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MAY 11-17

LRFF2012 Day3 Highlights

On day 3, I had a chance to catch several anticipated films. For starters, TEDDY BEAR, about a Danish bodybuilder’s quest for romance in Pattaya, Thailand. The theater was full and, post-screening, the audience response was overwhelmingly pleased. Then, I introduced the second feature to be included at the LRFF by Martha Stephens, Pilgrim Song, which follows a young protagonist, James, as he sets out to hike Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace after losing his teaching job and foundering in his relationship. Stephens discussed her relationship to the Southern scenes and characters in the film—everything from old-time music, cloggers, and river baptisms—revealing that these were all real aspects of her life growing up in rural Kentucky (some of the characters are even her relatives). She also spoke about the length of time it took her to scout for the breathtaking locations on the lengthy trail—at least a year—admitting that it was quite a task for the crew loaded down with equipment to hike around during filming. Finally, I was lucky enough to catch the LRFF premiere of the highly anticipated Beasts of the Southern Wild—easily this year’s most buzzed-about festival film. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. It’s a dazzling piece of cinema, told through the perspective of its compelling main character, Hushpuppy, a little girl who lives in a poor wetland community called the Bathtub, full of raucous characters and a whimsical grasp on reality. Part adventure story, part coming-of-age tale, Beasts has garnered praise recently at Sundance and Cannes—and you can still catch it right here in Little Rock, only one of the few other festivals where it will...

LRFF Programmer Levi Agee talks with "A Sister's Call" director Kyle Tekiela

I’ll admit I’m subject to bawling my eyes out during tearjerkers with melancholic scores or manipulative sentimental imagery but rarely do I get to see a film that I can connect with so strongly on an emotional level. Rebecca Schaper and Kyle Tekiela’s film A Sister’s Call resonated with me immediately on first viewing. The film is about Rebecca’s journey to find her brother Call who has paranoid schizophrenia and has been missing for over 20 years and bring him back into the family but really it’s about so much more than that. I was lucky enough to talk with Kyle, the film’s co-director and editor about this truly unbelievable film about family, mental illness, and truth. The film plays at 4:45 on Friday at the Riverdale 10 Theater and again on Sunday at 11:20 am.     First of all tell me about your film and why should people go see it at the Little Rock Film Festival? “A Sister’s Call” is an extremely personal story about a woman named Rebecca who finds her missing schizophrenic brother Call after 20 years and spends the next 14 years doing everything in her power to help him in his journey to recovery – and in the process healing herself from her dark and disturbing past. It’s unique in the sense that we literally spend 14 years with our subjects – from 1997 to 2011 – exploring this complex roller coaster of emotions, all under the watchful eye of a camera. We come to find out that even though the story begins with the discovery of the long-believed-dead brother Call, the...

LRFF2012 Day 2 Highlights

The special events of Day 2 of the LRFF offered some truly unique screening experiences. For starters, yesterday afternoon we gathered at the Little Rock Zoo to meet Jewell, an Asian elephant who, in her old age, has been outfitted with a prosthetic boot to correct the pain and discomfort she was experiencing in her gait, similar to the elephants in Windy Borman’s documentary, The Eyes of Thailand, who are given prosthetic legs after they’ve suffered serious injury from landmines. Zookeeper Justin spoke to the crowd about Jewell’s history and the process of creating the boot for her. In fact, Melissa Snell of Snell Prosthetic and Orthotic Labratory, the company who devised the boot for Jewell, was even in the crowd and mentioned the struggles and all the tiny adjustments they had to make to find the perfect fit. Filmmaker Borman was also on hand to ask questions—she expressed pleasure that Jewell was allowed to roam on the sloping grassy garden instead of having to adjust to her prosthetic on concrete. After the screening of her compassionate documentary, Borman answered audience questions about the elephant hospital in Thailand, how she came across her subject, raised the money to return, and how, unfortunately, the elephant hospital is currently struggling financially. It’s a new film, only out since April, and Borman hopes to screen the film at the elephant hospital to raise money to keep it and the courageous efforts of founder Soraida Salwala and her team going strong. The evening discussion with Arkansas-born director Jay Russell at the Arkansas Arts Center was postponed just for a bit due to technical difficulties—Russell...