BROTHERS ... ON HOLY GROUND
Shortly after noon on September 11, 2001, retired FDNY firefighter and independent filmmaker Mike Lennon arrived at the site of the World Trade Center. After two hellish weeks of digging for survivors, he grabbed his camera to begin filming and interviewing at nearly every firehouse that had lost men. 54 minutes. Nova 6, noon Sunday.
Our House explores an intimate and original view of human struggle told through three unique people who were born with developmental disabilities and are living outside an institution for the first time in years. Laura survived sexual and physical abuse, a gender-identity crisis, and 10 years in a state hospital. Laura's housemate, Tim W., is haunted by a painful childhood marked by abuse and his father's murder by his stepdad. Tim S., the third housemate, has a criminal record and is learning the consequences of being an adult. This documentary won the grand-jury documentary prize at the No Dance, Thunderbird, Chicago IndieFest, and Wine Country film festivals, and the audience documentary awards at Cinequest and the Nashville Independent festivals. Directed by Sevan Matossian and Greg Shields. 83 minutes. Brew & View, 6:45pm Friday, 5:30pm Sunday.
QUEEN OF THE GYPSIES
The first feature-length documentary by award-winning filmmaker Jocelyn Ajami, and the first American film portrait of Gypsy dance legend Carmen Amaya, who brought the fury and grit of Flamence "puro" to the international stage. Born in abject poverty, she began dancing at the age of four on the streets of her native Barcelona. At the age of 23, she became a star of Spanish cinema and shortly thereafter, the darling of Broadway and Hollywood. Ajami spent four years researching and interviewing members of Carmen's family and members of her dance company in order to weave a moving human interest story. The film won the Gold Remy Award at Houston WorldFest, a Richard Driehaus Foundation Grant, and a Mass Council Production Fellowship. 81 minutes. Nova 6, 9:45pm Friday.
RENO: REBEL WITHOUT A PAUSE
Reno is an "opinionated, radical feminist alternative voice" who was the first artist to take the challenge of dealing with the September 11 terrorism attacks in public. After being awakened by the first plane crash eight blocks away, the show she was in the midst of working on stopped mattering. So she changed it to the only thing that did. Reno's rapid-fire witness to the events of 9/11 and how they affected her personally and the world at large became an emotional and cathartic work that drew crowds (including local policemen and firefighters). In light of great tragedy, Reno is searching for a way to process the complexity of the pain and find a way back to laughter in this documentary. Directed by Nancy Savoca. 75 minutes. Nova 6, noon Sunday.
A film about the "Mississippi River Trash Man," the Quad Cities' own Chad Pregracke. The filmmaker shot the footage when Pregracke was getting starting pulling trash from waterways. Filmed and directed by Quad Cities native, now L.A. filmmaker, Mark McCormick. 66 minutes. Nova 6, 12:30pm Friday; Brew & View, 6pm Saturday.
THE SAME RIVER TWICE
Working as river guides for much of the 1970s, the director and his friends lived an unscheduled, communal, often naked outdoor life. Cutting between images of a month-long river trip filmed 25 years ago and the current lives of five of these former riverdogs, the film explores bodies, time, and living with one's choices. The film won the best feature documentary award at the Nashville Independent Film Festival, the audience award at the Chicago International Film Festival, and the best independent documentary award at the New England Film & Video Festival, and it was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Robb Moss. 78 minutes. Nova 6, 5pm Friday, 11:30pm Saturday, 5:45pm Sunday.
A filmmaker reads a critically acclaimed book published in 1972 and finds out that the book and its author have nearly vanished. He tries to find out why, and in the process creates a movie for all lovers of literature. The Village Voice called the movie "a great literary mystery. I've never seen a movie that paid more heartfelt tribute to the power of artistic invention. The film won the audience and jury special award at the Slamdance International Film Festival. Directed by Mark Moskowitz. 127 minutes. Nova 6, 6:15pm Thursday, 2:30pm Friday, 3pm Sunday.
Based on real events, this debut film shows the harsh realities of life in a group home. The story deals with an artistic teen from the suburbs who is tested by the home's military-style rules and streetwise peers. The feature won four awards at the Northern California Film & Video Festival and a pair of awards at the Brooklyn Film Festival. Written and directed by Brandy Brawner. 82 minutes. Brew & View, 3:15pm Friday.
CLOSE TO LEO
A contemporary AIDS drama dealing with an openly gay 21-year-old whose family's acceptance of his sexuality is tested when he reveals that he has the disease. The family tries to keep Leo's diagnosis from his 11-year-old brother, who resents being left out. In French with English subtitles. Directed by Christophe Honoré. 88 minutes. Brew & View, 9pm Friday, 7:30pm Sunday.
THE FACE OF THE SERPENT
A political action-thriller dealing with an assassin who becomes infatuated with his next target and saves her from another assassin. Together, they try to figure out who wants her dead and why. Written and directed by David B. Craig. 116 minutes. Brew & View, 1pm Friday, 11:55 pm Saturday.
MASTER OF THE GAME
A psychological thriller in which a Jewish prisoner challenges his Nazi captors to a game. He promises to prove to them that he's superior to them, and the only catch is that they must promise to answer all his questions. The film won the audience award at the Austin Film Festival. Written by and starring Uygar Aktan, and directed by Jeff Stolhand. 105 minutes. Nova 6, 9:30pm Thursday, 7:15pm Saturday, 9:45pm Sunday.
NEVER GET OUTTA THE BOAT
Co-produced by John Cusack, this dark drama concerns a group of men struggling with drug addiction at a Los Angeles halfway house. River Cities' Reader film critic Mike Schulz said the movie "gives audiences exactly what we should want from modern movies - imagination, dedication, and talent, and all without the benefit of a huge budget." The film won an audience award at the Florida Film Festival, a jury award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival, and a Prism award. Written by Nick Gillie and directed by Paul Quinn. 113 minutes. Brew & View, 9:25pm Thursday, 9:30pm Saturday, 3pm Sunday.
NICE GUYS SLEEP ALONE
This comedy skewers the dating scene, with a "nice guy" and loser in love deciding that he has to play games to succeed in romance. Nice Guys Sleep Alone won the audience award at the Marco Island Film Festival. Written and directed by Stu Pollard. 92 minutes. Nova 6, 11:30pm Friday, 9:25pm Saturday.
NO SLEEP 'TIL MADISON
When 30-year-old Owen Fenby's friends start abandoning his annual pilgrimage to the Wisconsin State High School Hockey Tournament, he has to choose between his girlfriend and his obsession. The comedy won two awards at the Santa Monica Film Festival. Written by Erik Moe and Peter Rudy, and directed by Moe, Rudy, and David Fleer. 85 minutes. Brew & View, 11:15pm Friday, 7:35pm Saturday.
This film has confounded and excited audiences and film critics the world over. The film deals with a hit woman known as Stray Cat who aspires to rise from number three in her organization to number one, so she starts killing her male colleagues. Sometimes several times. And she seems to be killed several times, as well. The Chicago Reader's Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, "I can't think of another film I've seen since that has afforded me more unbridled sensual pleasure." The film won an award at the Brisbane International Film Festival (at which Rosenbaum was juror) for its "its highly personal blend of traditional and experimental cinema." Written by Kazunori Itô and Takeo Kimura, and directed by Seijun Suzuki. 112 minutes. Brew & View, 1:10pm Saturday.
A high-school wrestler struggles with an overbearing father pushing him to succeed. The movie deal with important issues of male body image and has been praised for its realistic portrayal of teen life. Filmcritic.com wrote, "It's inspirational without being saccharine and well-made, especially so for an independent." Written by Jimi Petulla and directed by Alan Vint. 104 minutes. Nova 6, noon Saturday.
A science-fiction anthology film with four separate stories of "human beings struggling to connect with each other in a world of mechanical office workers and robot babies," according to the film's Web site. Audrey magazine raved, "Each of the four segments that makes up the film tells a heartbreaking story that has as much to do with human interactions as it has to do with robots... Even the most tragic circumstances, however, are juxtaposed in the film with moments of pure, innocent joy." The movie has won awards at three film festivals and was nominated for the grand-jury prize at the Slamdance International Film Festival. Written and directed by Greg Pak. 85 minutes. Brew & View, 5pm Friday, 1pm Sunday.
THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS
The highest-profile film in the festival, The Secret Lives of Dentists got strong notices during his art-house run earlier this year. Starring Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, and Denis Leary, the movie is a mixture of fantasy and family struggle. A dentist (Scott) and his wife (Davis) are dealing quietly with marital difficulties. Then the dentist begins seeing his difficult patient (Leary) in strange places - in his house, under his bed - dispensing unwanted advice. Slate.com called the film "gutsy and deeply affecting." Based on a Jane Smiley novella, written by Craig Rudolph, and directed by Alan Rudolph. 104 minutes. Nova 6, 7:20pm Friday, 4:25pm Saturday, 7:30pm Sunday.
· Addendum. Directed by Bob Hurst. 5 minutes. Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Armor of God. Directed by Jim Haverkamp. 13 minutes. Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Bloom. Directed by Bob Hurst. 15 minutes. Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Bruised. Directed by Scott Haro. 5 minutes. Nova 6, 11:30pm Friday.
· Camille. Directed by Ben Hayflick. 12 minutes. Nova 6, 11:30pm Saturday.
· Cloud Warriors. Directed by John Bergin. 12 minutes. Nova 6, 2:30pm Saturday; Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Field Trip. Directed by Anita George. 4 minutes. Brew & View, 6:45pm Friday, 9:30pm Sunday.
· The Great Movers of Dust. Directed by Ben Hayflick. 6 minutes. Brew & View, 11:15pm Friday.
· A Ninja Pays Half My Rent. Directed by Steven Tsuchida. 5 minutes. Nova 6, 9:30pm Thursday, 11:30pm Friday, 9:25pm Saturday; Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Paint Thinner. Directed by Joan Murphy-Rosenzweig. 7 minutes. Nova 6, 7:20pm Friday; Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Shadow of Noir. Directed by Max Allan Collins. 32 minutes. Nova 6, 12:30pm Friday, 4:25pm Saturday.
· Terminal Bar. Directed by Stefan Nadelman. 23 minutes. Nova 6, 6:15pm Thursday; Brew & View, 9:30pm Sunday.
· Tom Hits His Head. Directed by Tom Putnam. 11 minutes. Nova 6, 11:30pm Friday; Brew & View, 9:25pm Thursday. 9:30pm Sunday.
· Trichotillomania. Directed by Kara Toal. 16 minutes. Brew & View, 6:45pm Thursday, 9pm Friday.