Even though the keynote address by outspoken country rebel Steve Earle is sure to be one of the entertainment highlights of the NXNE film festival, the Amos Poe documentary Just An American Boy (Bloor Cinema, Saturday, June 7, 7 pm), which Earle is coming to promote, is actually one of the weak spots in a surprisingly strong schedule. What purports to be a provocative examination of the controversy surrounding Earle's headline-grabbing tune John Walker's Blues - empathizing with the plight of the so-called American Taliban - comes off as nothing more than a glorified tour documentary intercut with road ruminations, dire rehearsals and diner stops.
Much more exciting is Mika Kaurismäki's search for the origins of Brazil's samba, documented in the captivating Moro No Brasil - Sounds Of Brazil (John Spotton Cinema, Friday, June 6, 7:15 pm). It's an insightfully investigated and arrestingly filmed study of the overlooked people of Brazil's rural communities and favelas who resourcefully created so much beauty with so very little. You'll want to book a trip to Bahia before it's over.
There's also Maestro (John Spotton, Saturday, June 7, 7 pm), Jossell Ramos's intriguing look at the development of our modern dance club culture through the eyes of the people who were there, and a look at the rise and fall - and rise again - of one-hit wonder Benny Mardones in the Gregg Ross film Into The Night: The Benny Mardones Story (John Spotton, Friday, June 6, 5:30 pm).
Perhaps the most anticipated screening is the Canadian premiere of the Three Business Men from Repo Man and Sid & Nancy director Alex Cox. The film's acclaimed cinematographer, Rob Tregenza, will be in attendance at the John Spotton Cinema, Saturday, June 7, 4:30 pm.