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Plagiarism documentary kicks off Salem Film Fest

Director Jeremy Workman will attend the Salem festival with his “Magical Universe” (above), about Maine artist Al Carbee, who creates elaborate dioramas with Barbie dolls. Jeremy Workman

The stellar documentaries nominated for Oscars this year are just five among many that were released. Audiences looking to get a jump on Oscar-worthy documentaries for next year might want to check out the 7th annual all-documentary Salem Film Fest, running March 6-13. The lineup of 37 films from 14 countries kicks off at CinemaSalem with the New England premiere of “A Fragile Trust,” about the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal that rocked The New York Times and the world of journalism. A discussion with filmmaker Samantha Grant will follow the screening. Other festival premieres include “Elektro Moskva,” about Russia’s electronic music history; “Powerless,” about the class battle over electricity in India; “Everybody Street,” about New York’s street photographers; and “Rich Hill,” winner of the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, about a once-thriving Missouri mining town, now desolate. Filmmakers will be on hand for most of this year’s screenings.

Besides films from around the world, the Salem fest also has a distinctly regional flavor, says program director Jeff Schmidt. Films with New England connections include “Brookford Almanac,” about a couple, Luke and Catarina Mahoney, and their attempt to run a biologically diverse farm and organic dairy in New Hampshire. Director Cozette Russell will be in attendance. Also attending is Jeremy Workman with “Magical Universe,” about Maine artist Al Carbee, who creates elaborate dioramas with Barbie dolls. “Kasheer: Art, Culture and the Struggle for Azadi,” about three artists living in the Kashmir Valley — a war zone in the Indian Himalayas on the contested border with Pakistan — is directed by Salem filmmaker Elayne McCabe, who will attend the festival. A series of shorts called “Salem Sketches,” produced by festival organizers Joe Cultrera and Perry Hallinan with festival alumni filmmakers, will precede most feature screenings. The festival also offers the “Five-Minute Student Doc Contest,” with films by Massachusetts high school students, and the “Mass Reality Check,” which showcases documentary shorts by college students and recent graduates.


Besides CinemaSalem, films will screen at the Peabody Essex Museum and the National Park Service Salem Visitor Center. For more information, go to

Worldly Belmont

Mondays just got better. Belmont World Film’s 13th annual international film series, titled “Home Is Where. . . ,” takes place Mondays at 7:30 p.m. from March 10 to May 5 (except April 14) at the Studio Cinema in Belmont. The series features eight films, including several New England premieres, followed by discussions or culturally related performances. Kicking things off on March 10 is the French whodunit “Playing Dead,” directed by Jean-Paul Salomé. “Ilo Ilo,” directed by Anthony Chen of Singapore, screens on March 17 with Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti leading a post-screening talk.


On March 24, the fest presents “GriGris,” directed by Mahat-Saleh Haroun. Cliff Odle, a specialist in Africana on stage, screen, and TV at UMass Boston, will speak after the screening. “Only When I Dance” (March 31), a documentary about two teenagers from a favela in Rio de Janeiro who dream of becoming world-class dancers, will be followed by a discussion with Irlan Silva, one of the dancers featured in the film who is now a member of the Boston Ballet. Also on the schedule: Andrzej Jakimowski’s “Imagine” (April 7), Barmak Akram’s “An Afghan Love Story” (April 21), Laïla Marrakchi’s “Rock the Casbah” (April 28), and Ruben Alves’s “The Gilded Cage” (May 5).


For more information, go to

New voices

International cinema is also on the bill at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, where the series “New Latin American Cinema” runs March 8-27, providing audiences with a chance to experience the work of rising young filmmakers from Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Brazil. “All About Feathers,” about a security guard who befriends a rooster when he attempts to train it for cockfighting, is the feature debut from Neto Villalobos of Costa Rica. “The Summer of Flying Fish” is a coming-of-age drama from Chile’s Marcela Said. “Heli” is director Amat Escalante’s unflinching portrait of police corruption and drug violence in Mexico (Escalante took best director honors at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival). The series also includes “Workers” by José Luis Valle of Mexico and “Wolf at the Door” by Fernando Coimbra of Brazil.

For more information, go to

Photographing life

“Eye on the 60s: The Iconic Photography of Rowland Scherman,” a documentary portrait of the former LIFE magazine photographer who captured images from monumental events such as the March on Washington, will screen March 14 at 7 p.m. at a special event sponsored by the Boston Camera Club and the Newton Camera Club. A question and answer session with director Chris Szwedo follows the screening. It takes place at Larz Anderson Automobile Museum, 15 Newton St., Brookline. For tickets, go to

‘Monster’ movie

Bright Lights, a free film series featuring post-screening guests at Emerson College’s Paramount Center, Bright Family Screening Room, features the documentary “Whitey Bulger: The Making of a Monster,” directed by Ben Avishai and Dan Mooney, on March 11. Executive producer Susan Gray of Northern Lights Productions will engage in a post-screening discussion. The film, about Boston’s infamous crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, is based on the book “Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss” by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neil.


Bright Lights events are free and open to the public. All screenings start at 7 p.m. For more information, go to

Around town

The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Big Screen Classics series continues March 3 at 7 p.m with a 35mm screening of Orson Welles’s 1958 film noir masterpiece “Touch of Evil,” starring Welles, Charlton Heston, and Janet Leigh. Go to . . . . Two notable documentaries from the DocYard series screen this week. Called a lost masterpiece of cinema, Dominique Benicheti’s “Cousin Jules” (1973), a record of the daily life of a French farmer, screens March 5 at 7 p.m. at the MFA. Alfred Guzzetti, professor of visual arts at Harvard University and a former colleague of the late Benicheti, who taught at Harvard in the ’70s, will lead a post-screening talk. The DocYard returns to the Brattle Theatre March 10 at 7 p.m. with “First Cousin Once Removed,” filmmaker Alan Berliner’s personal portrait of his “good friend, cousin and mentor” Edwin Honig, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Berliner will engage in a post-screening discussion with film journalist Erin Trahan. Go to


Loren King can be reached at