Under the energetic stewardship of Niku Arbabi, Ms. Films Festival has grown from a one-day event to an increasingly vital four-day extravaganza, complete with an opening night party, specially-curated programming and the perennial offerings of submission-based screenings and hands-on workshops.
After Thursday's opening night party at the Durham Arts Council, with music by Wigg Report, Friday's session will begin with a filmmaker discussion panel at 4 p.m. Afterward, the first of two submission programs will commence at 7 p.m. Covering a wide array of subject matter and employing diverse media, the filmmakers hail from such far flung ports of call as Berkeley, Melbourne, Brooklyn and (a surprisingly busy cinematic hotbed) Winnipeg. Durham, too, will be represented with Madeleine Walter's Loud and Clear: Voices of Kentucky's Mountains, her 13-minute portrait of anti-strip mining activists.
The workshops take place during the day Saturday and Sunday and will cover territory both theoretical and practical, including editing techniques, fundraising and non-narrative aesthetic strategies. Among the facilitators will be local film experts Shambhavi Kaul, Dawn Dreyer, Shilyh Warren and Nayeli Garci-Crespo, in addition to filmmakers from New York, Virginia and Canada.
In addition to workshops and evening screenings, there will be special programs, including the delightfully titled "Limp Wrists Make Tight Fists," a program of "post-gay" films selected from the JUNK Underground Film tour that passed through these parts last fall. In other programming, there's "Girl Director," an Andrea Richards-curated program devoted to films made by girls under 18, and "Basic Needs," a program curated by Olympia, Wash.'s Cathy de la Cruz that focuses on films that break "boundaries by destroying genres through experimental storytelling.
All-access passes are available for $15, and tickets to single events are available as well. Go to www.msfilms.org or call 560-2787.