Thom Powers' Stranger Than Fiction screening series, a regular presentation of NYC's IFC Center, brings outstanding new and rarely seen documentaries to the public eye. Beginning on September 29, the STF program for Fall 2009 features eleven films representing a wide variety of fascinating subjects, ranging from Kung Fu masters, two dare devil women and a trend-setting musician to Italy's Prime Minister phenomenon, Iran's real time reportage via video and the story of The Lincoln Brigade. And, as always, season passholders get bonus screenings, free popcorn and other extras. But first and foremost, there's the amazing roster of films:
- Ahead Of Time (2009) - Fresh from its world premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, this documentary examines the adventurous life of photojournalist Ruth Gruber whose accomplishments included covering the 1947 Jewish refugees on the boat Exodus for Life Magazine. The film marks the directorial debut of Bob Richman, known for his work as a cinematographer on acclaimed docs such as The September Issue. Q and A with director Bob Richman and the inimitable Ruth Gruber (on the eve of her 98th birthday!). This is the Fall season's opening night film. Tuesday, September 29.
- October Country (2009) - Winner of the Silverdocs Jury Prize, October Country is a stunning directorial debut from Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher about a family in upstate New York haunted by ghosts of war, teen pregnancy, foster care and child abuse. Q and A with directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. Monday, October 5. This is a special bonus screening.
- The Real Shaolin (2008) - Rich with dazzling displays of Kung Fu, this film follows two Chinese and two western students as they undergo a year of rigorous training in martial arts at the Shaolin temple in Central China. A must for anyone who's into martial arts and/or loves Kung Fu flicks. Q and A with director Alexander Sebastien Lee. Tuesday, October 6.
- Videocracy (2009) - This penetrating look at the media empire of Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi reveals how his reality TV shows full of bikini-clad women enriched his friends and beguiled a nation. Q and A with director Erik Gandini. Tuesday, October 13.
- Still Bill (2009) - Bill Withers rose to unexpected fame with the hit songs Ain't No Sunshine, Lean on Me, and Just the Two of Us, then left behind the industry and gave up performing. This beautifully crafted film explores the man behind the music. Q and A with directors Damani Baker and Alex Vlack. Tuesday, October 20.
- The Good Fight (1984) - Celebrating the 25th anniversary of its original release, The Good Fight examines the American soldiers who fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Q and A with directors Noel Buckner, Mary Dore and Sam Sills. Tuesday, October 27.
- Colony (2009) - Several beekeepers around the U.S. cope with colony collapse disorder - the phenomenon that has caused millions of bees to mysteriously disappear - in this beautifully shot debut from a gifted directing duo. Q and A with directors Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell. Tuesday, November 3.
- Copyright Criminals (2009) - As musicians and artists find new ways to appropriate old works, this film explores the creative and legal issues around copyright, featuring interviews with heavily sampled musicians such as George Clinton and James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield. Q and A with directors Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod; Co-presented with POV. Tuesday, November 10.
- The Weather Underground (2002) - Former members of one of America's most notorious radical movements finally speak candidly about how they brought the war home, eluding one of the largest manhunts in FBI history. Q and A with directors Sam Green and Bill Siegel and special guest WU founder Mark Rudd. Monday, November 16. This is a special bonus screening, co-presented with Docurama, to celebrate the documentary distributors 10th anniversary.
- Iran: Images From The Uprising - Film and video have played an important role in chronicling modern Iran, including the past tumultuous months of street protests. In this special STF presentation, Iranian director Hamid Rahmanian (The Glass House) will be joined by other filmmakers and observers to present and discuss clips that deepen our understanding of the country. Tuesday, November 17.
- Double Dare (2004) - A rollicking film about the friendship between two amazing stunt women from different generations: Jeannie Epper (most famous for doubling Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman) and Zoe Bell (who did stunts for Lucy Lawless on Xena). Q and A with director Amanda Micheli Tuesday. November 24.
- Closing Night Film - TBD, but it's always a stellar selection. Tuesday, December 1.
Season passes for the series ($95) and tickets for individual screenings ($16, when available) can be purchased via the STF Website. Book soon -- the series has a serious following, and seats sell quickly.