Film and TV stars Melissa Benoist, Matthew Gray Gubler, “Harry Potter” alum Timothy Spall, Eric Christian Olsen and more are headed to the American-Canadian border for the inaugural St. Lawrence International Film Festival.
Situated in the St. Lawrence River Valley, the event will feature competitive screenings, galas and panels over four days from October 22-25.
“We’re thrilled to be bringing such extraordinary independent film from all over the world, offering our audiences so many North American and U.S. premieres,” said Bears Fonte, director of programming.
Benoist and Gubler star with Hannibal Buress in “Band of Robbers,” which will have its marquee screening at the fest — a modern comedic take on Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn characters.
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” star Michael Nyqvist will also screen his period costume drama ‘The Girl King.”
Notable panels include “SYNC: Music in Film and Film Music,” which will feature Joe Kraemer, composer for “Jack Reacher” and this summer’s hit “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.”
The festival’s opening night will be a 35th anniversary screening of “The Blues Brothers,” followed by an honor for its star Dan Aykroyd,
Read the full competitive lineup:
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
THE GIRL KING (Northeast Premiere), Finland/Sweden/Germany/Canada
Writer: Michel Marc Bouchard
Director: Mika Kaurismäki
Cast: Malin Buska, Sarah Gadon, Michael Nyqvist, Lucas Bryant, and Laura Brin
Synopsis: A beautifully shot period costume drama, this Finnish-Swedish-German-Canadian co-production presents a fresh cinematic portrait of Kristina of Sweden, crowned queen at the age of six in 1633 and who sought to make Stockholm the Athens of the North. Kristina’s reign becomes troubled when the nobles turn against her, her ‘modern’ ideas and her intimate relationship with her female lady in waiting and ‘bed-fellow.’ Canadian screenwriter and playwright Michel Marc Bouchard (Tom at the Farm) makes his English language debut.
KILLING POE (World Premiere), USA
Writer/Director: Nathan Jacobs
Co-Writer: Chris L. Firestone
Cast: Matt Bush, Osric Chau, Julianna Guill, Cyrina Fiallo, and Sunkrish Bala
Five college students find themselves failing the most infuriating class ever, and vow to take their revenge on the teacher, inspired by the plots of the Poe stores they have studied in his class. A comedy with a macabre edge, this ‘simple plan’ that spirals out of control features an ensemble of up and coming actors that capture the face of the modern college experience.
SUCKER (North American Premiere), Australia
Writer/Director: Ben Chessell
Co-Writer: Lawrence Leung
Cast: Timothy Spall, Lily Sullivan, Jacek Koman, Jacinta Stapleton, and Eddie Baroo
Chinese-Australian Lawrence disappoints his family by cheating on his math exams, and failing to get into medical school. Banished to Melbourne for the summer, he falls in with a new family, a father-daughter con team, and they plot to swindle their way through the top poker game in town. The film stars Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series, Sweeney Todd) and was co-written by Comedian Lawrence Leung from his own life and one-man show.
THE VIOLATORS (North American Premiere), UK
Writer/Director: Helen Walsh
Cast: Lauren McQueen, Borgan Ellis, Stephen Lord, Liam Ainsworth, and Derek Barr
This gritty debut from acclaimed novelist Helen Walsh set amongst the industrial wasteland housing estates of northwest England follows two teen girls from radically different backgrounds who strike up a strange friendship, one based on jealousy, cynicism and deceit. They face the harsh world of adults together, but their struggle will leave one of them shattered, and the other re-born.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
AUDITION (East Coast Premiere) USA
Director: Matt Herron
Cast: Paige Spara, Lolita Foster, Jess Brown, Erica Camarano, and Margaret Keane Williams
Two Roles, 100 hundred actors. Over several grueling days, a romance plays out as 100 actors audition for the chance to be MAN or WOMAN, all but two gradually eliminated based on the strength of their performances. As they advance toward a terrifying final scene, the audience witnesses both the behind-the-scenes drama of the audition process, as well as a polished edit of the film using a combination of the best performances.
THE BOLIVIAN CASE (US Premiere) Bolivia/USA/Australia/Colombia
Director: Violeta Ayala
Cast: Oskar Rittun Jenson
Three Norwegian teenage girls end up in Bolivian prison after trying to smuggle 22 kg of cocaine out of the country. Playing out like an international episode of Law & Order, the film follows the girls, some of whom successfully escape the country, and the fallout back in Norway where the case makes daily headlines. Violeta Ayala’s controversial documentary STOLEN premiered at TIFF in 2009.
THE SEX TEMPLE (North American Premiere), Sweden
Director: Johan Palmgren
With a centuries old theater falling on hard times, and a swingers club burning to the ground, two liberal-minded businessmen make an unlikely partnership. But with the sex club moving into the theater basement, and the theater staging Moulin-Rouge-style LGBT Burlesque shows, the middle-class minded town of Norrkoping, Sweden turns against them and their ‘depravity.’
TREE MAN (US Premiere), USA
Directors: Jon Reiner, Brad Rothschild
Every winter, Francois leaves his wife and three children in Canada to sell Christmas trees on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and live in his van parked on the street. A New Yorker for five weeks a year, and a part of many families’ holiday traditions, Francois takes us through the economics, loneliness, and freezing temperatures of life as an itinerant Tree Man.
MARQUEE SCREENINGS (In Brockville, ON):
BAND OF ROBBERS (Ontario Premiere), USA
Writer/Directors: Aaron and Adam Nee
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Adam Nee, Matthew Gray Gubler, Melissa Benoist, Stephen Lang, Eric Christian Olsen, Johnny Pemberton, and Beth Grant
In a reimagining of the classic Mark Twain novels, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are adults in the modern world, still searching for Injun Joe’s hidden treasure. With Kyle Gallner (Smallville, Veronica Mars) and Adam Nee (Drunk History) as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, also starring Hannibal Buress, Johnny Pemberton, Stephen Lang, and Creed Bratton.
THE LOST WORLD (Canadian Premiere), USA
Writer: Marion Fairfax
Director: Harry O. Hoyt
Cast: Bessie Love, Lewis Stone, Wallace Beery, Lloyd Hughes, and Alma Bennett
*With live score from the Andrew Alden Ensemble
The original special effects dinosaur film from 1925, based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel, returns to the big screen with a new live score composed by Andrew Alden for his contemporary and electronic chamber music group from Rochester, NY. Their music combines the influence of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, David Lang, Radiohead, Velvet Underground and Krzysvtof Penderecki to create beautiful and haunting landscapes. This will be the Andrew Alden Ensemble’s first performance in Canada.
In 1998, the film was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN (Canadian Premiere), Ireland
Writer/Director: Patrick Ryan
Cast: Emma Eliza Regan, Emma Willis, Brian Gleeson, and Sam Monaghan
In this contemporary western set in the Irish countryside, Cleo, a troubled teen who also happens to be a hell of a shot, seeks to avenge the death of her sister. Unbeknownst to her, her best and only friend Robin is the murderer she has sworn to kill.
MARQUEE SCREENINGS (In Potsdam, NY):
FOR THE LOVE OF THE MAMBO (East Coast Premiere), USA
Director: Marsha Baxter (in attendance)
Cast: John ‘Dandy’ Rodriguez, Mitch Frohman, and Jose Madera
*Followed by a live performance featuring Mambo Legends Orchestra leaders John ‘Dandy’ Rodriguez, Mitch Frohman and Jose Madera, each who spent over 25 years working with Tito Puente.The Mambo Legends Orchestra, filled with musicians who night after night shared the bandstand with the late great Tito Puente, pass this intricate rhythm on to the next generation of musicians. Working with the Latin Ensemble from SUNY Potsdam’s own Crane School of Music, these music luminaries share the history and aesthetics of this treasured art form derived from Cuba that literally translates as “conversation with the gods.”
The St. Lawrence International Film Festival will also have a variety of panels over the weekend including SUBMISSION: Filmmakers and the Festival Circuit and the NY LOVES FILM Roundtable. Highlights include:
SYNC: Music in Film and Film Music
Featuring Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Jack Reacher composer Joe Kraemer and composer and music licenser Tony Verderosa.
Music supports the visual story in a way no one can underestimate. How do composers decide the pallet to build their themes on? What moments need music? If going after prerecorded music, how do you select it? How do you track down the rights and negotiate for it? How do score and source music work together?
Joe Kraemer will also be teaching a MASTER CLASS in composition open to pass holders and SUNY Potsdam students.
COMEDY IN THE STREAM: Digital Shorts and the New Media of Laughter
Featuring Drew Droege (known for his online Chloe Sevigny impersonations, Glitter in the Garbage, Not Looking), Adam Nee (Drunk History, Clark Kent Has a Dream) and Sara Fletcher (actress in 50+ web series or one-offs including work with the Fine Brothers, Simple Pick Up, and Secret Girlfriend, which went from cellphone series to web series to Comedy Central).Comedy consumption has irrevocably changed and ideas now only have a few minutes to stand out in the onslaught of online content. Hear from pros from either side of the camera about being funny in the digitally dominated domain .
Strategically located at the center of the St. Lawrence River Valley with events in Ottawa and Brockville, ON and Canton and Potsdam, NY, St. Lawrence International Film Festival is a first-of-its-kind celebration of film, with related events on both sides of the international border between the US and Canada.
A limited number of All-Access VIP Passes for the Festival weekend include guaranteed seating for the Opening Gala screening and reception, as well as admission to all Festival screenings, panel discussions, parties and VIP lounge. Passes are available through the Festival website www.stlawrencefilm.com.