If this new promotional video bump (see below) doesn’t get you thinking about the endless possibilities when it comes to hosting a film festival in Buffalo, then you might need to be resuscitated.
The 24 features and 38 shorts will be screened at each of the following: North Park Theatre, Amherst’s The Screening Room home, Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Arts Center and the Pierce-Arrow Film & Arts Center.
BIFF and Squeaky Wheel will also be hosting an all-women filmmaker panel, with special guests that include Rochester Film Commissioner Nora Brown, film distributor Crystal Calhan and filmmaker Anna Scime.
“We’re thrilled to host this special panel as well as seven feature films directed by women in our program this year. All of these guests have experience working in larger markets and have contributed to the film industry in important ways.” said Tilke Hill, the festival’s director of diversity.
BIFF Vault – Special Presentations
Moana (with Sound) (1926/1980/2014) – Pioneer documentary filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty’s follow up to his groundbreaking Nanook of the North. Flaherty, wife Frances, and children travel to the South island of Savai’l to reconstruct vanishing Samoan customs before modernization permanently erased them. Restored by Bruce Posner.
BIFF Local – Features
Emelie (WNY Premiere) – When the Thompson’s usual babysitter has to cancel, the Thompsons call upon a new girl, Anna (Sarah Bolger)… As the night creeps along, the kids slowly realize that Anna is not exactly who she claims to be. Directed by Michael Thelin and written by Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck.
Let Them Have Their Way (Special Presentation) – Dien Vo’s epic experimental comedy traces six protagonists as they try to navigate a world in which inflexible rationality, political polarization, programmatic living, and consumerism compete against desires for warmth and human connectedness.
Prescient (World Premiere) – After inadvertently causing his lover’s death, a guilt-ridden geneticist (Michael Piccirilli) begins an obsessive hunt for the gene that triggers his previsions of impending deaths in this smart, innovative sci-fi drama filmed in Buffalo’s medical corridor from director Hann-Shi Lem.
Oblivion Season (WNY Premiere) – A former prostitute begins a new life by marrying her loved-one but the latter locks her up in their house. When she manages to break free, she is confronted with another kind of prison: society in Abbas Rafei’s critique of religious and traditional dogma. (Iran)
The Philosopher King (NY State Premiere) Estranged brothers Michael (Will Howarth) and Jacob (Seumas Sargent) reconnect as they explore Jacob’s adopted country, Sweden in Rouzbeh Noori’s lyrical road trip drama, beautifully lensed by Buffalo resident Joel Froome. (Sweden)
Pseudonym (North East Premiere) Alex (writer/director Thierry Sebban), a professional has a chance encounter he will soon regret with young women he’s met online in this edge of your seat award-winning thriller. (France)
Aspie Seeks Love (WNY Premiere) – Julie Sokolow’s tender portrait of David Matthews, a Pittsburgh-based artist and writer diagnosed with Asperser’s syndrome at forty-one. Matthews has spent the past twenty years posting personal ad fliers to telephone poles seeking love – fliers that double as art pieces featuring witty, humorous prose, pop culture references, and suave photos of the artist.
The Business of Staying Young (WNY Premiere) – Director Wojciech Lorenc follows controversial Jack Cione who, at 88, directs fellow retirement home residents in a Las Vegas style production of “Arcadia Follies” in this tender and funny look at aging.
A Courtship (WNY Premiere) – Emmy Award winning filmmaker Amy Kohn’s fascinating and intimate look into the Christian Courtship ritual, follows Kelly, a young women who puts her faith in God and her spiritual parents to help her find her husband.
Game Face (NY State Premiere) – Chronicling Fallon Fox (MMA’s first transgendered pro-fighter) and Terrence Clemens (an openly gay college basketball star), director Michiel Thomas’ inspiring, award-winning documentary traces the process of coming out as well as the obstacles faced by LGBT athletes.
The Guy with a Knife (Buffalo Premiere) – Alison Armstrong’s award-winning film traces the history of the friendship between a prominent gay rights activist and a convicted ‘gay-bash’ murder, set against the backdrop of gay rights, victim’s rights and prisoners’ rights in the harsh Texas justice system.
K2 and the Invisible Footman (WNY Premiere) – BIFF award winning Filmmaker Iara Lee returns to the festival with a beautifully crafted exploration of the lives of those who make possible ascents of the world’s tallest mountains, including both Pakistani porters and Nepalese sherpas.
Not Yet Junk: The Art of Lary 7 (WNY Premiere) – Artist Danielle de Piccotto’s loving portrait of Niagara Falls native Lary 7, a musician, multi-instrumentalist, producer, sound artist, filmmaker and photographer featuring never before seen interviews with Lary 7, Tony Conrad, Matthew Barney, Larry Mullins, and Jutta Koether.
Poetry of Witness (World Premiere) – Directors Billy Tooma and Anthony Cirilo document the struggle of six contemporary poets who have faced the duress of war, exile, and human rights violations to give voice to their experiences while wrestling with the complex moral quandaries of artistic production, memory and trauma.
ROOTED in PEACE (NY State Premiere) – Director Greg Reitman invites viewers on a journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace and to stop the cycle of violence. Featuring interviews with Deepak Chopra, musical legends Donovan, Mike Love and Pete Seeger, director David Lynch and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reitman creates a compelling philosophical call to action.
The Seventh Fire (NY State Premiere) – Terrence Malick presents this haunting and visually arresting nonfiction film about the gang crisis in Indian Country by Jack Pettibone Riccobono. When Rob Brown, a Native American gang leader on a remote Minnesota reservation, is sentenced to prison for a fifth time, he must confront his role in bringing violent drug culture into his beloved Ojibwe community.
Sex & Broadcasting (WNY Premiere) – Tim K. Smith’s warm and hilarious character study of WFMU, Jersey City’s influential freeform radio station, home to several misfits and FCC rule breakers including Tom Scharpling (Best Show) and Kenneth Goldsmith (broadcasting as Kenny G). Born on an abandoned college campus, WFMU struggles to survive in a world of shrinking funding.
Stage Four: A Love Story (NY State Premiere) – Benjamin Steger’s deeply personal and moving film explores the struggles of marriage and the resiliency of the human spirit as one couple learns that a cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence but a chance to live life to the fullest.
Through My Lens (Buffalo Premiere) – Directed by Nefin Dinc, a former Professor of Documentary Study at Fredonia University, Through My Lens follows 72 students from six Turkish cities as they produce individual documentaries on human rights reconciling the impact of cinema as a shaper of both national and personal identity.
American Feature Films
Abby Singer/Songwriter (WNY Premiere) – Inspired by Jamie Block’s “White Caps on the Hudson” album, Block, a divorced stockbroker has-been who was once an indie-rock star signed to Capitol Records meets Onur Tukel, a hapless middle-aged filmmaker who has just moved to Brooklyn. Blending documentary and narrative Tukel and Block’s collaboration is hilarious and heartfelt exploring the lost art of the music video to tell the story of a comeback, a crack-up and a breakthrough.
…In The Dark (World Premiere) – Skeptical grad student, Veronica (Lynn Justinger), interviews renowned paranormal specialist, Dr. Lois Kearne (Fiona Horrigan), for her thesis and joins her on a field study trip to a Brooklyn family home besieged by evil spirits in David Spaltro’s innovative chiller.
They Look Like People (WNY Premiere) – A troubled man suspects people around him are turning into evil creates and wonders if he should protect his only friend from an impending war or from himself, in Perry Blackshear’s multiple award-winning low-fi psychological thriller.
BIFF Shorts: Local
Program time: 123 minutes
Sunday October 18th, North Park Theater, 3:15PM
Powerful local perspectives from Buffalo and beyond. “BIFF Shorts – Local” features the world premiere of John Michael Nolan’s Loyal to the Game, the story of a professional quarterback and a wide receiver at a crossroads. The End of the Summer is just the beginning of playground anarchy when the water is shut off in Seth Wochensky’s delightful parable. Zachary Fowler’s One Night Only features a young comedian veering into dangerously reflexive territory, while Joe Bellavia hilariously explores the warmth and beauty of discovering long underwear during a frigid Western New York winter in Long John. Christian Garzone explores his own family history, in-fighting and organized crime connections at Syracuse’s infamous Cafe Garzone in The Death of Danny The King.
BIFF Shorts: Global
Program time: 103 minutes
Sunday October 18th, The Screening Room, 12:30PM
A collection of global gems from Cuba, Norway, Iran, Japan, Switzerland and the UK. Rejnit Varma’s Petal explores how the darkest side of our world while Ali Efran Farhadi’s I You We a conflict amongst children playing in a Kindergarten children as a geopolitical allegory. Marc Sepra Fracoeur’s beautiful Boardwalk Musico introduces us to a young trombonist playing his heart out on Havana’s iconic seaside boardwalk, while Alexander Thomas’ Beverley offers a provocative exploration of biracial identity within a shifting cultural landscape in 1980s Leicester, England. Recalling master filmmaker Ozu, Shoko Takegasa’s Hide & Seek follows the struggles of Shoichi who, in the wake of his mother’s death is forced to care for his brother who cannot live independently. Ole Elverhoi’s minimalist Where We Are checks in on a couple at a vital crossroads in their relationship while Oskar Rosetti explores desire in his witty exploration of retiree Nicolas in I Scream Your Name.
BIFF Shorts: Sports!
Program time: 72 minutes
Saturday October 17th, The Screening Room, 4:15PM
Game On! “BIFF Shorts – Sports!” is a collection of sports-related short films from the USA, UK, Canada and Russia. Celebrating gamesmanship from the deadly odds of poker in Joss Maines’ playful thriller The Wager to the triumph of Toronto’s own Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball– a loving tribute directed by his son and former pitcher for the Blue Jays and Phillies, (Drew Taylor). James Sharpe’s Man’s Game explores the challenges of being an LGBT athlete in the macho world of professional football. Selkin Fedor’s Sprint to the Past beautifully re imagines the glory days of three young athletes, one of which would go on to win the gold medal in rowing in 1982 for the USSR, while Michael Molina Minard’s Standing8 packs a punch as a journeyman boxer raised to fight and win grapples with the aftermath of killing his opponent in the ring.
BIFF Shorts: Experimental
Program time: 81 minutes
Saturday October 17th, Squeaky Wheel Cinema, 5:00PM
Blurring the edges and breaking the confines and paradigms of narrative and documentary filmmaking, “BIFF Shorts – Experimental” is a platform for exciting abstract expression. From the existential dreamscape of Patrik Ericsson’s haunting The Cart to the internal struggles of the mind in Margaret Orr’s Mer Depre. Sam Avery’s Locomotion critiques masculinity exploring the connection between modern man and his primordial instinct. Investigating past, present, future, family and celluloid Roberta Friedman and Grahame Weinbren present Straight From Birtha, the follow-up to their 2011 short Birtha’s Children, in a complex, personal and rich new work. Multimedia artist and filmmaker Christian Svanes Kolding explores the dangers lurking at the internet’s edge where once can find anything at The End of the Internet.
BIFF Shorts – Encounters
Program Time: 116 minutes
Saturday October 17th, Screening Room, 2:00PM
Exploring emotional and physical connections, “BIFF Shorts – Encounters” presents a series of work from Serbia, US, and UK, about ordinary and extraordinary encounters. Zoe Neary focuses her lens on a generation of social network exhibitionists in the chilling teen morality thriller Kids Who Jump Off Bridges. Michael Achtman’s Awake is a gently comic story of two blind women who have a random chance encounter leading to a life long friendship while an unexpected visitor triggers a haunting childhood memory in Rajiko Ristanovic’s Razor. A socially awkward young man takes on a new career as a black-market pet-exterminator in Rick Limentani’s Put Down. Past decisions haunt a motorcycle rider about to make a death defying comeback in Josema Roig’s captivating Starman, while Camille de Galbert’s beautiful and abstract Simon follows a man as he prepares for his final entry onto the grand stage. Director Peter Kiwitt tells the story of a young Iraq War veteran caught in the downward spiral of PTSD while his artist girlfriend tries to save his life in the powerful Purple Heart.
BIFF SHORTS – Before The Feature
Before select features
An inventor has his creation used against him in Nelson’s Dunk’s smart sci-fi thriller Cyclic – screening with Prescient.
In 1960s rural Georgia a young women graduates high school, gets married and spends her first night away in Allison Mattox’s Three In June, screening before A Courtship.
Iranian children seeking escapism trade scrap metal for bootleg VHS tapes in Hasan Najmabadi’s moving Copper Wire, playing Through My Lens.
Directors Dan Mecca and Tim Ridgewood take us deep in the mind of a detective hellbent upon understanding the man who murdered his sister in Strangebird, screening with They Look Like People.
Robinder Uppal’s The Royal Women Association is a touching portrait of a group of South Asian women living in Calgary who overcome isolation and loneliness by banding together. Screening with The Business of Staying Young.
Seeking love Lana is sent to a new age singles conference with wacky results in Christopher Sojka and Cara Loften’s Seek, while a group of students seeking expression beyond bubble-in standardized testing in Emily Pumm’s World Class. Screening before Aspie Seeks Love.
Beware of knockout who invites you over while her parents are out for the night – catch Shant Hamassian’s award-winning single-take horror comedy Night of the Slasher with …In The Dark.
Ali Erfan Farhadi turns his lens microcosm on a society searching for self expression in Selfie, a sharp and critically reflexive look at Iranian society, screening with Oblivion Season.
Catch adults-only animation with Abby Singer/Songwriter – BIFF proudly presents Justin Ulloa and Jamie Dywer’s Cheese Dog: The Movie the hilarious odyssey of disgruntled fast-food worker Wendy-Lou Destiny and Andrew Chamber’s witty puppet puppet and gangster send-up The Detectives of Noir Town.
Join Chester Lampman on his personal journey to rediscover the neighborhood movie palace in the age of the all digital multiplex in Marquee on Main Street, screening with Poetry of Witness.
Filmmaker Min Min Hein travel to Shwe Ku, a monastic school in the dry zone of Myanmar in Hope, captivating ethnographic exploration of a society bound by tradition looking to the future. Screening with K2 and The Invisible Footman.
Buffalo born filmmaker Jesse Deganis Librera attempts to reconnect with his recently deceased grandfather through lucid dreams in a rich and haunting exploration of closure in It’s Not Goodbye – screening with Stage Four: A Love Story.
*Additionally the festival will host a free introduction workshop presented by Ryan Monolopolus of, On Camera Combatives, a training program for actors, filmmakers and performers creating authentic and dynamic fight movement for the camera.