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Film series and fests signal autumn

Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia star in “At Middleton.’’Boston Film Festival

Fall is New England's season of renewal — just look at those fresh-faced kids loading rolling bins at dorm doors — and nowhere is that more evident than on the region's movie screens.

As it has done for decades, the venerable Brattle Theatre in Cambridge welcomes the new crop of students and filmgoers with a fall schedule that includes a "Best of Bogart" series (Oct. 4-16) with 18 films ranging from the noir classic "Dark Passage" to Bogie's Oscar-winner, "The African Queen." "Silent Screams" features the silent horror films "Nosferatu" (Oct. 28) and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (Oct. 29) with live musical accompaniment, as well as "Night of the Living Dead" (Oct. 30), with an alternative music score that will be performed live.


The Coolidge Corner Theatre also has a silent film presentation coming up. On Sept. 23 the Brookline art house will screen Josef von Sternberg's "The Last Command" with a live original score performed by Alloy Orchestra. The theater's Manhattan Short Film Festival unspools on Sept. 27, and its Halloween Marathon will entertain with creature features and spooky delights on Oct. 26. The Coolidge and Boston's Goethe Institute partner to present "New Films From Germany" at 11 a.m. on Sept., 22, Oct. 20, Nov. 24, and Dec. 15.

The 29th Boston Film Festival moves from September to Oct. 25-29 this year. Actor Andy Garcia will grace the red carpet with his new film, "At Middleton," costarring Vera Farmiga. Local favorite Mike O'Malley headlines a panel conversation, along with a host of shorts, documentaries, and fiction features at the Stuart Street Theatre 1, Revere Hotel. The complete schedule will be released in early October.

The Institute of Contemporary Art presents a film series called "Art Over Politics: The Persistence of Dreams" beginning Sept. 28-29 with "Salma," Kim Longinotto's documentary about the Muslim Tamil poet who is one of the important female literary figures in South India today. Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev's "The Desert of Forbidden Art" (Oct. 26-27) is about art curator Igor Savitsky, who defied Soviet rule by rescuing 40,000 works by forbidden artists and creating a museum for them in the Uzbekistan desert. Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray's "Unfinished Spaces," a documentary about Cuba's abandoned National Art Schools project and rediscovered as a visionary architectural masterpiece, screens Nov. 3.


The Museum of Fine Arts is currently showing "The Films of Matias Pineiro" (to Sept. 21), which highlights the Argentine filmmaker with a program that includes "The Stolen Man," "Viola," "They All Lie," and "Rosalinda." Two much-anticipated film festivals follow: the sixth annual Boston Palestine Film Festival takes place Oct. 18-27, and the 25th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival runs Nov. 6-18, both offering programs of narrative features, documentaries, filmmaker appearances, and cultural events.

The Harvard Film Archive will look at recent Italian moviemaking, inclu-ding Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo.” Harvard Film Archive

The Harvard Film Archive hosts the series "Nuove Visioni — Italian Cinema Now" from Sept. 13-30, with 11 films that examine Italian filmmaking over the last decade. These include Michelangelo Frammartino's poetic "Le Quattro Volte" (Sept. 22) and Paolo Sorrentino's "Il Divo," which chronicles the later years of scandalized, seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti. Director Joshua Oppenheimer will be at the HFA in person on Oct. 5 and 6 with the director's cut of one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the year, "The Act of Killing." Oscar-winning director Ang Lee ("Life of Pi") appears in person on Oct. 25 for the start of a retrospective of his films.


The free University of Massachusetts Boston Film Series moderated by curator and filmmaker Chico Colvard opens Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. with the documentary "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," followed by a discussion with co-director Maxim Pozdorovkin. Other titles include "Big Men" with director Rachel Boynton (Oct. 10); "God Loves Uganda" followed by a Q&A with director Roger Ross Williams (Oct. 22); "Lucky" with director Laura Checkoway and subject Lucky Torres (Nov. 7); and "Black Out" with director Eva Weber (Nov. 21). Screenings take place at the UMB Campus Center Ballroom, 3rd floor. (www.umb.edu/filmseries)

ArtsEmerson presents "Big Words," Neil Drumming's new documentary about three Brooklyn, N.Y., friends, once members of a promising hip-hop group and now in their late 30s struggling with life's challenges and disappointments. It screens Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 1:30 p.m. in the Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center.

New film festivals that are steadily growing and making a mark on the local cultural scene include The Boston Asian American Film Festival , which runs Oct. 24-27 at the Brattle Theatre and the Bright Family Screening Room. Now in its fifth year, BAAFF is a production of the Asian American Resource Workshop. It showcases recent, independent films by and/or about Asian-Americans and the Asian diaspora.

The 2013 Central Mass Film Festival (www.cmf2.org) takes place Oct. 18 and 19. It screens shorts and features at various locations throughout the Canal District and downtown Worcester.


The Arlington International Film Festival runs Oct. 23-27 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, offering independent films from around the world, documentary and narrative features, shorts, animation, and experimental, as well as panel discussions and post-screening parties with directors, producers, and actors.

Two film festivals will draw cinephiles to Portsmouth, N.H., this season. The Music Hall's Telluride by the Sea Festival (www.the
musichall.org) runs Sept. 20-22 with the much-anticipated feature "12 Years a Slave" as its centerpiece on Sept. 21 at 8:50 p.m. The fest also presents the series "Silents, Please!" featuring "Safety Last!" (Sept. 21), "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc," and "Lonesome" (Sept. 22).

Also in Portsmouth, the New Hampshire Film Festival celebrates its 13th year (Oct. 17-20) with four days of indie films, workshops, discussions, and parties. Most events take place at the Francis Ford Coppola Main Stage at the Music Hall (28 Chestnut St.) with additional screenings at three other venues in town.

The ninth annual Camden International Film Festival takes place Sept. 26-29 with a full slate of documentaries and guest filmmakers, including Zachary Heinzerling, who'll present his lively portrait of a married pair of artists, titled "Cutie and the Boxer." Maine filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin ("Downeast") show their new film, "Night Labor." And Barbara Kopple offers her latest, "Running From Crazy" as well as her Oscar winner from 1977, "Harlan County, USA." That film screens as part of the CIFF's "Then and Now" series, which also presents Peter Davis and his 1974 Oscar-winning documentary, "Hearts and Minds."


The Halloween spirit extends into November as the Killer Film Fest delivers a lineup of international indie horror shorts and features with enticing titles such as "Slasher House" and "The Grave Bandits" at the Somerville Theatre (Nov. 1-2).

The second annual Buzzards Bay Film Festival takes place Nov. 16 with screenings in Falmouth and New Bedford. The event benefits the Buzzards Bay Coalition, which helps protect the bay and its watershed.

Loren King can be reached at loren.king@comcast.net.