The Moab International Film Festival’s return to Star Hall in March brings with it six international films that are entertaining, eye-opening and educational.
The nonprofit festival is dedicated to showcasing independent films of the highest quality from around the world. Its purpose is to present stellar independent films of cultural and educational value for filmgoers to enjoy.
“I cannot believe that we are in our fifth year,” Moab International Film Festival Managing Director Denise Felaar said. “It seems like we just started out the other day as a grassroots festival.”
Two films will be shown each evening, from Friday, March 2, through Sunday, March 4, at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St., starting at 7 p.m.
“We have a well-rounded mix from around the world this year, for our fifth festival: Russia, Japan and more,” Moab International Film Festival director of administrative affairs Nathan Wynn said. “We also have a nice mix from all genres. Everything from the inspirational, with ‘Ethiopia Rising’ to hardcore documentary style, as in the case of ‘What the Health.’ Sunday night has worked out to be a Russian comedy night.”
“Our must-see opening movie, ‘What the Health,’ is a serious start,” Felaar added. “But we end on a humorous note with our two Russian comedies, ‘Superprize’ and ‘Teli and Toli.’”
With six films being screened, it might be a challenge for Wynn to name any favorites.
“They’re all great,” he said, “or we wouldn’t have chosen them, of course. But if I had to pick personal favorites, I’d go with ‘Superprize’ for its never-ending laughs. ‘Ethiopia Rising’ is my favorite for inspiration. Documentaries that show solutions, rather than problems needing solutions, are refreshing. ‘What the Health’ is really the most eye-opening on many levels, and may be the most informative from this year’s selections.”
“What the Health,” which will be screening at 7 p.m. on March 2, has been called “the health film that health organizations don’t want you to see.”
It follows activist filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers what he calls the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases. It investigates why, in his opinion, the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want people to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals what Andersen considers to be “possibly the largest health cover-up of our time,” according to a synopsis of the documentary.
“Radiance,” which will be screening at 8:50 p.m. on March 2, is a Japanese and French co-production by renowned filmmaker Naomi Kawase, has attracted attention at the Cannes Film Festival. It was awarded the Ecumenical Prize, given to “(honor) works of artistic quality which (witness) the power of film to reveal the mysterious depths of human beings through what concerns them, their hurts and failings as well as their hopes.”
According to a synopsis of the movie, a passionate writer of film versions for the visually impaired meets an older photographer, who is slowly losing his eyesight. In his photographs, the woman discovers an odd connection to her past, and together they discover a radiant world that until now was not visible to her eyes.
Showing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, “Ethiopia Rising” is the true story of the phenomenal environmental transformation of a nation, told through the experience of an unlikely hero called Aba Hawi, or “Man of Fire.” The documentary tells the story of how he mobilized an entire community to regenerate the surrounding hillsides, and in so doing saved his village from certain extinction, according to a description of the film.
Up next is “Unarmed Verses” at 8:20 p.m. on March 3. At the center of this feature documentary is 12-year-old Francine Valentine, whose observations about life, the soul and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society, according to an overview of the film.
“Superprize” will be showing at 7 p.m. on March 4. The 15-minute film is about a security guard who wins a “smart car” at a lottery and wants to share the joy of his victory, but his “super prize” doesn’t inspire just anybody.
Other films this year include “Teli and Toli,” a down-to-earth story that takes place in the mountains of North Caucasus.
The film from director Aleksandr Amirov, which will be screening at 7:30 p.m. on March 4, tells filmgoers about “simple and naïve people” whom governments try to divide by an official state border. According to a synopsis of the movie, the people want to live in peace and harmony, in spite of their ethnic differences, as their ancestors had lived for hundreds of years. They are accustomed to solve their conflicts peacefully, following Caucasian customs: around a great table, with wine and songs.
Felaar said that the festival has priced its à la carte and full-festival passes to make them affordable for local residents.
This year’s film festival is presented in partnership with Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab, which is offering 10 percent off rooms if you mention you’re coming to the festival when you make the booking. Sponsors this year include Canyon Voyages; Canyonlands Copy Center; Eddie McStiff’s; Eklecticafe; KZMU; Moab Chevron & Stu’s Deli; Moab Happenings; the Moab Sun News; Optometrist Todd A. Hackney, O.D.; The Times-Independent; and Wake and Bake Café.
“A big thanks to our sponsors for making this event happen,” Felaar said.
Three nights of comedies and documentaries among this year’s offerings
What: Moab International Film Festival
When: Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m. and 8:50 p.m.; Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.; and Sunday, March 4, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Cost: $30 for an all-films festival pass (which is transferable); $5 per individual film tickets can be purchased online at moabfilmfestival.org, at the Canyonlands Copy Center, Back of Beyond Books or at the show.
For more information, go to: www.moabfilmfestival.org.