The first Refocus Film Festival, a celebration of the art of adaptation, will transport Iowa City audiences to stories familiar, and much less, on five screens downtown starting Thursday.
With more than two dozen films, including a virtual reality experience, audiences have until Sunday to see films, live performances and discussions with filmmakers.
As Iowa City audiences ponder which films they want to see during the festival, Press-Citizen has selected seven films to make things easier.
Here are seven films to check out, from a cannibal love story to an in-depth look at the New York music scene in the early 2000s.
“Samson and I”
An exploration of stories of migration, incarceration and friendship, “Sansón and Me” follows filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes and Sansón, whom Reyes first met as a court interpreter during Sanson’s trial, during which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The documentary incorporates reenactments of Sansón, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, to show his upbringing, migration to America, and what led to his incarceration.
The 83-minute film is an Official Selection of the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
Reyes is a California-based filmmaker born in Mexico City whose work is “grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist”, according to his website. His film “499” won Best Cinematography at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. The director has screened his work at the Morelia International Film Festival, BFI London and more.
Sessions for “Sansón and me”:
- Oct. 7: 6:30 p.m. at Chauncey
- October 8: 6 p.m. at FilmScene at Ped Mall
- Oct. 9: 1 p.m. at Chauncey
For more on “Sansón and Me”, go to https://tribecafilm.com/films/sanson-and-me-2022.
An official selection from the BFI London Film Festival 2021, “The Afterlight”, will no longer be available at some point.
It is by design.
According to the Refocus Film Festival, “The Afterlight” exists as a single 35mm print that will tour the world and is destined to deteriorate with each screening.
The film uses footage from hundreds of films in the history of cinema, featuring actors who are no longer alive.
The 82-minute film is directed and assembled by Charlie Shackleton, a filmmaker living and working in London whose work includes the shorts ‘Lasting Marks’, a BFI London Film Festival short film winner, and ‘Fish Story’.
Screenings for “The Afterlight”:
- Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Chauncey
- Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m. at Chauncey
More information can be found at https://theafterlight.xyz/.
In the 1960s, Agnes, the pseudonym of a transgender woman, participated in sociologist Harold Garfinkel’s gender research at UCLA, according to Variety. Agnes has described herself as intersex and has undergone gender correcting surgery. Years after Agnes and Garfinkel first met, Agnes revealed that she was not intersex, but had taken estrogen pills, according to the Paris Review, and managed to undergo a surgery that otherwise might not have been accessible had she not decided to come forward as intersex.
Agnes has become “a leading figure in trans history,” according to Variety.
In director Chase Joynt’s “Framing Agnes,” not only is this remarkable figure explored through re-enactments, but several other gender-nonconforming participants in Garfinkel’s research are as well, according to the Paris Review.
The documentary won two awards this year at the Sundance Film Festival, the Queer North Film Festival and more.
Sessions for “Framing Agnes”:
- Oct. 7 at 4:30 p.m. at Chauncey
- Oct. 8 at 8:30 p.m. at the Chauncey
- October 9 at 1:30 p.m. at FilmScene in the Ped Mall
More information on https://www.framingagnes.com/.
‘Meet me in the bathroom’
Based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Goodman, “Meet Me in the Bathroom” traces the New York rock scene of the 2000s.
The film covers the period from 2000 to 2003, with footage of bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Moldy Peaches and TV on the Radio, and the revival of a rock scene.
Goodman, who directed the film, is a music journalist who used original interviews with musicians, music directors, journalists and more to write “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” according to Goodreads.
Showtimes for “Meet Me in the Bathroom”:
- Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Chauncey
- Oct. 9 at 12:30 p.m. at Chauncey
More information can be found at https://refocusfilmfestival.org/.
‘Black Panther Remix: Wakanda Now‘
A global pandemic has changed the way we live our lives and watch movies since ‘Black Panther’ was released in 2018, with protests over police killings of unarmed black people across the country and the death of Chadwick Boseman – the actor behind King T’Challa, the alter ego of the titular Black Panther – in the middle of the two.
A sequel – titled “Wakanda Forever” – is slated for release in December, but poet and University of Iowa professor Tracie Morris is at Refocus to present “Wakanda Now.”
The event is described as “a multi-voice reading accompanying a visual-only screening” of 2018’s “Black Panther.” The event, lasting just over two hours, will feature Morris and a handful of other narrators reimagining the context of the 2018 film with a particular focus on language and voice.
This isn’t the first time Morris has done something like this with FilmScene. In November 2019, she created something similar with David Cronenberg’s film “A History of Violence”. The commentary she provided in this particular instance had her as the sole narrator in a “not neo-benshi” style, referencing a Japanese style of film presentation.
Although it’s what Morris describes as an “experimental” event, it’s family-friendly, but not recommended for those who have never seen the film.
There is one session for this program:
- Oct. 9: 7 p.m. at Chauncey
You can find out more about Tracie Morris at traciemorris.com.
‘Bones and all’
Two cannibals fall in love and find themselves on a road trip across the United States. This isn’t prepping a joke, it’s the premise of the new horror/romance movie “Bones & All.”
The film won Luca Guadagnino a Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival and co-star Taylor Russell a Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actress.
The film is of particular interest to Iowa City residents and University of Iowa alumni, as David Kajganich penned the “Bones & All” screenplay. Like leading man Timothee Chalamet, Kajganich has collaborated with Italian director Guadagnino on past projects. In Chalamet’s case, that previous Guadagnino film is “Call Me By Your Name”; in Kajganich’s case, that previous film is “A Bigger Splash.”
The first broadcast of this program not only kicks off the festival ahead of its national release date, but the first screening of Refocus will be followed by a discussion from Kajganich and Camille DeAngelis, the author of the novel on which the film is based.
Sessions for “Bones & All”:
- Oct. 6: 7 p.m. at the Englert Theater
- October 8: 10 p.m. at Chauncey
For more on “Bones & All”, visit unitedartistsreleasing.com/bones-and-all/
“The Morning You Wake Up (At World’s End)”
On the morning of January 13, 2018, Hawaiians woke up to the sound of sirens signaling an impending missile attack.
For 38 minutes, residents were left to react to the possibility of a nuclear attack. “On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World)” is a documentary that invites viewers to explore these 38 minutes. Unlike most documentaries, “On the Morning you Wake” is presented through a virtual reality headset.
The documentary comes from the creators of the video game “Notes on Blindness”.
This film is unique in the way it is viewed since, by its nature as a virtual reality piece, hours must be scheduled to view the film. This can be done through the Refocus Film Festival website starting October 6 at The Chauncey.
More information about the film can be found at onthemorningyouwake.com.
Visit the Refocus Film Festival website for more ticket information and the full schedule.
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