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Front Page - Friday, March 27, 2015

River City Roundabout

Chattanooga Film Festival returns April 2-5

It’s amazing how the Chattanooga Film Festival was hatched fully formed. Christopher Dortch and company didn’t need two or three years of awkward B-flick programming to work out the kinks and gain traction. Right from the start, the festival offered bold and surprising selections: the French tone poem “Mood Indigo,” screened months before its global release, “Cheap Thrills,” with actor Pat Healy in attendance, and the action extravaganza “The Raid 2,” also secured before its international debut, were just a few of the cinematic gems that graced the screens of The Majestic over four glorious days.

Even better: the organizers pulled it off without a hitch. They displayed not only deep knowledge and love of film, but also a knack for organizing and executing a large, complex event.

Now, one very quick year later, the festival is back to show reel two. Taking place at the Majestic April 2 through 5, the Chattanooga Film Festival will once again offer a smorgasbord of cinematic goodness. However, to the surprise of at least one fan, they’ve changed a few things.

The big difference is in how the organizers are pricing the festival. Instead of offering multiple badges providing varying degrees of access, they’re offering just one badge, an all-encompassing VIP pass that provides access to every film, panel, party, and workshop. If the Death Star were a film festival badge, it would be this one.

Now, if you don’t have $300 to throw at the festival, you’re not out of luck because the festival is also selling tickets to individual movies, with each ticket costing $10.

I’m not completely sold on the idea, though, and here’s why: Last year, I purchased the Death Star pass and all but lived at the festival for four days. I saw several movies I otherwise wouldn’t have seen, as I wanted to get the most out of my badge, and my film festival experience was richer for it. I could have also purchased the less expensive pass that still provided access to all of the screenings but none of the panels, parties, and workshops.

That was my game plan going into this year, but since that pass is no longer available, I’ll be purchasing tickets to individual screenings. Unfortunately, this means I’ll be more selective, take fewer risks, and see fewer films – even though the festival is showing a larger selection of movies this year.

I can see the thinking behind the change – charging for each movie individually could bring in people who might be interested in catching just one or two films – but I’m going to miss the all-access pass.

Actually, I’m going to really miss it because this year’s film’s look even better than last year’s. From documentaries like “Sunshine Superman” and animated movies like “Song of the Sea,” to buzz-worthy upcoming releases like “It Follows” and imaginative foreign films like “Hard to be a God,” the festival is leaving no cinematic stone unturned.

Stargazers can also expect a few treats, including an actor’s workshop with Healy and a presentation by none other than Joe Bob Briggs titled “The South in Film.”

Here are some the films that caught my eye. To see what else will be showing, go to chattanoogafilmfest.com.


One man alone inside a haunted house over the course of one night. I am so there.

The Keeping Room

Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women – including two sisters and one African-American slave – must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.


An idyllic Christmas holiday turns deadly when best friends Holly, Cali, and Mel break into a local mansion they believe to be unoccupied. But they quickly realize they’re not alone in the house, and in a moment of panic become embroiled in a grisly murder. The three girls then self-destruct as they try to figure out what to do with the dead body in the living room.

Gameloading: Rise of the Indies

A feature documentary exploring the world of indie game developers, and how they have changed the games culture.

The World of Kanako

Akikazu Fujishima is far from the perfect family man; in fact he’s a schizophrenic alcoholic who quit his job as a detective. But when his daughter Kanako goes missing, Fujishima begins a quest to find her. Fantastic Fest called this film “a brutal and shocking thriller.”

It Follows

For 19-year-old Jay, autumn should be about school, boys, and weekends at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone – or something – is following her.

The Tribe

Presented entirely in sign language with no subtitles, “The Tribe” is set in a boarding school for deaf children, where a new arrival is drawn into organized crime involving robbery and prostitution. Proving the power cinema has to tell a story visually, “The Tribe” sounds (no pun intended) like one of the must-see movies of the festival.

Call Me Lucky

“Call Me Lucky” tells the story of Barry Crimmins, a beer-swilling, politically outspoken, and whip-smart comic whose efforts in the ’70s and ’80s fostered the talents of the next generation of standup comedians. But beneath Crimmins’ gruff, hard-drinking, curmudgeonly persona lies an undercurrent of rage stemming from his long-suppressed and horrific abuse as a child. Premiered at Sundance to rave reviews.

My Life

Liz Corfixen, wife of Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”), documented her husband’s efforts to live up to his previous successful film with “Only God Forgives,” which was shot in Bangkok. More than shining a spotlight on Refn’s process, the film shows how anxiety and pressure left the director depressed and disheartened.

These Final Hours

A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth, but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. Their relationship ultimately leads him on the path to redemption.