Catch an indie flick at Aspen Filmfest
ASPEN – The 29th annual Filmfest runs through Sunday, with events in Aspen and Carbondale.Tickets are available at the Wheeler Opera House, and, for Carbondale screenings, at Sounds Easy in Carbondale. General admission tickets are $12 ($9 for matinees before 5 p.m.). Doors open 25 minutes before each show (30 minutes for passholders). In the event of a sellout, unclaimed seats will be released 10 minutes before show time.Screening venues include the Wheeler Opera House and Isis Theatre in Aspen, and Crystal Theatre in Carbondale. For information, go to http://www.aspenfilm.com.And now, the previews for films playing at the Crystal Theatre:”War/Dance,” 8 p.m. todayThe beautifully shot and captivating War/Dance takes us to Northern Uganda, a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war, to discover a remarkable tale of the transformative power of art. The film follows the improbable journey of three children, Dominic, Rose and Nancy, as they and their schoolmates in the remote and desolate Patonga Refugee Camp prepare for a national music and dance competition. Despite daunting personal histories, they raise their voices in hope, singing and dancing to the rhythms of their ancestors. Against all odds, the students qualify to compete in the annual Kampala Music Festival. If their bus can make it safely through rebel territory, they’ll take the stage and give it their all. Filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (who won a well-deserved directing award at Sundance for this film) craft a profoundly moving story of the astounding resilience of the human spirit. (USA, 2007, 106 minutes, courtesy of THINKFilm)Beauty in Trouble,” 5:30 p.m. SaturdayFate, love and family reside at the heart of this masterful multi-character feature from Czech director-writer team, Jan Hrebejk and Petr Jarchovsky (Divided We Fall). When the devastating Prague fl floods of 2002 leave Marcela (Ana Geislerová) and her mechanic husband Jarda (Roman Luknár) in dire financial straits, Jarda resorts to desperate measures. Fed up, Marcela takes their two kids and moves in with her mother and abrasive stepfather. Through a comical series of circumstances involving prison and a stolen car, Marcela meets Evzen (Josef Abrhám), a gentle, generous, and wealthy older man. Despite differences (he likes fine wine, she prefers hers mixed with Coke), the two develop a surprising friendship that eventually morphs into something more. Mixing humor and drama to great effect, this smartly observed, emotionally evocative film examines the forces that drive all of our lives, and how even the most final decisions aren’t necessarily final. (Czech Republic, 2006, 110 minutes, courtesy of Menemsha Films)”Starting Out in the Evening,” 8 p.m. SaturdayWith quiet intensity, Andrew Wagner’s smartly realized New York drama traces the relationship between Schiller (a superb Frank Langella) and Heather (a luminous Lauren Ambrose), a graduate student who wants to write her thesis about the elderly, reclusive novelist. While the erudite author initially rejects Heather’s brash entreaties for an interview, he eventually succumbs. What follows is a fascinating pas de deux brimming with conflicting ambitions and desires that compels each to make unexpected choices. Meanwhile, Schiller’s daughter, Ariel (Lili Taylor), is nearing 40 and intent on having a child. Like her father, she invites a distraction that seems to divert her from her primary purpose. In this intelligently sensitive exploration of generational conflict, romantic complexity, and personal choice, the value of an examined life is put to the test for three characters at very different crossroads in their lives. (USA, 2007, 110 minutes, courtesy of Roadside Attractions)”Souvenirs,” 5:30 p.m. SundayWith humor and compassion, this award-winning documentary examines the complex relationship between Israeli filmmaker Shahar Cohen and his father, a WWII veteran of the British Army’s Jewish Brigade. At a reunion of Israeli brigade veterans, Shahar is intrigued to hear jokes that some of them (including his dad) may have left behind flesh-and-blood “souvenirs” while stationed in postwar Amsterdam. Shahar and Sleiman, now 82, retrace the elder Cohen’s wartime route on a road trip that leads them through Italy, Germany and finally Holland, where Shahar is determined to discover if he has any half-siblings. Along the way, their evolving relationship becomes the film’s focus as father and son bicker, tease, laugh and cry, discovering unexpected connections, as well as newfound acceptance of each other. By turns comic and touching, this involving personal film raises universal questions about the tension between myth and reality, memory and historical truth. (Israel, 2006, 75 minutes, courtesy of Sirocco Productions)Hula Girls,” 8 p.m. SundayHula Girls charmingly depicts the true story of a Japanese town’s valiant effort to save itself. It’s 1965 and the giant Joban coal mine is on the verge of closing. Desperate to avoid becoming a ghost town, community leaders concoct a scheme to build a Hawaiian-themed resort “paradise” complete with hula shows, despite its location on Japan’s chilly northeastern coast. Since no one exactly knows how to hula, an instructor is brought in from Tokyo to teach the coal miners’ daughters. Loaded with underdog heroics and youthful enthusiasm, the film enlivens the tried but true overcoming-impossible-odds storyline with wry humor and a keen eye for human nature. Director Lee Sang-il adroitly captures how the naïve boosterism of town leaders, the dour skepticism of hard-bitten miners and the perky earnestness of the would-be hula girls combine to surpass all expectations. This affecting comedy was Japan’s entry for the Academy Awards. (Japan, 2006, 110 minutes, courtesy of VIZ Pictures, Inc.)
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