SFIFF59 Spotlights #6: Mountain / Under the Sun / Little Men / Afternoon with Aardman Animations

by Chad Liffmann on May 4, 2016

PersistenceOfVision_Award_Aardman_Wallace_SectionDetail_476x268

Spinning Platters continues its coverage of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, which continues through this Thursday, May 5th. You still have plenty of time to get in a few screenings! More information and tickets are available here.

Here we spotlight another three features and the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision award!

Mountain
(Israel/Denmark, 2015, 83 min, GGA: New Directors)

A scene from Yaelle Kayam's MOUNTAIN will play at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 - May 5,2016.

A scene from Yaelle Kayam’s MOUNTAIN will play at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 – May 5,2016.

Mountain is a touching yet ultimately unsettling character study of an Orthodox Jewish woman living with her husband and four children on the Mount of Olives, an ancient Jewish cemetery and religious locale for Judeo-Christian faiths. Shani Klein gives a powerfully restrained performance as Zvia, a woman caught between family, tradition, and desire and the ramifications of choosing one over the others. The Mt. of Olives plays a crucial role as well, steeped in Jewish tradition and history, yet it serves as a constant reminder of loss and becomes a discrete location for nighttime prostitution. Director Yaelle Kayam patiently studies the effects of this symbolic location on its inhabitants, and utilizing a focus on Zvia manages to convey the deepest internal struggles of Orthodoxy in an ever-changing world.

There are no more screenings of Mountain.

Under the Sun
(Russia/Latvia/Germany/Czech Republic/North Korea, 2015, 106 min, GGA: Documentaries)

A scene from Vitaly Mansky's UNDER THE SUN, playing at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 - May 5, 2016.

A scene from Vitaly Mansky’s UNDER THE SUN, playing at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 – May 5, 2016.

When you watch Vitaly Mansky’s Under the Sun, you can’t believe that such a project could have existed, never mind made it out of North Korea intact. What began as a North Korean-organized propaganda film, Under the Sun keeps the camera rolling in between takes to reveal the truth about the “ideal” livelihoods being presented. The extent of Great Leader Kim Il-sung’s influence (in classroom recitations, etc) may not be too surprising to us outsiders looking in, but actually watching it unfold is too bizarre to believe. It’s unfortunate all we can do while watching innocent children get brainwashed is to keep watching. As powerful as Under the Sun is, I can only imagine how incredible is the story of how the footage got out of the country.

Screenings:

  • Wednesday, May 4th – 3:15pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Thursday, May 5th — 6:30pm, BAMPFA, Berkeley

Tickets for Under the Sun are available here.

Little Men
(USA, 2016, 85 min, Marquee Presentations)

A scene from Ira Sachs's LITTLE MEN will play at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 - May 5,2016.

A scene from Ira Sachs’s LITTLE MEN will play at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, on April 21 – May 5,2016.

Ira Sachs explores the generational effects of gentrification in his new wonderful indie-drama, Little Men. Superb acting all around, especially from the two young stars — Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri — complements the refreshingly realistic script about a couple who moves into the husband’s deceased father’s brownstone in Brooklyn and must reach a new lease agreement with the small ground floor boutique. The story explores the cost of pursuing passions, literally and figuratively, when those passions (if not livelihoods) are not financially sustainable. Despite taking place in Brooklyn, the themes at play are relevant across the country, and world, anywhere evictions are rampant.

There are no more SFIFF screenings of Little Men.

Persistence of Vision Award
An Afternoon with Aardman Animations

PersistenceOfVision_Award_Aardman_Wallace_SectionDetail_476x268

Forty years ago, Aardman Animations was established. Since that fateful year, the studio has poured out a steady flow of incredible films (both short and feature length), including the Wallace and Gromit films, the Shaun the Sheep series, the Academy Award winning Creature ComfortsThe list can go on and on since the studio is also responsible for numerous music videos (including Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”) and many short films and commercials. So it’s only fitting that Aardman was awarded the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award, which is in it’s 20th year at the festival.

Accepting the award was Aardman co-founder, producer and director Peter Lord. With a youthful exuberance, Lord recalled the quite mundane beginnings of Aardman and the principles that they’ve kept in place for four decades. The integrity and passion of the small studio, which prides humor over experience when hiring and the animation craft over the finished product while in production, was on full display through its co-founder and then through a variety program of Aardman productions. The breadth of work from Aardman is astounding, with so many that we don’t even know exists. The icing on the cake was Lord’s announcement that a Shaun the Sheep sequel was in pre-production. It made me so happy to know that Aardman continues to persist in its vision.

———-

Read Also:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: