November 03, 2004 News & Opinion » Featured story

High Falls Film Festival capsules 

Wednesday, November 10

Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives of Women Over 65

Deirdre Fishel, US

Little Theatre 1, 7 p.m., Q&A with Deirdre Fishel

If there was ever a film perfectly suited to a festival highlighting the achievements of women, then Deirdre Fishel's documentary is it. The aptly titled piece is by women, about women, and for women --- and made specifically with festivals like High Falls in mind. Year after year, a number of films selected to themed festivals have nothing but a tenuous connection to the theme. But Fishel's documentary about the glories of sex after 65 is a perfect fit. Through very frank interviews with women society deems past their prime, Still Doing It attempts to remove some of the taboos of being a sexually active, desirous grandmother. Though not a cinematic wonder, this film will be a worthwhile experience for some, especially those hoping to see selections with women in mind. (CN and KP)

Free Radicals

Barbara Albert, Austria

Little Theatre 2-5, 7:15 p.m.

As if the plane crash, car accident, suicide attempt, child abduction, and spirit conjuring were not enough, there is sex (and plenty of it) in Barbara Albert's film Free Radicals. Albert casts an incredibly wide net, with the hope, perhaps, of examining the meaning and purpose of a series of random events. The result is a film with five, maybe six, separate stories and a cast of a thousand. The connection between them all lies in a car accident involving one of the characters, who may have been living on borrowed time anyway, having been the only survivor of a plane crash six years earlier. Conceptually, this film is intriguing. The problem is in the execution. For a film with this many layers and characters to succeed, it must be supremely tight. Albert's film is far too busy, attempting to squeeze a plethora of human tragedies and emotions (did we mention all the sex?) into a very narrow frame. (CN and KP)

The Beauty Academy of Kabul

Liz Mermin, US

Little 1, 8:45 p.m., Q&A with Liz Mermin

A documentary about an American- and British-run beauty school that opens in Kabul after the Taliban falls.

The Graffiti Artist

James Bolton, US

Dryden Theatre, 10:15 p.m., Q&A with Liz Edwards and Sarah Levy

Nick is a skateboarding vegetarian prone to stealing cans of spray paint and unleashing his art on portions of the Pacific Northwest. Actually, he steals everything, including food, which, he observes, grows outside so no one should have to pay for it. (Curiously, he apparently has enough money for pot, but I guess one must prioritize). He's not much for social interaction (it's a full 23 minutes before we hear him speak --- I counted) and has that delicate, sleepy-eyed loveliness that is cinematic shorthand for "I don't have long to live" or "I am sexually confused." Not much happened that I was able to pick up on --- Nick meets a fellow loner named Jesse and together these talented young men give the viewer crash courses in graffiti art and how not to treat others. I did appreciate that technique for roasted corn, though. (DP)

Thursday, November 11

A Place of Our Own

Stanley Nelson, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 6:30 p.m., Q&A with Carol Bash

With a blend of fondness and mixed emotion, Stanley Nelson, whose previous work includes the PBS documentary The Murder of Emmett Till, turns his focus inward, in this highly personal look at the summers he spent with his family in the upper-middle-class African-American enclave of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. Through fairly routine use of home video, photographs, and interviews, with notables such as Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Lani Guinier, Nelson's narrative includes a backdrop of discussion on the historical implications of this community, which came together every summer to enjoy a place where, as Nelson says in the film, "the world did not look at us and define us solely by race." Perhaps as tribute to his mother, who died months before shooting of this film began, Nelson's main focus is an examination of his own history, especially that which was shaped by his father, a proud, professional man, who left his family shortly after he purchased a home in the resort town. (CN and KP)

Born Into Brothels

Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 6:45 p.m., Q&A with co-director Ross Kauffman and Cristina Linclau

Amidst an endless supply of mediocre, politically motivated documentaries is this brilliant work by first-time filmmaker Zana Briski. Briski focuses on a group of children living in Calcutta's red light district, in families that survive on the backs of mothers earning a living through prostitution. As a still photographer interested in the district, Briski became attached to the children of the region, eventually establishing a photographic workshop for them, which served not only as education, but as an escape from their perilous environment. In an almost flawless example of documentary filmmaking, Briski's piece is a perfect synthesis of powerful storytelling, beautiful camera work, and music that brims with all the color and excitement of the culture. Accompanying the overall storyline of the film is the visual "soundtrack" of photographs, taken by the children, further emphasizing Briski's excellence as both filmmaker and teacher. (CN and KP)

King of the Corner

Peter Riegert, US

Little Theatre 1, 6:50 p.m., Q&A with Peter Riegert

Peter Riegert directs and stars as a man trying to turn all the makings of a midlife crisis into a new start.


Bill Condon, US

Dryden Theatre, 7 p.m.

A biopic about Alfred Kinsey, the professor who wrote 1948's shakeup text Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, stars Liam Neeson as Kinsey and Laura Linney as his wife.


Leslie Neale, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 9 p.m., Q&A with Leslie Neale

Sixteen-year-old Duc, the product of an abusive father, will be in an adult prison for 35 years to life for attempted murder because the punks he drove in his car fired off handgun rounds. No one was killed or even injured. This is Duc's first offense. He's not in a gang, but some of his friends are. He'll be eligible for parole in 2031.

Juvies, a sobering documentary directed by Leslie Neal, produced by Doors drummer John Densmore, and narrated-produced by actor and former juvenile offender Mark Wahlberg, profiles Duc and 11 other "juvies" --- a dozen of 200,000 or so minors who have been tried as adults and now waste away serving draconian sentences in poorly funded and overcrowded adult prisons that punish first and rehabilitate (maybe) second.

Through interviews with the juvies, their parents, social workers, and law enforcement officials, the documentary makes a strong and balanced argument for reform by acknowledging the need for strict and swift consequences, while exposing the hypocrisy of an age-restrictive society (alcohol and cigarette sales, driving, voting, R-rated movies) that sends 14-year-old first-time offenders to jail with adults. It should be required, all-ages viewing for anyone who cares about our nation. It will break your heart. (MK)

Down to the Bone

Debra Granik, US

Little Theatre 1, 9:15 p.m.

Another feature that did well at Sundance this year (and just won at the Woodstock Film Festival) is this Cinema Verité gem. It stood out in large part to the enveloping performance of Vera Farmiga as Irene, a mother dealing with a loveless relationship, two small boys, and a lifelong addiction to drugs. In rehab she meets Bob, played with gritty realism by Hugh Dillon. Irene and Bob, both recovering addicts, fall into an ill-advised affair. Love, addiction, and poor parenting cross paths in the rustic setting of small-town America. Most independent feature films about addiction, such as Trainspotting and Drugstore Cowboy, have a smattering of cinematic pizzazz that seem to glamorize the lifestyle. That is not the case with Down To The Bone, where the characters and events appear as real as if you took a camera to your local NA meeting. Director Debra Granik's minimalist style and music choices make for an unflinching look at addiction and the lives it ensnares. (ME)

Travelers and Magicians

Khyentse Norbu, Bhutan

Little Theatre 2-5, 9:30 p.m.

In this first-ever movie from the country of Bhutan, two young men start on two different journeys of self-discovery.


Mary Pat Kelly, US

Dryden Theatre, 9:30 p.m., Q&A with Mary Pat Kelly

During WWII, the USS Mason was the only destroyer escort with an all-black crew to see combat. This film is the dramatization of the crew's struggle against pervasive discrimination, as well as their decades-long fight to receive the recognition they deserved from the Navy. Especially enjoyable was the stopover in Ireland (good to see you, Stephen Rea!) where the sailors were treated with unexpected kindness, being that the Irish are too embroiled in religious intolerance to bother with racism. Director Mary Pat Kelly adapted the screenplay from her book, and her deep involvement no doubt signifies a fierce desire to see the film done right. The script, however, is slightly heavy-handed, and the acting would probably have been less wooden under the guidance of a more experienced director. But when you learn something from a film, it's worth watching. (DP)

Friday, November 12

July '64

Carvin Eison, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 6:30 p.m., Q&A with Chris Christopher, Carvin Eison, Connie Mitchell, Robert Duffy

On a warm summer night, during a street dance in Rochester, an arrest spurred three nights of rioting that would forever change the city. Local filmmakers Carvin Eison and Chris Christopher's documentary July '64 is a thoughtful and effective look at the riots as they erupted that evening. In a city previously unchanged by the civil rights movement, the riots of 1964 made Rochestarians wake up and think about something other than the safety of their retirement packages with Kodak. Through interviews with several prominent local politicians, community activists and journalists, both past and present, Eison and Christopher present a highly enlightening, completely nonjudgmental examination of an event that the city is, arguably, still trying to fully understand. While talking heads provide the bulk of the information, the debate amongst the participants is sometimes contentious, sometimes entertaining, and always illuminating. (CN and KP)

The Woodsman

Nicole Kassell, US

Dryden Theatre, 7 p.m., Q&A with Nicole Kassell

Kevin Bacon stars in first-time director Nicole Kassell's story about a convicted child molester trying to reintegrate into society.

Lipstick and Dynamite, Piss and Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling

Ruth Leitman, US

Little Theatre 1, 7 p.m., Q&A with Ruth Leitman

Lipstick and Dynamite follows female wrestling from its rudimentary beginnings to the glitzy business it is today. Director Ruth Leitman finds and interviews such legends as The Fabulous Moolah and Gladys "Kill 'em" Gillem. We are treated to vintage wrestling footage and stories of long tours, shady venues, and even shadier promoters. The women were expected to dress prim and proper when not in the ring, but once the bell sounded, look out. The documentary eventually slows down and focuses on the differences between wrestlers such as Moolah, who found great success through her relationship with Vince McMahon and the WWF, and others, who suffered abusive relationships with promoters and live in poverty to this day. Moolah is never confronted for her shady business practices and we miss the history between the golden era in the '50s to women's wrestling today. But the biggest omission is a lack of acknowledgement from any woman that pro wrestling is brutal, painful, but in the end fixed entertainment. (ME)


Brett C. Leonard, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 9:30 p.m., Q&A with Linda Moran and Brett Leonard

I can't really say I enjoyed watching Jailbait --- it filled me with discomfort and dread. I can say, however, that I could not take my eyes off the screen. Michael Pitt, with the juicy beauty of a young Orson Welles, stars as Randy, a three-time felon who has just been handed a 25-year sentence. His cellmate is Jake (Stephen Adly-Guirgis), a seemingly likeable guy despite the fact that he's in the midst of serving life without parole for offing his unfaithful wife. Jake initially takes the unsettled Randy under his wing, but when he preps him for mealtime by tying Randy's shirt a la Britney Spears, you realize where this is headed. Adly-Guirgis's magnetic performance in the meatier part of Jake makes a monster occasionally sympathetic. Thankfully, the sexual brutality is inferred rather than on display, but that just renders the possibilities even more harrowing. (DP)

Untold Scandal

E. J-Yong, South Korea

Dryden Theatre, 9:30 p.m.

With film remakes becoming closer to the norm than the exception in Hollywood, it should come as little surprise that movie industries around the world would eventually catch on to the gimmick. It isn't often that a remake can even come close to matching the success of an original, but every once in a while there is an exception. E. J-Yong's extremely stylish Untold Scandal draws its inspiration from the Christopher Hampton play, which eventually begat the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons. Moving from 18th-century France to Korea, this film is filled with all the fine performances, beautiful cinematography, and detailed set and costume design of its predecessor. However, by tweaking the script with a touch of religious fervor, capitalizing on the texture and topography of the Asian lands, and casting a supremely convincing and complex actor in the role made famous by John Malkovich, this film surpasses the previous version with heavy doses of elegant sexuality and hateful roguishness. (CN and KP)

Saturday, November 13

20 Fingers

Mania Akbari, Iran

Little Theatre 2-5, 11 a.m.

An Iranian couple argues a number of topics over the course of a road trip.

M.C. Richards: The Fire Within

Richard Kane, US

Little Theatre 1, 11 a.m., Q&A with Richard Kane

As a poet, potter, painter, author, educator, and seeker, Mary Caroline Richards (1916-1999) lived her 83 years celebrating the small things in life, such as marveling at a leaf of lettuce or stir-frying vegetables. Filmmakers Richard Kane and Melody Lewis-Kane capture Richards' spiritual and artistic essence in their hour-long documentary M.C. Richards: The Fire Within. The documentary chronicles Richards' life and portfolio, which, along with peerless works of art, also includes heading the faculty at the experimental art institute Black Mountain College, authoring the classic Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, offering the definitive translation of Antonin Artaud's French play The Theater and Its Double, and teaching art to adults with special needs.

We learn the most by watching Richards create --- whether it's lunch, a painting, or a lesson --- and thereby watching her quest to "spiritualize the physical." At one point she admittedly gets goose bumps while talking about her art, her connection, and her inspiration. Goose bumps hit me during a sequence when one of her students sings a rendition of "America." Listen to M.C. Richards' words and watch her live life and perhaps the same will happen to you. (MK)

In the Company of Women

Lesli Klainberg and Gini Reticker, US

Little Theatre 1, 12:45 p.m., Q&A with Lesli Klainberg and Gini Reticker

The talking heads on the screen in this documentary thoroughly apropos to High Falls are like a Who's Who of women making movies without Hollywood's help: Parker Posey, Allison Anders, Susan Seidelman, Lili Taylor, Kasi Lemmons, Patricia Clarkson, and Nancy Savoca, among others. They discuss the challenges faced in getting stories told from a female perspective, as well as where women filmmakers have come from and where they'd like to go. I loved the inclusion of Nicole Holofcener, who made the best film I've seen about the friendships between women, Walking and Talking. The film does come off a little clique-y, though, not really acknowledging the difficulties no doubt faced by the women making movies inside the studio system (Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyer, et al), since the phrase "independent film" sadly has about as much meaning at this point as "alternative music" or "gourmet food." (DP)


Lilibet Foster, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 12:45 p.m., Q&A with Lilibet Foster

The most compelling moment of Lilibet Foster's documentary about the firemen of Squad 252 in Brooklyn, Rescue 1 in Manhattan, and Rescue 4 in Queens, comes when they speak of the greatest danger they face. It isn't Al Qaeda or anthrax that fills these otherwise fearless men with terror: it's fire. Hot, uncontrollable, devilish fire, as described by the men, is the ultimate villain that takes their brothers frequently, viciously, and without reason. The eloquent words these firefighters use to anthropomorphize the raw and evil nature of fire are ultimately what saves this otherwise standard tribute from being another look at these working-class heroes. Since 9/11, firemen have achieved something of a mythical status. While Foster's film is only somewhat enlightening, she is smart enough to get out of the way of her subject, allowing the simple yet powerful words of the men to translate the reality of their profession. (CN and KP)


Mani Haghighi, Iran

Little Theatre 2-5, 1 p.m.

While his estranged wife and his young girlfriend wait at his house, a man searches the streets of Tehran for his missing father-in-law.

Silent Waters

Sabiha Sumar, Pakistan

Little Theatre 1, 2:45 p.m., Q&A with Sabiha Sumar

The lives of a widow and her teenaged son in 1979 Pakistan threaten to change as Islamic extremists start recruiting in town.

Still the Children Are Here

Dinaz Stafford, India-Italy-US

Little Theatre 2-5, 3:30 p.m., Q&A with Dinaz Stafford and Mira Nair

Surrounded by documentaries shot digitally, Dinaz Stafford's film, produced by acclaimed director Mira Nair, deserves attention just for the fact that it was shot on good, old-fashioned film. An actual budget can make all the difference and is obviously an element to consider when viewing this handsomely crafted film. Wisely exploiting the richness of color available when using film, Stafford is able to fully exploit the look and feel of life for the rice-farming Garos tribe. Indigenous to Meghalaya, India, and living in the isolated mountain village of Sadolpara, the Gara people cope with the constant clash between old traditions and the modern world. This becomes especially evident as they face the possibility of the disappearance of the rice-farming trade, which has always sustained them. This admirable film succeeds because it is documentary filmmaking in its purest form. Objectively made and with a certain artistry, Stafford enlightens audiences through craft, not dogma. (CN and KP)

Persons of Interest

Alison Maclean, US

Dryden Theatre, 4:45 p.m., Q&A with Alison Maclean

Proving that the development of digital video is as much a curse as it is a blessing are films like Persons of Interest. For nothing more than the cost of a few digital cassettes, it seems, anyone can make a film on anything they want. Filmmakers Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse choose to expose the various injustices perpetrated on Muslim immigrants caught in the dragnet unleashed by John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks. While the stories of these unfortunate few might be compelling, the filmmaking is most definitely not. Shot entirely in a plain, simple, white room (perhaps chosen to symbolically suggest a jail cell) and from one camera angle, individuals are interviewed by a monochromatic offset voice. This film somehow manages to turn some fairly disturbing personal accounts of abuse of authority into a battle just to stay awake for the viewer. (CN and KP)

Intimate Stories

Carlos Sorin, Argentina

Little Theatre 1, 5:15 p.m.

Some films are made with festivals in mind. Without the aid of high-profile names, big budgets, or special effects, these films rely on positive reviews to gain distribution and release. The exquisite acting, elegant cinematography, and simple storyline of Carlos Sorin's Intimate Stories should more than garner the critical accolades required to get this piece the attention it deserves. Sorin tells the stories of three completely separate characters, who share almost nothing but the desire to make a pilgrimage to the distant city of San Julian. Among the three is Don Justo, an elderly man who has been told that his long lost dog, "Badface," has been spotted in San Julian. Defying his son, he decides to hitchhike to the city to search for his pet. Along the way, he accepts a ride from Roberto, a neurotic traveling salesman, desperately trying to impress a woman in San Julian. With equal parts humor and sadness, isolation and community, Sorin skillfully demonstrates the old adage that less is always more. (CN and KP)

Off the Map (Gala Awards Night Presentation)

Campbell Scott, US

Dryden Theatre, 7 p.m., Q&A with Joan Allen, Campbell Scott, and Joan Ackerman

Campbell Scott directs Joan Allen, Sam Elliott, and Valentina de Angelis as a family living on their own in the New Mexican desert.


Jane Weinstock, US

Little Theatre 1, 7:15 p.m., Q&A with Jane Weinstock

We meet Jamie (Marguerite Moreau) through a series of lush stills and voicemail messages from guys ditching her telephonically. Her luck seems to have changed once she hooks up with John, her former poetry professor (played by the knee-weakening Naveen Andrews from The English Patient). Jamie has a quirky job naming products, and when her relationships go south she has close family and friends to lean on --- friends like new pal Mick (Brendan F. O'Byrne, InterMission), who she assumes is not romantic material even though they get on like gangbusters. Likeable people making selfish choices equals a flick in which you get wrapped up as it's unfolding but scold yourself afterwards for even caring. And do I need to watch a movie about someone who puts herself through the wringer for an alluring cad when there's a good man dying for a chance with her? I can just watch my friends. (DP)

Peter Gabriel: Growing Up on Tour, a Family Portrait

Anna Gabriel, UK

Little Theatre 1, 9:45 p.m., Q&A with Anna Gabriel

Whether you're a huge fan or just really like "In Your Eyes," you have to admit that Peter Gabriel puts on one hell of a show. He consistently raises the bar for arena rockers as he creates more and more spectacular concerts. Anna Gabriel picked up her camera and captured the on- and off-stage shenanigans of her father's 2002 Growing Up tour. We are given an intimate look at the makings of the highly visual show as well as personal stories and images of Gabriel's family. Melanie, his other daughter, is also on tour as a vocalist, and I would have liked more insight into Melanie's career and her thoughts on touring with Dad. The movie might not hold a huge amount of interest for non-fans, but if you are a fan, it's a treat. (ME)

Sunday, November 14

Heir to an Execution

Ivy Meeropol, US

Little Theatre 1, 10:30 a.m., Q&A with Michael Meeropol

As yet one more example of a film that might not have been made without the advent of digital video, Ivy Meeropol's amateurish documentary about Julius and Esther Rosenberg is much like every other study of the condemned atomic-bomb spies, expect for one difference: she is the couple's granddaughter. Shifting perspectives and searching for the humanity behind the history, Meeropol's film clings desperately to the innocence of her grandparents. This is true even as she tries to reconcile the revelations of the Venona papers, which were released in 1995. By frequently inserting herself into the fabric of the film, Meeropol attempts to give her audience a certain insider knowledge. Unfortunately, this often serves to undermine the central argument of her work, leaving viewers to wonder if a less personal documentary might yield a more objective picture of this historic couple. (CN and KP)


Gretchen Berland and Mike Majoros, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 11 a.m.

Three people in wheelchairs videotape the details of their lives for over a year.

Arna's Children

Juliano Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel, Palestine-Israel-Holland

Little Theatre 1, 1 p.m., Q&A with Osnat Trabelsi

Juliano Mer Khamis' unfocused and scattered documentary begins as a standard biopic and ends as a one-sided, shallow examination of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the film's narrator and sometime onscreen presence, Mer Khamis focuses first on his mother, Arna Mer Khamis, an Israeli Jew who married a Palestinian Arab in 1948. Arna went on to do years of humanitarian work on behalf of Palestinians. Her work included the establishment of Care and Learning, an organization to give refuge to the youth of the West Bank. Mer Khamis follows a group of boys --- who participate in the project as preteens --- through adulthood. Their outcomes are not particularly surprising; some become terrorists and others end up dead. With little attention to the aesthetic quality of filmmaking, the director must rely entirely on the controversial, emotionally charged subject matter, which requires a far deeper intellectual discussion than this film provides. (CN and KP)

The Green Hat

Liu Fen Dou, China

Dryden Theatre, 2 p.m., Q&A with Peggy Chiao

At the start of The Green Hat the director credit read, "the first film by Liu Fen Dou," as if portending a string of films to follow. I quickly understood the reason for this seemingly arrogant title credit, though, because what followed was a film crafted by a brazen and skilled new talent. The film effortlessly breaks traditional genre constraints as it shifts its focus from one set of characters to another. First the film has the makings of a hip gangster film, then a hostage drama, then a romantic drama. Just when you think you've figured out where it's going, it changes again. The opening and end sequences feature mesmerizing, long, single-take shots that not even seasoned directors would attempt. The result is a unique new style of filmmaking that elicits a vast range of emotions from the viewer. It is no wonder The Green Hat was the winner at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. I am looking forward to the second film by Liu Fen Dou, no matter how they list him in the title credits. (ME)


Marjan Safinia and Joseph Boyle, US

Little Theatre 1, 3:15 p.m., Q&A with Marjan Safinia, Julia Lemle

The benevolence of journalist John Wallach's youth leadership program, Seeds of Peace, is clear. After the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, Wallach established Seeds, a summer camp for youth from ravaged countries like Israel and Palestine to gather and have voice in their future. The good intentions of the program, however, do not excuse filmmakers Marjan Safinia and Joseph Boyle from asking questions, and this chaotic, laborious look at the 2002 camp ignores some pertinent issues. You can't help but notice that the kids at this camp are affluent. Their English is perfect; their education level is evident. They are not the ones on the frontlines of conflict. It's often common people who do daily battle in these regions, so where is their representation in this camp? It is one of many questions ignored by the filmmakers, who are more interested in charming the viewer with the children than examining the reality of their situation. (CN and KP)

David Hockney: The Colors of Music

Maryte Kavaliauskas, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 3:30 p.m., Q&A with Maryte Kavaliauskas

"I'm just an artist who occasionally happens to work in the theatre." So says David Hockney, painter, photographer, designer, and apparent master of understatement. Hockney's life and work could fuel a dozen films, but this delightful documentary focuses on his breathtaking accomplishments in opera set design. Filmed mostly during the early '90s, we witness Hockney in action as he nurtures many ideas from birth to execution, deriving inspiration from the mountains near his California home, toy stores, and old engravings. Unfortunately, his infectious passion for opera is made slightly bittersweet by the revelation that he's slowly losing his hearing. Hockney's whimsical designs for the Theatre du Chatelet's Poulenc-Ravel-Satie triple bill, Parade, are complete eye candy, but the crosshatch theme for the San Francisco Opera House's production of Hogarth's The Rake's Progress is nothing short of genius.

Another Road Home

Danae Elon, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 3:50 p.m., Q&A with Danae Elon

More closely resembling a student project from Filmmaking 101 than a festival selection is Danae Elon's documentary Another Road Home. After the 9/11 attacks, Danae, who is the daughter of noted Israeli writer Amos Elon, became interested in the fate of the Palestinian man her parents hired to help care for her in the late 1960s. The film is both a self-portrait and Danae's coming-of-age story, who contrasts her positive personal experiences against the warring relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. Aside from her rather unique upbringing, this film is an unremarkable and unimaginative personal account of a tired and overworked subject matter. Even more disappointing is Elon's complete lack of attention to filmmaking craft and technique, evidenced by the mundane camera composition and lack of overall artistry. (CN and KP)

The Master and His Pupil

Sonia Herman Dolz, The Netherlands

Little Theatre 1, 5:45 p.m.

Is there a richer subject for a filmmaker than three young conductors in a master class taught by unconventional Russian maestro Valery Gergiev? With a captain as unpredictable and passionate as Gergiev at the helm, not to mention a score as complex as the one they have by Scriabin to interpret, director Sonia Herman Dolz easily has one of the most intriguing concepts in this year's festival. By installing two cameras in the orchestra, Dolz allows the viewer to experience Gergiev and his students from the perspective of the musicians. This is perhaps the most inventive aspect of the filmmaking, as the narrative can be flat at times. Still, the charisma and artistry of the surprisingly caring mentor Gergiev, and the experience, as presented by the students, of working with such a master more than make up for any creative deficiencies in the filmmaking. (CN and KP)

Dorian Blues

Tennyson Bardwell, US

Little Theatre 2-5, 6 p.m., Q&A with Mary-Beth Taylor Bardwell

Suburban high-schooler Dorian sets out for NYU to find his just-un-closeted self.

Dear Frankie

Shona Auerbach, UK

Little Theatre 1, 7:30 p.m.

A mother tells her son, Frankie, that his absent father is a sailor. She sends fake letters and hires a fill-in dad to keep up the fiction.

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