A Feast for the Eyes… and Mouth?
Written by Eric Aron | Posted by: Anonymous
Located in western Massachusetts, the Northampton Film Festival is the largest screening event in the area. Running October 28th through November 4th, the festival has exciting new programming for 2001. This includes a Jewish and gay/lesbian film series, the world renowned Alloy Orchestra, and a chocolate lover’s reception. In addition, the festival will be presenting the East Coast premiere of "The Mary Poppins Sing-Along" as the finale on November 3rd.
The festival has expanded this year to over 70 films and will be screening films at the Academy of Music, Stoddard and Wright Hall on Smith College’s campus, and the Springfield Jewish Community Center. The selection committee considered over 500 films to be included in the programming, before accepting approximately 10 percent. According to festival co-director Howard Polonsky, "The majority of theaters show only five percent of the movies made. We try to show the best of the remaining 95 percent."
There will be the usual collection of feature films, film shorts, animation, and documentaries, followed by Q & A sessions with filmmakers. The Jewish film series, entitled "L’Chaim," has been a part of the festival since 1998. Nine films will be presented from October 31st through November 4th, coming from the United States and Europe. "The Shivtz" is a comedy about a disappearing phenomenon in Jewish tradition — the steambath. "The Jazzman from the Gulag" is the story of the so-called "white Louis Armstrong." It follows a legendary jazz white trumpeter, Eddie Rosner, who attained fame and then was suddenly forgotten. "Jews and Buddhism: Belief Amended Faith Revealed" is the examination of a currently strong interest in the teachings of Buddhism. A crossover film between both the Jewish film series and the gay/lesbian series is "Trembling Before God," the story of gay Chasidic Jews and how they can be religiously observant while the Bible prohibits homosexuality.
The gay/lesbian series, or ‘Out and About,’ running November 1 – 4, 2001 has also been in existence for the past three years. Showcasing feature films, shorts, and documentaries, highlights include "Scouts Honor," about anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America, and "Gay & Gray in New York City" about the aging gay population in New York. In "Ordinary Sinner" three college students fight against discrimination and violence directed towards gays. "Swimming Upstream" follows a lesbian couple who are raising a baby. Finally, short films include "The Confession," about reconciling the dilemma of being catholic and gay, and "David’s Walls," a five-minute preview of a work in progress.
Many filmmakers at the festival have ties to New England. "Dirt Boy," about the murder of a best-selling author, was produced by Cathartic Films in Boston. "The Buffalo War," the story of the battle over the annual slaughter of bison, was directed by Matthew Testa who works for Florentine Films and is from Hadenville, Massachusetts. Buddy Squires, the cinematographer of "Fierce Grace," works with New England’s own Ken Burns. "The Book of the Rose," about a letter correspondence in 1942, was directed by Springfield’s Jeff Bemiss. "The Pickled Jar" is by Benjamin Goldman, graduate of Hampshire College.
The festival will be presenting a live performance by the Alloy Orchestra for Harold Lloyd’s last film "Speedy." Known as "the King of Daredevil Comedy," the film features a cameo by none other than Babe Ruth himself. The "Chocolate Blow-out," with food provided by Bart’s Homemade, will immediately follow a special presentation of Christine Lahti’s directorial debut, "My First Mister." Bon Apetit.
Tickets for festival passes are $135 for all films, $20 for four shows, and $6-$7 for individual films. The Alloy Orchestra performance costs $15, $18 at the door, while the Chocolate Blow-out has a $6 admission. The Mary Poppins Single-Along is $10. For more information call (413) 586-3471 or visit the festival Web site at www.nohofilm.org.