A rock doc, animated biopic and two German comedies are among the highlights at this year’s Stony Brook Film Festival.
The 22nd edition of the festival, which runs July 20 through July 29 at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center, strikes a generally upbeat tone that moviegoers might find appealing during a summer of bitter politics and nasty headlines. The festival is bookended by two comedies: “Welcome to Germany,” about a middle-class family that takes in a Nigerian refugee, and “Text for You,” a smartphone-driven rom-com. From France comes “The Midwife,” a dramedy starring Catherine Deneuve as a woman who befriends the daughter of a past lover. The British-Dutch production “Love Is Thicker Than Water” is a romantic comedy with illustrated sequences and a pop soundtrack.
“I’ve always said I don’t put a theme on the festival — I just want the best films out there,” says festival director and founder Alan Inkles, though he notes: “This seemed like it might be a good year for lighter fare.”
Here are several notable titles from the festival’s lineup. All screening times are after noon.
WELCOME TO GERMANY (July 20 at 8). The festival’s opening night film is a comedy about the Hartmanns, a prosperous family in Munich who take in a Nigerian refugee and find themselves confronting racism, xenophobia and terrorist suspicions. U.S. premiere.
ETHEL & ERNEST (July 22 at 4). A hand-drawn, animated biopic about two ordinary Londoners (voices of Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn) who meet in 1928 and live side-by-side through the tumult of the 20th century. Based on Raymond Briggs’ award-winning graphic novel about his parents.
LOVE IS THICKER THAN WATER (July 22 at 9:30). The story of an amusingly star-crossed romance between Arthur, a poor Welshman, and Vida, an affluent Jewish woman. Starring Johnny Flynn and Lydia Wilson. The film is a joint English-Dutch production.
TO THE EDGE OF THE SKY (July 23 at 4). The new documentary from Jedd and Todd Wider, Stony Brook-raised brothers whose production credits include Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning “Taxi to the Dark Side,” follows four families as they fight the FDA to gain access to a potentially lifesaving drug for their sons, who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
APRICOT GROVES (July 24 at 7). A romance about two young Armenians who live in the United States but return to their home country and — over the course of one day — experience a series of culture clashes. Written and directed by Iranian filmmaker Pouria Heidary Oureh.
LITTLE WING (July 25 at 7). Bored by her hometown and exasperated by her immature mother, 12-year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog) decides to steal a car and find the father she has never met. It’s the first feature from the Finnish documentary director Selma Vilhune.
FROM THE LAND OF THE MOON (July 25 at 9:15). In postwar France, the free-spirited and frankly sexual Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) so embarrasses her family that they offer her a choice: be forcibly committed to an asylum, or marry a total stranger. With Louis Garrel (“Saint Laurent”) and Alex Brendemühl.
THE SECOND ACT OF ELLIOTT MURPHY (July 26 at 9:15). Jorge Arenillas’ documentary focuses on Garden City singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy, who despite praise and support from Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel found his biggest fan base in France, where he now lives and was recently knighted. Murphy will speak and perform at this screening.
PURPLE DREAMS (July 27 at 7). A documentary about North Carolina’s first-ever high school production of the musical based on Alice Walker’s controversial book “The Color Purple.” Filmed over four weeks at Northwest School of the Arts, in Charlotte. Directed by Joanne Hock.
THE MIDWIFE (July 28 at 9:30). A professional midwife (Catherine Frot) forms an unlikely friendship with her late father’s mistress (Catherine Deneuve). Directed by Martin Provost (“Séraphine”).
TEXT FOR YOU (July 29 at 8). The closing-night film is a German rom-com about Clara, a grieving woman who keeps sending texts to her recently deceased fiancé. What she doesn’t know is that the number now belongs to Mark, whose own love life isn’t going so well, either. The film’s star, Karoline Herfurth, also directed and co-wrote. She will attend the screening.
Stony Brook Film Festival
WHEN | WHERE July 20 through July 29 at Staller Center, Stony Brook University
TICKETS $12; passes $85-$225
INFO 631-632-2787 or go to stonybrookfilmfestival.com