2002 Hopkins Film Festival invading campus this weekend

Indies to offer spirited glimpse into other cultures and people in them

April 11, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Independent filmmakers begin their weekend-long takeover of the Homewood campus tonight, as the Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2002 kicks off with waydowntown, a Canadian comedy about a group of young office workers competing to see who can remain inside the longest.

And for those who want their films perhaps a little more polished, but no less exotic, a series of movies touching on the Middle East, including films from Iran and about Palestine, will be shown across town on the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus.

As the middle jewel of Baltimore's springtime film festival triple crown - the Jewish Film Festival has already started, and the Maryland Film Festival is set for the first weekend in May - the JHFF offers the chance to see movies that wouldn't be shown at the local multiplex on a bet. Spiritually, in fact, it most closely resembles Baltimore's underground film festival, Microcinefest, which unspools each autumn, usually in October.

Waydowntown, which watches as the three protagonists spend every waking moment within a massive office/hotel/shopping complex in downtown Calgary, is as close to a mainstream film as the festival comes (save for a 10 p.m. screening tonight of Sidney Lumet's 1975 Dog Day Afternoon).

Maverick movies

More closely attuned to the JHFF's renegade spirit are such films as Our Nation (5 p.m. Friday), a documentary about the South Korean punk-rock scene; Hacks (9:30 p.m. Friday), a This Is Spinal Tap-style mocumentary about a group of stand-up comics traversing upstate New York; and Standing By Yourself (6 p.m. Saturday), another documentary, this one following a group of teen-age outcasts who spend their time getting in all sorts of trouble, all the while in pursuit of what passes (for them) as a good time.

Saturday at 10 p.m., director David Gordon Green's highly praised George Washington tracks the lives of a group of young kids in a small Southern town.

Even more eclectic and off-center works will be featured in the many shorts programs offered throughout the weekend. At 6 p.m. tomorrow, a series of "Under Your Skin" dramatic shorts includes An Unpredictable Thing, in which a woman relates her tale of being assaulted in a subway station, and Orphan Street (La Calle Huerfanos), where a theater patron talks to the dead.

Saturday, the "Got It In the Face" experimental shorts (5 p.m.) include Thanksgiving, a tale of breeding mutants after the apocalypse, Through the Eye of the Needle, about a dying man and the three strangers affected by his anguish, and The Awakening of Mattsi and Katochek, concerning an unmarried couple whose animated nightmares start invading their reality. Saturday at midnight, the "Tokyorama" funny and cool shorts program offers Skanky the Pimp, with a protagonist made of pipe cleaners, and ?!, the tale of a red-haired assassin.

The festival closes Sunday with an 8 p.m. showing of At Home and Asea, director Mark Street's look at five people living life in, of all places, Baltimore.

From the Middle East

Running with JHFF 2002 is "Frontiers of Dreams and Fears: New Cinema from Iran and the Middle East" - co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution's Office of Cultural Affairs, which in February sponsored a series of movies by African filmmakers. It opens tomorrow with Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (7:15 p.m.), Iranian director Bahman Farmanara's comedic meditation on death and the meaning of life. Sometimes referred to as Iran's answer to Woody Allen, this marked Farmanara's return to filmmaking in Iran after 20 years in exile.

At 9:15 p.m. tomorrow, Djomeh watches a young Afghan refugee as he adjusts to a life of prejudice and isolation in Iran.

Saturday's films include Frontiers of Dreams and Fears (2 p.m.), tracking the relationship of two Palestinian girls (director Mai Masri will be there to discuss the film), and Broken Wings, a 1962 long-thought-lost classic in which Lebanese artist and poet Khalil Gibran ruminates on his first love, a girl from Beirut named Selma Karamy.

Tickets for JHFF 2002 are $3 each; day passes are available for $5, while $15 gets you a pass for the entire festival. Admission is free for students and employees of Hopkins.

Films will be shown on the Homewood campus in Shriver Hall and in Gilman Hall, Room 110. Movies from the "Frontiers of Dreams and Fears" series screen in the Mountcastle Auditorium of the Pre-Clinical Teaching Building, Wolfe and Monument streets.

For individual locations, or more information, call 410-235- 4636, or visit the JHFF Web site at www.jhu.edu/~jhufilm/fest.

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