In the brief preholiday time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, the Fairhope Film Festival once again brings a truly excellent and international array of shorts, feature films and documentaries to an undeniably beautiful setting Nov. 8-11, which is usually a Goldilocks weather weekend around here (not too hot, not too cold, just right).
The film lineup is just right, too. If you’ve been wanting to catch the Gilda Radner documentary “Love, Gilda,” it’s showing Friday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13, at 3 p.m. at the USA Baldwin County Performance Center. I keep hearing great things about the Isabel Coixet film “The Bookshop,” showing on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairhope Public Library; starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy, it’s a story of a woman trying to operate a bookstore in the 1950s and the conservative backlash against her. The focus of this festival is on films that have been finalists in big film festivals throughout the world in the past year. This brings attendees the best of the best that you might not see anywhere else.
Best title goes to “A Tuba to Cuba,” kicking off the festival with an outdoor screening Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Coastal College Amphitheater. It’s a documentary about a musician in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and his mission to trace his family’s musical roots back to Cuba.
I’ve already told you how much I loved “Juliet, Naked” (Sunday, 10 a.m., Fairhope Public Library) and “Rodents of Unusual Size” (Friday, 8:30 p.m., University of South Alabama), so now’s your chance to catch those movies. “California No” concerns a hapless Angeleno who finds out he’s in an open marriage and spins out of control (Friday, 2:30 p.m., USA) while “Something Useful” is an intriguing, fanciful Turkish film about charting one’s own course in life (Saturday, 4:45 p.m., Coastal College Amphitheater).
It’s no surprise many of the documentaries are about food. “Chef Flynn” is about a 19-year-old phenomenon who started a kitchen lab in his bedroom (Friday, 10 a.m., Fairhope Public Library). “Cuba Food Stories” (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Coastal) is a subtitled documentary about the cuisine of Cuba, while both “Grand Cru” (Friday, 8 p.m., Coastal) and “Our Blood is Wine” (Saturday, noon, Coastal) explore some of the unexpected highs and lows of the wine business, at home and abroad. Both films are sure to gift the viewer with enough cocktail conversation tidbits for the party-packed coming months.
Documentaries about the arts such as “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” about a late night comedy writer (Sunday, noon, Library) and “Every Act of Life” (Friday, 2 p.m., Library) about the five-decade career of Terrence McNally feature an array of celebrities, even Elvis in “The King” (Saturday, 10 a.m., USA) .
An international emphasis prevails in feature films from Germany, such as “The Captain” (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., USA); to Switzerland, with a period film about women’s right to vote called “The Divine Order” (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., USA); to the contemporary family drama from the U.K., “Let Me Go” (Friday, 4:40 p.m., USA).
You cannot attend the festival based on this article alone; I’m just trying to give you an idea of the incredible breadth of films being screened. You’ll need to visit the festival website — fairhopefilmfestival.org — for the full schedule and festival map, and then get to planning.
Tickets cost $75 for a six-film pass and $110 for an All Access Pass. Purchase tickets online, then pick them up in person at the box office, inside the Fairhope Welcome Center at 20 N. Section St., Fairhope. You can pay $15 for an individual ticket, if you can somehow narrow your choice down to a single film, at the door to the screening.
The whole weekend takes place in a series of walkable venues that include The Book Cellar at the Page & Palette bookstore, Coastal Alabama Community College’s Centennial Hall and amphitheater, the Fairhope Public Library Giddens Center, USA Baldwin County Performance Center and the Fairhope Film Festival office itself, 122 Fairhope Ave., Suite #1.
Fairhope Film Festival, Nov. 8-11, fairhopefilmfestival.org, 251-990-7957.