Festival express

There are 223 films to choose from at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival. Tara Thorne picks the 10 screenings you must see.

Stranger danger Amy Sedaris as the oldest crack whore ever, in Strangers with Candy.

Out of a record 1,778 submissions, the Atlantic Film Festival has put together an almost-record (tied with 2004) program of 223 films for its 26th edition, which opens September 14 and runs for 10 days. With shows on sale but no programs yet on the streets, here’s your inside look at 10 can’t-miss movies you need to buy tickets to right damn now, in chronological order, because that’s how much we care for your festival experience. Precedence was given to notable entries with little likelihood of coming back to city theatres.

Everything’s Gone Green: The screenwriting debut of Douglas Coupland, directed by Canadian TV vet Paul Fox, stars Paulo Costanzo as a guy caught up in a money laundering operation. When is enough enough? Friday, September 15 at Park Lane, 7:10pm

A Stone’s Throw: The feature debut of renowned producer Camelia Frieberg, a longtime Atom Egoyan collaborator. Mahone Bay’s Frieberg, who co-wrote the script with Garfield Lindsay Miller, directs this story of an American on the run who ends up back in Nova Scotia and badly influencing his sister’s teenage son. Friday, September 15 at The Oxford, 9:30pm

Strangers with Candy: The long-delayed film version of the cult television show finally makes it to screens. Amy Sedaris is Jerri Blank, the oldest high school crack whore ever, trying to make her father (a comatose Dan Hedaya) proud by finally graduating from high school. She’s surrounded by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in cameos. Friday, September 15 at Park Lane, 11:30pm

Away From Her: The directorial debut of Sarah Polley finds her working from an Alice Munro short story with a cast headed by Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie as nursing home residents with relationship problems. Sunday, September 17 at The Oxford, 7pm

Volver: The latest from Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her) stars Penelope Cruz—apparently only a good actor in her native Spanish— in a story about a ghost returning to help her family resolve some long-standing issues. Monday, September 18 at The Oxford, 7pm

Road to Guantanamo: Michael Winterbottom pulls another 180 after the radically different 9 Songs and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story with this harrowing docudrama about the notorious US maximum security facility on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where many prisoners of the “War on Terror” are being held. Tuesday, September 19 at Park Lane, 7pm

Dreamland: The directorial debut of Jacob Matzner finds the ridiculously talented Agnes Bruckner (Blue Car) stuck in a desert town with a sick friend and clueless dad, and wondering how or if she can get out of it. Wednesday, September 20 at The Oxford, 9:30pm

Brothers of the Head: From Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, the team behind the Terry Gilliam doc Lost in La Mancha, this odd entry is a faux documentary (not a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary) about a pair of conjoined brothers discovered and exploited in 1970s England as a rock band called The Bang Bang. It includes “footage” from an aborted Ken Russell documentary, turning the film-within-a-film concept on its, um, head. Great music and performances by not-actually-conjoined twins Luke and Harry Treadaway. Friday, September 22 at The Oxford, 7pm

A Bug and a Bag of Weed: This local feature, directed by J. David Gonella and written by Chris Cuthbertson, stars the latter as a 33-year-old working retail, drowning in debt and sleeping alone. It all changes when Sebastian Spence’s Frehley shows up. The cast includes familiar faces Mary-Colin Chisholm, Bill Carr, Nigel Bennett and Amelia Curran. Friday, September 22 at Park Lane, 9:20pm

Half Nelson: Oscar buzz is already swelling for Ryan Gosling’s performance as a crack-addicted junior high teacher. When a student played by Shareeka Epps—who’s getting almost as many standing Os as Gosling—discovers his problem, a bond is formed and lives are changed and all of that. Friday, September 22 at The Oxford, 9:30pm

Atlantic Film Festival, September 14 to 23, $10, tickets online at www.atlanticfilm.com by phone at 422-6965 or at the box office at 1599 South Park.

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