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Our FirstLight Film Festival Favorites

Vanessa Wolf is a Maui-based writer who thinks, and by default, therefore is.

By Vanessa Wolf

The FirstLight film festival kicks off next Sunday. FirstLight is Maui’s holiday season celebration of cinema. Over 15 days, 40 films will be screened with 22 being Maui premieres. Every Oscar-winning Best Picture since 1999 has been screened at FirstLight on Castle Theater’s big screen in Dolby 5.1 sound.

Opening night begins next Sunday at 5 p.m. with Love, Marilyn. Love, Marilyn takes an intimate look into the never-before-seen letters, diaries and notebooks of Marilyn Monroe. Appearing on screen to perform Marilyn’s words are renowned contemporary actresses, including Marisa Tomei, Uma Thurman and Glenn Close. Director Liz Garbus’ documentary feature is a startlingly intimate and revealing portrait of arguably the most famous female actor ever to grace the silver screen. HBO will air in the film in 2013.

Later that evening at 7:30 p.m. is Crossfire Hurricane. The Rolling Stones are chronicled in Crossfire Hurricane, which documents key periods of their career and their incredible adventures. Directed by Brett Morgen, the film features historical footage, much of it widely unseen, and commentary from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and former Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, as well as rare interviews with Brian Jones. Period interviews, extensive live performance material and news archive footage complete the documentary, which takes its title from the opening lines of “Jumping Jack Flash”.

The remaining schedule isn’t available yet, but some of the (seeming) highlights of the 40 offerings include Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan… Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything–his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet – and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

Hyde Park on Hudson starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney also sounds intriguing, although don’t expect a Bill Murray comedy with this plot: the story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited upstate New York.  In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Academy Award nominee Bill Murray) and his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams) host the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York–the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support. But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one. Seen through the eyes of Daisy (Academy Award nominee Laura Linney), Franklin’s neighbor and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy–and through her, for us all–a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship

Known for method acting to the extreme, has there ever been a movie starring Daniel Day Lewis that didn’t nearly kill him…and wasn’t awesome? We think not, so plan to check out Lincoln.

Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award(R) winner Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.

Have an entire day to kill? A FirstLight Four-Film VIP FastPass is good for early entry into the theater and allows one to remain and see two or three films in a row. Passes can be purchased at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) Box Office for a cost of $40.

Otherwise, tickets are $12 for a single screening and kids 12 and under can see any “G” or “PG”-rated film for free.

Lastly, major film industry guild members and one guest are granted complimentary admission to any film. If you don’t have your SAG card, now would be a good time to get one!

Are you a local artist – sculptor, poet, mime, slack key guitar player, tattoo artist, photographer, pastry chef, performance artist, sand castle builder or comedian – with an interesting story to tell? Know of a great band, artist, author, filmmaker, or event coming to town? Have an idea for a fun or thought-provoking story? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. Vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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