By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire April 29, 2010 at 4:44AM
The 15th annual Nantucket Film Festival (June 17-20), whose mission it is to spotlight screenwriters, announced its official opening and closing night films as well as a preview of their lineup. The eclectic list of films run the gamut from blockbuster comedies to intimate documentaries.
Mirroring a trend some festivals have been exploring, the festival will open with two films this year. Summer's eagerly anticipated "Toy Story 3" from Disney/Pixar Studios will screen, as well as Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's "The Extra Man" starring Kevin Kline. Closing night will feature a screening of the acclaimed John Lennon biopic "Nowhere Boy" from director Sam Taylor Wood.
“This line-up of feature films is reflective of some of the fiercest storytellers out there – newcomers as well as some of Nantucket Film Festival's most beloved past participants," said Artistic Director Mystelle Brabbee.
Awards to be dolled out at this year's festival include The Compass Rose Acting Award, The Audience Award for Best Feature & Best Short, Showtime's Tony Cox Awards for Best Screenwriting, and the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award.
Some of the films competing at the 2010 Nantucket Film Festival (NFF):
Synopses provided by NFF
"A Small Act" – Jennifer Arnold directs the inspiring and captivating story of Chris Mburu and his “guardian angel” Hilde Back. When Hilde sponsored the education of a young, impoverished Kenyan student, she thought nothing of it. Now a UN lawyer, Chris decides to replicate Hilde’s generosity by starting his own scholarship fund.
"Bill Cunningham New York" – Thefilmchronicles a man who is obsessively interested in only one thing - the pictures he takes that document the way people dress. With this singular goal, he has managed to create a poignant and ongoing portrait of New York City itself.
"The Birth of Big Air" – Academy Award nominee Spike Jonze and extreme sport fanatic Johnny Knoxville, along with director Jeff Tremaine, showcase the inner workings and exploits of Matt Hoffman, the man who gave birth to “Big Air.”
"Cairo Time" – With a West-meets-East quality, "Cairo Time" describes the unexpected, unrequited love between an Arab man and a North American woman. Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) travels to Cairo to meet her husband. A UN official working in Gaza, Mark is unavoidably delayed and sends his friend Tareq to escort her throughout the beautiful and exotic city.
"The Extra Man" – Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini return to the Nantucket Film Festival with a sophisticated and offbeat comedy. Louis (Paul Dano) moves to New York City and finds residence sharing a tiny apartment with Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline), a man with a bizarre unpredictable schedule as an “extra man” – a male escort who serves as a social companion for wealthy widows.
"Freedom Riders" – A masterful example of filmic journalism, Stanley Nelson’s "Freedom Riders" tells the powerful, harrowing, and ultimately inspirational story of more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives by simply traveling together on buses and trains through the Deep South in 1961, deliberately violating Jim Crow laws.
"Get Low" – With outstanding performance by Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek, Get Low is based on the true story of Felix “Bush” Breazeale, a backwoods recluse who rides to town with a shotgun and a wad of cash and announces his intention to stage a “living funeral,” where anyone who has heard a story about him is welcome to tell it.
"Last Train Home" – Emotionally engaging and visually beautiful, "Last Train Home" portrays the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in the desperate annual migration that takes place every Chinese New Year when millions of migrant factory workers attempt to return home by train.
"Mister Rogers & Me" – America's Favorite Neighbor, PBS icon Fred Rogers, sends a MTV producer Benjamin Wagner on a quest for depth and simplicity amidst a shallow and complex media landscape. Armed with an HDDV camera, Wagner and his brother set out to find out more about the man himself.
"The Romantics" – Katie Holmes gives an impressive performance in Galt Niederhoffer’s daring directorial debut, "The Romantics." The wedding of Lila Hayes (Anna Paquin) and Tom McDevon (Josh Duhamel) reunites a group of Yale friends, including Lila’s maid of honor and Tom’s ex-girlfriend Laura (Katie Holmes).
"The Tillman Story" – Featuring candid and revelatory interviews with Pat’s fellow soldiers as well as his family, Amir Bar-Lev’s emotional and insightful film not only shines a light on the shady aftermath of Pat’s death and calls to task the entire chain of command, but also examines themes as timeless as the notion of heroism itself.
"Waiting for Superman" – The director of "The Inconvenient Truth," Davis Guggenheim, examines the crisis of public education in the United States through multiple interlocking stories from a handful of students whose futures hang in the balance, to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system.