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High Fall Festival celebrates women in film

The 2006 HIGH FALLS FILM FESTIVAL celebrates its sixth wonderful year of honoring the cinematic achievements of women around the world. This unique and exciting festival will take place in Rochester, New York, November 8-13, 2006. The Festival has grown exponentially to become one of the vital cultural assets in Western New York. This international festival of films made with women taking an integral place behind the camera draws people from around the country and globe to this stimulating event, which takes place at the historic, five-screen Little Theatre and the Dryden Theatre at the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House.

High Falls is a festival with a difference - its mission. Susan B. Anthony lived in Rochester, as did George Eastman. The creators of High Falls chose to honor the founders of the women’s movement with a program that presents a wide variety of films, focusing on the achievements of women in the industry and to help correct the imbalance of employment for women (as Susan B. might have) in many areas.

While highlighting the work of a woman behind the camera on each film selected, the High Falls Film Festival programs movies for all audiences. Artistic Director Catherine Wyler and Festival Director & Co-Programmer Ruth Cowing plumbed the best films of 2006 for the prestigious specialty spots in the High Falls schedule, bringing a more varied, eclectic and exciting list of films to festival audiences than ever before. 2006 Festival movies range from the lush costume drama to the most original, and comedic, monster movie in years, to American indies showcasing new talents in both narrative and documentary, not to mention three highly-touted Oscar contenders for Foreign Language Film.

From the Opening Night film, Agnieszka Holland’s COPYING BEETHOVEN, starring Ed Harris and Diane Kruger, to the Gala Centerpiece presentation of THE LIVES OF OTHERS, the German Oscar contender that was an Official Selection at both the Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals, and through to the Closing Night presentation of the 1928 charming silent film classic, LONESOME, directed by Paul Fejus (and presented with a live score by the famed ALLOY ORCHESTRA), the High Falls Film Festival will be a very exciting place to be.

Each year, the Festival honors exceptional women in the industry with the prestigious Susan B. Anthony “Failure is Impossible” Award, for women in the film industry who have persevered in their careers and triumphed over difficulties. This year, the festival will honor, for the breadth and distinction of their work, Opening Night director Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, The Secret Garden, Washington Square); actress Famke Janssen (featured in the festival film The Treatment, X-Men, I Spy); and producer Lauren Shuler Donner (X-Men, You’ve Got Mail, St. Elmo’s Fire, Bulworth). For 2006, the Festival inaugurates the Elizabeth Cady Stanton “Thorn In The Side Award.” Named in honor of the friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it is an apt prize for women in a collaborative medium who push each other to greatness. The first Stanton Award presentation honors Telluride Film Festival co-founder Stella Pence. In addition, the Festival presents Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary and Best Short Film.



Renowned actor of stage and screen, Shirley Knight (The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs, Sweet Bird Of Youth) will make a special appearance at the Thursday night screening of OPEN WINDOW in which she stars along with Robin Tunney and Joel Edgerton. Ms. Knight’s most recent role has been on television’s hit series “Desperate Housewives.”



The six-day HIGH FALLS FILM FESTIVAL offers 34 feature-length films, programs of short films from around the globe, films for children, informal “Coffee With” events featuring visiting filmmakers, and opportunities to hear stories from the movie business from well-known stars. There are also seminars, master classes and panel discussions, on subjects such as screenwriting, acting, documentary filmmaking, and one on the future of film titled “Movies In the 21st Century.”



One of the highlights of High Falls is the annual Conversation with esteemed critic Jack Garner. This year, Susan B. Anthony “Failure Is Impossible” Award recipient Lauren Shuler Donner, and her partner (as well as husband), acclaimed director/producer Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, Superman, Any Given Sunday) will be talking up a storm.



The 2006 HIGH FALLS FILM FESTIVAL Film Program includes:



13 TZAMETI (Narrative France/Georgia), This film is a winner-take-all thriller, where an unfortunate young man is transformed into Contestant #13 in a game of Russian Roulette with no way out to save his luck.



21 UP AMERICA (Documentary, US), modeled on the famed British documentary series by Michael Apted, this is the Director Christopher Quinn’s third installment of an ambitious project that chronicles the lives of 16 very different Americans, filming them every seven years. At 21, they are barely adults, but the choices they make now about education, jobs, marriage and parenthood may well determine the rest of their lives. The film’s Producer, Victoria Bappart, will join us at High Falls.



ABSOLUTE WILSON (Documentary, US/Germany), is a provocative and moving portrait of perhaps the most visionary theater artist of our time, Robert Wilson. What emerges is a life full of impressions, colors and rhythms that shaped his ground-breaking aesthetic vision, creating some of the most historic theatre and opera productions of the twentieth century. David Byrne, William Burroughs, Tom Waits and Philip Glass are featured among his collaborators. Director/Producer/Writer Katherine Otto will represent the film.



AFTER THE WEDDING (Narrative, Denmark) starring Danish movie idol Mads Mikkelson, tells the story of Jacob, a man dedicated to the children he cares for in an orphanage in India. The film is a riveting story of manipulation that is also a commentary on wealth and poverty in our global community.



AIR GUITAR NATION (Documentary, USA), is a feature-length documentary that covers the birth of the US Air Guitar Championships, its huge international cult following and the contestants who have dedicated their lives to mastering the art of playing…the invisible guitar.



AMERICAN BLACKOUT (Documentary, US), director Ian Inaba delves into the systematic disenfranchisement of African-American voters in 2001. The film’s heroine, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, whose investigation of the infamous Florida election as well as her blatant criticism of the war in Iraq has made her the target of relentless right-wing venom, does not waver in her crusade for exposing racist policies, no matter how troubled the waters. Congresswoman McKinney will join us at High Falls along with the film’s producer Anastasia King.



AVENUE MONTAIGNE (Narrative, France), a sparkling and witty romantic comedy by director Daniele Thompson, is a classic fairy tale starring Cecile de France as a young woman whose arrival in Paris from the provinces puts her in the path of a circus of eccentrics, ranging from the brilliant to the hilariously bizarre.



THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI (Documentary, US), is a documentation of the ubiquitous Soho street artist, Jimmy Mirikitani, and the tempestuous events that shaped his life, which included not only being interred at Tule Lake Camp, the destruction of his family in Hiroshima, and his life as an elderly, homeless artist, whom in 2001, and on 9/11, when the neighborhood was so engulfed by smoke and ash, she invited into her apartment. Hattendorf tries to gets him into the social service system and discovers how easy it is to get lost in America. Director/Cinematographer/Editor Linda Hattendorf will attend High Falls to present her film.



CINEMATOGRAPHER’S STYLE (Documentary, US), If you’ve ever wondered about the art of cinematography, this doc will introduce you to 110 leading practitioners from 15 countries, explaining how and why the movies look the way they do. Ellen Kuras, one of the cinematographers featured in the film, will introduce and lead a Q&A following.



A COAT OF SNOW (Narrative, US), From award-winning writer, and Rochester native, Gordy Hoffman (Love Liza, Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, Sundance 2002, starring his younger brother Philip Seymour Hoffman), is his directorial debut. A young woman arrives at her cousin’s bachelorette party with a video camera, and what begins as a simple, happy event unfolds into a “long, dark night of the soul”, as it becomes apparent the bride harbors a grim secret. Actress Jennifer Christopher will be on hand to represent the film.



COPYING BEETHOVEN (Narrative, US/Germany), is the High Falls opener, directed by Susan B. Anthony “Failure Is Impossible” Award winner, Agnieszka Holland. Ed Harris delivers a sexy, bawdy, passionate performance as the tempestuous genius composer in this richly imagined tale about Beethoven and the ambitious young copyist of his Ninth Symphony, Anna (the beautiful Diane Kruger). Agnieszka Holland will join us at High Falls to present her film.



DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Documentary, US), is the story of Father O’Grady, a pillar of his community, and a notorious pedophile. Director Amy Berg was actually able to persuade O’Grady to participate in the making of this film, along with several of his victims. At press time, this film is causing an earthquake within the Los Angeles Diocese and may well change history with its searing indictment concerning the practices and politics of the Catholic Church.

FOLLOW MY VOICE (Documentary, US), One record producer, the creators of a cult film classic and some of the most influential indie rockers record a benefit album for a controversial LGBTQ youth center in New York City. "Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig" documents the stories of four teens, echoing their struggles and aspirations with the music from the rock drama "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". Includes studio sessions from Yoko Ono, Rufus Wainwright, The Bens, The Breeders, Yo La Tengo, John Cameron Mitchell, They Might Be Giants and more. Director Katherine Linton and featured teen subject Angel will be in town to represent the film


FREESTYLE: THE ART OF RHYME (Documentary, US), is director Kevin Fitzgerald’s exuberant capturing of street-based freestyle rappers and the spirit of the movement on street corners and nightclub stages.

GOODBYE LIFE (Narrative, Iran), The first feature by Iranian filmmaker Ensieh Shah-Hosseini is based on her eight-year-long experience as a journalist during the 1980’s Iran/Iraq war. A profoundly anti-war film, GOODBYE LIFE is unsparing in depicting death and destruction. But it also shows Iranian villagers living in the war zone determined to preserve the rituals of daily life, even when a wedding celebration turns into a funeral.


THE HOST (Narrative, South Korea), Director Bong Joon-Ho’s smart, touching and funny film is the story of a monster who emerges from the Han River following a U.S. doctor’s dumping of chemicals on the highway. He immediately creates havoc, kidnapping a girl in the process. The government’s comic mishandling of the crisis, as well as the girl’s wildly dysfunctional family, who set out to save her, are priceless...



KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST (Documentary, US), documents that during the Cold war, the CIA was instrumental in the coup that brought the military thug Mobuto to power in Congo. Director Pippa Scott tells this atrocious history through archival photographs and film With narration by Don Cheadle, Alfre Woodard, and James Cromwell. Director/Producer/Writer Pippa Scott will join us in High Falls to present her film.



KISS ME NOT ON THE EYES (Narrative, Lebanon) is a moving and sensual film about Dunia, a young student at Cairo University with aspirations to become a dancer. Her startling audition for a dance contest, in which she explains that a woman cannot move or evoke acts of love when society asks women to hide their femininity, sets in motion a series of events that carry Dunia towards true liberation, but the constraints of Egyptian society run deeper than she expects...



KZ (Documentary, UK), British documentarian Rex Bloomstein focuses on the picturesque Austrian town of Mauthausen, once a site of a concentration camp and now a tourist destination. He exposes the myriad attitudes of those who pass through, from horror and empathy to denial and compartmentalization, and in so doing exposes the larger truth of how we, in the present, respond to the horror of this historic massive extermination.



LIFE AFTER TOMORROW (Documentary, US), chronicles the stories of the young girls who got their start in show business during the original five-year run of the hit musical Annie, among them Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald and MSNBC anchor Dara Brown. It focuses on those whose early burst of fame did not blossom into the careers they imagined, and their highly personal interviews talk about their lives on both sides of the celebrity fence… The film’s co-Producer/co-Director Julie Stevens will be representing her film at High Falls.



LITTLE RED FLOWERS (Narrative, China/Italy), From legendary underground director Zhang Yuan comes a contemporary parable about the complexities of being compelled to “fit in” to a society that requires it, as seen through the eyes of young boy entering school for the first time.



THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Narrative, Germany), It’s 1984 in East Berlin, and a drab drone from the Stasi (the East German secret police) is ordered to find something - anything - incriminating in the life of the country’s most popular playwright. Germany’s Oscar contender is a brilliantly made thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.



MEN AT WORK (Narrative, Iran), four middle-aged friends returning from a ski trip in Tehran find a strange object at the edge of a cliff. It might be an Easter Island-like stone statue or a fossilized tree, but in any case, its phallic monumentality presents a challenge and they become obsessed with literally overthrowing it. A hilarious comedy of machismo emerges as the men strategize, enlist passersby, and risk life and limb in this absurd project.



THE NIGHT OF THE WHITE PANTS (Narrative, US), brings Tom Wilkenson (Max), the patriarch of a wildly dysfunctional family, who survives a heart-attack, a failing business, and an acrimonious divorce with enough adventurous spirit intact to explore Dallas’s punk underground scene with his ambitious daughter (Selma Blair) and her maverick web designer/rocker boyfriend (Nick Stahl.) The cast which also includes Laura Jordan as a punkette who captures Max’s fancy and a warm, ironic Francis Fisher as one of his ex-wives, is first-rate. Director Amy Talkington will be on hand to present her film.



OPEN WINDOW (Narrative, US) starring Robin Tunney and Joel Edgerton, explores how a marriage is affected by the aftermath of rape. With fine supporting performances by Cybill Shepherd, Shirley Knight, and Elliott Gould. The film’s Director/Writer Mia Goldman, along with actress Shirley Knight will be on hand at High Falls.



THE PLAY, set in a remote Turkish village, is a heartwarming documentary about a strong-willed peasant woman who decides that her story and that of her women friends is the stuff of theater. Enlisting the aid of several townspeople, she sees her vision through, and in the process changes the dynamics of the village forever...

RENAISSANCE (Animated Feature, France/UK/Luxembourg), Set in Paris in 2054, RENAISSANCE pays homage to the futuristic noir vision of METROPOLIS and BLADE RUNNER, marrying science fiction with extraordinary digital animation to present a world beyond imagination.


SHOOT THE MESSENGER (Narrative, UK), a highly controversial project when it aired on the BBC, is a brilliant, flamboyant social satire that fearlessly takes on issues of black identity and self-hatred in middle-class modern day London. It is also the winner of the BBC Dennis Potter Screenwriting Award. The film will be represented by Director Ngozi Onwurah.



TEN CANOES (Narrative, Australia), is set in the distant past of tribal times, where a man, Dayindi, covets the wife of his elder brother. To teach him the proper way, he is told a story from the mythical past, a story of a wrong love, kidnapping, sorcery, bungling mayhem and revenge gone wrong.



THE TREATMENT (Narrative, US), Starring Susan B. Anthony “Failure is Impossible” Award winner Famke Janssen, is a tightly woven story about Jake Singer, an anxious schoolteacher in New York City, and the psychoanalysis he undergoes subsequently from Dr. Ernesto Morales (Ian Holm), therapist from hell. Add Ms. Janssen as a beautiful socialite widow into the mix, Jake’s life becomes a veritable boomerang between what is allegedly “real” and the overworkings of an overanalytical mind. Production Designer Edwige Geminel and Actress Famke Janssen will be on hand to represent the film.



UNFOLDING FLORENCE: THE MANY LIVES OF FLORENCE BROADHURST (Documentary, Australia), is the spirited and highly original documentary by acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong about the many lives of one larger-than-life woman: flamboyant Australian design pioneer Florence Broadhurst…



WHAT REMAINS (Documentary, US), Steven Cantor follows his award-winning short film about photographer, Sally Mann, with a feature that covers the extended period of Mann’s landscape photos, her death and decay series, and her recent self-portraits. The film shows Mann at work behind the camera and also allows her opportunities to talk at length about her work process and how she arrives at a subject that will sustain her for years. The Film’s Composer Mary Lorson will be in High Falls.



WHEN I CAME HOME (Documentary, US), is a film about a surprising and unfortunate population: over 300,000 homeless veterans; those who served in Vietnam and those returning from the current war in Iraq. It reveals a failing system and the veteran’s struggle to survive after returning from war-a struggle often as traumatic as the battlefield they’ve just left. The film’s subject Herold Noel and Producer Nancy Roth will represent the film.

Every year the High Falls Film Festival presents an example of the work of the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, which preserves American films in which women have had significant creative input. It has preserved over 40 films, and is the only fund of its kind in the world.


SPECIAL SELECTIONS:

CONEY (Documentary, US), a quick jaunt through the Coney Island area at all times of the day and night, in all seasons, is a prime example of the early work of Frank and Caroline Mouris, collaborators in film and life for over forty years. Reviewer Elliott Stein wrote: This “animated documentary” is a pixilated “grand jete”…five minutes if earned emotion never before provided by so brief a work.

LONESOME (Narrative, US), is a classic charmer from 1928, the transitional period between “silents” and “talkies”, and will be presented at High Falls with the renowned Alloy Orchestra providing the soundtrack. This Paul Fejus romantic comedy about two lonely people, Jim and Mary, who live in the same building, work in the same factory, but have never met, both hear an advertisement for Coney Island, and both hop on a bus for an amusement park adventure…the film that touched off 1974’s Telluride Festival, LONESOME represents the height of the silent film industry, and tells a delicious and universal love story. Telluride Film Festival co-founder Stella Pence will be on hand to introduce the film.


HIGH FALLS FILM FESTIVAL is sponsored by New York State, Monroe County, Eastman Kodak Company, the City of Rochester, Harris Beach PLLC, the New York State Council on the Arts, Women in Film/GM Alliance, Ameriprise Financial, City Newspaper, Buck & Pulleyn and Delta Stratagem.


A full schedule of screening titles, dates, times and locations for all Festival films, panels and events is available on the festival web site www.highfallsfilmfestival.com. or the Festival hotline at 585-258-0480. Out of town visitors may email their ticket orders to outoftowntickets@highfallsfilmfestival.com. For more information about the High Falls Film Festival, please contact the Festival office at 45 East Ave., Suite 400, Rochester, NY, 14604, (585) 279-8307

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