Friday, August 31, 2007

Docuweek Part 3

A half a block west from the busy intersection of Sunset and Vine sits the Cinerama Dome, a landmark in Hollywood history and a haven for film enthusiasts for the past four generations. This 72-foot geodesic dome is one of the most notable theatres in Los Angeles and is the site for numerous blockbuster premieres. The Cinerama Dome is newly renovated with 20 multiplex additions accompanied by all the amenities, such as a posh café, bar, outdoor patio, and souvenir shop---very L.A.

The ArcLight Theatre is the home of the 11th annual DocuWeek. DocuWeek is a theatrical showcase presented by the International Documentary Association bringing us the finest in documentary films for a one week engagement. The Price of Sugar and Nanking are two of the more than dozen films depicting the elements of human drama from different parts of the world and time periods.

The Price of Sugar

Director Bill Haney, along with co-writer Peter Rhonda, brings us an intriguing piece from the Dominican Republic. One of the most interesting aspects of documentary films is the ability to bring us real life human stories beyond what we see on the evening news. The Price of Sugar is the story of the sugar cane industry and its debilitating and dehumanizing practice of using Haitian laborers. It is also one mans struggle and fight to bring some type of justice to the immorality and treatment of the Haitian plantation workers.

For the most part, the Dominican Republic is noted as a vacation paradise in the winter months attracting vacationers from the United States and Europe. However, just a few miles inland from the white sandy beaches and clear crystal blue water lies 250,000 acres of sugar plantations. These lush plantations are worked daily by Haitian immigrants smuggled into the Dominican Republic and are promised good jobs, fair wages, and better living conditions then their economically and politically oppressed country of Haiti. Given less than 90 cents a day, these workers find themselves subjected to unfair and appalling labor practices, extreme poverty, and forced concentration type conditions.

Father Christopher Hartley walks down a rural shantytown village under the partly cloudy blue skies of the Caribbean and greets a Haitian villager with the warmest of hugs, greetings, and salutations. The stubble bearded Catholic missionary is a man of godly determination, one whose persistent and rebellious nature has led him to his current calling, which is to help the Haitians from the quagmires of a corrupt system. Born into a wealthy and privileged family in Madrid, Spain, Father Hartley’s calling to serve God came at a very young age; his service in the church has led him down a road of aiding the suffering and the oppressed.
Inspired by the work of Mother Teresa, with whom he worked with for 20 years in England and Calcutta, and now serves as the primary leader and messiah-like figure for the Haitians.

Yet, Father Hartley is under extreme opposition. One out of five sugar plantations is controlled by large families, one being the Vicini Family, whose invisible hands control everything regarding the plantations and are as brutal and sharp as the machetes that cut the canes. Not only does Father Hartley and his supporters have to deal with the Vicini family, but there is strong retaliation by the Dominicans, politicians, and media all whom are controlled and financially supported by the Vicini Family. Like a Colombian drug cartel, the Vicini Family is allegedly responsible or tied to the numerous killings and disappearances of resistant plantation workers whose only crime was to create a better life for their families.

It is here that the story gains momentum and the dramatic events begin to sway like the lush palm trees that make up this green landscape of corruption and strife. It is a struggle for liberation and what is right for the Haitians: fair labor, adequate living conditions, proper nutrition, education, and the right to a legal identity.

The Price of Sugar is a very straight forward documentary; it is a beautifully photographed piece of journalism that brings to life the people of Haiti and the tropical landscape of the Dominican Republic. Through the use of color still photography, cinematographers Jerry Risius and Eric Cochran, capture the suffering and inhumane conditions of the Haitian people. These intimate portraits allow us to visually see and feel the suffering, yet beauty of these people.

This is a film with a clear and potent message, one that deserves a much wider distribution beyond a film festival. It is a film that allows us to critically analyze and think about the plight of third world countries and the debilitating conditions still existing beyond our privileged borders. Hopefully, once viewed, it will be discussed when sipping our cups of coffee with sugar.


War, whether for good or bad, has this uncanny ability to allow men to perpetuate some of most inhumane and heinous acts upon other men. World War II has characteristics of not only a tremendous amount of military casualties, but unlike World War I it bore a great deal of civilian suffering and casualties.

The obvious was the war in Europe which bred the ideals of genocide and human atrocity worse than anyone could possibly imagine. Yet, in the early years of the war in Asia, Nanking and its Chinese citizens were murdered and raped at the hands of the Japanese Imperialistic Army bringing the carnage that was only once known to have occurred only in Europe far into the land of China.

Nanking is a vivid account of the tragic events that took place during Japan’s overthrow and invasion of the city of Nanking in 1937. The events were taken from the diaries and letters of a handful of Westerners working and living in Nanking at the time of the invasion. Four years before Pearl Harbor, Japan attacked China first by sacking the city of Shanghai then making its imperialistic slaughter into the capital of Nanking, China.

In the Fall of 1937, Nanking being one of the four great ancient capitals of China, was a busy, bustling metropolitan city sitting on the beautiful banks of the Yangtze River. Surrounded by picturesque lakes it was a time of tremendous urbanization where citizens went about their daily business on crowded streets. It was also the current home and working place for a group of westerners, ranging from doctors, nurses, missionaries, businessmen, and diplomats.

On August 15, 1937 Japan commenced a series of bombing raids debilitating its infrastructure and crippling the city and its resources. As the days progressed bombing raids one after another continued and the rumors of an impending Japanese army began to develop. Directors Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman paint the painful imagery through a series of personal and eyewitness accounts from the surviving citizens. In addition, the testimonials of the Westerners are brought to life through their readings of their words done through the cameo performances of actors and actresses such as Woody Harrelson, John Getz, Muriel Hemingway, and others.

More bombing raids continue and everyone is ordered to evacuate the city. Without the means, the poor are left behind and the city is not only laid to rubble but is slowly deserted. Soon questions of morality begin to arise regarding the poor. Should they be rescued? With the dedicated help of these brave Westerners, whose service of the highest kind is to assist the remaining Chinese citizens through this tragic ordeal. Night after night, day after day, more bombing raids continue, putting Nanking in a state of terror waiting for the Japanese Army to arrive.

The Westerners banded together. Missionary George Fitch suggests that a safety zone be implemented for the remaining Chinese citizens; after a series of diplomatic setbacks a safety zone is established and provisions and supplies are requested and an international committee is instituted.

Thousands of displaced Chinese men, women, and children seek refuge into the safety zone with hopes that the Japanese bombs land outside the zone’s perimeters. Within 25 miles from the city the Japanese army begins to shell Nanking using land artillery fire, with all that has ensued the worst is yet to come.

Although half of the story telling is done through the acted out readings, these are not as moving as the testimonies of the surviving citizens. It is here that we get the real sense of the viciousness that occurred. For example a Chinese man whom at the time was around 10 or 11, tells the emotional heart breaking story of how a Japanese soldier bayoneted his mother, killing her and savagely stabbing his baby brother. There were 20,000 cases of rape that occurred during the first month of the Japanese occupation of Nanking, one victim graphically recants her hellish ordeal. It is stories and experiences such as these that give the film a sort of hopeless melancholy and leaves you in a bit of a stupor.

However, newsreel and photographic imagery is the foundation in bringing these stark testimonies to life. Guttentag and Sturman lead you down a trail of archival news footage coupled with black and white photographs depicting the atrocities. Yet, the most moving and disturbing piece of the film is the 8mm movie reels that were smuggled out of Nanking depicting the grotesque and vivid injuries inflicted on the Chinese citizens.

With music supported by the solemn strings of the Kronos Quartet, Nanking is a film that is not quite easy to digest. The message sometimes gets diluted in the graphic imagery, but it is a film that will disturb you…if that is the intended goal. It is another chapter in the annuals of war, a chapter in World War II that is relatively unknown until now. Yet, it is a poignant reminder of the evils committed by overthrowing dictatorships and the compassionate struggle of foreigners in a foreign land to save thousands of innocent lives.

Rowan Harrison

Wednesday, August 29, 2007



Written and directed by Scott Phillips, follows a group of characters in a small (very small, pop. 67) New Mexico town. The story follows character Todd Aherne and his girlfriend Jonda. After Todd makes a horrible mistake of infidelity, he not only jeopardizes his relationship with Jonda, but risks the lives of everyone he knows; his friends and neighbors. When night falls, the town is taken over by a young band of would-be serial killers. The leader of this ‘family’ is the self-proclaimed son of Jesus Christ. Todd must try to survive through night in order to save Jonda -- and himself.
Billed as a “MAGNOLIA with gore”, this film rocks! I loved it. First off, it opens with a surprise ending, I mean, a surprise beginning… and keeps the pace going throughout. Gunnar Hansen is wonderful and it was great fun to see him perform again. His performance was convincing and engaging. Actually, all the performances were well done, most notability the actor who played Jesus’ son…was so charismatic I couldn’t take my eyes off him. The female characters were written with surprising (and delightful) fierceness. But the one element that separated this film from all the others at the festival…was the fantastic soundtrack! The music in this film was amazing, I not only thought it enhanced the movie as a whole, but it was some damn good Rock-n-Roll. I highly recommend Gimme Skelter, go check it out as soon as you can.

To see the awesome trailer go to:

For more info go to:

Docuweek Part 2

A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman

This is an exploration of exile, memory, longing and democracy through the words and memories of playwright/author/activist, Ariel Dorfman (Death and the Maiden, How to Read Donald Duck, Other Septembers). The documentary was filmed in the USA, Argentina and Chile in late 2006 coinciding with the death of former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

It took a few days to process this film, directed by Peter Raymont. Given the nature of the material, there’s lots to think about, to try to be objective. I have read another review, and that reviewer felt the film failed in “giving us a deeper understanding of the trauma of exile”. He also calls the film biographical. It’s not. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a historical autobiography on film. (It always amazes me how reviewers will review for the work they wanted to see, and not the work as presented by the creators). I submit it does’nt take much to intuit the trauma of exile, and I did not feel it failed on this question, but I do agree the impact of exile was secondary, (by necessity), to the story of the tyrannical terrorism which caused the exiles and the comparison of the two 9/11’s. He also says the film won’t achiever much box office success. Do documentaries achieve box office success??? Unless you’re Al Gore or Leonard???

Ariel Dorfman is very easy to watch and listen to. A very personable professor! We see his strengths, but he is not keeping his weaker moments from us. His doubts about why he did’nt die that day, (unknown to him at the time his name was crossed off the list of those cabinet members to be called because “someone had to live to tell the story”), the pain of finding his grandmother’s resting place (he had put it off because it was so painful, and then could’nt find it). The meetings and interviews with his old compadres, never having lost the effect of the terror, 34 years later. The editing is the best part of the film. I never got lost or confused, though the film jumps from country to country, from decade to decade, and involves several different major historical events of the 20th century as they affected his family, as well as interlacing archived film/news footage.

The most moving portions was the coverage on the Desaparecidos (the Disappeared) and the scene where Dorfman meets with the women of the Desaparecidos and tells them they are what made him. They are exiled as well, though living in their own country still, they have no resolution.

But the parallels between Chile’s 9/11 and the 9/11 of the US are what the film is about, for me. When it happened in Chile, Dorfman and his friends said “but it could’nt happen here.” Which is what so many of us in the US have been saying since 2000. The lesson of the ease of forming a dictatorial style police state and the resulting threat to a democracy in response to a crisis. As he says, as the United States, so goes the world. Looking ahead to 2008, it’s a warning.

Politics are very personal. And that time in Chile was very complicated, lots of factions. Salvador Allende was a father figure to many of his followers who at that time saw Socialism as an answer. The accepted account now is that Allende committed suicide on 9/11, 1973. But that’s another story.

Ariel Dorfman made a promise as he was escaping Chile, running for his life into exile. He promised his dead they would be remembered. And now thru their memory they are speaking to us, giving their warning. America, take care.

He kept his promise.


Thursday, August 23, 2007


The final four films I saw at the Fright Night Film Fest held in the ‘Derby City’, ranged from excellent to disgusting. I will save the best 2 for last…

Scrapbook, Directed by Eric Stanze, uses the tagline: “true horror is simply what one human being can do to another.” This film was by far the most disturbing and horrific film I saw at the festival. I didn’t realize (until I researched later) that this film was originally released in 2000, and then re-released “uncensored and uncut”, in 2005. So, it hardly qualifies as a ‘new’ film….but I watched it, so I will give it my 2 cents worth. I feel that I have to review it, since it affected me to “the point of no return”, both figuratively and literally. There are horror movies; scary ones, gory ones, funny, sci-fi, fantasy, psychological….and the list goes on. Few horror directors use violence with such realism and honesty that they are painful to watch. This type of ‘in your face’ realistic ugliness can be upsetting for many audience viewers. Films like Last House on the Left, I Spit On Your Grave, or even that scene from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer where Otis is watching the video tape on the couch…yeah that one, are usually to ‘hard core’ for the average movie goer. Scrapbook is one of these films. I can say however, I did enjoy watching the ‘old school’ above mentioned films. Sure, there were disturbing scenes, but overall I liked them. Scrapbook goes beyond these earlier endeavors, making them feel like a Disney cartoon. The level of violence is more than I want to see personally, although, I’m sure Stanze has a fan base and there is no denying that this film is a brutally honest and terrifying film. While watching Scrapbook I felt as though I had been out walking around in the country alone one day when I discovered this weird cracker box farm house in the middle of BFE. I decide to look through the rusty screen…. and what I see through the window is a guy and girl sitting at a disgustingly dirty table with a book between them....

Serial killer, Leonard (Tommy Biondo), kidnaps, repeatedly rapes and tortures a woman then forces her to record the experience in a ‘scrapbook’ before she is executed. Clara (Emily Haack) is kept locked up in a filthy room inside a filthy home, where her abductor unleashes all kinds of physical and emotional torture on her. I must give praise to actress Emily Haack and her portrayal of Clara. I don’t know many actresses who would go through what she went through for the sake of making a film…amazing.

Practically the entire movie is filmed with just two characters and we get to see all the graphic brutality, every thing that happens to Clara, we see it. I DID NOT see all of it, however. I had to leave after the 4th (or was it the 5th) rape scene…yep, I suuure did! I left the screening room. It was too much for me. I can admit that. And if anyone decides to watch this film make SURE you know your own threshold. I get it…I do. It’s isn’t about making a scary movie, it’s about showing more than anyone has ever shown before, to push the boundaries of filmmaking beyond all previous limits. Director Eric Stanze and (now deceased) Screenwriter Tommy Biondo wanted people like me to leave the theatre; they want their audiences to be freaked out and uncomfortable. Congratulations, you were successful.

Even though I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this film, for viewing. I do recommend going to the following web-sites for reading more about it. You may decide you can handle it and give it a shot….feel free! Just know, you have been warned!

Salvation, by J.A. Steel (one of the few female film makers represented at the festival) was more of a fantasy film than horror. Filmed in Oklahoma, Salvation begins with the murder of the Knights Templar in 1307 by the Catholic Church. The souls of two of the Knights burned at the stake; Malchezidek (Ben Bayless) and Gabriel (J.A. Steel) are condemned to continue the battle between good and evil, fighting for souls. Wanting to find a predecessor and end her existence, Gabriel saves a murdered 8 year old girl named Michaela (Alyssa Wilson) and hides her in a small town. Several years pass when Michaela (Heather Surdukan) finally meets Gabriel and begins her training. Michaela ultimately confronts the Biker Gang that killed her and her father 15 years earlier. Michaela must choose sides in the battle between Malchezidek and Gabriel and decide her own fate in Purgatory. Does she replace Gabriel as the “Angel of Death”? You must watch and find out.
J.A. Steel’s “Highlanderesque” film was full of sword play and black leather…cool. It was not only entertaining, but a well conceived story. The acting was a little stiff at times, and the sub plot line between Gabriel and Malchezidek becomes a little muddled in the middle. But the choreography and effects are fun (if not bordering on cheesy) and the overall story is pretty good. It’s worth the view. I also have to add…”Girls Kick Ass”!

For more information and trailer go to:

Now a few more fun pics from the convention floor!

Lost In Space

Bob May from Lost In Space

Andre Gower (Monster Squad) crushing on our own GypsyTishy

Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) & GypsyTishy

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The Rivers Edge Film Festival is fantastic. Located in Paducah KY, right in the heart of the thriving arts district. Paducah is also home to the National Quilting Museum, The wonderful Market House Theatre and home to many artists who have taken advantage of the lofts provided by the city to resident artists! What a wonderful place for a film fest. And what a great staff and volunteers. Hard working and numerous as well as knowledgeable and full of Southern charm and friendliness. Now to some of the films.....

A campy romp through the final days of a couple that meet on the internet, form a suicide pact and finally meet face to face.
Written and directed by Mickey Blaine, Commit was shot in 3 continous takes over a two day period on a budget of less than $10,000..
Nicole Blaine as Trista and Forest Erickson as Perry are believable as the lead characters in this disturbing, yet oddly romantic film.
If you enjoy the television series Friends and the motion picture Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, You will love Commit! Best Film at the Longbaugh Film Festival 2007, and the Best of the Fest Riversedge Film Festival 2007

Born in Parish, Alabama, raised Church of Christ, Jeff Key tells his story of family commitment, patriotism and being a homosexual Marine.
Saturated with symbolism, my favorite scene was Jeff driving through his hometown talking about the ramifications of 'coming out', the camara stays focused on the solid double yellow line on the road...'do not cross'. Or, as the Marine's say "Don't ask, don't tell". At 6'4 and square jawed and speaking with quiet authority, Jeff Key is a Marine's Marine.
Directed by Vince DiPersio
Juror's Award at Riversedge Film Festival 2007

Drama Short Program:

Ten year old Kate lives with her over-achiever father, law student and demanding mother and finds comfort in a ride home from school. A ride with a stranger...his kind words send Kate searching for more. The foreboding story is all too real as the young actress conveys her thoughts through eye and facial expression as much as dialog. Any parent seeing this film will immediately have 'that' talk with their children!
Directed by Kristina Lear
Honorable Mention at Riversedge Film Festival 2007

Ed Marko, an Occupational Therapist turned auto-mechanic lost his eyesight to a degenerative disease at age 20. Following Marko through his daily routine of struggling to find nuts, bolts and tools reminds me of the Day-In-The-Life-Of series. I enjoyed this film and applaude Marko for his ability to deal with the everyday tasks of being an auto-mechanic dispite his blindness.
Directed by Casey Hayward

As Hannah's father reels from the death of his wife, young Hanna escapes into a world of fantasy that allows her to become invisible. She entertains her younger sister, plays tricks on people, seeks revenge on a classmate and ultimately pulls her Father from the brink of dispair.
Directed by Darren Bolton

Richard meets Karen at a sculpture garden. A painfully shy man, Richard finds comfort in Karen's easy manner, Karen is blind. Follow them as their relationship grows and sequentially peels away layers of their character revealing Richard's shyness to be much more of a disability than Karen's blindness.
Directed by Helio San Miguel


I laughed out loud! Well done spoof about a blind date that goes back and forth between what the characters are actually thinking and what they actually say. Blunt is the key word here. He is overly concerned with how to get her into his bed and she thinks he is too macho for his own good. Like a play within a play, we see both conversations take place as if it's normal.
Directed by Sven Kamm

The story revolves around a young man who finds that he can con his way through life. We see him conning women for money, using his Mother as the hook and engaging his friend in the robbery of the bank he is manager of. This story was not entertaining nor was it new. I did not find it funny or believable.
Directed by Brandon Bennett

A wonderfully silly film about....well....about nothing really! Two friends volley a series of ideas centered around two men in a fishing boat.
The brief scenes are hilarious and the ending is...well...explosive!

This spoof on husbandry is wonderfully delivered in curt, humorous messages. A suburban housewife relies on a super-macho neighbor to help with tasks that her 'almost feminized' husband is unable to do. When war breaks out and they are forced to live in the deep woods, fending for themselves, characters change as the wife takes on an almost cave-woman role and the super-macho neighbor undergoes a change that is the twist in this very funny film.
Directed by Melani Jones

A gem of a film! Boy meets girl, boy tries to impress girl, boy seriously mistakes what girl will view as sweet! The clumbsy attempt at romance between two college students is portrayed in such a way that everyone can relate to the pitfalls of being young.
This was my favorite film of the festival and wonderfully executed by the team of:
Matthew Dressel, Director and Co-writer
Aaron Dias, Co-writer and camara operator
Joe Laviska, Key grip
Amanda Karasienski, Producer

Two soldiers are caught behind enemy lines with a reporter that will 'do anything to get his story'. While intended to be funny, this films proves to be painfully true to life in regards to media sensationalism.
Directed by Greg O'Bryant

More to come from this fantastic KY Festival!!

Ben, Patti and Vicki

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


My third film of the festival was Monstrosity, by George Bonilla. Filmed on location in Richmond Kentucky, this film featured John Dugan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bonilla won the award for Best Special Effects at the Fright Night Film Fest in 2006, for The Edison Death Machine.

Monstrosity starts out well enough. 10 years ago, carnival side show freak, billed as “Monstrosity”, breaks out of the circus and begins a killing spree. Monstrosity is a big ‘pig faced’ rubbery mutant with fangs and a clown wig, who just wants to be loved, his weapon of choice….a sledge hammer. Within the first 15 minutes of the film; Monstrosity kills 5 victims and we find new meaning in the term “giving head”. Unfortunately, this momentum is not sustained through out the film. Flash forward 10 years (present time), to a group of young people who decide to sneak into the old William’s Factory (the site of the murders, several year earlier) for a little late night party. Booze, dope, coke, pills, sex, and rock-n-roll in an abandoned factory… = Bad Idea. The group of six uncover a secret in the factory and spend the remainder of the movie trying to survive. Monstrosity starts out of the gate with a bang, and then becomes excessively sluggish. It is another 30-40 min. (app.) before Monstrosity kills again. John Dugan is funny as the Sheriff, in his cameo, but his bit is completely wasted and far too short! Although, I did appreciate killing 3 cops in one swoop!

The music used in this film is eclectic and somewhat irritating, as it at times sounds like a child’s toy whose battery is dying, to a warped Asia song (Couple’s Skate anyone?), then into some weird belly dancing hymn. The ‘death scenes’ are good enough and the plot line is mediocre. Monstrosity himself should have been a little less ‘clownish’ and more ‘freakish’. The worst part was at the end, when Monstrosity turns into a great big loveable pussy. I have never liked the idea of monster redemption; he’s a horrible insane mutant who keeps a severed head as his lover… not Anakin Skywalker. Let the monster be a monster.

For more clips and information on Monstrosity go to:

Aaahhh, and now for one of the highlights of the festival, DEAD MOON RISING, directed by Mark E. Poole. A strange disease consumes the world and the infected become brain eating ‘zombies’. The employees at Cheapskate Car Rental in Louisville (pronounced Lou a vuhl) Kentucky are thrust into the mayhem and have to fight off masses of flesh eaters, disgruntled customers, crazy ex-girlfriends, NRA buff brothers, issues with guns, and ‘pre-mature urination’ problems. Can the employees of Cheapskate survive the end of the world and unite the remaining biker gangs of Louisville to defeat the intestine grubbing un-dead? DEAD MOON RISING features; a cast of 14, 600 chopper bikes, and 1200 extras. This “Zomedy” has it all. A well written script, decent acting (memorable performances include Jason Crowe as “Jim”, Mike Seely as “Nick”, and Tucky Williams as “Vix”), ghouls, girls, guns, guts, and glory!

Writer/director/producer Mark E. Poole calls his Louisville-based film a hybrid of “SHAUN OF THE DEAD, 28 DAYS LATER and HIGH FIDELILTY.” The audience for this viewing was huge; everyone seemed to like the film and laughed quite a bit. Fright Night Film Fest awarded the Silver Screen award for Best Zombie Film to DEAD MOON RISING. The feature had previously won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Cine-Fest 2007 and Best of the Fest at the BIG DAMN FILM FEST 2007 in Cincinnati OH. Check it out ya’ll! For more information on DEAD MOON RISING go to:


Here are a few more pics of some horror royalty!

Sharon Ceccati Hill and Clayton Hill from Dawn of the Dead (Lead Zombies)

Edwin Neall-The Hitchhiker!


Monday, August 20, 2007


Docuweek is a Theatrical Documentary Showcase presented by The International Documentary Association. It is not run like most "Film Festivals" because it only has 13 programs performing twice daily- every day. So you can always be able to see the films that you want. I love this as it gave me many options to attend date and time wise!

The showcases are performing at two different venues. the first is the magnificent ARCLIGHT CINEMAS in Hollywood. Go to to learn more about this theatre. I truly feel it is the best place to see film in LA. Just my opinion. And it also is home to the world famous Cinerama Dome!

The second theatre is the LANDMARK on West Pico. Also a fab theatre, and one I have recently written about during The LA Film Fest.

Now to the films I have seen so far.

Directed By Joan Brooker-Marks

This was such an interesting film. It did portray Flynt as an American hero who is at the fore-front of the battle for civil liberties. And I would agree that he is. However, I know that many people would disagree. This was a film that believes in Flynt. I found the film very informative. It placed alot of time into his fights with the courts and the legal system. As well as delved into the pools of his relationships. It was nice to be able to see the people who inspired the Award winning film in their own words and skin. This film showed some of the sadness of the subject as well as his pain and fear. I truly think it is a documentary about the best we have in each of us in the face of adversity. Everyone can relate, whether they agree with Mr. Flynt or not.
I was sad that I missed the Q&A as they were not there when I saw the film. However, the director and the subject have been appearing at times. A definite see!

Directed By AJ Schnack

It was like listening to a ghost tell his story. Very eerie at first for me, since I was one of the legions of fans. The film is based upon a series of taped interviews that Cobain did with his biographer. It happened when all of the bad press about drugs, parenting skills and band dissension was at its furor and Cobain wanted to tell the truth. By giving these interviews he gained a trust with the biographer and unprecedented intimacy was given. I was shocked at times.
I was also amazed at how self absorbed he was. Cobain, is like a rock God. He is in the pantheon with Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison. I bet they were a little narcissistic too. Cobain seemed to strive to be different. To cause strife with those he branded "Normal". He seemed at times shallow and fearful and sad. The honestness of this movie makes it one of the most insightful looks at the mind of what it is to be fame.
Visually, we do not even see Cobain or any of the "individuals" of the film until the very end. The star of this film is the visual world that Cobain used to inhabit. AJ Schnack took us to the places Cobain speaks about from his childhood to his adulthood. It is ugly, visceral and honest through and through.
The Q&A with the director was informative and nice. It was an early day showing and the audience left before the Q&A. It was just me and one other there when we spoke. It was informal and seemed like a nice chat. I would have loved to hear what a full audience would have asked. A GREAT FILM and one that is coming to the Nuart in LA sometime soon.



Louisville, KY.
August 17-19

I have always been a fan of horror in all forms; books, movies, television…etc. As a small child in the early 70’s it was all about Scooby Doo, but I as grew older so did my taste in the macabre. I remember being 6 yrs. old, hiding behind the couch and sneaking peaks at the TV as my father watched Twilight Zone episodes. I still have not recovered from “The Invaders”. Then the teen years hit and it was the 1980’s, horror movies and heavy metal, baby! Now, as a woman in her thirties, I look back on my youth with fondness. Many ‘foggy’ nights I spent hangin’ out with “Leatherface”, “Michael Myers”, “Jason Voorhees”, and “Freddy Kruger”.

TONY MORAN Original Michael Myers
John Dugan "Granpa" Texas Chainsaw Massacre with our fabulous reporter Tish Usher (GypsyTishy)

You can imagine how excited I was to discover that these ‘old friends’ of mine were all going to be at the Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville Kentucky. With my camera, tape recorder, notebook, and Sharpie in tow…I headed out into the darkness.

The first film I saw was MISADVENTURES IN SPACE, by Jerry Williams.

This low-budget local film was an Ed Wood Jr. sci-fi wannabe. I am honestly not completely sure what the plot was about. With over 20 different characters and 5 different locations it was difficult to keep it all straight. An evil empire is bent on destroying the earth and earth supporters. The evil “Octopi Empire” headed up by (several different) evil baronesses, is trying to take over; the Prime Planet, spaceships #7 and #8, as well as, an Ice Princess’ Lair, and a few other sites I can’t remember. Character “Alien Incognito” tries to help the Captain of spaceship #8 (who is also a porn addict) from the Octopi Empire. There was also a stuffed teddy bear named “Roswell Doggett”. Locations were depicted by (poorly) hand drawn pictures with a couple of computer generated explosions. Most shots were close-ups with changing card board scenery (shifting from white sheets to aluminum foil curtains), all filmed in black and white. With sultans, baronesses, aliens, teddy bears, robot dates, horny monsters, heroes, seers, captains, sailors, admirals, and even an Ice Princess whose scepter was dildo….this film was SCREAMING for Tom Servo and Crow to watch and add comments (believe me it would’ve helped). Although this parody was really awful, it was pretty funny and you could tell that the cast and crew were having fun doing it. There were references and inside jokes from Star Trek, to Rocky to Forbidden Zone. Here are some of my personal favorite quotes:
“Take this vixen from the void!”
“Rip off their noses and shove them up their asses. Then rip off their rectums and shove them into their ears. Then rip off their ears and shove them up your own asses!”

For a closer look at the trailer visit:

The second film of the evening was INTRUSION, by Craig Everett Earl of Louisville Kentucky.

Earl tries to break the chain of the usual slasher horror film; by giving his audience more back ground and character development of the characters. Two young women, Holly and her best friend Kali decide it would be a good idea (even though it never is) to do some prank phone calls…just for fun and games. One of the prank calls they make is to Raymond Hummel, whos own personal life has taken a severe turn for the worst. Raymond is not in a ‘good place’ when he receives a prank call from Holly and Kali. Raymond begins to stalk Holly and her friends, one by one. I liked this film, I found it somewhat refreshing. The female characters were not idiots and had some sense (they actually had some fight and spunk in them). The character of Raymond was also given a ‘meatier’ role, then the usual psycho killer. At times Raymond (played by Lee Haycraft) looked so normal and un-creepy, that I couldn’t believe he was a killer. My only suggestion is that if Mr. Earl really wants to make a film that is against the usual horror/thriller norm, give his audiences a little more incentive than “prank phone calls gone bad”. All in all, I will be interested to see the growth of Craig Everett Earl’s future films.

For clips and more information about Intrusion:

A few more cool pics from the convention floor!


Sunday, August 19, 2007


Once again at the fabulous CINESPACE. And the films began. OH! By the way the food here is fantastic.

Sexy Thing (Australia)

This is a film about a young girl being sexually abused. Hard to watch at times. However, extremely wellmade and beautifully acted by the strong cast. A very subtle piece of filmmaking.

Fission (USA)

A music video of sorts that is a piece of performance art. The imagery is awesome.

5:55 (Mexico)

The sound on this film was messed up. I do not know if it was the film or the screening, but it bothered me alot. There is alot of questions in this movie that are never answered or even asked sometimes. I thought it was confusing.

Fortune Hunter (USA)

What a sweet film. Set in San Fran this is a romantic comedy taht will one day be a feature film. I just know it. It was very well directed and acted. I particularly loved the story. A very wonderful film.

Gone (USA)

A music video produced for Current TV. I call it the Al Gore channel. A nice look at the destruction of our world. Great images and beautifully shot.

Once Upon A Christmas Village (USA)

I sat down and interviewed Michael Attardi look for it on our website soon. This is the perfect Christmas special on CBS. It is the perfect gem of a christmas story that you think has been around for years. But it is an original film that is so well done and written that I have fallen in love with it. The music is great and the animation is wonderful. You should look for the feature of this film sometime in the near future.

Life in Transition (USA)

Another brilliant piece of animation. A Dali-esque landscape about the surrealness of beginings and endings. Beautiful!

Tomoko's Kitchen (USA)

OK. I admit that I really got sucked inby this film. It is extremely cute in its portrayal of every stereotype imaginable. But I liked it. The writing is very stilted. But I liked it. It's.... Oh does it matter I kinda liked it! It's a melodrama.

When I Grow Up (USA)

Another great piece of animation that has many different illustrators and techniques throughout. Drawn to interviews from the young and the old about what they will be or would have been when they grow up. Very sweet and inspiring.


OK! This off beat redneck comedy made me pee my pants. Seriously. A laugh riot from begining to end. I loved this movie!

Alex Scott: A Stand for Hope
This very touching documentary is about Alex Scott, a little girl who battled cancer and in the end lost her personal fight, but waged on to raise money for her own treatment and pediatric cancer research. She set out to reach her own one million dollar goal selling lemonade and with the help of her family and communities across the nation (selling lemonade), that dream became a reality. People were leaving the theatre room in tears. It was a very moving piece and I highly recommend seeing it. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

The Fluffer
Although there is no mention of sexual orientation, you get the idea that this guy is straight, and he’s a fluffer. Fluffer-an off-stage person hired to keep a male porn star in a state of erection (Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English). And does this man know how to get the job done and he takes his work very seriously. He’s just your typical guy that goes to work, has a job to do and does it and is proud of what he does. Funny.

Stone Savior

This story was told through animation and was about a Gargoyle that saves his church from being bombed and in the end is immortalized in the stain glass window.

Joseph Henry

I really liked this film. A guy, who is obviously defeated, sits down on the curb of a residential street and a young kid starts to talk to him. The child seems to be fearless, the grown up is full of fear and each explains life to the other from their own perspective. You soon discover the boy is the man. The actors were really good in their portrayals and this piece was shot well. Recommended.

69 Cents

Back to the convenience store, but this one wasn’t as funny. A fight ensues after a convenience store owner gets robbed and then feels the guy whom he is now waiting on is trying to take him. The customer just happened to forget his wallet. The two go head to head and the customer just wants to make it right.

The Maxwell Multiple Climax

Multi-layered animation and live-action was the name of the game in this film about how to have multiple orgasms. Apparently orgasms cause ejaculation, not the other way around. Listen up fellas, you can now keep up with the ladies. The film seemed fairly harmless at first, but I felt a little dirty near the end as it progressed graphically… it was soft-porn by the end!

Twitch (USA)

Not the best movie to follow MawellHouse! What with teenagers engaged in sexual activity. A girl has to take care of her mother who resides in a wheelchair and the mother knows she’s having sex with her boyfriend. The girl herself is a hypochondriac and runs to the doctor constantly. Then she dives into a pool with her body engulfed in saran wrap—metaphor for protection? I must have dozed off on this one.

Y Que Cumplas Muchos Mas (Spain)

Just call it “Saw 4!” My counterparts know how much I just love gore—not! So it’s about this father and son act who likes to torture their victims. But their last victim was surprisingly like them. They chop off her limbs. She decapitates a cat and presents the head as a present. Who comes up with this $#!& ? My friends would have loved it.

Honey I’m Home (USA)

I really didn’t like this film. I didn’t feel like it offered anything new. It was so predictable from the beginning. He was either practicing for his wife/girlfriends inevitable return or he was talking to his animal. And yes, Honey, was his dog.

The Oates’ Valor (USA)

It’s a story about a nerdy slacker that hasn’t found what he’s good at, but you know he’s too smart for his own good. Life doesn’t inspire him. His dad wants him to do things he doesn’t want to. The pacing was slow for me. At the end the son recognizes that his dad was hurt by his dad’s father and the son says to his dad “I’m sorry he hit you.” His dad chases him down and embraces him.