Altantic Film Festival Picks

Our top festival picks: Films you might not have heard of.

A handy guide on how to buy tickets.

Idiots and AngelsFriday, September 12, Park Lane, 7pm, $10Cult animator Bill Plympton puts pencil on paper for his new full-length feature about a boorish man who discovers angel wings growing out of his back, and spends the rest of the film trying to get rid of them. During the creation of the hand-drawn film, Plympton placed a webcam above his table so that anyone could watch him at work. The story is told without dialogue, just music from Tom Waits, Pink Martini and others.

RANDOMFriday, September 12, Park Lane, 9:30pm, $10Little is known about Halifax's Goldfish Collective or their first film RANDOM, but their catalogue write up references Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Wonder Showzen as influences, so don't wait for Steve Brule to tell you to "go see this, stupid." If you're OK with films filled with non-sequiturs, no straightforward narratives and scenes of stuffed dolphin-creatures being clubbed on Agricola, this one's for you.

The ACTRA Studio with Leslie NielsenSaturday, September 13, Neptune Studio Theatre, 2pm, $25No, this isn't an indie film, it's a live one-on-one interview with the hilarious stage and film actor. Just don't call him Shirley.

Saturday, September 13, Oxford, 11:59pm, $10If the YouTube trailer is any indication, no one will sleep well after watching this Spanish zombie-horror movie. It's shot like Blair Witch---from the shaky perspective of a news reporter's camera, following a crew of Barcelona firefighters into a nearby apartment building---but according to a bunch of horror geek websites, it's a new kind of frightening madness. See this now before the American remake hits theatres.

Carts of DarknessSunday, September 14, Park Lane, 4:05pm, $10You can't live in a city without recognizing the familiar sound of bottle and bin collectors and their grocery carts. But this isn't a typical social issues flick---Murray Siple's doc is shot like a sport film, because it is: Siple used to make snowboard and skateboard movies until he became a quadriplegic after a serious car accident, and there are some extreme shopping cart race scenes here that are wild to watch. Similar to films such as King of Kongwhere the filmmaker has no clue how the story will end, there are terrible tragedies and one man ends up in jail during the shoot. Listen for music by Black Mountain and Ladyhawk.

FLicKeRSunday, September 14, Park Lane, 12:05pm, $10What do you get when you take a 100-watt lightbulb, a motor and a rotating cylinder with cutouts? A drugless high, apparently. In this NFB documentary, Brion Gysin's stroboscopic dream machine invention gets a lot of big-name endorsements, including his collaborators William S. Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithful, DJ Spooky and the late Kurt Cobain. Test it out for yourself:

Down to the DirtSunday, September 14, Oxford, 9:30pm, $15Joel Thomas Hynes wrote the harsh but darkly comedic novel, and now he acts in the film. A gritty St. John's story about a young poet who drinks and smokes and fights his way through life, until he meets a woman, falls in love, and then loses her to Halifax. The script was co-written with the wonderful Sherry White (her comedy Rabbittown was one of the most intentionally hilarious shows to appear on CBC TV), and the menacing Hugh Dillon also stars.

The Brothers BloomMonday, September 15, Oxford, 7pm, $15Rian Johnson's follow up to the new-noir indie hit Brick isn't exactly under the radar but go now if you can't wait until January, when the film is widely released. Starring Mark Ruffalo (every film fest must include at least one Ruffalo feature, it seems) and Adrien Brody as grifter siblings, joined in their latest con by a lonely heiress (Rachel Weisz) who collects hobbies for a living. For those who like their movies to look aesthetically fab, the costumes and sets appear Wes Anderson-style awesome.

SalamandraMonday, September 15, Park Lane, 9:35pm, $10First-time director/writer Pablo Agüero grew up in remote southern Argentina where this film takes place. After that country's dictatorship, six-year-old Inti is reunited with his mother, who has just been released from prison. They move to a Patagonian commune, where mom and son try to get to know each other again. Also stars Velvet Underground's John Cale as an old hippie.

Man on WireTuesday, September 16, Park Lane, 7pm, $15Hands down one of the most buzzed-about documentaries so far this year. In 1974, tightrope walker Philippe Petit and his friends snuck into the World Trade Center in New York, and strung a rope between the two towers, 1,400 feet above the street.

For 45 minutes Petit walked the line. Canadian writer/director James Marsh has already won a bunch of awards, including the Jury Prize and Audience Award in the World Cinema: Documentary competition at Sundance, the first non-American film to do so.

Wendy and LucyTuesday, September 16, Oxford, 9:30pm, $15Michelle Williams plays a young woman, Wendy, whose car breaks down in Oregon, on her way to a new job and life in Alaska. Wendy runs out of cash and so she attempts to steal dog food for her dog Lucy. She gets caught and then loses Lucy. It all sounds like a downer, but Williams has proven herself to be one of the most subtle (and underrated) actors of her generation. Director Kelly Reichardt's last film, Old Joy starred Will Oldham (Bonny "Prince" Billy), who provides the hummed theme song for Wendy and Lucy.

TrufflesTuesday, September 16, Park Lane, 9:35pm, $10In Kim Nguyen's dark sci-fi comedy, an industrial Montreal neighbourhood is turned into prime truffle growing territory, thanks to global warming. Roy Dupuis (Shake Hands with the Devil) has a keen olfactory sense, and spends his days digging truffles out of a mine so that his wife can use them in her diner's poutine. The Montreal Mirror writes that Truffles "recalls both the grandiose dystopian vision of Brazil and the lo-fi, squeamish terror of Eraserhead."

Beautiful LosersThursday, September 18, Park Lane 8, 9:20pm, $10In the early 1990s, some creative outsider types found a home at a New York gallery. Inspired by the DIY subcultures of skateboarding, surf, punk, hip-hop and graffiti, their work was considered anti-establishment, but years later, artists like Shepard Fairey (designer, Obey Giant), Harmony Korine (screenwriter, Kids) and Mike Mills (director, Thumbsucker) have now become big influences on mainstream pop culture. Ironically, Nike is sponsoring a series of creative workshops associated with Los Angeles screenings of this documentary.

Died Young, Stayed PrettySaturday, September 20, Park Lane, 4:05pm, $10How cool is this? Potentially this year's Helvetica, Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Eileen Yaghoobian examines North American underground poster culture and its distinctive aesthetic, interviewing printmakers and artists such as Seripop, American Poster Institute and Print Mafia. Designed to grab the attention of passersby, you can bet that a documentary about music posters will also be loud, colourful and potentially offensive.

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