I haven’t been to any film festivals lately, because there’s a constant film festival going on in my computer. I’ve been previewing many great arts films sent to me as Vimeo links by filmmakers, or made available through the Festival Scope and Cinando online services for film buyers and programmers. I already have enough strong prospects to fill several festivals. But I will be narrowing down the best of the best over the next two months, and welcoming your input along the way.
Here are some of the titles I’ve been watching and admiring. If you think any of these prospects should be selected, let me know in the comments section; and if you have alternatives to suggest, I’m all ears.
My Father and the Man in Black is a fascinating documentary with a unique perspective on Johnny Cash’s career. The film is made by the son of Johnny Cash’s devoted manager, Jonathan Holiff, who had access to extraordinary archival materials….and personal issues to work out in the making of this engaging double portrait of Cash and his manager.
Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer is the latest film by Charlie Ahearn, the director of the classic, early hip-hop film Wild Style. Shabazz’s photo books are invaluable documents of the evolution of hip-hop style, and this film is a revelatory portrait of the photographer and his deep connection to his community.
Persistence of Vision: Richard Williams is considered to be one of the great teachers of animation, and his “Animator’s Survival Kit” (now an iPad app) is revered by many. He completed many short films, and was the lead animator of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” but this film recounts his obsessive, tragic 25-year quest to complete his unfinished masterpiece, “The Thief and the Cobbler.” I was fascinated by it, and wonder if there’s an audience in Houston for it.
Salma: Kim Longinotto is a masterful documentary storyteller, and this is her latest knockout. Salma spent the first 25 years of her life locked up by her parents and then her husband’s family in their Tamil Muslim village. With incredible strength and defiance, she educated herself and became one of India’s leading poets.
Viola is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by the Argentine director Matias Pineiro, the most exciting new auteur I’ve come across this year. The acting, and the exploration of theatricality and role-playing, in all four films by this director (I watched them all on Festival Scope this past weekend), is just exhilarating to behold.
These selections are looking very likely, but I have to hold off on my final confirmations. A lot of new possibilities are going to open up soon, particularly with the upcoming announcements of the Toronto and Telluride film festival schedules. I have a limited number of programming slots, and all I want (and assume you want too) is a diverse range of non-fiction, narrative, and experimental films and filmmakers, a wide variety of art forms and artists depicted, and, above all, cinematic artistry of a high order. I will keep viewing films and fine-tuning the selection until early October, and hope that the festival I curate is better than the fine alternative programs that could have materialized.