For the last month or two, we've been profiling films scheduled to screen at the festival, so you're already privy to some of the highlights; more profiles to come leading up to the festival which begins next week, the 9th. The festival has finally released its full official lineup which I've embedded below, so check it out.
By the way, I'll be in LA to cover some of the festival:
96 Minutes (2011/US/Narrative Feature/85min) – directed by Aimee Lagos. The harrowing story of four kids caught in the terrifying maelstrom of a carjacking. Intercutting between the car and the beginning of that day, we follow the separate stories of each kid – where they come from, who they are, and how they all ended up in one car on this fateful night.
Chico & Rita (2010/Cuba/Narrative Feature/94min) -- directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando. Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unite them, but their journey – in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero – brings heartache and torment. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds to unite in music and love.
David Is Dying (2011/UK/Narrative Feature/90min) – directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson. A young, successful hedge fund manager has just been told that he is HIV positive. He is informed of the possibility that his fiancée and unborn child could also be infected. Through an intense therapy session with his psychiatrist, David takes us on a pernicious journey that starts twelve months prior, exposing the women, the sex and the demons. David knows that he will die and he can live with that. But before that he must resolve the ghosts of his past before he can face his end. A disturbing psychodrama that illustrates the ugly side of love and tragic passion.
Donovan's Echo (2011/Canada/Narrative Feature/90min) -- directed by Jim Cliffe. Donovan Matheson is a brilliant mathematician who, as a young man, helped to develop the atomic bomb. Plagued by regret in the years that followed, Donovan grew obsessed with making a positive contribution to the scientific community, neglecting family and friends in favor of personal and professional redemption. His neglect results in the accidental death of his wife and young daughter and he is overcome with guilt, withdrawing from life and relationships for decades.
Ghett’a Life (2011/Jamaica/Narrative Feature/105min) – directed by Chris Browne. An “against the odds” action drama set in a politically turbulent inner city community of Kingston, in which Derrick, a determined inner city teenager, realizes his dream of becoming a champion boxer despite a country, community and family conflicted by divisive political system.
Inside Story: The Science of HIV/AIDS (2011/South Africa/Narrative Feature/98min) -- Kalu, a young man from rural Kenya, dreams of a professional soccer career. He moves to South Africa, begins a promising relationship with the coach's daughter and is on the verge of soccer stardom when he learns he is HIV positive. Kalu guides us through the progression of HIV in his body from the moment of infection to the effect of antiretroviral therapy.
Ties That Bind (2011/Ghana/US/Narrative Feature/100min) – directed by Leila Djansi. Adobea, Buki and Theresa are women from different walks of life bound together by a similar pain--the loss of a child. In a destined meeting in a small village in Kroboland, West Africa, the women journey to love, life and redemption as they renovate a dilapidated clinic for the village.
Toussaint L’Ouverture (2012/France/Narrative Feature/180min) – directed by Philippe Niang. The long-awaited two-part action epic film of the life of Haitian revolutionary, Toussaint L'Ouverture who led the first successful slave revolt in world history by giving the imperialist armies led by Napoleon Bonaparte their first defeat and winning independence from France.
We the Party (2011/US/Narrative Feature/min) – directed by Mario Van Peebles. A cutting edge hip-hop infused dramedy about the first generation of high schoolers to come of age during the Obama years. The film features some of the latest teenage bands and dance crews.
A Small Town Called Descent (2011/South Africa/Narrative Feature/120min) – directed by Jahmil Qubeka. In a remote part of South Africa, a heinous crime is committed. Three detectives from the infamous and elite Scorpion Investigating unit are sent to the town called Descent to investigate the death of a Zimbabwean man. To get to the truth, the detectives begin to uncover secrets that the town has refused to reveal.
Better Mus’ Come (2011/Jamaica/Narrative Feature/104min) -- directed by Storm Saulter. An urban love story unfolds against a backdrop of political turmoil. In 1970s Jamaica, Ricky, a young man from an inner city community, fights against all the odds to escape the prevailing hardships of life in the ghettos of downtown central Kingston.
Destiny of Lesser Animals, The (Sibo ne kra, Dabo ne kra) (2011/Ghana/US/Narrative Feature/89min) – directed by Deron Albright. A beautifully photographed crime thriller with a unique look at modern Africa takes its viewers on the dangerous journey of Police Inspector Boniface Koomsin who is desperate to return to the United States.
High Chicago (2011/Canada/Narrative Feature/98min) – directed by Alfons Adetuyi. Inspired by a true story and set in 1975, a gritty yet beautifully accomplished drama about Sam, a 42-year-old husband and father of three, in the grip of a serious gambling addiction.
House Arrest (2011/US/Narrative Feature/104min) – directed by William Washington. Chanel is a beautiful, high-maintenance woman involved with DeAndre, her hustler boyfriend. When she is arrested for being an accomplice to his criminal activities, she is placed on house arrest while she awaits trial, forcing to live in her old neighborhood with her religious grandmother, Mee-Mah, who is raising her daughter.
Playing Warriors (2011/Zimbabwe/Narrative Feature/78min) – directed by Rumbi Katedza. Set in present day Zimbabwe, Nyarai is a top executive with a leading advertising agency who enjoys romantic escapades as long as they are not serious. Her traditional parents are not satisfied, insisting that she needs to get married and be an example for her basketball-playing tomboy younger sister. When Nyarai finds out that her cousin Nonto is getting married, she and her traditionally challenged friend Maxi are set into a frenzy at the thought that their time to find 'Mr. Right' may be running out.
Single Hills -- (2011/US/Narrative Feature/76min) directed by Wilkie Cornelius. A colorful comedic-drama about a young couple facing the end of an "undefined" relationship. Jay, the film’s protagonist, is afraid to give Lisa, his long-term companion, the commitment she has wanted for five years, and eventually loses her to a more appreciative man
All Me: The Life & Times of Winfred Rembert (2011/US/Documentary/75min – directed by Vivian Ducat. When artist Winfred Rembert could no longer support his family through operating heavy equipment and working on the Bridgeport, CT docks, he turned to a technique he had learned while a prisoner on a Georgia chain gang during the late 1960s--tooling his life story on leather. Within in a couple of years, his leather work had sold to a world of white collectors across New England.
An African Election (2010/Ghana/Documentary/86min)
Brooklyn Boheme (2011/US/Documentary/80min) – directed by Diane Paragas and Nelson George. A historical documentary and a personal essay by co-director Nelson George about a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood that was home base to an extraordinary community of Black and Hispanic artists in the '80s and '90s.
The Education of Auma Obama (2011/Germany/Documentary/79mi
FunkJazzKafé: Diary of a Decade (2011/US/Documentary/142min) -- Jason Orr. Spanning the late 1980s through the early 2000s, this story goes deep into the fabric of soul music, its definitions, its pioneers, its offspring, its movements, the challenges with the “mainstream” industry and the evolution of the FunkJazz Kafé, a music and arts movement born of Atlanta’s diverse musical heritage
Mama Africa (2011/South Africa/Germany/Finland/Documen
My Heart of Darkness (2011/Sweden/Documentary/93min
Sobukwe: A Great Soul (2011/South Africa/Documentary/110min) – directed by Mickey Madoda Dube. One of South Africa’s unsung heroes, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, was destined to change people's lives. He lit the fire for protests like that at Sharpeville, an historic moment that led to his arrest and subsequent nine-year detainment under a special amendment that became known as the Sobukwe Clause. Sobukwe became an international icon whose passing led to a special session at the United Nations.
The Story of Lover’s Rock (2011/UK/Documentary/96min) -- directed by Menelik Shabazz. Lover's Rock, often dubbed 'romantic reggae,' is a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Live performance, comedy sketches, dance, interviews and archive shed light on the music and the generation that embraced it.
Burned (2011/US/Narrative Short/21min) – directed by Phyllis Toben Bancroft. A drama about a female Air Force veteran/firefighter who has returned from Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The Christmas Tree (2011/US/Narrative Short/12min) – directed by Angel Kristi Williams. A struggling, single father prepares to spend the first Christmas alone with his daughter, but when their tree is lost on Christmas Eve and he has no money to replace it, he is forced to make tough decisions.
Dear Me (2010/US/Narrative Short/16min – directed by Ka'ramuu Kush. A gifted writer struggles with a debilitating bout of writer's block in the stylistic mélange of live/still photography.
Doorways (2011/US/Narrative Short/19min) – directed by Tosin Coker. After surviving an abusive relationship, a woman must care for her 8-year-old son. Placing her dream of becoming a singer on hold, she takes a menial job. One day, fate stumbles across her path, placing her life on a course that reignites her dream
Junior and the Saint (2011/US/Narrative Short/15min) – directed by Lamont Stephens. After his wife abandons them to pursue her own dreams, a champion boxer splits his time between training and raising his 6-year-old son. When she returns, old wounds are opened.
Karim (2011/US/Narrative Short/12min) -- directed by Carl Seaton. A custodian witnesses a deeply traumatic event. To cope with this, he abruptly decides to take action to rectify the situation the only way he feels he can --a unique look at the perception of prey and predator.
Of Mary (2011/US/Narrative Short/8min) – directed by Adrian Lester. Jason Lawrence returns home to find he is estranged from his wife and son. In this broken family, choices are being made that will affect them forever.
Salvation Road (2010/US/Narrative Short/17min) – directed by Karamuu Kush. Business becomes unusual for an unsuspecting hit man when he is witnessed murdering his traitorous mentor by a 9-year-old boy.
The Truth (2011/US/Narrative Short/15min) – directed by Hill Harper. After a succession of late work nights, unexplained whereabouts and suspicious behavior, a man, suspecting that his wife is being unfaithful, demands to know the truth which devastates their marriage and forever changes their lives, while imparting an important life lesson.
Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears (2010/US/Narrative Short/20min) -- directed Raafi Rivero. A smart, irreverent coming of age comedy about a student on the eve of his graduation from Princeton University who must decide between a career and marriage to his college love.
Umkhungo (The Gift) (2011/South Africa/Narrative Short/28min) directed by Matthew Jankes. On the run from superstitious family members, an orphaned boy with uncontrollable superpowers is rescued by a disillusioned street thug who is haunted by the loss of his brother several years earlier.