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ON THE SCENE: June Film Fests Worth Watching

ON THE SCENE: June Film Fests Worth Watching

June is quite a festival month in the United States, with a number of notable film events unspooling new films for local audiences. Across the country, movie fans can find an alternative to the Hollywood blockbuster at film festival large and small. In a brief overview of some of the leading U.S. film festivals of the Summer, indieWIRE takes a subjective look at just a few of the noteworthy June festivals happening this month.

Seattle International Film Festival (May 24 – June 17): WEBSITE
The Seattle International Film Festival, which opened on May 24 and continues through June 17, kicked off with Garth Jennings‘ Sundance ’07 premiere “Son of Rambow” and will close with Laurent Tirard‘s “Moliere,” described as a “sumptuous historical comedy” about the famed French satirist. In a recent announcement, SIFF Artistic director Carl Spence boasted a whopping 405 films are on tap for the festival, which touted its 48 world premieres and 39 North American premieres. Anthony Hopkins was presented a SIFF Lifetime Achievement Award at a fest tribute, while Dutch director Fons Rademakers is another honoree.

Also developed for the festival this year is the Planet Cinema section, curated in collaboration with Sundance Film Festival programmer Caroline Libresco, featuring sixteen films about the environment and global climate change. A recent indieWIRE article detailed the competition lineups for the festival.

NewFest (May 31 – June 10): WEBSITE
NewFest: The 19th Annual New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival opened last week with Duncan Roy‘s latest version of the classic Oscar Wilde novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, starring “7th Heaven“‘s David Gallagher. Closing the fest this weekend be the New York City premiere of Robert Cary‘s drama “Save Me,” starring Chad Allen, Robert Gant and Judith Light. Centerpiece films of the event will include Jamie Babbit‘s “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” starring Melonie Diaz, Nicole Vicius, Carly Pope, Daniela Sea, Melanie Mayron, and Leslie Grossman, as well as Caspar Andreas‘ “A Four Letter Word.”

Newport International Film Festival (June 5 – 10): WEBSITE
The festival opens with doc “In the Shadow of the Moon.” Director David Sington will be in attendance for the film’s screening, which recounts the surviving members of NASA’s Apollo missions who tell their stories in their own words. Among the 14 narrative features set for this year’s 10th edition of the NIFF include Jonathan King‘s “Black Sheep,” Shane Meadows‘ “This is England,” Zoe Cassavetes‘ “Broken English,” and Taika Waititi‘s “Eagle vs. Shark.” NIFF’s additional 20 slated docs include Mike Jacobs‘ “Audience of One,” Lucy Walker‘s “Blindsight,” Dan Klores‘ “Crazy Love,” Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern‘s “The Devil Came on Horseback,” and AJ Schnack‘s “Kurt Cobain: About a Son.” Closing the festival June 10 is Lajos Koltai‘s “Evening.” The film centers on a dying mother’s memory of a love affair, while her daughters struggle with her impending death.

CineVegas (June 6 – 16): WEBSITE
Steven Soderbergh‘s “Oceans Thirteen” is opening the ninth CineVegas Film Festival on June 6th at the Palm Casino Resort. Festival artisitic director Trevor Groth, a senior programmer at the Sundance Film Festival, will close the event with John Dahl‘s dark comedy “You Kill Me.” Sir Anthony Hopkins will receive the Marquee Award on June 15, while Sir Ben Kingsley will receive the festival’s Vanguard Actor Award. Also set for CineVegas honors is Mike Newell who will be on hand to receive the event’s Vanguard Director Award, and Charlize Theron will take the “Half-Life Award.” Additionally, Jerry Weintraub will be honored with the fest’s Vanguard Producer Award at the opening night’s festivities to benefit the International Rescue Committee for Not On Our Watch, which gives aid to Darfur.

“Jackpot Premieres” at this year’s fest include Robert Logevall‘s world premiere “All God’s Children Can Dance,” Peter Spears‘ comedy “Careless” (world premiere), Luke Eberl‘s political drama “Choose Connor” (world premiere), Amir Mann‘s espionage thriller “The Fifth Patient” (world premiere), Dan Peterson‘s drama “Have Love, Will Travel” (world premiere), Sol Tryon‘s “The Living Wake” (world premiere), Adam Rifkin‘s “Look” (world premiere), adolescent drama Chris Fuller‘s “Loren Cass” (U.S. debut) and Todd Breau‘s comedy “Throwing Stars” (world premiere). CineVegas will also spotlight Mexican films and directors in its new section, “La Proxima Ola,” featuring the debuts of a number of titles.

Jackson Hole Film Festival (June 7 – 11): WEBSITE
The 4th annual festival in Wyoming, aimed at showcasing independent films, will open on June 7th with a screening of Wisit Sasanatieng‘s “Tears of the Black Tiger” and a tribute to the Far East featuring food, music and entertainment. Director of programming Melanie Miller has set a slate of some 90 features and shorts, including six world premieres. Special screenings on tap include, all from Sundance ’07: David Wain‘s “The Ten,” Tommy O’Haver‘s “An American Crime,” and Zoe Cassavetes‘ “Broken English.”

In partnership with the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the festival hosts the Global Insight Program, described as a summit for international business, film and humanitarian leaders exploring how film and new media can address global humanitarian issues. Panel discussions on tap for the event include a conversation about human trafficking moderated by CNN‘s Jim Clancy, as well as a discussion about the education of women in the developing world, moderated by Corporation for Public Broadcasting president Patricia Harrison. The festival’s World Party will showcase Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars.

SilverDocs: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival (June 12 – 17): WEBSITE
The SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival will present a competition line-up that includes one world and two North American premieres as well as one U.S. debut. The overall line-up for this year’s event will include 100 films representing 41 countries. Films slated for Silverdoc’s Sterling Award feature competition include: Doug Pray‘s “Big Rig” (U.S., East Coast debut); Eva Mulvad‘s “Enemies of Happiness” (Denmark, East Coast debut); Shimon Dotan‘s “Hothouse” (U.S., East Coast debut); Doris Dorrie‘s “How to Cook Your Life” (Germany, North American debut); Michael Loeken and Ulrike Franke‘s “Losers and Winners” (Germany, East Coast debut); Almudena Carracedo‘s “Made in LA” (U.S./Spain, world debut); Weijun Chen‘s “Please Vote for Me” (China, North American debut); Bill Haney‘s “The Price of Sugar” (U.S., East Coast debut); Alex Gibney‘s “Taxi to the Dark Side” (Israel); Esther Robinson‘s “A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory” (U.S.).

Nantucket Film Festival (June 13 – 17): WEBSITE
Lajos Koltai‘s “Evening” will open the 2007 Nantucket Film Festival, opening June 13th on the island off the coast of Massachusetts. The film was adapted by Susan Minot and Michael Cunningham from Minota’s novel. From Focus Features, it stars Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Mamie Gummer, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep, and Glenn Close. Robert Benton will be the NBC Universal Screenwriter Honoree for the 2007 Festival and the festival recently announced the creation of the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award for a promising female writer/director at the Festival. The fest, which will show Garth Jennings‘ “Son of Rambow” as a centerpiece screening, will close with Jeffrey Blitz‘ “Rocket Science.”

Provincetown International Film Festival (June 13 – 17): WEBSITE
Sixty films will screen at the festival’s ninth edition in the Cape Cod resort town, which will open with Olivier Dahan‘s Edith Piaf biopic, “La Vie en Rose” and close with Frank Oz‘s “Death at a Funeral.” David Sington‘s Apollo space program doc, “In the Shadow of the Moon” will screen as PIFF’s centerpice, while Jeffrey Blitz‘s “Rocket Science” and Richard Wong‘s “Colma: The Musical” will also be spotlight features. Director Todd Solondz will receive the festival’s “Filmmaker on the Edge” award, while Kathleen Turner and Alan Cumming will also be honored.

Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (June 14 – 28): WEBSITE
The 18th Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York CIty is opening on June 15, 2007 with Lynn Hershman Leeson‘s Sundance ’07 debut, “Strange Culture.” The hybrid doc looks at the challenges facing upstate New York Steve Kurtz who is accused of bio-terrorism in the wake of 9/11. The film features dramatizd scenes with actors Thomas Jay Ryan, Tilda Swinton and Josh Kornbluth. Also set for an opening night screening is Laurent Herbiet‘s “Mon Colonel,” looking at military corruption during the Alergian war of independence. The festival will continue through June 28th and is co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Other titles on tap for the fest include Eva Mulvad‘s “Enemies of Happiness,RIcki Stern and Annie Sunberg‘s “The Devil Came on Horseback,” Jennifer Baichwal‘s “Manufactured Landcapes,” Daniel Gold and Judith Helfand‘s “Everything’s Cool,” and Marco Williams‘ “Banished.”

Frameline, San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival (June 14 – 24): WEBSITE
The world’s oldest gay fest, Frameline 31 will debut with Andre Techine‘s “The Witnesses” (France) about a sophisticated, middle-aged doctor, who meets Manu, a buoyant 18-year-old, and a friendship develops as the pair tromp around Paris. 232 films from 25 countries are slated for this year’s fest. This year’s honorees include Andrea Sperling and Alan Cumming. Israeli director Eytan Fox‘s Toronto ’06 feature “The Bubble,” about a group of young Tel Aviv sophisticates who live a life beyond the troubled Middle East will screen as the centerpiece, while Jamie Babbit‘s “Itty Bitty Titty Committee,” a fast paced tale of love and activism will close the event.

World Premieres Showcase screenings include a first look at gay network LOGO’s upcoming animated series “Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World,” directed by Festival veteran Q Allan Brocka (“Boy Culture“), and “Shelter,” Jonah Markowitz‘s tale of sexual awakening and surfing in Southern California.

Los Angeles Film Festival (June 21 – July 1): WEBSITE

Kasi Lemmons‘ “Talk To Me” is opening Film Independent‘s 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival on June 21st in Westwood, while Danny Boyle‘s “Sunshine” will close the event. Eight films will screen in the event’s narrative competition and eleven films will show in the documentary competition. Seven films in each section will have their world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival. A total of 230 features, shorts, and music videos are on tap for the 2007 festival, which takes place primarily in Westwood Village on the West Side of town.

As previously announced, Clint Eastwood will receive the Spirit of Independence Award on Thursday, June 28, saluted by Tony Bennett, who is the subject of a new documentary executive produced by Eastwood. Also on the festival’s lineup are a Spotlight on Romanian Cinema, a roster of Summer previews featuring upcoming independent film releases, the Dark Wave section for genre work, a group of family friendly screenings, and other special events. A recent indieWIRE article lists the competition titles.

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