Twin Rivers Media Festival 2011

This weekend we have the annual Twin Rivers Media Festival — one of Asheville’s often overlooked gems. Many times I’ve seen films from this festival that were far better than the usual film-festival fare. It wasn’t even unusual for their feature winner to be as good as anything at the now defunct Asheville Film Festival. Twin Rivers is an independent festival — done by the same people who bring Asheville the World Cinema series every Friday in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building — and it’s always eclectic, sometimes edgy, often surprising, but invariably worthwhile. This year — though submissions were down a bit — promises to be no exception.

As usual, the festival — which runs Friday from 8 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. from May 27 to 29 — is a mix of shorts, documentaries and features. This year, some favorites from past years have been added to the program. Friday is a mixture of film types. Saturday is given over to animation, experimental works and drama. Sunday is documentaries.

I’ve been able to watch a few of the films for this year, and I’m favorably impressed with the overall quality of the entries. The elegiac short film, Archer (which plays on Friday and Saturday), is a little treasure. It’s not so much an elaborate film as it is a simple look at a small part of an old man’s life and his interaction with the young man who works as caretaker at the cemetery where the older man reads to his departed wife on a daily basis. It may not seem like much, but there’s something oddly touching about the film.

Similarly, another short film, Wolf Call (playing Friday and Saturday), brings an emotional quality to a very simple premise — a radio interview about a racially motivated murder from 1955. And it’s one that plays effectvely on the race angle by casting against race. It might sound odd, but it works in a way that a more straightforward presentation would not have. There’s also some striking animation to be found. The short animated film Prayers for Peace (playing Friday and Saturday) uses a variety of animaton styles to make its point about a memorial for fallen soldiers.

Another short, Keycard (playing Friday and Saturday), focuses on a Polish woman’s attempts to communicate with an Argentinian man in the only language — English — they both at least somewhat understand. It may not be quite on a par with the other shorts I saw, but it is nicely produced and manages to convey just how complicated such an interaction is.

I Need That Record! (second place documentary winner from 2009) is a slick, engaging feature length documentary on the demise — and possible survival of the independent record store. It raises all the right questions while managing to capture a wide array of people’s memories of searching record stores for something new and unexpected or some elusive long sought treasure. It will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever rummaged through an old style record store — and it just might make those who haven’t realize that they’re missing something. If you didn’t catch this one in 2009, here’s another chance. (It shows on Sunday.)

The Twin Rivers Media Festical is hosted by Courtyard Gallery from Friday to Sunday, May 27 to May 29, at Phil Mechanic Studios (109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library). For a full list of titles and the complete schedule, visit http://www.twinriversmediafestival.com

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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2 thoughts on “Twin Rivers Media Festival 2011

  1. Our line-up for Friday night is:

    7:30-8:00 pm Festival kickoff & hors d’oeuvres
    8:00-10:00 pm Featured 2011 Twin Rivers Media Festival Official Selections in Animation, Dramas & Documentary. Make sure you pick up a voting form so you can vote for your Audience Favorite!

    Deux Petites Bateaux by Kate Raney
    An animated music video for the band Mar Caribe. A dancing fish-people extravaganza!

    Wolf Call by Rob Underhill
    It is 1956. The previous year, 14-year old Emmett Till from Chicago had gone missing in Money, Mississippi. Later, the boy’s mutilated body was found in a river. William Bradford Huie of Look magazine sits down with the two men acquitted for the boy’s murder, Roy Bryant Jr. and J.W. Milam, to discuss the trial. Not a word had been uttered outside a courtroom by them or their kin, until now… this true story crafted from public record, transports us back to this historic drama that became a lightning rod for moral outrage and pivotal in inspiring a whole generation of young people to commit social change in the 1950s.

    Keycards by Russell Yaffe
    A Polish woman and an Argentine man struggle to connect through a language foreign to them both.

    Archer by Erik Mauck
    After another day reading to his wife, Mr. Archer is asked to leave by a young groundskeeper who is closing up. The two try to find common ground in a world of loneliness.

    Four documentaries from “Portraits d’un nouveau monde”, a collection of multimedia documentaries by various photographers, filmmakers, journalists…to share in the destinies of people, places, and new realities in the 21st century.
    Atomic City by Micha Patault
    In Washington State, residents of Richland have built their identity around the nuclear for five generations.
    Attic People by Michael Sztanke & Bertrand Meunier
    When Hong Kong opens to the mainland, people come in hopes of fulfilling their dreams, and end up living in vertical shantytowns.
    Postcards from Paradise
    by Poul Madsen & Henrik Kastenskov
    Asad left Bangladesh for the Maldives. And it’s no vacation. He lives in hell…within paradise.
    A Somalian in Paris by Patrick Zachmann
    Follow Abdirisaak on his journey form his war-torn country to France.

    Entertainer by Rob Underhill
    Prime-time interview with Bob about life, coping with loss, and preserving love.

    Then we’ll be showing Animation & Dramas on Saturday from 12-4, and Documentaries on Sunday from 12-4. See our website for all the details!
    http://www.twinriversmediafestival.com/schedule.html

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