*= possible guest speaker
ENZO AVITABILE MUSIC LIFE Italy 2012 80min [in ITALIAN with subtitles] Sat 4:30; Sun 8:30 trailer
In his latest film, Oscar winner Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense, Rachel Getting Married) follows his musical passions to Naples, Italy to document an extraordinary gathering of world musicians led by Enzo Avitabile -- the Neapolitan multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter whose past collaborators include James Brown and Tina Turner. One of the world’s great directors reveals to us the thrilling music of a singular artist who fuses Neapolitan, folk, jazz, and world music -- but also explores the city of Naples with all of its treasures and contradictions. The film feels celebratory as Enzo creates amazing new music with collaborators from all over the world including Eliades Ochoa of Buena Vista Social Club, Naseer Shamma, Daby Touré and Trilok Gurtu.
BENJAMIN RABIER France 2012 53min [in FRENCH with subtitles] Sat 2:00; Sun 7:15 trailer
The French illustrator and animator Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939) is not often discussed in the history of animation, though he collaborated with the French genius Émile Cohl on a number of pioneering (but lost) animated films. His public perception rests instead on his creation in 1924 of the the laughing cow mascot for Swiss cheese company Fromageries Bel. In this delightful French homage/fantasy we discover that Rabier loved the evocation of all animals in "flat, supple colors, with simple drawings." If this sounds like proto-Disney, director Mark Faye (whose film is mostly live-action) means to make that comparison. Rabier devoted his whole life to creating animal characters: Flambeau the dog and Gideon the duck are also among his creations. The most famous human character patented by Rabier was Tintin Lutin, a visual precursor of the more noirish Tintin by Hergé. Rabier seems to have suffered a mental breakdown from illustrating too much, trying to complete an illustrated edition of Buffon's thirty-six-volume Natural History. Benjamin Rabier is part biography, part flight of fancy, all fun.
BOTSO USA 2013 87min Winner of MIFF 2013 Audience Award Fri 8:30; Mon 6:00 trailer
The astonishing life of Wachtang “Botso” Korisheli—musician, sculptor, and beloved teacher to generations—is compellingly recounted in this new and truly inspiring documentary. Born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, young Botso is affectionately held in Stalin’s arms not long before Stalin’s brutal regime orders the execution of Botso’s father. Remarkably, Botso is allowed twenty minutes for a final visit -- during which time his father reveals his own thoughts on the essence of life, words that still inspire Botso today at age 91. These words helped the young Botso endure years of suffering at the hands of both the Soviet army and the Nazis during World War II, and also gave him the determination to maintain an infectious passion for humanity, the arts, and life itself. Eventually arriving in America with nothing but hope, Botso became a beloved musical educator of children, settling in Morro Bay on the central California coast. He has gone on to touch generations of students, inspiring some of the world’s premier musical artists -- including five-time Grammy Award winner Kent Nagano. Filmed partly in the Republic of Georgia, this feature-length documentary also captures the rich culture of the ancient region which has helped shaped Botso’s unique way of teaching.
FAR FROM AFGHANISTAN* USA/Afghanistan 2012 129min [partly in AFGHANI with subtitles] Sat 8:00; Sun 2:30 trailer
An omnibus film by five American filmmakers and a collective of young Afghan media journalists, Far from Afghanistan takes a look at the longest overseas war in U.S. history. Inspired by the 1967 French New Wave-based collaborative film Loin du Vietnam (Far from Vietnam), Far from Afghanistan unites a variety of filmmakers, cinematographers, editors and technicians in the international effort to redirect U.S. policy away from military and political intervention toward true humanitarian and developmental care-giving with films exploring divergent approaches both to filmmaking and to how we think about war. Among the filmmakers are MIFF veteran John Gianvito (Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind), Jon Jost (All the Vermeers in New York), Minda Martin, Travis Wilkerson and Soon-Mi Yoo, disparate in their approaches but united in their desire to address through art that this long war must end.
SWEET DREAMS Rwanda 2013 89min [partly in KINYARWANDA with subtitles] Fri 7:00; Sun 3:45 trailer
A group of women, sixty strong, pound out rhythms of power and joy in the Rwandan countryside. Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which a million were killed by neighbors, friends and even family in tribal war, those who remained were broken, dead inside. The country has since made great strides in economic recovery, but "people are not like roads and buildings" says Kiki Katese, a pioneering Rwandan theater director. "How do we rebuild a human being?" In answer, Kiki starts Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda's first women's drumming troupe, open to those from both sides of the conflict. There is only one requirement: to leave the categories of the past at the gate. For the women -- orphans and widows of the victims, and wives and children of the perpetrators -- the group has been a place to begin to live again, to build new relationships, to heal the wounds of the past. Yet the struggle to survive and provide for their families still persists. So when Kiki comes up with the idea to open Rwanda's first and only ice cream shop, the women are intrigued… but what exactly is ice cream and how will they succeed? Sweet Dreams follows this remarkable group of women as they emerge from devastation to create a new future for themselves.
TIME & CHARGES* USA 2013 90min Fri 6:30; Sat 4:45 trailer
Oscar winning screenwriter Ernest Thompson (On Golden Pond) conceived, wrote, and directed this film in conjunction with Whitebridge Farm Productions, a New Hampshire-based film and theatre production company he co-founded and which involved over five hundred local residents in Time and Charges' making. Jeremiah Ward, a hot-shot New York money manager, turns off the highway -- and straight into his past. In rural New Hampshire, he discovers confusing clues and ghostly reminders not only of people he knew forty years ago, but of the person he once was: an idealist and visionary whose clarity grew dimmer with each acquisition and every brilliant move on the career chess board. Exit 22-A seems to be a portal connecting him with the values and virtue he left behind, but it turns out to be much more. Melody -- the daughter he never knew -- has orchestrated this road map and cast of characters, determined to test Jeremiah's true convictions and to change his life. MIFF's screenings of this film represent a return of sorts for Thompson as well -- Maine is where On Golden Pond is set and where Thompson lived at that time.
BLUEBIRD* Maine 2013 90min Sat 8:30; Sun 5:00 trailer
Director Lance Edmands and producer Kyle Martin have created a powerful, riveting, deeply honest drama shot on location in Millinocket in midwinter. In the frozen woods of an isolated Maine logging town, one woman's tragic mistake shatters the balance of the community, resulting in profound and unexpected consequences. Weaving together several connected storylines, Bluebird explores the profound and transcendent effects of tragedy on a small American town. "Lance Edmands'...debut stands in direct contrast with its weary, working-class characters and the subzero Maine winter against which their story unfolds -- a mournful throwback to more poetically inclined times" --Peter DeBruge, Variety.
THE FIFTH SEASON Belgium 2012 93min [in FRENCH with subtitles] Sat 6:15; Sun 2:00 trailer
Deep in Belgium's Ardennes forest, life goes on in a small rustic village as it always has. Seasons come and go, farmers work the land, children play in the woods, festivals are celebrated. The village seems immune to the world's problems. The Fifth Season starts in winter with the traditional burning of Uncle Winter, who has been accused of a list of crimes. Strangely, the ceremonial bonfire won't light. Whether this is the cause or merely the first symptom of a wider malaise is unclear, but from this point on, the seasons refuse to change. Crops fail, the cows won't give milk; soon people start blaming each other and looking suspiciously at an outsider who sells honey from a caravan where he lives with his wheelchair-bound son. Poetic and full of powerfully resonant images, this film is part fable, part stark warning, and fully haunting and exceptional cinema.
GERMANIA Argentina 2012 75min [in GERMAN and SPANISH with subtitles] Fri 8:45; Sun 7:00 trailer
In the small Argentinian town of Entre Ríos, a German family is preparing to leave their farm for reasons the film will slowly reveal. On their last day, the two late-teenage siblings, Brenda and Lucas, say goodbye to their friends while their mother closes up the house. But in Germania, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Buenos Aires Film Festival, nothing is as it seems. Director Maximiliano Schonfeld has made an elusive, poetic, powerful and deeply satisfying film. Class relations, notions of family, sexual desire and the end of adolescence are all subtly and sensitively explored. Germania features haunting, truthful performances by a non-professional cast.
THE GIRL AND DEATH Netherlands/Russia/Germany 2012 124min [in GERMAN, RUSSIAN, and FRENCH with subtitles] Sun 8:30; Mon 5:30 trailer
From MIFF's very first Mid-Life Achievement Award winner, Jos Stelling (The Pointsman, The Illusionist, The Flying Dutchman) and winner of Best Picture at the Netherlands Film Festival, The Girl and Death is about the impossible love between Nicolai and the courtesan Elise, a love that is obstructed by materialism, wealth and the threat of death. In post-WWII Russia, aging doctor Nicolai returns to an old, abandoned hotel -- where he first met his great love half a century ago -- and relives his romantic tragedy. The hotel still bears the traces of its impressive past... it embodies the end of an era as the vibrant hopes of the young lovers embody the possibilities of a new world. As ever, Stelling's unique cinema is based on idiosyncratic humor, stunning images and large emotions. This is a film about time that somehow feels miraculously outside of it.
TANTA AGUA (So Much Water) Uruguay/Mexico/Netherlands 2013 102min [in SPANISH with subtitles] Sat 2:30; Mon 7:45 trailer
From the fertile cinematic soil of Uruguay comes this disarmingly low-key, extremely human comic family drama, Grand Jury Prize winner at this year's Miami Film Fest. Fourteen-year-old Lucia and her brother Federico live with their mother. Their father Alberto, a chiropractor, sees his kids rarely. He rents a cabin for the three of them at "the hot springs capital of Uruguay." Not only is the holiday a short one, it looks likely to be ruined by rain. Their hearts sink when, on arrival, they learn that it's forbidden to use the pools because of an impending electric storm. Alberto tries to keep them amused and make good their disastrous family break. "Graced by a disarming lightness of touch, even when things seem darkest, writer-directors Ana Guevara and Laetitia Jorge find humor and poignancy in... this charming film" --David Rooney, Variety.
SHORT FILMS PROGRAMS:
A celebration of the short film form in its many genres: dramatic (domestic and international), animation, documentary, horror, and experimental. Both programs offer a balanced sampling of provocative filmmaking: a tasting menu, if you will!
MAINE-MADE SHORT FILMS* 71min Sat 6:45; Sun 5:30
The Sea [Is Still] Around Us Director Hope Tucker Innovative depiction of the death of a Maine resort lake.
The Dark Sea (COA) Director Moses Bastille A deep sea diver in his literal element: the bottom of the ocean.
Vanilla Director Mike Robida Sometimes we just have to hunker down in solitude …and sometimes love interferes with our plans.
The Digger (COA) Director SL Benz A light-hearted chronicle of a young woman left to deal with the clutter that her recently departed grandmother has left behind.
The County Co-Directors Michael Ferry, Christopher Giamo, Kelsey Kobik Portrait of a year in Aroostook County.
Conception (COA) Director Gabriella Niejedlik A trippy journey with exceptional music.
The Carrying Place Co-Directors Amy Grumbling, Megan Grumbling Scary things are happening to the two remaining denizens of an area being intentionally flooded.
No Kingdom (COA) Director Nate Pronovost A poignant reflection on the burdens of cosmic royalty.
SHORT FILMS FROM AWAY 89min Sat 3:00; Mon 8:00
Karaoke! USA Director Andrew Renzi A young man wears out a New York City night, trying to avoid his problems. Winner of Short Film Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival 2013.
Reborning USA Co-Directors Helen Hood Scheer, Yael Bridge An artist mesmerizingly creates life-like dolls of newborn babies.
Barbie Boy USA Director Nick Corporon A seven year old recognizes his first moment of 'growing up.'
Man With the Golden Brain France Director Joan Chemla Stanley is not like other boys. He possesses something that everyone increasingly wants a piece of….
Off Season USA Kori Feener Winter arrives for the animals in this Massachusetts cow barn.
Drone USA Director Daniel Jewel A day in the life of a Drone operator (Trainspotting's Ewen Bremner).
La Vis (The Screw) France Director Didier Flamand Jean Reno (Léon: The Professional) stars in this hilarious tale of a man daring to complain to the administration office at the Dept. Store of Non-Ferrous Metals about a screw with no notch.
SILENT SHORTS - Rock & Reel 42min Fri 6:00
A jazz- and classical-influenced trio with MDI's versatile Joe Cough, Jr. (COA '13) on trumpet and guitar, Nathaniel Hilliard (COA '13) on keyboards and Chris Gray on drums will provide live accompaniment to two Buster Keaton silent short films. The Scarecrow (1920) stars Keaton as a clumsy farmhand who competes with another farmhand (Joe Roberts) for the love of the farmer's daughter (Sybil Seely). The farmer is played by Keaton’s own father Joe Keaton. In The Goat (1921), captured murderer Dead Shot Dan is having his mug shot taken, but a prying Buster Keaton inadvertently gets his picture taken instead. After the criminal escapes, Buster learns it is his face on all the Wanted posters when he is chased by every policeman in town, one of whom he discovers is the father of his new girlfriend.
IMPROVISION ~90min Fri 11:00
Check out our wacky collaboration with the talented ImprovAcadia crew! With the sound turned off, this ever-changing group of up and coming comedians improvises the dialogue, music tracks, and sound effects to a cheesy, grade-B movie that they have never seen before! Their talents make the pictures on the screen way funnier than they were ever anticipated. Its a totally new show every time. Don't miss out on all the fun.