Return of Alloy Orchestra, Landers Celebration, and Women Directors Highlight April Festival
The Ozark Foothills FilmFest will hold its twelth annual festival April 3 through 7 at a number of venues in Batesville. This year’s festival marks the return of the Alloy Orchestra, a three man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. The group includes Terry Donahue on accordion, musical saw, junk, and vocals; Roger Miller on keyboards; and director Ken Winokur on junk percussion and clarinet. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, including their well-known rack of junk, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources. Film Critic Roger Ebert calls Alloy “The best in the world at accompanying silent films.”
Performing at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the US and abroad (The Telluride Film Festival, The Louvre, Lincoln Center, The Academy of Motion Pictures, the National Gallery of Art and others), Alloy has helped revive some of the great masterpieces of the silent era. Their 2011 performance of their score for the 1926 German classic Metropolis drew a large crowd to Independence Hall. This year they will be performing their score to the 1927 film, Underworld, considered to be the first American gangster film and winner of the first Academy Award for the story by Ben Hecht. They will be performing on Friday, April 5, at 8:00 p.m.
The festival will also be celebrating the history of the Landers Theater. Built in 1907, originally known as the Gem, and renovated twice in its first four decades, it lasted under the ownership of three generations of the Landers family from 1947 until 1998. After closing, the Landers sat essentially vacant for nearly a decade until it was purchased, beautifully restored, and repurposed by the Fellowship Bible Church. The church generously makes their facility available to individuals and area organizations, including the film festival. They have also generously decided to restore the original Landers marquee and neon sign, which we hope will be finished in time for the festival.
Our Opening Night celebration will include two films that played at the Landers: Topper, a 1937 romantic comedy, starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, built around a couple who find themselves in limbo after an auto accident and try to get into heaven by trying to perform one good deed for their friend Cosmo Topper (Roland Young). The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Special Effects and Best Supporting Actor Roland Young.
Topper, like all feature films of that era, will follow a cartoon, Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor, a 1936 Academy Award Nominee for Best Short Subject/Cartoons. The program will screen at the Landers on Wednesday, April 3, at 7:00 p.m. The evening will be enriched with a period look and feeling and attendees are invited to dress in period style.
“The Female Face of Indie Film” all-day program on Saturday, April 6, will feature the work of women directors from a number of states. The program begins at 10:00 a.m. at Nucor Auditorium on he campus of Lyon College with a panel discussion of the opportunities and challenges facing women directors. The panel will be moderated by Sarah M. Chyrchel, 2009 recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship Award for Film and Video. Participants include Kris Swanberg from Chicago, director of Empire Builder; Martha Stephens from West Virginia, co-writer and director of Pilgrim Song; Sarah Ledbetter from Memphis, co-writer and director of The Romance of Loneliness; Kate Siegenthaler from Missouri, director of No Trespassing; and Juli Jackson, a Paragould native and writer, producer, and director of 45RPM.
Empire Builder, Pilgrim Song, The Romance of Loneliness, and No Trespassing will screen in Independence Hall on the campus of UACCB along with a program of short films by Sarah M. Chyrchel. 45RPM enjoyed its world premiere before a packed house October 27 at the Landers. Short films by other female filmmakers will be screened before other feature films on Thursday and Sunday. Hearts of the Dulcimer, a documentary by Californians Patricia Delich and Wayne Jiang, will screen on Sunday evening as part of the Music Film Showcase. Both No Trespassing and Hearts of the Dulcimer are also enjoying their world premieres at the festival.
The festival includes feature films by award-winners Ya’Ke Smith and the Renaud Brothers and a program of Indie Film Shorts by Arkansas filmmakers. Reconvergence, also screening, is a widely acclaimed documentary by Edward Tyndall, a two-time entrant in our festival, that offers an intriguing exploration of mortality, consciousness, and identity and opens up the viewer to distinctive ideas and new ways of thinking about humanity and its place in the universe. Reconvergence has been shown at the Maryland Film Festival, Indie Memphis, Oak Cliff Film Festival, and many others.
Black Marks on White Paper, a documentary by Arkansan Bob Sager and world premiere, tells the life story of Bennie Dee Warner. Warner began his life in Liberia and worked his way up to Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Liberia, then became the country’s vice-president. He also attempted to form a government in exile in the Ivory Coast after a military coup overthrew the Liberian government in 1980. Warner’s amazing life is both amazing and inspiring. In his later years he established residence in Oklahoma City, where he taught at Oklahoma City University, a United Methodist School. He and his wife Anna will be attending the world premiere on Friday, April 5, at 6:00 p.m. at Independence Hall. Special arrangements are being made for interested attendees to have special time to talk with Warner after the screening.
An eclectic collection of short films will be screened at the Old Independence Regional Museum on Wednesday, April 3, and Thursday, April 4 at noon. The noon “Brown Bag” program lasts about an hour. Participants are welcome to bring a “Brown Bag” lunch; bottle water will be provided. The screening include comedies, artistic shorts, a short drama from Austria, and a documentary about the legendary Dyess Colony, birthplace of music icon Johnny Cash.
For complete information about the 12th annual Ozark Foothills FilmFest, including the film schedule with times, locations, and maps to venues; Foothills Film Society membership opportunities; ticket prices; and other information visit www.ozarkfoothillsfilmfest.org; pick up a copy of our festival program at Daylight Donuts, the Batesville Area Arts Council, Comfort Suites and Holiday Inn Express hotels, the Independence County Library, Elizabeth’s Restaurant, Kent’s Firestone, other local businesses with festival posters in their windows, Tommy’s Famous Pizza in Mountain View, and George’s Liquor in Newport; or call 870-251-1189 during regular business hours. The programs should be available in mid-March.
Ozark Foothills FilmFest
195 Peel Road
Locust Grove, AR 72550