Berkshire International Film Festival 2016 features screenings, parties and special guests

Kevin Sprague photo from BIFF 2015 - and 2016 is looking great, too!

Kevin Sprague photo from BIFF 2015 – and 2016 is looking great, too!

The 11th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) begins a packed weekend line-up of films which is marked with stronger international programming and continues its dedication to presenting the best in documentary film.  The BIFF will showcase 70 of the latest in independent feature, documentary, short and family films from some 26 countries.  The festival, which takes place from June 2 – 5 in Great Barrington and June 3 – 5 in Pittsfield, MA, will bring films, filmmakers, industry professionals and film fans together for a four-day celebration of independent film featuring 26 documentaries, 26 narrative features and 17 short films.  Some of the 26 countries represented this year are Germany, Afghanistan, Brazil, Australia, Iran, England, India, France, China, Italy, Israel, Austria, Norway, Hungary, Argentina and Iceland.

To quote BIFF Founder and Executive Director, Kelley Vickery: “I believe this is one of the best festivals we have ever programmed.  I am absolutely thrilled not only with our special events, but also our incredible line-up of foreign films, documentaries, narrative dramas, and shorts.  Once again, we have secured the best in independent film which is what our audience has come to expect. It is exciting to have Yo-Yo Ma, Bruce Dern, Karen Allen, Doug Trumbull, Noah Baumbach, Gregory Crewdson, Jake Paltrow and Kent Jones as highlights in our program. It doesn’t get better than that!  The BIFF’s programming has combined our community’s sense of wonder, curious spirit, intellectual needs, and desire to engage in and explore the world around us, as well as to learn about stories close to home.  With 26 countries represented, the BIFF truly brings the world to the Berkshires!”

JUNE 2 – GREAT BARRINGTON OPENING NIGHT FILM & EVENT 

MUSIC OF STRANGERS:  YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

This year’s Festival will begin on June 2nd with an Opening Night Party for pass-holders at 5:00 pm followed by the Massachusetts Premiere screening of the documentary feature film MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE at 7:00 pm at the Mahaiwe Theater.  From the Director of the Oscar®-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom and the critically acclaimed Best of Enemies, the new film, THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE, tells the extraordinary story of the renowned international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The feature-length documentary follows this group of diverse instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers as they explore the power of music to preserve tradition, shape cultural evolution and inspire hope. After receiving glowing reviews at its world premiere at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, this beautifully shot film takes place at Tanglewood and follows musicians located along the Silk Road.

Yo-Yo Ma will be in attendance and will hold a Q&A immediately following the film.

Prior to the opening night film, the festivities will kick-off at 5:00 pm with a cocktail party and dinner-by-the-bite for pass-holders catered by Mezze under the BIFF tent. The BIFF Opening Night is generously sponsored by the Annie Selke Companies.

JUNE 3 – PITTSFIELD OPENING NIGHT FILM & EVENT 

LIFE, ANIMATED

The BIFF’s Opening Night film in Pittsfield will be LIFE, ANIMATED shown at 7:00 pm on June 3rd at the Beacon.  An audience hit and jury winner at its 2016 Sundance premiere, this film tells the remarkable story of how a young boy named Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. By evocatively interweaving classic Disney sequences with vérité scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality. Beautiful, original animations further give form to Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity in a tribe of sidekicks. With an arsenal of narratives at his disposal, Owen rises to meet the challenges of adulthood in this moving coming-of-age tale.

Generously sponsored by Berkshire Bank, the Pittsfield Opening Night Party will kick-off at 5:00pm at Hotel On North.  At the event, Berkshire Bank and the BIFF will present the seventh annual “Next Great Filmmaker Award” chosen among 5 films in competition: – JANUARY, BACON & GOD’S WRATH, OASIS, EMPEROR OF TIME, and HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT IN 4 EASY STEPS.  Voting begins on April 29 and ends May 29, 2016 at www.biffma.org/nextgreat.

JUNE 4 – GREAT BARRINGTON SPECIAL TRIBUTE EVENT, FILM & FESTIVITIES 

HOLLYWOOD LEGEND AND ACADEMY AWARD WINNER BRUCE DERN

The BIFF is extremely proud this year to pay tribute to the legendary Academy Award winning actor Bruce Dern with the BIFF Achievement in Film Award. Throughout his tremendous career, Bruce Dern has played both modern day heroes and legendary villains. Through his decades of critically acclaimed performances, Dern has been widely regarded as one of the most talented and prolific actors of his generation.  Trained by Elia Kazan at The Actor’s Studio, Dern’s career has spanned more than 40 years and has involved him working with many of the most iconic directors, including Hitchcock, Pollack, Corman, Tarentino and Payne.  Dern will share his stories and his incredible career in conversation with Doug Trumbull. The BIFF is honored to have Mr. Dern as our guest.

Prior to the Special Event Tribute, festivities include a cocktail party and dinner-by-the-bite for pass-holders catered by MAX Ultimate Food under the BIFF tent.  This Special Event Tribute is generously sponsored by GWFF.

JUNE 5 – GREAT BARRINGTON CLOSING NIGHT FILM 

DE PALMA

The BIFF will close with the wonderful documentary DE PALMA, Co-Directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.  One of the most talented, influential, and iconoclastic filmmakers of all time, Brian De Palma’s career started in the 60s and has included such acclaimed and diverse films as Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, and Mission: Impossible. In this lively, illuminating and unexpectedly moving documentary, the directors engage in a personal and candid discussion with De Palma, exploring his life and work and his singular approach to the craft of filmmaking.  The film also relates De Palma’s remarkable experiences navigating the film business, from his early days as the bad boy of New Hollywood to his more recent years as a respected veteran of the field. In the end, what emerges is a funny, honest, and incisive portrait of a truly one-of-a-kind artist, and an exhilarating behind-the-scenes look at the last 50 years of the film industry through the eyes of someone who has truly seen it all.

The BIFF is extraordinarily pleased that Co-Directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow will be in attendance for a Q&A moderated by artist Gregory Crewdson immediately following the screening.

Our 11th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival has an array of incredible films, Q&A’s with directors, producers, and actors and a great lineup of festivities.  Other special events during the Festival weekend include the awarding of GWFF USA’s Juried Prize for narrative and documentary filmmaking, free family film screenings, panel discussions with films on Mike Nichols, Isaiah Sheffer, Hitchcock and Truffault, and the screening of an important environmental film. There will also be a very special screening of A YEAR BY THE SEA based on Joan Anderson’s book and starring Karen Allen.  This was an award winning film at the 2016 Vail Film Festival and Ms. Allen was the recipient of this Festival’s Vanguard Award.  Joan Anderson and Karen Allen will be in attendance.

The BIFF has become the festival of choice for filmmakers and film lovers who are seeking a unique Berkshire experience and a place to indulge their passion for film. The Festival connects audiences to compelling documentaries, award-winning international releases with incredible parties and events, all just a short drive from New York City or Boston. Films and events will be held throughout Great Barrington and Pittsfield, including the Triplex Cinema, the historic Mahaiwe Theatre, and the Beacon Cinema, as well as area restaurants.

FESTIVAL SPECIAL EVENTS AND MORE

BIFF FILMMAKERS SUMMIT

For the FIFTH year, the BIFF is proud to present the annual Filmmakers Summit; a two-day talent academy offered to the 2016 film selection filmmakers. Offering a diverse, multi-dimensional program of panel discussions, lectures, special events, and breakout sessions lead by known industry professionals, the BIFF Filmmakers Summit is designed to celebrate and support the advancement of filmmakers and recognize film as a relevant and important medium. Beginning on Wednesday, June 1, the Filmmakers Summit is an integral part of the festival experience for filmmakers. Ensuring the freshest and most poignant dialogue in conjunction with incredibly unique events, this Summit goes way beyond networking; it will fortify the festival experience.  This year, we are honored to have Sheila Nevins as the keynote speaker.  The Summit is generously sponsored by Chrysler Capital and Momentary Pictures.

THE  BIFF JURY

The BIFF is honored to have our Sixth Annual Jury which includes actors Mary Kay Place and Peter Riegert, Distribution Gurus Josh Braun and Dan Braun, Studio executive Bob Harper, Screenwriter Sam Harper, Casting Director Gretchen Rennell and renowned Film Critic, director and New York Film Festival director Kent Jones. There will be five films in competition for feature documentaries and five films in the narrative category.  The award will carry a $5,000 prize generously sponsored by GWFF USA to be presented on Sunday, June 5th at Allium in Great Barrington. The films in competition for the Narrative category are GOLD COAST, JACK, NEITHER HEAVEN NOR EARTH, THE FITS and WEDNESDAY, MAY 9. In theDocumentary category are GLEASON, NEWTOWN, NUTS!, SUITED, and UNTOUCHABLE.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS AND EVENTS AT THE MAHAIWE 

10:30AM –SATURDAY – ART AND HEART, THE WORLD OF ISAIAH

ART & HEART: THE WORLD OF ISAIAH SHEFFER is a celebration of Isaiah Sheffer’s life and work, intercut with archival material, interviews with friends and colleagues, and stage performances. “His voice was like having warm butterscotch poured over your head” recalls Stephen Colbert.  Leonard Nimoy remembered Isaiah as “endlessly creative.”  Jane Curtin thought “he was so much fun.”  Isaiah Sheffer had a unique wit and humor that suffused everything he did.  “There [was] no one like him,” said Stephen Lang.

A conversation with Director Catherine Tambini, and Executive Producers Ethel Sheffer and Gina Marie Leonetti, moderated by Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly will follow the screening.

12:30PM–SATURDAY –YEAR BY THE SEA – Hoping to reclaim who she was before marriage and children, an empty nester retreats to Cape Cod where she embarks upon a quest to set herself free.  This film is based on the New York Times bestseller by the same name.   The film recently won the Audience Award and Karen Allen won the Vanguard Award at the Vail Film Festival.

Following the screening will be a conversation with Director Alexander Janko, author Joan Anderson, actress Karen Allen and other members of the cast, moderated by BIFF Board member Mary Mott.

4:00 –SATURDAY – SILENT RUNNING – 1972

In a future where all flora is extinct on Earth, an astronaut is given orders to destroy the last of Earth’s botany, kept in a greenhouse aboard a spacecraft.  This film is directed by Douglas Trumbull and stars Bruce Dern.

9:30AM– KIDS FLIX – FREE!

The morning begins with a selection of kids’ shorts from KIDS FLIX MIX for ages 4 to 8, a colorful collection of short films from around the world, hand-picked as audience and jury favorites from the 2015 New York International Children’s Film Festival. THESE SCREENINGS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

11:00AM– BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS

Filmmaker Mike Nichols sits down with theater Director Jack O’Brien to discuss his personal life and professional work.
A conversation with Nichols First Assistant Director and BIFF Honoree, Mike Haley, will moderate a discussion following the film.

1:00PM– RACING EXTINCTION

Oscar®-winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) assembles a team of artists and activists to show the world never-before-seen images that expose issues about endangered species and mass extinction. Whether infiltrating notorious black markets or exploring our affect on the environment, Racing Extinction, will change the way we see the world.

3:00 PM –HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD AND LOVE ALL THINGS CLIMATE CAN’T CHANGE

By Oscar®-nominated Director Josh Fox (Gasland), this film continues in Fox’s deeply personal style, investigating climate change – the greatest threat our world has ever known. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?

The panel discussion following the film will include Josh Fox, Ben Barber and Rosemary Wessel, Founder of No Fracked Gas in Mass.

5:00 – 7:00PM – FRIDAY – The Red Lion Inn generously hosts a special Filmmaker Cocktail Party under the BIFF Tent for the 2016 Filmmakers and Sponsors.

VENUES AND TICKETS

Venues for all of the weekend-long events and screenings will include the Triplex Cinema and the historic Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington and the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield.

Passes are on sale now at $200, $300 and $500.  Individual tickets go on sale for the REEL Friends Film Society Members on April 28 and the general public on Sunday, May 1 and may be purchased online at www.biffma.org

or by phone at 1-866-811-4111. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Triplex Cinema or the Mahaiwe Box Office in Great Barrington or at the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield.

ABOUT THE SPONSORS 

Premiere sponsors of the festival include the Triplex Cinema, Beacon Cinema, GWFF, Studio Two, Max Ultimate Food, The Red Lion Inn, Annie Selke Companies, Berkshire Bank, Chrysler Capital and Town Vibe. Supporting sponsors include Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Inc., Stella Artois, Abbotts Livery, Karen Allen Fiber Arts, Jane Iredale Cosmetics, Stonover Farm, Blantyre, Fairfield Inn, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Carlos Huber Selects, The Barrington.

Berkshire International Film Festival is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  To obtain more information, to join as a sponsor, to volunteer, to become a REEL Friend or to make a contribution to BIFF, please contact kelley@biffma.org or lauren@biffma.org.

THE LINEUP: FEATURES, DOCUMENTARIES, AND SHORTS

Check http://www.biffma.org/ for dates and screening times

NARRATIVE FEATURES

A YEAR BY THE SEA (d. Alexander Janko, written by Joan Anderson (book) Alexander Janko (screenplay) starring: Karen Allen, Yannick Bisson, Celia Imrie, Monique Gariela Curnen<

THE ASSASSIN (d:  Hsiao-Hsein Hou starring: Chen Chang, Qi Shu, Yun Zhou

THE ASSISTANT (d. Christophe Ali, Nicolas Bon, written by Christophe Ali starring: Nathalie Baye, Malik Zidi, Johan Leysen, Sabrina

BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS (d: Jamie Adams, written by Jamie Adams starring: Alice Lowe, Dolly Wells, Tom Cullen

THE FITS (d: Anna Rose Holmer, written by Saela Davis, Anna Rose Holmer, Lisa Kjeruff,  starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett Da’Sean Minor Lauren

GOLD COAST (d: Daniel Dancik, written by Daniel Dancik  starring: Jakob Oftebro, Danica Curcic, Anders Heinrichson, Morten Holst

JACK (d: Elisabeth Sharang, written by Elisabeth Sharang starring: Johannes Krisch, Corinna Harfouch, Sarah Frick

LAST CAB TO DARWIN (d: Jeremy Sims, written by Reg Cribb, Jeremy Sims  starring: Michael Caton, Mark Coles Smith, Emma Hamilton, Jacki Weaver

THE LAST KING (d: Nils Gaup, written by Ravn Lanesskog  starring: Anders Dahlberg, Elg Elgesem, Pal Sverre Hagen, Thorbjorn Harr

LITTLE MEN (d: Ira Sachs, written by Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias starring; Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina Garcia, Theo Taplitz, Michael Barbieri

LIZA AND THE FOX FAIRY (d: Karoly Ujj Meszaros, written by Balint Hegedus, Karoly Ujj Meszaros  starring: Monika Balsai

MORRIS FROM AMERICAN (d: Chad Hartigan, written by Chad Hartigan  Starring:  Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Gierszak

MOUNTAIN (d: Yaelle Kayam, written by Yaelle Kayam  starring: Shani Klein, Avshalom

MUSICAL CHAIRS (d: Marie Belhomme, written by Marie Belhomme, Michael LeClerc starring: Isabelle Carre, Carmen Maura, Philippe Rebbot

NEITHER HEAVEN NOR EARCT (d: Clement Cogitore, written by Thomas Bidegain, Clement Cogitore  starring:  Jeremie Renier, Swann Arlaud, Marc Robert, Kevin Azais, Christophe

OUR WOMEN (d: Richard Berry, written by Richard Berry, Eric Assous  starring: Daniel Auteuil, Richard Berry, Thierry Lhermitte

PARCHED (d: Leena Yadav written by Supratik Sen, Leena Yadav  starring:  Lehar Khan, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Surveen Chawla, Radhika Apte, Adil

THE PEOPLE VS. FRITZ BAUER (d: Lars Kraume written by Lars Kraume, Olivier Guez  starring:  Burghart Klaussner, Sebastian Blomberg, Pierre Shrady, Michael Schenk

THE RAINBOW KID (d: Kire Paputts, written by Kire Paputts, Noel S. Baker, John Frizzell  starring Dylan Harman, Krystal Hope Nausbaum

ROAD TO LA PAZ (d: Francisco Varone written by Francisco Varone with: David Gulpilil, Cameron Wallaby, Joseph Pedley)

VIOLIN TEACHER (d: Sergio Machado, written by Maria Adelaide Amaral  Starring:  Lazara Ramos, Elzio Vieira, Sandra Corveloni

VIRGIN MOUNTAIN (d: Dagur Kari, written by Dagur Kari  starring: Gunnar Jonsson, Ilmur Kristjansdottir, Sigurjon Kjartansson

WE MONSTERS (d: Sebastian Ko, written by Sebastion Ko, Marcus Seibert  starring: Mehdi Nebbou, Ulrike Tscharre, Janina Fautz

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9 (d: Vahid Jalilvand, written by Vahid Jalilvand  starring: Kataneh Afshar Nejad, Amir Aghaei, Borzou Arjmand, Saeed Dakh

DOCUMENTARIES 

A SONG FOR YOU:  THE AUSTIN CITY LIMITS STORY (d: Keith Maitland)

ART AND HEART:  THE WORLD OF ISAIAH SHEFFER (d: Catherine Tambini)

BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS (d: Douglas McGrath

CAMERAPERSON (d: Kirsten Johnson)

COMING OUT (d: Alden Peters)

EVERYBODY KNOWS…ELIZABETH MURRAY (d: Kristi Zea)

FORGOTTEN FARMS  (d: Dave Simonds)

GLEASON  (d: Clay Tweel)

HARRY BENSON:  SHOOT FIRST (d: Justin Bare, Matthew Miele)

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (d: Kent Jones in attendance)

HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD (d: Josh Fox)

JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY (d: Brian Oakes)

LANDFILL HARMONIC (d: Brad Allgood, Graham Tow)

LIFE, ANIMATED (d: Roger Ross Williams)

LO AND BEHOLD: EVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD (d: Werner Herzog)

MAPPLETHORPE:  LOOK AT AT THE PICTURES (d: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato)

NEWTOWN (d: Kim A. Snyder)

NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU (d: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady)

NUTS! (d: Penny Lane)

PETER AND THE FARM (d: Tony Stone)

RACING EXTINCTION (d: Louie Psihoyos)

REBEL CITIZEN (d: Pamela Yates)

SAVING JAMAICA BAY (d: David Sigal)

SUITED (d: Jason Benjamin)

THE WITNESS (d: James Soloman)

TRAPPED (d: Dawn Porter)

UNTOUCHABLE (d: David Feige)

SHORTS

BIFF will present two short film programs, which will showcase 17 shorts and will be presented along with filmmakers at selected screenings.

Shorts #1

JEWISH BLIND DATE (d: Anaelle Morf), JANUARY (d: Craig Pospisil)  SIX LETTER WORLD (d: Lisanne Sartor),  CUPID, FIRST CLASS (d: Artem Prokhorov), EWE TOPIA (d: Ben Hillman) BACON & GOD’S WRATH (d: Sol Friedman)  JOE’S VIOLIN  (d: Kahane Cooperman)

Q & A to follow with filmmakers in attendance

Shorts #2

OASIS (d: Aidan Kahn), BIG T (d: Brenda Ray), FORGE (d: Andrew Baird), EMPEROR OF TIME (d: Drew Christie), TODAY IS THE DAY (d: Betsy Hershey), RAISA (d: Pavel Cuzuioc), TEST DRIVE (d: Jim Ford), TATTOO YOU (d: S. R. Bindler), HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT IN 4 EASY STEPS (d: Benjamin Berman), GOODBYE ALAN (d: Joe Cacaci)

Q & A with filmmakers in attendance to follow.

 

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