Friday at noon in the Richmond Public Library’s basement auditorium, there's a free showing of the legendary animated classic Futuropolis.
At 8 p.m. on April 14, $5 gets you “Richmond Takes Sundance,” with the 10-minute short Henley, by Clay Chapman, and The Comedy by Rick Alverson. Both filmmakers will be available for a Q&A. Since Chapman’s film is a strange little movie, we won’t divulge details except to say that Hale Lytle, the precocious eerie moppet from the film, will be there, as well as producer Almitra Corey.
Festival co-director James Parrish hasn’t screened The Comedy ahead of time — his one opportunity at Sundance was made impossible by a blizzard — but not quite knowing what’s ahead is a JRF staple. He’s read enough to know that the film packs a punch. “Rick was joking with me that maybe I should bring boxing gloves for the Q&A,” Parrish says.
The movie features Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! fame. “But it’s not a comedy,” Parrish says. “And it’s somewhat a critique on a certain lifestyle that some people take offense to. He’s knocking around mainstream culture.”
There may be some steamed-up ironic Woody Allen glasses after it’s over.
On the subject of peace, speaking truth to power and reconciliation, there's April 15's free screening of Marii Hasegawa: Gentle Woman of a Dangerous Kind, at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. This film, made by poet/writer Lynda Fleet Perry; activist and acupuncturist Pat Tashjian; filmmaker Janet Scagnelli; and composer Jamie K. Sims, has taken nearly two decades to complete, and it's still in post-production. (There’s a Kickstarter campaign to defray the final costs of $5,356.) Its subject is a Japanese-American woman who committed her life to peace-making.
In a similar vein is "The Occupied Moment," a fistful of documentaries to be screened at Gallery 5 on April 17 at 8 p.m. The films deal with 2011’s worldwide street protests and occupations in Egypt, Greece and Wall Street. (Admission is a suggested donation of $3.)
His latest, Photographic Memory, is a story about McElwee’s relationship with his young adult son, his personal history with a town in France and a woman he met there, and his attempt to recover part of that past through words and images. It’s being screened at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on April 15 at 6 p.m. (Admission is $5.)
The other film he's showing here is Bright Leaves, which concerns the complicated connections between McElwee's family and the North Carolina tobacco industry, as well as a potential tangential connection to a little-known Gary Cooper film. It’s screening at 7 p.m. on April 16, for $5, at the VCU Grace Street Theatre.
Also involving compelling documentaries is a program headed up by critic Scott MacDonald, the author of A Critical Cinema, several volumes of interviews with indie filmmakers. The 1 p.m. screening features several gems from the Cambridge Turn on April 14 at 1 p.m., at the VCU Grace Street Theater. (Admission is $5.)
Among the eclectic roster is Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, which is showing at The Byrd Theatre on Saturday, April 14, at 3:30 p.m. (Admission is $5.) The film never made it to the big screen in Richmond. “That’s why I programmed it," Parrish says. "I wanted to see it, and other people did, too. I don’t have to believe it’s the best movie ever, just that it should be seen.” The film is about a wedding and the impending end of the world through planetary collision. It’s got Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland and moodiness.
On April 18 at 7 p.m., VCU Grace Street Theatre will screen Melvin van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song for $5. It’s blaxploitation by way of Salvador Dali and Huey Newton — so says the festival program.
The Saturday midnight movie at the Byrd Theatre is David Lynch’s 1977 Eraserhead, which for years was a staple of late-night movie viewing here and elsewhere because it's just plain weird. Admission is $5.
Have good screenings.