2018 Brattleboro Film Festival films

BRATTLEBORO — • 1985: Monday, Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m. (Drama; Yen Tan; 85m; USA.) Having been gone for three years, closeted advertising executive Adrian returns to his Texas hometown for the holidays during the first wave of the AIDS crisis. Burdened with an unspeakable tragedy in New York City, Adrian looks to reconnect with his preteen brother Andrew while navigating his relationship with religious parents Eileen (Virginia Madsen) and Dale (Michael Chiklis). Shot in black and white, 1985 takes a unique empathetic look at a pivotal moment in U.S. history.

AMÉRICA: Sunday, Nov. 4, 5 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 10, 3 p.m. (Documentary; 2018; Erick Stoll/Chase Whiteside; 76m; USA; subtitled.) Three brothers confront the chasm between the yearnings of youth and adult realities when they are brought together to care for their ailing 93-year-old grandmother in Mexico. An intimate but complex story that is told with all the warts, humor, sensitivity, beauty, and love. Too many awards to list.

ANOTE'S ARK: Saturday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m. (Documentary; 2018; Matthieu Rytz; 77m; Canada.) The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati (population: 100,000) is one of the most remote places on the planet, seemingly far-removed from the pressures of modern life. Yet it is one of the first countries that must confront the main existential dilemma of our time: imminent annihilation from sea-level rise. While President Anote Tong races to find a way to protect his nation's people and maintain their dignity, many Kiribati are already seeking safe harbor overseas.

BORDER: Friday, Nov. 9, 8:30 p.m. (Drama; 2018; Ali Abbasi; 101m; Sweden; subtitled. Definitely not family viewing. The lead actress won Cannes Un Certain Regard award.) This genre-bending film based on Nordic folklore may be on its way to a cult classic. At first, it appears to be about a rather-strange-looking woman with a unique talent in smelling fear who works as a customs inspector at a Swedish ferry port. One day, she meets a man who looks surprisingly like her. The film quickly veers into something wildly unexpected; it is unforgettable and will reward the adventurous filmgoer.

BUILT TO LAST: Sunday, Nov. 4, 3 p.m. (Short documentary; Jennifer Latham; 13m; Brattleboro. Plays with Saving Brinton.) From humble beginnings in a small, slate-roofed village in Greece to the heyday of America's movie palaces, Built to Last is the story of the Latchis family and how it built an empire of theaters throughout New England in the hard-scrabble years of the Great Depression.

HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING: Friday, Nov. 2, 8:30 p.m. (Documentary; 2018; RaMell Ross; 76m; USA.) A poetic cinematic portrait of Hale County, Alabama, its people, their dreams, and their day-to-day lives. The film focuses in on two young black men, Daniel and Quincy, and on their paths. This film bends the definition of a documentary and a narrative, using creative visual imagery to give a new way of seeing and experiencing the environment.

HOME AWAY: Saturday, Nov. 3, 3 p.m. (Documentary; 2018; Matthew Ogens; 83m; USA; partly subtitled.) Many of the students who attend Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas, have to commute to school, over the bridge and across the border that separates their school from their homes in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. For many, sports represents one possible route to a better life. We observe three students navigating academics and their athletic competition while also contending with language barriers, a school in need of greater funding, and familial strife.

LIYANA: Sunday, Nov. 4, 1 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m. (Animated drama/documentary; 2017; Aaron Kopp/Amanda Kopp; 77m; Swaziland/USA; partly subtitled. For ages 10 to adult. Parental Guidance: thematic elements include HIV/AIDS, descriptions of abuse, situations of peril.) Five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairy tale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, Liyana, is brought to life with innovative animation as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children's real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell - in fiction and in their own lives.

SAVING BRINTON: Sunday, Nov. 4, 3 p.m. (Documentary; 2017, Tommy Haines / Andrew Sherburne; 90m; USA. Plays with the short Built to Last.) In rural Iowa, a beloved history teacher, Michael Zahs, uncovers century-old film reels by some of the earliest filmmakers - George Méliès, Thomas Edison, and the Lumière brothers - that had belonged to one of the U.S.'s first film impresarios, William Franklin Brinton. Zahs sets out to save the films from turning to dust, to find their proper place, and to bring the magic of early cinema to the world's oldest continuously operating movie theaters.

THE BIG BAD FOX AND OTHER TALES: Saturday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. (Animated comedy; 2018; Patrick Imbert/Benjamin Renner; 83m; France.) Far from calm and peaceful, this countryside harbors especially agitated animals: a fox who thinks it's a chicken, a rabbit who acts like a stork, and a duck who wants to replace Father Christmas. From the creators of the Academy Award-nominated Ernest & Celestine comes another hilarious, heartwarming tale of animal misfits. For all ages.

THE CLEANERS: Saturday, Nov. 10, 5 p.m. (Documentary; 2018; Hans Block/Moritz Riesewieck; 88m; Germany; subtitled.) There is a hidden shadow industry of digital cleaning where the Internet rids itself of what it doesn't like: violence, pornography, and political content, for example. Who is controlling what we see and what we think? This film takes a fascinating look inside that dark world and peeks at some of what we are not allowed to see. It also speaks to the potential of social media to compromise democracy.

THE GUILTY: Sunday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. (Drama; 2018; Gustav Möller; 109m; Denmark; subtitled. Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival.) In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, Asger Holm, an alarm dispatcher and former police officer, answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search ensues for the woman and her abductor. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time but soon realizes that he is dealing with a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.

THE WILD PEAR TREE: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m. (Drama; 2018, Nuri Bilge Ceylan; 188m; Turkey; subtitled. Turkey's entry to the Academy Awards.) This languid landscape of a film, full of the searchings and dissatisfactions of a young graduate and would-be writer, follows Sinan as he returns to his hometown and family's home. There, he engages various people in tense and at-times-humorous arguments on topics like literature, religion, and love. In a film that seems like a visual novel, Ceylan takes us on a philosophical journey.

WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY: Saturday, Nov. 3, 5 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m. (Comedy/drama; 2018; Madeleine Olnek; 84m; USA.) Based on recent revelations found in Emily Dickinson's letters and poems, the film paints a more fun portrait of the poet (played by Molly Shannon) and dares to defy decades of stodgy scholarship.

• WOMAN AT WAR: Friday, Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. (Drama; 2018; Benedikt Erlingsson; 101m; Iceland; subtitled.) Halla is a choir teacher by day but an environmental warrior by night, using her bow and arrow in her attempt to keep foreign developers out of Iceland's rural highlands. This real Wonder Woman battles for justice for the world's climate victims. Aiding in her quest are on-screen musicians and Ukrainian folk dancers whose music is a cultural echo of the natural life that Halla is sworn to protect. A wonderful blend of action, suspense, and humor.

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