Preview: Rochester International Film Festival | Movie previews

In its 62nd year, the Rochester International Film Festival has gone digital in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally held at the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman Museum, the festival features a diverse and varied program of short films of all genres, submitted from around the world. With 28 fiction films, documentaries, animation and experimental short films, there is bound to be something for everyone in this year’s lineup.

All films can be viewed for free online at for one week, from Sunday June 21 to Saturday June 27. Some highlights of this year’s festival will follow.

In “Gifts from the heart” from writer-director Chris Craymer, an abandoned bag of oranges leads to an unexpected interaction between a woman named Lucy and a handsome man soliciting organ donors. Over the course of three critical years, we watch Lucy experience both love and loss on her path to happiness.

Oranges also play a crucial role in the captivating “Nostalgia at Domicella,” by director, screenwriter and choreographer Carla Forte. The film uses form and movement to explore ideas of loneliness and a sense of self.

“Kino Ratten (The rats of the cinema)” is a fantastic story set in pre-war Nazi Germany about a projectionist forced by SS officers to show propaganda films, but the rats that reside in his theater have other ideas. Using computer animation and motion capture technology, director Peter McCully tells an unusual story about the power of protest through art.

In “I love Nonnie” Director Lisa Addario turns the camera on her grandmother, Louise “Nonnie” Bonito, who at 102 was the subject of a viral video in 2015. Now 107, Nonnie is still a spitfire and deeply inspiring as she talks about surviving abuse and facing tough times in order to build a life for herself and her five adoring children. It’s also worth noting that the film is being shot by Kirsten Johnson, director of photography and award-winning director behind “Cameraperson,” one of the best documentaries of the past decade.

Family and identity issues lie at the heart of the powerful “EunSeo”, from director Park Joon-ho. The story centers on Eun-Seo, a woman who fled North Korea as a young girl and who for the past 20 years has started a family and made a living in Korea. from South. She’s worked to keep her background a secret from those who know her, but when her mother unexpectedly escapes across the border and comes to live with her, she isn’t prepared for the change in the way. she is seen by others once her story is revealed. It’s one of my favorites from this year’s festival.

Anonymous voices share the worries, fears, distractions and unanswered questions that keep them from sleeping at night in “Night birds and ghost crabs.” Robert Sickels juxtaposes their words with images shot mainly on iPhone and GoPro to create a fascinating collage of humanity and its anxieties.

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  • A scene from “Ironrite”.

In 1950s America, a housewife and her young son hide in their home to avoid talking to an aggressive door-to-door salesperson in “Ironrite” directed by Clayton Combe. Adapted from a short story written by Combe’s father about his own mother, the film approaches American society and gender roles with unsettling honesty.

Baby boy whose mother is struggling with drug addiction faces a tough decision about his future in “Crystal horse”, by Israeli filmmaker Ronen Amar. An empathetic and heartbreaking story that draws much of its power from the wonderful performance of young performer King Mehabad at its center.

Directed by Kyung Sok Kim, the bittersweet and deeply moving “The furthest from” is a coming-of-age story about a little girl residing in a trailer park in Novato, California. Forced to face problems well beyond her years, she sees the park’s population dwindle as one by one the families who live there have to pack their bags and evacuate due to contamination of the fuel supply system. local water.

Maverick Moore’s entertaining and quirky farce “My dinner with Werner” draws on real events, real people, and their real statements to tell a chaotic story about a dinner party with legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog going horribly wrong.

A bike ride to the Yellow River becomes a journey of growth and catharsis for a young woman struggling to keep a promise made to her hospitalized best friend in a touching, heartfelt and beautifully designed setting. “Carry my heart to the Yellow River” directed by Alexis Van Hurkman.

The sweetness of Cary Patrick Martin “Coffee and a donut” tells the story of Pablo, a young immigrant who is new to the United States and does not speak English. Trying to immerse himself in the culture of his new home, he decides to start by ordering breakfast at the local restaurant, but finds the experience more difficult than he expected. A charming story about empathy and human connection.

“Shot Down: Howard Snyder and the B-17 Susan Ruth” tells the true story of Howard Snyder, an American shot dead by German fighters over occupied Belgium on February 8, 1944. Based on the book by Howard’s son Steve, Michael A. Mazur’s documentary tells the story of incredible story of Snyder’s disappearance in combat for seven months, but escaped capture after being taken in by members of the Belgian Resistance before joining the French Resistance.

Enthusiastic reporter interviews harassed Boston Red Sox manager in sweet and sentimental “Additional sleeves”, by writer-director John Gray, who examines the connections between fathers and sons through the game of baseball.

In the dramatic fantasy of Marcus Markou “Office song”, the inner lives of ordinary and everyday UK office workers are poured out through poetry as they find the words to express their deepest and most hidden desires with unintended consequences.

The captivating documentary by Beatrice Möller “Asmara deposit” focuses on the Eritrean Steam Railway. Built during the country’s colonial period, the system has played a vital role in the country’s history. Although the trains are still operational, they now function primarily as an attraction for tourists. But through the eyes of a young engineer named Hinza and Fezahatsion, the aging chief engineer who guides him, trains become the symbol of a country still struggling to find its way.

Adam Lubitow is a freelance writer for CITY. Comments on this article can be directed to Rebecca Rafferty, CITY Arts and Entertainment Editor-in-Chief, at [email protected]

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