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Beverly Hills Fest full line up

The Beverly Hills Film Festival, to be held May 6-9, announced programming for its fourth annual event. Twenty-nine films, comprising features, documentaries, and shorts, will be presented at the Clarity Theatre in Beverly Hills, with a full complement of after-parties and receptions. The week will be capped when the Golden Palm Award is bestowed upon the top film at the annual Awards Ceremony gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Sunset Room on May 9.

“This year’s program is our most diverse and inclusive ever, and underscores our commitment to the filmmaker, as opposed to the festival process per se,” said founder and president Nino Simone. “Every ounce of our energy is used to provide an optimal screening environment for important new film, and for creating a festival that allows emerging filmmakers to meet decision makers in the Industry itself.”

The 2004 schedule features independent films from across America, as well as from Germany, Israel, and Uruguay. “There is no single selection criterion,” Simone said of films selected for competition, “but a consensus that this film speaks in an entirely new voice, by a director whose work has not previously been widely seen.”

FULL FILM PROGRAM SCHEDULE AND SYNOPSES

THURSDAY, May 6

Program 1: 6:00 p.m.

IN OLD CALIFORNIA
D. W. Griffith, Director
1910, USA, 30 minutes
Drama
Starring Frank Powell, Arthur V. Johnson, and Marion Leonard

The first film ever shot in Southern California, D. W. Griffith’s classic film is an unsentimental depiction of early Los Angeles life. Especially candid in its view on the relationship between the original Mexican settlers and more recent settlers, “In Old California” is as trenchant today as it was over 100 years ago—and remains a potent piece of cinematic history.

Program 2: 6:45 p.m.

UNDERGROUND
Aimee Lagos and Kristin C. Dehnert, Directors
2003, USA, 11 minutes
Drama
Starring Anne Ramsay, Shaun Toub, and Dwayne Wycoff

On this heart-racing ride through one woman’s day on a city subway—shot entirely in the Los Angeles subway and in downtown--we come face to face with our own preconceptions, perceptions, prejudice about gender, race, and fear. The film brings to the surface issues that plague us all, particularly in a time embroiled by unrest and cultural division.

SHELTER ISLAND
Geoff Schaaf, Director
2002, USA, 88 minutes
Drama
Starring Ally Sheedy, Patsy Kensit, and Stephen Baldwin

Ally Sheedy stars as Lou Delemer, a professional golfer turned motivational speaker in this fast-paced erotic thriller. When her charmed life is threatened by an attack on Manhattan’s streets, she turns to refuge with her charming friend, Alex (Patsy Kensit), on remote Shelter Island. When a storm takes out telephone and electric lines and disrupts ferry service, the pair is trapped. An unwelcome stranger (Stephen Baldwin) and a perverse sheriff contribute to the unease, resulting in a climax that chills.
Program 3: 8:45 p.m.

EDGEPLAY
Victory Tischler-Blue, Director
2003, USA, 110 minutes
Documentary
The Runaways paved the way for virtually every woman in rock—but not without costly consequences to themselves and to those they loved. Filmed by onetime bassist Vicki Blue, “Edgeplay” gets underneath the showbiz veneer to expose the exploitation of teenaged girls with a brutal honesty not often seen on the silver screen. By dodging the usual pre-sweetened rock ‘n’ roll clichés—and by using graphics and music to disquieting effect--this harrowing tale of ‘70s excess goes straight for the jugular and never lets go.

FRIDAY, May 7
Program 1: 6:00 p.m.

JONAH
Adam Penn, Director
2003, USA, 20 minutes
Drama
Starring Linda Hamilton, Shane Hunter, and Finn Curtin

A 14-year-old misfit escapes his overbearing mother by attending a more affluent classmate’s birthday party. Repulsed by the inane goings-on, Jonah develops a connection with his friend’s mother, June (played touchingly by Linda Hamilton). As their protective armors melt away, the two form an unlikely, and thoroughly affecting, alliance that is both searing and sweet.

GRAVITY
Peter J. Eaton, Director
2003, USA, 83 minutes
Drama
Eric Feldman, B. J. Kocen, and Patti Jordan

In backwoods Virginia, Jake Warner is struggling to care for his autistic brother, Ben, while keeping his inner demons at bay. When, in a crime of passion, Jake kills Leo, the brother of mob boss Sal Fortunato, Sal sends his crew down South to avenge his brother’s death. What results is a classic struggle of good, evil, and the perilous area that lies in-between the two. Part old-fashioned Western, part Book of Job, “Gravity” ultimately presents a dilemma worthy of Faust.

Program 2: 8:00 p.m.

JAM
Craig Serling, Director
2003, USA, 15 minutes
Comedy/Drama
Starring Jenya Lano, Mariah O’Brien, and Mark Boone Jr.

Thrown into early labor by a traffic accident, Rose and her girlfriend Lilac find a “safe haven”: a recreational vehicle harboring three incompetent criminals who have stolen a safe. There, the unlikely companions debate fatherhood, morality, and the complexities of delivery a baby in a hot Winnebago on a sweltering summer day.

PEOPLES
Joseph Andery, Director
2003, USA, 86 minutes
Drama
Starring John Hensley, Joshua Denver Harto, Billoah Greene, and Elizabeth Chase

Set in Kentucky over the course of one summer, this film offers a searing glimpse of the self-destructive lifestyles of three childhood friends, in which a succession of dysfunctional relationships and substance abuse color every aspect of their small-town lives. A late coming-of-age story, “Peoples” blends humor and local color--and a searing drama of a forgotten corner of American life.

Program 3: 10:00 p.m.

POL POT’S BIRTHDAY
Talmage Cooley, Director
2004, USA, 10 minutes
Comedy
Starring Murphy Tan, Jerry Livan, and Takeo Wong

The office staff of the most brutal dictator on earth attempts to throw a surprise birthday party for their boss. But how do you surprise the man who has everything?

SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES
Noah Harald, Director
2003, USA, 16 minutes
Drama
Starring Nick Barnes, John Hemphill, and Shane McCarthy

It’s the night before 9/11/01, and six friends out for a night on the town. Michael, insecure and battling drug addiction, meets up with Judy, a workaholic, and four married friends. As the six part company at the end of the night, their demons and issues are left unresolved, not knowing their world—and ours—would change irrevocably the very next day.

IN SATMAR CUSTODY
Nitzan Gilady, Director
2003, Israel, 70 minutes
Documentary

The closed and almost-unknown community of ultra-orthodox Jews called Satmar constitute are anti-Zionist, luring poor Yemeni Jews to America instead. But when one couple’s young daughter dies, a lurid light is cast on the entire community. The result is a thriller-tight documentary that does not offer cut-and-dried answers, opting instead for a statement on how negligence and fundamentalism can have destructive, even disastrous results.

SATURDAY, May 8

Program 1: 10:00 a.m.

THE GERSON MIRACLE
Stephan H. Kroschel, Director
2003, 90 minutes, USA
Documentary
The cure for cancer and other serious disease is closer than you think. . .and much farther away. In 1928, Dr. Max Gerson, a German-Jewish researcher, stumbled upon a therapy that has cured tens of thousands of people worldwide since then, including patientss previously thought incurable by their doctors. For the first time, this film chronicles the epic true story of Gerson’s miracle—and watching this stirring documentary could very well could save your life.

Program 2: 12:00 p.m.

TURN LEFT ON COLLEGE
Michael Papavero, Director
2003 USA, 14 minutes
Documentary

Filmed when he was just 11 years old, Michael Papavero’s film marks the debut of a major new talent—and dispels the myth of artist as disgruntled young man. Instead, Papavero starts from positive place: that his is the perfect little corner of the world. His documentary shows us a Redlands neighborhood where diversity breeds a family of choice, one in which “everyone waves to you and everyone helps each other. I wanted to show people what a good neighborhood can be.” In so doing, he also shows us what a great film can be.

MEDIC 3
Torrey Schoerner and Priscilla Cordoba, Directors
2003, USA, 10 minutes
Documentary

Inspired by their fathers, both of whom saved lives in extreme situations, the filmmakers reflect the work of Mammoth Mountain paramedics and an ER nurse. What they discovered is a unique perspective on life that is certain to impact yours as well.

FARTHER THAN THE EYE CAN SEE
Mike Brown, Director
2003, 75 minutes, USA
Documentary

This is the epic story of Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to summit Mt. Everest. Mirroring this groundbreaking achievement is a bit of film history, as this documentary contains the first High Definition footage from atop the world’s highest peak—affording vistas from the summit that are near-miracles of cinematography. By recording one blind man’s achieving the near-impossible, our own limitations are exposed, revealed, and shattered.

Program 3: 2:00 p.m.

THE 17th MAN
Yimeng Jin, Director
2003, USA, 23 minutes
Drama
Starring Scott Openshaw and Jeannine Holley Meis

When art imitates art, the mind can become a dangerous place to be. In this dark tale, an author plots the end of his bestselling femme fatale—but she has other plans. When Anita jumps off the page, she plots her creator’s death, trying to make him her victim: her 17th man. In this game of deception, only one will survive. . .

JUVIES
Leslie Neale, Director
2003, USA, 66 minutes
Documentary
In the last ten years, the number of youth serving time in adult prisons has tripled. Through the highly personal stories of 12 kids being tried as adults—and by tracing their lives over a four-year period—“Juvies” explores the impact of America’s failing juvenile justice system. In so doing, it forces us to question the underlying themes of American culture that breed violence and result, all too often, in the demonization of our youth.

Program 4: 4:00 p.m.

ADVENTURES IN HOMESCHOOLING
Adam Dooley, Director
2003, USA, 26 minutes
Comedy
Starring Ruth Buzzi, Dan Castellaneta, and Mo Gaffney

A year in the life of the Hemples, a family that takes homeschooling to an extreme—and has for generations. When a vindictive inspector from the Board of Education invades their self-made paradise, the members of this eccentric and highly dysfunctional family somehow find a way to pull together and win the day.

EVERYBODY & THEIR MOTHER WANTS TO WRITE AND DIRECT
Lontih Khatami
2003, USA, 15 minutes
Comedy
Starring Corey Michael Blake, Kevin Rahm, and Brad Morris

A slick agent’s assistant tells a young filmmaker he has to come up with a hook if he’s to make it in Hollywood. Just when he thinks he’s hookless, he has a stroke of genius—to team up creatively with the woman who created him—his mother!

CAREER SUICIDE
Alex Kang and Dan Huber, Directors
2004, USA, 12 minutes
Comedy
Starring Deborah Vancelette, Colin Ferguson, and Diane Amos

Death becomes her—or does it? After accidentally offing herself by falling onto a pair of scissors, a young woman’s death is deemed suicide, forcing her to pay the consequences in a grizzly new career hell, one where the ladder to success is a shaky path indeed.

THE LIST
Patricia K. Meyer, Director
2003, USA, 30 minutes
Drama

A remorseful ex-Yankees star reappers in his daughter’s life when she gets hit by a diaper truck and is temporarily confined to a wheelchair. To make up for past failings, he plans a party—and inadvertently invites every ex-boyfriend she hoped she’d never see. Now she has to face these demons one by one, before confronting the biggest one of all as father and daughter finally settle the score.
Starring Corbin Bernsen, Ashley Williams, and Eric Lutes

Program 5: 6:00 p.m.

I AM STAMOS
Rob Meltzer, Director
2004, USA, 18 minutes
Comedy
Starring Robert Peters, John Stamos, and Clint Howard

In this dark comedy, a character actor whose wish to be a leading man comes true when he magically begins to photograph as John Stamos. . .ultimately provoking the unholy wrath of the man himself. Be careful what you wish for!

LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS
Oliver Herrmann, Director
2003, Germany, 38 minutes
Drama/Experimental
Starring Sophie Semin, Ariadna del Carmen, and Robert Hunger-Buehler
Just as Stravinsky’s music was inspired by prehistoric rituals, so does Oliver Herrmann pay homage to the world of Santeria in this remarkable silent film. In this world, God is a black woman who surveys three of her subjects: Esther, lost in mourning for her dead husband; Dr. Bardot, a brilliant brain surgeon who rejects the chaos of the modern world and Lucia, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, who seeks revenge by destroying herself. When all three are transferred to a tropical island, God watches her experiments, as their fate reveals to the viewer and to Her. With music by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, “Le Sacre du Printemps” is at once surreal and serene—and never less than a visual tour de force.

WHEN KATIE MET MEG
Amy Neinsinger, Director
2003, USA, 15 minutes
Comedy
Starring Amy Karl, Brady Smith, Owen Masterson, and Lucki Wieting

In this wistful tale, a small-town waitress ruins a once-in-a-lifetime interview for a handsome reporter when she spills food on him—and his famous subject. A meditation on the “what if. . .” syndrome that touches all of our lives.

HEADACHE
Eric Devlin Taylor, Director
2003, USA, 15 minutes
Comedy
Starring Jeff T, Saxon Trainer, and Antonio Rose

A medical intern must decide whether to succumb to the trappings of a pharmaceutical road show and its new wonder drug, or trust his no-nonsense mentor’s advice. “Headache” presents a very real conflict in today’s medical culture in a stylized format that is as thematically rich as it is visually alluring.

Program 6: 8:00 p.m.

HEADACHE
Eric Devlin Taylor, Director
2003, USA, 15 minutes
Comedy
Starring Jeff T, Saxon Trainer, and Antonio Rose

A medical intern must decide whether to succumb to the trappings of a pharmaceutical road show and its new wonder drug, or trust his no-nonsense mentor’s advice. “Headache” presents a very real conflict in today’s medical culture in a stylized format that is as thematically rich as it is visually alluring.

THE SEVENTH BOTTLE
Gustavo Camelot, Director
2003, Uruguay, 12 minutes
Drama
Starring Mariela Santos, Gustavo Camelot, and Jasper Wood

To make her mother happy, Valentina, a beautiful lesbian artist, finds a boyfriend. When she finds him in bed with another man, her alter-ego takes over—and all bets, romantic or otherwise, are off. Truth takes over, with compelling and curious results.

MONSIEUR RENAUD
Eusunie Kahng, Director
2003, USA, 10 minutes
Comedy
Starring John Massey Jr., Aubrey Caldwell, Andre Fortin, and Aaron Jones

A young Frenchman revisits his working-class childhood in ’30s France. His mother, a natural seductress, pulls out all the stops to bargain for scraps from the butcher—with resounding results.

PUBLIC DOMAIN
Kris Lefcoe, Director
2003, Canada, 77 minutes
Drama
Starring Nicole Deboer, Nadia Litz, and Mike Beaver

Think your life’s pathetic? You’ll think differently after watching this wry, dark film about a game show run by pseudo-intellectuals who award money to the contestant with the most miserable life. To their unbeknownst, alas: the producers infiltrate houses and install surveillance cameras, awarding best in such existential categories as alienation, disillusionment, and doubt. A biting critique of the culture of surveillance as entertainment, Public Domain exposes the media’s foibles—and our own.

Program 7: 10:00 p.m.

WEST FROM NORTH GOES SOUTH
Valerie Silver and Steve Ashley, Directors
2003, USA, 96 minutes
Comedy

After struggling painter West Jackson (Shawn Thompson, “The Heights”/Fox) has a disastrous art opening in L.A., he breaks up with his sugar momma (a riotous Tina Louise from “Gilligan’s Island”) and makes a last-ditch effort to resuscitate his career in Miami . . .only to break down in the bizarre backwater of Barnwell, Alabama, where he becomes the prime suspect in a murder. With cast members including the late LaWanda Page, Morris Day of the Time (“Purple Rain”) and the legendary Phyllis Diller, “West from North Goes South” is a quirky comedy that has to be seen—and experienced—to be believed.

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Chatelin Bruno
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