Local Arts

10 must-see films at this year’s Charlotte Film Festival

“Live at the Double Door Inn.”
“Live at the Double Door Inn.” Charles Bludsworth

We asked festival heads Jennifer Bratyanski and Jay Morong to pick 10 things you ought not to miss at the 2017 Charlotte Film Festival. Here’s their list, in the order they submitted it:

“Sylvio.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival


(Sept. 24) A small-town gorilla, stuck in his job at a debt-collection agency, wants to express himself with his hand puppet on an experimental TV show that highlights the quiet moments of life. A series of on-air mishaps threaten to shatter his identity and send him on an adventure of self-discovery, where reality and fantasy blend.

“Suspiria.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival


(Sept. 23) Dario Argento’s story about terror at a ballet academy returns to the big screen in a new 4K restoration from the original, uncut, uncensored 35mm Italian camera negative. (It also has the original 4.0 English surround sound.) Luciano Tovoli, the film’s cinematographer, supervised this three-year restoration.

“Live from the Double Door Inn”

(Sept. 23) This documentary pays tribute to the four-decade glory of Charlotte’s most famous club for blues, rock, zydeco and reggae. Owner Nick Karres will attend the screening and a Q-and-A with the filmmakers; an outdoor concert will follow the screening, whose proceeds go to Community School of the Arts. Look for performances by CSA students and musicians who loved the Double Door.

purple dreams
“Purple Dreams” tells the story of students from Charlotte’s Northwest School of the Arts and “The Color Purple.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival

“Purple Dreams”

(Oct. 1) Charlotte director Joanne Hock helmed this inspirational documentary, in which students at Northwest School of the Arts – some struggling with homelessness, gang-related violence, or single-family households – immersed themselves in a production of “The Color Purple” and had life-changing experiences.

“78/52.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival


(Sept. 23) This documentary takes an unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho” and the screen murder that changed the course of world cinema. A post-screening discussion, moderated by Charlotte Hitchcock guru Sam Shapiro, will follow.

“Feral.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival


(Sept. 23) A weird animal attacks six medical students on a weekend hike, turning them into bloodthirsty creatures. The vacation becomes a nightmare, as they fight to survive each other. Directed by horror veteran Mark Young and co-written by Young and Adam Frazier, who are both from Charlotte.

Truth Underground
“Truth Underground.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival

“Truth Underground”

(Sept. 30) Spoken-word poets wrestle with poverty, discrimination, PTSD and abandonment in this documentary. One poet’s father leaves her mother with four kids and bills she can't pay; a high schooler explores his identity as a black male after a teacher encourages him; a Marine veteran who lost his best friend to suicide takes his country to task and calls for support for vets through his art.

Great Choice
“Great Choice.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival

“Great Choice”

(Sept. 29) A woman finds herself stuck in a Red Lobster commercial in this comedy. What more could you need to know?

“Quest.” Courtesy of Charlotte Film Festival


(Sept. 29) This vérité-style documentary took almost a decade to film, as Philadelphia parents Christopher “Quest” Rainey and Christine’s “Ma Quest” Rainey raise a family while navigating the poverty and strife that grips their neighborhood. Meanwhile, they nurture a community of artists in their basement home music studio.

“My Friend Dahmer.” Daniel Katz

“My Friend Dahmer”

(Sept. 22) Before Jeffrey Dahmer became a serial killer from 1978 to 1991, he was a shy teenager whose homosexual inclinations and alcohol intake made him a loner. This feature, based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf, purports to be a true story of the kid who grew up to be a murderer. Ross Lynch and Anne Heche star.

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