ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

The 7th Petaluma International Film Festival starts Friday, October 16, and offers a weekend of really diverse world cinema

Petaluma filmmaker A.D. Freese’s “Bastards y Diablos” (2015) has its Northern CA premiere and screens twice at PIFF 7. Freese will be in attendance. The story follows two half brothers, Ed and Dion, who travel to Bogotá to fulfill the wishes in their recently deceased father’s will, only to find a mysterious set of instructions sending them on an unexpected journey all over Colombia. Accompanying them on this quest is their unconventional father’s spirit, linking his own formative journeys as a young man with his sons’ present day adventures. Amid the mystical splendor of Colombia, Ed and Dion experience the brotherhood they missed out on growing up. (Screens: Friday, October 16, 6:15 PM and Sunday, October 17, 8:15 PM) image: PIFF

Petaluma filmmaker A.D. Freese’s “Bastards y Diablos” (2015) has its Northern CA premiere and screens twice at the 7th Petaluma International Film Festival, October 16-18, 2015. Freese will be in attendance for audience q & A’s after each screening. The story follows two half brothers, Ed and Dion, who travel to Bogotá to fulfill the wishes in their recently deceased father’s will, only to find a mysterious set of instructions sending them on an unexpected journey all over Colombia. Accompanying them on this quest is their unconventional father’s spirit, linking his own formative journeys as a young man with his sons’ present day adventures. Amid the mystical splendor of Colombia, Ed and Dion experience the brotherhood they missed out on growing up. Screens: Friday, October 16, 6:15 PM and Sunday, October 17, 8:15 PM. image: PIFF

When did you last see a film from Burkina Faso, Cuba, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan or Macedonia?  With 35 independent films from 18 countries, the 7th Annual Petaluma International Film Festival (PIFF7) offers a line-up that covers these and other remote corners of the globe, along with films from more familiar places, including Petaluma.  This year’s festival is Friday through Sunday at Petaluma’s Boulevard 14 Cinemas, and offers 16 full-length films, 19 shorts and the popular Sonoma Filmmakers Showcase with several filmmakers in attendance.  There’s also a new feature film from Petaluma’s director A.D. Freese, Bastards y Diablos, which has its Northern CA premiere at PIFF.

Organized by Saeed Shafa, who founded the popular annual Tiburon International Film Festival  in 2002, PIFF was created to support new indie filmmakers, great storytelling and international points of view.  Since most filmmakers start their careers out by creating a short film, Shafa has purposely paired all the feature-length films with at least one short film to demonstrate to the audience that short stories can be highly effective and so can new filmmakers.

Benjamin Meyer's debut feature film

Benjamin Meyer’s debut feature film “Fools” won the Audience Award at June’s Dances with Wolves Festival in Hollywood. It has its Northern CA premiere at the 7th Petaluma International Film Festival on Friday, October 16. The romantic drama was filmed in Chicago and is about two strangers who start a romantic relationship in a highly unconventional way–they brush hands on a crowded commuter train and a week later, without exchanging a word, they move in together. image: David Roberson PR

Friday’s Opening film:

Mumbai artist Sheikh Rehman is literally the last artist in Mumbai who is still painting movie banners by hand. And what colors and action they employ. Rehmen is the subject of German filmmakers Florian Heinzen-Ziob & Georg Heinzen’s documentary “Original Copy” (2015) which is a love letter to a lost art and a man lost in art.

Mumbai artist Sheikh Rehman is literally the last artist in Mumbai who is still painting movie banners by hand. And what colors and action they employ. Rehmen is the subject of German filmmakers Florian Heinzen-Ziob & Georg Heinzen’s documentary “Original Copy” (2015) which is a love letter to a lost art and a man lost in art.

The festival kicks off at noon on Friday with German filmmakers’ Florian Heinzen-Ziob & Georg Heinzen’s documentary Original Copy (2015, Germany), a delightful ode to Mumbai artist Sheikh Rehman who lovingly creates one-of-a-kind hand-painted film posters for an old movie palace in Mumbai.  Romanian director Andra Tévy’s 17 minute short The Wall (Mur, 2014) will also open the festival.  PIFF offers six screenings daily, running from noon till just before midnight.

Sunday’s Closing film:

The festival closes with a Sunday 10:15 PM screening of American director Tim French’s crime drama Intersection (2015) about a troubled man who is haunted by the circumstances of his daughter’s death in a car crash and returns to the small town where she died. Screening with this is Italian director Francesco Gabriele’s comedy, Italian Miracle (2015), a 9 minute short which screened at Cannes this year and is set in rural Italy where a young man is called upon to translate an English speaking woman’s confession to the local priest.

Saturday’s Sonoma Filmmakers Showcase:

Santa Rosa filmmaker John Harden’s 16 minute short, “New” (2014) screens in Saturday’s Sonoma Filmmaker’s Showcase. The story follows an elderly couple who are cryonically preserved at the time of their deaths in the hope that future medical technology will restore them to life. It works! They awake, totally restored, centuries later to face the joys and challenges of a second life in the distant future. Harden’s previous short, “La vie d'un chien” (“The Life of a Dog”), screened at top-tier festivals around the world and at MOMA as part of their New Directors/New Films series. It garnered numerous awards, including Best Narrative Short in the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival. His screenplay, “The Sensitivity Program” (co-authored with Skot Christopherson) was chosen as Best Feature Screenplay (Science Fiction Category) in the Austin Film Festival competition, beating out over 700 other scripts in the category. Image: John Harden

Santa Rosa filmmaker John Harden’s 16 minute short, “New” (2014) screens in Saturday’s Sonoma Filmmaker’s Showcase. The story follows an elderly couple who are cryonically preserved at the time of their deaths in the hope that future medical technology will restore them to life. It works! They awake, totally restored, centuries later to face the joys and challenges of a second life in the distant future. Harden’s previous short, “La vie d’un chien” (“The Life of a Dog”), screened at top-tier festivals around the world and at MOMA as part of their New Directors/New Films series. It garnered numerous awards, including Best Narrative Short in the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival. His screenplay, “The Sensitivity Program” (co-authored with Skot Christopherson) was chosen as Best Feature Screenplay (Science Fiction Category) in the Austin Film Festival competition, beating out over 700 other scripts in the category. Image: John Harden

Now in its third year, the Sonoma Filmmakers Showcase, Saturday at 6 PM, will screen four shorts from local filmmakers, recognizing our community’s rich and diverse talent.  All the filmmakers will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.  On the program—Bill Chayes’ Metal Man (2014, 37 min). John Harden’s New (2014, 16 min), Janna Ji Wonders’ I Remember (2015, 30 min), and Quinn Fujii’s Nashville Yacht Club (2015, 10 min).

There are three Cuban films at PIFF 7. Edith Mazzola is Estela in Joacenith Vargas’ short film “Estela” (2014). The shy middle-aged woman tries to isolate herself from the outside world. When she is called upon to break into her elderly neighbor’s house, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, she reconnects with childhood memories and experiences an awkward and brief moment of intimacy with a stranger. (Screens Sunday, October 18, 2:30 PM.) Image: Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival

There are three Cuban films at PIFF7. Edith Mazzola is Estela in Joacenith Vargas’ short film “Estela” (2014). The shy middle-aged woman tries to isolate herself from the outside world. When she is called upon to break into her elderly neighbor’s house, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, she reconnects with childhood memories and experiences an awkward and brief moment of intimacy with a stranger. (Screens Sunday, October 18, 2:30 PM.) Image: Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival

“Ghosts” (Ashbah) from legendary Iranian director Dariush Mherjul is a stylized melodrama based on a story loosely adapted from Ibsen about a married woman who learns that her tyrannical husband has been having an affair with their maid. She fires the maid unaware that she is pregnant and, years later, is confronted with the consequences. Mherjul, who studied under Jean Renoir, is a founding member of Iran’s new wave movement of the 1970’s. (Screens Sunday, October 18, 6:15 PM.) image: PIFF

“Ghosts” (Ashbah) from legendary Iranian director Dariush Mherjul is a stylized melodrama based on a story loosely adapted from Ibsen about a married woman who learns that her tyrannical husband has been having an affair with their maid. She fires the maid unaware that she is pregnant and, years later, is confronted with the consequences. Mherjul, who studied under Jean Renoir, is a founding member of Iran’s new wave movement of the 1970’s. (Screens Sunday, October 18, 6:15 PM.) image: PIFF

Full schedule here.

Film descriptions here.

PIFF Details:  The 7th Petaluma International Film Festival is Friday, October 16, through Sunday, October 18, 2015 at Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas, 200 C Street, Petaluma. Tickets: All screenings $12; buy tickets during the festival at Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas or online (click here) with a handling fee.  Passes: All inclusive festival pass is $180 and a day pass is $60. (click here) For more information: Phone (415) 251-8433 or email: info@petalumafilmfestival.org .

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October 14, 2015 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 4th Petaluma International Film Festival starts Friday, October 19, 2012, and runs all weekend at Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas

Slava Ross’ “Siberia Monamour” is a story of survival set in remote Siberia, with a screenplay developed under the prestigious Cannes Residence program. Young Mikahil Protsko gives a standout performance a recently-orphaned boy who befriends a wild dog. It screens on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at the 4th Petaluma International Film Festival.

Film festivals are cropping up in virtually every nook and cranny of the extended Bay Area now.  For residents of Sonoma County, the convenience and line-up of the Petaluma International Film Festival (PIFF) are hard to pass up.  The three-day festival, in its 4th year, begins its impressive run of international independent film tomorrow (Friday) at noon at Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas and runs through Sunday.  The line-up includes over 40 films (17 new features and 13 new shorts) from Armenia to Uruguay, and even tiny Luxemburg and distant Azerbaizan make an appearance.  This gem of a festival flies under the radar but it’s worth a look and a visit.

“In our fast-paced world, we are still looking for human stories,” said Saeed Safa, founder and executive director of festival. “The Robots, CGI (computer-generated imagery), and machines in the movies are eye candy that, sooner or later, will be forgotten but the human stories will remain with us for a long time,” said Safa.

Safa also runs the popular Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) every spring.  He has an eye for interesting films that might not otherwise be screened due to commercial reasons, and certainly not in Petaluma, and has put together a line-up that includes a great mix of documentaries, dramas and shorts focusing on what loosely might be called global understanding–seeing the world through the eyes of another.  “We try to create an opportunity for the young and talented filmmakers from around the world who will be the torch holders of the next generation of the filmmakers,” said Safa. “Each film we select has a different story and special message.”

For detailed programming information, a list of filmmakers attending and information about a festival pass, visit the Petaluma International Film Festival homepage.

ARThound’s Picks:

Unfinished Spaces: Navigating between past and present, while deftly mixing contemporary and archival footage, Alysa Nahmais and Benjamin Murray’s documentary Unfinished Spaces tells the remarkable story of how in 1961 Fidel Castro enlisted three visionary young architects to construct a Cuban National Art Schools complex on the grounds of a former golf course. Construction of their radical designs for five separate schools began immediately and classes soon followed.  Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Cuban Revolution quickly became a reality, construction was abruptly halted and the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate. Forty years later the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream.  A moving and well-researched documentary that uses bricks, arches and fountains as a metaphor for the evolving Cuban landscape. This fascinating film includes footage of Fidel Castro, the architects themselves and embraces the very mutable intersection of art, aesthetics, politics, history and Cuban culture. (2011, 86 minutes) (Screens Friday, October 19, 2012, 4:15 p.m.)

Marie Jung plays a talented young Luxembourg chess player, Sophie Latour, who beats a famous chess master in “The Symmetry of the Butterfly” (“D’Symmetrie vum Päiperlek”), a new feature film from Luxembourg screening at the 4th Petaluma International Film Festival on Friday.

The Butterfly’s Symmetry (D’Symmetrie vum Päiperlek):  This second feature film by Luxembourg directors Paul Scheuer and Maisy Hausemer tells the story of a famous chess master, Gregori Sczyrkutah, known for his misogyny, who is beaten at his own game by a young and talented Luxembourg chess player, Sophie Latour (Marie Jung).  The defeat is hard to take and he withdraws from public life in bitterness and anger.  A Swiss software engineer, Max von Allmen, proposes using a revolutionary chess software that is guaranteed to beat Sophie.  While Max is programming the software, he falls in love with Sophie.  And, to further complicate matters, this entire story is imagined by a Luxembourg writer, Roger, during his prolonged stay at an old-age pensioners’ home, where he uses the people he sees around him as inspiration for the characters in his story. (2012, 93 minutes) (Screens Friday, October 19, 2012 at 10 p.m.)

Wind & Fog (Bad o meh):  Captivating images from pastoral northern Iran serve as a backdrop for Mohammad-Ali Talebi’s enchanting tale of a boy rendered deaf and mute after losing his mother in the Iran-Iraq war. Ostracized by his classmates but doted over by his loving sister, eight-year-old Sahand—whose wan face and haunted eyes evoke the unspeakable horrors he’s witnessed—becomes obsessed with a wounded white goose.  The climax unfolds in a misty, magical forest making wondrous use of classic fantasy elements.   Official Selection: Vancouver International Film Festival – Awarded Berlinale Film Festival CINEMA Fairbindet Prize for contributing in an “extraordinary way” to the ongoing dialogue on important global issues. (2011, 74 minutes) (Screens Saturday, October 20, 2012, 8:25 p.m.)

Iranian director Mohammad-Ali Talebi’s award-winning “Wind & Fog” (“Bad o meh) tells the story of a young boy who is injured and traumatized by Iran Iraq war and his slow path to healing. The film a special award at the prestigious Berlinale film festival in 2011.

Siberia Monamour:  Slava Ross’ tale of survival is set in the remote reaches of the wild Siberian taiga—the forested area of Siberia that covers more than a quarter of Russia’s territory, an undeveloped place that remains largely untouched by politics.  This dark feature, with a very Russian perspective, builds slowly and involves the thoughtful intersection of several characters and their stories, ultimately pitting men against the forces of nature to survive.  An orphaned seven year-old boy, Lyochka (Mikahil Protsko) and his grandfather (Pyotr Zaichenko) live alone in a cabin and are unexpectedly isolated as winter sets in.  A parallel storyline has two soldiers (Nikolai Kozak and Maxim Yemelyanov) on a mission to find a prostitute to satisfy their depraved lieutenant (Sergei Puskepalis) and their encounter with a young girl (Lidiya Bairashevskay) whom they bring back to their base.  The cinematography by Yury Rajski and Alexxey Todorov includes stunning landscapes, wild dogs, and decaying interiors and the unforgettable story itself is a harsh reflection on contemporary Russia and its collapsed morality.   Stand-out performance by young Mikahil Protsko.   (Screens Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.)

Tickets: $10 per screening at  Boulevard Cinemas, Petaluma Blvd. North at C Street.   Most screenings include a feature-length film coupled with a short. For detailed programming information and list of filmmakers attending, visit the Petaluma International Film Festival homepage.

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment