The 2015 Fresno Film Festival opens at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, with a screening of “Mustang.” The film, France’s entry in the 2016 Academy Awards for best foreign language film, is the story of five Turkish girls who search for freedom in an ever-constraining household.
“Mustang” kicks off the 11th season of the local festival presented by Fresno Filmworks. Along with the festival opener, there will be seven programs of short and feature-length movies from 21 countries, plus appearances by filmmakers.
“We are particularly proud of the diversity, the timeliness and the urgency of this year’s film selections,” says Jefferson Beavers, president of Fresno Filmworks.
Students from the CineCulture class and all Armenian Studies Program classes at Fresno State have been invited to attend the festival at no charge as part of the local film group’s outreach program.
Here’s the rest of the festival lineup:
¡Viva NYICFF! Short Films, 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14: This is a program of family-friendly short films from Latin America and Spain selected from the best stories of the past five years at the New York International Children’s Film Festival.
“Mediterranea,” 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14: Director Jonas Carpigano’s film looks at two friends who make a dangerous journey from Africa to Italy in search of a better life.
“The Cut,” 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14: The feature from director Fatih Akin is the story of a father who goes on a quest to find his daughters after surviving the Armenian genocide. Armenian American screenwriter Mardik Martin, who co-wrote multiple screenplays with Martin Scorsese, will be on hand for a question-and-answer session.
“The Wanted 18,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14: Palestine’s entry for best foreign language film at the 2016 Academy Awards looks at 18 cows declared a “threat to the security of the state of Israel.” The screening will feature a Q&A with director Paul Cowan, an Oscar-nominated Canadian filmmaker.
The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15: The program includes six short-form offerings from this year’s Sundance festival.
“The Russian Woodpecker,” 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14: Director Chad Gracia offers this look at a Ukrainian artist who becomes obsessed with a possible connection between the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and a Soviet broadcasting antenna.
“Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15 (Grade ☆☆☆): The life and times of Steve Jobs has been imagined and re-imagined in scripted movies featuring Ashton Kutcher and Michael Fassbender. This documentary shows why actors brought different interpretations to the role – Jobs isn’t an easy person to understand.
At times, director Alex Gibney looks at how Jobs could be ruthless in business, even to the point of cheating his partner, Steve Wozniak, out of a large bonus, but still be revered around the world when he died. Gibney looks the birth of the personal computer industry to Jobs’ life as a business giant.
The documentary doesn’t go deeper. It’s not clear whether Gibney did not have access to the smaller moments that helped define Jobs or there was just nothing to find. The closest he comes is a look at the spiritual journeys Jobs went on from his study of Buddhism to meetings with Zen priest. Even those moments can’t penetrate the public persona of Jobs.
Gibney has created a competent documentary. The only flaw is that the mechanical approach the director uses doesn’t allow for many personal moments. Watching the movie is like reading an eighth-grader’s report on a famous person. The facts are all there. It just offers very little new on the subject.
2015 Fresno Film Festival
- Friday, Nov. 13 - Sunday, Nov. 15
- Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave.
- Tickets: Festival passes $50. $10 general admission. $8 for students and seniors.