Thursday, March 30, 2006

Films scheduled by Berkshire International Film Festival


BIFF INAUGURAL PROGRAMMING AS OF 3/30/06:

FEATURE FILMS
A Prairie Home Companion (USA) - New England Premiere
Official Opening Night Presentation

Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Garrison Keillor
Radio like you have never seen it before! A look at what goes on backstage
during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where
singing cowboys Dusty (Woody Harrelson) and Lefty (John C. Reilly), a country
music siren (Streep), Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay
Lohan, Virginia Madsen, Maya Rudolph, and Lily Tomlin entertain us in wonderful
performances.

Twelve and Holding (USA) - New England Premiere
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Explores the complexities of children losing their innocence and adults
struggling to guide them. In the suburbs of America, three close knit
12-year-olds – introverted Jacob (Conor Donovan), precocious Malee (Zoë Weizenbaum) and
vulnerable Leonard (Jesse Camacho) -- start down the path of self-discovery
and begin to distinguish their own voices from those of their parents.
Sparked by the tragic death of Jacob’s twin brother, the trio band together as
they grapple with feelings of revenge, the burden of grief and the indelible
experiences of growing up.

Blush (Belgium/France) – North England Premiere
Directed by Wim Vandekeybus
Blush is an outstanding film from world-renowned choreographer, Wim
Vandekeybus, and performed by his company Ultima Vez. Vandekeybus choreographs in
water, sand and woods mixing confrontational, intensely physical dance, text
and music in an avalanche of imagery and sound for creating a unique film
experience.

Kiss Me Again (USA) – New England Premiere
Director/Writer: William Tyler Smith
This new feature film is a provocative, honest and witty portrayal of a
monogamous couple struggling wit the meaning and manifestations of real love.
When happily married college professor, Julian finds himself falling for Elena
a beautiful student from Spain, he tricks his wife Chalice into agreeing to
run a personal ad to find a woman to join in a threesome. Of course who
should join them but Elena. Surprisingly, things do not go as he expects and the
results of his deception have some lasting repercussions on his relationship
with Chalice. Kiss Me Again examines what might ensue when two mature adults
profoundly in love choose to experiment with the boundaries of their
relationship. Filmmakers in attendance.

Little Fish, (Australia) – Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Rowan Woods
Everybody’s hiding something. Tracey Heart's (Cate Blanchett) past won't
let her go. Aged 32, she's spent the past four years recovering from her
heroin habit and redeeming herself in the eyes of her mother. Beset by the complex
relationships within her family, her world is thrown into further turmoil by
the unexpected return of her ex-boyfriend, Johnny. The criminal aspirations
of her brother, Ray, and coping with the attempts of ex-footy star and
junkie, Lionel Dawson (Hugo Weaving) to withdraw from his habit, almost prove too
much. The complexity of deceit within Tracy's own life is mirrored by that
within Sydney's drug underworld as Tracey becomes tangled with criminal boss
Bradley (Sam Neill) 'The Jockey' Thompson. Tracey has to confront her own fears
before she learns to love again.

Look Both Ways (Australia) New England Premiere
Directed by Sarah Watt
Winner of Toronto’s Discovery Award, Look Both Ways, a mix of animation
and live action, is set over a hot weekend. Seven people are trying to deal
with unexpected events. As their paths intersect and their stories intertwine,
they create an intriguing picture, which is both intimate and universal.

Man Push Cart (Iran) – Northeast Premiere
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
It's 3:00 a.m. in Manhattan, the hour of rumbling garbage trucks, glaring
headlights, and the bluish florescent glow of the all-night delis. Trudging
alongside the honking traffic, Ahmad drags a coffee and bagel cart to a busy
midtown corner. Hours later, he is swiftly and efficiently selling steaming
cups of "coffee regular" to rushing New Yorkers. In the
afternoons, he battles traffic to return the cart to a warehouse,
occasionally peddling bootleg DVDs for extra cash along the way. A solitary, quiet
loner, Ahmad strikes up slightly awkward friendships with Noemi, a young Spanish
woman who works at a newsstand,
and wealthy, jovial Mohammad, who is shocked when he realizes Ahmad was a
famous singer in South Asia. Through Ahmad's relationships with both his new
friends, and his estranged family, we come to understand that he is haunted
by a tragedy in his past. A beautifully crafted character study that captures
the textures of a very specific New York
experience, Ramin Bahrani's Man Push Cart is a subtle, insightful portrait
of a man struggling with issues of identity, self-worth, and the harsh
realities of finding a place to belong in a vast, often-unfriendly American
metropolis.

One Day in Europe (Germany) New England Premiere
Directed by Hannes Stoehe
Four colorful and light-hearted stories about quirky characters and the
amusing misunderstandings that cross-cultural communication often provides. All
take place on one single day in different cities, and in each case those
language barriers are compounded by a chaos of another sort: on this particular
day, the whole of Europe is in high fever over soccer’s Champion’s League
final between Galatasaray Istanbul and Deportivo La Coruna which taking place in
Moscow. The film takes a warmhearted, intrigued and wonderfully light look
at people in Europe, people who meet and misunderstand one another, who
travel, arrive and depart and who sometimes become close. The entire ensemble
exudes an infectious, positive spirit.

The Chosen One, (USA/Berkshires) World Premiere
Directed by Theodore Collatos
The Chosen One is an irreverent horror film blending social satire in the
manner of a fairytale and featuring a pitch perfect performance by 81-year-old
Arthur Collins. The storyline involves the tragic demise of a happily married
woman and her secrete birth... Shot in glorious black and white featuring
expansive landscapes, costumes, set designs and creative special effects, it’s
elegant, cutting edge, unforgettable and entertaining.
Wah-Wah, (UK) - Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Richard Grant
Wah-Wah is a big-hearted, semi-auto biographical dramedy of English colonial
life in Swaziland. From this impressive directorial debut by Richard E.
Grant featuring standout performances by Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, Miranda
Richardson and Julie Walters, it is clear that Grant is as talented behind the
camera as he is in front of it.

DOCUMENTARIES

5 Days in September (Canada) – New England Premiere
Directed by Barbara Willis Sweete
An intimate and exciting look at the inner workings of the Toronto Symphony
Orchestra as it launches a new season with charismatic maestro Peter
Oundjiian. Director Barbara Willis Sweete captures soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming,
Emanual Ax and the lively backstage lives of the orchestra’s musicians and
administrators.

51 Birch Street (USA) - New England Premiere
Directed by Doug Block
Do we ever really know our parents? And if we were suddenly given the chance
to know all about them, would we take it? These are the primal human
questions at the heart of the riveting personal documentary. Filmmaker Doug Block
had every reason to believe his parents' 54-year marriage was a good one. So
he isn’t prepared when, just a few months after his mother’s unexpected
death, his father Mike phones to announce that he's moving to Florida to live with
his secretary from 40 years before, Kitty. Always close to his mother and
equally distant from his father, he's stunned and suspicious.

Awesome: I F#@* Shot That!, directed by Nathaniel Hornblower (USA)
-Berkshire Premiere
Director: Nathanial Hornblower
A formally innovative feature film experience starring director Nathaniel
Horn blower/Adam Yauch (band member Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA) and fellow Beastie
Boys Mike D (Michael Diamond) and Adrock (Adam Horovitz), along Mix Master
Mike and other special guest appearances. This highly original concert
documentary film was shot by 50 fans live at Madison Square Garden.

Beyond Beats and Rhymes (USA) – North England Premiere
Directed by Byron Hurt
At its root, hip-hop is a politically charged music born from the explosive
frustration in the South Bronx, a community cast aside a power structure that
left it impoverished. How did this urgent, political message of hip-hop
transform into the gangbanging, drug-lording, misogynistic gangster rap that
dominates urban radio today? And how did gangster rap become the predominant v
oice and model of black masculinity? Filmmaker Byron Hurt addresses these
questions in his remarkably insightful and articulate documentary. Filmmaker in
attendance.

Czech Dream (Czech Republic) –New England Premiere
Directed/Written by Vit Klusak and Filip Ramuda
An original, cheeky treatise on capitalism, with more than a whiff of
exploitation, Czech Dream follows two film students who used a state grant to
promote the opening of an entirely fictitious big-box mega-market in a Prague
field. The resulting scandal, alternately hilarious and discomforting,
illuminates the waking nightmare of consumerism in a country still adjusting to the
strengths and pitfalls of the concept. Czech Dream documents the largest
consumer hoax the Czech Republic has ever seen. Klusak and Ramuda, two of Eastern
Europe‘s most promising young documentary filmmakers, set out to explore the
psychological and manipulative powers of consumerism by creating an ad
campaign for something that didn’t exist.
Echoes of War (Netherlands) – Northeast Premiere
Directed by Joop van Wijk
In the documentary film Echoes of War, the story of a little elephant who
looses his father in a jungle war catapults children, survivors of war and
violence in Africa, Asia, North and South America, to share their memories,
nightmares and dreams. The film interplays their life stories with the animated
tale of the little elephant to create a sensitive and moving portrayal of the
children and the consequences of war and violence for all of us.

Favela Rising (Brazil) - Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist
“Their music fueled a movement. His message fought a war.” Favela Rising
documents a man and a movement, a city divided and a favela (Brazilian
squatter settlement) united. Haunted by the murders of his family and many of his
friends, Anderson Sá is a former drug-trafficker who turns social
revolutionary in Rio de Janeiro’s most feared slum. Through hip-hop music, the rhythms
of the street, and Afro-Brazilian dance he rallies his community to counteract
the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by
corrupt police. At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is
overcoming all odds and Anderson’s grassroots Afro Reggae movement is at the height
of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever.
Filmmakers in attendance.

Iraq in Fragments (USA) New England Premeire
Directed by James Longley
Even with the plentiful news coverage of Iraq, we rarely have an opportunity
to hear from ordinary citizens or consider their distinct, complex
concerns. A stunning, electric collage of hypnotic sights, evocative sounds, and
arresting voices, Iraq in Fragments listens to diverse points of view in three
Iraqi enclaves.

Jabe Babe, A Heightened Life (Australia) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Janet Mereweather
A tall girl with a tall story, 31 year old Jabe Babe measures six foot two
inches, works as a dominatrix and has a life threatening genetic condition
called Marfan Syndrome. This hybrid documentary, which merges fiction and
non-fiction forms, inhabits the heightened “Technicolor” world of the tall
woman, the outsider, to provoke questions about society’s desire for sexual,
visual and genetic conformity.

Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball (USA) - World Premiere
Director: Kenneth Eng
Before Ishiro (New York Mets) and Hideki (New York Yankees) Matsui became
stars in the Major Leagues, they first proved their fighting spirit in the
sweltering heat at legendary Koshien Stadium of Japan. Americans may think
baseball is just a game, but in Japan, high school baseball has always had a
deeper purpose: the forging of the soul. For the first time, an authorized
English-language documentary will explore the meaning of koko-yakyu by taking
you behind the scenes with players, coaches, fans and others as they experience
the passion and pageantry of high school baseball. Filmmakers in
attendance.

Land Mine; A Love Story (Australia) Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Dennis O’Rourke
In the ruined city of Kabul, Shah, a former Mujaheddin soldier, noticed a
pretty Tajik girl who had only one leg, and began to court her. Amidst the
chaos and violence, and despite all the obstacles of tradition and religion, Shah
and Habiba were allowed to marry. Part observational film, part essay, this
compelling documentary from Dennis O'Rourke (recipient of the AFF 2005 Don
Dunstan Award) is a celebration of life, hope and love set in Afghanistan whose
name has become synonymous with conflict.

Liberia, An Uncivil War (USA) - Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Jonathan Stack and James Brabazon
In the spring of 2003, in the West African country of Liberia, the ongoing
civil war fully exploded. The opposition movement Liberians United for
Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) decided to overthrow President Charles Taylor,
who had been accused of committing crimes against humanity in neighboring
Sierra Leone, causing an international arrest warrant to be issued for him.
Experienced war reporter James Brabazon positions himself directly among the
rebel army, while highly-acclaimed American director Jonathan Stack documents the
events in the streets of Monrovia and in the immediate vicinity of Charles
Taylor. In rapidly-moving footage pieced together from "both sides of the
barricades" we follow the dramatic moments of the bloody conflict, where hundreds
of innocent civilians fall victim each day, as they hopelessly wait for the
arrival of peacekeeping forces. This film, which was awarded the Amnesty
International DOEN prize at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film
Festival, also features a number of songs by Bob Marley.

Rain In A Dry Land (USA/Berkshires) – New England Premiere
Directed by Anne Makepeace
This is a verité feature documentary chronicling two years in the lives of
two Somali Bantu families as they journey from Africa to America. It is a
story of time travel, culture shock, a leap from the nineteenth to the
twenty-first century as these subsistence farmers find themselves in a mysterious and
confusing land. More importantly, it is an intimate, human story about two
extraordinary families who somehow managed to keep their spirits intact
through years of mayhem and deprivation, and whose astonishing, open-hearted
resilience enables them to make a new life. Award-winning filmmaker Anne Makepeace,
director of Robert Capa in Love and War, Baby It’s You, and Coming to Light,
captures another riveting portrait, this time of two Muslim families in
transition. Filmmaker in attendance.

Road to Guantanamo (UK) - New England Premiere
Directed by Michael Winterbottom and Michael Whitecross
Winner of the 2006 Berlin Silver Bear Award. The Road to Guantanamo is the
terrifying first-hand account of three British citizens who were held for two
years without charges in the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. Known as the “Tipton Three,” in reference to their home town in
Britain, the three were eventually returned to Britain and released, still having
had no formal charges ever made against them at any time during their ordeal.
The film has already engendered significant controversy due to its critical
stance towards the American and British governments and also because of the
cast’s detainment at British customs upon returning from the Berlin premiere.
Part documentary, part dramatization, the film chronicles the sequence of
events that led from the trio setting out from Tipton in the British Midlands
for a wedding in Pakistan, to their crossing the Afghanistan border just as the
U.S. began their invasion, to their eventual capture by the Northern
Alliance and their imprisonment in Camp X-Ray and later at Camp Delta in Guantanamo.

‘Tis Autumn - The Search for Jackie Paris (USA) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Raymond DeFelitta
‘Tis Autumn –The Search for Jackie Paris is a documentary film that
comprehensively examines the legendary jazz singer’s life and art. Using both new
and archival performance footage, found footage, still photography, historical
audio clips and rare unreleased recordings, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Raymond
DeFelitta conducts on-camera interviews with the late Jackie Paris as well
as many of the musicians, songwriters and personalities who knew him best in
an effort to discover what was at the heart of his enigmatic career, glorious
art and mysterious personal life. Filmmaker in attendance.

Wordplay (USA) – Berkshire Premiere
Directed Patrick Creadon
Wordplay is a journey into the world of Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle
editor at The New York Times. Known to millions as National Public Radio's
"Puzzle Master", Shortz has spent his entire lifetime studying, creating, and
editing puzzles, and has built a huge following along the way. Meet Shortz's
die-hard fans -- including President Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Dole, "The
Daily Show's" Jon Stewart, filmmaker Ken Burns, the Indigo Girls, and Yankee's
ace pitcher Mike Mussina -- and discover why over 50 million Americans do
crosswords every week.
Catch all the action at what Shortz calls “the most exciting competition in
tournament history!” Explore the madness and the mirth, the comedy and the
drama that is our national obsession with these puzzles. Whether you’re a
Monday-only solver (the easiest day of the week) or a Saturday “brain-busting”
wizard, you’re sure to enjoy your very own “A-ha!” moment when you experience
Wordplay.

Zahira’s Peace (Spain/France) --Northeast Premiere
Directed by Nina Rosenblum
Zahira: La Que Florece is the story of a young woman who was gravely injured
in the Madrid train attach on March 11, 2004. Zahira experiences the
tragedy of collateral damage in the midst of dramatic forces that impacted Spain
and the world in response to the bombing of M-11. The film connects the
events of 9/11 and the subsequent escalation of violence in Iraq, which
culminates in Spain’s March 11 tragedy. The Spanish government’s initial deception
regarding the perpetrators of the train bombing backfired, bringing about
tremendous changes in Spanish politics. Filmmaker in attendance.

SHORTS

Azadi (Australia) – Northeast Premiere
Directed by Anthony Mara
Azadi follows the plight of an Afghani school teacher and his asthmatic son,
who escape Taliban oppression only to encounter another kind of persecution
upon arrival in Australia. Part of the film was shot in the infamous Woomera
Detention Centre that saw violent riots in 2002. This harrowing short drama
will take you through ‘life behind the razor wire’ as never before.

Down Home (USA) – New England Premiere
Directed by Rick Kaplan
This short film is big in heart. Down Home is a character study in six men
who revere their past, honor their ancestry and pride in their work. It is
a quintessentially American story. The story of friendship and family,
commitment and sacrifice and the quest for something greater. With eloquence
that flows from the most improbable of mouths, we are welcomed into their world:
Down Home. Filmmakers in attendance.

God Sleeps in Rwanda (USA) – New England Premiere
Directed by Kimberlee Aquero and Stacy Sherman
Academy Award nominated film. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide left the country
nearly 70 percent female, handing Rwanda’s women an extraordinary burden and an
unprecedented opportunity. An inspiring story of loss and redemption God
Sleeps in Rwanda captures the spirit of five courageous women as they rebuild
their lives, redefining women’s roles in Rwandan society and bringing hope to a
wounded nation. The Rwandan parliament (lower house) is 49 percent women –
the highest percentage of women in any parliament in the world.

Green Bush (Australia) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Wayne Blair
In this insightful short film, an Australian Aboriginal DJ realizes that his
job at the country radio station is about more than just playing music.

Julieta Y Ramon (USA) – Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Hugo Perez
Julieta Y Ramon is a darkly comic short Spanish-language fable in the
tradition of Almodovar. Julieta’a erotic fascination with Ronald Reagan keeps her
from finding Mr. Right. Through the intervention of Mima, her downstairs
neighbor, she reluctantly is introduced to Mima’s son Ramon. Ramon is a shoe
store manager who has his own particular fascination. Can this odd couple find
a way to satisfy each other’s needs? Filmmaker in attendance.

Little Red Jiving Hood (USA/Berkshires)
Directed by Ben Hillman
In a deep, deep forest lives a little girl who wears a Little Red – wait a
minute. You know the story. But not quite like this. This short film has
been delighting festival audiences across the country.

Los Angeles Now (USA) – New England Premiere
Directed by Phillip Rodriguez
Once the whitest city in America, Los Angeles is now the most multicultural
city in the history of the world. Once an empty, pastoral space, L.A. is
now a disorienting megalopolis. Los Angeles Now looks beyond Baywatch and
Blade Runner to create a fresh and candid portrait of America’s second largest
city. If the future were a place, Los Angeles would be it. Los Angeles Now
provides a much-needed starting point for imagining our American future.
Filmmakers in attendance.

Mighty Times: The Children’s March (USA/Berkshires)
Directed by Robert Houston
Academy Award winning film for best documentary and IDA Award. This film
tells an incredible true story during the Civil Rights in America. On May 2,
1963, the children of Birmingham, Alabama took to the streets to challenge
segregation. Filmmaker in attendance.

Product of Peru (USA/Berkshires) - World Premiere
Directed by David Eddy and Mati Kiin
A delightful short film in which everyday objects reinvent themselves in
compelling and mysterious ways when perceived within their new environment.

Self Arrest (USA/Berkshires) World Premiere
Directed by Sanjiban
Self Arrest is a therapeutic remedy in times of terror. “I arrest myself
because no one can give me the same justice.” Filmmaker in attendance.
The Djarns Djarns (Australia) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Wayne Blair
The beautiful and touching short film explores the story of a friendship
between four young boys, the responsibility they feel for their culture and the
love a young boy has for his father.

Time for a New God (USA) -Berkshire Premiere
Directed by David Holbrooke
Irwin Kula is an eighth generation rabbi who teaches that every religion
that thinks it has it all right is surely all wrong. In this moving monologue
along the beaches, wharves, hotdog stands and roller coasters of Coney
Island, Kula spins a web of wisdom in a time when nothing is simply what it is.
Amidst the changing ethnicity of NYC, with its new sounds, people and rhythms,
he offers religion as a “giant tool box.” And in an era when we have tamed
the animals, can grow all the food we need and are the masters of the
universe, Kula sweetly poses the question, “What kind of God do we need?”

Trapping with Ernie (USA/Berkshires) – World Premiere
Directed by Mike Latino
Trapping with Ernie is a unique character study that takes the viewer into
the world a New England fur trapper that is seldom seen. Beckwith, who passed
away last year, was an icon in this community. This film is a real tribute
to a dying breed. Filmmaker in attendance.

Yellow Fella (Australia) – Northeast Premiere
Directed Ivan Sen
“I’m not black. I’m not white, I’m a yellow fella and I’m gonna stay that
way.” Yellow Fella is a journey across the land and into Tom’s past, as he
attempts to find the resting place of his father and to finally confront the
truth of his most inner feelings of love and identity.

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