Nearly 20 years ago, Edward Summer wrote an article for Film in Review magazine called “The Animator Who Never Gave Up: The Unmaking of a Masterpiece.” In it, Summer detailed the rocky road of “The Thief and the Cobbler,” an animated film started in 1964 by Richard Williams (the visionary animator behind “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”) that was still unfinished at the time of the 1996 article.
This weekend, the story of Williams and his film is the basis of two movies at the seventh Buffalo International Film Festival, opening today at the Screening Room Cinema Cafe in Amherst.
“Persistence of Vision,” at 7 p.m. Friday, is a documentary by Kevin Schreck that looks at what happened to “The Thief,” why it was shelved for decades and then taken away by the studio from Williams. “It’s the story of how it took 40 years not to make the movie. It was an epic disaster,” said Summer, founder of BIFF, this week. “Even 20 years ago when I wrote the article, it was apparent it was a disaster.”
At 4 p.m. Saturday, “The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut” is a “restored” version of Williams’ original vision of the movie by filmmaker Garrett Gilchrist.
It was only recently when he was programming BIFF that Summer learned both Schreck and Gilchrist had read his Film in Review article and, they told him, they were inspired to make their own works on the film. Gilchrist will be on hand Saturday for a Q&A after the movie.
BIFF is a four-day event with feature-length films, documentaries, film shorts and guest speakers. The opening night reception starts at 6 p.m. today in the Screening Room followed by “Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adele Blanc-Sec,” a Luc Besson film based on a series of historical fantasy comic books by Jacques Tardi.
The festival continues at the Screening Room through the weekend, culminating at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the Theatre of Youth, where the closing night audience awards, reception and screening of the documentary “Long Live TOY: Defending Children’s Theatre in the Nickel City” will be held.
Some of the filmmakers will be on hand for question-and-answer sessions, moderated by Summer, following the movie. And, Summer said, the opening and closing receptions are open to all. “If you’re serious about being a film professional or a film nerd, come to the party.”
As part of BIFF, Casa de Arte (141 Elmwood Ave.) again hosts free screenings. This year, it’s a tribute to actress Maria Felix, considered to be the “queen” of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, starting at 6:30 tonight with “La Badida.”
Here’s a look at what’s coming with a description of the feature film and any accompanying short film. Movies are in the Screening Room unless noted. Age recommendations for the screenings, as well as other info, can be found at www.buffalofilmfestival.com.
Opening reception plus “Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adele Blanc-Sec”
6 p.m. today
“Aayna Ka Bayna”
9 p.m. today
Bollywood musical from director Samit Kakkad uses Western forms of dance, including hip-hop and street jazz. Nine messed-up kids in a juvenile home are introduced to dance therapy and want to enter a reality dancing TV show.
“Made in Buffalo Shorts”
4 p.m. Friday
A showcase of seven short films made in Buffalo, ranging in length from 4 to 26 minutes. They are: “Memories for Sale” and “Cat Scratch” from director Christian De Rezendes; “Captive” by Chris Walczyk and Jerry Theresanathan; “Contingency” by Brianna Blank, Katie Egan and Darren Canham; “Fleeting” by Schott Mawhiney; “Lasik” by Walczyk and Jerry Thres; and “Broken Wings” by John M. Scherer.
“Persistence of Vision”
7 p.m. Friday
Schreck’s documentary on Williams’ “The Thief and the Cobbler.”
9 p.m. Friday
World premiere of Buffalo director John Fink’s romantic thriller that follows two couples over four years. Fink will be on hand for a Q&A. Short: “Captive” (Buffalo, 2013).
“Comfort Zone: A Western New York Climate Change Movie”
10 a.m. Saturday
Filmmakers Kate Ressmann-Kehoe, Sean Donnelly and Dave Danesh set out to find what climate change means in an area like Western New York. Here it’s not an obvious threat and, to be honest, we might not care if it’s a bit warmer. Shorts: “Jamon” (U.K., 2013) and “Broken Wings” (Buffalo, 2013).
“The Long Bike Back”
Inspiring documentary follows Pearson Constantino, a bicyclist who was severely injured after being hit by an SUV. Saved by wearing a helmet, Constantino underwent months of surgeries and setbacks before he was well enough to take a cross-country bike trip with his brother Pete to raise awareness about road safety. Constantino and director Julia Wrona will be on hand. Short: “She” (USA, 2013); Q&A with star and Buffalo-born actress Charlene Amoia.
“Prestidigitation for Kids: Magic Camp”
2 p.m. Saturday
Documentary on Tannen’s Magic Camp, a training ground for young magicians whose graduates include David Blaine and Adrien Brody. Directed by Judd Ehrlich. Author Keith White Jr. will sign copies of his children’s books before this film and the 2:30 p.m. Sunday screening.
“The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut”
4 p.m. Saturday
Gilchrist will appear with his restoration of film by director Williams. For ages 13 and up. Short: “She”; Q&A with Amoia.
“Red Light Revolution”
7 p.m. Saturday
A guy resorts to opening an adult toy shop to make ends meet in this Chinese sex farce directed by Sam Voutas.
9 p.m. Saturday
A teen gets started on a violent path toward murder. Directed by Raymond Guarnieri, who will give a Q&A. Short: “Fleeting” (Buffalo, 2013).
“When Derin Falls”
12:30 p.m. Sunday
After the loss of her mother, a 7-year-old goes on a road trip with her depressed father. This is the North American premiere of this drama from Turkey written and directed by Cagatay Tosun. Short: “Riddle of the Black Cat” (USA, 2012).
“Dear Mr. Watterson: The Story of Calvin and Hobbes”
2:30 p.m. Sunday
Director Joel Allen Schroeder interviews dozens of “Calvin and Hobbes” fans to get their take on the popular newspaper cartoon and the impact it had.
“Made in Buffalo” documentaries
4:30 p.m. Sunday
“Ming Day and Night” with Q&A with director Diedie Weng and Chef Sam Lam; “East Side: A Community of Hope,” produced by Erik Taheri and Rich Lunghino; and “Where the Crow will Be Forever,” produced by Keith R. Burich, Ashley Fike and Lauren Mosier.
“Harlem Street Singer”
6:30 p.m. Sunday
Documentary on singer and guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, a blind street musician and preacher who became an American master. Directed by Simeon Hutner and Trevor Laurence. Short: “Contingency” (Buffalo, 2013).
Closing night film and reception
6:30 p.m. Sunday at Theatre of Youth
“Long Live TOY: Defending Children’s Theatre in the Nickel City.” Q&A with directors Austin McLoughlin and Mary Beth Murray. Reception and awards follow.
A tribute to Maria Felix at Casa de Arte Films showcase the iconic Mexican actress. “La Bandida,” 6:30 p.m. today; “La Cucaracha,” reception at 6 p.m., film at 7 p.m. Friday; “El Rapto,” 6:30 p.m. Saturday; and “Dona Barbara,” 6:30 p.m. Sunday.