Scouting Report

My past film festival selections have mostly disappointed when I finally screened them, but hey, it's not my fault. Once again using only program synopses as criteria, here are a few films that I'm interested in seeing:

Tribeca Film Festival (April 19 – May 1)

Neo Ned
An Aryan Brother falls for a black woman who thinks she's Adolf Hitler after their meeting in a mental institution.

I Am a Sex Addict
This avowedly autobiographical comedy details the life of an insecure young man who becomes addicted to prostitutes and finds himself unable to stop even though it destroys all of his relationships. His solution: he makes a film about his predicament.

A harrowing account of the methamphetamine addiction ravaging the sons and daughters of the heartland, who should be out working in the local Wal-Mart or milking cows on the family farm but instead have turned into hallucinating tweakers and depraved crank monsters.

After being unfairly expelled from Harvard, American Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) flees to England and becomes embroiled in the violent underworld of British football hooliganism.

Award-winning photographer and music video director David LaChapelle captures the heart-pounding world of krumping, a "mosh pit meets fight club" dance sport that originated in South Central Los Angeles. Rough-and-tumble dancers battle while wearing clown makeup.

Empire Square (Episodes 1 to 10)
Join delinquents Richie, Hooks and Rabbit on their misadventures in bestiality, cannibalism, electro-shock therapy, crucifixion and all the other issues affecting young people today. If Williams Street and South Park had a baby and raised it in London.view four episodes here

Independent Film Festival of Boston (April 21 – April 24)

Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story
Mock documentary starring Rob Corddry of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and much of the famed Upright Citizens Brigade. Corddry is Bobby Dukes, the uncontested Michael Jordon of paintball for many years…until the day he commits the unthinkable during a match: he wipes. Ten years after his betrayal, Dukes confonts the demons of his past and assembles a motley crew of paintballers to compete in the Hudson Valley Paintball Classic.

Filmic Achievement
A send-up of film school and its subculture of esotericism and delusional arrogance. The mock documentary follows a group of first-year film students at UNY Film School from orientation, where they learn to make a "frame" with their fingers, to the production of each of their films, which manage to achieve every available film school cliché.

Dead Birds
In Civil War-era Alabama, six fugitives pull off a bloody bank robbery and seek refuge on an abandoned plantation. As the outlaws explore the mansion and surrounding cornfields, their alliances and jealousies become clear, and tensions regarding the ownership of the stolen Confederate gold begin to mount. Onto a classic heist film structure, the director grafts a terrifying gothic tale.

Mardi Gras: Made in China
Where do the countless strands of gaudy beads sported carelessly by Mardi Gras revelers come from? Meet four Chinese teenagers who left their homes to work long hours in a factory making bead necklaces for little pay. As Mardi Gras partiers and the Chinese workers try to rationalize each other's relationship to the product, the excessive spectacle of the festival becomes more grotesque, and a subtle subtext emerges about the patriarchal regulation and exploitation of women's bodies on both sides of the globe.

Spew: The World of Competitive Debate
Every summer, the nation's best and brightest high school debaters attend preparatory camps. Spew documents the most exclusive of these camps: the Dartmouth Debate Institute (DDI) in Hanover, New Hampshire. Trainees absorb as much information on a single topic as a graduate student writing a dissertation and devote their entire lives to the narrow confines of "debate culture" for weeks on end.

Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth
You may have never heard of Bernie Worrell, but if you've turned on a radio in the last twenty years, you've definitely heard him. Worrell's influence is legendary, but the legend is just now being told. As keyboardist for such groups as Parliament-Funkadelic and the Talking Heads, he was the backbone of a new wave in sound. For many of the commentators in this documentary — including Geroge Clinton, David Byrne, Mos Def, Bootsy Collins, Prince Paul, Bill Laswell and Les Claypool — no comparison save Mozart is worthy of him.

San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21 – May 5)

The Ax
A laid-off worker devises a novel approach to finding a new job — by physically eliminating fellow applicants.

Días de Santiago
A Peruvian spin on Taxi Driver that follows the impossible reintegration of a young veteran into "civil" society.

A twisted fairy tale set in an idyllic boarding school for young girls, who are taught only to be pretty and breed.

Rugby is a rough sport. When quadriplegics play it, it's even rougher. Joe Soares, once the star of the unrivaled Team USA wheelchair rugby team, is inexplicably yanked from the squad, so he gleefully crosses the border to coach his former enemy, Team Canada, with the sole aim of beating Team USA at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

Phil the Alien
Phil is an interstellar being who lands in a remote Canadian wilderness and takes up residence with a wisdom-spouting beaver. Though Phil first appears as a menacing screeching monster, he rapidly takes human form so as to be more cuddly and appealing to local townsfolk. Told that whisky is medicine by newfound pal Joey, the gregarious alien soon finds himself a raging alcoholic on the run from American secret agents who have a secret office under Niagara Falls. When his bent for booze lands him in jail, Phil finds Jesus, forms a Christian bar band and develops a cult following. Meanwhile, anti-UFO forces hire a formidable French Canadian contract killer named Madame Madame to remove Phil from existence.

Zombie Honeymoon
On honeymoon on the New Jersey shore, newlyweds Danny and Denise lie in the sand, soaking up rays, when a half-decomposed body lurches out of the sea and spews black bile into Danny's mouth, choking him to death. The hospital is unable to revive him, but in the midst of Denise's incosolable mourning he suddenly sits up. Despite Danny's uncontrollable anti-social behavior, his bride tries desperately to stay by his side, even though he is no longer the sweet vegetarian she fell in love with.