Film choices…

Argh! One of the most frustrating aspects of seeking revival films and festivals and one-day screenings is when they inevitably pile up together and cruelly force a choice between them.

After what seemed like a mild dry spell for interesting L.A. screenings, the American Film Institute’s international AFI FEST launches tonight, the UCLA Film & Television Archives’ rare Frank Borzage retrospective heats up, and to make matters worse, the sporadic film club here at Caltech (where I work) has decided to plant a screening of the Iranian film The Runner (1985) in the midst of it all this on Sunday, complete with a post-screening discussion with its star, Madjid Niroumand.

So I’ve got some decisions to make and I’m taking votes. Here’s my tentative list of AFI films I’d like to see this weekend:

ïJoy of Madness (Hana Makhmalbaf, Iran)
ïCondor: Axis of Evil (Rodrigo Vasquez, France)
ïAfterlife (Alison Peebles, Scotland)
ïBright Leaves (Ross McElwee, US)
ïJapanese Story (Sue Brooks, Australia)
ïDolls (Takeshi Kitano, Japan)
ï What the Eye Doesn’t See (Francisco Lombardi, Peru)
ïGirlhood (Liz Barbus, US)
ï Kamkatcha (Marcelo PiÒeyro, Argentina/Spain)
ïDistant Lights (Hans Christian-Schmid, Germany)

UCLA is offering the critically-acclaimed Borzage films Seventh Heaven (1927), History is Made at Night (1937), Desire (1936), The Mortal Storm (1940), and The Three Comrades (1938), all of them difficult–if nearly impossible–to find on video.

And then there’s the award-winning, Tom Waits-scored documentary, Long Gone (2003), which follows seven years in the lives of six hobos who ride freight trains across America.

And then there’s The Runner, which my friend Acquarello describes as a “compassionate and life-affirming portrait of poverty and human resilience.” Sounds right up my alley.

For those of you unfamiliar with L.A., the Arclight Cinemas, UCLA, and Caltech are nowhere near one another. Any suggestions? Condolences?