Notes From The Program Director | Week of September 1st, 2023
Notes From The Program Director
Week of August 18th, 2023
September is here, and with it, brings a new school year, cooler air currents and hints of fall, and the much-anticipated, biggest film festival in North America: TIFF, theToronto International Film Festival.
I’m headed off to Toronto early next week, and I’ll be watching as many movies there as I can squeeze in, so this newsletter will be on hiatus until later September. If you’ve taken a peek at the festival schedule or read any of the industry articles about TIFF, you’ll know why I’m particularly eager to be at the festival this year. While there was some doubt, early on, how the writers and actors strike would affect the festival--the worry that some films might be pulled from the line-up because actors could not attend with their films--the rich slate of films is allaying those worries. There are new films from the likes of Hayao Miyazaki, Richard Linklater, Jonathan Glazer, Alexander Payne, Ethan Hawke, Frederick Wiseman, Raoul Peck, Patricia Arquette, Alex Gibney, Errol Morris, Taika Waititi, David Yates, John Carney, and Kitty Green, among others, and films starring Nicholas Cage, Jessica Chastain, Dakota Johnson, Viggo Mortensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Kristen Scott Thomas, Michael Keaton, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Winslet, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Oliva Colman, Jessie Buckley, Annette Benning, Cate Blanchett, and Anna Kendrick. I cannot wait to see which of these films I’ll be bringing back for Pickford audiences!
In the meantime, as we wait for Doctober, we have some great films lined up for you this week:
BarbieandOppenheimercontinue their runs with us,Barbie, in particular, earning a spot as one of the most beloved films in Pickford history. Additionally, always a favorite each season, the adorableCat Video Festreturns with a 2023 edition. A portion of the proceeds from every run ofCat Video Festgoes to animals in need, and this year, 10% of total box office from all screenings will go to Maui Humane Society and 100% of Pickford's proceeds on Sunday's August 27 show at 2:25 PM will be donated to Maui Humane Society.
My Animalarrives September 8 and will likely have a limited run. An assured feature film debut from Jacqueline Castel,My Animalis wonderfully stylish as a horror film, nicely evocative of 1980's horror with a fairy tale element. (Faerie Tale Theatreeven makes an appearance!) There are gorgeous color compositions throughout with evocative cinematography to represent werewolf POV. It's reminiscent in tone and style toLet the Right One In, but sexier and a bit warmer -- the icy winter setting here is off-set by the blood-red tones, the romance, and the characters' red hair -- and the violence is more of an undertone and possibility throughout, rather than a constant element. The werewolf component is very real, but also grounded in a sense of reality, the "animal' mostly hovering underneath the surface (until things come to a visceral climax!). The film, instead, emphasizes itself as a coming of age story, rather than pure horror, and it's also set among blue collar, working class folks, so that the “werewolf problem” and other problems related to poverty and drugs/alcohol are nicely intertwined and function as a fresh take on the whole mythos. The film’s metaphor, as such -- coming of age as a queer person linked to being a werewolf -- is mostly right on the surface, something I liked quite a bit, and the performances are fantastic. Bobbi Salvor Menuez, in the lead, is magnetic and luminous (she reminded me a lot of a young Julianne Moore), and Amandla Stenberg, who plays her love interest, is also excellent. So -- a red-blooded, sexy, coming-of-age lesbian werewolf movie, set in the 1980's, somewhere in an icy cold, rural north -- who's in?
The Unknown Countryarrives September 22 and will also have a limited run. I am very much hoping we might have a special guest and the film’s star visiting Bellingham with the film -- something that would be a dream come true -- but even if she is not available, it’s a film I’ve been eagerly waiting to get on screen ever since I saw it back in March 2022 at the SXSW Film Festival. It's a debut feature film from artist-turned director Morrisa Maltz, and it's a sort of a road movie, deeply felt and poetic, in the vein of Terence Malick, but more grounded in the quiet centrality of the main character, played by a serenely radiant Lily Gladstone. Gladstone plays Tana, and as the film opens, she is grieving the death of her beloved grandmother. When she receives an invitation to a relative's wedding a few states away, she begins a journey on the road, one that leads her to the Lakota family she has not seen in many years and one that leads her, ultimately, to retrace her grandmother's steps and her history. It is a journey both of lostness and of reconnection, of solitude and of family, and of finding one's identity in the spaces in between. Like the best road movies, it celebrates the unique qualities of the specific landscape and its people while also exploring something deeper and more soulful: discovering a sense of place and finding oneself at the same time. The film was also directly inspired by the director's own solitary road trips through the Midwest, and it is peppered with characters who are the real life people she herself encountered, and while the film is a narrative film and lyrical in quality, it has an almost vérité documentary-like sensibility that makes it feel profoundly real.