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Small Doc Finds Strategic Ally with Film Series

Indiewire By Brian Brooks | Indiewire October 5, 2009 at 8:57AM

"I was terrified watching it with them, but the topics raised in the [doc] made everything that much more tangible," said "October Country" co-director Donal Mosher. Mosher and fellow director Michael Palmieri screened their film at the Woodstock Film Festival over the weekend with the two of its main subjects, Mosher's parents, seeing it for the first time. The doc, which won a top prize in June at SilverDocs, will have its New York City debut Monday night, continuing the doc-oriented series Stranger Than Fiction, which opened last week with Robert Richman's "Ahead of Time" at IFC Center.
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"I was terrified watching it with them, but the topics raised in the [doc] made everything that much more tangible," said "October Country" co-director Donal Mosher. Mosher and fellow director Michael Palmieri screened their film at the Woodstock Film Festival over the weekend with the two of its main subjects, Mosher's parents, seeing it for the first time. The doc, which won a top prize in June at SilverDocs, will have its New York City debut Monday night, continuing the doc-oriented series Stranger Than Fiction, which opened last week with Robert Richman's "Ahead of Time" at IFC Center.

Based on the essays and photographs Mosher wrote based on his Upstate New York working class family, the film could have easily unravelled or not even work on screen had it not been for its amazing crafting and compelling personalities. Sometimes tragic and other times painfully familiar, the Mosher family is a portrait that is a reflection of large swaths of rural America. Daneal is the daughter and single mother fighting for custody of her child and Don, a father dealing with wartime nightmares from Vietnam and estrangement from his Wicca-practicing sister. There’s a son constantly in trouble with the law and fighting inner deamons and a young very intelligent daughter who may be the hope of breaking the family’s self-defeating patterns.

Stranger Than Fiction programmer, Thom Powers, who also leads the doc programming at the Toronto International Film Festival, had seen the film and decided it would be best placed at STF, according to co-director Palmieri. Both he and Mosher said they're "excited" to screen at the series which continues through December, and mention several times Monday afternoon to iW their gratefulness to tap into Powers' experience on the festival circuit when strategizing their own navigation of fests with "October."

"I think "October Country" stands out as an extra special tool. It's an example of a beautifully crafted film," Thom Powers told indieWIRE. He went on to say the filmmakers shared a copy of their film earlier in the year to get advice on how to strategize the fest circuit, and told iW that he was a bit astonished some events had initially passed on the doc. "I was surprised and dismayed that some festivals had passed over the film, so I encouraged them to take a particular [route] rather than wait for Toronto, and they ended up having a great run, and they had a fantastic win at SilverDocs. I think it was a great example of the festival circuit working out right."

Twelve more films will screen in the series, culminating December 1 with Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker's "How to Fold a Flag," which screened in Toronto last month. Next week, STF will host Italian director Erik Gandini's "Videocracy", which spotlights the crazed cult of celebrity and television in Italy. STF will also screen past doc favorites including Sam Green and Bill Siegel's "The Weather Underground."

Titles screening include "October Country, October 5; The Real Shaolin by Alexander Sebastian Lee, October 6; Videocracy by Erik Gandini, October 13; "Still Bill" by Damani Baker and Alex Vlack, October 20; "The Good Fight" by Noel Buckner, Mary Dore & Sam Sillsm October 27; "Colony" by Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell, November 3; "Copyright Criminals" by Benjamin franzen, November 10; "The Weather Underground" by Sam Green & Bill Siegel, November 16; "Iran: Images from the Uprising," November 17; "Double Dare" by Amanda Micheli, November 24 and "How to Fold a Flag by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, December 1.