"Hustle & Flow" and "Me and You and Everyone We Know" Bookend 29th Atlanta Film Festival
by Brian Brooks
Sundance 2005 audience award-winner "Hustle & Flow" by Craig Brewer will open the 29th annual Atlanta Film Festival June 10, launching a program that includes 150 films in addition to panels and other events. "Hustle & Flow," which will also open CineVegas on the same night, will screen at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Atlanta, where many of the festival's events will take place in addition to the midtown area. The Paramount release tracks the life of a pimp who sets his sights on hip hop riches and glory with the help of his posse of misfit friends.
Beginning this Saturday, June 11, the festival plans to screen three films simultaneously from noon to midnight throughout the festival. Programs spotlighting Georgian filmmakers, teen-produced works as well as the festival's Southeastern Media Award -- five Georgia-produced screenplays competing for $100,000 in in-kind services are planned during the fest. The festival will also host "Tales of the Weird," a collection of "bizarre" and "weird" shorts screening on June 11. The "Stop by, Shoot Film" program allows AFF attendees to document their festival experience on film, while "Occupational Hazards" is a collection of shorts screening spotlighting working situations gone awry. Animation will be the focus of another festival section, and "What's Up Doc?" will contain a section of the festival's documentary shorts. Gay films will screen in the fest's "Out on Film" section.
Sundance 2005 titles weigh heavily in this year's AFF lineup. In addition to "Hustle & Flow," the fest's centerpiece film will be Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's Sundance audience award-winner, "Murderball." The film, which THINKFilm will release this summer, documents a group of wheelchair-bound rugby players, who overcome obstacles to play in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Also set is Sundance doc "The Education of Shelby Knox" and Berlin '05 favorite "The Beat My Heart Skipped" by French director Jacques Audiard. Jay Duplass' twenty-something drama "Puffy Chair" will screen at the fest. The film was a favorite among younger audiences at this year's Sundance. Doc "Seoul Train" by Jim Butterworth and Aaron Lubarsky, which exposes the hardships of North Korean refugees escaping their homeland via China is also slated.
Closing Atlanta on June 18 is Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know," the directorial debut of performance artist and writer Miranda July. The narrative follows a group of disparate characters living on a few blocks in a Los Angeles neighborhood. July took the best film award for a first-time director last month at the Festival de Cannes.
The Atlanta Film Festival is produced annually by IMAGE Film & Video Center, programmers this year included Ryan Werner of Wellspring Media and Tom Quinn of Magnolia Pictures, also programmers at the Woodstock Film Festival.
[ For more information and a list of the full slate, please visit http://www.atlantafilmfestival.com. ]