Over 70 movies will be screened during the four-day run of this year's Charlotte Film Festival. Here, festival founder Louis Gurgitano shares his thoughts on some of his favorites.
Pretty in the Face: This small film is my personal favorite feature in the festival. Not because the filmmaker is a guy from Greensboro, N.C., who studied filmmaking at the North Carolina School of the Arts, but because the movie feels so real that I was pretty close to tears by the end of it. It's one of those no-bull stories that you're still thinking about a week after you saw it. There was an article about it in Variety that nailed it on the head. It said that it's "a fine example of what indie film supporters dream about -- a personal film style, solid script, authentic emotional drive and seldom explored themes." In a nutshell, it's about the brotherly bond that an overweight boy develops with this woman who's just lonely despite being surrounded by a lot of people. I think it's a real relevant story in today's society and a truly moving film. The aesthetic style of the film -- gritty, rough -- isn't my cup of tea, but the acting and story are so incredible that I stopped noticing it after a minute and really enjoyed the film.
In the Shadow of the Moon: We're obviously proud to have this in our schedule, since it will be premiering in Charlotte at our festival at the same time it begins playing in the "big cities." Hooray for Charlotte! The film is about a time when America was focused on more inspiring stuff. Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecrafts voyaged to the moon, and 12 men walked on its surface. The movie contains some never-before-seen footage, including astonishing shots remastered from the original NASA film rolls. Having said that, it's not a film just for people who are into space; it's a very intimate story filled with interviews with the surviving astronauts who just shine through as witty, emotional and very human.
Building a Broken Mousetrap: This is a movie I think many of your readers will like knowing is coming to Charlotte. It's the Jem Cohen concert film featuring the punk Dutch band The Ex during their show at The Knitting Factory on September 11, 2004. The footage from the concert is intercut with vibrant images of New York City -- now illegal to film under the Patriot Act -- and anti-war, anti-Bush demonstrations going on at the time. It's a must-see for lovers of punk music. The film is playing at ImaginOn's Wachovia Playhouse -- I mention this because the theater is a state-of-the-art facility that seats 250 people and features a great sound and projection system.
Adrenaline: I joke that our opening night film is part roller-coaster ride. What's amazing about it, aside from the fact that the pace of it builds and builds from frame one, is that it was filmed in one single, continuous, 90-minute shot. It never cuts for 90 minutes. The movie was filmed in Tennessee and, last I heard a few days ago from Robert Lynn, the director, he was about to sign a deal to direct a feature with Warner Bros. As of right now, he's supposed to be coming to our gala, which will precede the screening of Adrenaline. I can't wait to chat with him and ask him all about his deal. After all, if it does go through, it's what all indie filmmakers dream about and what film festivals are there to support. Plus, it might be the last time a nobody like me might get a chance to talk to him.
Black Gold / Our Daily Bread: Black Gold [about the inadequacies in the world's coffee trade] and Our Daily Bread [focusing on the often gruesome world of high-tech agriculture] are two of my favorite documentaries -- both films I discovered by accident when I ran across the Human Rights Film Festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina earlier this year. They're amazing.
And these are just some of the films. I haven't even mentioned shorts or student films. The best thing for anyone who wants to know what's playing is to check out our online guide or download the PDF version of the program, both at our Web site (www.charlottefilmfestival.org). For people who'd rather see trailers to decide what they want to watch, we have a page dedicated to them on our online event guide. We also upload a new one everyday to our MySpace page (www.myspace.com/charlottefilmfestival). We encourage people to come on and become our friends.