Sarasota Film Festival 2009 Preview

The 2009 Sarasota Film Festival starts tomorrow, March 27 and runs through Sunday, April 5.  Here are the films and shorts I’m going to watch in the order I plan to see them:

Shorts 1 (for “I Am So Proud of You”) : A lonely stick-figure, Bill, experiences life at its most bittersweet, humiliating, glorious, and sad. Directed by Don Hertzfeld, creator of “Everything is Going to Be OK”, “The Meaning of Life”, and “Rejected”. (reviews)

Tokyo Sonata : The story of a family on the ropes; when Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) discovers his job has been outsourced to China, he begins an elaborate charade to keep up familial appearances. But he's not the only one with a secret; his young son Kenji (Kai Inowaki) wants to become a classical pianist. How can the family find peace and still keep all of their dreams alive? Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

We Live in Public : Internet pioneer Josh Harris, founder of Pseudo.com, one of the first online media companies, never saw himself as a dot-com tycoon. Instead, Harris used his growing fortune to explore the artistic implications of emerging technology, creating two prescient projects that would come to shape the future of the Internet forever. Directed by Ondi Timoner.

Shorts 5 (for “Treevenge”) : Fans of B horror films rejoice: the trees are angry, and they want revenge! Directed by Jason Eisener.

Examined Life : How can philosophy answer the ethical concerns that dominate our times? Interviewing some of the most profound thinkers of our times, director Astra Taylor explores a wide range of issues, from the ethics of consumption and ecology to the questioning of the limitations of the physical body in determining our identities. Interviewees: Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Slavoj Žižek, and Judith Butler.
Treeless Mountain : Jin, a carefree elementary school student in Seoul, South Korea, is the older sister of Bin, a precocious toddler who follows her sister’s every cue and direction. When they and their mother are evicted from the family apartment, the girls are left with their reluctant aunt, a small town hustler whose resentment of the girls is matched only by her negligence. Directed by So Yong Kim.
Trust Us, This is All Made Up : Hailing from Chicago and the famous Second City comedy theater, TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi create absolutely hilarious hour-long improvisational pieces that are almost too polished to believe. The film features one of their wild and hysterical New York performances from beginning to end, and they promise, it’s improv, so it’s all made up. Directed by Alex Karpovsky. (review) (site)
And here are other films playing I’m interested in but can’t attend for one reason or another:

Kimjongilia : North Korean émigrés uncover the harrowing secrets of a closed country in their own words, and discuss the painful and traumatic division between North and South after the Korean War. Using images from North Korean films and propaganda, this explosive documentary examines the workings of the powerful machine that is the North Korean dictatorship. (trailer) (review)

The Missing Person : In a pitch-perfect interpretation of the classic private detective, Academy-Award nominated actor Michael Shannon plays John Rosow, a struggling alcoholic who is hired to tail a man on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles. Before long, Rosow realizes that he’s been deceived about the job and the identity of the man who he is following, and the new evidence chillingly evokes some of Rosow’s own demons. (trailer)

Old Partner : Documentary about the final days of a long, happy friendship between a South Korean rice farmer named Mr. Lee and his faithful ox. Under the watchful eye of his ever-present wife, Mr. Lee embarks on a daily journey to his small patch of land in his ox cart. Soon, as age catches up with the animal, Mr. and Mrs. Lee must confront the issue of mortality head-on; how could they continue on without the partner who has served them so well? (trailer)

Sorry, Thanks : Kira (Kenya Miles) is in between jobs and in between boyfriends when she has a one-night stand with Max (Wiley Wiggins). Max, who has a steady job and a steady relationship, recognizes his moral digression but can’t help viewing Kira as a much-needed spark. Kira and Max realize that they are still figuring it all out when it comes to love, and to their dreams. (trailer)

Stingray Sam : Sci-fi western rock-and-roll musical, a journey into a world of space travel, male cloning and comedy that borrows equally from John Ford’s The Searchers and the classic Flash Gordon serials of the 1940’s and 50’s. Watch as Sam and his partner The Quasar Kid span the galaxy in search of a kidnapped child! Thrill as Sam and Quasar battle the evil forces of Fredward! (trailer)

Winnebago Man : In the world of viral video, “Winnebago Man” Jack Rebney is the height of celebrity. Rebney’s disintegration into a torrent of expletives during a Winnebago corporate marketing shoot became famous when this footage was released and duplicated onto VHS. Rebney became an underground celebrity whose fame only took off further with the advent of the internet. Filmmaker Ben Steinbauer set out to find the real Jack Rebney and discovers that this living internet star was surprisingly difficult to uncover. (review)