A quick run-down of some interesting entries to Athens International Film and Video Festival

Another fest is upon us — only this one isn’t based on an afternoon of beer guzzling.

The 43rd annual Athens International Film + Video Festival kicks off this week and will be showing 257 films over the course of seven days.

“We have something for everyone at this festival,” David Colagiovanni, the director of the festival, said. “It’s important not to pigeonhole the festival into one specific genre.”

There is indeed an abundance of film choices this year — from gross animation, comedies and some documentaries in the mix.

The sheer number of films can appear daunting, so instead here are 15 showings throughout the week that are worth checking out:

1. Hooligan Sparrow

The latest documentary from director Nanfu Wang, Hooligan Sparrow, is a down-right scary story about the Chinese government. The full-length documentary tells the story of Chinese activist Ye Haiyan, AKA Hooligan Sparrow, who leads a protest against the government after a cover up involving a principal and a government official raping six school girls becomes public. Through her fight, Sparrow is harassed by the government and becomes an “enemy of the state,” but even though she is detained, evicted and interrogated, she does not give up.

2. Short Supply

For those that aren't looking for documentaries but are looking for a good story and a good laugh, Short Supply is a story worthy of the Coen brothers. An aging dentist just turned 50, and life does not seem as good as it used to be. However when a doppleganger of the dentist comes in and drops dead during a routine extraction, an opportunity arises for the apathetic dentist to assume the new identity of a ventriloquist. Playing after Short Supply, John Fortson’s Rated tells the satirical story of Maggie, who wakes up one day to find everyone has Yelp-like, five-star ratings above his or her head. While most people have a four or a five, Maggie has been cursed with a 2.5.

3. Janis: Little Girl Blue

Monday will also screen Amy J. Berg’s new biographical documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue. A fresh perspective on cultural icon Janis Joplin, the film has Joplin tell much of the story herself through a series of letters written to her parents during her rise to fame. The film also includes unreleased audio and video of Joplin performing live.

4. Buried Above Ground

Buried Above Ground takes viewers inside the lives of three Americans who suffer from PTSD due to different causes. By focusing on the story of a combat veteran, a Hurricane Katrina survivor and a domestic abuse victim, audiences get a glimpse into the struggle of millions of Americans.

5. We, The Outsiders

Where can you go when even your family won’t accept you? Ramesh More asks this question in We, The Outsiders, which tells the story of Bablu, a woman in a man’s body who is shunned by his family. It is not until he joins the company of eunuchs that he finally finds acceptance. The experimental film from India is also being shown with Not Amish, Not English and Where We Stand, both of which tell short stories of religious activism and alienation in both the Amish community and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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6. Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is truly one of the most unique documentaries at the festival. In 1982, three 11-year olds filmed a shot-for-shot remake of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, but their friendship dissolved before they could film the airplane scene. Thirty-three years later, they come back with a full crew to finish what they started.

“Right when I saw the trailer, I knew I was going to see it,” Patrick McIntyre, a freshman studying marketing, said. “It’s just such a neat little concept for a movie.”

The remake itself will also be shown Friday night at midnight.

7. Forty Days of Pines

Start your day off with a chilling documentary from Iran. Forty Days of Pines is a gonzo-style documentary about the notorious Aminabad mental hospital in Tehran. Eight years after the filmmaker dropped his friend off, he comes back to see a shell of his former friend. To investigate, he gives his friend a video-camera in order to film his everyday life in a mental hospital.

8. After Coal

For After Coal, the film’s title is also its purpose — what are we going to do after coal? The documentary takes a look at what to do and what people are doing when fossil fuels run out. In coal fields in eastern Kentucky to southern Wales, inspiring individuals are thinking ahead.

9. Driving While Black

Take a quick break from all the documentaries with Driving While Black, a dark comedy based on the experiences of a black youth from Los Angeles. In this clever narrative, Dimitri delivers pizzas and faces drama behind the wheel every day while navigating the city.

“This one caught my interest,” Nick Schmitz, a freshman studying business, said. “It’s an interesting, funny and honest look at racism in America.”

10. Haze

In Haze, a college freshman comes to campus with one goal — to join the coolest frat in town. However after a pledge is killed in a hazing accident, people start to think twice about Greek life in this narrative about the essential nature of friendship and family.

“I’m not sure how I should feel about this movie, being in a frat and all,” Drew Trutza, a freshman studying economics said. “All I know is that I’m gonna see it.”

11. Saturday Morning Cartoons

Put on your PJs and pour some cereal because it’s time for Saturday Morning Cartoons. The animated shorts go back to a simpler time when humans and animals come together to mess with snowmen in Patsy the Snowman and the biggest problem in the world was Dr. Evil Mantis and his giant claw in Switch Man.

12. Mariam

Human interest meets political injustice in Mariam, the story of a veiled Muslim teen who must choose between taking off her hijab veil or face expulsion from school in France in 2004.

Following Mariam will be Sara’s Columbine, which focuses on how the tragedy impacted one student during three different periods of her life.

13. The Dinkytown Uprising

During the height of the Vietnam War, an entire town comes together in protest — not because of the war or the president, but over a restaurant. In 1970, Red Barn restaurants tried to open up shop in little Dinkytown, Minnesota. What Red Barn did not expect was for the entire town to unite for 40 days in an “occupation” against the fast-food chain.

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14. Embers

How can we learn, love and communicate in a future with no past? That is the question of Claire Carré’s sci-fi narrative Embers. In the aftermath of a global neurological epidemic, nobody can remember anything and survivors must learn how to rebuild society.

15. Miracle Mile

Steve De Jarnatt, a visiting assistant professor of film from Ohio University will present his 1988 film Miracle Mile. A young couple sparks a romance at the La Brea Tar Pits and plan a date for later, however a power failure causes these romantic pursuits to collide with possible nuclear disaster. As the clock ticks down to possible nuclear annihilation, a frantic man searches for his newfound love at 4 a.m. in Los Angeles.

The full list of shows for the Athens International Film and Video Festival is available on its website.




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