Got your tickets yet for the upcoming SCAD Savannah Film Festival? If not, I suggest you peruse the full schedule (which is online now) and do your best to grab seats to some of the myriad of outstanding specialty screenings and sneak previews of as-yet-unreleased feature films from around the world — not to mention the cavalcade of short subjects and student work from across the globe. Tickets are going fast.
Any self-respecting movie fanatic won’t want to miss this 21st installment of the internationally recognized, juried festival, which has of late showcased a good number of titles that have gone on to nab major awards, including Golden Globes and Oscars. The area’s biggest and most impressive celluloid shindig runs from Oct. 27 through Nov, 3 at a number of venues downtown. Find our more at filmfest.scad.edu.
'Smallfoot' in Springfield
Looking ahead to the next seven days’ worth of alternative and independent cinema events taking place around the greater Savannah area, we begin out in Effingham County in nearby Springfield, where their restored, historic, single-screen room kicks off a five-day engagement of “Smallfoot,” the new family-oriented flick from the Warner Animation Group. A hit at the box office that has garnered solidly positive reviews for this sort of picture, it features the vocal talents of Common, Danny DeVito, LeBron James, Channing Tatum, Gina Rodriguez and James Corden, and is the tale of a group of Abominable Snowmen (or Snowpeople, if you wanna be more sensitive about it) living in the mountains of Nepal who come across a group of human beings.
All the participants’ minds are then collectively blown by this encounter, as both groups of animals believed the other was little more than a myth. Did I mention it’s a musical? Of course it is. 7 p.m. shows Oct. 18-20 and 25, with a 3 p.m. matinee Oct. 21. Admission prices to all Film Scene events can be found in the accompanying sidebar listings.
Students take on 'Star Wars'
Heading downtown, on Oct. 19, the Lucas Theatre offers hardcore area “Star Wars” fans (as well as folks who are just plain interested in impressive, low-budget student-made films) an amazing opportunity: they can be the very first people in the country to see the soon-to-be-released 12-minute short film “Odyssey — A Star Wars Story” days before it hits the web (where it is a highly anticipated entry into the small number of sanctioned, fan-made films taking place within the “Star Wars” universe). Not only will you get to see this ambitious homage to one of the most successful film franchises in history with the filmmakers in attendance and be privy to all sorts of behind-the-scenes material and discussion, you’ll also get to see it on the really big screen of this restored, 1926 movie palace.
“Odyssey” was made by a team of overachieving SCAD film and TV majors, some of whom (such as director Mark Alex Vogt) have been making and publicly releasing similarly ambitious, quasi-professional shorts in a variety of genres since they were in high school. Described by the director as heavily influenced by both the “Star Wars” saga as well as the intensely realistic WWII drama “Saving Private Ryan,” the movie was funded through Kickstarter and focuses on a six-man reconnaissance squad of Rebel Forces who must battle Imperial Stormtroopers in a grueling ground combat. Pretty cool, huh? Admission is free to all for this 4 p.m. event, which runs an hour in total.
Opera, theater, zombies
Now, heading out to the Southside, the Regal Stadium 10 multiplex behind the Savannah Mall is offering three specialty screenings in this upcoming week, all courtesy of Fathom Events.
First up, at 12:55 p.m. Oct. 20 is a high-def live digital simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera of their new stage production of Saint-Saëns’s 1877 French-language opera “Samson et Dalila,” starring Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna in the respective title roles. A French-language production in three acts, this epic adaptation of a beloved biblical tale was directed by Tony Award-winner Darko Tresnjak and conducted by Sir Mark Elder, and marks the first time in two decades that the Met has attempted this particular show. The production runs three-and-a-half hours in length, and will be screened with English subtitles for those who are not fluent in spoken French. Can’t make this live simulcast? The performance will be shown once more, as an encore, at 1 p.m. Oct. 24.
Their second piece of specialty programming is two encore presentations of one of Great Britain’s National Theatre Company’s most popular high-def films of one of its most popular stage plays: their critically praised production of “Frankenstein,” directed by filmmaker Danny Boyle of “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire” fame. Back in 2011, they shot two different live performances of this theatrical run for posterity, both of which sold massive amounts of tickets worldwide when shown in cinemas. Now, they are bringing them both back to face off once more.
The first, on Oct. 22, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Frankenstein monster and Jonny Lee Miller as the doctor who created him. Then, a week later, on Oct. 29, they’ll show the second version, in which those lead actors swap roles! Which one makes a better mad scientist and which one makes a better reanimated creature? See them both and you be the judge. 7 p.m. showtime each night.
Fathom’s third event this week is a special two-night run of the recently restored and remastered version of pioneering horror filmmaker George A. Romero’s landmark 1968 fright film “Night of the Living Dead,” which is completely responsible for creating the entire modern-day zombie apocalypse genre and media industry. Though its thematic impact on the movie, TV, book and comic book world has never been underestimated, the sad truth is that its technical quality has often been overlooked or denigrated. That’s because a mistake in the film’s copyright registration led to the market being flooded with poor-quality 16mm prints and videotape dubs of the film for decades.
That’s how most folks grew up seeing this movie: blurry, washed-out and with a soundtrack that was equal parts hiss and muffled dialogue. However, in truth, the film was outstandingly well-shot, lit and recorded. It’s just that the original 35mm camera negatives and audio elements had been tucked away for almost 50 years before Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and the George Lucas Family Foundation partnered with the Museum of Modern Art to painstakingly restore the film to a crisp, vivid presentation. Those who helped make the film a half-century ago swear this version looks and sounds better than the very first print ever made and shown at its theatrical premiere. Don’t believe them? Check it out at the Regal on either Oct. 24 or 25, where it will screen twice each night, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Moving back downtown, on Oct. 24, the Psychotronic Film Society’s weekly Wednesday night series (15 years and counting!) of underappreciated feature films from around the globe continues in the cozy, screening room environment of The Sentient Bean coffeehouse on Forsyth Park. This time around, the organization pays tribute to the late, great leading man and character actor Klaus Kinski, who died in 1991 at the age of 65 and would have been 92 this year.
Just a few days away from his actual birthday, the PFS will offer a very rare public showing of one of the notoriously controversial and emotionally tormented actor’s least-known movie roles. The exact title of the feature they’ll screen remains a closely guarded secret right up until showtime, but it can be said it’s a film that’s both intense and quite hard to easily categorize — much like Kinski himself, who made his name and reputation in over 120 motion pictures, including “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” “Fitzcarraldo,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and the 1979 color remake of “Nosferatu the Vampyre.” Adventurous movie lovers are encouraged to take a chance, buy a ticket and be pleasantly surprised at the unorthodox selection. 8 p.m. showtime, with a full vegetarian dinner menu available, and discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the movie.
The next night, at 6 p.m. Oct. 25, the Jewish Educational Alliance on Abercorn Street hosts a special screening of “The Family I Had,” a critically acclaimed documentary that was featured at 2017’s prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. The doc offers a portrait of Charity Lee, the founder and executive director of the ELLA Foundation, a Savannah-based nonprofit created to assist those adversely affected by mental illness, violence and the limitations and problems associated with our country’s criminal justice system.
This foundation serves as an advocate for those dealing with trauma, as well as those suffering with mental and/or emotional difficulties and who have been incarcerated. After the film is shown, Lee, who is a certified anger management specialist among other things, will be on hand to moderate a discussion about dealing with family trauma in positive, helpful ways. The screening serves as the official Savannah premiere of the film, and is open to all. Tickets will be sold at the door, but they can be ordered in advance online for a discount at ellafound.org.
'Ghost' on Tybee
And finally, heading out to Tybee Island, at 7 p.m. that same night, the Tybee Post Theater’s “Girls Night Out” series of weepy tearjerkers continues with the 1990 romantic fantasy film “Ghost,” starring Demi Moore as a woman whose husband (played by Patrick Swayze) is killed by a robber and instantly becomes… wait for it… a ghost. Not much more needs to be said about this insanely popular movie, right? I mean, Tony Goldwyn co-stars in it (long before he was cast as the POTUS on TV”s “Scandal”) and Whoopi Goldberg is in there, too, back when she was romantically involved with Ted Danson (whose career she nearly ended soon thereafter when she encouraged him to dress up in blackface and eat watermelon at her own Celebrity Roast).
Listen, if this is your kind of movie, you’ve probably seen it dozens of times, but perhaps never before on the big screen. Admission to the film includes your choice of a drink (hard or soft), and for an extra fee, you can make a reservation in advance for a special package that includes dinner before the film at an upscale Tybee restaurant just a few blocks away from the theater. Head to tybeeposttheater.com for more info on how to get in on that deal.
Until next issue, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.
IF YOU GO
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 18-20 and Oct. 25; 3 p.m. Oct. 21
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 S. Laurel St., Springfield
What: “Odyssey — A Star Wars Story”
When: 4 p.m. Oct. 19
Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
What: The Met Live in HD "Samson et Dalila”
When: 12:55 p.m. Oct. 20 and 1 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: Regal Stadium 10
What: National Theatre Live "Frankenstein”
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 22 & 29
Where: Regal Stadium 10
What: “Night of the Living Dead”
When: 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Oct. 24 -25
Where: Regal Stadium 10
What: Klaus Kinski 92nd birthday screening
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
What: “The Family I Had”
When: 6 p.m. Oct. 25
Where: Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 25
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.