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Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival rolls into Astoria

Columbian Theater shows short films Nov. 12

By Laura Cherau

For Coast Weekend

Published on November 8, 2017 12:01AM

“What Tears Us Apart”

Wanderingreel.org

“What Tears Us Apart”

“Mare Nostrum”

Courtesy Michael Harrington

“Mare Nostrum”

“The Sugering Off”

Courtesy Michael Harrington

“The Sugering Off”

“White Face”

Courtesy Michael Harrington

“White Face”

“Light Sight”

Wanderingreel.org

“Light Sight”

Artalde

Wanderingreel.org

Artalde

Courtesy Michael Harrington


The Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival makes its first pit-stop in Astoria at the Columbian Theater during a matinee screening Sunday, Nov. 12. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.; the films begin at 3 p.m.

Six independent short films will be shown, followed by a community discussion and Q-and-A with festival director Michael Harrington, a Lincoln City native. Tickets are $5.

The festival’s program, “You. Me. We.,” features films from France, Syria, Spain, Iran, the U.S. and Canada that explore the complex relationships among people and ask: “What tears us apart? What brings us together?”

Harrington said these films explore topics such as “racial justice and identity, the refugee crisis, the importance of community and friends at the end of life” in a way that mainstream media and cinema often fail to do.

“These films have a humanity,” he said. “They’re all great films and great pieces of art that you won’t see elsewhere.”


Effect change, inspire conversation


The festival has rolled through Manzanita every year since its 2015 inception, but this is the first year a venue could be found in Astoria.

The mission of Wandering Reel — which tours cities throughout the western U.S., including in Washington, Colorado and California — is to bring quality short films to “communities with limited or no access to compassionate, thought-provoking cinema.”

The six films screening in Astoria come from a roster of 22 total films, chosen from about 200 considered by the festival jury, that will screen at various locations.

Sid Ganis, former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, is one of the jurors, as is Rosa Tran, the award-winning producer of “Anomalisa,” and Kate Purdy, the television writer of “BoJack Horseman” and “Cougar Town.”

The film festival’s only requirement is that the films “demonstrate the power of the medium to effect change and inspire conversation,” Harrington said.

This allows the festival to accept international submissions or short films that are older — like “Artalde,” which was filmed in 2010.

Harrington said the other main function of this film festival — as with many film festivals — is to promote independent work. The more awards a short film wins, the more exposure it gets, and the better the chances are for the filmmakers to find support and funding for other projects, such as feature films.


In love with the form


After working in the film industry, Harrington landed in Big Sur, California, and became involved in the Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series at the Henry Miller Memorial Library.

He “fell in love with the form,” he said. He’s made his own short films, including “The Old Man and the Mountain Lion,” and taught cinema. Now he wants to bring these exceptional films to small towns.

“When you make a short film, it lives a short life,” Harrington said. “I thought these films deserved more time in front of a live audience.”

That’s why Harrington and his team took the festival on the road.

“When the audience is excited and talking about the movies,” Harrington sees “a way to strengthen communities. We’re used to watching films together, but not necessarily discussing them.”

THE FILMS

Mare Nostrum

On the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, a Syrian father makes a decision that puts his daughter’s life at risk.

“Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) was the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea. It is a name that has changed with the times, and with the people who choose to invoke it. At times, it has fallen out of favor only to be reclaimed and redefined throughout history.

This film was nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017.

White Face

“White Face” is the second film by Mtume Gant, the only American director highlighted at the festival. He plays the main character, Charles, a New York actor who “hates his Black skin and all the hardship that comes with it. Feeling trapped by his race, Charles believes he has found the solution to his problems: change his appearance to embody “whiteness.”

The film has won several awards in 2017, including best short film at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and best experimental film at the Harlem International Film Festival.

The Sugaring Off

Bernard is an austere man whose sole occupation is to care for his beloved Line, who is very ill. Their son organizes a sugaring off party that forces Bernard to reconnect with the exhilaration of spring.

Light Sight

An (animated) imprisoned character in a room is attracted to a hanging light and tries to catch it. But the room itself becomes an obstacle.

This film has earned many nominations and several wins from various international and animation film festivals.

Artalde

A shepherd, lost in the city, searches for his flock.

What Tears Us Apart

In a luxurious Parisian apartment, after a long separation, an encounter.









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