Columbus Alive, Drexel Theatres Group and Nationwide Realty Investors, co-presenters of the Deep Focus Film Festival, Columbus’ first festival of the best independent films, announced the schedule of films to premiere locally during the event. The festival will begin the evening of Thursday, May 5, and continue through Sunday, May 8, 2005, with all screenings to take place at the Arena Grand Theatre.
Opening Night Gala
“Off the Map”
A Holedigger Studios release
It’s hard to describe the spell Campbell Scott and a stellar group of actors, including Joan Allen, Sam Elliott and J.K. Simmons, cast on viewers in Scott’s third directorial effort. Told from the viewpoint of pre-teen Bo, Off the Map is a simple, enchanting tale of a family living “off the map” in just about every sense — a remote desert home, no phone, no electricity and a yearly income of about $5000, but enough of a presence in modern society to attract the attention of the IRS. The arrival of a young tax collector shakes up the family’s life, but refreshingly, not in any of the ways you might expect. (Gala ticketholders are invited to partake in appetizers and cocktails during the gala party at Red Star Tavern, 191 W. Nationwide Blvd., immediately following the screening.)
Screening: Thursday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. “Brothers”
An IFC release. Sponsored by Jones Day
Both an intense drama and a timely reminder of the human costs of war, this Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner by Danish director Suzanne Bier centers on two brothers – a responsible army officer with a beautiful wife and children, and a drinker fresh out of prison – and the profound changes that occur in both when the former is sent to Afghanistan, then taken hostage and presumed dead.
Screenings: Friday, May 6, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 8, at 4 p.m. “The Animation Show”
Co-programmers Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Office Space) and Don Hertzfeldt have compiled a second edition of their successful touring animation program. This year’s selection features over a dozen short films in a wide variety of styles, including Hertzfeldt’s own 14-minute, hand-drawn epic The Meaning of Life, and Bill Plympton’s Guard Dog, a 2004 Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short.
Screenings: Saturday, May 7, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, May 8, at 1 p.m. “The Aristocrats”
Midwest premiere. Introduction and post-screening Q&A with co-director Paul Provenza. For mature audiences only. A ThinkFilm release. Sponsored by Studio 35
About 80 comedians, from Drew Carey to Eric Idle, Jon Stewart to Bob Saget, share their variations on a joke so old no one knows its real origins, and so dirty few have ever told it in public — until now. A hit at Sundance and South by Southwest, the documentary by Provenza and co-director Penn Gillette (of Penn & Teller) celebrates the art of comedy while testing the power of really foul language to provoke shock, awe and laughter in the listener.
Screening: Friday, May 6, at 10:30 p.m. “Mad Hot Ballroom”
A Paramount Classics release. Sponsored by 5/3 Bank
A diverse mix of kids from all over the New York City public school system are introduced to the rhythm and required etiquette within the world of ballroom dancing in Marilyn Agrelo’s highly acclaimed documentary, which started a surprise bidding war among film distributors at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival.
Screening: Saturday, May 7, at 4 p.m. “Moolaade”
A New Yorker release. Sponsored by Marconi Square, Bernard and Miriam Yenkin
Senegalese master filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, the first African to produce a feature film, still maintains extraordinary creative power in his 80s. Arriving here with multiple awards and heaps of audience and critical praise behind it (the film was number five on Roger Ebert’s Top 10 of 2004), his latest takes a difficult subject — the ritual of female circumcision — and makes it the source of a stirring, sometimes funny, ultimately uplifting example of how one strong-willed woman, standing up for her own daughter and other young girls, can combat an entire culture.
Screenings: Saturday, May 7, at 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, May 8, at 1:30 p.m. “My Summer of Love”
Midwest premiere. A Focus Features release. Sponsored by Dooley & Company
Writer-director Paul Pavlikovsky’s 2004 BAFTA winner for Best British Film takes place over one long, hot summer in the British mining town of Yorkshire. There, two teenage girls form an intense bond that goes beyond friendship, past love and into the realm of obsession, all under the watchful, judgmental eye of one’s older brother, a Christian fundamentalist, played by Paddy Considine (In America).
Screening: Saturday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. “Dorian Blues”
A TLA release. Sponsored by Downtown Connection
A comedy for anyone who’s felt like an outsider, this witty, award-winning festival favorite, the feature debut by writer-director Tennyson Bardwell, follows teenage Dorian as he comes to terms with being gay, and tries to get his stern father and denial-happy mother to do the same.
Screenings: Saturday, May 7 at 9 p.m.; Sunday, May 8, at 6 p.m. “One Missed Call”
A Media Blasters release. Sponsored by Video Central
Incredibly prolific Japanese horror master Takashi Miike, whose films are rarely seen in U.S. theaters, has had a career that’s covered everything from goofy, family-friendly comedy to unrelenting gore. This entry, already pegged for an American remake, brings the unique filmmaker into The Ring territory with its tale of a curse that starts when a young woman gets a cell phone call from the near future, from the moment of her impending death.
Screenings: Saturday, May 7; at 10 p.m.; Sunday, May 8, at 7 p.m. “Zero Degrees of Separation”
U.S. theatrical premiere. Introduction and post-screening Q&A with director Elle Flanders. Sponsored by the Wexner Center for the Arts
Completed in part in the Wexner Center’s Art & Technology Department, this documentary comes here from a successful world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. The experiences of two gay couples of mixed race living in Israel (one partner’s Israeli, the other’s Palestinian) are paired with home movies of the filmmaker’s grandparents participating in the creation of Jewish settlements there in 1946. Flanders combines these images and opinions with alarming statistics to form a close, critical look at the political and cultural climate spawned by that moment in history.
Screening: Sunday, May 8, at 3:30 p.m. Closing Night Selection
A ThinkFilm release
The only major difference between the subjects of this thoroughly entertaining documentary, another Sundance Audience Award winner, and the members of any other full-contact sports team are their custom-made wheelchairs. Energetic camerawork and a kick-ass soundtrack enhance Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s depiction of the 2002 Paralympic U.S. quad rugby team (“Murderball” is the game’s original name), which includes turns of fate no screenwriter could top, and reveals just about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the physical life of a quadriplegic but were afraid to ask.
Screening: Sunday, May 8, at 8 p.m. Melissa Starker, arts editor for Alive as well as the festival’s director, Drexel Theatres president Jeff Frank, Chris Stults, curatorial assistant in the Film/Video Department at the Wexner Center for the Arts, and Mark Pfeiffer, a producer and film critic for Otterbein College’s WOCC-TV, contributor to The Film Journal and member of the Online Film Critics Society, selected the festival program.
Short films by Ohio filmmakers will also be presented before select features. Details on these, as well as the names of local guests who will introduce festival screenings, will be announced on the festival’s website, www.deepfocusfilmfest.com. A program will also be available to patrons at the Arena Grand during the festival.
Tickets for the Opening Night Gala will go on sale Saturday, April 23. Single tickets to all other festival screenings are $10 general admission, $8 with student ID. Discounts will be offered on full price admissions with the purchase of 10 tickets or more. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 16, at the Arena Grand box office, 175 W. Nationwide Blvd., and online at www.arenagrand.com.
Major sponsorship of the Deep Focus Film Festival is provided by Toyota Scion, CD101 and Orange Barrel Media. For more information about the event, call the Arena Grand at (614) 469-5000, Alive’s offices at (614) 221-2449, or click to the festival’s website, www.deepfocusfilmfest.com.