Film Guide >

BEST OF THE FEST

Select Festival Favorites Have Been Added to the Schedule Monday, June 24 at the AFI SIlver Theatre & Cultural Center

LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM 11:00 a.m.
Progeria is an extremely rare and fatal disease in which children suffer the afflictions of accelerated aging. Sa.m. Berns is one such child who opens up his life to Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (INOCENTE, WAR/DANCE) with remarkable grace and courage. Meanwhile, Sam's devoted physician parents work tirelessly in the face of great adversity to find a way to help their son and children all over the world combat the deadly disease. – AP

GIDEON'S ARMY 1:00 p.m.
In this smart, insightful documentary, filmmaker Dawn Porter sheds light on the plight of one of our country's most valuable and unsung warriors: the public defender. Following a small group of dedicated public defenders in the South, GIDEON'S ARMY highlights the daily battles they face within a flawed legal system where a defendant's very life can be on the line. Overworked and underpaid with little support, these committed individuals sacrifice a great deal in the name of justice. – AP

OUR NIXON 3:15 p.m.
Among the stranger remnants of the Watergate era are some 500 reels of Super 8 home movies created by aspiring – and conspiring – filmmakers named Chapin, Ehrlichman and Haldeman which were confiscated and stored by the FBI. This recently released treasure grants extraordinary access to the everyday intrigues and unsettling machinations of the Nixon White House. Salient, often bizarre extracts from the secret White House tapes add fitting commentary for erstwhile Watergate junkies and Nixon neophytes alike. – TM

GOD LOVES UGANDA 5:15 p.m.
In a country ravished by civil wars and political turmoil, there's a different kind of war being waged: the war of religion. Blending vérité style with candid testimonials, filmmaker Roger Ross Williams tracks a group of missionaries from the evangelical Christian Right as they take their religious crusade from the comfort of Middle America to the ravaged villages of a fiercely divided Uganda. – MC

CRASH REEL, THE 7:15 p.m.
A mere two months before the 2010 Winter Olympics, game-changing pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury that derailed his life, career and a much-anticipated rivalry with competitor Shaun White. Oscar®-nominee Lucy Walker's engaging, intimate portrayal of Pearce's recuperation advances the dialogue on disability and explores the understated heroism of a recovering champion struggling to understand the new rules of the road with the support of extraordinary family and friends. – ASH

BEST KEPT SECRET 10:45 a.m.
Graduation is a bittersweet prospect for the special education students in Janet Mino's high school classroom. Erik, Rahamid, Kareem, among others, have found an unexpected haven in a Newark, New Jersey public high school where a fiercely dedicated staff supports students with Autism and learning disabilities. Looming over the students, however, is a ticking clock where at the age of 21 they will "age out" and be thrust into a world with little resources and support. – SS

AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY 12:45 p.m.
When Korean American filmmaker Grace Lee set out in search of other Asian American women bearing the same name, little did she know that she would stumble upon such an extraordinary woman. Grace Lee Boggs is a 97-year-old Chinese American philosopher, activist and force of nature whose remarkable life and work traversed the major social movements of the last century. – SS

MCCULLIN 2:45 p.m.
British photojournalist Don McCullin escaped a hardscrabble childhood to create many of the most profound images of late 20th century wars on three continents. A pensive yet vulnerable McCullin looks back on his career with wistful, sometimes haunted memories touching on the essence of war and his ambivalence about documenting horrific events while escaping countless "close calls." McCullin's retrospection effectively augments a life's work notable for transforming moments of atrocity into a paean of shared humanity. – TM

LET THE FIRE BURN 5:00 p.m.
On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia's municipal authorities battling the black liberation group MOVE dropped incendiary, military-grade explosives onto an Osage Avenue row house. The ensuing six-alarm inferno killed five children and six adults, destroying 61 homes. This absorbing yet unfathomable saga is adeptly retold without commentary using archival footage, including previously withheld materials. – TM

MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS 7:00 p.m.
A cross between AMERICAN MOVIE and EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (with a dash of Christopher Guest milieu), MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS follows indie band The National on the road for a year through the eyes of singer Matt Berninger's bumbling brother, Tom. As tensions boil between them, the film Tom intended to make falls apart, and what evolves is a touching, authentic, and delightfully wry portrait of two brothers who could not be more different. – MC

AFTER TILLER 7:20 p.m.
The 2009 murder of George Tiller in a Kansas Lutheran church left only four physicians providing late-term abortions in the United States. These four – two women, two men – provide exceptionally intimate access to their professional and personal domains, revealing nuanced decisions likely to surprise viewers on either side of the great abortion divide. This challenging and unpredictable film seeks to shed more light – rather than more heat – on an issue that continues to split the nation. – TM

RUNNING FROM CRAZY 9:00 p.m.
The Hemingways have long been one of America's most notable families, from literary legend Ernest Hemingway to his famous model granddaughter Margaux and her sister, Academy Award®-nominated actress Mariel. Behind closed doors, however, the family has been plagued by mental illness, substance abuse and suicide, which seems to carry from one generation to the next. Two-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple explores this troubling legacy through the eyes of Mariel Hemingway, whose first-hand reflections add fascinating insight. – AP

THE NEW BLACK 9:30 p.m.
In this thought-provoking film, director Yoruba Richen examines how African-American voters have become bitterly divided on the issue of gay marriage because of homophobia rampant in one of the pillars of the African-American community – the church. Focusing on the fight for marriage equality in the state of Maryland, it examines the complex intertwined histories of gays and blacks and the idea that this hot-button issue is a matter of civil rights. – AP