4th Annual Riverside Saginaw Film Festival Showcases 33 Films From Around the Globe November 4-7th

Posted In:   From Issue 713   By: Robert E Martin

21st October, 2010     0

Now in its 4th season, the annual Riverside Saginaw Film Festival has evolved into a significant showcase for Independent, Foreign, Classic, and Short films, along with documentaries from countries spanning the globe. With a total of 33 films being shown this year from November 4-7th on four screens at The Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw, organizers are excited not only about the variety and caliber of films showcased this year, but also with several key changes that have occurred with the festival’s evolution.

In past years the Riverside was held in the summer months at different venues spanning the city; but this year the Board of Directors decided to conduct the Festival in November, centralizing features at the spacious Temple Theatre.

“Although it was great showing off both sides of the river, people complained about having to run all over town to catch films and not having a central location to sit around and talk about the movies afterwards,” explains Board member Janet Martineau. “So when the Temple came to us and offered four screening rooms at their facility, with sandwiches and light fare available at the Leopard Lounge, we decided to take them up on the offer.”

In striving to mix the cutting edge and current with the accessible and classic, large screen showings of four pivotal films will be featured. “This year the film Jaws is celebrating its 35th anniversary, Psycho is 50-years old, Somewhere in Time is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and it’s been 50 years since the novel To Kill A Mockingbird was published, so each of these landmark movies will be showcased.”

As for new films with a local twist, Howard the Hero is certainly a standout. “This is a documentary that the Director made about a relative named Howard Huebner who is in his late 80s and was a paratrooper on D-Day with the group that helped liberate the first city in France,” explains Martineau.

“He was awarded the Legion of Honor in Paris and President Obama was at that event and mentions Howard in the film,” she continues. “But the neat thing is that this guy was from Saginaw and it shows his life in Saginaw, contains clips from war footage, and is a very compelling movie. It premiered in France and the Riverside Festival got the U.S. premier. The filmmaker, Richard Warner, will attend the festival and speak about the film.”

Other noteworthy films being showcased consist of two Michigan films, one shot in Lansing and the other in Detroit, entitled Grey Skies and Handlebar. Grey Skies is the tale of 7 friends that travel to a secluded cabin in the woods only to discover they are being watched and terrorized by creatures from another planet; and Handlebar is a comic-thriller about two low-level thieves hired by an inner-city Mafioso to kidnap a rival’s daughter.

“We’ve got a documentary on Joan Rivers entitled A Piece of Work, which is a great title,” laughs Janet, “ plus we’ll be screening a French filmed named Farewell that is just now coming to the United States. It’s a true story about an incident that happened during the Reagan/Brezhnev years about a Soviet spy that wanted to alert the U.S. about an operation during the Cold War. What he revealed somewhat changed the course of our history.”

On the lighter side of the fence, The Good, The Bad & the Weird is a South Korean remake of American Spaghetti Westerns, with the bad guys operating as the Chinese army and the bandits consisting of Japanese; plus the 2010 biopic The Runaways will be featured, telling the tale of the ‘70s teenage punk band that gave birth to the career of Joan Jett.

The film Winter’s Bone won the Grand Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and is receiving Oscar buzz, while Mao’s Last Dancer is a true story concerning a Chinese dancer that came to the United States and defected from Red China.

“One of my favorite films is The Last Station,” notes Martineau, “which received Golden Globe nominations and is a story about Tolstoy’s life.  It’s like Dr. Zhivago filmed during the summer,” reflects Janet.

Two Children’s’ Classics will be sponsored by the Public Libraries of Saginaw and consist of The Goonies and Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. Following the showing of Nightmare, volunteers will be on hand to help children make scary Christmas ornaments.”

One thing that is certain is the growing interest in the Riverside Film Festival from Directors spanning the globe. “Unlike a vast majority of film festivals, we do not require the Directors to pay in order to enter their films,” explains Janet. “I’ve always had trouble with that and fortunately we are able to get the films underwritten by The Jury Foundation.  We’ve got films from India, Israel, and even one entry from Belize.” 

Tickets are priced at $6.00 per show with $1.00 going to the Temple Restoration Fund; and a festival pass for as many films as you can view is available for only $40.00 prior to the opening day of the festival, at which point the price raises to $45.00 for a festival pass, with $5.00 going to the restoration fund.

For a complete film schedule with showtimes and additional information, please refer to the display ad on page 13 of this edition.

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