International Film Festival

Trenton World Cinefest 2016 Comments Off on Trenton World Cinefest 2016

Trenton World Cinefest 2016


2016 Trenton World Cinefest

Thursday, June 9 – Saturday, June 11, 2016

Compelling, poignant, sometimes funny stories — both true and fiction — from around the world are screened at our festival of world cinema. Experience some exquisitely beautiful and thought-provoking films. The World Makes, Trenton Screens.

Thanks for a great festival!


See as many films as you’d like for just $25!
With an all-access pass, you’ll be able to pick up one ticket for each film in the festival.
To see details and buy pass

Regular price tickets: $8 individual, $15 double feature


The Apostate

(Federico Veiroj, 2015, Spain/France/Uruguay, 80 mins)
In this Kafkaesque absurdist comedy, Gonzalo is a confused thirty-something who is failing out of university, in love with his cousin, and running shady errands for his crooked father. To make a break with his conservative family, he decides to apostatize: to formally withdraw his name from the Catholic Church and renounce his faith. Soon, however, he finds himself trapped in a bureaucratic struggle with the church. The film has played at the Toronto International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival and many others.

Thursday, June 9, 7:00 pm



Neither Heaven Nor Earth

(Clément Cogitore, 2015, France/Belgium, 100 mins)
In this dark contemporary ghost story, a group of French NATO mission soldiers are trying to secure the Wakhan valley of Afghanistan on the border of Pakistan. One night, the captain notices that soldiers are beginning to disappear mysteriously from their posts when they fall asleep. The twist comes when the captain realizes the Taliban have also been losing their men. The French Union of Critics voted “Neither Heaven nor Earth” 2015’s Best French Debut Feature. The film has screened at New Directors/New Films at the Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Film Festival.

Friday, June 10, 7:00 pm




(Hansal Mehta, 2015, India, 114 mins)
Milestone Indian film “Aligarh” is a biopic of a gay Indian professor who dies mysteriously after being suspended from his university for his homosexuality. Based on events that took place in 2010 at Aligarh Muslim University, the film follows the professor and the journalist who investigated his case. This heartbreaking film opened the 2015 Mumbai Film Festival.

Saturday, June 11, 11:00 am



Lampedusa in Winter

(Jakob Brossmann, 2015, Austria/Italy/Switzerland, 93 mins)
A hard-hitting documentary film about life and death on the border of Europe. The tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy, is the first port of call for African migrants seeking haven in Europe. It’s winter, the tourists have left, and the remaining refugees and local fisherman struggle to carry on with their daily lives. This debut film by young Austrian director Jakob Brossman played as part of the Critics’ Week at the Locarno Film Festival.

Saturday, June 11, 1:30 pm




(Zhao Liang, 2015, China/France, 91 mins)
In this stunningly shot documentary, filmmaker Zhao Liang takes a look at toxic mining in Inner Mongolia and the destructive effects on the workers and on the landscape. Winner of the Golden Firebird Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Stockholm Film Festival, and nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, this moving work shows both the human and environmental toll of heavy mining.

Saturday, June 11, 4:00 pm


Double Feature: La Belle at the Movies and Short Stay

with reception and Q&A with “Short Stay” director Ted Fendt and Jed Rapfogel, Curator Trenton World Cinefest


La Belle at the Movies

(Cecilia Zoppelletto, 2015, UK/Belgium/Congo, 67 mins)
Kinshasa (also known as “Kin la Belle”), the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a city of 10 million people without a single movie theater. “La Belle At the Movies” documents the disappearance of Kinshasa’s entire cinema industry over the past decade through interviews with filmmakers, cinema owners, and government officials. The story of the demise is woven with the history of the apartheid era and neo-colonialism under Mobutu through powerful poetic imagery of a city and a population nostalgic for the magic and the social tissue cinema once provided.

Please join us for a reception between the two films!


Short Stay

(Ted Fendt, 2016, USA, 61 mins)
From Haddonfield, NJ native Ted Fendt comes a mumblecore comedy about Mike, a man who’s always wandering but hardly on the move. His stomping ground is modest, the strip of suburbia between his mom’s house in New Jersey and the pizza place where he works. One day, Mike bumps into an old school friend Mark, who asks Mike to take over his walking tour job and Philadelphia apartment, despite the fact that Mike can barely keep up a conversation. This debut feature showed at the Berlin International Film Festival and New Directors/New Films.

Followed by Q&A with “Short Stay” director Ted Fendt and Jed Rapfogel, Curator Trenton World Cinefest.

Saturday, June 11, 6:00 pm


From the 2015 Festival:

2015 International Film Festival

Five Questions with Festival Curator Jed Rapfogel

2015 International Film Festival on Fistful of Popcorn

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Five Questions with Festival Curator Jed Rapfogel Comments Off on Five Questions with Festival Curator Jed Rapfogel

Five Questions with Festival Curator Jed Rapfogel


Trenton International Film Festival curator Jed Rapfogel talks to us about his selection of the seven documentary and fiction features screening in this year’s festival. Jed is a programmer at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, and curated the 2014 and 2015 International Film Festival.



What do you find to be the biggest difference in world cinema versus American cinema, and some of the similarities?



I don’t think there are necessarily hard-and-fast differences – there are more and more young American filmmakers who come from a world-cinema-loving background and whose films reflect those interests; and of course there are plenty of filmmakers all over the world who were formed in large part by Hollywood or American independent movies. But in a general sense, I do think that foreign films are more likely to reject the tired clichés and conventions of narrative Hollywood filmmaking (conventions that infect the vast majority of so-called ‘indie’ films as well).

In part it simply comes down to the funding that’s available in many other countries – in the U.S. it’s extremely difficult to find the funding to make a film that’s likely to be considered unmarketable. In some parts of the world, at least, such films are valued more highly than here, and there are sources of funding available to filmmakers. As a result, filmmakers don’t necessarily have the same crippling anxiety about losing audiences’ attention.

They’re able to make films that take their time, that focus on texture, atmosphere, and landscape, rather than rushing from incident to incident. And most importantly, there are more films that depict human behavior as ambiguous, contradictory, and messy, rather than compulsively manufacturing the same few types in the Hollywood manner. In my experience, watching the best foreign films often reveals how clichéd and reductive so much of American movie storytelling is.


Out of the films that you chose, which film had the biggest impact on you and why?


Songs from the North

It’s hard to identify a single film, but if I have to come up with just one I’d say Songs from the North, partly because I tend to gravitate to films that experiment with form and that don’t fit comfortably into a familiar category, and partly because of its deeply thoughtful approach to a subject that’s usually presented through a highly ideological filter: North Korea.

Songs from the North is a documentary of sorts, but not at all a conventional one. It’s essentially a travelogue, but one that’s organized more according to themes, ideas, and impressions than by a chronological itinerary. And it incorporates found footage – excerpts from North Korean movies and television – to such an extent that it becomes almost a collage film. It’s true (and I’m happy to say it) that there are only a couple films in this year’s selection that tell their stories in a more or less conventional way, but Songs from the North is probably the most unusual.


Felix and Meira

That said, I’m also particularly fond of Two Shots Fired, which has a very unique tone (comic but melancholy) and whose story develops in very unexpected ways; and of Felix and Meira, which is not an experimental film in any way, but is an extremely sensitive, moving, and perceptive one.


Could you describe some innovative techniques used in the films that you chose.


In the Crosswind

Well, I mentioned the innovative techniques that set Songs from the North apart. And I alluded to Two Shots Fired’s narrative surprises: that film is both very funny and quite serious, and it boldly shifts its focus two thirds of the way into its running time.

I haven’t mentioned the film that features the most explicitly innovative method: In the Crosswind, which recounts Stalin’s forced exile of thousands of Estonians to Siberia and other parts of Russia during WWII. In the Crosswind tells this historical tale by means of elaborate but entirely frozen tableaux, with the ‘actors’ (often numbering in the dozens) remaining totally still as the camera wends and weaves among them. Each shot of that film is a tour de force of design and camera choreography, and very much unlike any other historical film I know.

I for Iran

I for Iran

I for Iran is also a very innovative film, a documentary about the filmmaker, Sanaz Azari, learning written Farsi (the language of her parents, which she speaks but can’t write). Ostensibly it documents one of the lessons given by another Iranian emigrant, but Azari cleverly uses this lesson, and in particular the Islamic Revolution-era textbook they’re using, to explore the modern history of Iran, and the ways in which education reflects social norms and national aims.


The Argentine film Two Shots Fired is described as a dark comedy, in which a young man shoots himself twice on purpose. How does a violent act like this play out as comedy, and is this type of humor typical of Latin American cinema?


Two Shots Fired

Two Shots Fired is most definitely a black comedy, though in the end it’s more about melancholy and disconnection than about violence or suicide. The protagonist’s puzzling decision to shoot himself is not necessarily a suicide attempt – it’s presented as a basically inexplicable action. Some may very well fail to see any humor in it, but for those who respond to the director Martin Rejtman’s sensibility, the humor comes from his extremely deadpan manner (which is a feature of all his films), and from the suggestion that the protagonist’s motivation is boredom rather than despair.

The greatness of the film is that it’s much more than a comedy – it’s very much about the disconnection and alienation that pervade Argentine culture, and in that sense there’s a very serious dimension to it. But at the same time it’s funny because of the deadpan style, and because of how extreme and exaggerated the protagonist’s action is. And I would say that the humor in Two Shots Fired is more particular to Rejtman than typical of Latin American cinema in general.


Last year, several of the films shown at the International Festival went on to great success, like We Are the Best and, of course, Ida which went on to win the Academy Award. What do you see in the future for this year’s films?


Charlie’s Country

I’m no psychic, and won’t go so far as to confidently predict Oscar nominations for any of the films included in the festival. But Felix and Meira, Charlie’s Country, Gueros, and Two Shots Fired are all slated for theatrical release in 2015, and I expect them all to attract critical acclaim at the very least. And I could certainly see Felix and Meira or Gueros, for instance, becoming art-house hits.

I’m afraid I have a feeling Songs from the North and I for Iran are too uncategorizable to enjoy the success they deserve, but hopefully I’m wrong – and in any case, all the more reason to see them during the festival! And while Two Shots Fired likely has too oddball a tone to have any mainstream success, Rejtman is the best known filmmaker of the bunch (he helped pioneer a new wave of Argentine cinema in the 1990s), and so the film will unquestionably have a life, at least among Rejtman fans, Argentine cinema scholars, and film buffs in general.

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2015 International Film Festival Comments Off on 2015 International Film Festival

2015 International Film Festival

2015 International Film Festival

Thursday, April 9 – Saturday, April 11, 2015


Compelling, poignant, sometimes funny stories, both true and fiction, from around the world are screened at the International Film Festival. Experience some of the most exquisitely beautiful and thought-provoking film that we screen! In 2015, a theme of cross-cultural encounters or collisions runs through many of the films below.


See as many films as you’d like for just $25!
With an all-access pass, you’ll be able to pick up one ticket for each film in the festival.
To see details and buy pass

Regular price tickets: $8

Opening Night

Felix and Meira

(Quebec, Maxime Giroux, 2014, 105 mins)
Meira, a young wife and mother, longs to experience life outside the strict confines of her Orthodox Jewish community. Felix, who lives in the same Montreal neighborhood, feels lost after the death of his wealthy father, from whom he was estranged. The two find comfort in their unexpected friendship, but are faced with the challenge of coming from vastly different worlds.
Buy tickets:
Thursday, April 9, 7:30 pm

Followed by gathering at Settimo Cielo, 17 E Front St, Trenton, NJ



(Mexico, Alonso Ruizpalacios, 2014, 106 mins)
Troublemaker Tomás is sent away to live with his older brother, Sombra, who is studying in Mexico City. Arriving in the midst of a student strike that has shut down the university, he finds his slacker brother with his roommate Santos aimless with nothing to do, until Tomás decides they should travel around the city in search of his hero, their late father’s favorite folk-rock singer Epigmenio Cruz.
Buy tickets:
Friday, April 10, 7:30 pm

Followed by gathering at Joe’s Mill Hill Saloon, 300 S Broad St, Trenton, NJ


I for Iran

(Belgium/Iran, Sanaz Azari, 2014, 50 mins)
Filmmaker Sanaz Azari, who emigrated from Iran to Belgium as a child, documents learning how to read and write Persian as an adult. Taught by an older Iranian exile using an elementary textbook from the Islamic Revolution, these basic language classes become anything-but-basic lessons on life before and after Iran’s upheaval in 1979.


Kwaku Ananse

(Ghana/US/Mexico, Akosua Adoma Owusu, 2013, 25 mins)
Kwaku Ananse is a trickster character from West African mythology who appears as both spider and man. In this short film, that traditional fable is combined with the story of a young woman attending her estranged father’s funeral, who then goes off into the woods to search for her father.

Buy tickets:
Saturday, April 11, 12:00 pm


In the Crosswind

(Estonia, Martti Helde, 2014, 87 mins)
Estonian director Martti Helde creates a heartbreaking portrait of the 1941 Soviet mass deportation of Baltic citizens to Siberia. Based on the diary of a young wife and mother struggling to find her way home, scenes are recreated as dream-like black and white tableaux vivants in which the actors stand motionless while the camera remains in motion.
Buy tickets:
Saturday, April 11, 1:45 pm



Songs from the North

(US/South Korea, Soon-Mi Yoo, 2014, 72 min)
Weaving together songs and archival footage from North Korean propagandist cinema and television, everyday scenes of workers and schoolchildren in the North, and interviews with her father who had lived through the dividing of his country, South Korean-born director Soon-Mi Yoo creates an intriguing visual essay of this enigmatic nation and its people.
Buy tickets:
Saturday, April 11, 3:45 pm



Charlie’s Country

(Australia, Rolf de Heer, 2013, 108 mins)
David Gulpilil (Walkabout) won a Best Actor award at Cannes for his portrayal of Charlie, an aborigine who feels out of place in his own country. After the police confiscate his handmade spear, Charlie goes into the bush to find freedom from white rule, only to run afoul of the law again when illness brings him back to civilization.
Buy tickets:
Saturday, April 11, 5:30 pm


Closing Night

Two Shots Fired

(Argentina, Martín Rejtman, 2014, 105 min)
In this absurdist black comedy by veteran Argentine director Martín Rejtman (his first feature in 10 years), 16-year-old Mariano comes home one night and inexplicably shoots himself twice, once in the head and once in the stomach. More inexplicably, he isn’t even injured. From this irrational beginning, random events unwind for Mariano and his family and friends.
Buy tickets:
Saturday, April 11, 7:45 pm

Followed by gathering at Trenton Social, 449 S Broad St, Trenton, NJ


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