The inaugural Refocus Film Festival, a celebration of the art of adaptation, will transport Iowa City audiences to familiar stories, and many less so, across five screens downtown starting Thursday.
With more than two dozen films, including a virtual reality experience, audiences have through Sunday to catch movies, live performances and discussions with filmmakers.
As Iowa City audiences pore over what flicks they want to catch over the festival’s run, the Press-Citizen has selected seven films to make it a bit easier.
Here are seven films to know more about, from a cannibalistic love story to an in-depth look at the New York music scene in the early 2000s.
‘Sanson and Me’
An exploration of migration stories, incarceration and friendship, “Sansón and Me” follows filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes and Sansón, whom Reyes first met as the court interpreter at Sanson’s trial, at which he was sentenced to life in prison.
The documentary incorporates re-enactments of Sansón, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, to show his upbringing, his migration to America and what led to his incarceration.
The 83-minute film is an official selection of the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
Reyes is a filmmaker based in California who was born in Mexico City and whose work is “grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist,” according to his website. His film “499” won Best Cinematography at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2020. The director has screened his work at the Morelia International Film Festival, BFI London and more.
Showtimes for “Sanson and Me”:
- Oct. 7: 6:30 pm at The Chauncey
- Oct. 8: 6 p.m. at FilmScene at the Ped Mall
- Oct. 9: 1 p.m. at The Chauncey
More about “Sansón and Me” can be found at https://tribecafilm.com/films/sanson-and-me-2022.
An official selection of 2021 BFI London Film Festival, “The Afterlight” will, at some point, no longer be available for viewing.
That’s by design.
According to Refocus Film Festival, “The Afterlight” exists as a single 35mm print that will tour around the world and is intended to deteriorate with each projection.
The film uses footage from hundreds of films over film history, featuring actors no longer alive.
The 82-minute film is directed and assembled by Charlie Shackleton, a filmmaker living and working in London whose work includes the short films “Lasting Marks,” a BFI London Film Festival short film winner, and “Fish Story.”
Showtimes for “The Afterlight”:
- Oct. 7 at 7 pm at The Chauncey
- Oct. 8 at 1:30 pm at The Chauncey
More information can be found at https://theafterlight.xyz/.
In the 1960s, Agnes, a pseudonym for a transgender woman, participated in sociologist Harold Garfinkel’s gender research at UCLA, according to Variety. Agnes described herself as intersex and received gender corrective surgery. Years after Agnes and Garfinkel’s first meeting, Agnes revealed she wasn’t intersex but had been taking estrogen pills, according to the Paris Review, and had managed to receive a surgery that otherwise may not have been accessible had it not been for her decision to present herself as intersex.
Agnes has become “a figurehead of trans history,” according to Variety.
In director Chase Joynt’s “Framing Agnes,” not only is this notable figure explored through reenactments, several other gender nonconforming participants in Garfinkel’s research are as well, according to the Paris Review.
The documentary won two awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Queer North Film Festival and more.
Showtimes for “Framing Agnes”:
- Oct. 7 at 4:30 pm at The Chauncey
- Oct. 8 at 8:30 pm at The Chauncey
- Oct. 9 at 1:30 pm at FilmScene in the Ped Mall
More information can be found at https://www.framingagnes.com/.
‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’
Based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Goodman, “Meet Me in the Bathroom” recounts the New York rock scene in the 2000s.
The film covers 2000 to 2003, featuring footage from bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Moldy Peaches and TV on the Radio, and the rebirth of a rock scene.
Goodman, who directed the film, is a music journalist who used original interviews with musicians, music executives, journalists and more to write “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” according to Goodreads.
Showtimes for “Meet Me in the Bathroom”:
- Oct. 8 at 7 pm at The Chauncey
- Oct. 9 at 12:30 pm at The Chauncey
More information can be found at https://refocusfilmfestival.org/.
‘Black Panther Remix: Wakanda Now‘
A global pandemic has changed the way we live our lives and watch movies since “Black Panther” was released in 2018, with protests of police killings of unarmed Black people across the nation and the death of Chadwick Boseman — the actor behind King T’Challa , the alter ego of the titular Black Panther—in the midst of both.
A sequel – titled “Wakanda Forever” – is scheduled to release this December, but poet and University of Iowa professor Tracie Morris is at Refocus to present “Wakanda Now.”
The event is described as “a multi-voiced reading accompanying a visual-only screening” of 2018s “Black Panther.” The event, a little over two hours long, will include Morris and a handful of other narrators re-imagining the context of the 2018 film with a special focus on language and voice.
This is not the first time Morris has done something like this with FilmScene. In November 2019, she created something similar with the David Cronenberg film “A History of Violence.” The commentary she provided in that particular case had her as the lone narrator in a “not neo-benshi” style, referencing a Japanese style of film presentation.
Even though this is what Morris describes as an “experiment” event, it is family friendly, though is not recommended for those who have never seen the film.
There is one showtime for this program:
- Oct. 9: 7 p.m. at The Chauncey
You can find out more about Tracie Morris at traciemorris.com.
Two cannibals fall in love and end up on a road trip across the United States; it’s not the setup to a joke, it’s the premise of the new horror/romance film “Bones & All.”
This film earned Luca Guadagnino a Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival and co-star Taylor Russell a Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young actress.
The film is of special interest to Iowa City residents and University of Iowa alumni as David Kajganich wrote the “Bones & All” screenplay. Like leading man Timothee Chalamet, Kajganich has collaborated with the Italian director Guadagnino on past projects. In Chalamet’s case, that previous Guadagnino film is “Call Me By Your Name;” in Kajganich’s case that previous film is “A Bigger Splash.”
The first show time for this program not only kicks off the festival ahead of its national release date, but the first Refocus showing will be followed by a talk back from Kajganich and Camille DeAngelis, the author of the novel the film is based on.
Showtimes for “Bones & All”:
- Oct. 6: 7 p.m. at The Englert Theater
- Oct 8: 10 p.m. at The Chauncey
More about “Bones & All” can be found at unitedartistsreleasing.com/bones-and-all/
“On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World)”
On the morning of Jan. 13, 2018, Hawaii residents woke to sirens signaling an imminent missile attack.
For 38 minutes, the inhabitants were left to react to the potential of a nuclear attack. “On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World)” is a documentary that invites viewers to explore those 38 minutes. Unlike most documentaries, “On the Morning you Wake” is presented through a virtual reality headset.
The documentary comes from the makers of the video game “Notes on Blindness.”
This film is unique in how to view it since, by its nature as a VR piece, times must be scheduled to view the film. That can be done through the Refocus Film Festival website starting Oct. 6 at The Chauncey.
More information on the film can be found at onthemorningyouwake.com.
Visit Refocus Film Festival’s website for information on tickets and the full schedule.