Opening Night at the Santa Fe Film Festival

- October 19, 2011

"...screenings at Santa Fe’s two independent arthouse theaters..."

The Santa Fe Film Festival kicks off its 12th Annual event this week with Thursday screenings at Santa Fe’s two independent arthouse theaters, The Screen and The Cinematique at CCA.

Opening night Thursday  at The Screen features a 7 p.m. showing of The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius’ romance/comedy/drama that won a Best Actor Award for its star, Jean Dujardin at Cannes.

An honest-to-goodness, black-and-white silent picture made by modern French filmmakers in Hollywood, The Artist is a spirited, hilarious and moving delight. A sensation in Cannes, Michel Hazanavicius’ playful love letter to the movies’ early days spins on a variation on a A Star Is Born-like relationship between a dashing Douglas Fairbanks-style star Jean Dujardin, whose career wanes with the coming of sound, and a dazzling young actress, played by Berenice Bejo, whose popularity skyrockets at the same time.

Meticulously made in the 1.33 aspect ratio with intertitles and a superb score, The Artist has great fun with silent film conventions just as it rigorously adheres to them, turning its abundant love for the look and ethos of the 1920s into a treat that will be warmly embraced by movie lovers of every persuasion. With James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and John Goodman as a definitive cigar-chomping studio boss.

And at CCA Thursday…

At 7:30 p.m. we are treated to a comedy/drama by director/screenwriter Aki Kaurismäki’s – Le Havre. The latest deadpan treat from Kaurismäki (The Man Without a Past) was inspired, the director has said, by his desire to have been born a generation earlier, so that he could have witnessed the Resistance during World War II. Thus Le Havre abounds with sly references to classic Resistance dramas from Port of Shadows to Casablanca as it tells the whimsical tale of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a noted Parisian author now living in self-imposed exile in the titular port city. Dividing most of his time between his neighborhood bar and caring for his bedridden wife (longtime Kaurismäki muse Kati Outinen), Marcel finds himself alive with a new sense of purpose when he comes to the aid of a young African on the run from immigration police and trying to reunite with his mother in London.

Beautifully shot in Kaurismäki’s signature shades of muted blue, brown and green, with scene-stealing appearances by French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud and a dog named Laika, Le Havre is a gentle yet profound comedy of friendship, random acts of kindness and small acts of revolution.

Buckle your seat belts. You’re in for a wonderful ride, as the Santa Fe Film Festival produces a long list of superb films over four days, in three different venues – The Screen, The Cinematique and The Lensic. More later.

Note: Trailers for all of the Festival's films are available at  www.santafefilmfestival.com.