So many KIFF titles.
So little time.
Yes, blogheads, I’ve only recently completed my annual ritual of watching all (well, most of) the movies screening at this year’s Kansas International Film Festival scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 6 at the Glenwood Arts Theatre in Overland Park. And, as we’ve come to expect from KIFF, it’s an impressive lineup. (For a complete schedule and synopses of the fest titles, visit www.kansasfilm.com).
There are several ambitious and effective social issue documentaries: “Another Planet” (child labor), “Deforce” (racism and political repression in Detroit), “Genocide Revealed” (Stalin’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Ukraine), “Left by the Ship” (the abandoned Philippine offspring of American military personnel), “Project Happiness” (American teens travel the globe to understand the sources of contentment), “The Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley” (the war over reintroducing wolves to the American West).
There’s a trio of very well-produced films about the Nazi era: “Haberman,” “ Berlin 36” and “A Hitler.”
And there’s a handful of Hollywood movies making their regional debut at KIFF: The psychological thriller “Take Shelter” with Michael Shannon and the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain; “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” with Tilda Swinton as the mother of a boy involved in a high school killing spree; “Like Crazy,” a Sundance hit about a British student (Felicity Jones) separated from her American lover (Anton Yelchin) when her visa runs out.
Generally speaking, KIFF documentaries tend to impress me more than the narratives. This is no surprise. One person can make a pretty great documentary.
A “story” film, on the other hand, is an incredibly complicated venture that requires the participation of dozens of people. There’s so much more that can go wrong. This is why my list of 10 Gotta-See KIFF films is so heavy on nonfiction titles. So here’s my list of the movies you should make an effort to catch:
“ISRAEL vs. ISRAEL” (3:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2): A GREAT documentary guaranteed to start fistfights in the lobby.
Terje Carlsson turns his camera on several Israeli peace activists (one of them a former Israeli soldier, another a grandmother) working to stem what they view as their own country’s illegal annexation of the West Bank and the eviction/subjugation of its Arab inhabitants.
These individuals — all Jews — are regarded as traitors by many of their countrymen.
What they’re up against is shown in several key confrontations between right-wing Jewish settlers and their Arab neighbors. Carlsson’s cameras film these incidents from the Jewish side of the battle lines, perhaps giving the settlers the impression that the filmmakers shared their agenda. As a result the cameras captured several cringeworthy displays of racial hatred and religious arrogance. (more…)