‘Heart­beats’ could be high­light of film fest

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIES - By John Bei­fuss

Close to t wo dozen films from a half-dozen coun­tries are set to screen Aug. 11-14 dur­ing the 17th edi­tion of the On Lo­ca­tion: Mem­phis In­ter­na­tional Film & Mu­sic Fest.

A likely high­light will be a 25th an­niver­sary pre­sen­ta­tion of writer-di­rec­torstar Robert Townsend’s “The Five Heart­beats,” a drama about the up-and­down ca­reers of the mem­bers of a Mo­town-style vo­cal group in the 1960s.

Townsend and fel­low ac­tor Leon, who co-stars as the most suc­cess­ful Romeo among the Heart­beats, are sched­uled to at­tend and host the 7 p.m. Aug. 13 event. Townsend pre­vi­ously came to the festival in 2012, when he screened “In the Hive.” “The Five Heart­beats” was re­leased to mixed re­views and au­di­ence in­dif­fer­ence in 1991, but after it hit DVD and ca­ble, it be­gan to ac­cu­mu­late a fol­low­ing and is now con­sid­ered a cult classic.

Other mu­sic- and per­for­mance-themed films also will be shown, com­ple­mented by live mu­sic per­for­mances. Some of these films in­clude “The Wiz­ard of Beale Street,” a half-hour doc­u­men­tary about the founder of the Beale Street Flip­pers; a short doc­u­men­tary ti­tled “Women of Stax: Soul Sis­tahs”; and the an­i­mated “Madama But­ter­fly,” which show­cases op­erasing­ing mar­i­onettes.

Some other fea­tures booked for the festival in­clude “Year by the Sea,” star­ring Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) as an empty nester who re­treats to Cape Cod; “Killing Poe,” a dark com­edy about five col­lege stu­dents in an Edgar Allan Poe class who takes in­spi­ra­tion from the hor­ror master’s writ­ings to teach their nox­ious pro­fes­sor a lesson; and the re­cent South by South­west Film Festival fa­vorite “Ac­ci­den­tal Cour­tesy: Daryl Davis, Race & Amer­ica,” about a mu­si­cian who be­friends mem­bers of the Ku Klux Klan, en­cour­ages them to leave the racist group, and then col­lects their robes and hoods like tro­phies for a planned KKK mu­seum.

In ad­di­tion, the 10 fi­nal­ists among the 40-plus short films com­pet­ing for the in­au­gu­ral $10,000 “Mem­phis Film Prize” will be screened. The win­ning film — as de­ter­mined by a vote of fes­ti­val­go­ers — will be an­nounced dur­ing an Aug. 14 awards lun­cheon in The Atrium at Over­ton Square.

Most films will be shown at the Malco Stu­dio on the Square, while film pan­els will be held through­out the week­end at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions. Festival passes are $30 each. To pur­chase passes or for more in­for­ma­tion, visit on­lo­ca­tion­mem­phis.org.


Mem­phis-born film­maker Ira Sachs is be­ing hon­ored with a ca­reer-to­date ret­ro­spec­tive at the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in New York.

“Thank You for Be­ing Hon­est: The Films of Ira Sachs” runs from July 22 through Aug. 3. The se­ries rep­re­sents sig­nif­i­cant recog­ni­tion for Sachs, 50, who has carved out a dis­tinc­tive niche dur­ing his rel­a­tively short ca­reer as an in­ti­mate chron­i­cler of “re­la­tion­ships, love, sex­u­al­ity, gay iden­tity, family life, so­cial is­sues, and city life­styles,” ac­cord­ing to MOMA pro­gram­mers.

Seven fea­tures and five short films will be screened, in­clud­ing Sachs’ made-in-mem­phis de­but, “The Delta” (1997), about an af­flu­ent white teenager who em­barks on a doomed ro­mance and Mis­sis­sippi River voy­age with the son of a Viet­namese im­mi­grant, and his fol­low-up fea­ture, the 2005 Sun­dance Grand Jury Prizewin­ner in drama, “Forty Shades of Blue,” which also was shot in Mem­phis.

Since then, Sachs’ work mostly has been as­so­ci­ated with his pri­mary post-mem­phis home, New York. His lat­est film is the Brook­lyn-based “Lit­tle Men,” which con­cludes the ret­ro­spec­tive and be­gins its the­atri­cal run in Au­gust. The MOMA web­site quotes critic Bilge Ebiri, who wrote: “If Martin Scors­ese was the quin­tes­sen­tial au­teur of New York in the 1970s and ’80s — with its wiseguys and street toughs — and Spike Lee that of New York in the late ’80s and ’90s — with its Balka­nized en­claves and at­ti­tudes — then Ira Sachs is grad­u­ally be­com­ing the quin­tes­sen­tial au­teur of to­day’s New York — the one of class in­equal­ity, and of re­la­tion­ships trans­formed by the chang­ing city around them.”


Robert Townsend (cen­ter), writer, di­rec­tor and star of “The Five Heart­beats,” will host a 25th an­niver­sary screen­ing of the film dur­ing the On Lo­ca­tion: Mem­phis In­ter­na­tional Film & Mu­sic Fest. Also at­tend­ing will be fel­low the ac­tor Leon (up­per right).



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