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Boston Film Festival Embarks on 32nd Season of Spotlighting Innovative Feature and Documentary Films

Posted by Karen Benardello On September - 13 - 201

Learning to accept the differences in everyone’s lives is one of the most essential lessons that people of all ages need to continuously be reminded of in their experiences. So the 2016 Boston Film Festival (BFF), which is celebrating its 32nd edition this year, is emphasizing tolerance and youthful perspectives with its diverse lineup. Many of the movies address themes of acceptance, tolerance and bullying, which are timely and urgent concerns in contemporary society.

Question and answer sessions will take place following film screenings with directors and actors. Among the stars scheduled to appear are William Fichtner, Dylan Gelula, Bill Sage, Sean Patrick Flanery, Christina Scherer, Kevin Bigley, Ali Afshar, George Kosturos, former Governor Michael Dukakis, World Welterweight Champion Tony DeMarco and Tony Vaccaro.

BFF will also host parties, will be listed on its official website, and announced via social media, including Facebook, where the public can purchase tickets. The festival is scheduled to run between Thursday, September 22 and Sunday, September 25.

Among this year’s BFF sponsors are Union Point, A&E, NBCUniversal, the Revere Hotel, the Hollywood Reporter and the Boston Globe. The local venues of the will showcase this year’s festival films include the AMC Boston Common, Theatre One at the Revere Hotel, the Boston Public Library and the Patriot Cinema in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Among the feature movie highlights is the closing night film, ‘American Wrestler: The Wizard,’ which was directed by Alex Ranarivelo. The true story begins in Iran in 1980, and follows a teenaged boy who escapes the unrest in his country by coming to America, where he encounters more hostility due to the ongoing Iranian hostage crisis. Determined to fit in, he joins the school’s weak wrestling team and fights to master the sport and identify as a real American, and finds the inner strength to become his own champion. Fichtner, Jon Voight, Kevin G. Schmidt, Lia Marie and Gabriel Basso are among the stars. Newton native and producer Haleel Reda will be attending the screening.

Another feature gaining critical acclaim that’s scheduled to play during BFF is ‘The First Girl I Loved.’ The movie centers on 17-year-old Anne, who falls in love with Sasha, the most popular girl at her Los Angeles high school. But when Anne confides in her best friend Clifton, who harbors a secret crush on her, he does his best to get in the way. The film stars Gelula, Brianna Hildebrand and Pamela Adlon, and was directed by Kerem Sanga.

Featured in the Center Piece spotlight is ‘Delinquent,’ which was directed by Kieran Valla. The movie explores a teen’s struggle to manage the fallout after a robbery goes wrong. The feature probes the ties between family and loyalty, and what the young man knows to be the morally right thing to do. Kim Director, Erin Darke and Sage star in the film, which was shot entirely in Connecticut.

Other feature films include the world premiere of ‘Interior Night,’ which depicts four characters whose lives are enmeshed as they hit bottom over the course of one night. Riley Smith and Christina Scherer star in, and Alan Watt directed, the comedy-drama. In ‘Kepler’s Dream,’ an 11-year-old girl searches for a missing rare book from her grandmother’s library, as she tries to understand why her family is fractured during a memorable summer in a New Mexican adobe house. Amy Glazer directed. and Holland Taylor, Flanery and Kelly Lynch starred, in the adventure family drama.

The documentaries include ‘Finding Oscar,’ an East Coast premiere from producers Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Nick Loud and director Ryan Suffern. The film tells the real story about the quest for justice in the devastating aftermath of the 1982 Dos Erres massacre in Guatemala. The bloody trail of evidence leads to two little boys who survived the nightmare, and implicates the government of Guatemala.

In the Opening Night U.S. Premiere documentary ‘Underfire,’ World War II veteran Tony Vaccaro fought as an infantryman before returning to begin a successful career as a renowned commercial photographer. As a 21-year-old soldier, Vaccaro’s story began in combat as he took over 8,000 photographs on the front lines. He shot harrowing and personal images that were not made public until the 1990s. Max Lewkowicz directed the documentary, and will be in attendance at the film’s premiere with Vaccaro.

New to the Boston Film Festival this year is the presentation of two documentary films at the Boston Public Library (BPL) on the afternoon of Saturday, September 24, which is open to the public at no charge. Robin Dawson, the Executive Director of BFF, said “We are delighted to partner with the Boston Public Library this year. The landmark organization is a storied part of Boston’s history and is an ideal venue to present thought provoking, engaging and entertaining films.”

The BPL program includes a documentary evoking keen interest ‘Midsummer in Newtown,’ which chronicles a theater production that arrives in Newtown, CT, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy. The troupe seeks to cast local children in a rock-pop version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ which reveals how the process of producing the play offers healing for the traumatized children and community. Lloyd Kramer directed the project, which is from Participant Media.

Also slated for the BPL afternoon screening is ‘Bang! The Bert Berns Story,’ which features Steven Van Zandt, who narrates the life of Bert Berns, the songwriter, producer and record label owner behind such classics as ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘Piece of My Heart.’ Multiple perspectives include interviews with Sir Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King and Ronald Isley.

On Closing Day and Night, the BFF will highlight films with local ties, including the East Coast premiere of ‘Unforgotten: The Paul Pender Story.’ the movie depicts the true story of Paul Pender, a boxer who overcomes his physical struggles to beat the odds and defeat Sugar Ray Robinson to become a world champion. However, his biggest challenge comes when he suffers from the debilitating brain disease CTE, and his brain study ignites a movement that transforms sports. Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis appears as himself. Felicia Leeds directed the film, and will host a Q&A with former Governor Dukakis and Tony DeMarco.

Rhode Island based director Mary Healey Jamiel’s documentary ‘Search Dog,’ is the inspirational story of Matthew Zarrella, a Rhode Island police sergeant who rehabilitates unadoptable shelter canines and transforms them into search-and-rescue/recovery dogs. ‘Search Dog’ reveals the reason for Zarrella’s devotion, as well as the unique bond between man and dog. Seven dogs and their State Trooper handlers from the New England area will be in attendance.

Read more: http://www.shockya.com/news/2016/09/13/boston-film-festival-embarks-on-32nd-season-of-spotlighting-innovative-feature-and-documentary-films/#ixzz4KXYxIGjU

Written by: Karen Benardello

The Boston Globe

Local filmmaker craved straight talk about death

By Peter Keough
Globe Correspondent / OCTOBER 17, 2015

The act of killing people - mostly with the emphasis on "act" - has entertained audiences since the beginnings of show business. But confronting death itself - the highly personal, existential certainty of nullification - has not had as much appeal.

Richard Tilkin, Boston-based documentarian, doesn't think that such denial is a healthy approach to life's only inevitability and its greatest mystery. In his debut documentary feature "Aside From That" (as in, "Aside From that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?") he discusses the subject with a wide range of mortals, including psychiatrists, philosophers, gravely ill people, a traumatized vet, religious figures, comedian Steven Wright, and a guy in Santa Fe with a parrot on his shoulder.

On the phone from his Boston office, he explains how and why he made a film (details at www.aftdoc.com) about a subject that has bugged him since he was 5 years old.

Q. Isn't 5 a bit young to ponder death?

A. I don't know about that, but when I was that age and I asked what happens when people get older I was told that everyone dies. I was like, come on, that can't be right. Since then, whenever I would think about it, whenever I went back to that place, I would feel depressed. That knowledge always just sitting there. I was shocked that other people didn't want to talk about it. It was just very taboo.

Q. Making a film about death is like making a film about life. How did you narrow the topic down?

A. There are obviously a million paths we could have gone down, so we hammered out a treatment. First, we wanted experts. We interviewed people like Dr. John Wynn, who's a death anxiety expert, and Roshi Joan Halifax, who is a famous American Zen priest and end-of-life expert. And the rest happened organically as we started exploring. I also knew we wanted to interview people in the street and we met a lot of interesting people that way.

Q. Do you think kids should become aware of the facts of death at an early age, like yourself?

A. Dr. Wynn says that if you don't talk about it with them they can sense your sadness anyway. They can sense that there's something wrong. In general, he points out that people don't fully understand how profound it is if you don't face your mortality, how such denial can have a negative effect on many things.

Q. Now that you've tackled death, what is there left to face as a documentary maker?

A. My new documentary is about people living with unusual and striking names and how those names have affected their lives. The working title is "The Strange Name Movie." To date we have profiled 28 people. You might say it's on the other end of the documentary spectrum.

Original article available at http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/2015/10/16/local-filmmaker-craved-straight-talk-about-death/rBb0GEzatmsjIqcPeOhobL/story.html?event=event12 (subscription required).

The Boston Globe

Boston Film Festival revels in a first

By Loren King
Globe Correspondent / September 05, 2015

Even "The Godfather II" didn't get to shoot its famous Havana scenes in Cuba. The Dominican Republic and other locations had to suffice.

Times have changed. "Papa," which opens the 31st annual Boston Film Festival on Sept. 17, is reportedly the first Hollywood dramatic feature film allowed to shoot in Cuba since the 1959 revolution and subsequent US embargo.

"Papa" stars Giovanni Ribisi as Ed Myers, a character based on the real-life Miami Herald reporter Denne Bart Petitclerc, who wrote the script. Petitclerc, who died in 2006, also wrote the screenplay for "Islands in the Stream" (1977), based on Ernest Hemingway's novel. "Papa" is about the friendship between the reporter and Hemingway (Adrian Sparks), who lived in Cuba from 1939 to 1960 and wrote some of his best-known works there, including his Pulitzer Prize-winner, "The Old Man and the Sea." Myers visits Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary (Joely Richardson), also a journalist, at their Cuba estate in the late '50s as the Fidel Castro-led revolution is brewing. At Hemingway's urging, Myers files firsthand reports of the tumultuous events redefining life on the island.

Director Bob Yari and his crew got unprecedented permission to shoot inside Hemingway's former estate, Finca Vigia, and at some of Havana's most iconic sites, including the former Government Palace, which was long ago turned into a museum commemorating Castro's revolution. The Grand Theater, closed for restoration, was converted into the bar of one of Hemingway's favorite spots, the Ambos Mundos Hotel. It's here that, in the film, notorious mobster Santo Trafficante (James Remar) tips off Myers that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is spying on Hemingway.

The festival, which runs through Sept. 21 with screenings at the Revere Hotel and other locations not yet announced, also presents the world premiere of the documentary "No Greater Love" (Sept. 19). The film examines the brutality of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder through the story of an Army chaplain, Justin Roberts, who fought with his unit in some of the most horrific battles in Afghanistan and emerged a passionate advocate for soldiers, himself included, who are battling PTSD. Roberts explains that military suicide now claims the lives of more US soldiers than combat. With gripping footage, the film is an immersive look at combat deployment as well as a compelling chronicle of the transition from battlefield to home.

Two fiction features focus on the crime world and its casualties. Writer-director Tim McCann's "The Aftermath" (Sept. 18) stars Sam Trammell ("True Blood") as a struggling addict whose need to retrieve a stolen piece of jewelry brings him into contact with a dangerous underground criminal ring in his small Southern town.

Another world premiere feature is "Evan's Crime" (Sept. 19), directed by Sandy Tung, about a young man, Evan White (Douglas Smith), who is unjustly accused of selling marijuana and cocaine and must contend with an ambitious prosecutor eager to mete out severe punishment.

Local audiences won't want to miss "We the People: The Market Basket Effect" (Sept. 20), a stirring account of the recent epic showdown between the Demoulas family, the shareholders in its supermarket empire, and thousands of employees, aided by community supporters, who spurred a grassroots boycott for six weeks last year. Directed by Tommy Reid and narrated by Lowell native Michael Chiklis ("American Horror Story" and "The Shield"), the documentary traces the rise of the Demoulas family, who first established Market Basket as a single store before expanding the chain across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The film depicts the protests from loyal employees and customers that erupted when CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was forced out as part of a long-simmering family feud.

Original article available at http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/2012/09/15/boston-film-festival-offers-varied-program/A9AEA6gpqIo98Waz2URxLK/story.html?s_campaign=8315 (subscription required).

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