“Rest assured it has not slipped our attention that there is a distinctly unkind irony playing out,” director Jamie Mackenzie emailed me the other day, following the volcanic eruption in Iceland that spewed plumes of ash over Britain. After making “a film of peril and adventure which spans the globe, journeying across all seven continents with bicycles—with the self-imposed rule of NOT taking a single plane,” he and his cohorts found themselves grounded in London “in utter desperation.”
Mackenzie and his collaborators were waiting for the green light to board a plane, to take them to the premiere of their film “’Free Wheels East” at the Newport Beach Film Festival. “Oh the ridiculous hilarity of it all,” he noted. While the situation seems to have abated somewhat and the Brits have hopefully queued up at Heathrow in time to bask in the limelight, the 11th annual NBFF (April 22-29) promises plenty of drama, both real and imagined.
Among the documentaries slated: “Fiberglass and Megapixels,” an award-winning film about the swarms of paparazzi who descend on Hawaii’s North Shore to cover the winter surfing scene… “Desert of Forbidden Art,” about a penniless artist who rescues 40,000 works by fellow outcasts whose work has been banned, and opens a museum in the remote Uzbekistan desert… and “Climate Refugees,” about the impact global warming will have on population centers, applauded by Robert Redford, who cited it as the type of film that can be “an agent for social change.”
Other films include “Starring Maja,” about an inept, heavy-set 18-year-old girl, who lives in a hopelessly small town in Sweden and dreams of becoming an actress… “Made in Hungaria,” about a guy named Miklos who returns to Communist Hungary from America in the mid ‘60s with outrageous clothes and a rock ‘n’ roll attitude—at a time when his countrymen are fleeing to the West… and “Modjeska Woman Triumphant,” a documentary about Polish actress Helena Modjeska, who performed in theatres across America and spent her later years in OC, where she died in 1909.
Then of course there are the high-profile flicks, like “Letters to Juliet” starring Amanda Seyfried. NBFF will screen some 350-400 films, including an impressive number of dramatic and documentary shorts, and showcases of work by student filmmakers from Chapman University, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, USC, UCLA and other colleges. Venues include the Edwards Island Cineplex, the Lido Regency Theatre, the OC Museum of Art and the Studio at Sage Hill. Visit the festival website for more info.
Hot tip: Al Pacino is not only one of the few actors who would have the cajones to play Jack Kevorkian (“You Don’t Know Jack,” HBO, April 24) but one of the classiest guys in the business; when I saw him in a Broadway show a few years back, he shook hands with fans after every performance.
More from Jordan:
TCM Classic Film Festival offers expanded ‘Metropolis,’ stars galore
Julia Cho’s ‘Language Archive’ opens Playwrights Fest at South Coast Rep
‘Acting’ and ‘Einstein’ offer lessons in art and life at Theatre West
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