Overview of This Year's Films
APRIL 21-25, 2004


Wednesday, April 21

(7:30 pm) Opening night will be a restored version of Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm, with restoration expert Robert Harris among the guests. He discovered the 70mm print in rusting and crushed cans in a neglected film vault, and the story of how he brought it back to perfection is spellbinding.

Print Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Thursday, April 22

(1:00 pm) Tarnation was a sensation at the 2003 Sundance festival because of its power and artistry, and because it was made on a Macintosh for an initial cost of $187. The film documents three generations of a wounded family, as director Jonathan Caouette remembers his abusive grandparents, his troubled mother, and his own difficult adolescence when he realized he was gay. The director will be present in person.

Print Courtesy of Jonathan Caouette

(4:30 pm)
The Son, by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne of Belgium, won the best actor award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and was named the second best film of the year by Sight & Sound, the British film magazine. It was also on Ebert's top 10 list for 2003. It is a spellbinding story of loss and reconciliation. In person: Dan Talbot, founder and head of New Yorker Films and a pioneering art film distributor who first brought the films of Bergman, Satyajit Ray, Pasolini, the French and German New Waves and countless others to America.

Print Courtesy of New Yorker Films


(9:00 pm) Director Tim Reid will be present in person with his film Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored, which Ebert named one of the best films of 1996. It is a heart-warming, heart-breaking coming-of-age story set between the years of 1946 and 1962, as segregation slowly crumbled. Stars include Al Freeman, Jr., Phylica Rashad and Salli Richardson.

Print Courtesy of Tim Reid

Once Upon a Time . . . When We Were Colored

The Chancellor's Brown V Board of Education Commemorative Year Screening

Friday, April 23

(1:00 pm)
  Tully (2000), the story of a father and two brothers on a Nebraska dairy farm, the dreams they share, and the girls in the brothers' lives. Director Hilary Birmingham will be onstage in person. The film won four Independent Spirit nominations, and won both the audience and the critics' Audience Awards at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. Stars include Anson Mount, Julianna Nicholson, Glenn Fitzgerald, Catherine Kellner and Bob Burrus.  The star of Tully, Anson Mount, will be present in person.

Print Courtesy of Small Planet Pictures


(4:30 pm)  The silent feature will be a restored print of Buster Keaton's masterpiece The General, considered one of the 10 greatest films of all time. The Alloy Orchestra of Cambridge, Mass will again grace the Virginia with its live orchestral score. As a Keaton curtain-raiser, a special treat: Darren Ng's The Scapegoat, a brilliant short film in the style and spirit of Buster. Ng, who plays Buster, will be present in person.  We will also be joined onstage by Jeffrey Vance, the famed silent film historian and restorer.

Print Courtesy of Douris Corp

Print Courtesy of Darren Ng


(9:00 pm)  The festival will celebrate the 20th anniversary of El Norte, the masterpiece about two Mayan Indians, a young brother and sister, who journey north to Los Angeles. Director Gregory Nava and producer Anna Thomas will be present in person; they shared an Academy Award nomination for their screenplay. Nava, who also directed My Family (Mi Familia) and Selena, is currently producing and directing the second season of "American Family," the epic PBS series about Latinos in America.

Print Courtesy of Gregory Nava


Saturday, April 24

(11:30 am) Saturday morning family program: Jay Russell's My Dog Skip (2000) based on Willie Morris' memoir about growing up as a lonely kid in Yazoo, Mississippi, whose life was changed by a dog. We’ll be joined onstage by director Jay Russell and a surprise guest.

Print Courtesy of Warner Brothers


(3:30 pm) This year's Academy award-winning documentarian, Errol Morris (The Fog of War), will appear in person with his first film, Gates of Heaven, which Ebert has called one of the 10 greatest films of all time. 

Print Courtesy of Errol Morris


(7:00 pm) People I Know, starring Al Pacino, is one of the great actor's greatest performances, but the film hardly got a release. Ebert saw it at Sundance 2002 and championed it. In person: Director Daniel Algrant, and legendary New York publicist Bobby Zarem, who is the partial inspiration for the Pacino character.

Print Courtesy of Miramax


(10:00 pm) Werner Herzog's Invincible tells the astonishing story of a Jewish strongman in Nazi Germany, a man who in his simple goodness believes he can be the "new Samson" and protect his people. He is a blacksmith in Poland in 1932 when discovered by a talent scout, and soon becomes the headliner in the Palace of the Occult, in Berlin, which is run by the sinister Hanussen (Tim Roth), a man who dreams of becoming Minister of the Occult in a Nazi government.  Legendary film director Werner Herzog will be present to discuss his film.

Print courtesy of Fine Line Features


Sunday, April 25

(1:00 pm) The Sunday musical program will feature two documentaries about Howard Armstrong, a legendary African-American artist and musician.  Ebert knew him in the 1970s, when his group "Martin, Bogan and the Armstrongs" appeared weekly at the Earl of Old Town in Chicago. The first film, Louie Bluie, dates from that period and was directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World). The second documentary, Sweet Old Song, directed by Leah Mahan, was made in 2002 and shows Armstrong still making music in his 90s. We had hoped to have Armstrong in person, but he died in summer 2003. In person will be his wife, musical partner and muse, the sculptor Barbara Ward Armstrong and director of Sweet Old Song Leah Mahan. Another bonus, we will have a live concert featuring musicians who worked with Armstrong, some of whom can be seen in the second film. (Sweet Old Song website)

Print Courtesy of Leah Mahan

Print Courtesy of Terry Zwigoff