Dinner and a movie, with fungi
Since it premiered in 2012 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, then played a host of other events including the Provincetown International Film Festival, Julia Halperin has wanted to bring her film, “Now, Forager,” home to Boston. A native of Arlington, Halperin recalls fondly the film education she got during the 1980s at the Brattle Theatre and Orson Welles Cinema. After graduating from Hunter College in New York, she returned to Boston in the ’90s to work in documentary and educational media.
Halperin produced, edited, and co-directed “Now, Forager” with Jason Cortlund, who stars with Tiffany Esteb as a young married couple who forage for wild mushrooms deep in the woods of New Jersey and sell them door-to-door to restaurants in New York. It’s a meager existence that threatens their financial stability and their relationship. “Food movies tend to focus on eating and celebrating. They’re about the ‘front of the house,’ ” says Halperin, who lives with Cortlund in Austin, Texas. “We were more interested in the ‘back of the house.’ Jason and I have both worked in restaurants and we’re interested in livelihoods and how it shapes who [these characters] are.”
Local audiences will finally get a chance to see “Now, Forager” when it screens at the Somerville Theatre on Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Both directors will attend and engage in a post-screening question-and-answer session. They are also partnering with popular local restaurant Cuisine en Locale (156 Highland Ave., Somerville), which is offering a post-film dinner at 9 p.m. featuring locally foraged fall mushrooms.
“Now, Forager” will of course appeal to foodies but there’s also an environmental and scientific component: You’ll never look at mushrooms quite the same way after so many stunning shots of various fungi poking out of the ground and growing on trees. “[It’s] a whole world that opens,” says Halperin, adding that she and Cortlund make time to forage when they’re not making movies. The team is now in pre-production on “La Barracuda,” which Halperin describes as “a psychological suspense story set in the music world of Austin.”
For tickets and information go to www.nowforager.com.
The world comes to Arlington
The fourth annual Arlington International Film Festival opens Oct. 15 with the Boston premiere of “Botso: The Teacher From Tbilisi,” Tom Walters’s documentary profile of Wachtang “Botso” Korisheli, a musician, sculptor, and teacher who survived World War II, fled the former Soviet Republic of Georgia after the execution of his father, and settled in California. There, he has taught generations of talented students, including Kent Nagano, music director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal in Quebec. Walters, writer-producer Hilary Grant, and editor Randi Barros will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. Running through Oct. 19 at the Regent Theatre, the AIFF’s lineup of features and shorts from around the globe includes notable films by two directors with local roots. “Unorthodox” (screens Oct. 19) follows three rebellious Jewish teenagers over the course of a year as they wrestle with questions of identity. Co-directors Nadja Oertelt and Anna Wexler met as undergrads at MIT. Wexler, who will be on hand for a post-screening talk, drew on her own experience rejecting her Orthodox Jewish community as a teen in New Jersey. Sherborn native Andrew Mudge, who shot his 2002 short film “The Perfect Gooseys” in Boston, will be at the AIFF with his 2013 feature “The Forgotten Kingdom” (Oct. 19) about a young man who returns to his remote ancestral land of Lesotho in South Africa to bury his estranged father and reconnects with his heritage. Mudge spent a year living in the ancient mountain villages of Lesotho before shooting “The Forgotten Kingdom,” a richly textured film that recalls Nicolas Roeg’s “Walkabout.”
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Screens around town
Outdoor enthusiasts and starring athletes will be among the crowd at the third annual Boston Winter Film Festival which began on Oct. 9 and continues through Oct. 11. Screenings are at 7 p.m. at the Simons IMAX Theatre in the New England Aquarium. The festival is a showcase for some of the world’s best ski and snowboard films. Go to www.bostonwinterfilmfestival.com . . . . There are people who actually want to watch your home movies. Home Movie Day is a celebration of amateur films and filmmaking — yes, that includes birthday parties, recitals, graduations — and it’s sponsored by the Center for Home Movies, which coordinates events at local venues worldwide. Boston’s Home Movie Day will take place on Oct. 18 from noon to 3 p.m. in Room B-04 at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at the Harvard Film Archive. Participants are invited to bring their 8mm films or VHS tapes by 11 a.m. Admission is free. Go to www.hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2014sepoct/hmd.html or www.homemovieday.com.
The winners are. . .
Boston native Melissa Donovan’s “Zemene” was the big winner at the 30th annual Boston Film Festival in late September. Her film, about a 10-year old Ethiopian girl with the life-threatening condition of Kyphosis, picked up prizes for best documentary, cinematography, and editing. Paul Lazarus won best director for his documentary “Slingshot,” about New Hampshire resident and inventor Dean Kamen’s work to clean up the world’s water supply. It also received the EcoFilm Award. Audience Favorite honors went to the documentary “Playing for the Mob,” about the Boston College points-shaving scandal of 1978 and ’79, co-directed by Joe Lavine and Cayman Grant. “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, won best film; the BFF screening was its New England premiere.