Photos courtesy of (from left to right), Rebel Pictures, Grey Skies LLC, and Richard E. Warner, respectively
Article by Jeanne Lesinski
In its fourth year, the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival moves to the Temple Theatre (203 N. Washington, Saginaw). From Nov. 4th to 7th in four screening rooms, the festival offers a variety of films ranging from classic to contemporary, feature length to short, fiction to documentary, home-grown to foreign. "We're very excited about this year's selections," says board member Janet Martineau.
Among the classic films are those with special longevity: Psycho, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jaws
and Somewhere in Time.
It may be time to revisit a favorite on the large screen in the company of the kind of crowd you can't get in a home theater.
Other feature-length films include a well-rounded (genre-wise) selection of films from throughout the world. Many of these films have earned prestigious international awards. For example, the drama Ondine,
the story of an Ozark Mountain teen searching for her drug-dealing father, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and The Last Station,
a drama based on the life of Russian author Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer)
and his wife (Helen Mirren), earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for both stars.
Comedies also dot the lineup: Soul Kitchen,
about the eccentrics running a restaurant in Hamburg, Germany; the South Korean-made spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, the Weird
; and the mumblecore comedy Harmony and Me.
There is even a genre-bending "drama comedy": Let It Rain,
about two men in Provence, France who collaborate on a documentary about a feminist best-selling author.
Made in Michigan
Michigan filmmaking is well represented in this year's selections. Kai Blackwood's production, Grey Skies,
a sci-fi/horror movie was filmed in Clare County last fall. Its premise: college students on a
weekend away at an isolated cabin encounter the unexpected—aliens. It will screen at 10pm on Thursday. The other Made-in-Michigan film is Handlebar,
filmed in Detroit. About a pair of low-level thieves hired to kidnap a mafioso's daughter, this comedy-thriller stars director Michael McCallum, who plans to attend the screening on Friday at 10:30pm.
Michigan connections also exist in the documentaries scheduled. Howard the Hero
(Saturday 10am, Sunday 1pm) tells the story of Saginaw native Howard Huebner, now 87 years old. The film follows his secret military training and includes excerpts from his letters back home as he served in the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82 Airborne Division of the U.S. Army that helped liberate France from Nazi occupation during World War II. In 2009 Huebner was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest military honor bestowed on a foreign soldier by the French government.
When President Obama mentioned Huebner by name and quoted him in his D-Day address last year, Richard E. Warner, decided to make a documentary about this home-grown hero. Howard the Hero
premiered in a French version in France in June and will make its American premiere in English on Saturday. Huebner now lives in Florida and will not be able to attend. Even so, his nephew-by-marriage, Warner, who researched, wrote, directed and produced this hour-long documentary will attend the screening and talk the film, one of several dozen documentaries Warner has made.
another Michigan-made documentary, tells the story of this car made in East Germany during the Cold War. It also tells of the dedicated American enthusiasts who are keeping interested in it alive in the U.S.
Filmmmaker Cameron Knowles, a former familiar voice on WSGW
radio and for Saginaw Spirit Hockey, will attend the showing at 10pm Friday.
Short Films Contest
Amateurs of experimental and short films may want to join the jury. Audiences get to help decide the winners of the Short Film Contest by voting for best narrative, experimental and documentary films. Short Film contest 1 takes place Friday at 8pm, Short Film contest 2 on Saturday at 7pm, and the Short Film Contest Awards ceremony on Sunday at 3:30pm.
A couple of films at the festival focus on music. The German-made art film The Silence Before Bach
is a look at the relationships between images and music over four centuries. The biopic The Runaways
is the coming-of-age story of the band The Runaways that launched the career of Joan Jett. Finally, Brett Mitchell
and the Giant Ghost will perform live in the Lizard Lounge inside the Temple Theatre on Saturday at 6:30pm.
Late changes to the schedule are reflected in the online version
but may not appear on previously distributed print versions.
Individual movie tickets cost $6, while a pre-event all-festival pass runs $40. The price goes up to $45 when the festival starts. Regardless of purchase time, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Temple Theatre Restoration Fund. Passes and tickets are on sale at the Temple Theatre, 203 N. Washington and on-line at www.templetheatre.com or by calling toll free (877) 754-SHOW.
© Jeanne Lesinski, 2010