Life According to Sam Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, USA 90 min
Link to trailer: Life According to Sam
Screening Sunday, September 22nd at 4:30 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts
Life According to Sam is about one family’s courageous fight to save their only son from a rare and fatal disease, progeria. The average age of death from progeria is 13, there is no treatment, and no cure. Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns are set on changing this. When their son Sam, now 16 years old, was diagnosed with progeria at age two, doctors told Leslie and Scott to enjoy Sam while they could. They refused to believe this was the answer. In less than a decade, their advances have led to identifying the gene at fault, creating the first drug trials for treatment, and revealing the amazing discovery that progeria is linked to the aging process in all of us.
Tomorrow at 7:30pm at the Firehouse Center for the Arts is the opening night film for the Festival. Join us for a screening of the highly acclaimed Beatles film “Good Ol’ Freda.” Following the film will be a panel with Chachi Loprete, Boston radio personality who hosts “breakfast with the Beatles” on WZLX and David Gallant a Suffolk University professor who teaches a course on the Beatles, moderated by James Sullivan, local author and journalist. James recently wrote an article on the film for rollingstone.com — link to the article:
Our night films typically sell out so please get your tickets early!!!
Stopping for Death Wendy Roderweiss; USA 96 min
Link to trailer: Stopping For Death
Screening Sunday, September 22nd at 2:30 PM
The Screening Room
Running For Jim Robin Hauser Reynolds, Dan Noyes, USA 78 min
Link to trailer: Running for Jim
Screening Saturday, September 21st at 1:00 PM
The Screening Room
This award-winning film chronicles the story of Jim Tracy, the deeply dedicated, brutally honest and tough-love coach of the San Francisco University High School cross-country team. In June of 2010, Tracy was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Running for Jim explores how Tracy, once a competitive runner, now faces the greatest challenge of his life.
Best Feature Film, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival 201
Best Feature Film, Tiger Paw International Sports Film Festival 2013
Best Documentary Film, Central Florida Film Festival 2013
Best Documentary Film, Soho International Film Festival 2013
Audience Choice Award, White Sands International Film Festival 2013
Audience Choice Award, Tiburon International Film Festival 2013
Audience Choice Award, San Francisco Independent DocFest 2013
Best Film Character, International Festival of Sports Films Krasnogorsky, Moscow 2013
Many of you have heard that our community movie theater has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to purchase a new digital projector so they will be able to continue operation in the future. Digital is the wave of the future for movie distribution and they must “go digital or die.”
The Screening Room is our gem of a cinema and has been operating out of its tiny storefront since ’82. It is a community landmark and tradition, one of the only places on the North Shore that shows independent and foreign films. The Screening Room fills an important niche in the Newburyport arts scene. Some have no memory of it not being here.
Please consider helping keep the Screening Room alive by visiting their Kickstarter page and giving what you can. Every bit helps.
Martian Mega Rover Mark Davis, USA 50 min
Screening Saturday, September 21st at 4:45 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts
Martian Mega Rover (National Geographic Channel 2012) is the story behind the Mars rover, Curiosity, whose harrowing “Seven Minutes of Terror” landing on the Red Planet captivated the world in August 2012. Emmy winning producer/writer/director Mark Davis, spent years embedded at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, capturing the anxiety, despair, and elation that played out over the decade-long struggle to get Curiosity built, launched, and delivered safely to Mars.
For 100 years, the cinema has been the place we go to escape. Whether your taste runs toward romantic comedy or a galaxy-traveling blockbuster, the movies let us step out of our own lives and into a fantasy world for a few hours.
Documentary film does something else entirely. Rather than offering a temporary passage out of daily existence, documentaries bring us into a place, personality or predicament, giving us fresh perspective on the world we share. Through the camera lens, we can walk the globe in other people’s shoes.
Though documentary films generally aspire to present “life as it is” (as one early theorist suggested), skillfully edited footage “taken from the raw” can be as compelling and persuasive as fiction. “Nanook of the North” (1922) and “Triumph of the Will” (1935) are both considered filmmaking classics despite their directors’ controversial methods. By mid-century, however, the parallel developments of French cinema verité and North American “direct cinema” had introduced the ideal of pure observation, often with no narration. One landmark of this style was the Boston lawyer Frederick Wiseman’s “Titicut Follies” (1967), which documented the inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane. “Don’t Turn Your Back on This Film… If You Value Your Mind or Your Life,” read the theatrical poster.
As Hollywood in the 1970s turned toward the kind of realism invariably described as “gritty,” documentarians canvassed an ever-wider expanse of human experience. D.A. Pennebaker helped establish rock & roll culture as fertile ground with his punctuation-challenged Bob Dylan profile “Dont Look Back.” The Maysles brothers – like Wiseman, Bostonians – brought us into the eccentric lives of the mother-and-daughter Beales in “Grey Gardens,” and in 1983 “Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance” debuted the wordless, compilation-style meditations known as the “Qatsi” trilogy, which inspired a new generation of poetic filmmaking.
Documentaries found the mainstream with titles such as Michael Moore’s debut, “Roger & Me” (1989), a personalized lament about the state of the auto industry; Pennebaker’s “The War Room” (1993), a glimpse into Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign team; and the gripping high school basketball chronicle “Hoop Dreams” (1994). As our political discourse has fractured into a thousand points of contention, prominent documentaries of the past decade have polarized opinions about climate change (“An Inconvenient Truth”), fast food (“Super Size Me”), gun control (“Bowling for Columbine”) and the public school system (“Waiting for ‘Superman’”), to name a few.
In recent years, the proliferation of digital filmmaking has remade documentary film as a uniquely democratic medium, putting the power to bear witness into the hands of anyone with a handheld camera and a laptop computer. We’re in the midst of a documentary boom, with the number produced annually expanding from a tiny fraction of the film industry to nearly 20 percent of all titles.
That’s where documentary film festivals have flourished. The vast majority of documentaries do not have any kind of studio backing, distribution or premium cable TV connections. They are labors of love in the truest sense of the term, and they deserve to be seen. Whether they take you – as some of our films do this year – into the private anguish of Japanese parents after a nuclear meltdown, a Maine man’s obsessive mission to build a Spanish-style galleon, or a shy Liverpool teenager’s secretarial duties for the band that would become world-famous as the Beatles, a good documentary film will pull you all the way in.
James Sullivan is the author of four books, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and a regular contributor to the Boston Globe.
Tickets are now on sale for the Film Festival! All day tickets can be purchased at The Screening Room during their regular Box Office Hours while the two night films should be purchased through the Firehouse Center for the Arts (www.firehouse.org). Tickets will also be sold during the Festival. See details on right.