No Place Like Home

December 4th, 2007

I had the best intentions of going to shows on Sunday, but a really late flight back into Anchorage made me a zombie most of the day. So the first film I’ve seen thus far in the fest is “No Place Like Home,” Perry Henzell’s second and last feature film (screens 8:30 Thurs at Out North).

A few years ago, my husband and I were torn between renting “The Harder They Come” or “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” We were looking for something from the ’70s and funky, probably because one of our favorite movies is “Boogie Nights.” “The Harder They Come” won out — it just has a better name. And we loved it. Gritty and authentic, it has a lot of things that make homages to gangsta life appealing. The main character is both lovable and loutish. And it’s easy to see how he becomes caught up in crime, that that’s perhaps the only viable way he has of becoming of supporting himself. It’s also a treat to see Jamaica before it became the cruise-ship destination it is today. There are references in that movie that help explain some of the Jamaican presence in early hip-hop in the celebration of dance and parties and gangster culture. See the book “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” by Jeff Chang.

“No Place Like Home” reads like an unfinished work. The last couple of scenes, in which the protagonist, Susan O’Meara, recalls her placid days on the island and we see what became of her lover, just fail to come together.Unlike Orson Welles, who somehow managed to stitch together a watchable “Othello” that was many years in the making, this film needed a better editor.There are some treats, though. The young woman in the shampoo commercial is P.J. Soles who was briefly married to Dennis Quaid and I think had roles in “Halloween” and “Our Winning Season.”And, of course, the music is a highlight, as are the scenes in which Susan nimbly handles her Pentax camera shooting portraits of Jamaicans dancing, picking their way through a chaotic market and hanging out on the beach.

Find out more information for No Place Like Home.

Our Thoughts and Prayers

December 4th, 2007

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the survivors, and their families in the wake of the senseless violence inflicted by a man on a murderous rampage. Elizabeth Rumsey is a volunteer with the festival who was walking home after helping out at the Bear Tooth when she was shot. Thankfully she and two others, Elann Moren and Tamas Deak, have initially survived these attacks and we hope and pray for their full recovery. Christopher Rogers and Jason Wenger had their lives taken from them. As an individual and a community it is almost impossible to comprehend what has happened.

The African Queen on the Big Screen

December 3rd, 2007

The African Queen is the festival’s Classic Film this year. This film is still not available on DVD in the United States. Come see it on the big screen Monday at 5:30pm at the Bear Tooth theater. Find out more information for The African Queen.

Children First & Autism: the Musical

December 3rd, 2007

Autism: the Musical screens tonight (12/3 Monday at 6pm at the Anchorage Musuem) for the last time during the festival. Katy Parrish will be at screening and be available for questions after the film. Katy is the host of Children First, a radio program about living with children with disabilities that airs on Sunday mornings at 8am on 700AM KBYR and 99.7FM KMBQ.  Checkout their website for more information:   

Find out more information for Autism the Musical or watch a trailer.

A Good Day for Docs

December 2nd, 2007

This Sunday (12/2) is a good day to see some outstanding documentaries in the festival. We are screening two films that made this year’s Academy Awards shortlist for Best Documentary Feature–Taxi to the Dark Side (Out North at 12:00 pm) and Autism: the Musical (Out North at 2:30 pm).

Later in the day, we are screening The Prize of the Pole (Fireweed at 5:00 pm) and Orange Revolution (Fireweed at 7:30 pm). All four of these films are in competition for this year’s AIFF Best Documentary Feature.

Rounding out the day are two more documentaries–Gulf War Syndrome: Killing Our Own (Out North at 5:30 pm) and Vida de Ciro or Circus Life (Anchorage Museum at 7:30 pm). These are the only screenings for these two films during the festival. Decisions, decisions.

Find out more information for Taxi to the Dark Side or watch a trailer.

Find out more information for Autism the Musical or watch a trailer.

Find out more information for The Prize of the Pole.

Find out more information for Orange Revolution or watch a trailer.

Find out more information for Gulf War Syndrome or watch a trailer.

Find out more information for Vida de Ciro.

Check out the Locals

December 2nd, 2007

The Snow Dance Showcase features five films from local filmmakers. Don’t miss this chance to see and support our local artists (Anchorage Museum at 3:45 pm on Sun 12/2) .

Find out more information about the films in this program.

Ira and Abbey Pulls in an Audience

December 1st, 2007

AIFF opens the festival in a big way. With its Opening Night Film, Ira and Abby, the festival SOLD OUT its box office for the first time in AIFF history. The festival is in its 7th year and is experiencing audience growth at all of its events this year. Founder and Director of Programming, Tony Sheppard says, “With nearly 450 submissions this year, it’s clear filmmakers are looking at Anchorage and the film festival as a way to reach new audiences and we’re very happy to accommodate them.” In addition to audience growth, the festival continues to include more diverse audiences every year. Two new special programs are being added: OutFest and Cine Espanol. OutFest is bringing films to the gay and lesbian community of Alaska while Cine Espanol is reaching out to the Spanish speaking community. Sheppard says, “It’s exciting to bring a film to Alaska and have a viewer watch the movie in their home language .” With nine days left of the festival, organizers expects thousands of more people to come out of the cold to watch these… “films worth freezing for!”

Help Save the Historic 4th Avenue Theater

December 1st, 2007

Here is a message from a group of folks trying to save the historic 4th Avenue Theater:

Please join us at the 4th Avenue Theatre at noon on Monday, December 3 for a Press Conference to kick off the public support for a Fundraiser for the purpose of purchasing and restoring the 4th Avenue Theatre. We would like to get as many people to attend as possible. This would show our community that we would like our theatre to remain as a locally owned and supported historical center.

There is a forthcoming offer from an outside business that would transform our historical icon into a commercial establishment that is not compatible with the theatre. This would not be the highest and best use of our historical theatre and would destroy some of the historic fabric.

We urge you to take your lunch hour on Monday, December 3 at noon, come to our 4th Avenue Theatre and dress warmly. Be prepared to voice your support and to show your support of keeping the 4th Avenue Theatre ours. We look forward to seeing you there!

Les Sheppard & Sam Combs — Sam Combs, AIA, NCARB, Architect Combs & Combs, AIA, Architecture, Interiors & Art 7480 Upper O’Malley Road Anchorage, Alaska 99507-6207 Phone: 907-346-3990 Cell Phone: 907-250-4207 Fax: 907-346-3990C*C Email: Web Site:

Are You a Kid or a Kid at Heart?

November 30th, 2007

This Saturday 12/01 at the Wilda Marston Theater in the Loussac library is the place for you. There will be films all day (10:45am – 6:30pm) for the young and the young at heart. And they are all free admission. Check out the Family films program and schedule in the festival guide.

Want to Meet Filmmakers?

November 30th, 2007

If you’re not too blurry eyed from the prior night’s Gala activities, join us for an up-close and personal wake-up call with our international filmmakers and industry guests. This is one of the few chances to meet the filmmakers and staff of the AIFF. All filmmakers are encouraged to join the mix. It’s your chance to tout your film and tell us a bit about yourself and your latest projects. Free to all, pass holders have priority. International Filmmakers 12/01 Saturday 10:30am Ship Creek Center