(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Yo-Yo Ma, Bruce Dern, Karen Allen, Douglas Trumbull, Noah Baumbach, Gregory Crewdson, Jake Paltrow and Kent Jones will be on hand for the 11th annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF), taking place at venues including the Triplex Cinema and the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington and the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, Mass., from Thursday, June 2, through Sunday, June 5.
The BIFF will showcase 70 of the latest in independent feature, documentary, short, and family films from some 26 countries. The festival brings 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. The international span of the festival includes films from Germany, Afghanistan, Brazil, Australia, Iran, England, India, France, China, Italy, Israel, Austria, Norway, Hungary, Argentina, Iceland, and others.
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 Thursday, June 2, with an opening night party for pass-holders at 5pm, followed by the Massachusetts premiere of the documentary film MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE at 7pm at the Mahaiwe. From the director of the Academy Award-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 5pm with a cocktail party and dinner-by-the-bite for pass-holders catered by Mezze under the BIFF tent.
JUNE 3 – PITTSFIELD OPENING NIGHT FILM & EVENT
The BIFF’s opening night film in Pittsfield will be LIFE, ANIMATED shown at 7pm on Friday, June 3, 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.
The Pittsfield Opening Night Party will kick-off at 5pm at Hotel On North. 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, will be presented at the event.
JUNE 4 – GREAT BARRINGTON SPECIAL TRIBUTE EVENT, FILM & FESTIVITIES
HOLLYWOOD LEGEND AND ACADEMY AWARD WINNER BRUCE DERN
The BIFF pays tribute to 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 Alfred Hitchcock, Sydney Pollack, Roger Corman, Quentin Tarentino and Alexander Payne. Dern will share his stories and his incredible career in conversation with film effects visionary Douglas Trumbull.
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.
JUNE 5 – GREAT BARRINGTON CLOSING NIGHT FILM
The BIFF will close with 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 1960s 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.
Co-directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow will be in attendance for a Q&A moderated by artist Gregory Crewdson immediately following the screening.
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 Truffaut, and the screening of an important environmental film.
There will also be a 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 Allen was the recipient of this Festival’s Vanguard Award. Joan Anderson and Karen Allen will be in attendance.
FESTIVAL SPECIAL EVENTS AND MORE
BIFF FILMMAKERS SUMMIT
The fifth annual Filmmakers Summit is 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 led by 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, Sheila Nevins is the keynote speaker.
THE BIFF JURY
The sixth annual BIFF Jury 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 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 5, 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 the documentary category are GLEASON, NEWTOWN, NUTS!, SUITED, and UNTOUCHABLE.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS AND EVENTS AT THE MAHAIWE
SATURDAY, June 4,10:30am – ART AND HEART, THE WORLD OF ISAIAH SHEFFER
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.” 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.
SATURDAY, June 4, 12:30pm –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.
SATURDAY, June 4, 4pm – 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.
SUNDAY, June 5, 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.
SUNDAY, June 5, 11am– 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’s first assistant director and BIFF honoree Mike Haley will follow the film.
SUNDAY, June 5, 1pm – 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.
SUNDAY, June 5, 3pm – 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 six 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.
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.
Tickets 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.
THE LINEUP: FEATURES, DOCUMENTARIES, AND SHORTS
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
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)
BIFF will present two short film programs, which will showcase 17 shorts and will be presented along with filmmakers at selected screenings.
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
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.