Moviegoers expecting cuddly puppy love at last year's screening of Furever, a documentary about what happens when beloved pets die, were instead met with scenes of pet taxidermy, freeze-drying, cloning and Egyptian-style cat mummification. Yes, there are plenty of bizarre films like Furever in the lineup for this year's fest, held March 19-30 at Tower City Cinemas. But here are four flicks that are a bit more familiar and, we promise, no less entertaining.
IF YOU LIKE... Walk the Line
... YOU'LL LOVE THE WINDING STREAM
As Walk the Line showed Johnny Cash's contributions to American folk and country music, this documentary focuses on the tale of the Carters, whose music inspired a young Cash. (He went on to marry June Carter, a second-generation member of the musical family.) The movie includes interviews with Cash near the end of his life. "The [Carters] are the epitome of Americana when you think about music, and their story hasn't really been told yet," says Bill Guentzler, festival artistic director. "It's always been in the shadow of Johnny Cash."
IF YOU LIKE... Best in Show
... YOU'LL LOVE OJ: THE MUSICAL
The ridiculous antics of the dog preening characters in Best in Show come across as silly, yet real, like this mockumentary written and directed by Shaker Heights native Jeff Rosenberg. OJ: The Musical takes a hilarious look at a man who tries to make a musical based on the O.J. Simpson murder trial — from the police chase to acquittal. "[A mockumentary] is the hardest kind of movie to write and make because you want it to feel a certain way, but at the same time you are making fun of the documentary form," Guentzler says. "This really does it well."
IF YOU LIKE... center stage
... YOU'LL LOVE Five Dances
Just as the characters in Center Stage deal with the rigors of getting ahead in the competitive world of ballet dancing in New York City, Five Dances depicts the struggles of coming up in the dance world. This time, the film follows a young gay man who moves to the Big Apple from Kansas. Five Dances' unique storytelling format features a dance that introduces and sets the tone for each section of narrative. "This film really made me appreciate what dancers go through to not even just succeed, but just to get a job," says Guentzler.
IF YOU LIKE... Temple Grandin
... YOU'LL LOVE Alphee Of The Stars
During a visit to her aunt's cattle ranch one summer, Temple Grandin found a better way of dealing with her autism. In this flick with a similar vibe, an established documentary filmmaker turns the camera on his developmentally disabled 5-year-old daughter. In this French-language film, Hugo Latulippe moves his family from their hectic lives in Quebec to the serenity of a Swiss village, where they can focus on Alphee's needs. "Her parents are trying to figure how to do what's best for her," Guentzler says. "It's very inspiring."