"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Dir.: Pedro Gonzales-Rubio, 70 min.
Having already garnered a number of awards in, amongst others, the Rotterdam International and Miami Film Festivals, this minimalist piece of cinema verite is the topic of much cineaste chatter for the way it delicately treads the line between fiction and non-fiction. In fact, after the film's premiere, newcomer Gonzales-Rubio couldn't escape being asked whether "Alamar" is a feature or documentary film, to which he replied "I just think of it as a film." Very loosely dramatized, it follows an actual father in real life circumstances as he takes his aging father and his five-year old child on a days-long Mayan fishing trip before his ex-wife returns to her native Rome with their son. Taking cues from remodernist heroes like Bela Tarr and Gus Van Sant, this nautical, coming-of-age meditation on masculinity and cultural identity may not be the fastest-paced film, but the beautifully colored, bittersweet trailer is one of the most hypnotically engaging and promising of the entire festival. Riverdale, 1:15 p.m., Thu. June 3; Riverdale, 3 p.m., Sun. June 6.
Dir.: Phedon Papamichel, 93 min.
The latest directorial effort from celebrated cinematographer and director of photography Phedon Papamichel ("Sideways," "Walk the Line," "W.") takes him back to his native country to show the story of two teenage stepsiblings, a guarded, sarcastic young photographer and his dour but newly sexually empowered stepsister. Stuck in rural Greece after a car wreck, they have to rely on a drunken American expat drifter (played by Nick Nolte) as a guide as they traverse the ancient landscape to return to civilization. Little Rock plays home to the world premiere of "Arcadia Lost" and, as such, the little information about the film is closely guarded. But doesn't that pique your curiosity even more? It certainly does for us. Director Papamichel and others will be on hand during the festival. Riverdale, 8 p.m., Fri. June 4.
"CITIZEN ARCHITECT: SAMUEL MOCKBEE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RURAL STUDIO"
Dir.: Sam Wainwright Douglas, 90 min.
Architect, Auburn University professor and fifth-generation Mississippian "Sambo" Mockbee founded the radical, charitable Rural Studio to lead his students in an ongoing project to provide residents of Alabama's "Black Belt," one of the most impoverished areas in North America, with houses that are "warm, dry and noble." Also, beautiful examples of modernist architecture built on a budget — good-hearted Fallingwaters specking a rural, post-apocalyptic neighborhood completely crippled by poverty. The Rural Studio participants not only worked, they lived, ate, played (a lot of baseball with) and socialized with the community at large. Now, if you're one of the folks that finds "Extreme Makeover" a bit garish, you'd probably scoff at this writeup. But don't worry — the movie opens with archival footage of one of the residents chastising one of the students for being opportunistic. It's a feel-good, but a smart one that acknowledges its own controversies. Also, it's my pick for the one Clinton School of Public Service Showcase film you can't miss. Clinton School of Public Service, 12:30 p.m. Sat., June 5.
"THE COLONEL'S BRIDE"
Dir.: Brent Stewart, 74 min.
Another deliberately paced meditation on kinship and loss, this one takes a bit more of a subtly twisted slant than "Alamar," thanks to the direction of Brent Stewart, cohort to one of the great American cinematic provocateurs, Harmony Korine. The dimly lit, melancholic character study sees a Vietnam veteran turned real-estate broker in Tennessee wed a much younger Vietnamese mail-order bride to quell his uneasiness about his war. It's sure to slowly tug a tear and a smirk or two from anyone with even a hint of sympathy for the lonelier of our neighbors. Prospective viewers, look out for the "I doh" scene. Riverdale, 5:45 p.m., Sat. June 5
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