITTLE ONE. She co-directed ANAANA/MOTHER and NINGIURA/MY GRANDMOTHER.
Narrative, Italy/UK, 2008, 105 minutes
Director: Antonio Luigi Grimaldi
Co-writer/Delegate Producer: Laura Paolucci
In Italian and French with English subtitles
With a cast headed by the well-known Italian actor/writer/director Nanni Moretti (who co-wrote the screenplay), and featuring the popular and immensely talented Valeria Golino and a cameo by “he needs no introduction” Roman Polanski, QUIET CHAOS can’t help being superbly performed. Moretti plays a recently widowed film industry executive who transforms himself into a devoted single parent, spending his days in a park across the street from his 10-year-old daughter’s school. Through encounters with a young dog walker, a Down syndrome boy, and movie bigwigs who pop into the park for meetings that can’t wait, he discovers the world outside his office is more complex, fascinating, and emotionally challenging than he anticipated. More quiet than chaotic, with a sophisticated use of songs by Rufus Wainwright and Radiohead, this deceptively understated drama directed by Antonello Grimaldi is a deeply moving exploration of unexpressed grief and unexpected self-awareness.
2008 Berlin Film Festival: Nominated, Golden Berlin Bear
Chicago International Film Festival: Silver Plaque – Best Screenplay
Laura Paolucci served as Production Delegate on this year’s celebrated GOMORRAH. Before QUIET CHAOS, on which she also served as Delegate Producer, she wrote three films, including MAXIMUM VELOCITY and L’HORIZONTE DEGLI EVENTI, and a television series. IL COMMISSARIO DE LUCA.
INVISIBLE: ABBOTT THAYER AND THE ART OF CAMOUFLAGE
Documentary, US, 2008, 56 minutes
Producer: Pam Peabody
Pam Peabody in attendance!
You know about such great American artists as John Singer Sargent, Whistler, and Winslow Homer, but have you heard of Abbott Thayer? An influential naturalist who worked tirelessly to establish bird sanctuaries and preserve New Hampshire’s Mt. Monadnock, as well as a magnificent painter, Thayer is also known as the father of modern camouflage. During WWI he fought heroically (if unsuccessfully) to convince the military about the practicality of his then-revolutionary ideas about “concealing coloration,” or camouflage. He walked away from a successful career as a society portrait painter to explore New Hampshire’s wilderness, bear witness to its beauties on canvas, and become recognized as a “soul painter” who sought to express the spiritual side of nature. This revealing documentary features Harry Hamlin as the voice of Thayer and Jane Alexander, who climbed Mount Monadnock as a child – and won the 2005 Rochester High Falls International Film Festival’s Failure is Impossible award – as narrator.
Director Pam Peabody, a long time Dublin, NH resident who produced the documentary, says she was inspired to tell Thayer’s story because she grew up near where he lived, where his memorial stone could be seen from her home. Peabody has also produced films about Edith Wharton, the Washington D.C Shakespeare Theatre, and for PBS’s American Masters series.
A WOMAN IN BERLIN
If war is hell, the victors are often the devils. Case in point: Berlin at the end of WWII, when the Russians marched in, thirsting for revenge against the incomparably brutal Nazis they’d fought so long. But bombed out Berlin had only civilians to offer: old men, children, and women. Lowering themselves to the level of their enemies, the Russians systemically terrorized the former and raped the latter. A Woman in Berlin is based on an autobiographical novel (published anonymously in the 1950s in East Germany, where it met with shock, disbelief, and withering attacks) of one woman’s struggle for survival in these horrific circumstances. But it’s not a simplistic tale of victims and violators; almost all the complex characters carry a bit of both within them, and which part dominates depends on the specific situation. Obviously dark, but not without hope, it tells an important story with unforgettable power.
Editor Ewa J. Lind is a feature film editor working internationally for independent film companies. Educated at the NFTS, UK, and FAMU, Prague, she has edited award-winning features in the UK, Germany, her native Sweden, and New Zealand. Her credits include THE WARRIOR, THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG and UNDER THE SKIN, winner of Edinburgh’s Michael Powell Award and Toronto’s International Critics Award.
YOUSSOU N’DOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE
Documentary, Senegal/France/Egypt/US, 2008, 102 min
Director/Writer/Producer: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Featuring: Youssou N’Dour, Peter Gabriel
In English, French, Wolof and Arabic
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi in attendance!
Director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s stimulating documentary begins as a film about music and ends as a film about music and religion. But then, one way or another, haven’t the two always been connected? Youssou N’dour is a genuine superstar of Senegalese music, and the film’s first part mixes dynamic concert footage (you’ll quickly see why Vasarhelyi is such a fan) with interviews and scenes of his daily life. Though N’dour is a devout Sufi Muslim, his lyrics had been politically preachy, praising hard work and championing people like Stephen Biko. But in 2004 he released, during Ramadan, an album of devotional songs called “Egypt.” For those who think a pop political singer has no right touching the sacred, this was a sacrilegious act and ignited fires of controversy throughout his country. Meanwhile, N’dour himself wondered how to properly present this music to his legions of non-Muslim, western fans. The results are unexpected.
Sao Paulo International Film Festival: Audience Award, Foreign Documentary
Bahamas International Film Festival: Audience Award, Spirit of Freedom Award
2008 Toronto Film Festival: Special Presentation, Official Selection
Telluride Film Festival
SXSW Film Festival
Director/Producer Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi speaks proudly of her Hungarian, Chinese, and Brazilian roots. A NORMAL LIFE, her documentary debut about young Kosovars, won the 2003 Tribeca Best Documentary award. She’s won grants from several foundations, an Achievement Award from the Creative Visions Foundation, and has been featured in numerous publications including the New Yorker, Vogue, and the New York Times.
Documentary, US, 2008, 93 minutes
Director/Producer: Robert Kenner
Producer: Elise Pearlstein
Featuring: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser
The processing of the food we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous ten thousand. That’s a direct quote from FOOD INC., and if it doesn’t make you stop and think, the rest of this revealing and disturbing documentary will. Filmmaker Robert Kenner exposes how the food industry, controlled by a handful of corporations, and with the consent of regulatory agencies, often puts profits ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers, and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, and tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of e coli, widespread childhood obesity, and an epidemic level of diabetes. Featuring interviews with experts like Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farm’s Gary Hirshberg, FOOD, INC. is the real “naked lunch,” the truth about what we do three times a day, told with elegance and verve.
Producer Elise Pearlstein has been producing and writing film and television documentaries for over 10 years. She produced Oscar-winner Jessica Yu’s PROTAGONIST, directed and produced THE MILLION DOLLAR RECIPE, about the Pillsbury Bake-Off, produced and wrote prime-time documentaries for NBC’s Tom Brokaw and the late ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, and co-produced and co-wrote SMOKE AND MIRRORS: A HISTORY OF DENIAL, about the tobacco industry’s sordid history.
Narrative, UK, 2008, 93 minutes
Director/Writer: Stephan Elliott
Writer: Sheridan Jobbins
Based on the play by Noel Coward
Cast: Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth
Can a stuffy, upper class, veddy British family withstand the onslaught of a gorgeous, independent American woman, who is not only a race car driver but also the new bride of their only son and hope for the future? Noel Coward asked that question in his beloved 1924 comedy of manners. Now director Stephan Elliott (beloved himself for PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT) brings it to bubbling, fizzy life on screen, with a magnificent cast that includes Jessica Biel as the American invader, Ben Barnes as her hapless husband, Kristin Scott Thomas as her sour, angry new mother-in-law, and Colin Firth as her WWI-scarred father-in-law. As in most Coward plays, some serious, even dark themes lurk behind the slashing wit. But they’re leavened by the hilarious set pieces, beautiful costumes, splendid settings, and a glorious musical score featuring both contemporary songs done in 20′s style, and tunes by Coward and Cole Porter.
2009 London Critics Circle Film Awards:
Nominated, British Supporting Actress of the Year (Kristin Scott Thomas)
2008 British Independent Film Awards:
Nominated, Best Supporting Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas)
Screenwriter Sheridan Jobbins was born in Melbourne, Australia. The third generation film veteran writes full-time with director/writer Stephen Elliott, and is a member of both the Australian and American Writers Guilds. Jobbins is also a producer, actress, journalist and television host. Previous writing credits include ALEX’S PARTY and the television series HOUSE OF FUN.
RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO
Documentary, Canada, 2009, 80 minutes
Director/Writer/Co-Editor: Brett Gaylor
Producers: Katherine Baulu, Mila Aung-Thwin
In RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the 21st century. At the film’s center is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is he a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? If you’ve no idea what any of this means, a “mash-up” or “remix” is “the act of taking pieces of existing art, cutting them up and rearranging them to create a wholly different piece of art.” Or it’s stealing, depending on your point of view. The debate has gone longer than you think, and this fun, fast-paced film lets lots of folks weigh in on the issue of corporate greed versus free-form creativity. If you want to, go to opensourcecinema.org, where Gaylor shares his raw footage for anyone to remix. [Note: this blurb is a brilliant example of verbal remixing. Or is it plagiarism?!]
47th Ann Arbor Film Festival: Audience Choice Award
Director: Storm de Hirsch
16mm, 6 min., sound, color
Storm De Hirsch, a major ’60s and ’70s figure, is a published poet and filmmaker who has 26 films in distribution through the Filmmakers Cooperative. Divination is a “film poem that records a psychic event in color, shape and sound”. It has been preserved by Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
The Women’s Film Preservation Fund was founded in 1995 by New York Women in Film & Television, in association with the Museum of Modern Art and American Movie Classics. It is the first effort by women in the industry to preserve a vital part of our cultural legacy.
Since its inception, the Women’s Film Preservation Fund has provided financial support for the preservation of over 40 short and feature films.
Kat Baulu is the most recent producer to join the National Film Board’s Quebec Centre. She produces feature documentary, new media and training programs for emerging filmmakers. Kat is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Under a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, Kat completed a degree in science filmmaking in New Zealand. Her recent films include award-winning LITTLE CAUGHNAWAGA: TO BROOKLYN AND BACK.
Narrative, South Africa, 2008, 120 min
Director/Writer: Ralph Ziman
Art Direction: Flo Ballack
For too many people, life after apartheid didn’t turn out the way the world hoped. Based on a true story, this turbo-charged South African gangster saga traces the career of Lucky Kunene, a smart, ambitious, good-hearted kid who turns to carjacking after his dreams of a university education collapse under poverty. When a more serious heist goes bad, he flees with a friend to Johannesburg and uses a sophisticated combination of civic do-goodery and outright thuggery to become uncrowned emperor of the Hillbrow neighborhood. He wins over the residents by chasing out the druggies, prostitutes, and illegal immigrants, and setting up the “Hillbrow People’s Housing Trust.” Then he collects their rent and intimidates the slumlords into selling him their properties. Of course there are complications, including a vicious drug dealer, a treacherous mentor, and a white girlfriend. Irresistibly intense, dramatic and culturally revealing, JERUSALEMA gives a new spin to the familiar turns of the underworld epic.
Durban International Film Festival:
Audience Award, Best Feature
Along with countless commercials and television series in South Africa, Flo Ballack was Set Decorator on HOTEL RWANDA, DUMA and WAH-WAH.
Narrative, US, 2009, 98 minutes
Director: Matt Aselton
Producers: Mindy Goldberg, Christine Vachon
Cast: Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, Edward Asner, Jane Alexander, John Goodman
Mindy Goldberg in attendance!
Debuting director Matt Aselton says he’s “interested in stories in which reality and absurdity cross,” and deliciously demonstrates this in GIGANTIC, a more or less comedy about families, commitment, and expensive mattresses. Brian (Paul Dano of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and THERE WILL BE BLOOD) and Harriet (Zooey Deschanel, who also appears in 500 DAYS OF SUMMER at RHFIFF) both have rich, overbearing fathers, one of several things that draws them together. But Harriet is a commitment-phobic child of divorce, while Brian dreams of being the single father of an adopted Chinese baby, and is repeatedly attacked by an imaginary homeless man (who leaves him with visible injuries). Both have much more going on inside them than they let the world see, and when their tentative romance collides with their families’ well-intentioned interference, explosions are inevitable. Sometimes surreal, often funny, and gently touching, GIGANTIC is a highly original and enjoyable way to contemplate some eternal questions.
AFI Dallas International Film Festival: Best Narrative Feature
Producer Mindy Goldberg is the founder and President of Epoch Films, a company for young directors with offices in NY, LA and London. In 2007 Goldberg produced Epoch’s first feature JUNEBUG; the critically-acclaimed film won an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. Goldberg currently has three films in various stages of development, all with Epoch directors attached.
SIGNS OF THE TIME
Documentary, US, 2008, 60 minutes
Director: Don Casper
Co-Executive Producer/Graphic Designer/Animator: Caroline Maynard
Imagine watching one of baseball’s earliest games, in the presence of thousands of fans but without the benefit of hand signals on the diamond that guide us through the modern game. There were no signals for strike, safe, out or foul and no announcer to interpret the game. The only signal was the umpire’s voice, consumed by the roar of thousands of excited fans. How did the signals of baseball originate? Like the origins of the game itself, the genesis of baseball’s greatest innovation is steeped in legend and fraught with polarizing opinions. SIGNS OF THE TIME is a painstakingly researched baseball documentary that was shot on location in eight states, featuring interviews with many baseball greats and re-enactments of scenes from old-time baseball games. The film explores the origins of this pivotal innovation and the baseball pioneers that shaped the course of the game and history. If you like a story about history, mystery and human achievement, you are sure to enjoy.
NERAKHOON (THE BETRAYAL)
DOCUMENTARY, LAOS/US, 2008, 96 minutes
Co-Director/Co-Writer/Producer/Cinematographer: Ellen Kuras
Co-Director/Co-Writer/Editor: Thavisouk Phrasavath
In English and Lao
Renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras (who studied here at the Visual Studies Workshop in the 1980s) makes her directing debut, joined by Laotian co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath, to tell the latter’s astonishing story of suffering and hope as he and his family journey from war-torn Laos to a crime-and-poverty-torn New York. After his father is arrested by the Laotian communist government for working with the U.S. during the Vietnam War, young Thavisouk and his family flee Laos, and finally reach the U.S. in 1981. But they find another kind of war in New York, as Thavisouk’s mother single-handedly struggles to raise a family of ten amidst almost constant danger. Filmed over the course of 23 years, fluidly incorporating archival footage, cinema verite passages, interviews, and visually poetic montages, THE BETRAYAL enables us to feel the far-reaching consequences of war, the resilient bonds of family, and what it means to be in exile.
2009 Academy Awards: Nomination, Best Documentary, Features
2009 Independent Spirit Awards: Nomination, Best Documentary
2008 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival: Spectrum Award
2008 Sundance Film Festival: Nomination, Grand Jury Prize, Documentary
Director/Director of Photography ELLEN KURAS ASC, three-time winner of Sundance’s Best Dramatic Cinematography Award, counts among her credits many major independent films, such as SWOON, PERSONAL VELOCITY, ROYCOHN/JACK SMITH, UNZIPPED, and I SHOT ANDY WARHOL, several Spike Lee films, including FOUR LITTLE GIRLS, SUMMER OF SAM and BAMBOOZLED, as well as major studio productions such as BLOW, ANALYZE THAT, and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
ALBERT PALEY: IN SEARCH OF THE SENTINEL
Documentary, US, 2006. 56:40 minutes
Executive Producer/Writer/Producer/Director: Anthony Machi
Narrator: Jane Alexander
For more than thirty years, Rochester-based sculptor Albert Paley has successfully fused art and technology into a career unparalleled in modern art. Hailed as virtuoso works of design and technique, Paley’s monumental metal sculptures are always in harmony with their architectural surroundings. Local filmmaker Anthony Machi’s documentary explores the latest chapter in Paley’s life, focusing on the creation and installation of The Sentinel at Rochester Institute of Technology, the largest public sculpture on any university campus in America and what Paley calls, “my most important piece to date.” Throughout the film, Paley’s family and colleagues reflect on his art and his creative process, while Paley himself candidly discusses how his two near-death experiences have affected his sensibility. And to a local filmmaker celebrating a local artist add this: Machi first met his film’s narrator, Jane Alexander, at our 2005 Festival, and asked her to consider being part of this project.
New York Emmy Award in the Arts: Program/Special Category
CINE Golden Eagle Award
Since receiving the Susan B. Anthony “Failure is Impossible” Award in 2005, Jane Alexander has starred as Dr. May Foster in the boundary-pushing television series TELL ME YOU LOVE ME. She appears as Paul Dano’s mother in GIGANTIC (2009 RHFIFF). Her role in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE opposite James Earl Jones brought her to prominence in the late ’60′s. The film brought her the first of four Oscar nominations, which include ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN, KRAMER VS. KRAMER and TESTAMENT. Her work on stage and in television is equally renowned, and she served four years as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Tony Machi is the Executive Producer as well as the Writer, Producer and Director of ALBERT PALEY: IN SEARCH OF THE SENTINEL. He has been an award-winning documentary filmmaker for close to 40 years and is the owner and Vice President of Machi & Machi Communications, Inc.
Documentary, Israel, 2008, 102 minutes
Director/Writer/Co-Producer: Nati Baratz
In English, Tibetan, Hindi, Nepali
One of the most beautiful films you will ever see, this story of the search for the reincarnation of a beloved Tibetan Buddhist monk plunges you into a world utterly alien in its details, yet hauntingly familiar in its passionate spirituality. Nepalese monk Tenzin Zopa has spent twenty-one of his twenty-eight years as the devoted disciple of the venerated master, Lama Konchog. Given the task of finding his reincarnation, with only a few clues to guide him, the grief-stricken young man sets out on a journey that takes him through tiny rural villages in overwhelmingly gorgeous landscapes and eventually brings him to a rather remarkable infant who may well be the “unmistaken child” he seeks. Shot over several years by Israeli director Nati Baratz, featuring an appearance by the Dalai Lama himself, this is a film that will fill you with wonder.
Haifa International Film Festival: Haifa Cultural Foundation Award, Best Documentary
Narrative, Palestine/New Zealand/Netherlands, 2008, 72 minutes
Director/Writer/Producer: Rashid Masharawi
Editor: Pascale Chavance
In Arabic with English subtitles
The best film yet from acclaimed Palestinian writer-director Rashid Masharawai (WAITING, CURFEW), LAILA’S BIRTHDAY is a wry, comedic vignette tracing a day in the life of an experienced judge-turned-taxi driver, a portrait of ordinary people living in impossible circumstances in contemporary Ramallah. Abu Laila is only trying to do a days work and bring home a birthday cake for his beloved young daughter, but the madness of West Bank life frustrates him at every turn. Bomb scares, political arguments, and other strange circumstances suggest the serious issues that motivate Masharawi’s art. But his touch remains light and the gags he constructs reflect the influence of the great silent comedians.
Pascale Chavance has been working as an editor in film and television since 1988. Among her best known titles are THE LAST MISTRESS (RHFIFF ’08), ANATOMIE DE L’ENFER, SEX IS COMEDY, BRIEF CROSSING and FAT GIRL.
SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH
Documentary, US, 2008, 74 minutes
Director: Liz Garbus
What happens to the right of free speech in an era when the fear of genuine enemies is exploited, manipulated, and inflamed by power seeking politicians? In SHOUTING FIRE, filmmaker Liz Garbus looks at one such era: the past eight years. What she sees should frighten and enrage all of us. Spokespeople from the right and left, including her father, First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus, reveal the full range of opinions on civil liberties, as they comment on several first amendment cases (some still undecided when the film was finished) such as Ward Churchill’s firing from the University of Colorado, Debbie Almontaser’s resignation from the Khalil Gibran International Academy, and Tyler Chase Harper’s “Homosexuality is Shameful” T-shirt. Clips from popular films and TV shows, such as MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, ANIMAL FARM, HBO’s “John Adams,” TORN CURTAIN, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN and THE BIG LEBOWSKI, examine the role of pop culture in molding attitudes.
2009 Sundance Film Festival: Nominated, Grand Jury Prize – Documentary
Celebrated Director/Producer Liz Garbus is the co-founder (with Rory Kennedy) of Moxie Firecracker, Inc. Past credits include: THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA, which was nominated for an Academy Award, the National Film Critics Award, two Emmys and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize; THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN (HBO; RHFIFF ’03) and GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB, which won the Emmy Award for Best Documentary in 2007.
THE QUEEN AND I
Documentary, Sweden, 2008, 90 minutes
Director/Co-Writer: Nahid Persson Sarvestani
Co-Writer/Editor: Zinat S. Lloyd
Q&A with MCC Professor Shahin Monshipour
A major hit at Sundance, this is Iranian exile filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani’s uniquely personal portrait Farah Diba, widow of the last shah of Iran. Sarvestani grew up in poverty in Iran, joined the Communist wing of the anti-shah movement that eventually deposed him, then fled the country herself when Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic fundamentalist government proved to be at least as repressive as the shah’s. Thirty years later, Sarvestani is a renowned Swedish filmmaker, when she begins to court Farah, hoping to make a documentary about her. This film is the story of the prickly relationship between the queen and the commoner, two women whose circumstances could not be more different, but who both suffered devastating personal losses during the revolution and after, as well as the permanent loss of their homeland. Told against the backdrop of recent Iranian history, their points of view are often at odds, but a mutual respect eventually takes hold and a moving, unusually intimate portrait results.
2009 Sundance Film Festival: Nominated, Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema – Documentary
Nahid Persson Sarvestani was born and raised in Iran. In Sweden, she began formalized study of television and film production and in 2003 attended Dramatiska Institutet. She has made films in Iran under dangerous conditions, among them PROSTITUTION BEHIND THE VEIL, an Emmy-nominated documentary for which the Iranian authorities detained her for more than three months. This and other films have made Persson Sarvestani the most award-winning documentary filmmaker in Swedish history.
ASTRONAUT PAM: COUNTDOWN TO COMMANDER
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2008, 39 MINUTES
Producers: Renee Sotile, Mary Jo Godges
Mary Jo Godges and Renee Sotile in attendance!
Know any folks who dream of becoming astronauts? Make sure they catch this fast paced, fascinating film about Rochester’s own Pam Melroy, who’s living her dream as a NASA astronaut. Filled with insights about the joys, fears, thrills, and sheer hard work of a “space cowboy’s” life, Astronaut Pam follows Melroy on her 2006 mission, when she became the second woman (after Eileen Collins) to command a space shuttle. The STS-120 crew visited the space station during Expedition 16, commanded by Peggy Whitson. Whitson is the first female ISS commander, making the STS-120 mission the first time that two female mission commanders were in orbit at the same time. The amazing “on-location” footage puts us into space with Melroy, whose infectious enthusiasm (ask her about her job and she says, “Being an astronaut is totally cool. It’s the coolest job in or out of the world.”) makes her the ideal companion for the trip of a lifetime. NOTE: This is the world – and universe – premiere.
Renee Sotile & Mary Jo Godges premiered their first feature documentary, CHRISTA MCAULIFFE: REACH FOR THE STARS at the High Falls Film Festival in 2005. The film Won the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary and went on to air on CNN Presents. Renee and Pam Melroy are Rochester homies.
500 DAYS OF SUMMER
Narrative, US/Australia, 2009, 95 MINUTES
Producers: Jessica Tuchinsky
Production Designer: Laura Fox
Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Full of delightful, crazy surprises (dance numbers, split-screen scenes, surreal dreams wherein the hero imagines himself in a bunch of Bergman and New Wave films) surrounding a deeply serious center, this Sundance “buzz” film bounces around among the days in question tracing the ups, downs, and sideways of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer’s (Zooey Deschanel) at turns comic and heartbreaking relationship. They both work at a greeting card company, so they’re naturally suspicious of easy sentiment. But Tom really is looking for true love, and when he finally works up the nerve to ask Summer out, we can’t help hoping he’s found it. Sweet, touching, and thoughtful about the eternal question of commitment, the viewer is left wondering until the final frame about the fate of these two erstwhile characters. Whether together or apart, however, it’s clear the journey has been worth the trip.
Jessica Tuchinsky is a partner/producer at Watermark Pictures in Los Angeles. She is an executive producer of GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST and was thanked for her assistance on LOST IN TRANSLATION.
Production Designer Laura Fox’s previous credits include ALL GOD’S CHILDREN CAN DANCE.
Narrative, US/AFRICA, 2008, 107 minutes
Director/Co-Producer/Co-Writer: Anthony Fabian
Original Music: Helene Muddiman
Cast: Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill, Alice Krige
In English and Zulu
Anthony Fabian’s debut feature tells the extraordinary true story of Sandra Laing, whose experiences with South African apartheid expose the depth of that vile system’s insanity. Although the biological daughter of a white couple, she was born with undeniably black features, hair, and “colored” (according to apartheid’s taxonomy) skin, a genetic phenomenon explained in the film. Her case became a national cause celebre when her parents asked the Supreme Court to classify her as “white.” Because apartheid laws forbade people of different races living together, they risked losing her if the court refused. But when white society rejected her, and she fell in love with black man, she fought to change her classification to “colored.” Featuring brilliant performances by Sam Neill and Alice Krige as her complex, torn, often misguided parents, and Sophie Okonedo (so memorable in HOTEL RWANDA) as Sandra (who still lives in South Africa), SKIN is a not-to-be missed experience.
2009 AFI Dallas International Film Festival: Audience Award, Narrative Feature
2009 Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival: Audience Award and Jury Award
2009 Santa Barbara International Film Festival: Audience Choice Award
Composer Helene Muddiman says, “When [director Anthony Fabian] . . . invited me to write the score of SKIN, we talked about creating a sound world that would reflect the nature and emotion of the story and give a clear sense of time and place. Using Western and African instruments . . . allowed me to explore a variety of styles and come up with a unique, ‘world music’ hybrid.”
Narrative, Russia, 2007, 115 minutes
Director/Writer: Anna Melikyan
In Russian with English subtitles
For her second film, a whimsical fable about a young woman with special powers, Russian writer/director Anna Melikyan won the World Cinema Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Born nine months after a chance encounter between her lusty mama and a drunken sailor, Alisa (a radiant performance by Masha Shalaeva) moves to Moscow at age eighteen, able to shift objects telekinetically, but unable to budge the hearts of those she would love. There she encounters a variety of bizarre characters (including a man who sells property on the moon and repeatedly tries to commit drunken suicide), finds prophetic messages on billboards, and battles a malevolent blonde for the affections of a young ad-man. Emotionally rich, deeply moving, MERMAID seamlessly mixes magical digital effects, bravura cinematography, and superb acting to create an Amelie-like modern fairy tale that builds to what one critic calls an absolutely “gasp-inspiring denouement.”
2009 Sundance Film Festival
World Cinema Directing Award
Nomination, Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema – Dramatic
2008 Berlin Film Festival
2008 Karlovy Vary Film Festival
Independent Camera Award
Anna Melikyan was born in Azerbaijan, raised in Armenia, and moved to Moscow to attend film school. She directed fiction and nonfiction for television before making her first feature, MARS, in 2004. She says she is most inspired by “Italian films, especially neo-realism, but Fellini remains my favorite film director.” She wrote MERMAID for lead actress Masha Shalaeva, a college friend.
SLINGSHOT HIP HOP
Documentary, US, 2008, 80 minutes
Director/Co-Producer: Jackie Salloum
In Arabic with English subtitles
Jackie Salloum and Abeer in attendance!
Arab-American multimedia artist and filmmaker Jackie Salloum braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel as they discover hip-hop and turn it into a tool to overcome divisions imposed by poverty, occupation, and cultural tradition. She focuses on groups like DAM, from the impoverished ghettoes of Lyd within Israel, P.R. from Gaza, and on the young woman rapper, Abeer, who represents an extreme challenge to traditional male Arab attitudes toward women. As Salloum says, Abeer had “to challenge ideas [about women] that want to keep them at home to cook and clean . . . [She] had to fight against threats from her cousins in order to get up on stage and sing. She had to do most of it in secrecy.” Inspiring, provocative, and just plain entertaining, SLINGSHOT HIP HOP celebrates young people using music to confront the problems that beset them.
2009 Sundance Film Festival: Nominated, Grand Jury Prize – Documentary
Jackie Salloum is an Arab-American multimedia artist and filmmaker. Her projects focus on challenging the stereotypes of Arabs in the media and include PLANET OF THE ARABS, about Hollywood images of Arabs and Muslims, an award winner at the Cinematexas film festival and a 2005 Sundance selection.
GARRISON KEILLOR: THE MAN ON THE RADIO IN THE RED SHOES
Documentary, 2008, 86 minutes
Producer/Director: Peter Rosen
Writer: Sara Lukinson
Featuring: Garrison Keillor, Tim Russell, Sue Scott
Go behind the scenes of what may be America’s most popular national radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, and inside the imagination of the man who created it. Director Peter Rosen and writer Sara Lukinson spent more than a year following and filming Garrison Keillor as he took his skits and jokes, music and monologues across the country in his traveling radio show. The result is a free form, intimate look at the private man in the public spotlight, who mingles fact and fiction to develop one of the country’s favorite places, Lake Wobegon. His weekly show, begun in 1974, is credited with reviving the lost art of live radio entertainment, and his pungent but poignant take on America earns him comparisons with everyone from Mark Twain and Will Rogers to H. L. Mencken and James Thurber. As this untraditional biography reveals, his is a unique and valued voice.
Writer Sara Lukinson is an award-winning writer and producer of arts documentaries, television specials and live events, known mostly for her moving biographical portraits. She has won two Emmy Awards and six Writers Guild Awards. For the past 20 years, she has produced and written the film biographies for The Kennedy Center Honors and recently wrote the Obama Inauguration Concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
Documentary, UK, 2008, 103 minutes
Director/Cinematographer: Kim Longinotto
Women Make Movies Executive Director Debbie Zimmerman in attendance!
More than fifteen years ago, in a Durban, South Africa still plagued by apartheid, five courageous women (Eureka, Jackie, Mildred, Sdudla, and Thuli) formed Bobbi Bear, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping sexually-abused children and bringing their abusers to justice. Today, these “rough aunties” and their multi-racial staff continue to battle tirelessly against the powerful forces that protect the criminals and discourage reporting abuse: fear, ignorance, and cultural traditions. Multi-award-winning documentary director Kim Longinotto’s intimate look at their compassionate counseling methods, which involve letting children use teddy bears to communicate their experiences, and their vigorous work with authorities to capture and incarcerate the abusers, transforms a painful, disturbing subject into an inspiring example of how a few dedicated individuals can cross lines of class, culture and race, and truly change their society.
2009 Sundance Film Festival: Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema – Documentary
Kim Longinotto’s films have won international acclaim and dozens of premiere awards. Credits include: SISTERS IN LAW (RHFIFF ’05), winner of a Peabody Award and two Cannes awards; HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO (2007), winner of the Special Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (IDFA); THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET (2003), winner of the Amnesty International Award/IDFA; DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE (1998) and many more.
Documentary, US, 2008, 74 minutes
Director: Paul Devlin
Producer: Claire Missanelli
Claire Missanelli in attendance!
BLAST! is astrophysics Indiana Jones style, a wildly entertaining adventure story that flies around the world and across the universe following a group of scientists as they try to launch a revolutionary new telescope by using a balloon. Five-time Emmy-Award-winner Paul Devlin follows his brother, Mark Devlin, PhD, as he leads the group’s effort to peer into the past and study the origins of… everything. They go from Arctic Sweden to Inuit country in Canada, where catastrophe forces them to try all over again on the desolate ice in Antarctica. But what’s most surprising is the number of subjects the film explores: family relationships, the existence of God, the tensions between religion and science, the price of success (and failure), and much, much more. This is a must-see, with no science diploma required.
Producer Claire Missanelli co-produced POWER TRIP, which won two jury awards at the Berlin Film Festival, eight awards at other festivals, and was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit Award, as well as SUPER STAR DUMB and SLAMNATION, a documentary about the slam poetry movement shown on HBO/Cinemax and Encore/Starz. She also works as a consulting and outreach producer for documentary projects.
Documentary, US, 2008, 83 minutes
Director/Co-Producer: Eric Bricker
Writers: Eric Bricker, Phil Ethington
Co-writers: Lisa Hughes, Jessica Hundley
Forget all those trite, sticky Hollywood fictions about the “triumph of the human spirit.” Here’s the real thing, in the person of still active 98-year-old architectural photographer, Julius Shulman. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Visual Acoustics explores his monumental career using his own images plus interviews with a striking array of artists, architects, actors, designers, cinematographers, writers, and more. Shulman’s photographs combine human models and stunning landscapes, modern urban design and organic nature, and helped document the careers of some of the twentieth century’s most noted architects. From his earliest work, photographing homes designed by architect Richard Neutra, to his later work with Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and numerous others, Shulman championed modernist design that sought harmony and balance with nature, and attacked over-development and cold, inhuman abstraction. Today his work is enjoying a new popularity, influencing the creators of contemporary design, and inspiring a new generation of ecological activists.
2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Documentary
MY MOTHER’S GARDEN
Documentary, US, 2008, 69 minutes
Director: Cynthia Lester
Producers: Elisabeth Harris, Susannah Ludwig, Adi Amit, Alessandra Dobrin
Cynthia Lester and Elisabeth Harris in attendance!
Everyone keeps a few things they ought to throw away. Pack rats keep a lot more. But people with hoarding disorder have a serious psychological condition that can damage the lives of its victims and their families. Filmmaker Cynthia Lester’s mother, Eugenia, is one of those victims, and this painfully personal documentary recounts in remarkably candid detail how Cynthia and her three brothers have tried to deal with it. Traumatized by her childhood experiences in post-WWII Poland, where survival often depended on hoarding, Eugenia eventually came to California and started filling her house with books, clothing, cans, and other “treasures” culled from dumpsters. Her problems psychologically scarred her children, who left home as soon as possible. Now, as local authorities threaten to evict Eugenia and condemn her house, they band together to try to save her and the trash pit she calls home. Fascinating and revelatory, MY MOTHER’S GARDEN takes an important look at a previously ignored illness.
Part of the Reel Mind Film Series, a special collaboration with National Alliance on Mental Illness – Rochester, Mental Health Association, DePaul Community Services, Compeer, East House and the University of Rochester Cluster on Human Values.
Director Cynthia Lester is the co-founder of Next Generation Productions, offering inner-city students mentoring experience with film professionals; she has also taught art therapy programs for mentally ill and recovering addicts. Past credits include work with HBO Documentaries; RIKERS HIGH, ANNAPOLIS, ELVIS BY THE PRESLEYS and THE FOUNTAIN. MY MOTHERS GARDEN is her feature-length directorial debut.
Narrative, UK, 2008, 87 minutes
Director: Jackie Oudney
Director Jackie Oudney gifts us with a remarkably accomplished first feature in this smart, sweet, very funny, and very English romantic comedy. So what makes it French? Thierry Grimandi (played by Eric Cantona), an impossibly pompous Gallic filmmaker, self-appointed expert on love, and film critic and failed novelist Jed’s (Hugh Bonneville) interview subject. Of course Jed’s own long-term relationship with Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton) is not going well, and there are lots of questions about the seemingly perfect affair between his best buddy Marcus (Douglas Henshall) and Marcus’s partner Sophie (Anne Marie Duff). Things get so complicated for the circle of droll, sophisticated professionals that a horrendous thought strikes Jed: maybe the French guy really knows something after all. Touching, insightful, but saved from sloppy sentimentality by its sharp wit and superb comic timing, FRENCH FILM is delicious, delightful, thought provoking fun.
Jackie Oudney was born and raised in Dundee, Scotland. She has directed over 30 commercials in just three years, winning several prestigious international awards including a Silver Lion at Cannes and a Silver D&AD Pencil. She’s also directed two award-winning short films; FRENCH FILM is her feature directorial debut.
Narrative, Sri Lanka/Italy/Germany, 2008, 105 minutes
Director/Writer/Producer: Uberto Pasolini
Writer: Ruwanthie De Chickera
In English and Sinhala
A group of young men, slum dwellers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, are desperate to change their futures by getting to the West. A chance invitational handball tournament in Bavaria seems like the answer to their dreams. Never mind that none of them knows what handball is, that the red tape separating them from their visas could stretch to the moon…the Sri Lanka National Handball Team will not be deterred! Director Uberto Pasolini’s tough minded dramatic comedy focuses on the efforts of fruit-seller Stanley and his lifelong friend, barman Manoj, to cobble together a team from an unlikely collection of buddies, creditors, and cops. And if, by some miracle, they can actually get to Germany, what will happen when they must face an arena full of fans waiting to applaud their non-existent handball skill? [NOTE: The subtitles contain frequent usage of the "F" word.]
2008 Venice Film Festival
FEDIC Jury Award
Label Europa Cinemas Award
2008 São Paulo International Film Festival
Nomination, International Jury Award
2008 Kerala International Film Festival
MACHAN Co-writer Ruwanthie De Chickera is an award winning playwright, screen writer and theatre director. Her plays have been produced in Sri Lanka, the UK, Japan, India, Australia and the Philippines. Her first play won the British Council International New Playwriting award in 1997 and was the first Sri Lankan play to be performed in London’s West End. She co-founded and is the artistic director of the Stages Theatre Group, a youth theatre company in Sri Lanka.
2009 Festival Shorts
ADULT SHORTS: PROGRAM ONE
Featuring shorts from around the world, and from our own backyard!
EXPERIMENTAL, US, 2008, 3:44 MINUTES
Director: Sara McKenna
An eerily contemplative and experimental work.
Sara McKenna is a MFA Student at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY.
NARRATIVE, CANADA, 2008, 13:28 MINUTES
Director/Co-Writer: Constant Mentzas
Production Designer: Valerie-Jeanne Mathieu
A dying elderly mother tries to encourage her mentally challenged grown son to move in with others who can help him survive after she is gone. When he cannot handle the transition, she sees she has but one choice.
Constant Mentzas is a producer/director who has produced six short films and directed two: ASPIRATION and SUSPENDED SENTENCE. Both films played in over 30 festivals worldwide, ASPIRATION won best short film at the Toronto International Film festival.
After her studies in film production at Concordia University, Valérie-Jeanne Mathieu started immediately to work as a production designer. She has worked on numerous well-received video clips, advertisements and short films as well as feature films.
EXPERIMENTAL, US, 2008, 2:47 MINUTES
Director: Hyejin Kwon
Anxiety, compulsion and obsession are at the core of this experimental exploration of people’s habitual behaviors and fantasies.
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 3:06 MINUTES
Director: David Cowles
Animated by: Chris Timmons
Produced by: They Might Be Giants
Commissioned by the band They Might Be Giants, this intensely creative animation is based on TMBG’s memories of the Mesopotamian kings they had learned about in their youth, which they formed into an imaginary rock band! The style is meant to be reminiscent of Mad Magazine in the 60′s and 70′s; the tone smacks of a healthy dose of The Monkees and a HARD DAYS NIGHT.
David Cowles was born on November 3, 1961 in Rochester, NY. He has worked for 25 years as an illustrator (for such publications as Entertainment Weekly) and began animating in 2000. He’s worked on videos for Playhouse Disney and They Might Be Giants.
New York State Premiere!
NARRATIVE, US, 2008, 4:15 MINUTES
Director/Writer: Dwight Craver
Producer: Katie DeTar Craver
A young, eccentric art collector is pursued by his own reflection- a likeness that has a mind and scheme of its own.
Dwight Craver is a Brooklyn-based writer/director originally from the Rochester area. THE OTHER is Dwight’s independent short film debut. Katie DeTar Craver is originally from the Rochester area and now resides in Brooklyn, NY. Katie is a writer and television host making her film producing debut with The OTHER.
New York State Premiere!
NARRATIVE, US, 2008, 20:00 MINUTES
Director/Co-Producer: Ryan Gould
Production Designer: Kat Sweeney
A story about a middle-aged, reclusive widower/owner of lawn company who’s second chance at life turns tragic when he over exerts control in the budding relationship with his Autistic employee.
Kat Sweeney, a Rochester native, has been in the film industry for 25 years, first on the production end of things but her love of design eventually tugged her into the art department. And she is very proud to call many years working with this festival one of her best gigs ever!
New York State Premiere!
Animation, 2008, US, 3:40 MINUTES
Director/Writer/Voice Talent: Dina Noto
A portrait of a life in static hold, and the eruption of memory that overflows into daily life. The protagonist is caught in a world of artificial preservation, where conception happens in sterilized containers and potential life is stored in deep freeze. The heart is held fast and tight in order to navigate the day, but the fragments of longing still quietly surface.
Rochester native Dina Noto studied drawing and painting at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, receiving her BFA in 2000, and in 2008 she graduated from the Experimental Animation MFA program at the California Institute of the Arts. She currently lives in Los Angeles and her films can be found online at www.dinanoto.com.
New York State Premiere!
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 4:36 MINUTES
Director: George Fearns
A little girl loses her princess status when her brother is born… and is willing to do anything to gain it back again.
WAITING FOR YVETTE
NARRATIVE, US, 2007, 14 MINUTES
Director: Justin Ross Producer: Deborah Pearl
A heartfelt comedy about friendship, denial and finding the deeper truth of ourselves. Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me) stars as a pre-op transsexual, attending her final session of the ‘Gay Men’s Stag Tuesday Night A.A. Meeting’ prior to her operation, and who just might be having second and third thoughts about parting with her… parts.
WILL YOU BE HOME TONIGHT?
NARRATIVE, CANADA, 2008, 26 MINUTES
Director/Writer: Genevieve Albert
Producer: Nancy Grant
Susan has endured solitary life for a long time. Now approaching her fifties, she hopes to find love once again, but her withering body and soul do not easily allow that. However, she seems to have found her own way to solve the problem…a solution that worries her daughter.
ADULT SHORTS: PROGRAM TWO
Featuring shorts from around the world, and with ties to home!
7 DAYS A WEEK
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 2 MINUTES
Directors: David Cowles, Sean McBride
Animated by Sean McBride, Steve Conner, Andy Kennedy, Phil Lockerby, Joe Mollitor, Max Porter, Adam Sacks, Chris Siemasko, Chris Timmons
Designed by David Cowles, Jen May, Aram Song, Teejay Wallace
Produced by: They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants, when commissioning this work, requested a collage look to avoid the standard suburban kid’s cartoon setting. David Cowles said he shot several expressions from of his niece’s son, his dog, put them on suited bodies and then, with Sean McBride, tried to come up with as many fun things for them to do that didn’t involve work. While there was some initial concern that it was encouraging kids not to work, it was pointed out that it’s a kid’s job not to work, and the Child Labor Laws are still very much in place!
See David Cowles bio under THE MESOPOTAMIANS, Program One.
New York State Premiere!
ART IN DARKNESS
DOCUMENTARY, 2008, Canada/US, 13:23 MINUTES
Director: Naomi Wise
Art in Darkness reveals the world of visual art for the blind. This short documentary follows three blind individuals on a descriptive art tour at the world- renowned Albright-Knox Gallery. Through verbal, tactile and other instructional techniques, art comes alive for these three patrons, and we discover how they are able to ‘see’ a painting.
Naomi Wise is an award-winning director/cinematographer – her work includes dramas, documentaries and documentary TV series, and has appeared on Discovery, the W Network, TLC, CBC, TVO, Oxygen and the Life Channel. She is presently teaching at York University.
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2008, 12:55 MINUTES
Director: Natalie Milbrodt
Co-producer/Editor: Charlene Dwyer
Meet several people with little in common besides an unusual interest in feet. A shoe fetishist, a reflexology expert, a podophobic, a yoga instructor, a cultural historian, a pedicurist and a neuro-psychologist, join with others in a lively conversation about the very bottom of our bodies.
Natalie Milbrodt is a writer and filmmaker living in New York City. She works on a wide range of projects including stage plays, documentaries and narrative feature films. To learn more about Natalie and her work, please visit www.nataliemilbrodt.com.
EXPERIMENTAL, US, 2008, 5:30 MINUTES
Director: Margot Starr Kernan Composer: Allen Shawn
Light and water as they play in and around an ancient Vermont firehouse. A memorial for a Buddhist daughter.
Margot Starr Kernan has been making video films since 1984. Selected Exhibitions include: Museum of Modern Art, NYC; National Gallery of Art, DC; Museum of Modern Art, Barcelona. Her work has also been shown on Australian Television.
Director: Joe Fordham
Starring: Scott Charles
Harry Owen (Scott Charles), a heavily-fatigued man who aspires to better living, has once again fallen asleep on his sofa and woken up at 3 a.m. A painful headache sends Harry stumbling to his bathroom where he is unsettled to see his cooler, hipper alter ego viewing him critically from the mirror. Harry #2 attempts to calm Harry’s nerves and tries to prevent the evening from escalating into a nightmare beyond their control.
Joe Fordham was born in England and has been a filmmaker since 1980; his short BOARD GAME won a BBC Award and landed him a gig at Channel Four TV in London. After a move to LA, Fordham spent 10 years in visual effect, creature effects and post-production on such films as TERMINATOR 2, MEN IN BLACK, VIRUS and two SPECIES films. He is currently a writer and associate editor at Cinefex Magazine. THE GLITCH is his first HD short; he now lives in Burbank with a psychotic dog.
Scott Charles Blamphin, originally from Caledonia, NY, started his acting career showing off for the hundreds of little girls who attended his mother’s school of gymnastics, Bonnie’s Gym. After many school and church plays and choruses, he traveled with the internationally-renowned group “Up With People” as a principle singer. Film credits include parts in THE SIEGE, THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, a principle role in the 2003 blockbuster BAD BOYS 2, a featured role in SHUT UP AND KISS ME! and the lead role in a TV pilot called “E-Venture Kids.” Since moving to Los Angeles, Scott has found new success in commercials, most notably as the “backseat guy” in a very popular Avis/SM Radio spot, a soon to be released Miller Lite “Commish” ad, and on stage as the lead in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR to rave reviews. More information at www.scottcharles.com
NARRATIVE, ITALY, 2008, 13 minutes
Director: Marco Gianfreda Casting Director: Cristina Raffaeli
Twelve-year-old Bruno would like to be friends with his sister’s handsome and athletic boyfriend Luca, but is constantly ignored. When Bruno catches Luca chatting up another girl, he realizes his big chance to finally be seen and heard.
Marco Gianfreda, a Theoretical Philosophy major from Rome, has been a writer for many years. His first short TANA LIBERA TUTTI won over 40 awards at international festivals. IO PARLO! is his directorial debut.
Cristina Raffaeli has worked on many feature films including ANCHE LIBERO VA BENE directed by Kim Rossi Stuart, DON’T THINK ABOUT directed by Gianni Zanasi, and MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, directed by Spike Lee.
New York State Premiere!
NARRATIVE, US, 2008, 21 MINUTES
Director/Producer: Liam Creighton
Producer: Courtney Hopf
You’ve heard the adage: they just don’t speak the same language. Charles and Julie Tannen are about to find out what happens when this metaphor is made literal. Born in the UK, Liam Creighton has lived on both coasts of the USA, in Israel, and is currently resident in France. He holds a BA in Film Studies from the University of Kent in the UK, and has produced, shot and edited documentary, corporate and training videos on both sides of the Atlantic. JULIE, JULIE is his first serious foray into writing and directing fiction.
A Geneseo, New York native, Courtney is currently living and teaching in Bordeaux, France. JULIE, JULIE is her first trip into the wilds of independent film production, but certainly not her last. When not dreaming up new projects with her husband and filmmaking partner Liam Creighton, Courtney is a doctoral student studying literature at the University of California, Davis.
Narrative, UK, 2008, 12 minutes
Directed/Produced by; Garrick Hamm, Pete Seaward
Some people hear voices.
Some see the dead.
Derrick counts numbers and today’s his Lucky day.
Garrick Hamm is Creative Partner at award-winning London-based design consultancy Williams Murray Hamm. After writing for years on his lunch hour, he took a film course at Raindance, hooked up with photographer Pete Seaward, and decided to start making films. LUCKY NUMBERS is his debut short film.
WE ARE ONE
EXPERIMENTAL, US, 2008, 5 MINUTES
Director: Drew Larman
Editor: John David Vincent
A fluid journey through the vibrant streets of NYC where it becomes clear that, despite all our differences, we are at heart all the same.
Drew Larman was born in Buffalo and is in his fourth season of playing hockey with the Rochester Amerks. He has collected 34 goals and 31 assists and notched 22 points (10+12) and 44 PIM while with the team. He was elected team captain on the road and will serve as an alternate at home. Drew is the recipient of the 2008 Amerks’ McCulloch Community Service Trophy; in 2003-04, he was awarded a Humanitarian Award.
Children’s Shorts From Around the World
FROM OUR OWN BACKYARD… TO AROUND THE WORLD!
with an introduction and book reading by LESLEY STAHL
THE BALLAD OF DAVY CROCKETT (IN OUTER SPACE)
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 3 MINUTES
Directors: David Cowles, Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Animators: Tiny Inventions (Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata)
Music: They Might Be Giants
Davy Crockett comes alive on a classroom chalkboard, and zooms around the universe to the music of They Might Be Giants.
CAMP BEAN: ALL THINGS WOODSY
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 6:11 MINUTES
Director: Michelle Banta Tessier
Experienced campers help a new friend learn about life in the woods.
ANIMATION, US, 1974
Directors: John and Faith Hubley
Pioneering animators John Hubley (1914–1977) and wife Faith Hubley (1924–2001; RHFIFF ’01)) were known for their experimental styles and tendency to evoke genuine human emotions. The Hubleys frequently cast their own children as voice actors for their films, as in this delightful short featuring two of their daughters, one of whom — Emily Hubley (RHFIFF ’06) — became a celebrated animator and filmmaker herself.
FOR A FISTFUL OF SNOW
ANIMATION, SWITZERLAND, 2008, 5:42 MINUTES
Director: Julien Ezri
Two crazed snowmen don’t realize until it’s too late that a snowball fight can lead to dire consequences.
FREEDOM SCHOOL PS 01
MUSIC VIDEO, US, 2008, 4:00 MINUTES
Director: Timothy M. Brown
Producer: Michelle Cardulla
Thirty children at the new Freedom School in Rochester, NY produced a music video of a 1974 Stevie Wonder song called “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” The lyrics of the song address a population feeling left out and forgotten, the feelings these students often express.
I CAN ADD
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 2:12 MINUTES
Directors: David Cowles, Adam Sacks
Animators: Adam Sacks, Joe Apel, Pedro Delgado, Nelson Diaz, Jeff Fletcher, Aya Fukuda, Casey Leonard, Jonathan Renoni, Thomas Sebastian Smolenski, Joe Stucky, Joe Quinones Local Link!
With the help of a dancing chipmunk, kids learn adding and Spanish while having fun.
CLAYMATION, US, 2007
Director: Ben Doran
The adventures of a young boy who, after being teased by his brother for being a “wuss,” decides he’s going to challenge himself. Along the way he meets kayaking kind Steve Fisher, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Made by local 12-year-old filmmaker Ben Doran, who taught himself the art of stop motion at age 9, and has been making films ever since!
ROCHESTER ROOTS: LET’S DIG IN
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2008, 9 MINUTES
Directors/Writers: Dave Puls, Jan McDonald
Producer: Jan McDonald
Enjoy a playful romp through the community gardens of Rochester Roots as told and animated by students. An exciting look at one of Rochester’s finest educational programs for kids.
WOMEN WHO FOUGHT FOR CHANGE
ANIMATION, US, 2008, 4 MINUTES
In the summer of 2008, the Rochester High Falls International Film Festival partnered with the City of Rochester’s Recreation Bureau to co-produce an Animation Workshop for Youth. Working with long-time collaborators Animatus Studio, nine teens were taught to create a short animated piece about three famous women who fought for change: Sojourner Truth, Joan Baez and Helen Keller.
Teen animators: Brendan Elam, Mercedes McCutchen, Jalesa Osborne, Jasmine Osborne, Destiny Parkes, Dante Poyser, Dymani Poyser, Brian Pride, Queen Swank.
LOST AND FOUND
ANIMATION, UNITED KINGDOM, 2008, 27 MINUTES
Adapted and directed by Philip Hunt
Inspired by the best-selling book by Oliver Jeffers
Narrated by Jim Broadbent
One day a boy finds a penguin on his doorstep. Deciding it must be lost, the boy decides to take it home, even if that means rowing all the way to the South Pole! Brilliant in its simplicity and artistic beauty, this is a must-see not only for kids but for adults as well.
WOMEN OF SoFA!
The School of Film and Animation’s curriculum, developed by our faculty, students and successful alumni, is rooted in a shared passion for filmmaking. For over thirty years, we have been preparing writers, producers, directors, animators, riggers, colorists, cinematographers and other creative specialists for successful careers in the feature film, network/regional television, independent film and non-broadcast industries.
Students of SOFA are encouraged to develop their own personal vision and independent work while they hone the skills needed to fulfill any creative or technical role in a variety of media-related professions. We are a creative community where students discover their unique potential, explore their talents, experiment with ideas, and express their message to the world.
Faculty Jury for Women of SOFA:
By Melissa Fuss
An experimental visualization that combines alternative perspectives.
Jamie and Andy
By Noelle Brandmier
Two boys sitting on a couch, just talking — you’d be surprised at the story power behind a simple conversation.
Time Will Tell
By Surbhi Dewan
When we leave our home, we tread into the unknown. What happens after, only time will tell. This work is an experimental documentary with creative contributions by SoFA students Vanessa Ward (cinematography) and Gayane Bagdasaryan (animation).
By Mei-Yu Chen
A photo on a postcard inspires the creative imagination of some creatures in a small town.
All About Me(l)
By Melisande Fritzche
“All About Me(l) is an abstract visual journey through a traumatic event that occurred in my life two years ago.”
A Bond for Life
By Kayla Gennrich
A story about the unique relationship that ensues between a kidney recipient and the family of a deceased young man who decided to be an organ donor. The relationship grows as they attend the U.S. Transplant Games together, an Olympic-style event where transplant recipients compete in sports to demonstrate their second chance at life, and where donor families are honored for giving this precious gift.
By Molly Agnew
A hand-drawn, pencil-on-paper animation about a little girl trying to overcome heredity.
By Elizabeth Phillips
Memory Collect is an experimental documentary on the exploration of personal mythology and our ties to memory. How do you judge the events that made you, you?
By Ting Liu
The Lantern is an impressionistic computer animated work that reveals the relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter, and a promise she has made. This work is based on the filmmaker’s own childhood memories of her grandfather and the Chinese lanterns.
By Erica P. Hardy
The Inbetweener is an animated tale of a drawn-out evening.
By Caicai Liu
The dream is always combined with a lot of things in Chinese culture.
This is a story of a Chinese girl and her mother. Music, love and oppression, and kind of hard to explain by words…
By Melissa Tierney and Adam Du Shole
An imaginative young girl and her friend take a game of tag to new heights. This work is a collaboration with RIT graduate student, Adam Dushole.
Young Filmmakers Competition
An exciting opportunity for young people in the greater Rochester region – urban and suburban — to share their ideas and visions with the community through the medium of film, video and new media. Fourteen finalists from AMP’D PROGRAM/UR, ANIMATUS ANIMATION WORKSHOP, BRIGHTON HS, CHARLOTTE HS, COMMUNITY PLACE, JOHN MARSHALL HS, PITTSFORD BARKER ROAD MIDDLE SCHOOL, SCHOOL OF THE ARTS and SPENCERPORT HS will compete for prizes including a day at RIT, a free Animation Workshop at Animatus Studio, and other prizes.
YOUNG MEN SPEAK OUT ON FATHERHOOD
by Vonderick Knight, age 18
CHARLOTTE HIGH SCHOOL
Teacher: Maurice Haskins, Community Place
Interviews with young teenage men on their feelings about fatherhood.
WITHOUT A FATHER
by Atiah Anglin, age 16
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Teacher: Maurice Haskins, Community Place
by Khari Johnson, age 15
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Teachers: Jemeul Thompson, Maurice Haskins, Community Place
An exploration of political propaganda.
by Remy McClary, age 15
SPENCERPORT HIGH SCHOOL
Teacher: Mr. Sheen
Suddenly one day…people go missing from school.
by Jazmine Lidge, age 16
JOHN MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL
A :30 second spot for lip gloss.
IS THE CURFEW HELPING TO STOP VIOLENCE?
by Marvin Williams, age 17
JOHN MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL
Teacher: Mrs. Barstow
90 SECONDS AFTERWARDS
by Kanard Gaines, age 18
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Teacher: Elisa Bond
A bank robbery goes south.
by Raina Spencer, age 17
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Teacher: Elisa Bond
by Elliott Powless, age 17
Amp’d Program at the University of Rochester
Teachers: Joanne Larson, Stephanie Webster, Burke Scarbrough
by Ben Doran, age 11
PITTSFORD BARKER ROAD MIDDLE SCHOOL
Teacher: Green Team
A claymation about kayaking.
SURVIVOR OF CHILD ABUSE
by Farah St. Cloud, age 17
JOHN MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL
Teacher: Mrs. Barstow
A look at surviving child abuse from an adult mom’s perspective.
by Thomas Macias, age 17
BRIGHTON HIGH SCHOOL
Teacher: Richard Tschorke
A glimpse into the thoughts of BHS students about cliques.
by Peter Fitts, age 16
BRIGHTON HIGH SCHOOL
Teacher: Richard Tschorke
A detective tries to hold together a city after a new mob boss brings on chaos.
HOW THE WHEEL WAS INVENTED
by Adam Markajaru, age 15
THE ANIMATION WORKSHOP
Teacher: Mike Boas
Flappy Rabbit sees a brief vision of how the wheel came to be.
2009 Special Events
A Conversation With Pat Carroll
Best known as the voice of the evil “Ursula” in the animated film The Little Mermaid or as Shirley Feeney’s mother on Laverne & Shirley, Pat Carroll makes an impression wherever she goes. Join us for a lively conversation with this actress, comedienne, voice talent and personality as she discusses her career in and out of the spotlight with animator Fred Armstrong.
Sponsored by Animatus Studio.
A Conversation with CCH Pounder
Join Jack Garner as he discusses CCH Pounder’s career on television, stage and cinema.
A Conversation with Lesley Stahl
As one of the world’s leading journalists, Lesley Stahl worked as a White House correspondent during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. Bush. She was moderator of shows like Face the Nation and is featured regularly on 60 Minutes. Ms. Stahl has interviewed some of the most important people of our time.
Join RHFIFF Artistic Director Catherine Wyler and Ms. Stahl for a discussion about life in the fast paced world of journalism.
A Conversation with Lynn Redgrave
A special opportunity to meet our 2009 “Failure is Impossible” Award recipient, Lynn Redgrave, when she joins Catherine Wyler for an enlightening discussion about her career. Film, television, theatre, and a legendary acting family… not to be missed!
For the 5th year in a row, SCREENPLAY LIVE! returns to the Rochester High Falls Film Festival with a live staged reading of the winning screenplay from the first ever “Screenplay Live!” Screenwriting Competition, The Machine Who Loved by Zoje Stage. Utilizing local Rochester actors, SCREENPLAY LIVE! celebrates the beginning of every great movie: the screenplay.
Working under the guidance of Gordy Hoffman, founder of the Bluecat Screenplay Competition, Eric Cubitt and RochesterTalent.com, Inc., conducted the first ever “Screenplay Live!” Screenwriting Competition. Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Hoffman’s directorial debut, A Coat of Snow, won the Domani Vision Award at VisionFest, held at Tribeca Cinemas. For more information about Gordy Hoffman and the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, contact www.bluecatscreenplay.com
The Machine Who Loved, written and directed by Zoje Stage
“A woman uses her life savings to create the man of her dreams – an artificial life form tailored to her every specification. But when he begins displaying a range of turbulent emotions she is forced to choose between soldiering through with the relationship, or having him destroyed.”
Zoje Stage is a 2008 Fellow in Playwriting/Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts for her screenplay “Teddy Bear.” She is also a two-time semifinalist for the Nicholl Fellowships with her character driven dramas “The Opposite of Secret” and “Monster.” As writer/director/editor her films include the documentary short “Best of Luck” (“an amusing take on the travails of aspiring writers” – the New York Times) and the feature length mockumentary “Happy Walter” (“witty” – Pittsburgh City Paper). Ms. Stage is a theatrically-trained and former professional actor.