Arts & Culture

IFF releases annual lineup

Next week’s program includes screenings, Wes Anderson Q&A and student films

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

“First Place,” pictured above, is one of the 27 student-made films selected for screening at this year’s Ivy Film Festival.

With grand hotels and hot dogs, this year’s Ivy Film Festival lineup features diverse screenings and speakers, including a Skype question-and-answer session with acclaimed director Wes Anderson, according to an email sent out by IFF Sunday. The festival runs Monday, April 14, through Sunday, April 20, at locations around campus and at the Avon Cinema.

This year’s IFF program features a panel, talks with filmmakers and a variety of free screenings. Some of the films being screened have yet to hit national theaters, and other screenings will be followed by question-and-answer sessions with the films’ directors.

Wednesday night’s free screening of Wes Anderson’s latest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” will show at the Avon Cinema at 6:15 p.m. The film retraces the misadventures of a top-tier concierge and his trusty lobby boy in the mythical Eastern European country of Zubrowka. Its star-studded cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law and Edward Norton. A Skype Q&A session with Anderson will follow the performance.

“He’s known for his artistic peculiarity and a sense of direction so unique to himself,” said Yongha Kim ’15, IFF publicity coordinator. “It’ll be really interesting to hear his insight on how he came into film, why he does things in (a) certain way, what he’s motivated by and what difficulties he’s faced.”

A free screening of “Noah,” directed by Darren Aronofsky, will kick off the week’s events at the Avon on Monday. Russell Crowe plays the film’s eponymous protagonist in this critically acclaimed adaptation of the Biblical story, with other major cast members including Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson ’14.

Fans of “Spring Breakers” and “The Bling Ring” will find a similar, albeit slightly darker, viewing experience in Tuesday’s advanced screening of “Locke” in List 120, Kim said. Starring Tom Hardy in what Kim called “basically a one-man show,” the plot develops through the enigmatic, one-sided telephone conversations of Ivan Locke as he drives through the night to an undisclosed location.

“This is a very tense, very interesting way of creating a film, and I’m excited to see how that folds out,” Kim said.

Kim said multiple Brown alums, including director Leah Meyerhoff ’01, contributed to “I Believe in Unicorns.” An advance screening of the film will take place on Thursday in MacMillan 117, followed by a question-and-answer session with Meyerhoff.

Thursday’s free screening of the documentary “Cutie and the Boxer” illustrates the life of struggling Japanese artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. The film focuses on the sometimes fraught relationship between husband and wife as they both pursue careers in visual art.

“This isn’t some snobby art film about weird Japanese artists,” Kim said. “It’s about the universal theme of love and what does it mean to be together with someone forever.”

Blake Beaver ’14, executive director of IFF, spoke of the film’s social implications, stating that it “takes a really incredible look at what it means to be a struggling artist in an elitist, capitalist society, how those tensions work and what sacrifices the artist has to make within that system.”

A question-and-answer session with director Zachary Heinzerling and the Shinohara couple will follow the screening.

The festival will also include a “Women in Entertainment” discussion panel, which will take place Saturday. The panel will feature talent agent Nancy Josephson, set decorator Karen O’Hara, casting director Samantha Stiglitz and TV executive Lauren Zalaznick.

“From the beginning, we decided we wanted to have a women’s panel to answer the call for changes in the contemporary film industry,” Beaver said. “All of these women are extremely prominent and successful and really great models for how women in the industry are subverting those disproportionate representations and inequalities.”

Friday night will shine the spotlight on two figures in the film industry with highly divergent career tracks. The first event will be a Q&A with David Frankel, who directed blockbuster hits such as “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley and Me.” The second will be a lecture from filmmaker Casey Neistat.

Neistat “does really cool stuff like subversive small film pieces and extended advertisements for progressive brands,” Beaver said.

“In this way, we can see how filmmaking merges with sectors of social innovation and enterprise, and serves as an avenue for students to see that there’s not just one channel of huge-budget, comedy, drama films,” Beaver said.

IFF will also showcase student-made work in three blocks of two hours each Friday and Saturday in the Martinos Auditorium of the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

“The blocks provide a platform to highlight achievements by student filmmakers and to celebrate film as medium itself,” Kim said. Student-made films do not often receive attention due to their low-budget production and less-than-feature length, he added.

The program committee selected 27 films out of approximately 300 submissions from around the world, Kim said.

Erica James ’14, one of the programming coordinators, said submissions fall into three categories: undergraduate, graduate and international student work. The committee of approximately 20 students pares down the submissions to the best three to five in each of the genre categories, which include drama, comedy, animation, experimental and documentary.

James said this process is “collaborative,” often relying on group discussions or votes. Though films are ultimately selected based on general criteria such as cinematography, acting and production value, each film is also evaluated against other films in its category.

“We definitely have an eye toward how each film fits into one another — for example, we try to structure our blocks to show the diversity of the films in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing for the audience,” she said.

James said the best submissions strike a balance between technical quality and the proper execution of an idea.

“Sometimes it’s tricky, because we’ll get some films that are visually great with an incredibly high production value, but leave something to be desired in the way of story, character development or acting,” James said.

This year, James said she is most impressed with the quality of work in the animation category, which features “some incredibly strong pieces — the best I’ve ever seen.”

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