The College of William and Mary’s third annual Global Film Festival will take place February 18-21 at the Kimball Theatre on Merchants Square, with two special closing events being held Sunday night at Sadler Center.
The festival is sponsored in part by W&M’s Reves Center for International Studies as part of its s-GIG program, which stands for “Sustained Global Inquiry Group.” GIGs are W&M’s academic incubators for interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives. Other sponsors include the College’s Roy R. Charles Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Film Study Program, Alma Mater Productions, and the Williamsburg Regional Library.
All events are free and open to the public; however, events at the Kimball Theater require tickets, available at the box office or by calling 1-800-HISTORY.
This year’s theme is “Global Film and Music” and will draw international filmmakers, musicians, and scholars to Williamsburg to present and perform their work. They also will participate in a community-wide dialogue on the ways film and music work together. (View the promotional trailer.)
Highlighting the festival is the Virginia premiere of “Ode to the Pineapple” (Oda a la Pina) and “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” award-winning fiction films from Iran and Cuba that explore the dynamics of musical expression, national politics and identity. Both works will be presented by their directors, Laimir Fano and Bahman Ghobadi, respectively.
In addition, there will be a special screening of “Heima,” an award-winning documentary on the post-rock music group Sigur Ros and their 2006 homecoming Icelandic tour. The film’s director, Dean DeBlois, will present.
The festival opens Thursday night, Feb. 18, with a live performance by Zikrayat, an international group of musicians and dancers accompanying classical Egyptian musicals of the 1950s.
On Friday, Feb. 19, there will be a screening of the popular Edith Piaf biopic, “La Vie en Rose,” preceded by a wine and cheese reception and live “Chanteuse” performance.
Matinee events for Feb. 20 and Feb. 21 will feature live musical accompaniment of silent-era films by the Minneapolis-based trio Dreamland Faces, who will perform original scores composed expressly for the festival.
Saturday’s matinee will be a family show featuring the international origins of animated film and a surprise finale with an audience participation kazoo-along (with free kazoos provided to all audience members).
For Sunday’s matinee, Dreamland Faces’ accompaniment of Yasujiro Ozu’s 1931 “Tokyo Chorus” will be preceded by local pianist Christine Niehaus’s originally scored accompaniment of a rare silent-era short by Frank Capra. The late-night film session will feature a recent Bollywood musical and the international cult musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
The festival concludes Sunday with an 8:30 p.m. performance by the world-renowned gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama. They are performing in conjunction with the screening of two outstanding documentaries. The first is the aqward-winning “Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony,” which focuses on the music of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. The other is the Virginia premier of the currently Oscar short-listed documentary “Soundtrack to a Revolution,” which focuses on the music of the U.S. civil rights movement. Both films will be presented by their directors, “Amandla!” at 3:00 p.m. and “Soundtrack” at 5:00 p.m.
The Blind Boys show will be held in the College’s Commonwealth Auditorium in the Sadler Center and will be preceded at 7:00 p.m. by a community banquet featuring traditional African and American soul food, also at Sadler Center.
Festival director Tim Barnard, professor/coordinator of Mellon Projects in the Humanities and the American Studies Program at W&M, says he looks forward to the festival creating “a dynamic mix of live music and film that will showcase the uniquely compelling ways that combination has moved audiences since the era of silent film.
“We will also look to the present and future,” he continued, “including musical performances and recent films from around the world that create new ways of telling stories and bringing music to visual life.”
Barnard also emphasizes the importance of the festival as a celebration of the local and global simultaneously.
“This year we are very excited about the ways the combination of music and film can bring the diverse members of our community together to celebrate and reflect on the ways these two mediums can enrich our lives here and around the world.”
The weekend of live events, film screenings, banquets, and receptions will also highlight filmmaking and global music as components of our local community. The festival will open on Thursday with a community event that will include a screening of the student-made documentary, “Worlds of Music in Williamsburg” and an international banquet of foods from around the world prepared by a range of student and community groups and restaurants. Presentations and awards ceremonies for other student filmmaking and film scorings contests will also be included in the festival.
The Global Film Festival is an annual event launched in 2008 in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Williamsburg Theater (renamed the Kimball after renovations in 2001).