The whole wide world is on screen at the 10th Annual Newport International Film Festival
IN THE TIME OF THATCHER: The cast of This Is England.
Of the 16 narrative films on deck this year at the Newport International Film Festival, several could be termed “coming-of-age.” In them, young people are not just dealing with the death of a parent (Shotgun Stories and This Is England) or love/ friendship issues (Glue, Cashback, and Rocket Science, the latter by Jeffrey Blitz, of the Oscar-nominated Spellbound), but also a musical talent disappearing (Vitus), song sharks preying on unsigned musicians (Craig Zobel’s Great World of Sound), and misfits costumed as animals (Taika Waititi’s Eagle vs. Shark).
The closing film, Evening, with the reflections of a dying woman, Ann Grant Lord (Vanessa Redgrave), might be called “coming-to-terms-with-age.” Filmed extensively along the Newport coast and adapted from Brown grad Susan Minot’s book, this is definitely a film for Rhode Islanders.
There are 21 documentaries at this year’s festival, including the opening film, In the Shadow of the Moon, and Autism: The Musical (both described below). Many films tackle contemporary socio-political issues, such as abortion (Lake of Fire); torture by Americans (Taxi to the Dark Side); genocide in Darfur (The Devil Came On Horseback); gang life in Haitian slums (Ghosts of Cite Soleil); campus shootings (The Killer Within); and American military on the Mexican border (The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez), the latter a very skillful and suspenseful film.
Documentaries focus on triumph over adversity. In Blindsight, six blind teens climb Mount Everest; a man and woman overcome their violent past in Crazy Love; Donald Crowhurst sails around the world in Deep Water; Oscar-winner Jessica Yu’s portrait of two criminals, an evangelist, and a martial arts student (Protagonist); and in War Dance, three Ugandan children tell their stories of growing up in a war zone while preparing to compete in a national music festival — heartwrenching, life-affirming, and not-to-be-missed.
Three lighthearted films are King of Kong, a look at a Donkey Kong competition; Twisted: A Balloonamentary, about balloon-twisting conventions; and Radiant City, showcasing a suburban dad in a community theatre production.
With a nod to Newport’s musical history, the festival features four documentaries about musicians: Silver Jew, a profile of David Berman and the Silver Jews; Kurt Cobain: About a Son; Chops, with Wynton Marsalis; and Murray Lerner’s classic Festival, chronicling the ’63-’66 Newport Folk Festivals.
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