We Are Wizards
Booksellers have long credited the Harry Potter series for cultivating a new generation of young readers. But who knew it was also creating an entire subculture of wizard-themed punk bands? Or, even stranger, groupies for wizard-themed punk bands?
Josh Koury’s film captures these über-geeks, along with other fanatics on the fringe of the Potter phenomenon. There’s the creepy dude who provides his own off-color narration to the Potter films, the young woman who organizes a successful campaign against Warner Bros. for fighting against fan fiction sites and the nagging scholar who worries about Potter turning young kids into Satan worshipers. All of these characters are riding J.K. Rowling’s coattails, and Koury—who’s doing the same, I guess—holds up one hell of an entertaining mirror to this bizarre cottage industry. (SB)
Showing: Friday, Feb. 13, 9:30 p.m.
In kindergarten, Evan Perry was obsessed with suicide. Teachers recall him talking about jumping out windows.
Grim stuff, and it gets worse.
There’s no easy way to watch a mother speak about her dead son. Director Dana Perry’s deeply personal film scratches at the layers of Evan’s troubled bipolar mind and his suicide at age
15. Interviews with doctors, friends and family reveal a riptide of grief with undertones of
The film’s real power lies in Dana’s night-and-day moods. Stoic woman melts to choked-up mother with a single question, and the night of Evan’s suicide is revisited through a simple glance in the camera. (AS)
Showing: Wednesday, Feb. 18, 6:45 p.m. (Feature Competition Finalist)
The Mellotron served as the first musical keyboard to sample instrument sounds, and over the years it became popular with bands ranging from the Beatles to Black Sabbath. It also lost popularity due to overuse and was involved in patent issues.
Mellodrama is instrumental geekdom at its best. Appearances by the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and songwriter Michael Penn, plus references to numerous bands that used the instrument help add flavor. But the Mellotron itself is the main character in Dianna Dilworth’s film, and surprisingly worthy of the part. (EF)
Showing: Sunday, Feb. 15, midnight
Painted in the colors of coastal Washington and the Swinomish Reservation, March Point is a lyrically shot coming of age documentary that explores the emergence of three young men out of the shadow of substance abuse and into their maturity. Backed by Longhouse Media, a production company that empowers American Indian communities through the vehicle of filmmaking, the three boys explore their own subjectivities, the pollution of their ancestral land by Shell Oil Company, the realities of American politics and the art of the camera. Lighthearted at times and sobering in other moments, the film instructs its audience while documenting the education of its three artists and subjects. (KK)
Showing: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 8 p.m.
At the Edge of the World
The string of futility aboard the pirate ship Robert Hunter—one of two self-appointed whale sanctuary police boats sailing the Antarctic Ocean under Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society—reaches 38 morale-eroding days (for both the crew of the ship and the viewer of the movie) before it locates its arch-enemy, the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru. You might think such a stretch of inaction would doom Dan Stone’s film to self-righteous naval-gazing, but you’d be dead wrong.
Told without narration (all information is conveyed via discussion, title boards, clips of news reports and Watson’s phone interviews with news organizations), and anchored by stunning cinematography, this movie is at once a gorgeous nature documentary, a compelling character study and a white-knuckle, needle-in the-haystack look at some seriously crazed hijinks on the high frozen seas. (ND)
Showing: Monday, Feb. 16, 7:45 p.m. (Feature Competition Finalist)
I Think We’re Alone Now
It’s baffling enough that 1980s one-hit-wonder Tiffany still sings to adoring fans, albeit at beach venues. But Sean Donnelly’s film focuses on the even more baffling and highly inappropriate adoration of her two most prominent stalkers, Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick.
Turner, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, believes Tiffany can travel through time and that her restraining order against him is a form of protection—for Turner. And that’s just the beginning. McCormick, an intersex person, plasters her walls with Tiffany photos and anxiously awaits their destiny together. Donnelly’s film is like watching a train wreck and feels terribly exploitive at times, yet he manages to make the story as tender as it is gruesome. (EF)
Showing: Sunday, Feb. 15, 10:30 p.m.
This 11-minute short ends by displaying the phone number for Kanu Saul, a transient hair stylist roaming the streets of Los Angeles. Good luck getting in touch with him.
Director Patrick Robins, who grew up in Missoula, spends eight minutes of the film—allegedly weeks in real life—trying to find the elusive Homeless Hair Cowboy. In the meantime, we learn that Saul’s spent more than 10 years doing what he does, that he prefers his clients stand while he works and that a haircut can take as long as an hour. More importantly, we learn Saul’s pretty talented. When the stylist eventually appears—a striking, dark-skinned man wearing a slick Western shirt and cowboy hat—he doesn’t disappoint. It’s a case of leaving the audience wanting more. (SB)
Showing: Sunday, Feb. 22, 3:15 p.m.
Gogol Bordello: Non-stop
Margarita Jimeno’s film shows colorfully raucous scenes from New York’s Bulgarian Bar, a dive the gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello regularly commandeered for its musical frenzy.
At times Jimeno cuts away from concert footage to include unnecessarily artsy clips—like 1950s footage of kids eating ice cream—that miss the mark. There’s no need for the added frills. Frontman Eugene Hütz and his band give the film enough verve without heavy-handed imagery. And the focus on the accordion player and fiddler as older musicians who suddenly get a chance at wild fame—and at trying youthful stage antics—is especially fascinating. And a little frightening. (EF)
Showing: Saturday, Feb. 14, 10 p.m.
Forget the latest CNN footage of Middle Eastern gun battles. Yishai Orian’s comedic Israeli romp is a cautionary tale of a far greater danger: ignoring one’s spouse.
At the heart of this gem is everyone’s favorite ugly little car, the Volkswagen Beetle. Orian’s battle with his pregnant wife over the junker’s future unfolds with more intensity than international headlines. It’s sentimentality against reason. And while the bond between man and car is second only to that between man and beer, leaving a woman in Jerusalem on the eve of childbirth to get a cheap auto overhaul in Jordan conjures images of divorce proceedings.
The Beetle leans heavily on emotion—an Old Yeller for car fanatics, perhaps. But the film gradually becomes less about a car and more about shedding the last vestiges of that inner Peter Pan. (AS)
Showing: Sunday, Feb. 15, 1:30 p.m. (Feature Competition Finalist)
The Rock-afire Explosion
Brett Whitcomb’s film focuses on a small but admirably demented group of fans whose object of veneration is an animatronic “rockband” called Rock-afire Explosion. The band’s surreal lineup included such life-size latex and fur greats as Fatz Geronimo, a keyboard-playing gorilla. Its gigs were limited to appearances at Showbiz Pizza in the 1980s. The film is both an exploration of the outer limits of human obsession and an answer to the question: “What effect, if any, will the daily consumption of two liters of Mountain Dew have on the individual brain?” (KK)
Showing: Saturday, Feb. 14, 8:15 p.m. (Feature Competition Finalist)
Song Sung Blue
Mike and Claire Sardina perform Neil Diamond songs as Lightning and Thunder, respectively, and for over a decade they cultivated a cult following in Milwaukee. Claire’s freak accident leads the story into darker times. But just when you think the film’s sinking to reality television lows—dramatic fighting in front of cameras ensues—Lightning and Thunder pull themselves together. Sort of. But not for long.
Best part: when Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder invites them to perform “Forever in Blue Jeans,” with Vedder singing along. Director Greg Kohs handles sappy moments
and cringing delusions with extra care and without judgment. So when you finally get to Lightning singing “I Am I Said” it’s weepy-eye time. (EF)
Showing: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 11:30 p.m.
Carts of Darkness
Director Murray Siple shines not in his stunning camera work or ability to capture crisp dialogue, but in his ability to recognize a compelling subject. Carts of Darkness uses shopping cart thrills in Vancouver as a veiled excuse to examine the world of homelessness from the inside. Dark parking-lot cookouts and litter-laden parks provide a backdrop on which characters like Big Al and Bob tell their stories free from harsh stereotypes. Many have chosen this life, and Siple gains their trust in the interest of answering why. (AS)
Showing: Monday, Feb. 16, 4:20 p.m. (Big Sky Award Finalist)
Ninety six percent of the basic nature of the universe remains a mystery. If Paul Devlin’s documentary is any indication of how long it might take to solve that puzzle, it’s going be a while. A scientific team that seeks to produce a map of the universe faces down Murphy’s Law as they try to launch a balloon-borne telescope past the obscuring atmosphere. Six years of broken telescope mirrors, polar bears, rubber band engineering and other hazards stand in the path to knowledge. Human will, scientific persistence and duct tape ultimately triumph, as the map in all its mysterious beauty is finally produced. (KK)
Showing: Friday, Feb. 20, noon.
The First Kid to Learn English from Mexico
Peter Jordan’s stunningly shot short follows the heartbreaking struggles of Pedro Lopez, a 9-year-old Mexican struggling to succeed in an American elementary school. Pedro seems content to be a kid with a thing for animals, and he regrets his folks’ decision to bring him to America. Those around him only wish he’d take advantage of his new opportunities.
“My dad wants me to be a doctor because he didn’t finish college…,” says Pedro. “I want to be in the Army…because you get to kill people.”
Jordan’s film presents a complex portrait that vividly captures Pedro’s perspective. Although it’s just brief snapshots, these rich 20 minutes provided more of a lasting impact than some of the festival’s features. (SB)
Showing: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 5 p.m. (Shorts Competition Finalist)
This film will strike a certain chord with Montana audiences. Those corporate baddies in the mining industry are at it again, this time pursuing an open-pit copper mine at the head of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The proposed Pebble Mine would sit in the watershed of the last two primo sockeye salmon runs in the world.
No, no, say fishermen and activists. Yes, yes, say talking heads at Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American. It’s a Missoula-style tug-of-war set to great music, with the miners assuring the public of zero environmental impact. Can anyone say Berkeley Pit? (AS)
Showing: Sunday, Feb. 15, 12 p.m. (Big Sky Award Finalist)
Need to Know
All screenings February 13–22, at the Wilma Theatre
Tickets are available at the Wilma box office:
Single screening ticket
before 5 p.m.: $6
Single screening ticket after
5 p.m.: $7
One-day pass: $40
All-screening pass: $100
All-access pass: $250