68 movies, 7 days, 1 festival

Staff WriterSeptember 20, 2009 

  • Monday-Sept. 27

    Where: EpiCentre Theaters and Regal's Park Terrace Cinemas

    Cost: $7 advance, $8 at door, $55 all-movie pass

    Details: 704-644-8650, www.charlottefilmfestival.org

— The big news about the fourth annual Charlotte Film Festival is... it's showing films.

Let's say that with emphasis: It's showing films. Not digital entries that can be tossed up onto any screen, but 35mm pictures that have to be projected in traditional theaters.

That'd be Michael Moore's incendiary "Capitalism: A Love Story," which will screen in Charlotte before its national release Oct. 2. Or the ghost story "The Eclipse," which won Ciaran Hinds ("Munich") a best actor award at the Tribeca Film Festival; he plays a widower who falls for a writer of supernatural fiction (Iben Hjejle of "High Fidelity").

Partnerships were the key to this quantum leap forward.

The film festival persuaded EpiCentre Theaters and Regal's Park Terrace Cinemas to provide a different viewing experience.

The festival strengthened its bond with Queens University, which hosts eight workshops.

The cultural exchange with Germany's Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's FilmKunstFest yielded "Jerichow," a retelling of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" that earned director Christian Petzold nominations at the German Film Awards and Venice Film Festival.

International House came on board to sponsor two movies: "Amreeka," about a single mom and teenage son who leave the embattled West Bank for small-town Illinois, and "Football Under Cover," about German players trying to bring off the first female soccer match in Iranian history.

And founder Louis Gurgitano teamed with programming director Jennifer Bratyanski.

"Our original goal was to use only films submitted to us," he says. "But the quality wasn't always there, so we decided to increase it by going after good movies. Jennifer kept calling and calling distributors."

The festival runs longer than ever -- seven days, Monday through Sunday -- and breaks with custom by having its awards ceremony in the middle.

More films worth seeing

"In/Significant Others," the second film from writer-director John Schwert, is about an Iraq War vet who triggers a series of betrayals by shooting a man his wife identified as her rapist.

"The Killing Jar" comes from Charlotte writer-director Mark Young; it stars Michael Madsen, Amber Benson and Danny Trejo in a drama about a deadly hostage-taker in a diner.

The documentary "9500 Liberty" is set in a Virginia town, where one man's crusade to forestall illegal immigration leads to a local crisis.

The Sundance Grand Jury nominee "Bronson" depicts the life of a famously incorrigible boxer in Britain, who's been a prisoner most of his life.

"Stephanie's Image" stars Oscar nominee Melissa Leo as an ex-model whose odd death is investigated by a curious filmmaker.

Educating yourself

Eight sessions this year at Queens include many hands-on activities, and they range in price from $15 to $100.

Topics are editing with Final Cut Pro, financing your film, becoming a voiceover artist, film acting, documentary-making, the legal aspects of filmmaking, use of R.E.D. cameras and organizing your life to achieve your dreams.

Special events

The fest starts with one: a screening of Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Park Terrace, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the film and the theater. You can get in free with canned goods or nonperishable items, which will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

The party schedule includes the Awards Reception at Whiskey River Thursday night and nontraditional activities, from a View and Brew Friday night at Black Finn American Saloon to a View and Party Saturday night at Therapy Café.

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