Ten to watch 

Our must-see picks from this year's festival.


dir. Aaron Fisher-Cohen. 72 min.

Of all the viral phenomena in recent memory — spaghetti cat, "Chocolate Rain," "don't tase me, bro!" — Jimmy McMillan seems perhaps most likely to enjoy some sort of lasting fame. Because, for one, the former New York gubernatorial candidate with the Rent is 2 Damn High Party is memorably odd. His facial hair calls to mind Santa Claus, a carnival barker and chin Afros. He seems to always wear gloves. And his resume — Vietnam veteran, black belt Karate master, private investigator, former stripper and '70s soul singer — suggests that he's a blaxploitation super hero come to life. But what truly sets him apart from all those other oddities we pass around on YouTube is his message. Sure, it's delivered staccato with all sorts of funny flourishes, but we remember McMillan because he speaks the truth: The rent is too damn high. Fisher-Cohen's film, which makes its debut at the LRFF, follows McMillan from his rise to fame to the media fixation that followed. Both he and McMillan will be on hand at the festival. 4:30 p.m. Sat., Clinton School; 3:50 p.m. Sun., Riverdale. — LM.


dir. Hossein Keshavarz. 90 min.

For decades, some of the greatest and most important films in all of world cinema have been exported from Iran. However, the country's notoriously repressive powers have attempted, time and time again, to mute its filmmaker's voices. Filmmaking (and watching) came to a virtual halt for years during the Islamic revolution. And now, with Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof currently imprisoned and barred from making movies, the state of Iran's exceptional cinema is as turbulent as ever. So it's incredible that "Dog Sweat" even exists. Clandestinely filmed with a skeleton crew (and a ton of guts) in Tehran, the movie — verite by necessity — depicts a crew of young Iranians on their regular hunts for booze, rock music and sex, among other illegal indulgences. The audacious director even dares to address homosexuality, Iran's ultimate taboo, with two of the male characters. For this film, "dangerous" isn't just a cheap buzzword. Expect Keshavarz to give one of the liveliest post-screening Q&As of the festival. 6:30 p.m. Thu., 1:20 p.m. Sun., Riverdale. — JT.


dir. Tristan Patterson. 74 min.

A breakout hit on the festival circuit, this look at the price of skateboard romanticism took the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary (as well as a Best Cinematography honor) at this year's SXSW Film Festival. The doc profiles a characteristically turbulent year in the life of Josh "Skreech" Sandoval, a brilliant but perpetually out-on-his-luck professional pool skater, as he breaks into abandoned pools, hustles hard for fast food and migrates from crash pad to crash pad. All the while, Skreech is dragging his heels towards adulthood, all but abandoning his toddler-age son for fireworks, weed and vague plans of "making it big." Director Tristan Patterson, whose credits include Harmony Korine's "Julien Donkey-Boy," will be present for the festival. He's currently at work with "Blue Valentine" producer Jamie Patricof on "Electric Slide," his full-length narrative debut, starring Ewan McGregor as an '80s L.A. antiques store owner, heroin addict and prolific bank robber. 8:25 p.m. Thu., 6:10 p.m. Fri., Riverdale. — JT.


dir. Danfung Dennis. 88 min.

Like Tim Hetherington, the late co-director of "Restrepo," last year's LRFF Golden Rock winner for Best Documentary, "Hell and Back Again" director Danfung Dennis has a background in photojournalism. Since 2006, he's covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for just about every major publication in the U.S. That means Dennis isn't afraid to venture to the front lines and takes special care to get artful shots. The winner of Sundance's World Cinema Jury Documentary Prize and World Cinema Documentary Cinematography Award, the film shifts between the frontlines with Sgt. Nathan Harris of U.S. Marines Echo Company and North Carolina, where Harris struggles to adjust to civilian life and recover from a serious injury sustained during battle. The Hollywood Reporter called it "brilliant" and "gut-wrenching." 2:15 p.m. Thu., noon Friday, Riverdale. — LM



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