Fest Focus: : From Indianapolis to Maine to Dallas to New York to Tulsa to San Francisco to Traverse City, the Summer Festivals Are Blooming

Fest Focus: : From Indianapolis to Maine to Dallas to New York to Tulsa to San Francisco to Traverse City, the Summer Festivals Are Blooming

Jul 18, 2011

In this month's edition, we continue to showcase regional and international film festivals, with an emphasis on when and where you can see movies that might not be coming to your local multiplex.

Now Playing

Several festivals kicked off over the weekend. The Indianapolis International Film Festival began last Thursday with the local premiere of the indie drama Another Earth and runs through next Sunday, July 24. Now in its eighth year, the festival spotlights independent and international productions. Highlights include Peter Mullan's Neds (tonight at 7:00 pm and Thursday at 9:00 pm), a bracing drama set in the gritty world of 1970s Glasgow, and Kyle Smith's Turkey Bowl (screening on Sunday at 9:15 pm), in which friendship is tested in the savage world of modern-day backyard football. The festival site has complete information on films, screening venues, and showtimes.

The 14th annual Maine International Film Festival is the largest in New England, boasting 122 film screenings in total. The opening weekend featured the presentation of a Mid-Life Achievement Award to Malcolm McDowell. The fest opened with The Athlete, a biographical drama based on the life of legendary Ethiopian long-distance runner Abebe Bikila,  and will close with Another Earth (that movie gets around!) on Sunday, July 24. The program is a good mixture of classics (John Ford's The Quiet Man, Thursday at 6:30 pm) and new indies (Vera Farmiga's Higher Ground, tonight at 6:30 pm and tomorrow at 9:30 pm). All the details can be reviewed at the official site.

The Asian Film Festival of Dallas continues through Thursday. Celebrating its 10th edition, the festival is organized and run by an all-volunteer staff, and is committed to showcasing Asian and Asian-American films in all their many varieties. Remaining highlights include Love in a Puff (Tuesday at Noon), a Hong Kong romantic comedy about smoking (?!); The Drunkard (Wednesday at 7:15 pm), Freddie Wong's debut drama about a writer dealing with wartime trauma through alcohol and women; and closing night selection Outrage (Thursday at 7:00 pm), Takeshi Kitano's return to the crime genre.

Last night marked the opening of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival; our own Elisa Osegueda broke down the program and highlighted the films to see.

Coming Soon

Let's spotlight three festivals that kick off this Thursday, July 21, beginning with the venerable Newfest. Billed as New York's "Premier LGBT Film Festival," the 23rd edition opens at the Film Society of Lincoln Center with a gala presentation of We Were Here pictured right), from directors David Weissman and Bill Weber, which explores the early impact of AIDS on San Francisco. Basil Tsiokas, who was involved with the festival for a number of years, offers his overview of the documentaries, which make up about half of the program. Leslie-Sonebraker at NY Press has a day by day breakdown of highlights. Newfest runs through July 27. More information is available at the festival website.

The complete schedule is available online.

Located in the heart of Oklahoma, the Tulsa United Film Festival is now in its ninth year. "Kickoff Night" on Thursday is a wild amalgam of two classics (Blake Edwards' The Pink Panther and 10) and one documentary, Branson, which follows three acts playing at a strip mall, hoping for their big break in the concert capitol. With titles such as Beware of Christians, Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians, and Cleanflix, a documentary about a company that tried to sanitize movies, the programming emphasis is clearly non-traditional. The fest runs through Monday, July 25; more information can be viewed at their site.

Founded in 1980, the newest edition of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is a three-week event, sprawling out at various venues across the Bay Area until August 8. Featured programs include the presentation of the Freedom of Expression Award to Kirk Douglas, followed by a screening of Spartucus (Sunday, July 24 at 1:00 pm) and "Jews in Toons" (episodes from The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park; Monday, July 25 at 7:00 pm). Other highlights: opening night film Mabul (The Flood), a drama about a modern Israeli family who are hiding their sins from one another; Rabies, the first Israeli horror film; Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness, a critically-acclaimed documentary on the influential writer of the stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof; and 100 Voices: A Journey Home, a doc that follows some of the world's finest singers as they return to Poland for a series of concerts. You can read more at the festival's site.

Opening next Tuesday, July 26, the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan offers six days of screenings. Popularly known as "Michael Moore's Film Festival," since Moore founded the festival, the event attracted more than 100,000 admissions last year. The festival starts with presentations of Even the Rain, in which indigenous townspeople rise up against a penny-pinching film producer, and the lively Made in Dagenham, about a strike by women for equal pay at a UK automobile factory. Each day, film industry panels are held in the morning, and classic films are shown outdoors on the waterfront in the evening; the panels and outdoor screenings are free. The program includes many popular indie and documentary selections, such as All Good Things, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, Bellflower, and Bill Cunningham New York; it just goes on and on. Check out the site, if nothing else than to marvel at the program.

On the international scene, the key upcoming festival takes place in Locarno, Switzerland from August 3-13. The lineup for the 64th edition has just been announced, and it features Hollywood titles like Cowboys and Aliens, Super 8, and Friends With Benefits, 14 world premieres in the international competition program, and a wealthy of indie films from across the globe. Peter Knegt at indieWIRE has the story.


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