Genesee Community College Presents "Films From Afar" Festival March 31 - April 1

Genesee Community College is thrilled to present a series of four films as they unveil the first annual winter film festival. "Films From Afar" features full-length films from Australia, Ireland, India, and the United States. Screening will take place in the Stuart Steiner Theatre beginning Friday, March 31 and continuing through Sunday, April 2. All films are free and open to the public.

Waiting for Guffman kicks off the festival with a 7:30 p.m. showing on Friday, March 31. Two films will be shown on Saturday, April 1; The Secret of the Roan Inish at 2:00 p.m. and Muriel's Wedding at 7:30 p.m. The festival concludes on Sunday, April 2 with a 2:00 p.m. screening of Born Into Brothels.

Writer/director Christopher Guest, best known for his "mock-u-mentary" This is Spinal Tap, joins an ensemble cast that include Eugene Levy and Parker Posey in the 1998 film Waiting for Guffman (USA). Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Male Lead, Waiting for Guffman pokes fun at small-town community theatre. This "mock-u-mentary" camera follows Corky St. Clair, (Guest), director and creative genius behind Blaine, Missouri's community theatre, as he attempts to stage an original musical to commemorate Blaine's 150th anniversary. Corky's aspirations to return to New York City, where he once worked far from Broadway, are fueled by the appearance of Mort Guffman, a talent scout from New York sent to view the premiere. Filled with dry humor and eccentric characters, Waiting for Guffman delivers wry observations on theatre, small-town attitudes, and human politics. Rated "R" for brief, strong language.

The Secret of Roan Inish (Ireland) won the 1996 Independent Critics Award for director John Sayle. The film, set in a small Irish fishing village in the 1940s, follows 10-year-old Fiona who is sent to live with her grandparents in Donegal. While there, she stumbles on the legend of the Selkie, a seal that turns into a human. The Selkie myth looms over the disappearance of her younger brother Jamie, whose cradle was swept away by a wave and carried out to sea years earlier. Rumors abound that Jamie is still sailing his cradle in the waters around Roan Inish, a near-by island. Fiona explores the island and not only finds traces of habitation, she actually sees Jamie having tea with a seal. The Secret of Roan Inish explores ancient myths and how they sustain us.

Toni Collette's break out role in Muriel's Wedding (Australia) earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance and led to later roles in films like The Sixth Sense. This 1994 film chronicles Muriel's dull life in Porpoise Spit, Australia as she fritters her life away listening to ABBA tunes and dreaming of her wedding day. Muriel, who is surrounded by a bevy of dim-witted siblings, an emotionally distant mother and verbally abusive father, decides that the only way to escape her dreary existence is to leave Porpoise Spit, change her name to 'Mariel', and find a man. She travels to Hibiscus Island where she encounters Rhonda (Rachel Griffths), an old school chum who becomes, at long last, a true friend. Muriel's Wedding is distinctly unconventional in that it refuses to follow the "feel good" formula typical of many romantic comedies. The film is rated "R" for dialogue and some sexuality.

Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's gritty documentary, Born Into Brothels examines the dark underbelly of poverty in India. The most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red light district are not the prostitutes, but their children. Briski, a professional photographer and Kauffman entered a world of abject poverty and despair to inspire a special group of children to photograph the most hopeless elements of it. The photographs taken by the children are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reveal something much more; morally encouraging, politically volatile, and art that is at once ultimately liberating and empowering. This film is rated "R" for strong language.

"Films From Afar" is presented through one of Genesee Community College's Presidential Initiatives Grants. For additional information about the film festival, contact Jason Beideck at 585-345-6814 or visit