Kimball's Twin Peak, Friday, April 24, 7 p.m.
This accomplished 13-minute short, written and directed by Britain's Chris Jones, has audience-pleaser written all over it. Gone Fishing serves up a sweet and gentle story about an old man (Bill Paterson) and boy (James Wilson) who bond over fish tales as they come to deal with death. Tagging along at a funeral, the boy begs to be told the legend of "Goliath," a giant duck-devouring pike. As the tale unfolds, the action moves to the lake, where the battle between man and fish builds. The actors masterfully inhabit their characters, the rich cinematography glows, and the feel-good finale couldn't be any better. Jones, who is also author of The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook, evidently took his own advice here, because the film is a winner — it's earned awards across the country and internationally.
Kimball's Twin Peak, Friday, April 24, following Gone Fishing
This lusty little fairy tale from German director Veit Helmer is set in the fictional and fairly backward village of Absurdistan, where the women work around the clock and the men spend their days dawdling and their nights prowling. When the town's water pipe fails, the men remain uninterested in repairing it and the village grows grimier, until the women go on a sex strike. In the midst of this gender war, an adolescent couple, Aya and Temelko (played with charm by the young actors), battle poor timing as they yearn to consummate their relationship. With the town's vintage look and a story told primarily through subtitled narration, Absurdistan captures the feeling of an old silent film. The plot is a little lightweight to sustain a full-length feature, but if you're looking for breezy and slightly bawdy opening-night viewing, this could be your ticket.
Lon Chaney Theater, Saturday, April 25, 1:45 p.m.
It may take almost as long to read this review as it takes to watch Eel Girl — a six-minute, award-winning short written and directed by Paul Campion — but the well-made movie packs a punch that's worth a mention. The tale, a sci-fi/horror combo from New Zealand, tells the story of a humanoid hottie with webbed hands who is being studied at a naval science facility. When one of the middle-aged lab workers gets a little too interested in the slippery test subject, the research goes awry with shocking and funny results. Whether or not you like eel, check out this flick with its foreboding atmosphere, straightforward storytelling and convincing special effects, for a satisfying cinematic snack.
Between the Folds
Kimball's Twin Peak, Saturday, April 25, 2 p.m.
Here's one that the festival selection committee admits it kept moving to the bottom of the screening stack. Why? It's a 56-minute film about folding paper. But while Between the Folds may sound as exciting as a tollbooth operator's Twitter account, the fascinating film proves that the best gifts come in plain packages. As viewers meet 10 artists, mathematicians and scientists, each raises the "wow factor" with his paper works. Crafting hedgehogs, dragons and centipedes from a single sheet evolves into mathematical models and scientific theories that will twist your ideas of what's possible. The film's final subject, Erik Demaine, who became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at age 20, recently won the MacArthur "Genius" Award for his computational origami. You'll never see a sheet of paper in the same way again.
The Music Lesson
Kimball's Twin Peak, Sunday, April 26, 3:15 p.m.
The Music Lesson, a feature-length documentary, follows a group of privileged teens from the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra as they travel to Africa to swap music with a group of students in Laikipia, Kenya. What begins in awkwardness builds into friendship, as the two groups of young people reach across the chasm of cultural differences with their instruments, voices and dancing. The upbeat film captures their experiences in skillful sequences that show the students stretching on both sides as they learn about themselves, each other and the music that links them in a disconnected world.