Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 2:08 PM on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Doc Film Fest brings eclectic mix to town

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Now in its ninth year, the Homer Documentary Film Festival brings its usual mix of movies. The festival opens Sept. 20, and runs through Sept. 27. Topping the list is this year's 3-D film, "Pina," a tribute to the German dancer Pina Bausch.

"It's amazing to watch," said Mac Sutton, organizer with his father Jamie Sutton of the festival. "These dancers spin out of the screen at you."

Another visual treat is "Samsara," a plotless journey comparing the cycles of nature to those of humans.

Ninth Annual Homer International Documentary Film Festival

When Sept. 20-Sept. 27

Where Homer Theatre


each film: $8 adult, $6 matinee, seniors, students, children, military, Peace Corps

Festival pass: $50 adults, $40 discounts

Opening night Sept. 20

6 p.m. Barbecue dinner,

7:30 p.m. Premiere of "Marley"

10 p.m. Concert by Homer reggae band Uplift

opening night admission $15 adults, $10 seniors, students and children, military, Peace Corps; includes dinner, movie and concert; free with festival pass.

"It goes from everything to industrial machinery at work to wide open scenes of nature," Sutton said. "Just sit back and go for this magical musical journey."

One film Sutton highly recommends is "Bully," about the cruelty some children inflict on others.

"It's got an incredible message for families and young kids," he said.

Teachers who use "Bully" in classes and who want students to see it can send the theater a class list and students will be admitted for free, Sutton said.


Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. The definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary legend, and the man, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom.

"A rousing tribute to a mesmerizing performer. Love reggae or not, you will love Bob!" – Village Voice


An emotional documentary about the cruelty some children inflict on those they perceive to be weak, the film follows five kids and their families over a school year and reveals the tragic ineptitude of an adult establishment that insists on defining peer torment as "horseplay."

"This film should be mandatory viewing for all schools." – New York Times

Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry

China's most renowned contemporary artist, Ai WeiWei is also its most outspoken critic. He has waged an uncompromising battle against authoritarian government censorship, incompetence and corruption, using imagination, skill, humor and his remarkable art.

"A courageous, charismatic, highly original man." – Observer Special Jury Award: Sundance

Pina in 3-D

An exhilarating spectacle of bodies in motion, "Pina" tells the story of German dancer and artist, Pina Bausch.

"Took the audience on a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery; And in 3-D!!" – Rolling Stone

Year's Best Documentary: Chicago and London critics, and European Film Awards

Waiting Room

In 24 hours and with 247 patients, "Waiting Room" takes a raw and intimate look at the heart of the American health care debate as seen in the emergency room of Oakland, California's Highland Hospital. How do trauma patients, the indigent and the uninsured cope with injury, disease and the bureaucracy that can lead to them and their doctors and caregivers making hard choices?

Queen of Versailles

In the middle of building a 90,000-square-foot mansion, the recession hit timeshare magnate David Siegel and his wife Jackie. Construction stopped, they're left reeling by the vagaries of living beyond their means and the cost of living an unexamined life.

"I also find them fascinating and just slightly lovable." – Roger Ebert

Director's Award: Sundance

"3.5 Stars. Beautifully constructed and frequently uproarious." – Justin Chang, Variety

"A sprawling, richly detailed study of ambition, desire and the wild swings of fortune. A gaudy guilty pleasure that is also a piece of trenchant social criticism. If this film is a portrait, it is also a mirror." – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


Directed and photographed by Ron Fricke, "Samsara" — Sanskrit for "the ever turning wheel of life" — is an imagistic film showing the links between humanity and nature and how human cycles mirror the rhythm of the world.

"Stunning and visually breathtaking; Enlightening and life-changing. Prepare yourself for an unparalleled sensory experience." – IndieWire

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

In a 10-seat restaurant at a Tokyo subway station, Jiro Ono, has become known as the world's greatest sushi chef. Known as a national treasure, his sushi restaurant is the only one in the world to earn three Michelin stars. Best documentary at the Tribeca and Berlin Film festivals, critics have called this film "mouthwatering", "breathtaking", "elegant" and 'a work of art."

The House I Live In

In the past 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests and made America the world's largest jailer. "The House I Live In" looks at one the biggest issues in American society today.

"A powerful and brilliantly crafted eye-opener." – New York Times

The eclectic mix is typical of modern documentaries. Marginalized in the past as educational films, documentaries have become not just serious, thought-provoking films, but art and entertainment.

"They're an enthralling form of film," Sutton said. "Now they're getting to do that, but in their own way — real stories about interesting, cool people."

As before, buying a festival pass offers the best deal. At $50 general, $40 with discounts, film goers can see all nine films and attend the opening night gala next Thursday with a barbecue, "Marley," about reggae legend Bob Marley, and a concert by Homer reggae band Uplift.

This year, to honor his fellow Peace Corps veterans, Jamie Sutton extends the student, senior, children and military discount to anyone who has served in the Peace Corps.