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Robin Friedman : author and journalist

Movies you may have missed

By Robin Friedman | Special to the Daily Record | March 6, 2004

For the sixth year in a row, the Myhelan Indie Film Festival in Chester will screen independent films from all corners of the globe right in your own backyard.

Thoughtful, provocative, and thought-provoking, many of these films have been showered with honors at more well-known film festivals such as Sundance, Telluride, Berlin, Los Angeles and Tribeca.

“This year, we've brought the best-of-the-best to Myhelan,” says Barry Becker, the festival's artistic director.

Some of this year's films tell stories about everyday life in Israel (“Moments”), a polluted river in Eastern Europe (“Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story”), love, life and robots (“Robot Stories”) and the redemptive power of friendship as felt by a dwarf and train buff in rural New Jersey (“The Station Agent”), a film that has attracted a great deal of buzz in the film world and was partly filmed in Morris County. In fact, the festival offers a second chance to view this movie for anyone who might have missed it.

“We bring insightful independent films right to the residents of Morris County,” says executive director Linda Helm Krapf. “We've selected high-quality films from a broad spectrum of issues, ideas, perspectives and cultures.”

About 3,000 movie buffs usually attend the festival, she says, forsaking Hollywood's more formulaic offerings for a chance to experience unique storytelling and subjects.

“What's available at our local cinema only represents a small portion of the films created in the world,” she says. “Film, like no other art medium, offers a concise window to other cultures and social landscapes.”

Americans, she says, also don't get many opportunities to enjoy foreign films. But they will at Myhelan. It's a virtual United Nations of film treasures, with films about Iran, Guyana, Australia and Poland, among many others.

“Independent films tell a story that's accessible,” she says. “Often a story that's compelling.”

After the films are screened, there is usually a chance to quiz the director about his creation in an informal question-and-answer session. Some actors will also be making appearances.

“The filmmakers are the icing on the cake,” says Helm Krapf. “One of the great joys of a film festival is actually meeting the people behind the scenes.”