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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Refugee All Stars’ kick off documentary film festival

    Talk about living like a refugee.

    When filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White went to Sierra Leone to fulfill an old dream of making a documentary about West African music, they wanted to find a musical “”storyteller”” who could illuminate the experiences of a war-ravaged people in ways that a more straightforward history couldn’t.

    “”We wanted to find a musician who through their music could tell you what had happened to their country,”” White said.

    Instead of one, they found six.

    That’s the starting point of “”The Refugee All Stars,”” the independent documentary that kicks off this year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which runs at The Loft Cinema through Sunday.

    The Refugee All Stars formed in 2001 in a refugee camp in the Republic of Guinea, where they had fled after a brutal civil war tore their home country apart.

    The documentary follows their progress from various camps, where they played Afro-pop on battered old instruments to entertain their fellow refugees, to 2006, when they have a hit debut album and several tour dates scheduled around the world.

    “”To think that they might have a music career come out of all this is really exciting,”” White said.

    “”The Refugee All Stars”” is just one of more than a hundred documentaries, most of them independent, being highlighted by Full Frame, which has been called the foremost documentary film festival in the United States.

    Many of the films being shown will receive their world premiere at the festival, which is centered in North Carolina. The festival has syndicated a selection of the films to several venues around the country. That’s where The Loft comes in.

    “”We’re doing this digital syndication thing where you can just download the film,”” said Loft operations director J.J. Giddings.

    “”There are a lot of films which would never have been widely seen without this technology. We can just run them through the digital projector, the way we show DVDs, so the filmmakers don’t have to make film prints of them,”” he said. “”This way independent films can get out without costing millions of dollars.””

    Audiences across the country will be invited to vote on their favorites after each screening, and the filmmaker with the most votes at the end of the festival will win a digital camera.

    “”The Refugee All Stars”” will be showing at 6:30 p.m. at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

    Other Films at the Festival


    “”China Blue”” (Micha Peled, 2005): A documentary about labor in China that focuses on a 16-year-old worker in a blue jeans factory. 12:30 p.m.

    “”Sweet Dreams”” (Eric Latek, 2006): A documentary that follows two Italian-American boxers as they try to establish a union. 2:30 p.m.

    “”Sacco and Vanzetti”” (Peter Miller, 2006): The story of two Italian immigrants who were accused of murder and executed after an allegedly biased trial in 1927. 5:30 p.m.

    “”Filthy Gorgeous: The Trannyshack Story”” (Sean Mullens, 2005): The story of a wild rock ‘n’ roll drag show, featuring the music of Bauhaus, David Bowie, Joan Jett and many others. 7:30 p.m.


    “”Rain in a Dry Land”” (Anne Makepeace, 2006): Eighteen months in the lives of two Somalian families trying to adjust to life in their new home – the United States. Noon. The screening will be followed by a questiona-and-answer session with local refugees living in Tucson and refugee re-settlement experts.

    “”Asparagus: A Stalk-umentary”” (Anne De Mare and Kirsten Alley, 2006): Everything you ever wanted to know about everyone’s favorite vegetable. 2:30 p.m.

    “”Songbirds””(Brian Hill, 2005): A “”musical documentary”” featuring musical numbers performed by female inmates from England’s Downview Prison. 4:30 p.m.

    “”The Boy in the Bubble”” (Barak Goodman and John Maggio, 2006): The story of the child who was forced to live his entire life inside a germ-free plastic bubble. 4:30 p.m.

    “”VH1 Presents: The Drug Years”” (Dana Heinz Perry and Hart Perry, 2006): A four-part epic about the history and social impact of illicit drug use in the U.S., from Timothy Leary to rave culture. 7 p.m.

    Admission for each film in the festival is $5. Festival passes are $25 for Tucson Film Society members and $30 for nonmembers. For more information, call the Loft box office at 795-0844.

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