Well, film enthusiasts, we find ourselves once more in one of those busy weeks wherein the local alternative cinema scene is bursting at the seams with opportunities to catch an amazing assortment of features on the big screen.
Besides the local premiere of Savannah Arts Academy graduate Lily Keber's full-length directorial debut at the Jepson (read more here), there are a whopping five movies being shown over the next seven days in special, one-show-only engagements at venues besides our area's mainstream multiplexes.
Dec. 19 at the Sentient Bean, Occupy Savannah presents the 2011 documentary "The Harvest" aka "La Cosecha."
Produced by actress (and "Desperate Housewife") Eva Longoria and directed by the late U. Roberto Romano (who also co-directed the well-regarded 2010 doc "The Dark Side of Chocolate," about the benefits the chocolate industry receives from both human trafficking and child labor on the Ivory Coast, "La Cosecha" follows the lives of three young people as they struggle to support their families through migrant farm work in nomadic, precarious and often inhumane conditions which clearly stunt these hard-toiling young people's childhood development and opportunities.
By exposing the harsh realities faced by many of the people who collect most of the produce we consume in the U.S., this indie film (which earned a handful of awards at film festivals) shines a provocative - and at times heart-wrenching - light on the actual sources of our seemingly abundant and ever-present agriculture. Sources which are quite often children without the benefits of a minimum wage, overtime pay and limits on how long they can work in a day - not to mention exposure to dangerous levels of pesticides during their bodies' most vulnerable formative years.
Viewers who assume incorrectly that such job descriptions are illegal and unheard of in the U.S. may find this film an eye-opening (if dispiriting) experience.
Showtime is 7 p.m., and admission is free.
Speaking of free movies, on Dec. 21, the good folks at SCAD's Trustees Theater are opening their doors for a triple-feature of Christmas-related films, and the public is encouraged to bring a food donation for admission.
First up, at 11 a.m. is the animated 1983 Walt Disney classic "Mickey's Christmas Carol," which was the first original Mickey Mouse cartoon that had been made in more than 30 years.
Nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar, it's an adaptation of Charles Dickens' beloved 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol," and along with Mickey Mouse as beleagured worker Bob Cratchit, the 25-minute short features a veritable who's who of iconic Disney animated characters in supporting roles, including Scrooge McDuck as (of course) Ebenezer Scrooge.
From 1-3 p.m., Santa Claus will be on hand to pass out sticker books and paint-by-numbers kits for kids before the second film, DreamWorks Studios' 2012 computer-animated, full-length 3D feature "Rise of the Guardians." Co-executive produced by Guillermo Del Toro ("The Orphanage," "Mimic"), it's a fantasy that finds Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman joining forces with Jack Frost to try and stop an evil villain named Pitch Black from engulfing the world in darkness. Featuring voice acting by Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law, this family-oriented movie received a Golden Globe nod for Best Animated Feature Film of the year.
Closing out this cinematic marathon will be a rare public screening of the 1944 MGM musical "Meet Me in St. Louis," starring Judy Garland ("The Wizard of Oz"), Margaret O'Brien ("Little Women"), Mary Astor ("Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte") and June Lockhart (TV's "Lost In Space"). The second-highest grossing film of its year of release, it features the debut of the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which would soon become not only a smash hit but a perennial holiday favorite.
Set in Missouri against the backdrop of the 1904 World's Fair, it's a romantic dramedy (aren't all Hollywood musicals of that time period?) that finds Garland playing the young Esther, who's madly in love with a neighbor boy, and disappointed to learn her entire family is unexpectedly relocating to New York, which threatens to not only derail her romantic intentions, but prevent them from attending the World's Fair, as well. I'll let you all guess how this whole mess turns out.
A phenomenal critical and commercial hit that received seven Oscar nods, it's known as one of the most beautifully staged and photographed feature films of its time.
Less than a decade ago, esteemed film critic and historian Richard Schickel named it one of Time Magazine's 100 All-Time Best Films, calling it "the greatest of American movie musicals."
Showtime for "Meet Me in St. Louis" is 7 p.m., and get this: Trustees will be giving away free popcorn and soft drinks at all three shows that day.
How cool is that?
Now, for those of you who are more "humbug" than "eggnog," Dec. 23 finds the Psychotronic Film Society shifting their usual Wednesday night Sentient Bean screening back a few nights to celebrate the darker side of the holidays with one of the least-known horror films of the '80s, British director-star Edmund Purdom's unfairly forgotten Yuletide-themed slasher flick from 1984, "Don't Open Till Christmas."
A guilty pleasure for devotees of both obscure Christmas films and low-budget "trash cinema," this strange, clunky, yet somehow endearing slice of Santa-sploitation (yes, that's a real, if very limited genre) concerns a series of brutal slayings which terrorize Londoners at Christmastime. People dressed as Santa are being killed, seemingly at random, by a masked murderer, and several detectives go undercover as Santa to try and trap the twisted miscreant. Featuring a cameo appearance by famed "scream queen" Caroline Munro ("Stella Starcrash") and produced by the creative team behind the 1982 Italian chainsaw riot "Pieces," it's the perfect mix of Christmas cheer and Psychotronic sensibilities.
Showtime is 8 p.m., with $6 admission for mature audiences only. See you at the movies, and don't forget to turn off that cellphone.
Jim Reed directs the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Read more at www.filmsavannah.com.