A very rare opportunity to see an important movie from the 1970s and the chance to discover a drama about criminals in Niagara Falls are part of the energy and excitement that arrives with the 17th annual Buffalo International Film Festival, which opens today.
“Heartbreak Falls” is a new crime film written and directed by John Michael Nolan, who resides in nearby Hamburg. The description for the tantalizing crime feature indicates that a Niagara Falls real estate deal involving mob elements creates serious problems for everyone involved. The cast of Western New York performers notably includes Josie DiVincenzo and Robert Rich III. Director Nolan will present his film and also participate in a Q&A. Shot on location in the city, which adds a realistic gloss to the goings-on, “Heartbreak Falls” will screen at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the North Park Theatre.
The classic movie is “The Passenger,” a 1975 masterwork about human alienation and identity switching, which stars Jack Nicholson, as a television journalist, and Maria Schneider as the woman he meets. It’s directed by the legendary Michelangelo Antonioni, who is one of my favorite filmmakers. “The Passenger” is being shown because BIFF has scored a fascinating documentary, which is titled “Maria Schneider, 1983.”
The 25-minute movie, which played the Cannes and New York film festivals and received a Cesar (the French Oscar) for best documentary short film, is directed by Elisabeth Subrin and has three actresses re-enacting a controversial interview Schneider once conducted. It will screen at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Hallwalls with “The Passenger” following it on the same program.
Because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, appearances at the festival by actors and actresses to promote their movies are uncertain. For example, although Buffalo’s most important young actress, Sidney Flanigan, of 2020’s must-see “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” will be attending the hometown festival, she’ll be watching her entry from a seat amidst the rest of the audience. Her new feature is the heist picture, “Only The Good Survive.” It will be screened at 9:30 p.m. on Friday at the North Park.
According to John Fink, the artistic director of BIFF, the eclectic festival will showcase more than 160 films, 37 of them features, with a strong local representation highlighting enthusiastic metro Buffalo-Niagara talent behind and in front of the camera. Fink said that “seeing a movie at a festival adds an extra dimension to the experience, one that is positive and uniquely fulfilling.”
The Buffalo International Film Festival runs through Monday. A pass to participate in the entire festival (movies, lectures, and special events) is $55. Further information, including ticketing and the complete roster of films and theaters, is available at: buffalofilm.org .
Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette, the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, and the CNHI news network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org