Thursday, April 07, 2011

SFIFF54—Crossovers From ND/NF

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF54) arrives late in the film festival calendar year and arguments can be made pro and con about this timing; but, looking at the bright side, those of us who have had the good fortune to attend other international film festivals this past year are given the opportunity to revisit favorites and—for someone as fond of critical overviews as I am—the conduits of critical appraisal streaming West towards the Pacific in ever accelerating momentum are as good a way as any to select what to watch from SFIFF's impressive program of 189 films from 40 countries (and counting). It never hurts to be informed about films. I find it helps me appreciate them more.

Although I've been cautioned to guard against my tendency to chase after whatever is new on the horizon, the discovery and cultivation of talent remains what most appeals to me as a cinephile. SFIFF may have had some uncharacteristic difficulty this year scoring red carpet talent for its big-ticket tributes, but there has
never been a shortage of fresh talent showing up with their first or second films to the oldest festival in the Americas.

The New Directors / New Films (ND/NF) series organized by New York's Lincoln Center and MoMA dovetails neatly with SFIFF and David Hudson's ND/NF index at
MUBI reveals no less than six crossovers this year. Once again, short capsules are lifted from SFIFF's mini-guide, expanded capsules are linked to the film title, and MUBI's review round-ups from ND/NF are provided for easy reference, along with hyperlinks to the films' original web sites, IMDb, Wikipedia and Facebook (where available).

* * *

At Ellen's Age / Im Alter von Ellen (dir. Pia Marais, Germany, 2010)—When the thoughtless comfort of her middle-class life is disrupted, a German flight attendant (Jeanne Balibar) suddenly ditches it all in pursuit of new meaning, making her way through a series of unexpected, oddly humorous and slightly surreal encounters in her search for grounding in a complex and dislocated world. Official site [German]. IMDb. Facebook. MUBI. Pia Marais is expected to attend.

Attenberg (dir. Athena Rachel Tsangari, Greece, 2010)—In a crumbling town, a father prepares for death as his daughter awkwardly journeys into adulthood. Marina craves life amid her desolate world: She experiments with sex, rocks out to the band Suicide and watches nature documentaries on TV. As her father deteriorates, she tries to glean from him some of the secrets of life. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. MUBI.

Black Tower Mixtape (1967-1975), The (dir. Göran Hugo Olsson, Sweden / USA, 2011)—This collage-style documentary combines recently rediscovered Swedish footage of the American 1967–75 Black Power movement with new and insightful commentary by leading African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, all set to an evocative soundtrack with original music by Questlove of the Roots and Om'Mas Keith. Official site. IMDb. MUBI.

Circumstance (dir. Maryam Keshavarz, France / USA / Iran / Lebanon, 2011)—This debut feature—winner of a Sundance Film Festival Audience Award—is an exhilarating political drama and love story about a burgeoning romance between two young Iranian women and the fraught allegiances of a single Tehrani family. IMDb. Facebook. MUBI. Maryam Keshavarz is expected to attend.

Incendies (dir. Denis Villaneuve, Canada / France, 2010)—This gloriously sprawling Academy Award®–nominated epic has Canadian twins traveling to the Middle East, charged by their late mother's will with finding their long-lost father and a brother they didn't know existed. Along the way, they uncover the scars left on their mother's life by the war she fled, and the sources of her mental and emotional instability. Official site. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. MUBI.

Microphone / ميكروفون (dir. Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt, 2010)—Hip-hop courses through this prescient, vibrant second feature about art and the struggle to make it in Alexandria. The film follows an engineer at loose ends trying to throw a concert of young musicians whose general dissatisfaction is balanced by their musical spirit and energy pulsing throughout. Official site. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. MUBI.

Cross-published on Twitch.

No comments: