Starting at 7 tonight, the lights will go down at Bear Tooth Theatrepub, and the big screen will light up with "Camille" -- a quirky dark comedy about a dead bride come back to life -- officially kicking off Alaska's annual celebration of independent cinema, the Anchorage International Film Festival.
Scores of movies (I lost count after 100) in diverse genres from nations far and wide will show over the next 10 days in a movie lover's buffet.
This year, organizers have three theaters running film (or high-def electronic data) simultaneously on most nights -- way too much for anyone to get to all of it. But here's a short guide to whet your appetite and help you sort out what most interests you:
Feature film official selections
Eighteen independently produced full-length movies ranging from comedy to thriller represent the cream of worldwide, up-and-coming talent. Five are considered to be "in competition" for AIFF's 2008 Best Feature Film and will be shown twice. They are:
"Chronic Town," a messed-up Fairbanks cabbie discovers feelings.
"Coyote," good old boys become kinder, gentler people smugglers.
"Half Life," a drama of lives and loves after the apocalypse.
"How to Be," recounting the painfully funny dysfunctional relationship between a rock musician and his family.
"Streetsweeper," a surreal voyage through loneliness, poetry and tidying up after zebras.
Look for: "Chronic Town," which we'll review next week in the Daily News.
Four programs for a variety of tastes.
Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll, 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Bear Tooth. Organizers caution that most animated films at the festival may not be suitable for children.
Big Wild Animation, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Anchorage Museum. Repeats at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 13.
Adventures in Animation, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Anchorage Museum.
Kid Friendly, 4 p.m. Saturday, Bear Tooth. The four films in this program are all judged suitable for all ages, as is.
A full day of shows starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Loussac Library, including:
"Iron Giant," the well-loved animated feature.
"Eating Alaska," Ellen Frankenstein's documentary about a vegetarian who marries an Alaskan, moves here and wonders what's for dinner.
Student Film Forum, a mix of shorts by area students and young adults.
Full-length documentaries will be presented as feature presentations. In addition, there are several screenings of "short docs" at these times:
6:15 p.m. Saturday, Anchorage Museum
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Fireweed
5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Anchorage Museum
Look for: "The Last Days of Shishmaref" at 6:16 p.m. Sunday at Bear Tooth and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Fireweed.
Anything from three minutes to about half an hour.
Subjective Subtleties, noon Saturday, Bear Tooth; repeats at 8 p.m. Dec. 13, Anchorage Museum.
Reel Macabre, 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Anchorage Museum; repeats at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Fireweed.
Super Shorts, 3:15 p.m. Sunday, Anchorage Museum; repeats 8:45 p.m. Dec. 13, Fireweed.
Look for: "Spademeadow," award-winning spoof with former Anchorage actress Katie Wallack.
Objective Observations, 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Fireweed; repeats at 3:15 p.m. Dec. 14, Anchorage Museum.
Look for: "Sikumi," Sundance honoree shot in Barrow by Andrew Okpiaha MacLean, screened Sunday only.
Love & Pain, with material recycled from the adult animation listings, 10:10 p.m. Dec. 12, Bear Tooth.
Look for: "Way Up North" by local director Levi Taylor
Snowdance Shorts, Alaska-made quickies. 12:45 p.m. Dec. 13, Bear Tooth.
Look for: Animation by former Daily News cartoonist Peter Dunlap-Shohl.
Find Mike Dunham online at adn.com/contact/mdunham or call 257-4332.
Anchorage International Film Festival
When: various times today-Dec. 14
Where: Bear Tooth Theatrepub (1230 W. 27th Ave., 276-4200, www.beartooththeatre.net), Regal Fireweed (661 E. Fireweed Lane, 1-800-FANDANGO, fandango.com), Anchorage Museum (121 W. Seventh Ave., 343-6173, www.anchoragemuseum. org), Marston Theatre at Loussac Library (3600 Denali St., 343-2975, lexicon.ci. anchorage.ak.us)
How much: $7 for most single screenings; $36 for a six-screenings pass; $60 all films pass; $85 all films pass plus admission to all events, opening night gala, workshops and more
Find a festival schedule, reviews and your take on the films at adn.com/artsnob.
By MIKE DUNHAM