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Davis Film Festival will provoke thought

"Which Way Home?," by Rebecca Cammisa, explores "the personal side of (Mexico-to-U.S.) immigration through the eyes of children," organizer Judith Plank says. Courtesy photo

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March 22, 2011 | Leave Comment

Check it out

What: Eighth annual Davis Film Festival

When: Friday and Saturday, April 8-9

Where: Veterans’ Memorial Theater, 203 E. 14th St.

Tickets: $10 general per session, $7.50 students or $25 for a festival pass good for all three showings; available at Armadillo Music, 205 F St., or http://www.davisfilmfest.org. Tickets also will be available at the door

From whimsical to heart-breaking. From inspiring to thought-provoking…

The eighth annual Davis Film Festival comes to town April 8 and 9 with canisters full of emotion. This year’s selections come from places like Iran, Sweden, England, France, Canada, Mexico, Ethiopia, Israel, Germany and our own back yard.

Once again organized and produced by local entrepreneur Judith Plank, this spring’s festival includes a reception Saturday, April 2, at International House, at which Gary Null’s documentary “Death by Medicine” and the haunting “Locked Out” by Joan Sekler will be screened. I-House is at 10 College Park.

“There’s a momentum happening,” Plank says of her two-day event. “People have told me that the films I bring are the most amazing things they’ve ever seen. This year will be no different.”

Plank, who had spent many years volunteering at film festivals throughout Northern California, brought a single film to a Varsity Theatre screening a decade ago. The response to her effort, she says, was overwhelming and the local festival evolved.

The April 2 sneak preview — which includes refreshments, a history of the festival, an overview of what’s in store the following weekend and the two films — begins at 7 p.m. and is free of charge.

The following weekend, the Davis Film Festival will be presented at the Veterans’ Memorial Theater, 203 E. 14th St., in three parts.

“Friday (April 8) is arts and edgy,” explains Plank, a 1980 UC Davis graduate. “Saturday, during the day, is shorts, with human rights night to follow that night.

“We seriously have some of the best films we’ve ever had in all the times we’ve had this festival. I’m so excited.”

Four films with Davis filmmakers involved — including Plank’s own “Butterscotch” — dot the landscape.

Saturday evening’s presentations are in concert with the local United Nations Association Film Festival, and the April 2 pre-event party is expected to get things off to a strong start.

” ‘Death by Medicine’ takes a hard look at the dominant medical paradigm contributing to America’s health crisis,” Plank says.

Based on Null’s ground-breaking book about the hundreds of thousands of injuries and deaths he believes have been caused by conventional medicine, the documentary is a strong statement that something is wrong — and needs to be repaired.

Sekler’s film, narrated by actor Peter Coyote, tells the story of how small-town miners “stood up and faced down a multibillion-dollar global corporation after the miners were told their pay and benefits would be drastically cut,” Plank adds. “Very timely topic, considering the Wisconsin protests.”

And those entries are just teasers of what’s to come.

On Friday, April 8, beginning at 7 p.m., “A.L.I.C.E.” by Dawn Westlake — an exploration of how “trying to forget someone makes you think of nothing else” — kicks off the 24-entry weekend at the Vets’ Theater.

Sprinkled into the opening-night mix are “Folsom Prison Blues” (by Andy Anderson), “In the Wings” (by Davis’ Sarah Barbulesco) and “Blame It on Alcohol” (by Palvinder Jagait.

Plank’s 10-minute film shows during the Saturday matinee, as does an interview with ALS-cure activist Cathy Speck of Davis. Speck, whose film was produced by students from Davis High School’s race and social justice class, will weigh in on gay rights, her disease and dealing with setbacks.

Plank’s effort focuses on the friendship between Max, Ernie and their old friend Maggie. It’s a road trip with twists and turns provided thanks to a unusual, longtime relationship among the trio.

“You can get a lot done in 10 minutes,” Plank says, laughing.

Local animator Stephen Studyvin’s “Countdown” screens in the Saturday session that begins at 12:30 p.m.

In the joint production with the U.N. Association Film Festival are “Climate Refugees” by Michael Nash and Justin Hogan’s look at people “displaced by climatically induced disasters.” Given the tsunami devastation in Japan, Plank points out the ironic timing of its inclusion.

“Tesfaye” looks at environmental damage in Ethiopia and “Which Way Home?,” from Rebecca Cammisa, explores “the personal side of (Mexico-to-U.S.) immigration through the eyes of children.”

Tickets are $10 general admission per session or $7.50 for students. Festival passes, good for all three showings, are $25. All can be purchased at Armadillo Music, 205 F St., or online at http://www.davisfilmfest.org. Tickets also will be available at the door.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet

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