- ARKANSAS FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT: Arkansas Cinema Society screens Mark Thiedeman's short film "Alex in the Morning" with Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park" (pictured).
Film festivals flower all over in Arkansas.
Spring is almost here, film fans, and while the blooming of daffodils signals that the Big, Dumb Summer Blockbuster Season is not far away, it also serves as the unofficial kickoff to what has become a few very active months in the Arkansas film scene. There's plenty to be had around the state for lovers of film.
First out of the blocks for spring is the 17th Annual Ozark Foothills FilmFest, which will take place over two weekends: April 19-21 and April 27-28. Submissions for this year's festival are being accepted on the FilmFreeway submission website. One of the older surviving film festivals in the state, the OFFF in recent years has featured an outstanding slate of American and international documentaries and narrative features and shorts, with many of the filmmakers in attendance for intimate screenings and panel discussions and a well-attended party to wrap things up. In previous years, prizes were awarded in four categories.
On March 20 at 7 p.m., those fond of "This Is Spinal Tap"-style mockumentaries should break a leg to make their way to the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock for a screening of "Waiting for Guffman," the latest offering of the popular Dogtown Film Series. If you haven't seen "Guffman," this is a great time to catch this screwball comedy on the big screen. The plot follows a group of amateur performers, who — desperate to help put their small Missouri town on the map with a good performance for a visiting Big City critic — let a brassy director named Corky St. Clair (the always hilarious Christopher Guest) lead them right into theater hell. Starring Guest, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Parker Posey and others, it's the most side-splitting effort to date by the troupe that fielded other mockumentary hits like "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind" that skewer niche efforts that take themselves waaayyy too seriously. Admission is only $5.
Speaking of older movies with quite a bit of goodness in them, Riverdale's little arthouse theater that could, Riverdale 10, is doing special, one-night screenings of older and classic favorites every week throughout the year. Next up for 2018 is Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" on March 3, followed by "Pulp Fiction," "Gone With the Wind," "The Big Lebowski," "Blazing Saddles," anarchist manifesto "Fight Club," Tarantino-scripted "True Romance" and others. Then next up for the Arkansas Times Film Series, hosted along with Film Quotes Film at Riverdale, is Jean-Pierre Melville's 1956 noir "Bob Le Flambeur" on March 20 Go to riverdale10.com for showtimes and ticket information.
The Arkansas Cinema Society, the gift that just keeps on giving for film lovers in Central Arkansas, will be hosting a special "Arkansas Filmmaker Spotlight" night for Arkansas director Mark Thiedeman on March 16 with a double screening of his short "Alex in the Morning" and Gun Van Sant's 2007 feature "Paranoid Park." Thiedeman, a "no budget" indie filmmaker who lives in Little Rock, has written and directed several shorts, including "The Scoundrel," "A Christian Boy" and "Sacred Hearts, Holy Souls," along with the feature "Last Summer." The ACS event will be held at the Central Arkansas Library System's Ron Robinson Theater. Tickets are $12. For more information and to keep up with upcoming events from the ACS, visit arkansascinemasociety.org.
The fourth annual Bentonville Film Festival runs May 1-6. Created by Oscar winner Geena Davis, the BFF spotlights female and minority filmmakers and features a raft of big corporate sponsors, including Walmart, Coca-Cola and L'Oreal. In recent years, that has translated into an equally star-studded roster, with many A-list Hollywood stars on hand, including Bruce Dern, Robert De Niro, William H. Macy, Meg Ryan, singer/songwriter Jewel and others. No word at this writing on who'll be in attendance for 2018, but it's likely to be big. Visit the website at bentonvillefilmfestival.com to stay up to date on the latest developments.
There's more in the summer: the Kaleidoscope Film Festival. This year's installment will run from Friday, Aug. 10, through Saturday, Aug. 18, in the Argenta Arts District. Now in its fourth year, Kaleidoscope focuses on a colorful but often neglected corner of cinema: films by and about LGBTQ lives. Though other film festivals in the state often include LGBTQ films, Kaleidoscope is the only film festival in the state dedicated to sharing those stories and the stories of their creation, bringing in the actors, screenwriters, directors and cinematographers who bring these important films to life. Visit kaleidoscopefilmfestival.com to stay up to date on the latest announcements about screenings and appearances at this year's festival.