It’s summertime in Connecticut and the cinematic scene is thriving with the CT Film Festival, a four-day-and-night event of films, industry workshops, and panels opening Thursday June 28 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center at 300 Main St. in Old Saybrook.
The festival, which runs through July 1, will host a variety of films including thought-provoking features, documentaries, shorts, international, animations and student films. This year, young love, drag queens, and politics are among some of the themes.
Opening day promises to be one of the festival’s biggest openers yet with the Connecticut premiere of Facing The Storm: The Story of the American Bison, documenting past and present human relations with the bison, an icon of the American west.
Following daytime showings is the world premiere of Juan in a Million at 7 p.m., a dramatic sci-fi fantasy about Juan Pablo Garcia, a Chilean student who is determined to find answers after he awakes from a nap and realizes he is the only person left in the capital city of Santiago.
Another Connecticut premiere, The Black Tulip at 9 p.m., follows the Mansouris, an Afghan family living in the capital of Kabul who open a small restaurant “The Poet’s Corner,” following the 2001 outing of the Taliban by American armed forces where city residents can share their poetry, stories, and perform music. Through the Mansouris, the dramatic film portrays the resilience of the modern Afghan people as they struggle to maintain their new way of life despite a lingering Taliban presence.
This year, the festival will bring a series of economic and political themed features and shorts known as the “Occupy” block including Jesus was a Commie, directed by actor Matthew Modine and Confidence Game, directed by Ridgefield resident Nick Verbitsky.
Another Connecticut resident, Jacques Lamarre, who lives in the Hartford area, will show his film Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads (9 p.m. Friday), an indie comedy about a transvestite Varla Jean, who after years of performing in dive bars and bathhouses around New Orleans, decides to reach a younger audience by producing a children’s show, in a last-ditch attempt to save her dying career.
The weekend will also feature shorts from the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival with celebrity performances, such as Grampires: When Harry Bit Sally starring Billy Crystal and Helen Mirren and the animated feature length film Chico & Rita, the story of two young lovers in the entertainment industry struggling to remain together while traveling the world and balancing their budding careers.
Wrapping up on Sunday, the festival ends with the finale screening of More To Live For, hosted by the Middlesex Hospital & Cancer Center.
“This film was created to show people how hard it is to save your life and to dispel the painful myth about being a bone marrow donor,” said Carruthers. “It's an opportunity to do something good with an event we're already creating.”
The film about three lives shaken by cancer and dependent upon one vital bone marrow match that could save them will also be an opportunity for audience members to receive free testing to become registered bone-marrow donors.
"Come out and expect to be surprised," said Carruthers. "They’re going to see films that are more thought-provoking than typical Hollywood cinema and they'll be more inspired from the experience."
Visit thekate.org for more festival information, tickets and screening times.
Cinema Returns to the Shoreline
Chico & Rita, courtesy of CTFilmFest.com