Film, dancing, animation, and more film mark our festival, April 27-29

Our various festival committees—for features, for shorts—have worked hard to bring you a weekend of varied cinematic fare. You won’t be able to see these films anywhere else in town. Nor in many other towns, for that matter.

We are kicking off our programs for features on Friday night, April 27, at 7 pm, with Fairy, a film from Belgium that feels like mime and modulated mayhem. Three people made this film–Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy. No one will ever know who wrote or who directed or who went out for coffee for everybody. The film feels like this too. As Aaron Hills of The Village Voice puts it: “In the port town of Le Havre, an awkward romance blossoms between a hapless hotel clerk Dom (Abel) and the titular redhead (Gordon), who is either a wish-fulfilling sprite or an escaped mental patient. The rest is utter silliness: A skinny-dip in the ocean becomes an underwater dance sequence.”

Many reviewers remark about how the film captures Keaton, Tati and Jerry Lewis at their most insane. Along with Fairy, Filmworks will show the short Lone-Illness which explores the loneliness of love.

Saturday. 12:30 pm: We’ll show Pina, a tribute to famed choreographer Pina Bausch who urged her dancers to “get crazier.” The film is the from the fertile mind of German director Wim Wenders. Bausch died just before filming began and the production was nearly abandoned, but students, associates, and fans urged Wenders to press on. He did with amazing results. As Melissa Anderson of the  Village Voice has written, “Bausch gives us the supreme pleasure of watching fascinating bodies of widely varying ages in motion, whether leaping, falling, catching, diving, grieving, or exulting.”


On Saturday (3:30) we will show a program of family-friendly shorts. Also on Saturday  (5:30) a panel discussion with filmmakers Abel and Burlee Vang will be held on stage. Burlee Vang is a filmmaker and poet, widely published and a recipient of many awards. He lives in Fresno.

At 8 pm on Saturday, we will show the much-honored A Separation, an Iranian film which won the Oscar for best foreign language film this year. I’ll let Roger Ebert speak for the film.

A Separation is a film in which every important character tries to live a good life within the boundaries of the same religion. That this leads them into disharmony and brings them up before a judge is because no list of rules can account for human feelings. The film involves its audience in an unusually direct way, because although we can see the logic of everyone’s position, our emotions often disagree.

On Sunday, the 29th, at 1:00 we will offer another shorts program. At 3:30 we serve you a remarkable restoration called A Trip to the Moon, a film made in  1902 by the Frenchman Georges Méliès. Most viewers—in fact, all viewers of this classic 16-minute film—know it only as a black and white production. But it was originally in full color, each frame hand painted. (This was decades before Technicolor.) Now Lobster Films of France has restored it to its original dazzling color. If you saw the Oscar-winning Hugo, by Martin Scorsese, you will have picked up something about Méliès and seen a few minutes of the film. Now you get to see the entire film in color. It’s a piece of speculative anthropology. You will marvel at turn-of-the-century notions of space travel, what the explorers wore, how their rocket took off. This is the original sci fi film. Two words describe it: quaint and beautiful.

Filmworks will also show a one-hour companion piece, The Extradinary Voyage, about the making of the restoration, also by Lobster.

Finally, at 7 on Sunday night, we will show Chico and Rita, an animated feature about music—singing and dancing—from Spain. It was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature.

See you April 27-29 at The Tower Theatre!