Not a Tame Lion, Serge BacchasUPDATED Nov. 6: The 12th annual Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) opened Thursday, Nov. 3, and concludes Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Capitol Theater, 204 Mass. Ave., East Arlington. It includes documentaries and fiction films, both feature-length and short, as well as a program of animated short films from throughout the world.  

The final day of the Arlington International Film Festival (AIFilm Festival), Sunday, Nov. 6, begins at noon with two films, "On This Happy Note," a documentary from Israel, and "Nothing Is Going to Change," a fiction film. The second film is followed by a Q&A with the director, Nicholas Burns, co-winner of the Outstanding Massachusetts Filmmaker award.

A program of two short documentaries begins at 1:50 p.m., starting with a US documentary, "The Gathering: Black Inventors Got Game," and followed by "Becoming Black Lawyers," by Evangeline Mitchell, another co-winner of the Outstanding Massachusetts Filmmaker award. A Q&A with Mitchell follows the program.

The festival's third international shorts program begins at 3:20. It includes the winner of the Best Narrative Short award, "An Insured Life" from Spain, sponsored by Vinotta Restaurant of Waltham; "A Thousand Cars at Night Looks Like a Moving Train" by Colin Wang and Max DeFalco, also co-winners of the Outstanding Massachusetts Filmmaker award; and the winner of the Best Documentary Short award, "Bicentennial Bonsai: Emissaries of Peace," from the U.S., sponsored by Real Italian Gusto of Medford. The last film is followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, Paul Award and Kathryn O'Sullivan.

The festival concludes with a 5:30 showing of a documentary about gay scholar John Boswell, "Not a Tame Lion," winner of the Best of Festival award, sponsored by the Social Equity Access Fund. It is followed by a Q&A with Craig Bettendorf, the director, and Kai Morgan, the producer.

All films will be shown at the Capitol Theatre, East Arlington.


"On This Happy Note" (1 hour 7 minutes)

Tamar Tal Anati | 2021 | Documentary | Israel | U.S. premiere

Anat Gov, one of the most influential playwrights in Israeli theater, accepts and prepares for her death, wishing to leave behind a spiritual legacy: "there is such a thing as a happy ending, it is possible to die in peace." Anat contacts Arik Kneller, her literary agent, and asks to meet; this intimate meeting was brilliantly documented, becoming the basis for this film. Anat was a creative, powerful and significant woman who wrote about death and depicted family relationships with captivating honesty and a distinct humor. In her writings she dares to invite God and the Angel of Death to converse. In all the forms of her writings, Anat expressed her views, concerns and objections in a direct and courageous manner. Through animated pieces from her plays, along with footage from her family and political world, a new script is written in which we meet Anat. "On This Happy Note" is an invitation to an intimate conversation with a bold artist, whose unique and sincere perception of life and death continues to resonate as an inner dialogue with each viewer who leaves the cinema.

World premiere Docaviv IFilm Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel. 

"Nothing Is Going to Change" 

Nicholas Burns | 2022 | Narrative | Mass. | Mass. premiere

Outstanding Mass. Filmmaker Award | Sponsored by Talamas

From 1984-1995, Geoffrey Driscoll recorded a daily video diary.  Jordan, a video technician, is hired by the surviving niece to transfer the videos. With each tape Jordan becomes a bit more interested in Geoffrey's life, but the question will remain, why document your life… who will care? 

Q&A w/Filmmaker

1:50 p.m.

Arianna Stoughton poster, 2022

"The Gathering: Black Inventors Got Game" (31 minutes)

James Howard | 2021 | Documentary | Pa. | New England premiere

The toy and game industry is a 33-billion-dollar industry. Each year, this industry produces millions of products for people all over the world to enjoy. It employs more than 50,000 workers to fill roles from designing to manufacturing to assembling and packaging. In the creative space, the industry employs more than 5,000 designers and creatives, of which black product designers account for less than 1%. Historically, the contributions and significance of Black inventors and designers of the toy and game industry have remained sequestered and pretty much gone unnoticed. Black designers have performed in the hallowed shadows of many legendary white inventors with silent voices. Invisible no more, the numerous black designers and inventors who have made it in this ever-flourishing industry have come to tell their stories and to be recognized for their tremendous groundbreaking contributions. 

premiere at Black History Month, Reading, Pa.

"Becoming Black Lawyers" (25 minutes) 

Evangeline Mitchell | 2021 | Documentary | Cambridge, Mass. | Boston premiere 

Outstanding Mass. Filmmaker Award | Sponsored by High Output

Evangeline M. Mitchell was shocked at what she experienced as a Black law student; she wondered if it was real or something she was imagining. Speaking with other Black law students, she discovered that her experiences were their experiences, and after graduation she decided to make a film that spoke to the experiences of Black lawyers in White law schools…she felt these stories needed to be told.

"Becoming Black Lawyers" features interviews with five Black lawyers that had set out on their journeys to receive a professional legal education, not realizing that they would have to struggle against additional battles even more challenging than the rigors of learning the law in a hypercompetitive environment. They discover the contradictions of studying in an institution that idealistically represents "justice" for all. “This film reveals that when it comes to anti-Black racism, prejudice and discrimination in America, the walls of law school offer no protection.” – Evangeline M. Mitchell, Director

Awards: Best Short Documentary at Paris Int’l Film Awards, France; Best short Documentary at Hollywood South Urban Film Festival, Atlanta, GA; Outstanding Short Documentary at Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, Ohio; Best Film at Black Feedback Film Festival, U.S.; Award of Merit Special Mention at The IndieFEST Film Awards, La Jolla, CA; Outstanding Achievement Award Winner at World Film Carnival, Singapore; Best Social Impact Documentary Short at Urban Mediamakers Festival, Atlanta, GA; Audience Choice Award at Topaz Film Festival Presented by Women in Film Dallas, Texas; Best Documentary Short at Montreal Int’l Black Film Festival; Best Doc at Huntington Beach Cultural Cinema Showcase, CA; numerous Official Selection Screenings throughout the world. 

Q&A with filmmaker

3:20 p.m. 


"Doubt" (19 minutes)

Gokce Pekhamarat | 2022 | Narrative | Turkey | U.S. premiere

Sait, a man committed to his faith, has turned his back on the material world. This peaceful existence is shattered by a news story he sees on television and a municipal worker who comes knocking on his door in the middle of the night. World premiere at 19th Salento Film Festival, Puglia, Italy.

"Sheepish" (14 minutes)

Sonia Machado Hines | 2022 | Narrative | Spain | New England premiere

This Oscar-nominated short, a black and white silent film, begins with a Spanish woman who lives with her American boyfriend in NYC receiving a call from home with news that her father has passed. The boyfriend accompanies her to Spain all the while displaying his typical emotional detachment. Words are not necessary to discern how the couple is received. 

Best Narrative Short

"An Insured Life" (12 minutes)

Jesús Martínez Nota | 2020 | Narrative | Spain

Rule No. 1 of a good salesperson: the customer is not always right!

Awards: Best Comedy Film at Certamen de Cortos Visualia, Spain; Special Mention at Mediterraneo Festival Corto, Italy; Best Actress at Festival Internazionale Inventa un Film, Italy; Best Actress at CICOM, Concurso Internacional de Cortos de Murchante, Italy; Special Mention at 23rd Faludi International Film Festival, Hungary; First Jury Award at Festival de Cine de Cartagena, Spain; Best Actress at  Donosskino, Festival de Cortometrajes de Donostia, Spain; Best Actress at V FICMA, Festival Internacional de Cortometrajes sobre Personas Mayores, Spain; Best Actress at SicilyFarm Film Festival 2020 - Film Festival Agrigento, Italy; Best Short at VII Certamen Cortos Cádiar, Spain; Best Short at 2020 Corto e a Capo, Spain; Best Actress at Festival de Cine de Comedia de Tarazona y el Moncayo, Spain; Best Actress at VI Festival de Cortos de Carabanchel, Spain; Audience Award at Festival de Cine Itinerante por El Bierzo, 38Retinas, Spain; numerous Official Selections throughout the world.

Sponsored by Vinotta Restaurant, Waltham, Mass.

"A Thousand Cars at Night Looks Like a Moving Train" (20 minutes)

Outstanding Mass. Filmmaker Award 

Colin Wang & Max DeFalco | 2021 | Narrative | U.S. | East Coast premiere

Director’s Statement: "The homeless are rarely depicted in films with complex, internal conflicts and are often depicted as background to an increasingly dystopian world. When we wrote our film, we wanted to focus on humanizing the homeless."

A fantastical portrayal of a homeless man, a chronic daydreamer with a love for fishing who stumbles upon an eccentric self-help program that guides him on an odyssey to live his best self. A combination of live-action realism seamlessly combined with abstracted animation.

World premiere at LA Asian Pacific Film Festival

Best Documentary Short

"Bicentennial Bonsai: Emissaries of Peace" (35 minutes)

Bicentennial Bonsai Emissaries of Peace

Paul Awad and Kathryn O'Sullivan | 2020 | Documentary | U.S. | New England premiere

If more people did bonsai, there would be more peace in the world.”

– Saburo Kato (1915-2008), Bonsai Master

In 1975, only 30 years after the United States and Japan had been at war, Japan gave 53 priceless bonsai trees to the United States in celebration of the U.S. bicentennial. Some bonsai were several hundred years old. One had remarkably survived the bombing of Hiroshima. This documentary chronicles this historic gift, includes rare interviews and archival footage, and reveals how we can rediscover our shared humanity and establish a path toward healing and world peace.

Awards: Best Work which reflects the value of cinema to help create a better world at Utopia Film Festival, US; Official Selection at Dunedin Int’l Film Festival, U.S.; Official Selection at Loudoun Arts Film Festival, Va.

Sponsored by Real Italian Gusto, Medford

Q&A with Filmmakers

5:30 p.m.

Best of Festival

"Not a Tame Lion" (1 hour 59 minutes)

Craig Bettendorf | 2022 | Documentary | U.S. premiere

John Boswell was an openly gay man, devout Catholic, Yale Professor at age 30, and world-renowned medieval philologist whose expertise in reading historical texts led him to a career studying the role of homosexuality in ancient religion, particularly Catholicism. His research and publications played a large role in clearing the way for marriage equality to become a reality, proving that the Catholic Church had openly performed LGBT marriages throughout Europe well into the Middle Ages. "Not a Tame Lion" offers firsthand accounts of Boswell’s closest friends, students, colleagues and family members as they recount his life, his works and his final days, during which he feverishly worked to complete Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, all while privately battling the debilitating effects of AIDS, which led to his death on December 24, 1994 at the age of forty-seven. 

Awards: Grand Prize Alternative Spirit Award at Rhode Island Int’l Film Festival; Official Selection at SoHo Int’l Film Festival, Official Selection at 27th Indie Gathering Int’l Film Festival.

Sponsored by Social Equity Access Fund

Q&A w/Filmmaker Craig Bettendorf and Producer Kai Morgan

Saturday program first focuses on youth worldwide

On Saturday, Nov. 5, at 2:45 p.m., following films by young people, the festival presents its first program of international live-action short films. It ends with a Q&A with Oscar Segal, director of the last film, "The Oscar Show."

The Saturday program continues at 5:10 with the Canadian documentary "From Earth to Sky," about seven indigenous architects and their work.

Tony and Jeff Whittemore head for Montreal.Tony and Jeff Whittemore head for Montreal. / 1967 family photo

A program of animated short films follows at 6:50 It begins with "Paykarah" ("The Statue") from Iran, sponsored by sculptor Elisa Adams. It ends with the Best Animation award winner, "Navazande" ("The Musician"), from France.

After that comes the second program of international shorts, at 8:30. It ends with "Pony Boys," a documentary short by Arlington's own Eric Stange, followed by a Q&A with Stange and Jeff Whittemore, whose story is featured in the film. YourArlington profiled the film here >>

At 10:30 p.m., the day's final film is "The Rumba Kings," a documentary about the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo, sponsored by the Arlington Jazz Festival.

All films are shown at the Capitol Theatre, East Arlington.

2:45 p.m.


"Day X" (20 minutes)

Katharina Rivilis | 2019 | Narrative | Germany | East Coast premiere

June 17, 1953, Frida’s 8th birthday, was to be a celebration, but instead tanks were rolling through the streets of East Berlin. Frida and her mother are waiting for the birthday guests, but they won't come today. Nor does her father return from the demonstration, and Frida’s mother slowly begins to lose control. Outside, protests turn into a political revolt and the revolt is brutally crushed. The relationship between mother and child —the natural laws of responsibility and protection of the strong over the weak — seem no longer to be in force.

Awards: Best Short Film at Bangladesh Film Festival; Best Narrative Short Film/Best Foreign Film/Best Editing at Emberlight Int’l Film Festival, U.S.; numerous screenings as an Official Selection.

"Moonless" (14 minutes)

Haniye Bahrami | 2021 | Narrative | Iran | World premiere

A widowed mother secretly takes her son to the dentist (against Sunni religion) to have a tooth filled. Knowing she has broken the law, she plans her escape from the village with her children when the brother-in-law who is in charge of the family learns of this … there are severe consequences!

"The Button" (20 minutes)

Adolfo Peña | 2021 | Narrative | Spain | East Coast premiere

Filmed in the beautiful valleys of the Cantabria Pas region, Lucia, a doctor, is emotionally destroyed after being suspended from the hospital where she worked. She receives a visitor that adds an unexpected emotional twist that makes her see life quite differently. 

Awards: Best Short at Alumbra Festival de Cine de Hellin, Albacete, Spain; First-time Filmmaker Award at Indigo Moon Film Festival, Fayetteville, N.C.; Young Jury Award/Jury Special Mention at Terra Gollut Film Festival, Spain; Best Actor at Luna de Cortos, Spain.  

"The Tendency"  (12 minutes)

Mobin Pekand | 2022 | Narrative | Iran | U.S. premiere

A young lesbian plans her illegal escape from the country along with her lover when there is a twist in events.

"The Right Words ("Haut les Coeurs") (15 minutes) 

Adrian Moyse Dullin | 2021 | Narrative | France | U.S. premiere

Kenza, 15, and her little brother Madhi, 13, regularly humiliate one another on social media. On the bus, Kenza puts her naive and romantic little brother to the test, to profess his love for Jada, a girl that Madhi loves but who does not know he exists.

Awards: Court Métrage Official Competition at Festival de Cannes. 

"M.O.M." (20 minutes)

Patricia Huguet | 2021 | Narrative | Spain | East Coast premiere 

Nao’s daily life is guided by MOM, an advanced artificial intelligence capable of adopting an overprotective role in people’s daily activities to the point of controlling and manipulating their lives.

"The Oscar Show" (10 minutes)

Oscar Segal | 2022 | Documentary | U.S. | World premiere

Director’s Statement: “My film is a series of interviews with people who have had a profound effect on my life living with autism. These are people who have given me opportunities through disability organizations and I am proud to call them my friends.”

Q&A w/Filmmaker

5:10 p.m.

"From Earth to Sky" (1 hour 23 minutes)

Ron Chapman | 2021 | Documentary | Canada

From Earth to Sky explores the work of seven unique and accomplished Indigenous Architects as they design and complete extraordinary buildings in cities and communities across North America and Turtle Island. Beautiful and intimate, the film sparks a vital conversation paramount to transforming perspectives on how we approach our built environment.

Awards: Best Documentary Feature Award at Charlotte Film Festival, Charlotte, N.C., U.S.; Best Music Score/Sound in a Film Award, Motion Pictures Int’l Film Festival; Best Documentary Feature – Nominee at Red Nation Int’l Film Festival, U.S.; Best Feature Documentary – Nominee at ES Europe Int’l Film Festival, Poland.

6:50 p.m.


"Peykareh" ("The Statue") (10 minutes)

Mohsen Salehi Fard | 2021 | Animation | Iran | New England premiere

A sculptor works each day, creating new sculptures, and as each takes shape, the clay loses its freedom.

Awards: Best Int’l Animation at VAFI & RAFI, Croatia; Best Animation at The West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival, U.S.; Best Int’l Short Film at ICONA, Greece; Best Animation at Gbeck Future Film Festival, Canada; Critic award at Khamrubu Int’l Short Film Festival, India; Best Animation at Snow Town Film Festival, NY, U.S.

Sponsored by Sculptor Elisa Adams – Creating sculpture that opens the heart! 

"A Void" (2 minutes)

Andrea Maldonado | 2021 | Animation | Mexico | U.S. premiere

This story is about how women experience fear and discomfort while walking on the street. We see Maya feeling insecurity in a task as simple as walking home, a thing made dangerous by the current violent climate in Mexico. 

"Dragon Skills" (4 minutes)

Madeline Leue, Dave Russo | 2022 | Animation | Massachusetts | World premiere

Hand-drawn stop-motion with an 8-year-old narrator. Dragons are stereotyped: pink dragons are good fire-breathers while blue dragons are talented flyers. Two dragons take it upon themselves to break these obsolete norms.

"Shakespeare for All Ages" (3 minutes)

Hannes Rall | 2022 | Animation | Germany | New England premiere

A smart, entertaining and coherent Shakespeare homage in less than 3 minutes! Depicting the poet's most famous plays in an immediately recognizable way with individual images that flow dynamically into one another. 

Screenings/Awards: Rall’s films have screened in 650 film-festivals worldwide and won 75 international awards. Festivals screened at include Annecy, Stuttgart, Cinanima, MIAF, St. Louis IFilm Festival, Chicago Children Film Festival, Palm Springs Animation, DC Shorts, Filmfest Bremen, Interfilm, Minimalen, Rochester, Phoenix Film Festival, Dam Short Film Festival, Love Your Shorts among others.

"KKUM" (9 minutes)

Kang Min Kim | 2020 | Animation | Korea | East Coast premiere 

Director’s Statement: My mother's dreams have always been strong premonitions for important moments in my life. I rely on her dreams more than any religion.

Screenings/Awards:  Kim’s films have screened internationally at many festivals including Sundance, Annecy, Ottawa, Zagreb, Hiroshima, AFI and more. His films "Deer Flower" and "JEOM" premiered at Sundance and won the Best Animated Short award at Aspen Shortfest, Melbourne International Film Festival as well as other awards.

"Helping Hands" (3 minutes)

Rachael Pelletier | 2021 | Animation | Mass. | Mass. premiere

Jimmy, the resident ghost of an old Victorian house, attempts to teach the new homeowner, Lyle, how to cook after watching him struggle on his own. Unfortunately, in his invisible state all Jimmy manages to do is frighten the man. After a bit of panicked miscommunication -- and with the help of some flour -- eventually the two are able to understand each other.

Screenings: 2022 Trinity Film Festival.

"The White Whale" (10 minutes)

Amir Mehran | 2020 | Animation | Iran | U.S. premiere

Many years ago, a young man lost his friends in an air attack on a big river. After 30 years, he is looking for their remains. A White Whale is the only sign he has.

Awards: Best Short Animated at Warsaw Int’l Film Festival, Poland; Best Animation at Frames Film Festival, India; Special Jury Mention at Córdoba Int’l Animation F, Argentina; Best Animation at Tehran Int’l Film Festival, Iran; numerous screenings as an Official Selection.

"Solitude" (14 minutes)

Tami Martins, Aron Miranda | 2021 | Animation | Brazil | U.S. premiere

In the Amazon, Sol (25 years old) is recovering from the end of another abusive relationship, while her Shadow escapes to the Atacama Desert because it couldn’t stand to see her suffering. While Sol, finally, begins to retake her own spaces and dreams, her Shadow seeks independence. They both go on journeys in search of self-love and self-confidence to rediscover in solitude the way back to each other.

Awards: Best Short Film at Festival Rio, Brazil; numerous international screenings as an Official Selection. 

"The Germans" (7 minutes)

Melanie Carolin Wigger | 2019 | Animation | Switzerland | U.S. premiere

Living through the air raids of the German Luftwaffe 1940, the little boy Paul tries to explain to himself what’s happening to the city during the nights he’s taking shelter down in the London Underground.

"Gruf and Me" (9 minutes)

Dovi Keich | 2021 | Animation | Israel | New England premiere

Gruf is a graffiti character that comes to life in animation. When he falls in love with the street artist who created him, Gruf desperately tries to find her in the shabby streets of Tel Aviv and discovers that inter-dimensional love is not easy. 

Awards: Best Animation and Live Action Combination at Los Angeles Animation Festival, U.S.; Director’s Choice Award at Thomas Edison Film Festival, U.S.; Best Direction at FEEDBACK Animation F, U.S.; Best Animation (over 5 minutes) at Bristol Int’l Short Film Festival, UK; Jury Special Award-Short Best Animation at Europe Film Festival, UK; Special Winner Best Animation at Halicarnassus Film Festival, Turkey; numerous screenings internationally as an Official Selection.

Best Animation

"Navozande" ("The Musician") (11 minutes)

Reza Riahi | 2020 | Animation | France

At the time of the attack of the Mongols, a young musician and the love of his life are separated from each other. Fifty years later, the musician is summoned to perform at the castle of the Mongols where his beloved is being held.

Awards: Best Short Film at Valencia Int’l Film Festival, Spain; Best Animated Short at Nashville Film Festival, U.S.; Best Animated Short at Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival, U.S.; IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film at Toronto Int’l Film Festival, Canada; Best Animated Short at Tribeca Film Festival, U.S..

8:30 PM


"Pops" (19 minutes)

Lewis Rose | 2021 | Narrative | U.K. | Mass. premiere

How would you react if your father's last wish was to send his ashes to a very eccentric place? For siblings Roz and Elli, there is no consensus on the answer.

Awards:  1st Prize Hearts Minds & Soul at Flickers Rhode Island, U.S.; Best Screenplay at Filmoramax Lyon Short Film Festival, France; Best Comedy/Performance Media Insurance Awards 2021; numerous screenings internationally as an Official Selection.

Best Experimental Short

"How to Be Not Perfect" (8 minutes) 

David Sarkissian | 2022 | Exp | Armenia | East Coast premiere

Most of the time the process of creating art remains hidden from the public. This short chronicles the process of Armenian artist Arshak Sarkissian as he creates a painting from a bare canvas to the final signature. The entire film is shot using only natural light without any effects or artificial enhancements showing the pure nature of the art creation.

"The Last Day of Patriarchy" (15 minutes)

Olmo Omerzu | 2021 | Narrative | Czech Republic | U.S. premiere

Nina is pregnant by Jakub. She is introduced to his family at an awkward time as they gather in the hospital at the bedside of the grandfather. Just as the young lady tries to put on a brave face, she is faced with the surprising reaction of the dying relative: he wants to see her breasts. This sparks a debate to which she is not invited – should the patriarch’s last vow be satisfied?

"Kites" (14 minutes)

Thiago Briglia | 2021 | Narrative | Brazil | U.S. premiere

Two Venezuelan children and a Brazilian boy fight to see who knocks over the other's kite. When this finally happens, an even bigger dispute begins with the undertone of class differences. 

Awards: Oscar Qualifying Short Film Festival at Bengaluru Int’l Film Festival, India; Audience Award/Best Screenplay/Best Female Actress (Ixemar Camacho) at Olhar do Norte Film Festival, Brazil.

"Pony Boys" (25 minutes)

Eric Stange | 2022 | Documentary | Mass. | Outstanding Mass. Filmmaker Award | RULE Camera Boston Award

Summer, 1967. Two young Massachusetts brothers – ages 9 and 11 – set off on an improbable journey with their family pet, a Shetland pony named King. Tony and Jeff Whittemore are desperate to visit Expo ’67 in Montreal – the largest World’s Fair ever but their parents can’t take them. Then Mom comes up with the solution: hitch King to a pony cart and drive 350 miles to Expo '67 – on their own – at 5 mph. For Tony and Jeff, the journey becomes the adventure of a lifetime.

Awards: Special Jury Winner at Independent Film Festival Boston, U.S.; Acquired by The New York Times Op-Docs

Screenings: Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, U.S.; Mountainfilm Festival, U.S.; Flickers RI Int’l Film Festival; U.S.

Q&A w/Filmmaker & Jeff Whittemore

10:30 PM

"The Rumba Kings" (1 hour 34 minutes)

Alan Brain | 2021 | Documentary | Peru/Congo | New England premiere

The award-winning musical documentary film, The Rumba Kings celebrates the epic quest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an African nation that fought colonial oppression, found freedom, and forged a new identity through music. In the 1950s, when the DRC was a Belgian colony, a generation of Congolese musicians fused traditional African rhythms with Afro-Cuban music to create the electrifying beat of Congolese Rumba, a beat that would carry Congo through its independence and conquer the entire African continent with its infectious groove, captivating guitar licks, and smooth vocals.

Awards: Best Feature Length Documentary at Festival Int’l du Film PanAfrican de Cannes, France; Global Impact Award at Richmond Int’l Film Festival, U.S.; Best Documentary Limited Competition at Doc'N Roll Film Festival, UK; Audience Award at Musical Ecran, France; Best Music Doc at Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, Australia; numerous international screenings as an Official Selection.

Sponsored by Arlington Jazz Festival

On Friday, Nov. 4, starting at 7 p.m., the AIFF presents four films -- from Ukraine, Spain and Iran -- at the Capitol Theater, 204 Mass. Ave. The first, "Klondike," has won the AIFF's Best Narrative Feature award and is sponsored by the Social Equity Access Fund. The last, "Radiograph of a Family," is sponsored by the Crown Café of Watertown.

Best Narrative Feature

Klondike poster

"Klondike" (1 hour 40 minutes)

Maryna Er Gorbach | 2022 | Docudrama | Ukraine | East Coast premiere

Director’s Statement: “As soon as the war started on the border of Russia and Ukraine I could not stop thinking about the women and children there. Sure, I cannot stop it, but I can tell the story of my feelings about occupied families trying to survive the invader. "Klondike" stands against guns and machines of war as an unnatural creation of humans and also "Klondike" … it is a dream about the morning.”

Based on the actual events in July 2014 of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 air crash catastrophe near their village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, "Klondike" provides an unflinching look at the political situation through the lens of a Ukrainian couple who find themselves at the center of the conflict between government troops and Russian-backed separatists. Despite the impossible life choices facing them, the wife refuses to leave her house even as the village is captured by armed forces.

Awards: Directing Award Winner/World Dramatic Competition, Sundance Film Festival; Ecumenical Jury Prize Winner, Berlin Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize at Seattle Int’l Film Festival; Best Film at Istanbul Film Festival; Grand Prix Winner at Fribourg Film Festival; 3Sat Broadcasting Award at Wiesbaden Film Festival; Outstanding Acting Achievement at South East European Film Festival; Jury Special Award at NEISSE-NISA NISA Film Festival.

Sponsored by Social Equity Access Fund

8:55 p.m.

"Pessoas" (People) (1 hour 14 minutes)

Arturo Dueñas Herrero | 2022 | Narrative | Spain | U.S. theatrical premiere

Cuba, a few months after the death of Fidel Castro, provides the backdrop for "Pessoas," an ethereal road movie which examines issues of privacy and image rights while chronicling the repair of a father/daughter relationship. Arturo Dueñas (the director, who plays himself) and Greta Fernández (who plays his estranged daughter) travel to the Caribbean island looking for an unknown woman whose portrait hangs in Dueñas’ living room. Together they tour the island in search of the photographed woman while seeking to mend their fractured connection. Shot without written dialogue, fiction melds sharply with reality in the poignant resolution of scenes that relies on the skillful improvisation of the actors.

Awards: Best Feature Film at Ukrainian Dream Film Festival; Best Feature Film at Festival de Cine de Madrid

10:25 p.m.

"Time to Lose" (18 minutes)

Mohammadreza Beheshti | 2021 | Narrative | Iran | U.S. premiere

This short chronicles an Armenian family who have lived in Iran since the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. The psychological consequences of this war are examined via the mind of an aging man with Alzheimer’s disease, taking him back into the past and forward into the present.

"Radiograph of a Family" (1 hour 20 minutes) 

Firouzeh Khosrovani | 2020 | Documentary | Iran | East Coast premiere

Director’s Statement: “I am the product of Iran’s endless struggle between traditionalism and modernization.”

This family history is like an x-ray, laying bare the conflicts of Iranian society in the run-up to, and the aftermath of, the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The director’s mother, a devout Muslim, married a secular progressive Iranian who was studying radiology in Switzerland. Living in Europe was a challenge for her, with sin being everywhere. Her father was a lover of culture, fine arts, classical music and enjoyed the European way of life. They moved back to Tehran after the birth of their child and shortly thereafter, the Revolution happened, turning everything upside down. Khosrovani says of her parents, “Mother found new reasons for living and a new identity as she became a religious activist while my father sat quietly in his favorite chair at home listening to Bach. My mother censored the past, while my father dreamt of a different future.” Amazingly beautiful filming!

Awards: Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award for best creative use of archive at IDFA, Amsterdam; Audience Award at Films from the South, Oslo; numerous Film Festival Official Selections.

Sponsored by Crown Café, Watertown

Opening night held

The opening-night film includes a panel discussion, and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers closing several programs over four days. 

Opening night at 7 presents two films and a panel discussion on the theme "Honoring the Strength of Women." It features a screening of director Jaclyn O’Laughlin’s historical documentary, “How Long Must We Wait,” chronicling the 72-year battle that women fought to attain the right to vote in the United States. The film has won AIFF's 2022 award for Best Documentary Feature.

Opening night is sponsored by the Network for Social Justice of Winchester.

TV journalist Crystal Haynes of Arlington will serve as master of ceremonies. She is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and weekend anchor for Boston 25 News. 

Before the feature, the festival presents a fictional short film "The Scapegoat," by Tathagata Ghosh, on human rights in contemporary India.

"The Scapegoat" (26 minutes)

Tathagata Ghosh | India | 2021 | Narrative | New England premiere

Director’s statement: “In 2019 the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, shocking many Indians. Though on paper it might look otherwise, the bill is basically India’s new ‘anti-Muslim’ law. Even the United Nations Human Rights Office has condemned the act and has referred to it as ‘fundamentally discriminatory in nature’. With the rise of extremist Hindu nationalists in my country, the minorities are facing increasing threats with every passing day. I believe that the wrongdoings in my society need to be called out immediately and only then can we rise above the ashes as one single community. Making this film is my way of saying that the world deserves only one religion -- Humanity!”

"The Scapegoat" is about a young firebrand woman who decides to stand up against the patriarchy and hate politics that have begun to infiltrate her rural Bengali village and threaten to destroy her way of life.

Awards: Best Int’l Short Mosaic Int’l South Asian Film Festival, Canada; Mia Eh Desh Courage Award for Best Narrative Short, North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival, ND, U.S. and numerous international screenings as an Official Selection. 

Best Documentary Feature

"How Long Must We Wait" (58 minutes) 

How Long Must We Wait

Jaclyn O'Laughlin | U.S. | 2021 | Documentary | Theatrical premiere 

A historical documentary about the 72-year battle that women fought to achieve the right to vote in the United States, "How Long Must We Wait" focuses on the events in 1917 that led to the imprisonment and brutal treatment of suffragists in a prison in Lorton, Va. This was considered a turning point in the suffrage campaign, which helped turn the public tide and ultimately led to the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. While that was a huge victory, the film also focuses on the fact that there is still much work left to be done in the fight for women's equal rights. 

O'Laughlin, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, has used those skills at a variety of newspapers and publications in Virginia and Washington, D.C. "How Long Must We Wait'" shows Jaclyn’s continued use of her reporting and filmmaking skills to create documentaries that focus on the advancement of women’s rights.

Following the films, a panel discussion, moderated by Crystal Haynes, will include Patricia Comfort, Celia Johnson Blue and Sheila Marielis Ramirez, whose bios are below. Reflecting on the struggle to attain voting rights, the discussion aims to identify how women can organize and work together to achieve greater freedoms. 

Comfort, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, has spent her career working in the public interest, most recently serving as executive director of the Women’s Bar Association and Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts.

Blue is president/CEO, visionary and founding member of the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, an organization that strongly advocates for and addresses the inequities of women of color.

Ramirez is the director of health policy and government relations at Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. She is a recent graduate of the If/When/How Federal Policy Reproductive Justice Fellowship. She received her law degree at Western New England School of Law.

VIP ticket and festival pass holders are invited to an after-party at the Town Tavern restaurant. 

This news announcement was published Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, based on information from the festival. It was updated Nov. 6. YourArlington volunteer Kim Haase prepared it for publication.