The Little Rock Film Festival has arrived – get ready to enjoy a week of great films! You’ve picked yourself up a pass at the box office, but don’t know where to begin. Well, the entire festival week kicks off on Monday, May 12th at 7:30 pm with Amir Bar-lev’s “Happy Valley,” Winner of “Best Documentary Feature” at the Sarasota Film Festival, and the first screening in LRFF’s Golden Rock Documentary competition. The town of State College, the home of Penn State University, has long been known as “Happy Valley.” Joe Paterno, its iconic head coach, leads a football program lauded not just for its achievements on the field but its students’ success in the classroom too. But then, in November 2011, everything came crashing down. Longtime Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse, which set the stage for a scandal that would rock the quiet “Happy Valley” to its base. Filmed over the course of the year after Sandusky’s arrest, “Happy Valley” deconstructs the story we think we know to uncover a much more complicated and tragic tale. Here’s a great article from ArkansasOnline with insights from director Amir Bar-Lev. “Happy Valley” will screen again @12:10PM Thur, May 15. After the movie, stick around for the kickoff party for the 8th annual Little Rock Film Festival. Food, drinks and tons of cool people to talk with. It’s going to be a great night. Don’t miss it! By Ross...
Day 4 of the LRFF is when things start getting a little hectic—there are so many excellent showings at all times of day it’s like swimming in a movie paradise. Luckily, this weekend, you’ll have several chances to catch all of the most talked-about offerings. Of many incredible selections that showed last night, one of the most compelling was Benjamin Dickinson’s First Winter, about a group of handsome hipster yoga aficionados living in an intentional community at a rural farmhouse. Things are peaceable at first—everyone is emotionally open, meditates together, and gets along lovingly. But after the power goes out for an unexplained reason, tensions in the house come to a head. They’re low on food, the attentions of their leader, Paul, are straying to another woman, and one of the residents is cultivating a pretty substantial drug problem. When a former resident, Marie, turns up out of nowhere, her resurfacing presents an awkward comfort in this group of psychologically struggling and somewhat damaged beings. First Winter sold out at all four of its screenings recently at Tribeca, and it’s most certainly one of those provocative, of-our-time films that need to be seen and whose subject matter serves as an excellent conversation kindling. Needless to say, the house was packed for its first LRFF showing. After the screening, Dickinson revealed that the community leader, Paul, was played by his real-life yoga instructor, Paul Manza, and the farm where film was shot is actually Manza’s facility. Dickinson explained that, with limited resources and seemingly unable to secure the funding for the film he really wanted to make, he turned to what...