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RSM, 2021-22
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INDIES: 8th international film festival

aiff 18 
13 films from around the world  premiere

UPDATED, Nov. 5: The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF), returning for its eighth year Nov. 1 through 4, screens a selection of indie award-winning films at the Capitol Theatre that entertain, educate, empower and aim to create cross-cultural bridges.

This year, the festival will show 13 U.S. premieres -- from Argentina, France, Iran, Lithuania, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, U.K. and the U.S.

The complete lineup

Check the festival website for possible changes. 

winner alone 350 51218Rico St. Paul displays his winning poster for the Arlington International Film Festival. / Photo: @jav__castillo

Thursday, Nov. 1

7 p.m. Introductions

ARE YOU VOLLEYBALL? (15min) Best of Festival Short

Mohammad Bakhshi | Iran | Nar | New England Premiere
A group of Arabic speaking asylum seekers detained at a border conflict with soldiers every day until a young deaf-mute becomes the catalyst for communicating.

SKIDROW MARATHON (85min) Best Of Festival Feature

Mark Hayes & Gabrielle Hayes | USA | Documentary | Boston Premiere

When a criminal court judge starts a running club on LA’s notorious skid row and begins training a motley group of addicts and criminals to run marathons, lives begin to change. Following four runners as they rise from the streets of LA to run marathons around the world, fighting the pull of homelessness and addiction at every turn, their story is one of hope, friendship, and dignity.

Q&A with the filmmaker and the Boston Running Group for the Homeless. A reception follows at ZA Restaurant.

Friday, Nov. 2

7 p.m.

M.A.M.O.N. (Monitor Against Mexicans Over Nationwide) (6 min)

Alejandro Damiani | Uruguay | Nar | New England premiere

A lampoon on the politics surrounding the Mexico-U.S. border.

HILLBILLY (87 min)

Sally Rubin & Ashley York | USA | Documentary | New England Premiere

Since the presidential election, the cultural divide in America has expanded with stereotyping and slurs rampant and finger-pointing and name-calling abounding. "Hillbilly" goes on a personal and political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, exploring the role of media representation in the creation of the iconic American "hillbilly," and examining the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype.

Filmed in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, the film uncovers an unexpected set of artists, poets, activists, queer musicians, "Affrilachian" poets and intersectional feminists -- all unexpected voices emerging from this historically misunderstood region. "Hillbilly" is a timely and urgent exploration of how we see and think about poverty and rural identity in contemporary America, offering a call for dialogue during this divisive time in U.S. history.

A Q&A with the filmmaker follows.

9:28 p.m.

International Shorts Program I (79 min)

CLASH OF MORALITY | Vinay Pujara | USA | Nar | New England premiere

Trapped in an elevator, two men have the opportunity to tear down preconceptions that each have fostered.

CUBEMAN | Linda Dombrovsky | Hungary | Nar | New England premiere

An elderly man being made to retire early, realizes that he cannot finish the work of his life.

LIFE AFTER GUANTANAMO | Esteban Cuevas | Argentina | Documentary

In 2014, after 13 years of jail six detainees were released and landed on Uruguayan soil. Not allowed to return to their home, their families, and not able to choose where to live, their lives are forever changed.

FREEDOM? BIKINI WORDS | Nils Clauss | S. Korea | Exp Documentary | U.S. premiere

Factory life during the rapid industrialization of S. Korea during the 1970s and '80s meant a major cultural shift in life…a new vocabulary evolved among workers to assign names to their urbanized lives.

DANKE | Antonio Sequeria | U.K. | Nar | U.S. premiere

British soldier must decide to help or kill an injured German soldier.

11:02 p.m.

 TREBLINKA (61 min) |Sérgio Tréfaut | Portugal | Experimental Documentary | U.S. premiere

This hypnotic relating of the past as a train crosses Eastern Europe in 21st-century Poland, Russia, Ukraine demonstrates a cinematic courage that stiffens one's sinews with fear as well as resolve to never let this happen again. Brilliantly executed with a poetry that extends beneath any conscious subtlety, the camera's continued return to empty carriage seats convinces us that those who are no longer with us, should have filled those seats with life, laughter and humanity, yet they are empty but for the two ghosts who bring their death camp horror, once again, to life.

Saturday, Nov. 3

Student Filmmaker Program

At noon, the Capitol Theatre presents the festival's student program. A reception follows at the Fox Library, with a moderated conversation led by Emerson College film students Nuria Pellicer, Nicolas Thilo-McGovern and Shuyi Wang.

Filmmakers, 18 and younger, bring to the screen with their agility of mind, inventiveness and passionate idealism. Here is the lineup:

SPEAK TO ME (18 min) | Nicolas Thilo-McGovern | Cambridge, Mass. | Nar | World premiere

Sam was once a best-selling author. His fiancée Mia is getting promoted at her job as Sam hits a writer’s block. In an act of desperation, he stops taking his medication and is left to fixate on the question, “What is more important, love and his relationship with his fiancé or success?”

CALAVERA (6 min) | Adele Rankin | Austin Texas | Thriller| World premiere

A young woman purchases a mysterious book at a yard sale but gets more than she bargained for.

TREJUR (10 min) | Thomas Kim | Concord, Mass. | Animation | World premiere, best animation

A modern woman remembers her wretched, toy-giving grandmother in this dark, hand-made, fantasy, stop-motion animation. Trejur (pronounced "treasure") is a story that questions how desperation can transform us into something we never thought ourselves to be.

HE DIDIN’T MEAN TO (6 min) | Emily Steinbomer | Austin, Texas | Nar | World premiere

A film about unhealthy relationships and the toll they take on the body and the self.

UNDOCUMENTARY (11 min) | Karla Cortes | Somerville, Mass. | Documentary | SCATV Youth Program | World premiere

A discussion on endangered DACA and TPS programs and how the lives of many undocumented people now hang in the balance.

PALEHOUND “If You Met Her" (5 min) | Caitlin LeBlanc, Jeovana Almeida, Kiely Quinn, Michael Escobar, Rachel Newman, Sara Tesh, Tatiana Marquez, Tom Quigley | Lynn, Mass. | Documentary | Raw Arts Works | Boston premiere

Is an empty house a home?

NEEDLES AND THREATS (10 min) | Alyssa Abreu, Moises Vargas & Anisa Hamilton |NYC | Documentary | Maysles Documentary Center | Boston Premiere | Best documentary, Derek Freesed Youth Media Film Festival, 2018

The despairing effect of one woman's addiction on two families.

THE ART COLLECTOR (5 min) | Saoirse Loftus-Reid | Lexington, Mass. | Documentary | Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, Lexington; MA Regional Silver Key Award; A-Town Teen Video Contest, Arlington

A mysterious woman uses her ability to live in paintings to influence artists for her art collection.

EBI SUSHI (6 min) | Karla Cortes | Somerville, Mass. | Documentary | SCATV Youth Program, A-Town Teen Video Contest, Arlington

A Latino restaurateur’s challenges of being recognized as a major player in the sushi world.

VIOLENCE IN BALTIMORE (21 min) | Brooke Anderson, William Coles, Katia Crawford, Marc Cruise, Jayla Elliott, Joelle Faison, Kailah Hall, Michelle Hill, Eric Hunter, William Mitchell, Sama Muhammad, Ade Ogunshina, Eva Ojekwe, Brian Thompson, Ayanna White | Baltimore, Md. | Documentary | Wide Angle Youth Media | Boston Premiere, Best of Festival

In Spring 2017, high school students investigated the cycle of violence in Baltimore, searching for real- world strategies to prevent violence from escalating among their peers and their communities. This powerful documentary provides insight into the ways young people are challenging dominant narratives and seeking peaceful, de-escalating methods of conflict resolution.

IRONY (8 min) | Radheya Jegatheva | Australia | Experimental | U.S. premiere, Best Experimental

A film that explores the relationship between man and technology told from the perspective of a phone.

BLACK & WHITE (10 min) | Kunga Choephel, Zola Gray & Asa Spellman | NYC | Documentary | Maysles Documentary Center | World premiere

Tracie's journey through her childhood in a unique family.

AWAKEN THE DRAGON TOGETHER (6 min) | Shuyi Wang | Boston MA | Documentary | Official Selection: HUA International Short Film Festival

Dragon-boat racing began over 2,000 years ago on the rivers of China. Today, dragon boat festivals and races are celebrated around the world. This film follows a team of cancer survivors, known as the Wellness Warriors of MA as they use this ancient sport as an unconventional path to wellness.

2:15 p.m.

THE KISS (20 min) | David Priego | France | Nar | New England premiere

A museum guard who watches over Rodin's sculpture Le Baiser (The Kiss) develops a longing to experience romantic love. “The Kiss” explores the magical and mystical relationship that sometimes flourishes between a work of art and the observer.

MADHATTAN (55 min) | Carolyn Constantine | Australia/USA | Documentary | Boston premiere

A remarkable journey from the remote red dirt of the outback in Australia to the red carpet in New York as milliner Felicity Brown takes her amazing collection of hats and fantastic headpieces to New York for Fashion Week, ready to take on the world, one hat at a time…a celebration of creativity, passion, and overcoming obstacles to follow a dream.

Reception & Gallery Talk immediately following at 13Forest Gallery with Boston’s own “fine milliner” Marie Galvin and an exhibition of her hat creations.

3:45 p.m.

MY AMISH WORLD (80 min) | Samuel Wickey | USA | Nar | New England premiere

A celebration of one man's struggle from fear to freedom, this film was produced and directed by Amish sculptor, Samuel Wickey. In this incredible story based on true events, a mother and father are overwhelmed with emotion when their children are severely bullied in the public school; the father is compelled to take his family and leave the Amish community.

5:20 p.m.

International Shorts Program II (78 min) An Homage to Women Filmmakers

EXIT | Katharina Woll | Israel | Documentary | U.S. premiere

We witness the painful result of two women, mothers, who divorce and leave the ultraorthodox community. Heidi, the daughter of the chairman of the United Torah Judaism Party, finds her strength and continues to fight on behalf of women’s rights especially within the religious community.

EN AUTOBIOGRAFI (An Authobiography) | Mari Mantela | Finland | Nar | Boston premiere

Retiring from a job after 45 years is difficult enough by being replace by a young trainee is another!

ALGORITHMS | Rosin Kearney | Ireland | Nar | U.S. premiere

Two people meet while waiting for their respective dates and chat about internet dating; can love by numbers really work? Or does that rule out the notion that opposites attract?

YIN YU TANG – REGENERACY ON OTHER SIDE OF EARTH | Vivianna Yan | USA | Documentary | U.S. premiere

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a prosperous merchant surnamed Huang built a stately 16- bedroom house in China’s southeastern Huizhou region, calling his home Yin Yu Tang. The house was dismantled and brought to Salem by Peabody Essex Museum. Yan chronicles the rebuilding of this historic house that is on exhibition, connecting people with Chinese history, architecture and culture.

6:35 p.m.

IT’S JUST A GUN (15 min) | Brian Robau | USA | Nar | East Coast premiere

Imagine the lifetime of a gun…all the hands it may pass through. This is just one chapter in a story when a young boy finds a .38 caliber smith & Wesson revolver which sets in motion a series of events that will change his life forever.

CIRCLE UP (68 min) | Julie Mallozzi | USA | Documentary

After the brutal slaying of her teenage son, Janet Connors reaches out to her son’s killer to offer a chance for forgiveness. They team up with a group of mothers of murdered children to help young people in their community break the chain of violence and revenge. “Circle Up” is a call to action for reframing approaches to crime and punishment through the lens of restorative justice, forgiveness, and accountability.

A Q&A with the filmmaker follows.

8:46 p.m.

International Animation Shorts Program III (68 min)

CAGE | Pengpeng Du | USA | U.S. premiere

The life of a concubine was bound; she is consumed by her man through both dream and reality.

HAPPY | Alice Saey | France | U.S. premiere

The Egyptian goose seduces us and the flocks of geese with their desire torn between individuality and the urge toward group behavior.

WOODY & WOODY | Jaume Carrio | Spain | U.S. premiere

A modest tribute to a great filmmaker from New York, with frenetic and ironic dialogs and vibrant draws that seem to move to the rhythm of jazz.

HEZAR AFSAN | Asghar Safar & Jalai Yekta Abbas | Iran | U.S. premiere

The white ogre attacks the city and kidnaps the king. Rostam is set to find and return him.

STANAS | Alicja Jasina | USA | U.S. premiere

Based on a poem by Aldous Huxley, this film portrays a stubborn narrator slowly breaking free of their limitations, allowing more fluidity into their thought process.

LOOK | Meinardas Valkevicius | Lithuania | U.S. premiere

Human activity does not always have a positive effect on our planet. Look explores natural cycles of exchange between humans and animals… dare to look and change the world!

CORP | Pablo Polledri | Argentina | U.S. premiere

Ambition, exploitation of labor, environmental pollution, human degradation, surplus value, corruption and much more in the amazing world of free market.

PEARL | Patrick Osborne | USA | Boston premiere

Set inside their home, a beloved hatchback, Pearl follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love. And finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.

PANIC ATTACK | Eileen O’Meara | USA | Boston premiere

This hand-drawn animation explores anxiety, obsession, and one woman’s slippery hold on reality.

GOOD BOY | Rachel Beltran | USA | East Coast Premiere | Best Animation Short

Is three a crowd on a blind date?

10:11 p.m.

DIE BEST E ALLER WELTEN (The Best of all Worlds) (103 min) | Adrian Goiginger | Austria | Nar | Boston premiere, Best Feature Narrative

This award-winning film is a kid´s true story of his life in the unusual world of his heroin addict mother and their love of each other. This film reminds us that people with drug addictions are not society’s throw-aways.

Sunday, Nov. 4

Noon

THE MOST DANGEROUS YEAR (89 min) | Vlada Knowlton | USA | Documentary | Boston premiere

In 2016 a group of Washington state families with transgender kids joined the fight against the wave of discriminatory anti-transgender legislation sweeping through the nation and into their home state. With the help of a coalition of state lawmakers and civil rights activists, these families embarked on an uncharted journey of fighting to protect and preserve their children's inalienable human rights and freedoms in this present-day civil rights movement.

1:44 p.m.

International Shorts Program IV (94 min)

NOT EVEN A LINE | Victor E.D. Somoza | Spain | Nar | U.S. premiere

As they do every afternoon Encarna and Rosario meet up to have churros for an afternoon snack in their neighborhood café. However, today is a special day with a dramatic change in their usual conversation.

AFTERGLOW | Akira Kamiki | Brazil | Nar

“Afterglow” is a sensorial movie about repeatedly having to find the joy of living again. It is the story of a gay couple, one partner suffers with depression. It fully embraces the toll depression takes on an individual as well as a relationship.

BACHA POSH | Markus Kaatsch | Switzerland | Nar | U.S. premiere

Farrukh is in a family awaiting transit to England. The young man works for his father but carries a secret. He is a Bacha Posh (a girl disguised as a young man).

THE CLEAN-OUT | Travis Wood | USA | Nar | U.S. premiere

What happens when four vegans roommates encounter a greaassssyyyy meatball sub...

VIOLIN | Konstantin Fam | Russia | Nar | U.S. premiere | Best Narrtive Short

The film entirely revolves around a unique musical instrument. It’s a story about the amazing fate of a violin that survives all the horrors of the war. The tale begins in a violin workshop where, at the beginning of the 20th century, a violin is created, designed as a gift for a Jewish boy, and ends after many years with a concert at the Wailing Wall.

3:33 p.m.

MILES IN THE LIFE (96 min) | Shaun Mathis and Jemonique Miller | USA | Documentary | East Coast premiere

Growing up in Brooklyn during the height of the crack epidemic, Jabari Hayes started trafficking
drugs at the age of 6. With the help of his father, Jabari escaped that life by relocating to St. Louis, where he became a track athlete, which landed him a full scholarship to prestigious Morehouse College, where he trafficked guns for his cousin across state lines. Upon graduating, Jabari started a limo company and was called upon by the largest drug cartel in the U.S., the Black Mafia Family, known as BMF to transport large amounts of cocaine and cash nationwide until his capture in 2007.

5:24 p.m.

WHIRLWIND (8 min) | Samantha Smith | USA | Documentary | Best Short Doc

A history of black tennis in America: Dr. Johnson began playing frequently while in medical school, hungry for a physical activity that would give his body the workouts he had enjoyed as a star collegiate football player. He then began to mentor others, realizing his age and his medical practice limited his ability to reach the heights in tennis that he had attained in football, the sport that gave him the nickname he would carry for the rest of his life: "Whirlwind."

LETTER from MASANJIA (75 min) | Leon Leeor | Doc | 2018 | 

An SOS note scrawled in desperation in a Chinese labor camp. An American woman finds it in a package from Kmart, publicizes its message: “We’re being tortured.” The letter-writer, now free, sets out to film the truth about life in China and tell his whole story. But can he outrun the secret police?

Already held:

Here's a quick daily preview followed by the full program.

Theresa Okokon is the emcee and moderator.

Theresa OkokonOkokon

The event opened on Thursday evening with the Boston premiere of “Skid Rrow Marathon” by filmmakers Mark Hayes and Gabi Hayes, who discussed the film after the screening. The award-winning documentary addresses crime, addiction and homelessness countered with the power of hope, friendship and the regaining of dignity.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you get a chance to see this film in some other venue, please do. It is a testament of hope. See its website >>

Newton-native filmmaker

Friday evening, the festival welcomes home filmmaker Sally Rubin, who was raised in Newton and now lives in California. She plans to discuss her most recent film, “hillbilly” and her political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, following its showing.

 Friday night closes with “Treblinka,” a hypnotic Portuguese production by filmmaker Sergio Trefaut. In a train crossing through Eastern Europe, the cameras play with the reality of the past to the present.

Films by students, women Saturday

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, Thomas Kim, who created "Trejur," awarded Best Animation, plans to be at Artbeat, just up Mass. Ave. from the Capitol, for a reception.

At noon Saturday, student filmmakers highlight their works at tTrehe Capitol, followed by a 2 p.m. reception and talk-back at the Fox Library moderated by Emerson College students, Nuria Pellicer, Nicolas Thilo-McGovern and Shuyi Wang. This year’s films witness students taking stock of the diverse array of social issues.

The Australian film, “Madhattan,” by Carolyn Constantine screens Saturday at 2:15, chronicling a milliner’s journey from the Outback to New York’s Fashion Week. Linking AIFF to the Arlington business, 13Forest Gallery is to host a reception/exhibit/gallery talk with Marie Galvin, Boston milliner to the rich and famous.

“An Homage to Women Filmmakers” screens films from Boston, Finland, Ireland and Israel on Saturday afternoon at 5:30.

Other selections include Boston filmmaker Julie Mallozzi’s “Circle Up,” the story of a brutal slaying of a teenage boy, with his mother reaching out to her son’s killer to offer a chance for forgiveness; whereupon, a group of mothers of murdered children organize to help young people in their community break the chain of violence and revenge.

Following a lineup of international animation shorts, Saturday evening closes with the screening of the Best Feature Narrative, “Die Best E Aller Welten” (The Best of All Worlds) by Austrian filmmaker Adrian Goiginer.

'Letters from Masanjia' Sunday

The festival closes Sunday with “Letter from Masanjia,” by Leon Leeor. An SOS note scrawled in desperation in a Chinese labor camp. An American woman finds it in a package from Kmart, publicizes its message: “We’re being tortured.” The letter-writer, now free, sets out to film the truth about life in China and tell his whole story. But can he outrun the secret police?

The festival was founded by Alberto Guzman, April Ranck and Walter Locke in 2010 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of Arlington. The festival has evolved into a destination and a celebration of the arts.


 2018 AIFF passes are on sale

Festival passes are available at the discounted price of $65 (regular $85); a memorable selection of documentary and narrative short and feature films from around the world await our audience. All-Access Pass includes opening-night screening and after-party at ZA Restaurant, priority seating to festival screenings, Q&A’s and panel discussions, student-film program and award reception at Fox Library. www.aiffest.org/support-aiff


This news announcement was published Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, and updated Nov. 6.

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