2016 Program

First Night Program
November 4, 2016 - 6:59pm

Download a PDF of the 2016 Program

The 10 films that make up the Opening Night Program are presented under the title “After Noah.” They are from 8 different countries, and they explore the cyclical nature of life and the necessity to learn from our mistakes.  Filmmaker Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu has said:  “Life and death are all illusions.  We are in a constant state of transformation.”  The circumstances of our birth and the consequences of our death are not what define us. It is only the “in-between” that defines our humanity.

The Old Testament story of Noah has always been, to me, about the opportunity to “reset.” When the evil of mankind compelled God to destroy the world by flood, He returned the Earth to its pre-creation state.  We were given a second chance.  What have we done with it?

Human beings are the most inspirational and the most bewildering creations.  We can be both abundantly kind and relentlessly cruel.   We can celebrate our shared humanity one moment, and give in to unprecedented hate the next.

This program begins with Ave Maria, Basil Khalil’s compassionate and compelling exploration of how our history continues to divide people who were never meant to be at odds in the first place.  For a brief moment in the Saudi desert, a flood of recognition and shared humanity washes the past away.  What happens after Noah?  The steps we take on that clean earth can move us either toward compassion or chaos.  We choose.  That’s what happens after Noah.

—Barry Smoot, Festival Director


Matinee Program
November 5, 2016 - 1:59pm

The 10 films that make up the Matinee Program are presented under the title “Long Way Down,” and represent artists from 10 different nations.

I wanted to curate a program that looked at modern relationships in a unique way.  I wanted to find those films that, in the simplest of terms, expose their protagonists boldly and without pretense.  One of my favorite authors, Dale Peck, once said: “Sometimes when we think we’re protecting ourselves, we’re really hurting ourselves.  And sometimes the people around us too.”

The higher we climb above the fray to escape the chaos of our modern lives, the farther we have to fall when that isolation leaves us defenseless.  Our technology has given us false  cocoons.  Inside, we feel emboldened to say things that we would never say face to face.  We communicate with texts and words and emails, rarely even taking the time to use our ever-present cell phones as a means to actually hear a human voice.

To be fully committed—to a person, to a cause, to a belief system—we have to be bold enough to communicate our feelings face to face.  We have to expose every part of us.  We have to be willing to show both the strengths and weaknesses of who we are.

True commitment requires that we stand firm.  It requires that we choose not to ascend the steps that lead away from honest connections, that release us from the little wonderful and difficult things that make us human and make us valuable to each other.  There is no greater commitment than to love someone for exactly who they are.

     —Barry Smoot, Festival Director


Second Night Program
November 5, 2016 - 6:59pm

The 10 films that make up the Closing Night Program are from 12 different nations and are presented under the title, “Tribes.”

I believe that we are, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, standing at a crossroads. As a human race, we are at the brink of some tipping point.  On one hand we have the Barbarians at the Gate, those who will stop at nothing to cleanse the world of anyone who does not meet the expectations of their beliefs.  Millions of people are now at their mercy.

On the other hand, we have those who still believe in the absolute power of the human heart and soul—those who believe that we are perfect and imperfect at the same time, and that understanding our differences is the only way we will ever survive.

How can we have separated ourselves into such opposing factions—such Warring Tribes?  This program begins with a quote from Mother Teresa.  She has said that “if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

This program is not about politics, but it is.  It is not about loneliness, but it shows us the power of connecting.  It is not about grief, but it honors our losses.  It is not about faith, but it shows us the consequences of closing our minds.  It is not a condemnation of how we have grown complacent, but a telling look at what the cost of that indifference can be.

A tribe is defined as a social division of a traditional society consisting of people linked by social, economic, religious, cultural or blood ties.  It is telling that those same ties have been flashpoints for every major conflict the world has ever known.  It is true.  We do forget that we belong to each other.

                        —Barry Smoot, Festival Director