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Globe Trotting:

DocuTime Film Festival
Saturday, January 29
UNCW’s King Hall, 601 S. College Rd
$6, GA; $5, students and seniors
$20, all-day pass • etix.com

FAMILY MATTERS: ‘Last Train Home’ explores the life of a Chinese migrant family. Shows 11:40 a.m. - 1:05 p.m. on the 29th. Courtesy photo.

Wilmington exported four films to Park City, Utah for Sundance Film Festival this week, and Cucalorus 2011 is many months away. Still, citizens of Wilmington who are passionate about film continue to provide the community with its fair share of entertainment. WHQR Public Radio and UNCW’s Department of Film Studies offer up the 9th annual DocuTime. The one-day festival brings film fanatics of Southeastern North Carolina the chance to view many acclaimed documentaries, including Academy Award nominees.

“It is a wonderful chance for people in our area to see some of the finest documentaries that otherwise might never be screened,” Mary Bradley, co-chair of the DocuTime committee and membership manager for public radio station 91.3, WHQR, said.

The idea for such a showing came all the way from Los Angeles, where the International Documentary Association (IDA) sponsored an event called DocuFest. Luckily for Wilmington, a woman involved with DocuFest decided to relocate to the East Coast. Paula Lee Haller, a documentary-film producer and director, began the Port City’s version of the festival in 2003.

This year’s DocuTime features films from China, Russia, Iran and more. Fans will circumnavigate the globe without ever leaving the auditorium. In addition, spectators can expect an eclectic selection of films that feed all interests. “Programming is an art,” Haller said. “These films will raise many social questions. [DocuTime is] a terrific opportunity to watch sophisticated, stimulating, informative documentaries from around the world.”

DocuTime will take place at UNCW’s King Hall auditorium from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The festival was originally held at Screen Gems Studios, but the community’s reception of DocuTime in the past was so great that the event had to move to a larger venue. “About 60-70 percent of our guests purchase all-day passes and stay for the entire showing,” Haller noted. “The audience is always very enthusiastic.”

With four full-length documentaries and two shorts, the audience should be thrilled. Tickets can be purchased as all-day passes for $20, or $6 for general admission to each program. Seniors and students pay only $5. The line-up begins at 10 a.m. with “Barbershop Punk,” a David-versus-Goliath story that showcases a barbershop singer going against Comcast in a battle over the First Amendment. However, the DocuTime committee coordinated a special musical performance before the beginning of the movie. Guests who arrive by 9:30 a.m. will hear The Leading Edge, a barbershop quartet that sings in four-part harmony.

“[DocuTime] is a marathon of looking at documentary films from around the world,” Haller said. In its ninth year, the one-day film festival offers Wilmington the rare chance to view perspectives from the opposite end of the globe, and to savor deeply powerful stories. DocuTime will, without a doubt, educate and entertain.

DocuTime 2011 Film Line-Up:

10-11:25 a.m.: “Barbershop Punk”
Directors: Georgia C. Archer,
Kristin Armfield

Robb Topolski is a barbershop quartet baritone who plants himself in the middle of a landmark case against Comcast, the outcome of which will affect the rights of all American citizens. “Barbershop Punk” follows one man’s personal quest to defend what he believes are his inalienable rights, and examines issues surrounding the future of the American Internet. Featured interviews include Janeane Garofalo, Henry Rollins, and more.

11:40 a.m.-1:05 p.m. “Last Train Home”
Director: Lixin Fan

“Last Train Home” exposes the lives of a Chinese migrant family, motivated and damaged by economic situations they cannot control. The film asks questions about the changing nature of family life and rural society, generational gaps, and changing values that are causing problems among China’s youth.
“Lixin captures the messy tragedy of their lives with dignity and intimacy, and there are some scenes, such as a violent confrontation between father and daughter, that carry the sting of reality,” according to The Capital Times. “But ‘Last Train Home’ also has the insight of great dramatic fiction, tying this family’s struggle to their country’s larger issues with a delicate but firm thread.”

1:35-3:05p.m.: “VLAST (POWER)”
Director: Cathryn Collins

The fall of the Soviet Union began a volatile but advantageous environment for young Russian entrepreneurs. One of those businessmen was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose eagerness to build the market economy by any means necessary made him the richest man in Russia. Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint for challenging the absolute power of Vladimir Putin, and his oil company was seized. Director Cathryn Collins showcases unprecedented access to Khodorkovsky’s family, associates, and most renowned politicians and journalists in Russia. “VLAST (POWER)” exposes the erosion of democracy in modern Russia.

3:15-4:30p.m. Shorts:
“All Restrictions End”
Director: Reza Haeri

In the early days of the Iranian revolution, anyone with wrinkles on his trousers would be sent home from work. How can one say his prayers to Allah without breaking his trousers’ press lines? This film reflects on Islam and the politics of clothing. This free-form documentary is structured like a collage, mixing archival footage from Iranian cinema, Persian painting and graphics from the period of the Islamic Revolution.

“Rabbit À La Berlin”
Directors: Bartek Konopka and
Piotr Roslowski

This is the first film showing the story of the Berlin Wall and the reuniting of Germany seen from a very unusual perspective – from thousands of wild rabbits living in the Death Zone of the Wall. “Rabbit À La Berlin” is a 2010 Academy Award-nominated nature documentary that focuses on socialism. “Teasing and shrewd, a floppy-eared fable about the uneasy trade-offs between liberty and security,” according to The New York Times. “This cheeky parable plays like a totalitarian ‘Watership Down.’”

4:45-6:20p.m.: “For Once in My Life”
Directors: James Bigham, Mark
Moormann, Javier Pena

In 1982, employees of Goodwill Industries in South Florida joined together to make music, singing at company meetings and parties. By 1996, the group expanded into a 29-piece orchestra. Suffering from autism, blindness, head trauma, and Down’s Syndrome, this unique group of singers and musicians offer the world amazing music, and “For Once in My Life” is their story. This film, in a cinema verite style, explores the trials and triumphs of these musicians, and the healing power of music to challenge the world’s perceptions.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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