Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - June 21, 2013

'Linsanity' at Windrider

Local film festival returns with tales about basketball, Internet romance, dancing trash collectors

by Sam Borsos

Jeremy Lin is back in the Weekly — this time in the arts section. The documentary film "Linsanity" is screening in town next week as part of this year's Windrider Film Forum, a festival with local roots that's now in its fourth year.

Lin, a Palo Alto High School graduate, rocketed to national fame last year when he was given the opportunity to play starting point guard for the New York Knicks. Filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong tells Lin's story and looks at life in the National Basketball Association, where Asian-American players are rare.

"This is such a feel-good film at a time when people are really hungry for good news," said Terri Bullock of Atherton, co-founder of the Windrider Film Forum. "It's not just a story of a basketball superstar. It's universal — everyone has some sort of a dream. Maybe your dream is basketball, maybe your dream is to create the next Facebook, maybe your dream is to cure cancer."

The "Linsanity" film, she said, was recently purchased by a distributor, meaning it will be shown in theaters sometime this year. The film screened at both the Sundance Film Festival and the South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals this year.

Overall, Windrider will screen a diverse group of six films between Thursday, June 27, and Saturday, June 29, at the Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton High School. The three feature-length and three short films are intended not only to entertain the audience, but to inspire reflection on issues from Internet romance to human trafficking.

The other full-length films are "Not That Funny," a love story that stars Tony Hale (who plays Buster on the show "Arrested Development"); and "Trashdance," which sheds light on the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

In "Trashdance," to be shown on the second night of the forum, a choreographer changes lives in a community with a one-night dance performance involving two dozen Austin trash collectors and their trucks. Andrew Garrison, an associate producer of film and digital-media production at the University of Texas at Austin, directed and produced the documentary, as well as acting as its cinematographer.

"You leave that film and want to say 'Hi' to your garbage men and recognize them as the important part of the community, rather than how wonderful it is that your garbage is collected," Bullock said.

The three short films are: "Love Hacking," about Internet romance; and "Thief," about an Iraqi boy who confronts his past from 45 years ago. The topic of human trafficking appears in the 15-minute short film "Hark," directed by Santa Clara University professor Jonathan Fung.

"My film 'Hark' doesn't provide answers for the viewer," Fung said. "It takes the viewer on a personal journey and raises questions and breaks stereotypes along the way. I would like the viewer to recognize that human trafficking happens in our backyard and we can all take part in stopping this horrific nightmare for the victims if we choose to."

Besides offering screenings, Windrider also schedules Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. The films are chosen by three founders of the Windrider Film Forum who travel to the Sundance, Heartland and Palm Springs film festivals to seek out options and meet with the filmmakers.

"Our films tell a story, they tell a point and a message. The audience participates in that journey," Bullock said.

The complete list of films and show times:

• "Not That Funny," at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27. The director and screenwriter, Lauralee Farrer, will be at the Q&A session.

• "Trashdance," at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28. The discussion features producer Andy Garrison, director and choreographer Allison Orr, and Ivory Jackson, who appears in the film.

• "Linsanity," at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29. Producer Chris Chen will discuss the film after the screening.

• Three short films at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29: "Hark" (Jonathan Fung, a Santa Clara professor who created the film, will be there to discuss it); "Love Hacking" (Jenni Nelson, a Stanford graduate and Santa Cruz filmmaker, will discuss the film); "Thief" (Filmmaker Julian Higgins will attend the Q&A session following the screening).

Info: The Windrider Film Forum takes place at the Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton. Individual tickets are $10 general and $5 for students and seniors. A forum pass for all three days of screenings is $35 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. Go to windriderbayarea.org.

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