Trenton’s annual International Film Festival returns to the Mill Hill Playhouse Thursday through Saturday, April 9 through 11.
The three-day festival promises a schedule of eight “cutting-edge films from around the world, telling compelling, poignant, sometimes funny stories, both true and fiction. A theme of cross-cultural encounters or collisions runs through many of this year’s films, which include four fiction features, an historical reconstruction, and two documentaries. “
Festival curator Jed Rapfogel, a film programmer at Anthology Film Archives in New York, says the Trenton festival provides opportunities for regional film lovers to experience film in a different way: “Foreign films are more likely to reject the tired cliches and conventions of narrative Hollywood filmmaking (conventions that infect the vast majority of so-called ‘indie’ films as well). In some parts of the world films are valued more highly than here, and there are sources of funding available to filmmakers. They’re able to make films that take their time, that focus on texture, atmosphere, and landscape, rather than rushing from incident to incident. And most importantly, there are more films that depict human behavior as ambiguous, contradictory, and messy, rather than compulsively manufacturing the same few types in the Hollywood manner.”
To create this year’s festival Rapfogel narrowed down the selection from dozens of films seen at other festivals and looked for a “good balance between fiction and documentary films, movies from different parts of the world, and films with a range of tones.”
The festival opens on Thursday, April 9, with “Felix and Meira” (Quebec, 2014). The story follows a young wife and mother who longs to experience life outside the strict confines of her Orthodox Jewish community and begins an unlikely — and challenging — friendship with a non-Jewish man. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
The Friday, April 10, showing is “Gueros” (Mexico, 2014), about a troublemaking teenager and his slacker older brother who travel around Mexico City in the midst of a student strike in search of their father’s favorite singer (7:30 p.m.).
Saturday, April 11, starts at noon with a double feature: “I For Iran” (Belgium/Iran, 2014) follows director Sanaz Azari learning the Persian language as an adult and discovering the history of her country’s upheaval. It plays with “Kwaku Ananse,” a 25-minute work produced by Ghana, the United States, and Mexico.
At 1:45 p.m., look for “In the Crosswind” (Estonia, 2014), a film that reconstructs scenes from the diary of a young wife and mother struggling through the 1941 Soviet deportation of Baltic citizens. It is created as dream-like black and white tableaux vivants in which the actors stand motionless while the camera remains in motion.
At 3:45 p.m. is “Songs from the North” (U.S./South Korea, 2014). Here South Korean-born filmmaker Soon-Mi Yoo weaves together songs and archival footage from North Korean propagandist cinema and television with everyday scenes and interview footage.
At 5:30 p.m. is the showing of “Charlie’s Country” (Australia, 2013). The film features award-winning Aborigine actor David Gulpilil as Charlie, a man struggling to find his place within Australia’s white and indigenous cultures.
At 7:45 p.m. the festival closes with “Two Shots Fired” (Argentina, 2014), filmmaker Martin Rejtman’s dark-humored exploration of what happens when a boy inexplicably shoots himself twice, once in the head and once in the stomach, and comes out unharmed.
Tickets for each showing are $8, or an all-access festival pass is available for $25.
Up next for the Trenton Film Society is the 2015 Trenton Film Festival, four days of new works by accomplished and new filmmakers, running Thursday to Sunday, June 11 to 14.
For information and tickets, visit www.trentonfilmsociety.org.