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Berkshire International Film Festival

In Great Barrington and Pittsfield June 3 to 6

By: Ariel Petrova - 04/16/2010

Click to Enlarge
A short film on Marge Champion will celebrate her 90th birthday on opening night.
A short film on Marge Champion will celebrate her 90th birthday on opening night.
A documentary on Joan Rivers will launch the festival.
A documentary on Joan Rivers will launch the festival.
Indie actress Particia Clarkson will be honored.
Indie actress Particia Clarkson will be honored.
Atletu by Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew.
Atletu by Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew.
Climate Refugees by Michael Nash.
Climate Refugees by Michael Nash.

The Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF)  will screen films from June 3rd through June 6th, 2010 in Great Barrington and Pittsfield, MA.  The film festival will feature some 75 US and international independent feature films, documentaries, and shorts.

In addition BIFF will hold panel discussions, Q&A sessions with filmmakers, special screenings of the finalists from the Berkshire Student Film Festival, and a special tribute to award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson along with the screening of her new film "Cairo Time" releasing in August. This year's festival will feature films from 18 countries and host over two dozen filmmakers.

The fifth anniversary marks some new additions to past festivals, including the expansion into Pittsfield at the Beacon Cinema and the Little Cinema, Berkshire Bank's sponsorship of the Next Great Filmmaker Award, and the Juried Prize Award for narrative and documentary films sponsored by GWFF.

The festival opens with a tribute to Marge Champion for her 90th birthday season and the screening of her short film "Keep Dancing" followed by BIFF's opening night presentation "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work". "A Piece of Work" takes the audience on a year long ride with Joan Rivers in her 76th year of life, peeling away the mask of an iconic comedian, laying bare both the struggle and thrill of living life as a groundbreaking female performer.

Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg ("The Devil Came on Horseback", "The Trials of Darryl Hunt") expose the private dramas of this irreverent, legendary comedian as she fights to keep her career thriving in a business driven by youth and beauty. "A Piece of Work" was one of the grand-jury nominated films at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Roger Ebert called the film, "one of the most truthful documentaries about show business I've seen. Also maybe the funniest."

Opening night festivities include a cocktail party and dinner for pass-holders catered by Max Ultimate Food from Boston at Great Barrington's Old Fire House prior to the screening of "A Piece of Work".  A private cocktail party will also be held for the REEL FRIENDS Film Society at Castle Street Cafe. 

Both opening night events are generously sponsored by Jacqueline and Al Togut.  In addition, the festival is hosting a Disco Inferno Dance Party at the Old GB Fire Station with DJ BFJ, which will be a ticketed event open to the public.

The Fifth Anniversary expansion into Pittsfield will kick-off Friday, June 4th with a cocktail party at Ferrin Gallery catered by Mission for pass-holders prior to the opening night presentation of the award-winning film "Atletu (The Athlete)".

The Montreal Gazette commented, "There is no film at the World Film Festival more unexpected or more satisfying than Atletu." Running the streets of Rome in 1960 an unknown barefoot Ethiopian man stunned the world by winning Olympic gold in the marathon. He repeated a similar feat four years later at the Tokyo Olympiad. One evening returning to his home in Addis Ababa after training, fate would present him with his greatest challenge: to dig deep within, not just to run the next mile, but to find the will to live. The leading actor and co-director, Rasselas Lakew, will be in attendance to introduce the film and for a Q&A following the screening.

Venues for all of the weekend-long events and screenings will include the Triplex Cinema, the historic Mahaiwe Theatre, and the Great Barrington Town Hall for the free kids film morning, all in downtown Great Barrington, MA.  The venues in Pittsfield include two screens at the new state-of-the-art Beacon Cinema and the Berkshire Museum's Little Cinema, celebrating their 60th season.

Special events throughout the weekend include, screenings of the winners from the Berkshire Student Film Festival (BSFF), the Berkshire Bank Award for short film, the Juried Prize Award for narrative and documentary filmmaking, WAMC's The Roundtable live from the Triplex, free family film screenings, panel discussions, and a special screenplay reading of "Jidl" directed by Stephen Glantz and Bob Jaffe.

The first annual Juried Prize will kick-off during our fifth anniversary.  The jury will be headed by actress Karen Allen, and includes actors David Rasche and Peter Reigert, past president of the Academy Sid Ganis with his producing partner and wife

Nancy Hult Ganis, Peter Herbst of the Lincoln Center Film Society Board, Ken Regan of Camera Five, and Award-Winning First Assistant Director and Producer, Mike Haley.  There will be four films in competition, for both categories of feature documentary and narrative, and the award will carry a $5,000 prize to be presented on Sunday, June 6th at allium in Great Barrington.

Premiere sponsors of the festival include the Triplex Cinema, Beacon Cinema, Berkshire Living Magazine, Studio Two, GWFF, The Red Lion Inn, Berkshire Bank, and Max Ultimate Food. Supporting sponsors include Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Inc., Stella Artois, Abbotts Livery, Medoff Inc., Karen Allen Fiber Arts, Stonover Farm, and Kwik Print.

The 2010 Festival tribute will honor one of the most beloved indie actresses today, Patricia Clarkson.  Ms. Clarkson's film career spans some 25 years beginning with her breakout role in "The Untouchables." Her incredible and diverse career has garnered twenty-two awards and sixteen nominations including a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for her role in "Pieces of April."  Her roles include such films as "The Green Mile," "Station Agent," "High Art," "Good Night and Good Luck," "Lars and the Real Girl, "Whatever Works,"  "All the Real Girls," and the recently released Scorcese film "Shutter Island."

"It is with great enthusiasm and excitement that we announce the 2010 line-up of films, events, and tributes.  Our 5th anniversary marks a cornerstone year for all of those that have been involved with the festival; our dedicated board and staff members, the incredible audiences, our REEL FRIENDS society, the amazing volunteers, and of course the filmmakers that have had a home at the BIFF over the years," remarked Executive Director Kelley Vickery. "With each year BIFF has matured and transformed itself to meet new challenges.  This year is no exception with the introduction of year-round events for our REEL FRIENDS film society, our expansion into Pittsfield, the new annual Juried Prize sponsored this year by GWFF, and Berkshire Bank's Next Great Filmmaker Award. With all the growth and change one thing remains the same, and above all BIFF continues to bring the best in independent film to our community."

Feature and documentary films from the US include

"Ahead of Time" directed by Robert Richman,  "Climate Refugees" directed by Michael Nash, "Con Artist" directed by Michael Sladek, "Countdown to Zero" directed by Lucy Walker, "Dear Lemon Lima" directed by Suzi Yoonesi, "The Extra Man" directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, "Family Affair" directed by Chico Colvard,  "Gaia" directed by Jason Lehel, "How to Fold a Flag" directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, "Hungry Ghosts" directed by Michael Imperioli, "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" directed by Tamra Davi, "The Oath" directed by Laura Poitras,  "The Owls" directed by Cheryl Dunne, "Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home" directed by Jenny Stein, "Stations of the Double-Cross: An American Poet's State of the Union" by Ethan Dufault, "Sweet Crude" directed by Sandi Cioffi, "The Taqwacores" directed by Eyad Zahra, "Toe to Toe" directed by Emily Abt, "Waste Land" directed by Lucy Walker, "Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You Mommy)" directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal, "A Woman Like That" directed by Ellen Weissbrod, and "School Play" directed by Eddie Rosenstein, Rick Velleu, and Idahella Therp.

International feature and documentary films include

"1981" (Canada) directed by Ricardo Trogi, "A Shine of Rainbows" (Canada/Ireland) directed by Vic Sarin, "Alamar" (Mexico) directed by Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio, "Atletu (The Athelete)" (US/Germany/Ethiopia) directed by Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew, "Bananas!" (Sweden) directed by Fredrik Gertten, "Eyes Wide Open" (Israel/France/Germany) directed Haim Tabakman, "I Am Love" (Russia/Italy) directed by Luca Guadagnino, "Lebanon" (Germany/Israel/France/Lebanon) directed by Samuel Maoz, "Les Signes Vitaux (Vital Signs)" (Canada) directed by Sophie Deraspe, "L'enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot" (France) directed by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Madrea, "Last Train Home" (Canada) directed by Lixin Fan, "Mad Bad Sad" (UK) directed by Avie Luthra, "My Neighbor My Killer" (USA/France) directed by Anne Aghion, "My Year Without Sex" (Australia) written by Sarah Watt, "Ohlos Azuis (Blue Eyes)" (Brazil) directed by Jose Joffily, "Ondine" (Ireland/US) directed by Neil Jordan, "Soul Kitchen" (Germany) directed by Faith Akin, "Tanztraume (Dancing Dreams)" (Germany) directed by Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffman, "Vlast (Power)" (US/Russia) directed by Cynthia Collins, "Waste Land" (Brazil) directed by Lucy Walker, and "Welcome" (France) directed by Philippe Lioret.

Short Films

The festival will also have three short film programs which will showcase some 28 shorts from the Berkshires and around the world.  

Tikets and Passes

Passes are on sale now at $250 and $500. The $150 passes sold out in March.  Individual tickets go on sale Thursday, April 30th and may be purchased online at www.biffma.org or by phone at 1-866-811-4111. Tickets can also be purchased by visiting the Triplex Cinema, the Mahaiwe box office in Great Barrington, or the Beacon Cinema or Little Cinema in Pittsfield.

For more information, to join as a sponsor, volunteer, or make a contribution to BIFF please contact kelley@biffma.org or lauren@biffma.org.

 

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