By M.V. Moorhead

The Arc and Sprout Film Festival— Showcasing films about, starring, and in some cases made by people with intellectual and development disabilities, this 2nd annual fest, presented by The Arc of Arizona and Chandler-Gilbert Arc, can be taken in all in one day.

Around three dozen short films, which range from documentaries to comedies to dramas to animation, will be shown throughout Friday, April 22, at Pollack Tempe Cinemas, 1825 E. Elliot Road in Tempe.

The touring program is a production of Sprout, a New York-based organization “dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities grow through challenging, creative and fun experiences that enhance socialization, self-confidence and inclusion.”

Participants in the festival’s films include people with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome and other diagnoses.

As the festival’s promoters point out, they aren’t professional actors impersonating disabled people, as so often in Hollywood productions.

The films, which are family-friendly and range in length from 2 to 17 minutes, are screened over three showtimes—9:30 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

Each of these showings is followed by a Q&A with Anthony DiSalvo, Sprout’s founder and director. Single screening admissions are $5; $4 for groups of 10 or more. An all-day pass is just $12.

Opening this weekend


The Jungle Book—Disney’s 1967 version of The Jungle Book is probably my favorite of that studio’s animated features.

This is partly sentimentality—it’s the first movie to which I can remember being taken, when I was four or five years old.

But it’s also looser, lighter, funnier than a lot of Disney fare, with bright primary colors, wonderful voice acting and a couple of catchy big band numbers.

It was hard to imagine that this same charm could be captured in live action.

But Disney’s new version of Kipling’s tales of Mowgli the wolf-raised “Man-Cub,” featuring a live actor as Mowgli and CGI as his animal co-stars, takes a different approach, and finds unexpected grit and emotional range. Directed by Jon Favreau from a script by Justin Marks, the film uses bits of Kipling’s language and gets across some of his near-peerless storytelling panache (bits of his icky colonialist presumption inevitably creep in here and there, too).

As before, young Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is menaced by the scarred tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba), who bears him a grudge.

It’s decided that the black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) will return Mowgli to the “Man Village,” and episodic adventures ensue.

He’s befriended by the leisure-loving bear Baloo (Bill Murray) and threatened by the python Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and the primate King Louis (Christopher Walken), here presented much like Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, before he and Shere Khan have their big confrontation.

It’s an odd hybrid, with the Brit actors declaiming high drama alongside Murray’s Chicago-accented shtick, but mostly it works.

There are a few missteps, the most glaring, for me, being the decision to allow Murray and Walken to perform their character’s songs from the 1967 film. Both are great performers in their own right, but musically Murray is no Phil Harris and Walken is no Louis Prima, and they seem to know it—their numbers feel halfhearted, almost sheepish.

Parents of smaller kids—and anyone sensitive to animal suffering—should be aware that the film is violent at times, especially by kid-movie standards, and that a couple of characters are killed in the course of the story. As the saying goes, it’s a jungle out there.

The Jungle Book is rated PG plays at Harkins Tempe Marketplace, Chandler Fashion 20 and other multiplexes Valleywide.



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