Autumn circuit highlights

What's on the slate for the fall season

Fall festival season hits the ground running in September, marking a lively springboard to the winter holidays

SEPTEMBER

Vladivostok
When: Sept. 11-17
Vladivostok makes full use of its geography, electing to focus on Asian-Pacific nations. Last year’s edition presented work from 30 countries in the region, from South Korea and Japan all the way through to India and Malaysia. But the Motherland is not entirely overlooked: The world preem of “Yakuza Girl” from helmers Sergei Bodrov and Guka Omarova kicks off the fest, and there’s a 10-film selection of New Russian Cinema. In addition to a retrospective dedicated to Orson Welles, the Voyage Along Three Seas section will spotlight recent cinema from Mexico, Estonia and Turkey. French screen legend Alain Delon is tipped to attend the closing ceremony on Sept. 17.

Oldenburg
When: Sept. 15-19
For its 2010 edition, the “German Sundance” will present a retrospective dedicated to “one of the great, neglected American independent directors,” Radley Metzger. The program will include his erotic classics “Therese & Isabelle” and “The Lickerish Quartet.” There’s a sidebar honoring Timothy Bottoms, who’s also repping his latest film, Tamar Simon Hoff’s thriller “Pound of Flesh,” and Deborah Kara Unger will also pull double duty — presiding over the fest jury for the German Independence Award and starring in Raul Inglis’ “Transparency.” Other highlights include Simon Rumley’s “Red, White and Blue,” Paul Gordon’s “The Happy Poet” and Giada Colagrande’s “A Woman,” starring husband Willem Dafoe.

San Sebastian
When: Sept. 17-25
Generally regarded as the most important Spanish festival, this Basque institution will welcome a number of marquee names to its 2010 edition, including world preems from Naomi Kawase (“Genpin”), Peter Mullan (“Neds”), Bent Hamer (“Home for Christmas”) and John Sayles (“Amigo”). San Sebastian remains generous: Valued at a whopping 90,000, its Kutxa-New Directors award is one of the largest monetary prizes given in any film festival and is open to first or second films from directors participating in either the Official Section or Zabaltegi sections. The Horizontes prize for films from Latin America carries an impressive 35,000 cash bonus.

Zurich
When: Sept. 23-Oct. 3
This year’s ZFF sees some returning alumni: Fox’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is set to close the event, its producer Ed Pressman having served as jury prexy there in 2006, while helmer Oliver Stone was the subject of a tribute the following year. Both men will return this time — along with the film’s star, Michael Douglas, who’ll be honored with the fest’s Golden Icon Award. Czech vet Milos Forman, meanwhile, will receive another honor: the Golden Eye career achievement award. And this year’s New World View series focuses on Australia, presenting a selection of 12 recent fiction and documentary films, plus a program of shorts.

New York
When: Sept. 24-Oct. 10
Never exactly big on surprises, this Gotham mainstay is bookended by new work from two of its favorite sons — opening with the world preem of David Fincher’s account of the creation of Facebook, “The Social Network,” and closing with Clint Eastwood’s latest, the Peter Morgan-penned “Hereafter.” The rest of the 28-film main slate, too, is dominated by the usual suspects: Mike Leigh (“Another Year”), Abbas Kiarostami (“Certified Copy”), Hong San-soo (“Oki’s Movie”), Jean-Luc Godard (“Film Socialisme”) and Manoel de Oliveira (“The Strange Case of Angelica”). Rather more unpredictable is the annual Views From the Avant-Garde sidebar and this year’s retrospective, showcasing 11 features by Japanese New Wave master Masahiro Shinoda, including his eerie 1964 noir “Pale Flower.”

OCTOBER

Hamptons
When: Oct. 7-11
An Industry Toast to U.S. indie mainstay Ben Barenholtz is one of the key fixtures at this year’s Hamptons, with guests including the Coen brothers, John Turturro, Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand, and a 20th anniversary screening of “Miller’s Crossing.” HIFF is also partnering with the Babelgum Animatron Film Festival to co-present an eclectic animated shorts program, including screenings, interactive audience voting and a symposium discussion with notable animators; it’s also working with SnagFilms to present “Midterm Madness,” a multiplatform program focusing on issues central to the 2010 U.S. midterm elections. There’s also the Films of Conflict & Resolution competition and, in a less combative vein, an Eye on Canada focus.

Pusan
When: Oct. 7-15
A typically crowded slate for this year’s Pusan, with sidebars dedicated to modern Czech and Kurdish cinema, and to Spanish films made during the Franco dictatorship. There’s also a retrospective on the proflic Korean actress Kim Ji Mi, who amassed a staggering 247 credits between her 1957 debut and her retirement in 1992. Kim is often tagged the Elizabeth Taylor of South Korea — both for her physicality and for her tumultuously Liz-like marital life. PIFF’s Asian Film Academy welcomes Iranian mainstay Abbas Kiarostami as this year’s dean; “EAVE: Ties That Bind” will bring 10 Asian and Euro producers for intensive co-production workshops, and the Asian Film Market will launch an online screenings portal for buyers.

Sitges
When: Oct. 7-17
This fantasy fest might have a poster paying homage to “The Shining” (this year celebrating its 30th anniversary), but its gaze is focused squarely on the present. Now that horror has gone mainstream, the festival wants to explore the vampire-myth craze, proposing new themes and ways of reconceiving the genre. But it’s not all academic: Sitges’ programmers promise the usual array of “cinema with explicit violence” plus “the most surprising auteur films,” from Takeshi Kitano’s “Outrage” to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cannes-winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.” Not to mention grisly up-and-comers like Srdjan Spasojevic, whose brutal “A Serbian Film” jolted buyers in the Cannes market.

Warsaw
When: Oct. 8-17
With five distinct competition strands — one for international cinema, one for first and second features, a Free Spirit strand (“for independent, innovative, rebellious films”), plus kudos for best documentary feature and best short — Warsaw is nothing if not eager to reward good work. Meanwhile, its industry side attempts to shepherd projects toward realization, via the CentEast Market, which runs over the fest’s final weekend, drawing industry pros from the region and beyond. The country-in-focus for this year’s edition, is Argentina, and the fest has once again teamed with FIPRESCI to invite young film critics from Central and Eastern Europe to be mentored by experienced journalists.

Antalya
When: Oct. 9-14
For its 47th edition, Antalya’s Golden Orange Film Festival will turn a spotlight on Cinema and Social Interaction, with screenings, panels, workshops and exhibitions exploring notions of national representation and the relationship of films and filmmakers with various contemporary social, political and economic concerns. There’s the usual array of competition strands — international, domestic, documentary and shorts — and the jury for the main prize boasts Iranian helmer Bahman Ghobadi, producer Raymond Phathanavirangoon and Emir Kusturica, who’ll also rock the opening ceremony with a performance from his No Smoking Orchestra.

Ghent
When: Oct. 12-23
Increasingly regarded as the world’s premier fest for film music, this year’s event has as its centerpiece a concert by the 80-piece Brussels Philharmonic, showcasing the music of John Barry and featuring selections from many of his classic scores, including “Goldfinger,” “Out of Africa,” “Dances With Wolves” and “Midnight Cowboy.” There’s a Jacques Tati exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Cinematheque Francaise, while the 10th edition of the World Soundtrack Awards — held on the fest’s closing night — boasts no fewer than 10 composers in attendance, an all-star lineup that includes Howard Shore, Elliot Goldenthal, Gabriel Yared, Angelo Badalamenti and Craig Armstrong.

London
When: Oct.13-28
This year’s event opens with Mark Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s bestseller “Never Let Me Go,” with stars Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan likely to grace the red carpet in Leicester Square. Fest closes two weeks later with Danny Boyle’s mountaineering drama “127 Hours,” his first feature since “Slumdog Millionaire” (another LFF closing night gala). And for its Archive Gala, the fest will present Herbert Ponting’s extraordinary 1924 documentary classic “The Great White Silence,” tracing Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated 1910 Antarctic mission (Ponting was the expedition’s official photographer), accompanied by a new score by composer Simon Fisher Turner.

Sao Paulo
When: Oct. 22-Nov. 4
This year sees Sao Paulo continue its alliance with Mubi.com (formerly the Auteurs) to present Festival Online, in which a selection of the more than 400 programmed films will be streamed free on the website to viewers in 120 cities and towns across Brazil; last year, more than 20,000 people took part in the initiative. There’s a New Filmmaker’s Competition for best first or second feature, an International Competition and a showcase of recent Brazilian productions. Also, in conjunction with the fest, are two exhibitions by arthouse legends: “Strange Places” by Wim Wenders and “Kurosawa’s Drawings” by the late Japanese master, to be held in Museu de Arte de S. Paulo and the Tomie Ohtake Institute, respectively.

Tokyo
When: Oct. 23-31
This year’s TFF emphasises its Winds of Asia/Middle East connection, and turns the spotlight on the six features of Turkish filmmaker Reha Erdem. There’s also a 70th anniversary tribute to Bruce Lee, featuring not only many of the late star’s acknowledged classics — like “Enter the Dragon” and “Game of Death” (here screening in a rare Japanese cut) — but also modern-day pics that pay homage to him, notably the recent Hong Kong action-thriller “Gallants.” Another anniversary is noted with the centenary of the birth of Akira Kurosawa, and Neil Jordan will be on hand as jury prexy.

NOVEMBER

Cottbus
When: Nov. 2-7
The 20th edition of this Central European stalwart sees some significant changes: A Polish Horizons section is now fully integrated into the program, and there’s new (and competitive) children’s and youth film sections. This year’s retrospective, titled Here and There, looks at the output from two of Germany’s most prestigious film schools — the Hochschule fur Film und Fernsehen “Konrad Wolf” (HFF) in Potsdam-Babelsberg and Berlin’s Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie — while the GlobalEAST sidebar will consider the fate of East European cinema in the wider world. Best of all, the 20th anniversary sees the fest’s prize money raised to 20,000 for top feature.

Mar Del Plata
When: Nov. 13-21
An Australian focus dominates this year’s Mar Del Plata fest, with works drawn from Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 classic “Wake in Fright” to Jocelyn Moorhouse’s 1991 drama “Proof” — including the full Mad Max trilogy. There’s also a complete retrospective of the works of Hal Hartley, a tribute to the late Italian auteur Marco Ferreri and a section titled Encounters Between Art and Cinema, which aims to explore the interdisciplinary relationship of recent international pics to other strands of the arts. Finally, New Directions From the East examines 12 Eastern European cultures in transition, through the eyes of their filmmakers.

Stockholm
When: Nov. 17-28
Moving into adulthood, Stockholm celebrates its 21st birthday with a visit from helmer Gus Van Sant, who’ll host a masterclass for young filmmakers and also take part in an onstage interview, where he’ll discuss his career and inspirations; he’ll also be presented with the fest’s highest honor, the Stockholm Visionary Award. But this year’s event is dedicated to another American maverick, the late Dennis Hopper, whose 1991 visit to the fest the organizers no doubt rightly call “unforgettable.” Program highlights, meanwhile, include Debra Granik’s superb “Winter’s Bone,” Quentin Dupieux’s cult hit “Rubber” and Florin Serban’s Berlinale competish hit “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.”

Gijon
When: Nov. 19-27
With its focus on filmmaking by young and nonconformist filmmakers, Gijon aims to champion alternative cinema. Titles like Lisandro Alonso’s “Liverpool” and Covi & Frimmel’s “La Pivellina” secured Spanish distribution after screening here, and this edition reps a strong selection of features and documentaries, with Spanish premieres including Aussie crime drama “Animal Kingdom,” Afghanistan war doc “Restrepo,” Matthew Porterhouse’s “Putty Hill” and Adriana Maggs’ bleak comedy “Grown Up Movie Star.” A retrospective dedicated to the Berlin School will see helmers Thomas Arslan, Angela Schanelec and Benjamin Heisenberg attending, and there’s a focus on experimental filmmaker and video artist Reynold Reynolds.

Related Links:
Fall Festival Preview 2010

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