by Rob Drew
Three of the 25 films playing the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival in early November were made in Michigan -- and each of them is an award winner.
“Annabelle and Bear” tells the story of a burly biker and his 2-year-old daughter. “Myth of the American Sleepover” finds four teens celebrating the last night of summer before the new school year starts. And “Where Soldiers Come From” is a documentary following four Upper Peninsula friends serving in Afghanistan.
Collectively the three won honors at the Midwest Film Festival, South by Southwest Film Festival and Traverse City Film Festival. And Amy S. Weber, the writer/director of “Annabelle,” will visit Saginaw during the festival to talk about filmmaking in Michigan.
In its fifth year, the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival runs from Wednesday, Nov. 2, through Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Temple Theatre, 203 N. Washington -- showing on four screens within the complex.
On the bill are independent, foreign and documentary films from around the world.
Among other feature film highlights are:
|"Win Win" with Paul Giamatti|
-- “Win Win,” from writer-director Tom McCarthy. Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”/”American Splendor”) stars as a luckless lawyer who scams an elderly client. Soon, however, he comes into contact with the old man’s grandson, a wrestling prodigy and a perfect candidate for the high school wrestling team Giamatti’s character coaches, and the complications begin.
-- “Attack the Block,” a British science-fiction comedy from first-time director Joe Cornish. The film opens on a dark street in a dicey part of London where a young nurse is walking home and finds herself surrounded by a gang of young thugs. The thugs are about to mug her when something shoots out of the sky and lands in a nearby car.
As a result, she and the boys are fleeing an invasion of pitch black, glow-eyed aliens who seem to be targeting them.
-- “Beginners,” Mike Mills’ comedy starring Ewan McGregor as a graphic artist who must learn to cope with his father’s surprising revelation. Christopher Plummer stars as dear old dad.
-- “Another Year,” a domestic comedy from Mike Leigh, the British director behind “Happy Go Lucky” and “Secrets & Lies.”
-- “The Guard,” a transatlantic buddy pic teaming Brendan Gleason as a decadent Irish cop and Don Cheadle as a straitlaced FBI agent taking on international drug smugglers.
Four other documentaries are on the bill along with “Soldiers.” They include:
-- “The Interrupters,” directed by Steve James, who is best known for “Hoop Dreams,” the Chicago basketball saga often ranked among the best documentaries ever made.
In “The Interrupters,” James follows the efforts of CeaseFire, a Chicago conflict mediation group seeking to break the cycle of violence that infects the streets and neighborhoods of the Windy City. The film focuses on the complex stories of former gang members who now devote their lives to interrupting gang violence, often at great personal risk.
|"Cave of Forgotten Dreams"|
-- Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” which provides a rare look inside the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc. This hidden wonder was discovered by three French cavers in 1994 and is home to stunning wall paintings which are among the planet’s oldest known works of art.
The cave was closed off to tourists soon after its discovery, yet Herzog convinced the French government to allow him to plumb the cave’s depths with a small film crew and a team of researchers. Herzog’s voiceover brings an appropriate mix of wonder, humor and sheer craziness to the project.
Also showing during the festival is the 1992 Penny Marshall classic “In a League of Their Own” -- a story of the real-life World War II-era All American Girls Professional Baseball League. League player Mary Moore, now 78, will speak about her career as a special festival guest.
Single tickets are $6 and festival passes $40, on sale at the Temple Theatre and at www.templetheatre.com. For a list of the films, show times and other information, log on to www.riversidesaginawfilmfestival.org
Among the major festival sponsors are Hemlock Semiconductor, Saginaw Arts and Enrichment Commission, Citizens Bank Wealth Management, Temple Theatre, Delta Broadcasting, Public Libraries of Saginaw, WNEM-Channel 5, the Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation and the Jury Foundation.