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Gems await in festival’s final week

Citizen Staff Writer



Wait, wait. . . . don’t touch that dial (or channel changer, whatever). The Arizona International Film Festival still runs through the coming weekend. There are lots more films to see, and the buzz is building for some of the formerly unknown titles that are suddenly demanding more attention.

Every year the AIFF has one or two films, quite often documentaries, that went on to spark the audience’s fancy at later festivals in other cities and become known nationally. People who saw those pictures here were in the know before anyone else.

One of the more recent examples was “Spellbound,” documenting the national spelling bee, that caught on in a big way. Spelling bees even inspired a Broadway show. “Spellbound” played here first . . . maybe you were one of the lucky few who saw it.

There are no suggestions here about which film in Tucson’s festival will become a high-profile success, but these are my picks for the rest of the fest.

Go to filmfestivalarizona.com for the remaining schedule.

Thursday: At the downtown Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., at 6 p.m., “Cine Español, Take 1″ presents five short films from Spain, each one rich with human emotions. Admission to this screening is free. Then at 8 p.m. comes “Latino Shorts,” a collect of six short films examining the Latin American experience. Tickets are $8.

Friday: Continue to feel very international at the Crossroads Festival theater, 4811 E. Grant Road, with a 6 p.m. showcase of “Global Shorts,” a quintet of entries from the U.S., Spain, Germany, Canada and England. Then at 8 p.m. comes the sweeping Indian film “Chaturanga (Four Chapters)” based on the novel by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Some say “Chaturanga” is Bollywood’s “Gone With the Wind.” The running time, though, is just 125 minutes.

That title refers to an ancient Indian game said to be the forerunner of chess. There is a lot of strategy and game-playing as the film’s main characters battle for undying love. Admission is $8.

Saturday: Look to the afternoon for another of those spiritual films that seeks to combine parapsychological phenomena and quantum physics. “Something Unknown is Doing We Don’t Know What” is the curious title, taken from a painting discussed in the film.

One of the featured scientists is Gary Schwartz, a professor at the University of Arizona. He is one of the panelists discussing the film after the 3 p.m. screening at the Crossroads Festival theater. Admission is $8.

The festival-closing party starts at 9 p.m. at Casa Vicente, 375 S. Stone Ave. One highlight will be naming the 2009 Festival Awards winners. Meet your favorite filmmaker, too. Admission is free.

Sunday: Enjoy the pick of the litter at the Best of the Fest screenings at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Screening Room. Admission is $5.


• 6 p.m. – The Screening Room – free

CINE ESPAÑOL, TAKE 1: Five Spanish tales: • “La Tuerca” – A girl discovers magic in a metal nut • “Mofetas” – Two young Moroccan stowaways wait and dream. • “Manuel Practico del Amigo Imaginario” – An imaginary friend grows jealous of his real-life competition. • “Una Vida Mejor” – Desert-crossing by three young children. • “Gólgota” – A village tale of tragedy and burlesque.

• 8 p.m. – The Screening Room – $8

LATINO SHORTS: Eight short films examine aspects of the Latino experience: • “The Coin Collection” – Father and son, both veterans, confront the experience of combat. • “Immersion” – A young immigrant struggles with the language gap in his new American school • “UNSUNG: RC Tomlinson’s Story” – A veteran reggae singer’s struggle to be heard. • “Trece Años” – A brother returns to visit family in Cuba • “El Ladroncito” – A boy from the Nicaraguan barrio resorts to theft to buy the latest video game system. • “The First Kid to Learn English from Mexico” – A 9-year-old fights, cajoles and bribes his way through third grade. • “Shine” – An East L.A. youth wants to drop out of college and become a dancer. • “Una Y Otra Vez” – An immigrant factory worker learns to live without love and work. Several filmmakers will be present to introduce their films.


• 5 p.m. – The Screening Room – free

INDIEFILMS FOR INDIE YOUTH: Teens, preteens and tweens may be the audience for mall-theater blockbusters and cross-promotional marketing juggernauts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes want more. These funny, inspiring and thoughtful shorts, made for youth, show that “indie” is for everyone.

• 6 p.m. – Crossroads – $6

“GLOBAL SHORTS”: • “Hot Dog” – In Anytown, USA, an inept pooch becomes a fire dog. • “El Ataque de los Robots de Nebulosa-5″ – A Spanish man prepares for the robot apocalypse. • “Milbe” – Enormous dust mites overrun a German grandmother’s home. • “Princess Margaret Blvd.” – A Canadian woman struggles with Alzheimer’s • “Wish” – Four British teenagers play a game nobody wins. • “This is Her” – In life there are no fairy tale endings.

• 7 p.m. – The Screening Room – $8

“UPSTREAM BATTLE”: Salmon thought their only challenge was swimming upstream . . . until they ran into the dams. Now, members of Klamath Basin tribes fight to remove the dams they believe are killing the fish. This documentary of their struggle deals with survival of Native American lifestyles, of the salmon and the river, and of the commercial fishermen and farmers who benefit from the river water. Filmmaker Ben Kempas will introduce film.

• 7:30 p.m. – Crossroads (U.S. Premiere) – $8

“CHATURANGA” (FOUR CHAPTERS): Based on a controversial novel by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, this haunting narrative set in colonial Bengal grapples with two grand, intertwining themes: what happens to love when it’s caught between conflicting worlds of ideas? And what are the human costs of life’s disillusioning search for meaning?

• 9:30 p.m. – The Screening Room – $5

EDGY SHORTS: • What does dialectical materialism have to do with the abstract movements of red blood cells? (“Hemorrhage”) • Where can one see a surrealistic musical about the love between a woman and a talking photocopier (“The Ballad of Beatrice”) • Why would anyone feel the need to re-enact the Soviet space program with exploding cars? (“Vostok”) • How do a troubled man’s visions of blood connect to the ominous red door in his office? (“Red Door”) – The answers to these questions, and more, can be found in this series of after-hours shorts.


• 10 a.m. – The Loft Cinema – free

GLOBAL DIGITAL STORIES BY YOUTH FROM TUCSON TO SOUTH AFRICA: Short works by Tucson youths from Afghanistan, Central America, Iraq, Somalia and Zimbabwe offer a unique window into their lives and cultures. Program also includes digital stories created by Tibetan refugees and youth from the townships of South Africa. Sponsored by Owl and Panther Project, Bridges to Understanding & Tucson Youth Week.

• 1 p.m. – Crossroads – free

CINE ESPAÑOL, TAKE 2: • “5 Segundas” – An injury results in altered vision. • “Paseo” – A poet and a peasant help a lovesick soldier. • “Go Home” – A Spanish baseball team dreams about the Yankees. • “Test” – Four unrelated women take pregnancy tests. • “El Palacio de la Luna” – A mother writes of life’s gravity. • “Porque Hay Cosas Que Nunca Se Olvidan” – Let there be soccer – or else.

• 2:30 p.m. – The Screening Room – free

INDIEFILMS FOR INDIE-YOUTH: See the world portrayed the way you see it. Youth-made films will be the order of the day, sent from all over Tucson and all over the country to give viewers new perspectives on the world we live in.

• 3 p.m. – Crossroads – $8

“SOMETHING UNKNOWN IS DOING WE DON’T KNOW WHAT”: Telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and psychic healing: these, the “Big Five” mind phenomena, are the subject of this mystical documentary, where prominent scientists weigh in to unravel the mysteries of psychic occurrences and discover the boundaries between “real” and fraudulent magical powers. Filmmaker Renee Scheltema will introduce the film and participate in a panel after the screening to answer paranormal questions.

• 4:30 p.m. – The Screening Room – $8

“THICKER THAN WATER”: 11-year-old Tony loves hockey. He also has severe hemophilia, which means his hockey-playing days are numbered. An engrossing mix of home movie footage, interviews and lots of hockey action communicate a touching message about loving life and playing your last game as well as you can. Filmmaker Bradley Rappa will introduce the film. Preceded by “Everyone Needs a Heaven,” an animated documentary about a young girl’s view of the afterlife.

• 6 p.m. – Crossroads – $8

“CHATURANGA” (FOUR CHAPTERS): See Friday listing.

• 7 p.m. – The Screening Room – $8

“WC”: Racism, social integration, sex trafficking and underpaid labor form the backdrop for this colorful story of a friendship between two bathroom attendants in a Dublin jazz bar. Filmmaker Liam O’Mochiam will introduce the film. Preceded by the comedy short, “A-hole.”

• 9 p.m. Casa Vicente

CLOSING NIGHT PARTY: Celebrate with Indie Coyote and visiting filmmakers as the Arizona Most Wanted filmmakers are released for good behavior and good filmmaking. The 2009 Arizona International Film Festival Awards will be announced.


• 1 p.m. – The Screening Room – $5

BEST OF THE FEST: An opportunity to see the award-winning films of this year’s festival, as well as films that caused a buzz. Free admission to those who wear their 2009 Festival T-shirt.

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