'Taste' a rare treat


Robert Redford is not coming to the Baltimore International Film Festival in person, but the actor will be here in spirit with "A Taste of Sundance," which begins tonight as part of the festival.

"Mama Awethu!" -- a documentary about apartheid in South Africa by Bethany Yarrow -- is the first of three films to be shown that were screened at Mr. Redford's annual Sundance Film Festival Independent Film Competition, held in January in Utah.

Ms. Yarrow has fallen ill and cannot attend tonight's 7:30 screening, as planned. However, the two other filmmakers from Sundance will be on hand to introduce their works, when screened, and also meet with festivalgoers in a reception following.

"We decided to include the Sundance series to get people to recognize these are brand new films, and something they may not see again," says Rebecca Aaron, coordinator of the local festival, which continues through April 30.

Mr. Redford's festival was created to recognize and encourage independent filmmakers who previously had limited opportunities to show their products. The commercially successful "sex, lies and videotape" gained its first attention at Sundance a few years ago, and this year's festival brought forth the current feature "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

For many of the films, however, Sundance -- and now Baltimore's festival -- may represent the only chance for public screenings, says Ms. Aaron.

"Mama Awethu!" was made by Ms. Yarrow when she was a film student at Yale University, using footage from a 1991 trip to South Africa. It focuses on the lives of five black women in the nation's townships.

At the Sundance festival, "Mama Awethu!" -- the word awethu means "to the people" -- was praised for containing "some of the most remarkable images ever to come out of South Africa" by looking at the day-to-day lives of people rather than the disturbances covered on the evening news.

"Where the Rivers Flow North" was made by Jay Craven and his wife, Bess O'Brien, on location in Vermont, where they live and work. Starring Rip Torn, Michael J. Fox, Treat Williams and Tantoo Cardinal, it tells the story of a logger (Mr. Torn) who is being forced off his land in 1927 to make way for a hydroelectric dam.

The movie, based on a novella by Howard Frank Mosher, has been described as "a Vermont western," and Mr. Craven has acknowledged his $1.9 million effort goes against the tide of not only Hollywood but much other independent production.

In addition to appearing at the film festival, the makers of "Where the Rivers Flow North" also will speak at a "Meet the Filmmakers" event from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 27 at Borders bookstore in Towson.

"The Making of . . . And God Spoke," by director Arthur Borman, with his brother Mark Borman as producer, is a film-within-a-film comedy about the epic difficulty of producing a biblical film. The movie was praised after a showing at the Toronto Film Festival as "perhaps the funniest movie ever made about Hollywood."



"Mama Awethu!"

7:30 tonight

"Where the Rivers Flow North"

7:30 p.m. April 27

"The Making of . . . And God Spoke"

9 p.m. April 29

Where: Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive

Tickets: $6; $5 seniors, students

Information: 235-0100 and 889-1993

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