Synopses of Selected 2012 Films
Friday evening: The Midwest Premiere of Just Forty-five Minutes From Broadway (1 hour, 52 min.) This brand new film from Writer-Director Henry Jaglom is based on his play of the same name and stars Tanna Frederick, Judd Nelson and Julie Davis.
The Youth Film Festival: Saturday morning at 10:00 in Art Center A. Our second year for the youth festival offers free admission to watch Boo! The Robot and the Butterfly, My License, and Alfred Thinks We’re Aliens. We encourage you to bring a child or a grandchild. Information about the films is listed below.
Sunday Afternoon: Opportunity Village: Relationships in Action. 25 minutes. This short documentary presents some of the unique people and activities that make Clear Lake’s Opportunity Village such a remarkable place to live. Admission is free. Shows on Sunday at at 3:10 in the Hub.
Before Breakfast (shows at the Hub at 12 on Saturday and Sunday at Arts Center B at 3:10)
13:24 minutes. Written by Elspeth Keller, produced by Yada Zamora, and directed by Paul A. Levin. In this historically possible but completely fictional story, fresh-faced budding starlets Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn barely meet before they manage to get themselves in trouble with the law...and all before breakfast!
Frigid (shows Fri. at 2:10 in the Hub and Sat. at 4:20 in the Hub)
12 minutes. Written and produced by Diana Densmore and directed by Jack Meggers. Native Mason Cityan Jack Meggers brings this film from Los Angeles to the festival. As six-year-old Eric and his father David reel from the recent death of Eric’s mother, they struggle to relate to each other. Overcome with his own grief, David grows frustrated with Eric’s newfound fears. Eric retreats from reality by hiding in cupboards and closets, until he inadvertently locks himself in an old refrigerator where he enters a nightmarish, frozen dreamscape where he must confront his fears. Outside, David struggles to hear the call from within him that links father to son.
Missed Connections (shows on Sat. at 12 at Art Center B and on Sun. at the Hub at 1)
13:45 minutes. Written, produced and directed by Susan Kerns and Kara Mulroney. Missed connections become connections made in this romantic comedy based on personal ads. Featuring Busby Berkely-inspired dancers and a fanciful score from the tomorrows of yesterday, Missed Connections transports viewers to a space where dreams of love come alive!
The Kidnapping at Castelle Manor (Fri. at 4:20 in the Hub and on Sat. at 2:10 in the Hub)
14:27 minutes. Produced by Scott Siepker and Brendan Dunphy and written and directed by Paul Benedict, this film comes to us from the Iowa Filmmakers. Set in 1930 when kidnappings were more prevalent, it depicts what happens when a well-organized gang of criminals decides to snatch the wrong person from the wrong house.
Trying To Quit (shows on Sat. at 4:20 in Arts Center A and Sun. at 5:20 at the Hub)
16:29 minutes. Written and directed by Paul Berge, this hilarious film from Indianola presents an entirely new slant on grappling with a bad habit. Petty criminal Willy Saphyre manages to get himself arrested on his first day out of prison and is suddenly confronted with the reality of mandatory sentencing: he might be sent away for life for stealing, as he puts it, “a piece of crap car”. His only hope lies with jaded public defender Windsor. Could it be that their shared habit offers Willy a way out of his cruel dilemma?
Withstand One Night (shows on Fri. at 2:10 at Arts Center A and Sunday at 3:10 at Arts Center A)
13 minutes. Directed by Ryan Sage, written by Joel West and Anna Bocci, produced by Joel West. This hilarious take on the one-night-stand should be enough to drive the fatal stake into the fantasy of picking up a stranger and taking her or him home for just one night of glorious sex…but of course it won’t. Beautifully written, directed and acted, the film is 13 minutes of pure entertainment and laughs as Sara (Anna Bocci) decides, to the delight of her two girlfriends, to pick up what appears to be the hunk-of-the-bar (Joel West) and takes him home to a succession of mismatched mishaps.
Just 45 Minutes From Broadway (one showing at 6:30 on Friday evening.)
90 minutes. Written and directed by Henry Jaglom from his play of the same title. Starring Tanna Frederick, Judd Nelson, and Julie Davis. An engaged woman returns home to her theatrical family with fiancé in tow, hoping to establish a more normal life than that of her somewhat over-the-top family. Fat chance.
Molly’s Girl (shows Fri. at 4:20 in Arts Center A and Sun. at 5:20 in Arts Center A)
125 minutes. From Des Moines, written and directed by Scott R. Thompson and produced by Kimberly Busbee. An emotional misfit named Molly believes she’s found love in a drunken one-night stand with a gay-marriage lesbian activist named Mercedes who, once sober, discovers she can’t escape the clingy, desperate Molly. As she tries to rid herself of Molly, she learns that Molly’s father is an influential state senator adamantly opposed to gay marriage. She convinces Molly to pretend that they are engaged, even though Molly isn’t gay, which leads to a series of confrontations in which Mercedes begins to understand who Molly is and why they surprisingly share so much in common.
Olive (shows on Fri. at 4:20 in the Hub and on Sat. at 12 in the Hub)
90 minutes. Written, and directed by Hooman Khalili and Pat Gilles. In order to demonstrate the accessibility of filmmaking today, this film was shot entirely with a Nokia 8 smart phone. Besides that technical achievement, it also happens to be a well-made and interesting film, starring Gena Rowlands. The film revolves around a young girl who never speaks…with her mouth, that is, because we soon see that she has some extraordinary powers although not the dark kind that typify so many movies today. There are several other interesting characters, too, and their separate stories converge into a satisfying finish.
Sick of Larry (shows Fri. at 2:10 in the Hub and on Sat. at 2:10 in the Hub)
92 minutes. Written and produced by Scott Thompson. A psychological thriller with some comedy about the power of guilt. Three young women come to suspect that Imogene, a widow who rents rooms to them, is being poisoned by her new boyfriend, Larry. But we learn that Clementine, the principal alarmist, has issues of her own…perhaps even a history of violence. When she convinces her roommates to take drastic measures, the plot unravels until no one is sure what is real and what is not.
Spirits of St. Paul (shows on Sat. at 4:20 in Arts Center A and on Sun. at 1 in the Hub)
113 minutes. Written, produced and directed by Brian and Gary Crask. In the 1920’s and 30’s St. Paul, Minnesota was a haven for notorious criminals just as long as they didn’t pull jobs within the city. But greed and a visitation by Ma Barker unravel the arrangement between the local police and the hoods, and the setup deteriorates into kidnapping and violence…and the arrival of the FBI. This beautiful well-acted period piece is based upon factual material and utilizes numerous locations and vehicles from that era.
The Trouble With The Truth (shows Fri. at 12 in Arts Center A and on Sat. at 12 in Art Center B)
96 minutes. Produced by Daniel Farrands and Thommy Hutson, written and directed by Jim Hemphill. A divorced couple gets together for dinner and a little wine…and then a little more wine and talk themselves through an entire evening of reminiscence about what was, what might have been, what is and…well, you get the picture. Any person who understands that divorce closes some doors but not all of them will enjoy this sophisticated exploration of lingering attachment.
Hand Me Downs (shows on Fri. at 2:10 in Arts Center A and on Sat. at 2:10 in Arts Center A)
3:42 minutes. Written, produced and directed by Kyrl Henderson.
This short film from Decorah dramatizes the trash we are leaving every day to our children in this country and around the world.
abUSed: The Postville Raid (shows on Sat. at 12 in Arts Center A and Sun. at 1 in Arts Center B)
97 minutes. Directed by Luis Arguenta, abUSed tells the gripping personal stories of the individuals, the families, and the town that survived the largest and most expensive immigration raid in the history of the United States which took place on May 12, 2008. This story is told from the point-of-view of the workers, most of whom had migrated from Central America to work in a kosher meat-packing plant in northeast Iowa. The film offers another perspective to the debate on immigration in the US and Iowa in particular.
Buck (shows Sat. at 2:10 in Arts Center A and Sun. at 3:10 in Arts Center B)
(89 minutes) Produced by Julie Goldman and Directed by Cindy Meehl. Buck Brannaman is a real-life horse whisper and the guy who taught Robert Redford how to act like one, but the film is about so much more. As he travels around the west from clinic to clinic, often addressing, as he says, not “people with horse problems, but horses with people problems” we come to understand the source of Buck’s wisdom and compassion for horses and people. Buck is a great film. Buck is brought to the festival with the sponsoring support of Ann and Russ Schurtz and Midstates Horse Shows.
Fresh (shows on Sat. at 4:20 in the Hub and on Sun. at 3:10 in Arts Center the Hub)
70 minutes. Produced and directed by ana Sofia joanes, Fresh celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.
Miss Representation (shows on Sunday at 1:00 at Arts Center A)
120 minutes. Written, produced and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women. The film interweaves stories from teenage girls with provocative interviews with the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, and Gloria Steinem to give an inside look at the media and its message.
Neon Nights (shows on Sat. at 6:30 in Arts Center A and Sunday at 5:20 in the Hub)
96 minutes. Gary Ewing’s second documentary film about his hometown in as many years, this one covers Mason City’s active music scene in the 1960’s and ‘70s, and goes on to take a look at the strip bars and X-rated movie houses that led Time magazine to dub it Sin City. It’s highlighted by numerous interviews with musicians, demonstrators, everyday citizens, and the cops who were there. Neon Nights is brought to the festival through the sponsoring support of David and Cathy Beck.
Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story (Fri. at 2:10 in Arts Center A and on Sun. at 3:10 in Arts Center A) 78 minutes. Produced and directed by Larkin McPhee, this important documentary is about the “unintended consequences” of farming practices on water quality, soil loss and the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, an oxygen-deprived area where fish and shrimp cannot survive. Excess nitrogen, phosperous and fertilizers essential to the growth of plants are contaminating the nation’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers while precious soils wash away. The film features concerned farmers, scientists and citizens who seek solutions that will meet the needs of an ambitious food-producing nation while ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of its most precious resources. Troubled Waters is brought to the festival with the sponsoring support of Niman Ranch.
Alfred Thinks We’re Aliens (shows Sat. at 10 in Arts Center A)
11:00 minutes. Writer: Lea Kocurek; Producer: Hugo Ramos; Director: Daniel McQueary
Alfred, an imaginative seven year old boy, dreams of two things: first, he fantasizes about exploring outer space and discovering alien life; second, he longs to connect with his single mother, Caroline. After rejections by mother and teenage sister, Grace, Alfred finds an unlikely playmate with his mother’s new boyfriend, Brian. One day, after Alfred presents his mother with a quirky yet enlightening drawing done at school, she slowly begins to realize how far they have drifted apart.
Boo (shows Sat. at 10 in Arts Center A)
9:00 minutes. Written and produced by Bean Batterson, directed by Adam Orton.
Katlyn loves to cause trouble, and Halloween is her time to shine. So, when she and her younger brothers stumble across an abandoned funeral home, and she tells them the tale of the ghostly clown that lives inside, they probably shouldn’t believe her…right?
The Robot and the Butterfly (shows Sat. at 10 in Arts Center A)
9:30 minutes. Produced and directed by Mark Jones
Filmed in stop-motion animation this film tells the story of the little robot that goes on an adventure to capture its artistic muse, the butterfly. Incredibly, more than 600 K-6th graders posed 10,000 frames and recorded nearly 200 individual sound effects over the course of five months to create the film with a total budget of $0.
My License (shows Fri. at 12 in Arts Center A and Sat. at 10 in Arts Center A)
1:30 minutes. Written, Produced and directed by sixth-grader Elizabeth Herrick.
To a father’s dismay, a young girl receives her driver’s license.
Commencement (shows Sat. at 2:10 in Arts Center A and Sun. at 3:10 in Arts Center A)
5 minutes. Written by James Graham and Sahan Jayawardena and produced and directed by Sahan Jayawardena. In this film by two Mason City High School students a young man who is carrying a heavy burden learns that sometimes when things are lost, life has to move on.
Lilith (shows Fri. at 12 in Arts Center A and Sun. at 3:10 in the Hub)
7 minutes. Written and directed by Max Holm and produced by Katie Williams.
When a young mother braves a storm to bring her infant to an isolated house to the couple who is adopting it, things go terribly, terribly wrong.