Watch out for BIFF and Riverrun
Still from FACES PLACES
Still courtesy of Cohen Media Group
October might go down as the best month of 2018 for local film fans. Not only are there unique festivals like the Buffalo International Film Festival and the riverrun Global Film Series, but the Buffalo Film Seminars, Thursday Night Terrors, and Noir Essentials series are in full swing.
Buffalo International Film Festival
BIFF is the heavyweight champ of large-scale local film festivals, with a diverse lineup, four comfortable screening venues, and a smart staff of savvy vets. At press time, the schedule was not public, but interim executive director John Fink says the 2018 lineup is shaping up nicely. “For 2018 we’ve taken a lot of programing chances thanks in part to our largest call for entries ever,” he says. “This year you’ll find more local short programing, including a dedicated student film block; the world premiere of the anticipated, locally filmed Rainbow Bridge Motel; and our usual line-up of acclaimed films from top tier festivals like Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Hot Docs. This year we hope to deepen our commitment to community collaboration, education, and engagement amongst local makers and audiences.”
In 2017, BIFF held the local premiere of Marshall, the acclaimed Thurgood Marshall biopic shot in WNY. Fink calls that opportunity “an honor,” and an indicator that the festival always “pursues quality, highly anticipated works that highlight the great work our crews, performers, and film commission do every day.” Fink adds that BIFF is “programmed with the unique cultural fabric of Western New York in mind. We are the only film festival in the region to operate within city limits. Visiting filmmakers to come to know and enjoy the neighborhoods between our downtown venues and our North Buffalo venues.”
To learn more about ticketing options (including the $39.99 “Bison Pass”) and for a rundown of films, panels, and networking opportunities, visit buffalofilm.org.
Oct. 4-8 at the North Park Theatre, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Cente, Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, and Burchfield Penney Art Center; buffalofilm.org
riverrun Global Film Series: 2018 Mexican Cinema and Borders
The riverrun Global Film Series has become one of the area’s most unique and important cinematic events. Each year, the festival focuses on a different country, and 2018 sees Mexico in the spotlight. Curator Tanya Shilina-Conte says Mexico was an ideal choice: “In the present political climate of xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment, it seemed imperative to show that borders cannot and should not divide us. We are el pueblo unido, a people united. The rich cultural history of Mexico and Mexican cinema should be embraced as the perfect antidote to American anxieties about our Latino neighbors.”
Given Mexico’s stunning cinematic history, choosing a lineup is no easy task. Shilina-Conte, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, says a festival goal is “to provide a capsule glimpse into a particular cinematic tradition,” she says. “We usually try to focus on both canonical and contemporary productions. For canonical works, we are presenting two sections of restored classics, Time to Die by Arturo Ripstein and Two Monks by Juan Bustillo Oro.” Many of the selected films touch on the theme of borders and immigration.
Highlights also include a keynote talk on the history of Mexican Cinema by Ignacio Sánchez Prado, music, Mexican food, and a workshop for kids. “We deem it very important for our youngsters to learn more about our immediate neighbors and their rich cultural traditions,” Shilina-Conte says.
October 10-12 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.; globalfilmseries.wordpress.com
More noteworthy screenings
“The Mads from Mystery Science Theater 3000” Live
Mystery Science Theater 3000 stars Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu riff on a different film each night during two special appearances at the North Park Theatre. Longtime MST3K junkies know what to expect—a roast-style presentation of an enjoyably bad film. The evening will include a meet-and-greet, in which the duo will sign autographs and post for photos with fans.
7 p.m. on Oct. 9-10 at the North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org
Rocky Horror Picture Show Party and a Silent Film at the Riviera
A Riviera Theatre tradition returns in October, as The Rocky Horror Picture Show screens to a house of costumed fans. The evening also features the Eye Candy Burlesque Vixens and Ladies of Illusion. Earlier in the month, organist Nathan Avakian will accompany a silent film TBA.
Oct. 3: Mighty WurliTzer Concert and Silent Film (7:30 p.m.)
Oct. 26: Rocky Horror Picture Show Party (10 p.m.)
At the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org
Buffalo Film Seminars
The Buffalo Film Seminars series brings out the heavy international hitters in October: Akira Kurosawa (1950’s Rashomon), Pier Paolo Pasolini (1964’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew), Robert Bresson (1967’s Mouchette), Mike Hodges (1971’s Get Carter), and David Lynch (1980’s The Elephant Man).
Oct. 2: Rashomon
Oct. 9: The Gospel According to St. Matthew
Oct. 16: Mouchette
Oct. 23: Get Carter
Oct. 30: The Elephant Man
7 p.m. at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html
Roycroft Film Society—Faces Places
New Wave icon Agnes Varda’s 2017 documentary collaboration with photographer JR was quite deservingly nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the ninetieth Academy Awards. In the film, the duo visit small towns across France and meet an array of unique, memorable folks.
4 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com
Noir Essentials—The Man Who Wasn’t There
There’s no denying that 2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There is one of the strangest films made by Joel and Ethan Coen. It’s also one of the most fascinating, and a perfect pick for Noir Essentials. Billy Bob Thornton stars as melancholy barber, and the stellar supporting cast includes Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini, and Scarlett Johansson.
7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Dipson Eastern Hills Cinema, 4545 Transit Rd., Williamsville; dipsontheatres.com
Thursday Night Terrors—Scream and Return of the Living Dead
Wes Craven’s riff on horror cinema was a late addition to the Thursday Night Terrors lineup, and is a fitting choice for October. Plus, Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 zombie comedy makes its Terrors debut, just in time for Halloween. The popular film was followed by four sequels, but the original stands out as one of the cleverest zombie flicks in cinema.
Scream: 7:00 p.m. on on Oct. 11; Return of the Living Dead: 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors
Fathom Events: TCM Big Screen Classics and Studio Ghibli Fest
Turner Classic Movies presents Jimmy Stewart as an idealistic U.S. Senator in 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, while Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning animated fantasy, Spirited Away, is the latest Studio Ghibli Fest selection.
Oct. 14, 17: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Oct. 28, 29, 30: Spirited Away
Mr. Smith: 2 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 and 17; Spirited Away: Dubbed version: 12:55 p.m. on Oct. 28 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 30; subtitled version: 7 p.m. on Oct. 29; both films at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com
An American in Paris from London’s West End:
The Dipson Amherst Theatre presents a screening of London’s stage adaptation of the MGM musical.
12 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com
“Horrorfest” at the Screening Room
The lineup for “Horrorfest” at Amherst’s Screening Room is lengthy, so hit screeningroom.net for the full list of dates and times. But a couple to keep in mind include John Carpenter’s original Halloween, starting on Oct. 11, and Dario Argento’s 1977 chiller Suspiria, starting on Oct. 26. Interestingly a sequel to Halloween and a remake of Suspiria are both set to arrive in cinemas this fall.
The Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst; check screeningroom.net for dates and times
Old Chestnut Film Series—I Dream Too Much
The Old Chestnut Film Series salutes Henry Fonda this season, starting with his 1935 romantic comedy.
The series moves to a new location this for its latest season, the Museum of disABILITY History on Main Street.
7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main St.; oldchestnut.com
Fall Family Flicks—Goosebumps
In October, the Amherst Youth and Recreation Department Fall Family Flicks series features this Jack Black-starrer, based on the popular book series.
1:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Rd., Amherst; amherstyouthandrec.org
Twilight Tenth Anniversary
It seems hard to believe, but Twilight, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, was released a decade ago. Die-hard fans won’t want to miss this opportunity to see the Stephenie Meyer adaptation back on the big screen.
2 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 and 23 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com
The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra accompanies a screening of Tim Burton’s dual-holiday favorite.
7 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester; rpo.org
Freedonia Marxonia Festival
Each year, the Fredonia Opera House celebrates the work of the Marx Brothers with its Freedonia Marxonia Festival. On tap in 2018 is a screening of Horse Feathers on Oct. 4, followed on Oct. 5 by the live show An Evening With Groucho, starring Frank Ferrante.
Horse Feathers: 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4; An Evening With Groucho: 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5; both at Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org
Christopher Schobert is a film critic whose work has appeared in the Buffalo News and other outlets. Check out his Toronto International Film Festival coverage at BuffaloSpree.com and follow him at Twitter.com/FilmSwoon.