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MARCH

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MAY

--Bicycle Film Festival
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ONGOING --Animation Block
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NYC Film Festivals

More Tribeca: Fred Durst Breaks Through

By S.T. VanAirsdale

The Tribeca parade continues today with the official selections in the Discovery, Showcase and Family Festival sections. And while there are plenty of notable films among the 63 titles sent along this afternoon, few stoke the curiosity as vigorously as a particular world premiere we first told you about Monday:

The Education of Charlie Banks, directed by Fred Durst, written by Peter Elkoff. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst makes his directorial debut with this potent coming-of-age drama about confronting one's fears. Pensive, honorable college student Charlie Banks (Jesse Eisenberg) must reconcile with his past when he gets an unexpected visit from a hometown thug—who may or may not know that Charlie once ratted him out to the police.

So just for the record: The man who "came into this world as a reject" in a song called "Nookie" found acceptance at last in Tribeca. Quit laughing and raise your damned glass like the rest of us.

Meanwhile, scroll down to the jump for full listings by sections or read on for a few other especially noteworthy program highlights:

--Among the higher-profile dramatic narrative films, Elijah Wood and Chris Klein star in the draft drama Day Zero while Watching the Detectives, starring Cillian Murphy and Lucy Liu, was filmed all over the area, from Brooklyn to Bayonne. If you'd like, feel free to relive the 2003 blackout in Brooklyn with Jeffrey Wright and Melvin van Peebles (among others) in Blackout.

--The Third Wave, about relief efforts in Sri Lanka, was partially filmed in New York by Alison Thompson, whose previous film was the would-be cult classic High Times' Potluck. Yes, that High Times.

--Locally grown docs don't look too bad: Harlem's best-known (living) gay African American novelist is profiled in The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman. Nearly a year-and-a-half after its original New York work-in-progress screening, Wazhmah Osman and Kelly Dolak's Postcards from Tora Bora debuts in finished form. New Yorker Stephanie Johnes' jump-rope documentary Doubletime hops in after its world premiere at South by Southwest. And comic book fans: Geek your heart out over Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, a biography of the seminal illustrator and creator of The Spirit.

--For what its worth, you'll find the highest concentration of Park City '07 alums in Showcase, with the Darfur doc The Devil Came on Horseback, Nanking and Fraulein coming from Sundance and the Picturehouse pick-up The King of Kong landing from Slamdance.

--Among the international highlights, look for the Korean crime thriller/character drama A Dirty Carnival and György Pálfi's riveting Cannes gross-out Taxidermia. Not to mention Cyrus Frisch's Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan, shot entirely on the filmmaker's cell phone.

--Gumby: The Movie makes a return for the Family Festival, joining films about a pair of teens who drive from L.A. to Pittsburgh to see Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit and a father and daughter who communicate with dolphins.

Follow the jump for the full program in each section. Tomorrow: The shorts!

DISCOVERY

The Discovery section includes 39 feature films both narrative and documentary, which are the work of up-and-coming directors from 12 countries. Films in this section include such talent as Eva Mendes, Matthew Perry, Lucy Liu, Elijah Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Anna Paquin and the directorial debut of Fred Durst. Discovery titles cover a diverse spectrum of stories ranging from the fascination of facing childhood fears to the journey of a transgender and from the scenario of a reinstated military draft to six horses’ path to the Kentucky Derby.

* Alexis Arquette: She’s my Brother, a documentary directed by Matthew Barbato. (U.K.) – World Premiere. An intriguing look at sex and celebrity, this richly textured documentary, filled with drag queens and Hollywood glitterati, is actually a serious movie about transgendered life. In this unique and candid work, Alexis reveals a more private side as she grapples with the process of sex reassignment surgery.

* Amexicano, directed by Matthew Bonifacio, written by Carmine Famigelietti. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A low-key, charming depiction of working-class American life, this rare gem explores the surprising bond between a hard-working illegal immigrant and a blue-collar Italian American from Queens. Wrestling language barriers and racial prejudices, the two grow closer as their worlds expand, while the permanent threat of deportation looms large. In English and Spanish.

* Armin directed and written by Ognjen Svilicic. (Croatia, Germany, Bosnia and Herzogovina) – North American Premiere. Ibro takes his 13-year-old son Armin from their small Bosnian village to Croatia to audition for a German film about the Balkan conflict. A skeptical take on the promises of the "New Europe," Armin is also the story of a growing relationship between a father and a son. In Croatian, German, Bosnian and English.

* Autism: The Musical, a documentary directed by Tricia Regan. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Although the statistic is alarming—one in 150 children in the U.S. is now diagnosed with autism—this documentary is steeped in a sense of optimism. Filmed over the course of one year, it follows five autistic children in Los Angeles as they write and rehearse their own full-length musical, tossing aside all stereotypes in the process.

* The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez, a documentary directed by Kieran Fitzgerald. (U.S.A) – U.S. Premiere. Nearly ten years after the death of an 18-year-old American at the hands of a U.S. Marine team fighting the War on Drugs in Texas, the border continues to see increased militarization. Juxtaposing the victim's family’s grief with the Marines' frustration and guilt in their first on-screen interviews, this probing documentary, narrated by Tommy Lee Jones, asks, “is history doomed to repeat itself?” In English and Spanish. Winner, Best Documentary, Mexico City Film Festival.

* Blackout, directed and written by Jerry Lamothe. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. In summer 2003, America experienced the largest blackout in its history—widely reported as peaceful. But in Brooklyn's forgotten East Flatbush neighborhood, mayhem unfolded when the power shut down. This is the untold story of the blackout—a place where, as night fell, looters emerged, violence surfaced and residents feared for their lives. With Melvin Van Peebles and Jeffrey Wright.

* Blue State, directed and written by Marshall Lewy. (U.S.A., Canada) – World Premiere. After Bush's re-election in 2004, John (Breckin Meyer), a distraught Democrat, decides to move to Canada after receiving a call from "Marry-a-Canadian," established to help disgruntled liberals "escape" from the U.S. When Chloe (Anna Paquin) answers his ad for the road trip, he soon finds that the misadventures of the open highway bring them closer in this lighthearted road trip tale.

* The Business of Being Born, a documentary directed by Abby Epstein. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. In this candid and eye-opening documentary, director Epstein and producer Ricki Lake tackle the controversial debate between at-home and hospital births in the US. Shocking facts (to men and women alike) regarding the historical and current practices of the child birthing industry interweave with footage of married couples opting for home childbirth.

* Day Zero, directed by Bryan Gunnar Cole, written by Rob Malkani. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. The draft has been reinstated. Our conflicting attitudes toward war are examined through the eyes of Aaron (Elijah Wood), George (Chris Klein) and Dixon (Jon Bernthal), as each prepares to report for duty and learns, individually, what it means to "serve with honor."

* The Education of Charlie Banks, directed by Fred Durst, written by Peter Elkoff. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst makes his directorial debut with this potent coming-of-age drama about confronting one's fears. Pensive, honorable college student Charlie Banks (Jesse Eisenberg) must reconcile with his past when he gets an unexpected visit from a hometown thug—who may or may not know that Charlie once ratted him out to the police.

* Falafel, directed and written by Michel Kammoun. (Lebanon/France.) – North American Premiere. Everything bad that can happen on the way to a party happens to easygoing young Tou in this chronicle of a nighttime trip though Beirut, permeated by the smell of falafel frying at neon-lit stands. Flipping between the playful youth and scenes of unexpected danger, Kammoun creates a kind of Lebanese After Hours.

* Fiestapatria, directed by Luis R. Vera. (Chile, Peru) – World Premiere. As two families celebrate the engagement of their children, one of the betrothed discovers the family's dark secret. A provocative metaphor on the social and moral state of Chile, from the start of the Pinochet dictatorship to today, Fiestapatria tells its tale through a gallery of characters representative of Chilean society.

* The First Saturday in May, a documentary directed by The Hennegan Brothers, written by The Hennegan Brothers and Mark Krewatch. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Heartbreak and hope abound in this engrossing documentary about the holy grail of horse racing—the Kentucky Derby. Two brothers travel from Arkansas to Dubai and on to Churchill Downs to trace the paths of six rising equine stars, including the heroic Barbaro, and the people, passion and dreams at the core of this breakneck competition.

* A Guest of Life (Az Èlet Vendége), a documentary directed by Tibor Szemzö. (Hungary) – North American Premiere. In 1819, a Transylvanian traveler set out on foot for Asia, convinced that there he would discover "the original Hungarians." What he found, at the foot of the Himalayas, introduced Tibet's rich culture and the practice of Buddhism to the world at large. A first film by one of Hungary's leading film composers, narrated in English by Susannah York.

* Hard as Nails, a documentary directed by David Holbrooke. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. This fascinating documentary follows unordained evangelical minister Justin Fatica on his quest to save America's soul. Fatica uses his Hard As Nails Ministry to promote the gospel to all Christian faiths and reach out to the MTV generation. His gruff style and unusual methods bring salvation to some, but seem horrifyingly troublesome to others.

* Hellfighters, a documentary directed by Jon Frankel, written by Jon Frankel and Siobhan Dunne. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. The Hellfighters, Harlem's only high school football team, are a long way from Friday Night Lights. The bleachers are empty, practice space scarce and the Board of Education ruthless, but under the perseverance of coach Duke Ferguson, the Hellfighters are playing their way out of the ghetto, one touchdown at a time.

* In Search of a Midnight Kiss, directed and written by Alex Holdridge. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Broke and alone on New Year's Eve, Wilson just wants to spend the rest of a very bad year in bed. But when his best friend convinces him to post a personal ad, he meets a woman hell-bent on finding the right guy to be with at midnight. With just hours to go and the promise of a fresh start, it's a sweet and funny spin through the streets of Los Angeles.

* Jerabek, a documentary directed by Civia Tamarkin (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. A powerful and deeply personal story of one Midwestern family confronting the death of a son in Iraq, Jerabek chronicles the lives of those closest to the fallen marine for nearly two years, as they try to cope with their tremendous loss and wonder what price they will have to pay to keep another son from suffering the same fate.

* The Last Jews of Libya, a documentary directed by Vivienne Roumani-Denn. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. This family memoir recounts the history of an uprooted North African community. After WWII, Libya still had a small, but strong, Sephardic Jewish population with its own traditions and dialect. Sixty years later, no one remains. Roumani-Denn tells her family's history—Libyans for centuries, now scattered throughout the Diaspora. Narrated by Isabella Rossellini. In English, Hebrew, Italian and Arabic. Preceded by Shut-Eye Motel, Bill Plympton, USA, 2007, 12 min

* Lillie & Leander: A Legacy of Violence, a documentary directed by Jeffrey Morgan. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Investigating the turn-of-the-century murder of her great-great aunt, a woman stumbles upon an explosive secret that hints at her own family's involvement in decades of racially charged murders. More than a crime investigation, this documentary takes an uncensored look at a community trying desperately to bury its racist past.

* Live! directed and written by Bill Guttentag. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. What if everyday people played a game of Russian Roulette with a loaded gun on live television? Would you watch? A network executive (Eva Mendes) certainly hopes so as she puts her career on the line, producing such a reality show. In this dark satire, a documentary crew follows the behind-the-scenes struggle to air this controversial show. Also starring David Krumholtz and Produced by Eva Mendes.

* The Man of Two Havanas, a documentary directed by Vivien Lesnik Weisman. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Growing up in Miami, the director witnessed drive-by shootings and death threats directed toward her father, a former friend of Fidel Castro and opponent of the embargo. Using never-before-heard CIA audiotapes and fascinating interviews with her father, Weisman links his past and present in an eye-opening film that's sure to be talked about. In Spanish and English.

* Normal Adolescent Behavior, directed and written by Beth Schacter. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. A darkly comic look at precocious teens grappling with sex, excess and alienation. Avoiding the high school party scene and random hookups, Wendy (Amber Tamblyn) and her friends form a clique that claims a more fluid sexuality. Schacter's directorial debut delivers a provocative take on teen romance in this modern promiscuous age. A New Line Cinema Release.

* Numb, directed and written by Harris Goldberg. (Canada, U.S.A.) – World Premiere. In this dark comedy, Matthew Perry stars as Hudson, a love-struck screenwriter suffering from acute depersonalization disorder—which makes chronic depression seem like a walk in the park by comparison. When Hudson falls for the girl of his dreams, he must put himself through every therapy imaginable to win her love.

* On the Downlow, a documentary directed by Abigail Child. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. A revealing portrait of four African-American men living in Cleveland, who all confront the struggles of everyday existence and the process of coming out. Experimental filmmaker Abigail Child uncovers their secrets as she explores the sexual, racial, and familial dichotomies of their lives. Screens with The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman.

* Palo Alto, directed by Brad Leong, written by Tony Vallone. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. It's a bittersweet homecoming when four college freshmen return to their quiet northern California town for Thanksgiving. In the tradition of American Graffiti, this first feature film by college students Brad Leong and Tony Vallone follows the adventures of four friends on one eventful night that changes everything.

* The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman, a documentary directed by Fred Barney Taylor. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. A fascinating portrait of science fiction writer and renaissance African-American artist and teacher Samuel R. Delany includes vivid tales of his sexual escapades in this experimental documentary. Screens in conjunction with On the Downlow

* Postcards from Tora Bora, a documentary directed by Wazhmah Osman and Kelly Dolak. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, co-director Osman’s family fled to America with only a handful of photos and movies as reminders of the lives they had led. Now she returns home to search for her past and her father, who never left. Her quest reveals the history of this war-torn country in this personal film that's full of personality. In English and Farsi.

* The Premonition (Le Pressentiment) directed by Jean-Pierre Darroussin, written by Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Valérie Stroh. (France) – North American Premiere. Noted actor Darroussin's directorial debut portrays the spiritual journey of a wealthy Parisian lawyer (memorably played by Darroussin) who, in an attempt to shed the shackles of social conditioning, abandons the corrupt bourgeois world of his wife and family and moves to a working-class multi-ethnic neighborhood.

* So, a documentary directed by Aimee Jennings. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Inspired by Chris Marker's Sans Soleil, this experimental road movie celebrates being single with one woman's trip through Australia. Still photographs, pixilated moving images and voiceover narration comprise an intimate self-portrait that becomes a personal journey to overcome fear, search for contentedness and accept life's experience as the accumulation of fragments of memory.

* Sons of Sakhnin United, a documentary directed by Christopher Browne, co-directed by Alexander H. Browne. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Jews and Arabs striving for a common goal can seem unlikely in today's world, and yet—as depicted in this insightful documentary—the small Arab town of Sakhnin has been united by sport. Beating the odds in a quixotic quest for Israel's State Cup, the multi-ethnic soccer team B'Nei Sakhnin battles to maintain their premiere league status. In English, Hebrew and Arabic.

* Take, directed and written by Charles Oliver. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. The lives of two strangers—a struggling mother (Minnie Driver) and a gambling addict (Jeremy Renner)—converge in unspeakable tragedy. Years later, they must come to terms with themselves and one another. As two pivotal days, one past and one present, unfold in a non-linear mosaic, Take offers a powerful reflection on redemption and forgiveness.

* Takva – A Man’s Fear of God directed by Özer Kiziltan, written by Önder Çaker. (Turkey, Germany) – U.S. Premiere. In contemporary Istanbul, the basic goodness and simplicity of Muharrem, a 45-year old single man living in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, earn him new duties with the leader of the religious sect he serves so selflessly. But soon he falls victim to the group's hidden agenda, as faith and materialism collide. In Turkish. Winner, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Antalya Film Festival.

* The Third Wave, a documentary directed by Alison Thompson. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. After the 2004 Tsunami ravaged coastlines across the Pacific Ocean, four independent volunteers from around the globe arrive in the Sri Lankan town of Peraliya to help in any way they can. What begins as two-week journey spirals into a year of unrelenting heartbreak, but eventually emerges as a triumphant story about the rebirth of an impoverished town. In English and Sinhalese.

* Unstrung, a documentary directed by Rob Klug. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. Much as Spellbound did for spelling bees, Unstrung exposes the surprising dramas of the amateur tennis world, hitting the road with a handful of high school competitors as they head for the national championship. This inspiring documentary records the tremendous pressure and the sweat, blood and tears that can separate contenders from champions.

* Watching the Detectives, directed and written by Paul Soter. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Neil (Cillian Murphy) is a quirky cinephile who wishes his life were more like his favorite film noirs. Enter Violet (Lucy Liu), a real-life femme fatale who really does turn life into the movies. Sometimes love is stranger than fiction, and Neil is about to discover just how strange it can be.

* Where God Left His Shoes, directed and written by Salvatore Stabile. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Frank Diaz (John Leguizamo) and his family have been living in a homeless shelter for months. But on Christmas Eve, they receive the best gift possible-the chance for an apartment. To get it, Frank needs a job, so he and his stepson go on the hunt for employment. This heartwarming tale shows the compassion of a family that comes together when all else feels lost.

* Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, a documentary directed by Andrew D. Cooke, written by Jon B. Cooke. (U.S.A) – World Premiere. Others may be more renowned for their superhero creations, but Eisner was the godfather of the American comic book. From utilizing pictures and words to stretch the boundaries of storytelling, to innovating methods of production and publishing including the graphic novel form, Cooke's documentary presents how Eisner inspired other artists working in the field today.

* Zolykha’s Secret (Rahze Zolykha), directed and written by Horace Ahmad Shansab. (Afghanistan.) – World Premiere. A deeply moving account of a rural Afghan family struggling to eke out an existence during the brutal final years of Taliban rule – and the beginning of the new war that still rages. This is the first Afghan-produced feature to make it to the West since Osama won the 2004 Golden Globe for Best Foreign film.

SHOWCASE

The Showcase section offers festival-goers highlights from film festivals around the world. This eclectic selection of 14 films represents 11 countries and ranges from a film shot entirely on a mobile phone portraying a traumatized soldier’s perspective, to a wildly avant-garde film depicting the kidnapping of a billionaire’s dog by a deaf-mute and two ketamine addicts, as well as young girls Double Dutching their way to victory and a Mardi Gras Indian Chief’s decision to make one last carnival costume.

* Avida, directed and written by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern. (France) – U.S. Premiere. A hilarious critique of life's cruelties, this modern surrealist comedy—by the same pair of loons responsible for Aaltra (TFF 2005)—chronicles the kidnapping of a plump billionaire's dog by a deaf-mute and two ketamine addicts. In a series of absurd, grotesque sequences, the wealthy woman turns the situation around and forces them to carry out her last wishes. The squeamish should stay at home.

* Black Butterfly (Mariposa Negra), directed by Francisco Lombardi, written by Giovanna Pollarolo. (Peru) – New York Premiere. Right before the fall of Peru's President Alberto Fujimori in 2000, a demure schoolteacher conspires with a tabloid journalist to assassinate the brutal official responsible for her fiancé's murder. Peruvian auteur Francisco Lombardi based this dark tale of revenge and corruption on a novel by Alonso Cueto.

* The Devil Came On Horseback, a documentary directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern. (USA) – New York Premiere. While serving six months as an unarmed military observer with the African Union in Darfur, Sudan, former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle had access no journalist was afforded. Unable to intervene, he took thousands of uncompromising photographs that documented the genocide, then resigned his post and dedicated himself to exposing the magnitude of these atrocities.

* A Dirty Carnival (Biyeolhan Geori), directed and written by Yoo Ha. (South Korea) – New York Premiere. Low-level gangster Byung-doo takes on a high-risk mission to pay the bills for his widowed mother and siblings. But when he succeeds, he finds himself quickly rising through the ranks of South Korea's organized crime world, paving the way for this exceptional saga of greed, betrayal, violence and tragedy. The literal translation of the Korean title is "mean streets."

* Doubletime, a documentary directed by Stephanie Johnes. (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. If seeing is believing, watching these kids Double Dutch elicits double-takes and disbelief. Chronicling the world of competitive jump roping, this energetic documentary follows two teenage teams that combine dance and gymnastics to breathtaking effect, as they prepare and contend for the world championship at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

* Fireworks Wednesday (Chahar shanbeh souri), directed by Asghar Farhadi, written by Asghar Farhadi and Mani Haghighi. (Iran) – New York Premiere. On the last Wednesday before the spring solstice ushers in the Persian New Year, people set off fireworks following an ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Rouhi, spending her first day at a new job, finds herself in the midst of a different kind of fireworks—an acrimonious domestic dispute between her new boss and his wife. Winner, Golden Hugo, Chicago Film Festival.

* Fraulein (Das Fräulein) directed and written by Andrea Štaka. (Switzerland, Germany) – New York Premiere. A brilliant portrait of three women from former Yugoslavia—one Croat, one Serb and one Bosnian—searching for "home" in the cold, alienating light of contemporary Zurich, and coming to terms with the war that lives in each of them. In Swiss-German, German, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. Winner, Golden Leopard, Locarno Film Festival.

* The King of Kong, a documentary directed by Seth Gordon. (USA) – New York Premiere. To those in the know, no classic arcade game is more difficult than Donkey Kong. Maybe that's why the world record holder is so protective of his celebrity. Look inside this world of competitive gaming, as obsession and ego drive a diverse and fascinating group of individuals to fight over who is the real king of Kong. A Picturehouse Release.

* The Man From The Embassy (Der Mann von der Botschaft), directed by Dito Tsintsadze, written by Zaza Rusadze and Dito Tsintsadze. (Germany) – North American Premiere. The empty existence of a German official living in Tbilisi, Georgia, brightens when he forms a tenuous friendship with a 12-year-old girl living in one of the city's refugee camps. But corruption, violence and accusations of pedophilia taint their growing bond, echoing post-Soviet Georgia's uneasy relationship with the West. In Georgian and German.

* Nanking, a documentary directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, written by Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman, and Elisabeth Bentley. (USA) – New York Premiere. During the 1937-1938 Japanese occupation of Nanking, an estimated 200,000 Chinese were killed and 20,000 raped. But an unlikely partnership of Nazi businessmen and American missionaries saved 250,000 lives. Using letters, diaries and interviews with survivors and Japanese soldiers, Nanking exposes a still-controversial episode of WWII. In English, Japanese and Mandarin. A THINKFilm Release.

* Shame, a documentary directed by Mohammed Naqvi. (Pakistan, USA) – New York Premiere. In 2002, Mukhtaran Mai, a woman living in a remote Pakistani village, was publicly gang raped to atone for a crime her brother allegedly committed. Instead of killing herself, as she was expected to do, she raised an outcry that became an international cause. A powerful essay in courage. In Urdu and Sariki.

* Taxidermia, directed and written by György Pálfi. (Hungary, Austria, France) – U.S. Premiere. A wildly inventive and often grotesque panoply of sordid characters and imagery, this dark comedy by the director of the acclaimed Hukkle spans three generations of men in a Hungarian family: a depraved orderly, his obese son and his taxidermist grandson. From WWII through the Communist era to the present, Taxidermia charts a history of twisted desires while pushing the boundaries of imagination. A Tartan Films U.S.A release.

* Tootie’s Last Suit, a documentary directed by Lisa Katzman. (USA) – New York Premiere. Former Mardi Gras Indian Chief Tootie Montana is a New Orleans icon, famed for his brilliant handmade carnival costumes. When he decides to stage a late-life comeback, however, bitter family rivalries erupt. Filmed pre- and post-Katrina, this colorful portrait celebrates the resilient spirit of a man determined at all costs to preserve a vital cultural tradition.

* Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan (Waarom heeft niemand mij verteld dat het zo erg zou worden in Afghanistan), directed and written by Cyrus Frisch. (Netherlands) – North American Premiere. Enfant terrible Dutch filmmaker Frisch stars as the protagonist of a feature film shot entirely through a cell phone. Virtually without dialogue, the long extended sequences of a war veteran's observations of the world around him, colored by his traumatic experiences in Afghanistan, bleed into beautiful shots of abstraction.

THE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL

The Family Film Festival presents an array of films for all ages, including the T4Teens section that presents films for teenagers. From the trials and tribulations of middle school presidential elections to a journey to rescue the tooth-fairy, from the abduction of the world’s most famous boy band, the Family Film Festival has something for children, teens and parents alike.

* Brave Story directed by Koichi Chigira, written by Ichiro Okouchi. (Japan) – North American Premiere. When eleven-year-old Wataru is told he can change his destiny by entering a magic gateway into another world, he jumps at the chance. But on his quest to find the Tower of Fortune and be granted any wish, he must conjure up all his bravery to battle a world of demons, his own friends and ultimately himself. In English. Ages 10+

* Chasing 3000, directed by Greg Lanesey, written by Bill Mikita, Cris D'Annunzio, Greg Lanesey. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. It's a long, strange trip when two homesick brothers—one of whom has muscular dystrophy—decide to drive from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh on a learner's permit at the end of the 1972 baseball season for the chance to see Roberto Clemente get his 3000th hit. Based on a true story. Featuring Ray Liotta. Ages 10+

* Darius Goes West: The Roll Of His Life, a documentary directed by Logan Smalley, co-directed by Allison Firor. (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. Darius, a 15-year-old with muscular dystrophy, has never been outside of Georgia, until his 11 closest friends rent an RV and take off across the country, hoping to convince MTV's Pimp My Ride to work on his wheelchair and raise awareness about the disease. On their long adventure they learn that life, even when imperfect, is always worth the ride. Ages 14+ T4TEENS

* Eye Of The Dolphin, directed by Michael Sellers, written by Wendell Morris. (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. Sad and angry after losing her mother, 14-year-old Alyssa goes to live in the Bahamas with the father she never knew she had—a dolphin researcher busy keeping the island from becoming a tourist attraction. It's a rocky start for father and daughter, but Alyssa soon embraces the sea and finds she shares her father's talent for communicating with dolphins. Ages 14+ T4TEENS

* Gumby: The Movie, directed and written by Art Clokey. (U.S.A.) The original Green Hero! This popular 1995 claymation is re-mastered and re-edited to bring Gumby back to his band, the Clayboys, for all the action and adventure! While taking us in and out of books, from Toyland to Camelot to outer space, Gumby's optimistic personality and care for the environment shine brightly. Ages 4+

* The Hairy Tooth Fairy (El Ratón Pérez), directed by Juan Pablo Buscarini, written by Enrique Cortés. (Argentina, Spain) – U.S. Premiere. When Lucía loses a tooth, she is consoled to know that the Hairy Tooth Fairy, Pérez, will bring money in exchange. Pérez lives happily on a boat with hundreds of other mice, but tonight he encounters danger, and Lucía and a friend must set out to save him. This fascinating adventure will keep you on the edge of your seat. Ages 10+

* Impy’s Island directed by Holger Tappe and Reinhard Klooss, written by Oliver Huzly, Reinhard Klooss, Sven Severin. (Germany) – North American Premiere. In this fun-filled CGI animation, Professor Tiberton's island school of wacky creatures includes a talking penguin, lizard, shoebill and his adopted son. One day, an egg buried in an iceberg floats ashore and hatches something amazing-Impy, a baby dinosaur! But when a king wants to take Impy as a trophy, the group must protect their new friend. In English. Ages 4+

* Shredderman Rules, directed by Savage Steve Holland, written by Russell Marcus. (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. The unstoppable bully Bubba Bixby has set his sights on the dorky but lovable Nolan Byrd (Devon Werkheiser). Fed up, Nolan takes matters into his own hands. Armed with a computer, a digital camera and a top-secret web page, Nolan makes his own "cyber-superhero"—Shredderman. Will his new alter-ego make Nolan the kid to be reckoned with? Ages 6+

* Taking 5, directed by Andrew Waller, written by Shauna Cross. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. This upbeat story features the crazy escapades of two teen-idol worshippers, Gabby (Daniella Monet) and Devon (Alona Tal). These best friends are also the ultimate fans of mega-boy band 5 Leo Rise (played by real band The Click Five). When they botch their high school’s chance to win a free concert, the desperate pair cooks up a juicy plan. Ages 13+ T4TEENS

* The Third Monday In October, a documentary directed by Vanessa Roth. (U.S.A.) – New York Premiere. In the tradition of Spellbound, this charmingly funny and often moving documentary takes an intimate look at student council races in four diverse middle schools across the country. Filmmaker Vanessa Roth deftly reveals how family, national politics, geography and class all have an impact on the day that's anxiety-filled for some and a blast for others. Ages 10+

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Posted at March 15, 2007 5:26 PM

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