The 15th annual Stony Brook Film Festival opens with a double Dutch treat that introduces a lineup of 32 features and shorts, including "Howl!" with heartthrob James Franco as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
"We have more world, U.S. and East Coast premieres than ever before," says festival director Alan Inkles. "Films that were unavailable to us in the past . . . are now coming our way."
The festival begins July 22 with two films by director Ben Sombogaart inspired by the cataclysmic North Sea Flood of 1953. "The Storm" stars Sylvia Hoeks of the Netherlands. She will attend the opening night screening along with producer Alain De Levita, who brought "Alice in Glamourland" to Stony Brook in 2005, sharing the best feature jury award. "The Storm" is followed by "Bride Flight," the story of mass emigration of young Dutch women to New Zealand after the flood.
Two world premieres enter the competition for audience and jury awards at Stony Brook: "The Pardon," based on the true story of the first woman sentenced to the Louisiana electric chair. It stars Jaime King, who will attend the July 23 screening with director Tom Anton and writer-producer Sandi Wilson. The documentary "Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story," narrated by Dustin Hoffman, gets its first-ever screening July 25.
U.S. premieres include "Love and Savagery" (a woman seeks to dedicate her life to the church), "Ayla" (a Turkish woman in Germany deals with traditions and temptations), "Bon Appetit" (set inside a gourmet restaurant in Switzerland) and "Beloved Berlin Wall" (a romantic comedy set during the last days of East Germany).
The festival's international flavor is balanced by such American independent films as "Five Star Day," making its East Coast premiere, starring Jena Malone, guest of the 2001 festival in which she appeared in "Book of Stars." "Howl!" is an East Coast premiere, along with "Lovely, Still," starring Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau in a gentle film about aging. "The Extra Man" - a male escort for wealthy widows - stars Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly and Cathy Moriarty in this New York premiere.
"Mao's Last Dancer," an East Coast premiere directed by Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy"), is the closing night film July 31.
WHAT: Stony Brook Film Festival
WHEN | WHERE: July 22-31 at Staller Center, Stony Brook University
INFO: May 31 is the last day for early-bird film passes: $60 gets you into all films, $75 starting Tuesday; tickets for individual films go on sale June 12, $9, $7 for students and seniors; stonybrookfilmfestival.com, 631-632-2787