Friday, March 30, 2012

Highlights of film fest's final weekend

On the last 2 1/2 days of the Cleveland International Film Festival, the hallway outside Tower City Cinemas will fill with tightly-packed throngs of moviegoers. Getting into the films you want to see can be a challenge.

Advance planning is important. Plenty of films are already on "standby," which means the same thing at the film fest as it does when flying: it's not quite sold out, but those who don't already have a ticket may or may not get a seat.

So here are a few tips based on the buzz I've heard at the festival. These films all still have tickets available (as of Friday afternoon). To grab tickets in advance, go online, call 877-304-FILM, or stop by Tower City. You can receive a $2 online ticket discount by using the code CLEMAG.

1. Under African Skies. This documentary tells the tale of Paul Simon's masterpiece album, Graceland, his collaboration with several South African musicians. Their creativity, and footage from a 25th anniversary reunion concert, duets uneasily with the album's troubled political history: Simon recorded the album in South Africa despite a United Nations cultural boycott, meant to help end apartheid. WCPN's Dee Perry interviewed Simon about the film this week (click here to listen; the interview starts at 2:00). Tomorrow's showing is on standby, but Sunday night's isn't yet.

2. The Art of Love. This French comedy by Emmanuel Mouret, known for his ensemble comedies that owe a lot to Woody Allen, plays tonight at 9:20 pm and Sunday at 12:05 pm. These times aren't in the program; they were rescheduled due to a snafu. The festival accidentally received an untranslated version of the film and didn't discover the mistake until last Saturday's screening. So a subtitled version has been air-freighted from France.

3. Hot Line and Come As You Are. Tomorrow morning, early risers get one more chance to see the two racy European comedies that have generated a lot of word-of-mouth among hard-core festival-goers. Hot Line, at 9:15 am, follows three German women who decide to keep their little village shop afloat by starting a phone-sex line. In Come As You Are, a quirky Belgian road comedy showing at 9:30 am, three disabled guys head for Spain in hopes of losing their virginities, under cover of taking a wine tour.

4. Best of the shorts. Programs of short films dot the festival calendar all week, but Sunday is the best day to indulge a short attention span. During the fest, judges watch every shorts program, and audience members rate the films on the way out the door -- all to compile the Independent Shorts Audience Awards program at 11 am Sunday and the Independent Shorts Jury Awards show at 2:30 pm.

5. Fountain Films, free on Saturday night. Those who get shut out of the Saturday night showings can watch a free shorts program at dusk near the Tower City fountain. The Fountain Films show includes shorts from past years, including The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, winner of an Oscar for best animated short film.

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