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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

LA LATINO FILM FESTIVAL

Lost & Found in Mexico


Another documentary featured at this year’s LALIFF is Lost & Found in Mexico. I had mixed feelings about this mostly talking head documentary about expatriates, or U.S. immigrants, who retire in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico. On the one hand, I appreciate first-time filmmaker, Caren Cross’ film debut. The film is technically proficient – well edited, great music, beautiful cinematography, etc. I also appreciate the real subject of her film, which is about people who, after decades of chasing the American Dream, find themselves exhausted, and their life empty and meaningless, despite all their material wealth and success. This is certainly a subject worth discussing, and the film was insightful in this manner.

However, on the other hand, I was disappointed to learn that the U.S. immigrants living in Mexico keep to themselves and have no real relationships with their new paisanos, (countrymen/women) except one woman who married a Mexican man. In fact, though the film is completely shot in Mexico, Mexican people have no voice; yet their rich, vibrant culture, reflected in the colors, music, etc., serve only as background and b-roll in the film. There are no real scenes in this film.

Furthermore, with the immigration issue being such a heated debated in this country, one cannot help but to draw parallels between the immigrants coming from Mexico, and emigrants living in Mexico. One of the chief complaints in this tumultuous debate is that immigrants don’t assimilate into mainstream American society, and here it’s obvious that Americans in Mexico don’t assimilate either. This point was confirmed at the Q&A with the filmmaker.

That Americans are leaving the country and moving south of border in not new. It is a growing trend. Americans are not just moving to Mexico but to all parts of Latin America. Luckily for the U.S. Americans, Latin Americans are far more welcoming than their U.S. counterparts. This is a timely documentary and has screened at numerous festivals around the U.S.

Maria Elena

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DC REEL AFFIRMATIONS

LOCAL SHORTS PROGRAM

Brian the Gnome Slayer 4
Directors: Brian Tosko, Flip Vanevski

Just when you thought it was safe from the evil doers, Brian the Gnome Slayer returns to remind you that evil still lurks and until it doesn’t the Gnome Slayer will be around to protect you.

Ok, this was fun and very, very campy. I could see a heavy Wonder Woman influence. Lynda Carter is a local girl, so bonus for the tribute!

Truthfully, the plot was nearly impossible to follow, but shame on me for not seeing parts 1-3, I suppose. I really wanted to be in on the jokes! The local audience had a ball, and was full of fans, so I hope these two continue on their mission of saving the world from evil Gnomes.

Houseguest
Director: Michael Chiplock

An unexpected late night knock at the door leads to a revelation about a roommate.
Houseguest is a film that explores one roommate discovering a lifestyle choice about another in a bold way. It begins with a film style that has us in a world that looks a little like a Dove commercial. Once we emerge, we never go back, so it was lacking some consistency.
A lot of the acting was a bit overdone and indicated. I felt like I was being shown things, which is deadly on film. The message of tolerance is a terrific one, however, and I enjoyed the not-so-subtle wit toward the end.

The Preacher and the Poet
Director: Dean Hammer

A DC minister’s infamous anti-gay sermon is juxtaposed with the words of a passionate poet.

This film of social justice was a collage of images and anti-gay sound bytes of Reverend Willie Wilson entwined amongst those of contemporary poet Kenneth Morrison, who challenges homophobia in the African American community. Each is a strong opposing force; they are two whirlwinds doing battle. Wilson has a strong hold in the DC community, but his words are graphic and full of prejudice…propaganda to be sure. Morrison is the new strong voice of reason, equally powerful, percussively elocuting through his poetry the consequences of intolerance and the need for change.

GLLU

GLLU is a short format documentary that tells of how the Metro DC police department has been receiving training in skills they need to protect and serve the GLBT community, which shockingly has come to fear law enforcement more than those who commit crimes against them. Violent crimes simply weren’t being reported in the nation’s capital because it was perceived the police wouldn’t care.
In another film I viewed at the Reel Affirmations film festival, The Walker, when a gay character in Metro DC was attacked, instead of calling the police to report the assault, he did nothing. Art imitates life. Members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities in our city are attacked on the streets, face violence in their own homes, and experience the same types of crimes as straight citizens.GLLU stands for the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. It recently was awarded the prestigious Harvard Innovations in American Government Award. This $100,000 grant is to be used to replicate this type of unit. This film shows in a very concise manner why this unit is so remarkable, the difference it has been making, and why these skills are teachable ones indeed. The GLLU has been established firmly to arm officers with tools of communication, to protect, serve and defend humanely in the DC community. I feel like the nation’s capital is a better place with it in place.

The First Great Lesson I Learned
Director: Ian Cook

An older gay man remembers a key moment in his childhood; a moment that completely changed his life.

This is a performance piece that made the transition from stage to film very well, which is a very tricky thing to do. Ian Cook kept a tight shot on actor Ralph Dennler’s face throughout most of the film and just let him be…letting the camera capture thought, trusting this exceptional artist and marvelous piece of text.

Ian Cook is new to DC and has just relocated the Metro area from Ohio, bringing this script from stage to screen. As we all know, this doesn’t always make for a smooth transition. Too many times, a film audience craves more physical action and change of location onscreen than a stage audience does. In this case, Cook has proven that it is simply not necessary to physically move us one millimeter in order to pull us in and move us to the empathy to being singled out and humiliated by a teacher as a child --whether it was for the difference of being gay or one of a dozen other issues.

Offline
Director: Jon Gann

Frightened of the dating scene, Kurt is cajoled to meet men in a bar instead of behind the safety of his monitor. Will he survive the face-to-face meetings of so many he has seen only virtually?

Wasn’t it just five or so years ago that we were all petrified of dating online? In his adorable new short film, Offline, Jon Gann shows us where we’ve come through our protagonist, Kurt, who literally has to be coaxed into an actual bar to interact and reconnect with real live human beings! Through the convention of animated computer screens initially appearing over everyone’s faces, we see how people have just become sorted into one profile after another. There were a lot of strong performances in this warm piece exploring the rediscovery of humanity in the computer age.

Talk to Me
Director: Spencer C. Parker

What would you say to yourself if you had the chance?
I don’t mind pieces that contain a plot that is non-linear. I actually like them. I just couldn’t find a plot in this one at all, linear or not. I understood that Parker wanted to explore what he would say to himself were he talking to himself, but there has to be an objective in there somewhere. This just lacked forward momentum. As the director and editor Parker may have put so much attention on crafting the effects of this film, which he did very nicely, that other elements suffered.

Carolan

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SHREIKFEST DAY 3

I am afraid that today I was only able to cover 3 films. I did not see Criticized at this festival but I saw it at Valley Film festival and reviewed it there! This movie made me cringe alot and I hailed it as a find for the horror genre. I still think that Richard Gale is one of the brightest (or darkest) new directors in American horror Today. You should see it!

Now for the films I did see....

THE UN-GONE
Directed by Simon Bovey

Once again this felt like the Twilight Zone. It would have played perfectly on TV. This was an inspired Sci-Fi film that makes you think where will science go! Really enjoyed the film and the lead perfromance.

SUMMER JOB
Directed By James Pounce

What a fantastic film! Once again there can be horror found in the most unlikely of places. And the killer in this short is downright scary, because it is so beleivable in its normalness. The entire film is. Well acted and paced, tightly shot and wonderfully written. A truly scary short film!

POST CARDS FROM THE FUTURE
Directed By Alan Chan

This is an interesting idea. I think it is to long, but it is visually breathtaking. The special effects in this Sci-Fi were exceptional. They looked very very real and since it takes place in space, very hard to do. Beautifully shot, just to long. I loved the idea of space explorers and watching the successes and failures of the process.

SF DOCFEST 3

Highway Amazon
Directed By Rodney Cramer

This film follows female bodybuilder Christine Fetzer( who has since changed her last name to Rocks since the release of this documentary in 2001) across America as she wrestles men in hotel rooms for money. Along the way we meet the men who pay to be dominated by Christine and watch as she maintains her physique with inventive roadside workout techniques.

Overdue Conversation
Directed By Charles Lum

This is a brief documentary between two gay men who hooked up at a local cruising spot years ago, but never told each other they were both HIV positive. And so begins a dialogue regarding HIV status amongst casual sexual encounters and where the line is drawn between ethics, privacy and buzzkill.

Luchando
Directed By Noelle Stout

An amazing documentary of same sex prostitution in Havana Cuba. This is a glimpse into the lives of four hustlers trying to make a living in the city's gay underground. Since the Cuban government forbids any filming not approved by state agencies, Stout's informal interviews and guerilla street footage shows a gay culture inundated by sex workers that take care of each other in order to survive. "Luchando" has historically meant the fight for the Cuban revolution, but the hustlers portrayed here have taken the word as their own, meaning survival by way of prostitution. Macho, young countryside men come to the city to have sex with men to purchase such western luxuries as sneakers or raise money for their children. Lesbians have sex with men to support their lovers. "Travestis "transform their bodies with hormones paid for by sex with foreign tourists. These stories depict an ever widening gap between the rich and poor in one of the few remaining countries still practicing socialist principles.

Krimpdaddy

SHREIKFEST DAY 2

14 films to cover today, try to keep up!

MOVIE MONSTER INSURANCE
Directed By Paula Haifley

Just watch it! This is a delightful and fun three minutes of your life. A truly enjoyable film.




IRON BIRD
Directed By Chris Richards-Scully

This thriller reminded me of an Outer Limits or Tales From The Crypt episode. Very slick and well made, this is a WWII film complete with bombings and a haunting. One of the crew on board has brought his past with him and it takes the crew out one by one. Wonderfully acted and produced, this is as well made as they get. A visually stunning and creepy film. And as an X-Files fanatic back in the day, I love the name Scully!

GAY ZOMBIE
Directed By Michael Simon

OK, this was funny! A marvelous masterpiece of gay farce. RB saw and reviewed this at Outfest and he loved it too. A zombie gets a second chance by coming out of the closet, after his death and finding the gay zombie trapped inside. He meets the love of his life and hilarity ensues.

THE FROLIC
Directed By Jacob Cooney

This totally felt like a Hitchcock Presents or Twilight Zone, and I mean that in the best sense. I truly loved the idea for this film and it gave me shivers all the way through. You can see the ending coming a little to early, but the performance of Maury Sterling as the killer Jon Doe was outstanding. Truly a remarkable film, that should be made into a feature soon!

FINAL RUN
Directed By Kenneth Foley

This Sci-Fi thriller had an interesting plot and good performances. It's not a new idea, but Mr. Foley pulls it off well. Some of the special effects are a little rough but once again this could be a great launching pad for a new feature.

PERPETUUM MOBILE
Directed By Enrique Garcia

I think that this could easily become a classic piece of animation. What a truly remarkable film. This short has played all over and continues to make its way around the festival circuit. Based loosely around an artist named Leo (Davinci) of course who discovers an alchemist doing truly amazing things and how it forever changes his life....

http://www.perpetuummobile.es/ for more info!

ZOMBIE LOVE
Directed By Yfke van Berckalaer

OMG! What a fantastic film! I love Love LOVE Horror movies! But secretly, or not so secretly I LOVE MUSICALS! And this is a brilliant film. IT is the classic musical story. Boy meets girl and falls madly in love. Boy pursues girl, finds obstacles he must overcome and then their is a glorious musical finale! That is this film, just with zombies! The actors are fantastic and they are blessed with wonderful voices. The song 'Eat the Flesh' is truly inspired and OMG I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!!! This is a Disney film on acid and Hollywood should look at this to see how a new musical is made. Congratulations!


THE DAY THE DEAD WEREN'T
Directed By Brandon & Jason Trost

This is a fake trailer. I overheard Jason (one of the directors) saying they were making it into a real feature now. Good! It was campy, gory and a perfect trailer for a real zombie movie. Hope it gets made!

PIG TALE
Directed By Adrien van Viersen

A very dark film about a rapist being confronted mentally with his crimes. You can imagine the toll that being a serial murderer and rapist has on the psyche and this guys is shot! I thought that the ghost of his first victim was all in his mind but the ending proved I was wrong. Really like it and had to look away once or twice.

WRETCHED
Directed By Leslie Delano & Heidi Martinuzzi

OK! Vomit really grosses me out. You can see the interview with these two amazing ladies in horror on our website under Multimedia. This is truly a disturbing film. Disturbing in the sense that so many women go through this horrific ideal and turn to bulemia...... and disturbing watching this one woman completely lose her mind as she is being constantly verbally and emotionally abused by her husband and then abused by her own psyche. This felt like a drama instead of a horror movie and then BAM! BLOOD EVERYWHERE! From what I saw this is probably the bloodiest film in the festival. How do you make a bulemic horror movie? Watch this! BTW! Joe Bob Briggs is in it! And Jaime Andrews is fantastic as the woman losing it!

DEATH'S REQUIEM
Directed By Marc Furmie

Totally thought I was watching the Outer Limits with this one. A beautiful tale of a man's art coming to life..... or him catching the dark realities in his art.... either way a very well made and well acted film.

DRIP
Directed By Jake York

Every camp fire story has a truth somewhere. The idea of this film (campers being massacred, Don't turn on the light's, etc.) They scare us because they are jsut a part of our collective psyche or Urban myths. It's always nice to see one of these well done, and this one was. As scary as an urban legend can be!

ATOM NINE ADVENTURES
Directed By Christopher Farley

Because I am a comic book geek, I am just wired correctly to love this movie. I went in wanting to really fall in love with it.......and I did! Sci-Fi is a hard genre to do low budget. Special effects can look bad, the story, the costumes......etc. Chris Farley knows how to get around these obstacles brilliantly. The moon getting close to crashing into the Earth could easily look horrible (In a Plan 9 type of way) But here it is masterfully done. Mr. Farley has created a wonderful film that deserves to be seen! I really would have loved to been able to speak to him. I will try to get in touch with him for an interview soon. Now the plot.....

A scientist discovers an entity from another world, a symbiotic organism. During an accident, where his 'girlfriend' is taken by the bad guys, the organism bonds with him and makes him Atom Nine! A new superhero who must defeat the villian, save his girlfriend and the Earth and learn how to use his newfound powers. The script is tight and fun. The effects are perfect and the character's make you fall in love with them.

I was afraid it was going to be a rip-off of DC Comics Adam Strange. It was not! Christopher Farley has created a new superhero who is as down to Earth as they come. Loved the robot sidekick, and I hope that this is just the begining for more adventures from Atom Nine!

Kristoffer

SHREIKFEST DAY 1

In three days Shreikfest screened 44 films. With 7 World Premieres, 4 US Premieres and 15 LA Premieres, Shriekfest proves to be cutting edge film in the horror and sci-fi world. Most of the films are made completely independently. There were 35 short films and 9 Features, making Shriekfest a true leader in the Horror and sci-fi genre. Because there are so many films in only three days there were no Q&A's. I would have loved to hear the directors talk about creating some of these pieces. But there was no time. The films kept coming and so did the chills!

The films were screened at Hollywood's oldest continually operating movie studio, Raleigh Studios located across the street from the renowned Paramount Studios. Parking was easily found on the street, and/or provided in the studio lot for $5 a day. Nothing to complain about. The staff at Shreikfest, including the charming Denise Gossett were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. My biggest regret is I did not buy one of the cool t-shirts and I had tomiss a few of the films. Alas the problems of going alone.

The films were shown in the wonderful Chaplin Theatre on the lot. The space was fantastic for a one theatre festival and had pleanty of room (and leg room) for all the festival goers. Definitely a place to be seen for all indie film makers and genre lovers! Now to the films.....

A LITTLE NIGHT FRIGHT
Directed By Mischa Livingstone

This is a beautiful film that I instantly fell in love with. The children were perfectly cast and the surprise at the end was perfect. A complete gem of a film in three minutes! It definitely answers the question "What do you do with an older brother that torments you?" Well in this film, you know what is lurking in the darkest of places!

THE KILLER
Directed By David Nelson

A fantastic black comedy that sends small shivers up your spine, The Killer is a well crafted film. As soon as I saw Michael Learned's name I was excited. You will also recognize Miguel Sandoval from Medium and tons of other stuff. An extremely well acted film, with a nice little twist at the end. A contract killer tracks his prey to a sweet innkeepers house who has secrets of her own.

NO SANCTUARY
Directed By Dan Lovallo

This is a film that has alot to say. I thought it was extremely relevant in today's world. War sometimes seems like it is conducted from behind computer screens and this film puts faces to the people on the street during the battle and the consequences. This Sci-Fi short was well made and acted. A government group conducts real assassinations with a group of young kids who believe they are playing video games. A great theory.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY 2 YOU
Directed By David Alcalde

What a twisted film! And So real. This is a small horror masterpiece. One that I would love to be expanded into a feature. For every image burned onto the screen there were many questions that came out of it. I expect to see alot more from Mr. Alcalde in the horror genre. A school social worker fears that a student is the victim of abuse. She is seeing the face of her own son or brother, (a little unclear). When she tracks him down she brings him a birthday gift. But to her surprise she is also a gift. The last images are a big reveal as we see that she is just as twisted as they are.

LUMP
Directed By Faye Jackson

This is truly a sick little film. I am terrified of hospitals and Dr's anyway, but this film made me squirm all the way through. This film is so well acted it plays like a Drama. Every time she gets a lump removed form her breast she mysteriously finds another one and has to go back under the knife. Does the DR truly have her best interests at heart? Of course not! This film also got the hospital, lack of any information, down to a tee. Why can you never get a straight answer in a hospital? Watch this film. (Ominous laughter)

ELI
Directed By Josh Lee Kwai

WOW! What can you say about a film that you did not want to end? Make this a feature film! This was a superbly crafted sci-fi thriller that kept you on the edge of your seat! A man wakes up knowing almost nothing except some strange beach memory of a girl. He sees that the name ELI has been tattooed onto his hand and the ride is off...... This stars David Anders, from Alias and more recently on Heroes as Kensei! He is so great in this film. Run and see it as soon as you can.

http://www.elimovie.com/ for more info!

A.W.O.L.
Directed By Jack Swanstrom

I saw this at Hollyshorts and again at Cinema City. It is definitely making the rounds at all the festivals. Once again, let me say that I really like this film. It is a well made Sci-Fi thriller that knows how to deliver. It is quirky and a new take on an old theory. Well acted and written, you should make sure you see it if possible (And it should be since it seems to be playing everywhere!)

THE CHAIR
Directed By Brett Sullivan

This horror feature was directed by the man who brought us Ginger Snaps. I kinda liked that film and was not sure how I was going to feel about this one. Well, I loved it! I laughed in all the right places and I got all ooey in the right places too. Written by Michael Capellupo this script was a tight thriller that was well acted and well made.

A college age girl (Aren't they all) with some mental problems moves into an old Victorian house to start her life again. She is watched over by her kinda controlling sister and old boyfriend (sometimes). When she moves in strange things start happening around and to her inside the house. Once again (It's the horror movie thing) She stays in the house instead of leaving. Lets say it together shall we.... "When the house says get out, YOU GET OUT!" Instead she delves into the mystery and becomes possessed by the spirit of a man who like to kill children in his torture chair.

Believe it or not. The film is well paced and tightly shot and kept the chills coming. Though I never screamed aloud, I looked over my shoulder when I got in the car.

KRISTOFFER

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

REEL SISTER'S FILM FESTIVAL 1

Saturday, September 28, 2007
10th Annual Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival
Brooklyn New York
By Tiffany Cooper


Where do I begin? First of all, we have to honor and recognize black women in film such as Diahann Carroll (Claudine), Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones) and Pam Grier (Foxy Brown). These women paved the way for us to bring rich, vibrant characters to the big screen that transcend racial and ethnic stereotypes.

This was absolutely the best film festival I’ve attended even without the carpet treatment. I was completely blown away by all the talent, fierce intelligence and vulnerability. There were sixteen films shown. I loved all, but only 4 moved me to tears and laughter in less than 10 minutes. Now, that’s some good writing and acting!

STICKS AND STONES


The first film to disturb and penetrate my heart was Sticks and Stones by Rehema Imani Trimiew based on a true story. An engaging narrator guides the audience through a powerful 9 minute drama that takes place during a parent teacher conference late one afternoon. Darryl and Dolores confront their daughter’s maligned teacher, Mrs. Martin. Mrs. Marin refuses to accept that their daughter, Rhemea, is literate. Mrs. Martin’s misperceptions overshadow this obvious reality. Rhemea is challenged to either fight back or internalize the racial stereotypes.

This film spoke to me personally. I remembered being in second grade and having several teachers who were discouraging because of their own misperceptions. They were just like the teacher (Mrs. Martin). Unthinking teachers can sometimes do much more harm than good.

Produced for only $150, this film is brilliant and a must see!
This film will definitely spark intense dialogue.

Sticks and Stones is the winner of the Best International Student Short Film 2006, Audience Choice Best Short Film 2006, Best Student Film Mediamakers Film Festival 2006, and Best Social Commentary Poppy Jasper Film Festival 2006

Go to http://www.stickesandstonesthemovie.com/

LIFTED
Directed by Randall Dottin

This is the story of a struggling artist. A young mother dancer meets her spiritual guardian on a subway station platform after she abandons her child. This is the story that every artist can relate to on some level. A part of me could relate to the characters inner struggles.



AMERICAN RED & BLACK


The insightful documentary that I identified with the most was American Red and Black by Alicia Woods. The film follows six Afro-Natives from around the U.S. as they Reflect upon the personal and complex issues of African and Native heritage, ethnic identity and racism within communities. This film struck a cord with me because I’m part Cherokee Indian and its part of my heritage.

MONSIEUR ETIENNE
Directed By Yann Chayia

This film moved me to tears and outright laughter! It is set off the coast of France, with breath-taking views of the sunset. The romantic cinematography alone will draw you in. Monsieur Etienne is a story about an old man who spends his life arbitrating the arguments of his two best friends. On the way to their funerals, he finds himself incapable of choosing between the two processions. He undertakes a long and contemplative walk, during which he realizes that it might not be just about accompanying them, but about joining them. This film was moving on several levels … how many times in our own lives have we thought about joining the ones we love instead of living each day to its fullest. Very powerful!

I felt empowered as I left the theatre. I had been moved and was very grateful that I witnessed 16 intelligent, heart felt, witty and passionate films that sparked dialogue within me and my community. But most of all, I’m proud that these films show women of color empowering a generation of young girls with images of strong, smart, proud and confident women.


Tiffany Cooper

SF DOCFEST 2

Tale of Two Bondage Models
Directed By Brian Lilla
A brief documentary about two women working in the BDSM pornographic industry. Lorelei Lee and Princess Donna have known each other since college and are each others' favorite actresses to work with, and it shows! The women speak candidly about pushing the boundaries of pain and pleasure and how cathartic it can be.

Flesh and Blood
Directed By Larry Silverman

Steve Haworth grew up in family that owned a medical equipment production company that devised surgical tools still used in operations today. Knowing this, it's not too shocking the trajectory his life has taken. Known as the pioneer of 3D Body Art, Steve started his career in body piercing. Growing up in a house of inventors, he eventually took the trade to the next level designing superior piercing tools and techniques, creating new styles of body jewelry, designing shaped dermal punches and jewelry, and perfecting surface to surface piercing. But that wasn't enough. Over the course of 15 years as an underground cult artist, he changed the world of body modification from belly button rings and tongue studs to 3D Implants, Transdermals and Electro Cauterary Branding. Director Larry Silverman follows Haworth for 5 years of his life in Phoenix AZ where he owns world renowned piercing salons and has partnered with several of his clientele to begin a flesh hook suspension group called Life Suspended. Flesh and Blood is a fascinating look into the world of body modification, the people who champion the movement, their motivations for participating and Steve Haworth's integral place in its evolution. Oh, and it IS NOT for the squeamish, faint of heart, or easily grossed out!

Krimpdaddy

Cowboys and Communists
Directed By Jessica Feast

Cowboys and Communists is a story about two conflicting societies trying to keep their ideals alive. The spotlight is on a noisy, debacherous, late-night restaurant in East Berlin, White Trash Fast Food, where film-maker Jess Feast is also a waitress. Wally Potts, the American owner of White Trash sets up shop in an established apartment building that has poor insulation and tenants who have lived there since Communism. Frustrated with the oppressive regime in the States, Potts fled to East Berlin to live his version of the American Dream in East Berlin. Horst Woitalla, a tenant and former journalist for East Germany, believed in the Communist way of life and in an instant, had everything he knew taken away. Woitalla is determined to restore silence to the apartment building by trying to get White Trash evicted. I couldn't help but side with the articulate, sincere and interesting Woitalla; crossing my fingers that he would successfully have White Trash thrown out on its pretentious wanna-be artsy ass. The trannies, bands and burger eating contest were really not that impressive or original. Ultimately, Potts screws himself by not doing his homework. White Trash is ordered to close down due to zoning laws and noise ordinances. But what I want to know is: Who opens a business in an old, East Berlin apartment building with aging tenants from the Communist Era and neglects to do any kind of research?


Mary Margaret

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cinema City International

ROLLING
Directed By Billy Samoa Saleebey

This is the first year of the Cinema City International FIlm Festival. There were many Red Carpet events, stars in attendance and many people being seen at the Universal Citiwalk AMC Theatres. This is just an excellent space for a film festival. My only annoyance at coming to Citiwalk is having to pay to park and dealing with all the crowds on the thoroughfare. I wish CCIFF all the best and welcome to the Festival landscape.

Rolling was the only film I saw at the festival. Regretfully so, since there were quite a few films that captured my imagination. I have heard wonderful things about Finding Kraftland, and we have reviewed both A.W.O.L. and Available Men before. Now rolling right along onto.... well... Rolling...

Rollings tag line is "The Feel Good Movie Of The Year", I suppose this is because the drug Ecstasy is supposed to make you "Feel Good". This film definitely did not shy away from showing you what E can actually do to you, making this film not a "feel good" movie but a stark look at the landscape and realities of the drug culture of the young, pretty and hip.

The film follows the lives of a group of people that are only connected through the fact that they do drugs. They meet at parties and have a good time together. But, it seems that the real connection ends there. One of the characters even vocalizes the fact that most of their friends that matter to them are people they knew before their drug use. It is shot in a faux documentary form at times with intimate interviews with the characters recalling their drug use and this one night that happened. The interviews are interspersed with a narrative story taking place the day and night of the party.

This is where the film lost me a little. Is it a faux documentary or a narrative feature? It felt like it was unsure itself. Which makes the ending of the film a little less impactful. Now saying that, you may be surprised to learn that there were many things about this film I liked. The writer has a great ear for dialogue and characters. The performances were fantastic. And Mr. Saleeley has a fantastic eye. I just wanted to care a little bit more. I felt like I was missing something important about each of them.

The film makes some bold statements about E and drug use without ever being preachy. It does not give an opinion about either side. But to its credit it walks the line and lets you make the choice for yourself. It shows the fun and good times of being 'high' and then shows you the darkness that drug users go into, ie... depression, overdose, fear, money problems, emotional problems, etc.


This movie hits on alot of truths. There were many people who I spoke to afterwards who absolutely loved this film. It was a packed theatre and I know this film sold out 2 screening at Dances With Films.

This film, like all movies, will not be for everyone. But, it has something to say. And I expect that this is an Indie that will get it's chance. Rightfully so.

Check it out at http://www.rollingmovie.com/

Here is the trailer for the film.



Kristoffer

Monday, October 1, 2007

SF DOCFEST 1

Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa
Directed By Jeremy Stulberg


On a 16 square mile patch of near uninhabitable New Mexico desert, 25 miles from the closest town, a group of veterans, teenage runaways, the mentally ill, and the socially disenchanted make up the last bastion of wild west anarchy and true democracy. With no electricity, running water, little food, less water, and no police, this group of radicals lives by only two rules: Don't steal from your neighbor and don't shoot your neighbor. One might think the latter rule goes without saying, but with the rampant drug and alcohol use, the amount of arms readily available on the compound and the Mesa-ites predilection for popping off a few rounds, it probably doesn't hurt to say this rule out loud, and often. Through breathtaking cinematography and harsh reality, Jeremy and Randy Stulberg have created a compelling and insightful documentary about this emerging counter culture and its model of sustainable living.




http://www.myspace.com/offthegridmovie

Manufacturing Dissent
Directed by Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine


Many documentaries have been made criticizing Michael Moore for his divisive tactics as a documentarian. This one is unique in that it was not made by any right wing political affiliation. Two progressive liberal Canadian filmmakers, Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine, first set out to make a biography of Moore after viewing Fahrenheit 9/11. Through the course of gathering material and hunting down Moore for interviews, their admiration for the man who brought the documentary genre to the forefront of American entertainment began to wane and their project took on a whole new theme. Melnyk and Caine depict Moore as a lying, manipulative, self-serving, egomaniacal, greedy, backstabbing lobbyist who has done more harm for the liberal left than good. A must-see examination of Michael Moore and his place in documentary history and American politics.


http://www.manufacturingdissentmovie.com/










The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Directed by Faith Morgan


This fascinating documentary depicts Cuba's movement in the last 20 years from an industrial society to a more agricultural one. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin: imports of fuel were cut in half and food importation was cut by 80 percent. Out of this desperation, Cubans began to raise their own food without the aid of pesticides, farm machinery or fossil fuel. The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time when world oil production will reach its all time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced this crisis, is an example of environmentally conscious sustainability and hope for the future.





http://www.communitysolution.org/cuba.html