Wednesday, September 13


29th Mill Valley Film Festival program announcement.

The Mill Valley Film Festival has announced its program for this year's edition of the festival, October 5-15. Let me try to organize the selections a little:

Films I want to see so eagerly that I don't want to wait for their planned commercial releases:

The Host (Bong Joon-ho)
Summer Palace (Lou Ye)
Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer)

Films (sight unseen) I don't expect to get distributed; the MVFF might turn out to be the only chance to view them, period:

Cine Manifest (Judy Irola)
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox (Sara Lamm)
Dreaming of Space (Alexey Uchitel)
Figner: the End of a Silent Century (Nathalie Alonso Casale)
Frozen City (Aku Louhimies)
Full Grown Men (David Munro)
A Guest of Life (Tibor Szmemzo)
Have You Heard From Johannesburg (Connie Field)
Holly (Guy Moshe)
Hotel Harabati (Brice Cauvin)
I Am (Dorota Kedzierzawska)
I'll Call You (Lam Tze Chung)
I'm Seducible (Xiao-Yen Wang)
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharias Kunuk & Norman Cohn)
Klunkerz (Billy Savage) A mountain biking documentary, preceded by a short film by Frank Yeean Chan about a quest to ride to the top of Frisco's steepest hills called Russian Hill Roulette.
Longing (Valeska Grisebach)
Love For Share (Nia Dinata)
Madeinusa (Claudia Llosa)
Men at Work (Mani Haghighi)
Milarepa (Neten Chokling)
the Moon on the Snow (Pilar Anguita-MacKay)
Mysterious Creatures (David Evans)
Nail Polish (Jane Ainbinder)
The Nightly Song of the Travellers (Chapour Haghighat)
One Winter Story (Sally Lundburg & Elizabeth Pepin)
Opening (Rob Nilsson)
Orange Thief (Boogie Dean, Artie Wilinski, and Vinnie Angel)
Pan (Rob Nilsson)
The Porcelain Doll (Péter Gárdos)
Read You Like a Book (Robert Zagone)
Reporter Zero (Carrie Lozano)
Starfish Hotel (John Williams)
Stolen Holidays Olivier Peyon
Walking to Werner (Linas Phillips)

Films that are definitely expected to be released later this year, but it might be nice to see them before all the critics have weighed in on their Oscar prospects (plus many of them will have filmmaker guests in attendance):

The Astronaut Farmer (Michael & Mark Polish)
Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella)
Catch A Fire (Philip Noyce)
A Good Year (Ridley Scott)
Infamous (Douglas McGrath)
The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald)
Little Children (Todd Field)
The Queen (Stephen Frears)
Venus (Roger Mitchell)

Films with some kind of distribution expected, but you never know if they'll actually be in Frisco theatres long enough for a busy person to catch them:

3 Needles (Thom Fitzgerald)
After the Wedding (Susanne Bier)
Avenue Montaigne (Daniele Thompson)
Black Gold (Mark Francis & Nick Francis)
Candy (Neil Armfield)
the Cave of the Yellow Dog (Byambasuren Davaa)
Chronicle of an Escape (Israel Adrian Caetano)
Days of Glory (Rachel Bouchareb)
Deliver Us From Evil (Amy Berg)
Drifting Elegant (Amy Glazer)
Family Law (Daniel Burman)
Forgiveness (Udi Oloni) Though it has the same title, this is not the South African film I included in my January list of most-hoped-for film viewing opportunities for 2006, but I'm perhaps even more intrigued by this one as it's being strongly championed by Slavoj Zizek.
God Grew Tired of Us (Christopher Quinn & Tommy Walker)
Severance (Christopher Smith)

These lists leave out plenty of other features, shorts (like Jay Rosenblatt's Afraid So and Phantom Limb, both on the VidéOnze program), documentaries, and a Children's Festival that adults may want to take a look at too, especially considering that one of the selections is the final collaboration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1972's the Boy Who Turned Yellow.


What films are your stills from?

I'm missing THE HOST (Aaaaaaarghhhhh!!!) but I might try to catch THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN the day before I leave for Busan.

The stills are from Ten Canoes, Frozen City, Madeinusa, Infamous and Forgiveness.

If you hover over the image, at least on my browser, you can see the name blogger has assigned it. I always try to make sure the name of the film is included as part of that blogger name. Perhaps I ought to do more to identify them though...

I caught Venus, Last King of Scotland, Babel and Severance here in Telluride. I'd reccomend them all for varying reasons, Forest Whitaker's performance in Scotland, the craftsmenship in Babel and cheekiness in Severance.

Venus is delightful.

Missed Ten Canoes, Catch A Fire and Little Children but heard NOTHING but good things about all three. Didn't meet a single person who saw Infamous. Think the Bennett Miller Capote connection put people off out here ;)

I'm moving back to SF next week. How hard is it to get to Mill Valley?
Thanks for the report on the Telluride/Mill Valley crossovers, Barry.

Unfortunately public transportation to Mill Valley and San Rafael is not as good as it could be. Golden Gate Transit runs some routes to and from the city, but not necessaily at times convenient for moviegoing. Whenever I've gone to the festival I've always relied on the kindness of friends with cars, at least for the trip back home.

I guess cycling is an option too.
Brian, returning from 2006 TIFF to face 2006 MVFF leaves me winded!! So much to see and, as usual, you have piqued my interest about several of the entries.

Adam, will you not be able to see "The Host" even when it also plays SF's Animation Festival?
Have you seen Bohdan Sláma's Something Like Happiness yet? If not, I highly recommend it.
Also, Days of Glory is Rachid Bouchareb's Indigènes, and that one's very high on my list of films to see. I've loved everything that Bouchareb's done so far, he's a very conscientous filmmaker who often explores the legacy of slavery and colonialism.
Acquarello, I must confess that Something Like Happiness was among the titles I'd never heard of that also didn't seem appealing from its subject matter. But your recommendation cancels all that out (to say the least).

Days of Glory almost made it into my first category, but I'm trying to restrain myself a bit here. But the more I think about how little I trust the Weinsteins to give it a decent and timely commercial release, the more I think I need to make sure to schedule it.
Oh goody, I'm always happy when Acquarello recommends something obscure!! Especially at MVFF where most of these titles register no blip whatsoever on my cinematic radar.
Heheh, yeah, I'd say if you like WKW and Lazarescu, you'll like Something Like Happiness. It isn't *like* either per se, but it has Wong's understated longing, and the muted humor of Puiu's film. Unfortunately, the film is pretty indescribable, which is why descriptions don't really seem to be able to do it justice.
I'm going to try to catch it on Saturday, October 7 in San Rafael. Due to travel logistics, I'm only going to be able to get up to the actual festival on weekends. At this point I'm looking at "Cafe Setareh", "Something Like Happiness" and the Helen Mirren tribute on Saturday, October 7; the seminar on the art of visual storytelling, the Inarritu spotlight, and "Days of Glory" on Sunday, October 8 (I *do* listen to you, Acquarello); the seminars on independent filmmaking and acting on Saturday, October 14; and "The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez" and "Ten Canoes" (with subtitles even!) on Sunday, October 15. Rest of the time I'll be watching selections on screener.

Except for the press screenings this week of "Catch A Fire" and "The Queen" and next week "The Last King of Scotland." Looks like I get to interview Whittaker too. Yummy.
Thanks for the vote of confidence. :) I think you'll enjoy them. Anyway, this isn't a knock against other African filmmakers like Sembene, Sissako, or Ouedraogo, but what I find really striking about Bouchareb's cinema is that he's not "heavy-handed" in the way he develops his themes.

While African cinema (at least, the ones who get exported) tends to use fables or near caricatures to develop their moral tales because their purpose is to engage (and educate) African society, Bouchareb is trying to engage a predominantly Western audience and forcing us to confront our own transgressions towards Africa. But anyway, let me get off my soapbox and point you guys to this animated short film that Bouchareb made in 2004 called The Colonial Friend, I think it will give a good idea of his subtlety and thematic preoccupations. ;)
I'll put in another strong recommendation for Something Like Happiness, which was one of my favorite discoveries at TIFF 2005.
OK, now with Darren's endorsement as well, Something Like Happiness is officially one of the festival must-sees.

Thanks for providing that link, acquarello. You've certainly got me intrigued to see more Bouchareb. This short reminds me a bit of a piece of charcoal animation I saw at SFMOMA two weeks ago, South African William Kentridge's Tide Table.

I've only seen a film apiece by Sissako and Ouedraogo (and I barely remember the latter) but I think I get what you're saying about Sembene's films having a fable-like quality to them. There's no doubt some of his films have a heavy-handed quality, though I'd say he exemplifies proper usage of a heavy hand.

The other African filmmaker I'm most familiar with is the late Djibril Diop Mambety. I wonder how you'd fit his films (particularly Hyenas, which seems equally aimed at Africans and Westerners to my inexpert eyes) into the subtle/heavy matrix...
Ah, it sure does look very Kentridge, I hadn't thought of that. I know that he's made some films as well, but I haven't seen them so I'm not sure how they translate.

Hmm...good question about Mambety. Story-wise, I'd say he's more subtle than Sembene or Sissako (or more recently, Yameogo), but his metaphors are far from subtle, so on the one hand, he fits into the aesthetic, but on the other hand, he doesn't...well, except for the fable part.
The Janus sidebar is AMAZING. Thanks for the word up.
Looking up some of the films you list that you think probably won't get distributed, I noticed that "Nail Polish" has a better website than the link you provide:
MADEINUSA, MEN AT WORK and SOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS all have US distribution and are being distributed by Film Movement. Coming to theaters and DVD retailers near you!
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