Experience a combination of great independent films and some real classics with the Blue Sky Film Festival, Chapel Hill's effort to spotlight underrated films, independent productions and the rich culture of the area. Friday offers a spotlight on international short films, along with a special screening of the drama The Horse Boy at 8 p.m. presented by the Ark of Orange County, which will hold a reception before the screening at 6:30 p.m. Saturday features more short films, including a series of comedy shorts by Rhett & Link, who will make a live appearance at the festival. There's also a spotlight by the A/V Geeks in "The Sweet Songs of 16mm," featuring a variety of 16 mm films with great songs, ranging from kiddie shorts to pre-MTV music videos.
A couple of my own favorite films screen Saturday as well. At 10:30 a.m., there's Buster Keaton's silent classic The Navigator, plus a Q-and-A with Laura J. Nigro of the International Buster Keaton Society afterward. In the evening, there's the hugely underrated 1980s horror-thriller-Western Near Dark, by director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), starring Adrian Pasdar from TV's Heroes as a good ol' boy who meets the wrong girl and winds up stuck with her crazy family in an RV with blacked-out windows. Hugely influential (it was cited numerous times on TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer), it's a tense flick with plenty of dark humor and some great psycho performances by Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen. The buzzed-about horror-comedy Hellophone also screens Saturday.
Sunday includes the acclaimed documentary Last Train Home, presented by the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival; a free workshop with producer Will Battersby (Trumbo, The War Within, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room); and still more shorts, followed by a grand finale. With such a tremendous artistic lineup, Blue Sky is a great coup for the area and should be a weekend to remember. For ticket and schedule details, visit http://blueskyfilmfest.com —Zack Smith