Newport Beach Film Festival's Social Network

A curated sample of socially relevant offerings at the 2012 festival

Newport Beach Film Festival's Social Network

One asterisk (*) next to a title indicates that film is highly recommended. All other descriptions are based on information provided by filmmakers and/or festival programmers.

A FIERCE GREEN FIRE *
The National Society of Film Critics named Mark Kitchell's Berkeley In the Sixties the Best Documentary of 1990; that film was also nominated for an Oscar. Fastforward two decades, and Kitchell has another excellent film that expertly blends period music, archival footage and reflective modern-day interviews. Broken up into five parts to reflect that many decades of eco-activism, A Fierce Green Fire covers the conservation movement that sprung up in the 1960s through today's global concerns about climate change, rainforest destruction and the need for a sustainable future. At Starlight Cinemas, April 28, 3:30 p.m.; May 3, 5 p.m.

THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA
A "Nuclear Renaissance" was born in 2010 when the United States announced the first new nuclear-power-plant construction in more than 32 years. Then came the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent meltdown of the plant in Fukushima. With radiation from that event now turning up in kelp beds off the Orange County coast, this documentary from co-directors Don Argott and Sheena Joyce could not be more timely. At Starlight Cinemas, April 29, 4 p.m.; at Island Cinemas, May 1, 4 p.m.

Mosquita Y Mari
Mosquita Y Mari
The War Around Us
The War Around Us

BEAT DOWN
From Canada comes director Deanne Foley's film of a headstrong teenage girl who wants to follow her father's footsteps into professional wrestling. Dad, who retired from the ring, objects, so his daughter turns to his bitter rival for guidance. At least she isn't on the pole, Papa. At Island Cinemas, April 27, 6:30 p.m.; at Starlight Cinemas, May 1, 3:30 p.m.

BITTER SEEDS *
Provocative Bay Area filmmaker Micha X. Peled completes his Globalization Trilogy (2005's China Blue and 2001's Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town) with this compelling documentary that makes the case that Monsanto is complicit in the suicides of farmers every half-hour in India. The focus is on a young woman and budding journalist whose farmer father killed himself and her uncle, another desperate cotton farmer. The American chemical giant's genetically modified seeds are at the root of evil in this heartbreaking, infuriating and all-too-common story. At Starlight Cinemas, April 28, 8 p.m.; at Island Cinemas, April 30, 4 p.m.

BROKEN KINGDOM
Writer/director Daniel Gillies stars and directs his wife, Rachael Leigh Cook, in this indie drama about the intersecting lives of two sets of people: a Hollywood writer and 14-year-old prostitute from Bogota, Colombia, and an LA day-care teacher and Colombian university student. The 2010 film makes its West Coast premiere here. At Island Cinemas, April 28, 8:15 p.m.; at Starlight Cinemas, May 1, 4:15 p.m.

5 BROKEN CAMERAS *
A Palestinian farmer attempts to chronicle his village's nonviolent resistance to the Israeli army and illegal settlements, but dang if soldiers or settlers don't keep breaking his cameras. Fortunately, Emad Burnat, who gets the co-directing credit for this documentary with Guy Davidi, manages to collect fascinating footage that is presented chronologically, in the order each camera was destroyed. Included are moments of family joy, a wife's concern that her husband/videographer will get himself killed and dubious shootings of unarmed Palestinians. At Island Cinemas, April 28, 4:30 p.m.; At Starlight Cinemas, April 30, 3:45 p.m.

GUILTY *
Vincent Garenq's gritty look at real French injustice is told through the sad eyes of Alain Marécaux (Phillippe Torreton), a bailiff who, along with his wife and a dozen others, is falsely accused of raping kids. You feel an innocent's pain and share a nation's indignation. At Island Cinemas, April 29, 4 p.m.; May 2, 3:30 p.m.

HIGH GROUND
Since the passing of Roy Disney, Don Hahn has taken over hosting the festival's popular Disney Rarities program, which returns for a fifth year. But the Oscar-nominated producer of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame also manages to work into the lineup a documentary of his own, such as 2010's Hand Held or this year's look at 11 injured war veterans who heal their emotional and physical wounds by scaling a Himalayan peak. At Starlight Cinemas, April 29, 6 p.m.

I WISH
Director of Programming Erik Forssell is high on this Japanese Spotlight feature from Kore-eda Hirokazu, whose love story between a video store clerk and blow-up doll, Air Doll, was a hit at the 2010 festival. I Wish is about a 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother in one city devising a plan with his little brother who resides with his father in another town to magically reunite the family. "It's a touching look at children and divorce," Forssell says. At Big Newport, April 30, 7:30 p.m.

ICE DRAGON
Mick, 11, sets off for a new foster home. Along the way, he encounters an ice dragon, owns a cat factory, befriends two brothers and falls in love for the first time. Martin Hogdahl and Håkan Bjerkings' Swedish fantasy is a Spotlight Film making its U.S. premiere. At Lido, May 1, 8:30 p.m.

KINGDOM COME
Directors Paiman Kalayeh and John Lyons Murphy use Daniel Gillies' experiences as a first-time director (see Broken Kingdom, above) to flesh out the perils of independent filmmaking. Mark Ruffalo, Seth Green and Tim Roth also share their indie experiences. At Port Theatre, April 28, 5 p.m.

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