The festival places an importance on films with an international focus and have awarded this years Conflict & Resolution Award to Mandy Jacobson and Carlos Agullo’s documentary, Plot for Peace, which looks at Nelson Mandela from an unique vantage point. Helena Bonham Carter will be featured in their “A Conversation With…” program.
The HIFF lineup is broken up into the following categories: Films of Conflict & Resolution, as well as features, documentary and short films in the Golden Starfish section. Winners of the Golden Starfish in each category will receive cash prizes along with other perks including in-kind filmmaking services for the feature winner and Academy Award qualification for “Best Live Action Short”.
Artistic director, David Nugent, commented on the Golden Starfish lineup.
The films in our Golden Starfish section allow us to shine a light on exciting new work by emerging filmmakers from around the world. This focus on
international cinema, as well as on up and coming filmmakers, remains central to our mission as an organization.
FILMS OF CONFLICT & RESOLUTION
SLEEPLESS NIGHTS (Palestine/Lebanon)
(East Coast Premiere)
Director: Eliane Raheb
Eliane Raheb’s directorial debut is an incisive look at the psychological aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War. Assaad Shaftari was a high-ranking
intelligence officer for an extreme right Christian faction during the war, and Maryam Saiidi is a mother still relentlessly seeking answers as to why her
son, a student and Communist Party member, disappeared. Not only does Raheb bring their stories together, she instigates meetings between the two. We
witness a soldier’s attempts at atonement and a mother’s rage, and learn that even after 30 years, Lebanon is a country not completely healed from its
THE SQUARE (Egypt/USA)
Director: Jehane Noujaim
“As long as there’s a camera, the revolution will continue,” says one of the young subjects of THE SQUARE. It does continue, and two years of struggle
(right until the summer of 2013) are shown through the eyes of a group of protesters from all walks of society that first came together in Tahrir Square
during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. The documentary follows these unlikely companions as they face violence, religious oppression, the assumptions of
their elders, and the gap between their expectations and the reality of trying to change the country they will inherit.
GOLDEN STARFISH AWARD: NARRATIVE
MISTER JOHN (Ireland/Singapore/UK)
(North American Premiere)
Directors: Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor
John was, in many ways, an enigma to his brother Gerry (Aiden Gillen). After John’s sudden and somewhat mysterious death, Gerry travels to Singapore to
settle his brother’s shady business affairs and check on the man’s family. It’s also a convenient reason for Gerry to escape in the wake of his crumbling
marriage. From its onset, MISTER JOHN dashes our dramatic expectations and–in the sure-footed hands of filmmakers Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy and
Gillen’s brilliant performance–remains consistently surprising as both a character study and a meditation on identity.
MOTHER, I LOVE YOU (Latvia)
(East Coast Premiere)
Director: Janis Nords
Twelve-year old Raimonds lives with his single mom and does what he can to make her proud, like playing the saxophone in the school band. But his
mischievous side lands him in trouble at school. He decides to hide a school note from his mom–and the lies escalate from there. He runs away from home
with the help of his friend Peteris, who gives him the keys to an unoccupied apartment, an act that has unforeseen consequences. Janis Nords’ second film
is a soulful story of friendship and truth set against the cool hues and the nightlights of Riga and featuring a 400 BLOWS-esque performance by newcomer
THE SELFISH GIANT (UK)
Director: Clio Barnard
The arresting sophomore feature from Clio Barnard (THE ARBOR),THE SELFISH GIANT is a contemporary fable about 13-year old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his
best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local
scrapdealer–the Selfish Giant. Arbor emulates Kitten, keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favors Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt
and excluded and driving a wedge between the boys. Barnard imbues her remarkable film with an unparalleled poetic touch and a keen perspective on
GOLDEN STARFISH AWARD: DOCUMENTARY
BEHIND THE REDWOOD CURTAIN (Belgium)
Director: Liesbeth De Ceulaer
Imbued with a mesmerizing, dreamlike quality, Liesbeth De Ceulaer’s confident first feature takes us to the majestic Redwood Forest and introduces us to
people who have strong personal connections to this once isolated region of California. Through seamless vignettes and stunningly saturated cinematography,
we meet activists, scientists, loggers, tree dwellers, and Native Americans who share their compelling stories and their bond to these impressive ancient
woods, which are now being threatened by excessive logging. De Ceulaer’s bold documentary transports us to this unique and fabled land.
DESERT RUNNERS (USA)
(East Coast Premiere)
Director: Jennifer Steinman
Any single race in the 4Desert Ultramarathon Series is a life-threatening challenge. DESERT RUNNERS is a thrilling documentary about ordinary people who
endure the 150 mile ultra-marathons through the world’s four most treacherous deserts in one year: the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China,
the Sahara in Egypt, and Antarctica. Filled with physical and emotional highs and low, the film goes beyond the terrain to reveal their personal obstacles
and determination. This captivating story combines stunning scenery with an intimate view into the complex way human beings deal with heartbreak and
GOLDEN STARFISH AWARD: SHORT FILM
THE HORSE AND THE NIGHTINGALE (Netherlands)
Director: Nazli Elif Durlu