“The True Adventures Of Wolfboy” had its world premiere on July 2 of this year at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic, which is now officially known by its traditional name, Czechia.

The movie is a drama, with gentle comedic moments, about a 13-year old boy named Paul who has a condition called congenital hypertrichosis. His face and body are covered with an abnormally thick mat of hair. He is, as you would expect, bullied at school. His mother is not in Paul’s life, and the film is about his search for her. It’s the first feature directed by Martin Krejci. The screenplay is by Olivia Dufault.

“The True Adventures Of Wolfboy” was shot in the Buffalo-Niagara region. One casting call for extras was held at Niagara County Community College in September 2017, with those selected participating over a four-day period in an extended sequence filmed at a traveling carnival in Niagara County. Other scenes were shot in Buffalo, including downtown.

The feature stars Jaeden Martell as Paul, along with John Turturro, Chloe Sevigny, Eve Hewson, Chris Messina, Sophie Giannamore, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Theatre and Dance for The State University of New York at Buffalo and Tony-nominated Broadway actor.

“The True Adventures Of Wolfboy” is one of the main entries in the Buffalo International Film Festival, which is now in-progress. Established in 2006, BIFF has followed its mission of presenting important new movies not only from international cinema, but also an extensive number of works of all lengths created by Buffalo-Niagara area filmmakers.

This year more than 120 shorts, documentaries, and narrative features will be shown during BIFF’s five-day run, with screenings at the North Park Theatre, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Hallways Contemporary Arts Center, and Squeaky Wheel. There are also free programs and official parties.

Artistic Director John Fink told me that this year’s “lineup of movies is one of the festival’s most exciting and comprehensive.” Fink said that “many local, national, and international filmmakers and cast members will be in attendance for post-screening question and answer sessions.”

'HUSTLERS'

Released in 2011, the comedy “Bridesmaids” proved, if proof were really needed, that women could flip the traditional, raunchy, R-rated bromantic comedy on its head and succeed mightily. Last year, women took the violence of long-familiar, male-centric heist movies and made the well-worn genre their own with “Widows,” which offered a fresh take on the subject.

Now we’ve got “Hustlers,” which I was finally able to see the other day. The rough-edged film is a revenge drama in which women – average females having to make a living as strippers because of economic doldrums – decide to turn the tables on slobbering, arrogant male drunks.

These young studs are clueless as to what the strippers actually think about their vulgar behavior. The men are primarily Wall Street financial traders, who yell at the ladies, paw them, and expect sexual favors on the cheap.

Written and directed by Lorena Scafaria, and based on a 2015 New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler titled “The Hustlers At Scores,” the women turn the tables on the strip club patrons by drugging and robbing them.

The powerhouse cast includes Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B as strippers. Mercedes Ruehl is “den mother to the girls,” Julia Stiles is a journalist, and Frank Whaley is the club’s owner. There’s not a bad performance in the movie.

Director Scafaria is clearly on the side of the women, but she presents their point-of-view with great style and a believable respect for what they are going through in their lives. She explores the reasons behind the need to strip in public. There’s the welfare of their families at home to consider.

“Hustlers,” which has a bit of a time travel feel to it regarding the economy, is a raw slice-of-life drama that combines crime and sociology in strong and uncompromising ways.

It has a great production look, excellent music, and, once again in a film the year, exceptional cinematography, this time from Todd Banhazl. Try to see it.

Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette. Contact him at moviecolumn@gmail.com.

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