ReFocus Film Festival
Thursday – Sunday 6 – 9 October, various locations, 12-230 dollars
With the start of single ticket purchases fast approaching, FilmScene has announced its movie lineup Inaugural Refocus Film Festival, which runs October 6-9 through Iowa City. (Ticket sale Starts on September 16th; Tickets are on sale now and range from $65 public/$60 members for five shows to $230/195 all.)
Refocus capitalizes on Iowa’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature to celebrate adaptation and transformation. All the works shown during the festival are in some way drawn from previous art or in conversation with it in a different medium.
“We want to showcase the best films from diverse voices,” Ben Delgado, Director of Programming at FilmScene, said of the selection process in an email, “We want to showcase the best films from diverse voices.” Discoveries and films from well-known masters make the festival experience all-encompassing.”
Director Charlie Shackleton after light (2021) is a great example of the transformative process. It doesn’t pull from a single source, but rather compiles archival footage of now-deceased individuals from hundreds of different films. It only exists as a single 35mm print, expected to deteriorate as it rounds and is watched over and over again, echoing the fate of the subjects in the stories it tells.
“[Shackleton] Andrew Sherburne, CEO of FilmScene, said in an email, naming after light As a personal film, most awaited by the festival. He noted that there is only one version, “If you’re in Iowa City, and you don’t see it at the festival, you probably never will.”
also experimental, In the morning you wake up (to the end of the world) Incorporates audio testimonials, spoken word and immersive score into the 2018 Ballistic Missile Threat Virtual Reality experience in Hawaii. and in framing agnesdirector Chase Joint and an all-transgender team take 1950s case files from the UCLA Sexual Health Clinic and turn them into a compelling talk show format.
In the world of literary adaptations, the festival schedule includes one thousand (dir. Iva Radivojevic, 2021), loosely based on “The Aleph”, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. The last and first man (Der. Jóhann Jóhannsson, 2020), based on a 1930s cult science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, appeared on the festival circuit just before the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping it off American screens until recently. Meet me in the bathroom (2022), from directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, interprets the indie rock scene of the early 2000s, as detailed in Lizzie Goodman’s 2017 book of the same name. Hold me tight (2021, dir. Matthew Amalric) provides a quote from the play Je reviens de loin by Claudine Gallia.
In addition to the films of the past two years, the refocus will also feature a few new releases, including 1992 Orlando and 1951 A miracle in Milan.
“The festival is of course a showcase for completely new work, but it is also a place to rediscover classics, especially when they are so beautifully restored,” Delgado said. “In some cases, these are movies that were not fully appreciated in their initial release or were only available with poor transmission at all until very recently.”
Although FilmScene did not solicit bids this year, “there is an atmosphere and energy to the festival that has motivated the filmmakers to get into their work,” Delgado said. “We were pleased to see this positive response and to take everything into consideration for future iterations, including being open to submissions.”
There are also no world premieres at this festival—although “all films are premiering in the region,” Delgado said—but there is only one movie they are showing as Storybook. It’s a “secret demo” of a new children’s cartoon feature for 2022, which is being shown in Refocus before its official US premiere. There’s not much the team can reveal, but they do offer the following as part of their official description: “Sweet without being drunk, this film is clever, merry in a charming European city and drenched in art as a reflection of the hopes and dreams of its creators.”
“I think we have an incredibly eclectic squad,” Delgado said. “And I’m excited for people to see it all! But if I had to pick one, I’d say Sanson and me It’s what I like the most for people to see. He plays with form and has a unique vision of adaptation using messages, conversations, songs and poetry along with reenactments of memories to tell a very important and very personal story about the immigrant experience in this country. Director Rodrigo Reyes will be at the festival to talk about the film, and I know people will ask him a lot of questions after watching it. And if I can cheat and add another one, I’ll say Rewind and play A must watch, especially for jazz lovers.”
See the full lineup at Festival site.