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2014 Festival Films List

NOTE: Many past festival films are available at the HOYT Library for viewing!

2014 Feature Films

Belle

England, 2014, historical drama, 105 min., PG

Saturday, November 8 - Court Theatre (8:00 p.m.)

Sunday, November 9 - Court Theatre (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her racial status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England. 

 

Wonderful true story about a mixed-race woman raised in an aristocratic British family in the late 18th century; like the best Jane Austen romance with an angry social conscience.”

MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

 

Blue Ruin

England, 2013, satire/crime, 92 min., R

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A mysterious outsider's quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. Cannes winner.

 

(The director) spills a lot of blood, but he's an extraordinarily responsible and appealing craftsman.”

 

David Denby, New Yorker 

 

(The) Broken Circle Breakdown

Belgium, 2013, romance, 112 min., unrated

Friday, Novermber 7 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (2:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Elise (Veerle Baetens) and Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) fall in love at first sight. She has her own tattoo shop and he plays the banjo in a bluegrass band. They bond over their shared enthusiasm for American music and culture, and dive headfirst into a sweeping romance that plays out on and off stage. Oscar nominee for best foreign film; winner at numerous film festivals.

Sensibly written and thoughtfully directed, intuitively acted, bitter-sweet like Belgian chocolate, and propelled by incredible bluegrass music

Anna Tatarska, Movie Mezzanine

 

(The) Congress

USA, 2014, animation/fantasy, 122 min., unrated

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (2:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: More than two decades after catapulting to stardom, aging actress Robin Wright (playing a version of herself) decides to preserve her digital likeness for a future Hollywood. Her alias will star in any film the studio wants. In return her digitized character will stay forever young. But 20 years later, with her contract expiring... 

 

A half-live-action, half-animated headtrip that throws Robin Wright into a dizzying showbiz paradigm shift

 

–Tom Russo, Boston Globe

 

Frank

USA, 2014, offbeat comedy, 100 min., R

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (5:00 p.m.)

Sunday, November 9 - Pit & Balcony (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A young wannabe musician (Domhnall Gleeson) finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head, and his terrifying bandmate (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

 

A movie that raises questions about creativity and mental illness in a celebrity culture

–Jeff Baker, The Oregonian

 

Gloria

Chile, 2013, comedy/drama, 110 min., R

Friday, November 7 - Court Theatre (11:00 a.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Court Theatre (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Set in Santiago, the story centers on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer she meets out in the dance clubs.

Chilean actress Paulina Garcia's performance  is simply flabbergasting

–Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

(The) Grand Seduction

Canada, 2014, comedy, 115 min., PG13

Friday, November 7 - First Congregational Church (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - First Congregational Church (11:00 a.m.)

Synopsis: A small Newfoundland fishing village must procure a local doctor to secure a lucrative business contract. When an unlikely candidate and big city doctor (Taylor Kitsch) lands in their lap for a trial residence, the townsfolk rally together to seduce him into staying. Brendan Gleeson is the town's conniving mayor.

Warmhearted and, thanks to Gleeson, laugh-out-loud funny

–Duane Dudek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Happy Christmas

USA, 2014, comedy/drama, 88 min., R

Friday, November 7 - First Congregational Church (11:00 a.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - First Congregational Church (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A budding novelist and her film director husband live a peaceful existence in Chicago. But when his irresponsible younger sister comes to live with them, things start to change as the wife's career and her relationship with her husband move in new directions. Cannes nominee..

A quiet, serious comedy about marriage, parenthood and the everyday strains of bringing up a rambunctious toddler while struggling to sustain a creative life

–Stephen Holden, New York Times

 

(The) Hunt

Denmark, 2013, drama, 115 min., R

Thursday, November 6 - Pit & Balcony (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - First Congregational Church (8:00 p.m.)

Sponsored by Nels and Judith Anderson

Synopsis: A former school teacher (Mads Mikkelsen) is forced to start over after a tough divorce and the loss of his job. Just as things are starting to go his way, his life is shattered when an untruthful remark throws his small community into a collective state of hysteria. Cannes winner.

It conveys the sinister swirl of persecution more vividly than any film I can remember

–Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

 

Lunchbox

India, 2013, romance, 105 min., PG

Friday, November 7 - Court Theatre (5:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Court Theatre (2:00 p.m.)

Sponsored by Leslie and Sherri Gregory

Synopsis: A mistaken delivery in Mumbai's famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an older man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox. Winner of 22 film festival awards.

It doesn't offer easy solutions, but it is filled with keen observations. All meals should be this satisfying

–Tom Long, Detroit News

 

Joe

U.S, 2013, coming-of-age drama, 117 min., R

Thursday, November 6 - Court Theatre (5:00 p.m.)

Friday, November 7 -Court Theatre (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A southern ex-con (Nicholas Cage) who is the unlikeliest of role models meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin.

A tough rural drama that digs deep in all the right ways

–Peter Howell, Toronto Star

 

My Old Lady

England, 2014, comedy/drama, 107 min., PG13

Friday, November 7 - Pit & Balcony (5:00 p.m.)

Sunday, November 9, Pit & Balcony (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A down-on-his-luck New Yorker Kevin Cline) inherits a Parisian apartment. But when he arrives to sell it, feisty English live-in tenant (Maggie Smith) won't budge and it has an ancient French real estate system with complex and costly rules pertaining to its resale. Kristin Scott Thomas is cast as Smith's daughter.

What starts as an elaborate sitcom becomes an emotionally substantial tragicomedy

–John Anderson, Newsday

 

Only Lovers Left Alive

USA, 2013, horror/thriller, 123 min., R

Thursday, November 6 - Court Theatre (8:00 p.m.)

Sunday, November 9 - Court Theatre (5:00 p.m.)

Sponsored by David and Audrey Lewis

Synopsis: Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician (Tom Hiddleston), deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover (Tilda Swinton). Their love story has already endured several centuries, but can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?

Somehow it's all very entertaining and weird and fitting, with Detroit looking like a place any vampire would be happy to be

–Tom Long, Detroit News

 

Saginaw Trail

USA, 1953, western, 57 minutes, unrated

Thursday, November 6 - First Congregational Church (8:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A rare mid-western. Set in 1827, the story takes place in the wilds of Michigan. Gene Autry plays an officer in Hamilton's Rangers, determined to bring a scurrilous fur-trapper to justice. To protect his own interests, the trapper has been goading the local Indians into attacking the white settlers.

 

 

Snowpiercer

USA, 2014, science fiction, 126 min., R

Friday, November 7 - Pit & Balcony (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (8:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet. The final survivors board a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine. When cryptic messages incite the passengers to revolt, the train thrusts full-throttle towards disaster. Starring John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer.

Violent, often absurd, but full of brilliant surprises

–David Denby, New Yorker

 

Wadjda

Saudia Arabia/Germany, 2012, comedy/drama, 98 min., PG

Friday, November 7 - Court Theatre (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Court Theatre (11:00 a.m.)

Synopsis: An enterprising Saudi girl signs on for her school's Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest. Winner of 21 film festival awards. The first feature length film made by a female Saudi director. Because of restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia, Haifaa Al-Mansour was not allowed to interact with her mostly male crew. She had to direct the street scenes from a nearby van, watching through a monitor and giving instructions via walkie-talkie.

(The) Skeleton Twins

USA, 2014, comedy, 92 min., R

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Estranged twins (SNL veterans Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig) coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront the reasons their lives went so wrong. As the reunion reinvigorates them, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship. Sundance winner.

A lovingly calibrated mix of heartbreak and hopefulness, guilt and the will to do better

–Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

 

Xanadu

Scotland, 2013, comedy, 75 min., unrated

Thursday, November 6 - Pit & Balcony (5:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - First Congregational Church (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A reclusive writer becomes trapped inside his own novel. Surrounded by characters from his best selling pulp books, he comes to realize there is more to life than fame and the pursuit of money. American premiere. Writer/directed Dominic Reynolds will appear via Skype.

 

 

 

 

 

Documentaries

Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory

USA, 2014, 78 min.

Friday, November 7 - Pit & Balcony (11:00 a.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Pit & Balcony (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia -- many of them alone in nursing homes. A social worker discovers that songs embedded deep in memory can ease pain and awaken these fading minds. Sundance winner.

In a world drowning in bad news about dementia, 'Alive Inside' is positively tonic

–Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

 

Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq

USA, 2014, comedy/drama, 88 min., R

Friday, November 7 - First Congregational Church (5:00 p.m.)

Sunday, November 9 - First Congregational Church (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq mesmerized with her elongated, race-horse physique. And she was the muse to two choreographers: George Balanchine married her and Jerome Robbins created his famous version of "Afternoon of a Faun" for her. But on a tour of Europe, at age 27 she was struck down by polio, paralyzed and never danced again.

LeClerq, who lived her later years with a fierce independence, died in 2001; in this thoughtful, quiet film, she lives on

–Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

 

Cyber-Seniors

Canada, 2014, 75 min.

Friday, November 7 - First Congregational Church (2:00 p.m.)

Sponsored by Nels and Judith Anderson.

Synopsis: A group of senior citizens discover the world of the Internet through the guidance of teenage mentors. Their exploration of cyber-space is catapulted to another level when 89-year-old Shura decides to create a YouTube cooking video. And then a spirited video competition for the most "views" evolves as the cyber-seniors' hidden talents and competitive spirits are revealed

Forget Facebook friends. The friendships forged in this movie, which come alive before our eyes, are the real deal

–Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

 

Finding Vivian Maier

USA., 2013, 83 min.

Thursday, November 6 - First Congregational Church (5:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (8:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: A mysterious nanny, who secretly took more 100,000 photographs hidden in storage lockers and discovered decades later, is now considered among the 20th century's greatest photographers. Maier's strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.

Every time one of her photos flashes on the screen, the woman's genius is undeniable

–Tom Long, Detroit News

 

Last Days of Vietnam

USA, 2014, 98 min.

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (11:00 a.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (11:00 a.m.)

Synopsis: During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon, panicked South Vietnamese desperately attempted to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confronted a moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate only U.S. citizens or risk being charged with treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they could. Directed by Rory Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.

A testament to people, as one source puts it, "doing their best under terrible circumstances

Kristin Tillotson, Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

Tim's Vermeer

USA, 2013, 80 min.

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 2nd Floor (11:00 a.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Saginaw Club - 2nd Floor (11:00 a.m.)

Synopsis: Tim Jenison, a Texas inventor, spends a decade attempting to solve one of the greatest mysteries in art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer ("Girl With a Pearl Earring") manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography?

Tim's Vermeer is film as forensics, bringing math and science to bear to solve an art-world mystery

–Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

(The) Standbys

USA, 2012, 76 min.

Friday, November 7 - Pit & Balcony (2:00 p.m.)

Saturday, November 8 - Pit & Balcony (11:00 a.m.)

Sponsored by Mondays@7 Book Club.

Synopsis: A look at Broadway Understudies and Standbys. Three undiscovered performers at various points in their careers get the chance of a lifetime. Their struggle is put into perspective through never-before-heard stories from celebrities who themselves were once Understudies or Standbys. Saginawian Brian d'Arcy James and his "Shrek" standby Ben Crawford are profiled.

 

 

To Be Takei

USA, 2014, 93 min.

Friday, November 7 - Saginaw Club, 3rd Floor (5:00 p.m.)

Sunday, November 9 - First Congregational Church (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: Over seven decades, actor and activist George Takei has boldly journeyed from a WWII internment camp, to the helm of the starship Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of 7 million Facebook fans. Join George and his husband Brad on this star's playful and profound trek for life, liberty and love. Oh, my.

What made and makes Takei a powerful spokesman is obvious in the film

–Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

 

 

 

Free at the Festival

All these films are shown at Hoyt Library. Free admission, free coffee/tea/hot chocolate, discussions.

Short Film Contest

This year our selections panel received nearly 45 short films to judge -- from Thailand, Spain, France and Italy and well as across the United States (California, Illinois Indiana, Michigan).Come view what they chose for first, second and third prizes as well as some of the other entries.)

We lost four magnificent actors this past year. Come see one of the films that best represents them, talk about their impact on our lives, and maybe learn a few unknown tidbits.

Hook/Robin Williams

USA., 1991, adventure/comedy, 136 min., PG

Saturday, November 8 - Hoyt Library (11:00 a.m.)

Synopsis: Steven Spielberg filters J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan through a distinctly 1990s sensibility. Peter Pan (Robin Williams) has become a 40-year-old mergers and acquisitions lawyer with a permanent scowl on his face and a cellular phone in his belt. He has lost memory of being Peter Pan until a visit to Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith) reawakens him. Dustin Hoffman is Hook and Julia Roberts is Tinkerbell. Nominated for five Oscars.

A Most Wanted Man/Phillip Seymour Hoffman

England, 2014, mystery/suspense, 122 min., R

Thursday, November 6 - Hoyt Library (5:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally-tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: is he an oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? Stars Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his final film), Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright.

 

Shoot Me/Elaine Stritch

USA, 2014, documentary, 81 min.

Friday, November 7 - Hoyt Library (2:00 p.m.)

Synopsis: In this bold, hilarious and poignant portrait, the Tony and Emmy Award-winner is revealed both on and off stage. Candid reflections about her life are punctuated with words from friends (James Gandolfini, Tina Fey, Hal Prince, Nathan Lane) and archival footage showcasing some of the great moments from her Broadway career. Stritch was born in Detroit and had moved to Birmingham shortly before her death at age 89.

 

To Have and To Have Not/Lauren Bacall

USA, 1944, 100 min., not rated

Friday, November 7 - Hoyt Library (11:00 a.m.)

Synopsis: During WWII, American expatriate (Humphrey Bogart) helps transport a Free French Resistance leader and his wife to Martinique while romancing a sexy lounge singer (screen newcomer Lauren Bacall, who utters the classic line "you know how to whistle, don't you").

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit for Schedule Page for a list of films, times and to download the current program/schedule.