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Foreign intrigue at Stony Brook Film Festival

Jaime King plays Toni Jo Henry in the

Jaime King plays Toni Jo Henry in the Stony Brook Film Festival World Premiere of "The Pardon," directed by Tom Anton. a film based on an actual murder case in Louisiana.

At this year's Stony Brook Film Festival, the accent is on accents.

On screen, you're more likely to find films from Germany, France and Italy than from America. Only six of the festival's 21 feature films are American-made, a drop from last year's eight.

"The quality of the American independent films is just not there," said Alan Inkles, the festival's director. "Instead, I'm getting my hands on all these great foreign films."

As a result, the 15th installment of the festival opens Friday with two dramas from Dutch director Ben Sombogaart, "The Storm" and "Bride Flight," both based on the 1953 North Sea flood that killed nearly 2,000 people in the Netherlands. The closing film is "Mao's Last Dancer," an Australian production about real-life Chinese ballet star Li Cunxin. In between are the German romantic comedy "Beloved Berlin Wall," the French World War II Resistance drama "The Army of Crime" and an Italian film, "The Sicilian Girl," based on the true story of the teenager who broke the Mafia's code of silence.

At this rate, the festival might consider putting "International" in its title. Here are some highlights - American films included - from the 10-day schedule.

The Storm (Friday, 7 p.m.)

During the mass exodus following a devastating flood in the Netherlands in 1953, one woman has her reasons for heading back into the disaster zone. The film's star, Sylvia Hoeks, is scheduled to appear in person.
Watch the trailer

Bride Flight  (Friday, 9:15 p.m.)

This companion piece to "The Storm" is inspired by the true stories of Dutch brides who immigrated en masse to New Zealand, where their already relocated fiances were trying to establish new lives.
Watch the trailer

Five Star Day (Friday, 7 p.m.)

One of the festival's few American films follows a skeptical young man (Cam Gigandet, "Twilight") who tries to disprove his astrological forecast by finding three others with his same birth date. Also with Max Hartman, scheduled to appear at the festival, and Jena Malone.
Watch the trailer

The Pardon (Friday, 9:30 p.m.)

Based on the true story of Toni Jo Henry, a Louisiana woman sentenced to the electric chair in Louisiana in the 1940s. Jaime King, who survived "My Bloody Valentine 3D," plays the lead role.

The Extra Man (Saturday, 9:30 p.m.)

A young dreamer (Paul Dano, "There Will Be Blood") moves to New York City and ends up sharing a flat with Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline), a quirky escort for wealthy widows. Also with Katie Holmes. Opens in theaters July 30.
Watch the trailer

Jews and Baseball (July 25, 5 p.m.)

Subtitled "An American Love Story," this documentary relates the history of Jewish-American major-leaguers using interviews with famous names like Sandy Koufax and Al Rosen. Dustin Hoffman narrates.
Watch the trailer

Howl (July 29, 9:40 p.m.)

James Franco plays beat poet Allen Ginsberg in a biopic that focuses on his famous obscenity trial. Also with Mary Louise-Parker, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, David Strathairn and Bob Balaban.

The Concert (July 31, 6 p.m.)

This last-minute addition to the fest is a Russian-French- Romanian comedy about a disgraced conductor (Alexei Guskov) who assembles a group of misfit musicians to impersonate the Bolshoi orchestra. Mélanie Laurent ("Inglourious Basterds") stars as a violin virtuoso.
Watch the trailer

Mao's Last Dancer (July 31, 8:30 p.m.)

The true-life story of Li Cunxin, a ballet dancer who rose from poverty to international stardom. He is played by Chi Cao, himself a Chinese national now with the Birmingham Royal Ballet in England. Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy," "Breaker Morant") directs.
Watch the trailer

WHAT Stony Brook Film Festival

WHEN | WHERE Tomorrow through July 31 at the Staller Center for the Arts, Stony Brook University, 100 Nicholls Rd., Stony Brook

TICKETS Single tickets: $9, $7 for seniors; passes: $75

INFO 631-632-2787; stonybrookfilmfestival.com

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