The 21st Stony Brook Film Festival screens July 21 to 30, and will showcase a highly selective compendium of independent film features, documentaries and shorts.
The Carer from Yellow Affair and the Hungarian National Film Fund is the Opening Night East Coast premiere. It’s a dramatic feature starring Brian Cox (Red, X-Men 2, Braveheart) and newcomer Coco König in a winning debut that tells the story of a young Hungarian refugee who becomes the caregiver of an aging, temperamental actor.
Closing Night showcases the East Coast premiere of A Man Called Ove, a warmhearted story set in Sweden, directed by Hannes Holm and written by Hannes Holm and Fredrik Backman, author of the best selling Swedish novel by the same name. After she crashes into his mailbox, an unexpected friendship develops between pregnant Parvaneh and neighborhood crank Ove.
In addition, two World Premieres are American indies:
The Father and the Bear, written and directed by John Putch, feature Wil Love and David DeLuise, screening on Friday, July 22 at 7:00 pm. A retired character actor (Wil Love) with diagnosed dementia longs to perform at his beloved summer theater one last time. Against his daughter’s wishes, he accepts a role from the newly installed artistic director who is unaware of the man’s condition.
The film was shot on location in Putch’s hometown of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania at the Totem Pole Playhouse, a summer stock theater that his late father, William Putch, guided as artistic director for thirty years. Putch’s use of archival material, both still and Super-8 of the theater as well as Love’s actual performances at the Totem Pole, are expertly woven into the story. John Putch grew up in a show business family —his mother was Jean Stapleton (All in the Family).
This is Putch’s fourth film screened at Stony Brook. The Father and the Bear marks Putch’s ninth independent film since his Sundance Film Festival entry Valerie Flake in 1999. “I’ve said before that Stony Brook Film Festival was one of the top three fests I’ve ever shown a film at, and ten years later, I can still say the same. Better than Sundance hands down,” said Putch.
No Pay, Nudity screens as a World Premiere on Tuesday, July 26 with director Lee Wilkof and Nathan Lane expected to attend to represent the film and take part in a Q&A. Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, In Treatment) plays comically against type, portraying an actor, Lester Rosenthal, who has lost his way with his career, his family, and his friends. Nathan Lane (The Producers, The Birdcage), along with Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, The Aviator) and Boyd Gaines, portray his fellow thespians, all waiting for the right role to come along as they hang out in the Actors Equity lobby. Jon Michael Hill (Elementary) plays a young actor also waiting to get an audition while he takes in their banter.
Director Lee Wilkof notes, “I have been an actor for 43 years. I love what I do. I love the people I work with. No Pay, Nudity is about these people. We live in a time where instant fame is often the measure of success and a body of work accounts for very little. Making No Pay, Nudity helped me rediscover that as Winston Churchill said, ‘Success is moving from disappointment to disappointment without losing enthusiasm.’”
The Father and the Bear (World Premiere, noted above)
After the Reality A funny, poignant story about loss, reality shows, and the bond between a brother and sister. Written and directed by David Anderson, with Matthew Morrison (Glee, The Good Wife) and Sarah Chalke (Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother). East Coast Premiere.
Love and Taxes A pro-tax romantic comedy that follows the possibly real-life exploits of Josh Kornbluth. Directed by Jacob Kornbluth, written by and starring Josh Kornbluth.
No Pay, Nudity World Premiere, noted above
The Dust Storm Set in Nashville over one weekend, two people struggle to resurrect their lost relationship. Directed by Anthony Baldino and Ryan Lacen, written by Ryan Lacen, with Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time), Kristen Gutoskie (Containment).
Claire in Motion A professor, mother and wife finds herself questioning everything she knows about her husband when he disappears. Written and directed by Lisa Robinson and Annie Howell. With Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad, Memphis Bound…and Gagged.)
The Carer Opening Night, noted above. (East Coast Premiere from the UK and Hungary)
Ma Ma A newly single mother who has been diagnosed with breast cancer inspires all those around her. With Penélope Cruz, written and directed by Julio Medem, produced by Penélope Cruz and Julio Medem. In Spanish with subtitles. (From Spain)
Between Sea and Land Set off Colombia’s Caribbean coast, a young man suffers from a neurological disorder. Directed by Carlos del Castillo, written and produced by Manolo Cruz, who also plays the lead.
Samira A startling glimpse into the mind of a female terrorist. A police investigation slowly unravels her story. In Hebrew with subtitles. Directed by Dalit Kimor. Written by Anat Barzilai. With Raida Adon, Uri Gavriel, Doron Amit. (U.S. Premiere, Israel)
Absolution A priest lies to protect his wife and their baby. Directed by Petri Kotwica. Written by Petri Kotwica, Johanna Hartikainen. With Lara Birn (A Walk Among the Tombstones). In Finnish with subtitles. (U.S. Premiere, Finland)
Sum of Histories A story about changing the past–a film with a riveting sci-fi bent. Written and directed by Lukas Bossuyt. With Koen De Graeve, Karina Smulders (Don’t Touch My Children, Bride Flight). In Dutch with subtitles. (U.S. Premiere, Belgium)
The Fencer A young Estonian fencer teaches at a local school after fleeing the Russian secret police. Finland’s entry into the Academy Awards. Directed by Klaus Härö. Written by Anna Heinämaa. With Mart Avandi and Ursula Ratasepp. In Estonian and Russian with subtitles. (East Coast Premiere, Finland)
The Kind Words Two very different Israeli brothers join their tough-minded sister and her long-suffering husband on a journey to find out the truth about their mother’s past. Written and directed by Shemi Zarhin. With Rotem Zissman-Cohen Tsahi Halevi, Assaf Ben-Shimon, and Roy Assaf. In French and Hebrew with subtitles.
Remittance Marie takes a job as a maid in Singapore to support her family in the Philippines.
Written and directed by Patrick Daly and Joel Fendelman. With Angela Barotia. Produced by Patrick Daly, Joel Fendelman, Frank Hall Green (Wildlike) and Prema Menon. In Tagalog and English with subtitles.
A Month of Sundays A real estate agent gets a second chance in this understated comedy from Australia.
Written and directed by Matthew Saville. With Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace, The Client, This Isn’t Funny).
The Innocents Based on a true story of a young French Red Cross doctor sent to Poland in 1945. A Polish nun begs her to come to her convent. Directed by Anne Fontaine. With Lour de Laage, Agata Kulesza (Ida), Agata French, Polish and Russian with subtitles (New York Premiere)
A Man Called Ove (Closing Night, see above)
The Blind Boys of Alabama: How Sweet the Sound One of the greatest Gospel quartets of all times met in the 1930s in a state-run vocational school for the Deaf and Blind. Directed and produced by Leslie McCleave.
Screenagers How much screen time is too much? This documentary looks at the social phenomena of our time. Filmed by Dr. Delaney Ruston, local physician and mother of two. (New York Premiere)
Over 2,000 short films were submitted to the Stony Brook Film Festival through the online digital submission site filmfreeway.com. In this most competitive season ever, these exceptional shorts from around the world screen prior to most features in the lineup.
Italian Miracle (Italy, U.K.)
The Last Word (U.S.)
Jewish Blind Date (Switzerland)
Moving in Circles (Russia)
Beautiful Dreamer (U.S.)
Till Jail Do Us Part (Puerto Rico)
Gas Regulator (Iran)
The Human Element (U.S.)
The Duke: Based on the Memoir “I’m the Duke” by J.P. Duke (U.S.)
Out of the Village (U.S., Ghana)