Night Moves

Film Essent Archive for April, 2012

Adventures in Filmmaking: Bunker Goes to SIFF

I can finally announce that my short film, Bunker, will be premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival in their shorts competition. Can I get a huzzah?! I’m over the moon to have my film screening at SIFF. It’s a tough fest to get into, and it’s Oscar-eligible in the shorts categories. My cast and crew are mostly here in Seattle, so I’m hoping we’ll have a solid hometown turn-out when we screen as part of the SeaTown Stories section during Memorial weekend’s Shortsfest at SIFF.

Huge congrats to my terrific cast, Rachel Delmar and Stefan Hajek, my husband and business partner Mike Hodge, co-producer Melanie Addington, DP Sam Graydon, editor Joe Shapiro, sound wizard Vinny Smith, colorist John Davidson and composer Ken Stringfellow, and the entire, enormously talented crew who helped take my little script and make it into a little movie that we can all be proud to have our names on. You guys rock.

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Who Was Amos Vogel?

Over on Film Comment, Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Eugene Hernandez has a nice piece up about independent film vanguard Amos Vogel, who passed away today at the age of 91, and if you don’t know much about Vogel you should go read it. Eugene’s piece points to this excellent documentary about Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art, which you can watch in its entirety for free on Vimeo. It’s roughly 56 minutes long, and you’ll likely learn something about this amazing man to whom independent cinema owes a debt of eternal gratitude. Most of it is Vogel, just talking to the camera about his life and career. It’s pretty awesome. Check it out.

RIP, Amos Vogel.

Click here to view the video.

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Catching Up

It’s been a busy couple weeks for me, with tech week for two casts of Grease gearing up for performances this past weekend (and one of my kids in each of the casts), watching a stack of screeners for the narratives jury for IFF Boston, and a busy trip down to Dallas to serve on the Texas Competition jury for the Dallas International Film Festival in the midst of that. So I’ve been a little swamped and thus not getting a whole lot else done around here.

So, Dallas. This year was the sixth year of this fest and the sixth I’ve trekked to Dallas to be there, and it’s always one of the most interesting and fun fests of the travel year for me. It feels a bit like going home since it’s so close to my hometown of Oklahoma City, and it certainly bears more in common with the Sooner state than it does with Seattle. I always pack much dressier for this trip, and even so I inevitably feel under-dressed at some point; this town dresses up for its events, whereas in Seattle “dressing up” mostly means, “I’m changing into my good/designer jeans and my spiffiest Chucks.”

One of the things I like most about hitting the regional fests is seeing how each of them painstakingly programs a schedule that covers an eclectic spectrum of what’s going around the fest circuit, drawing their particular audience in to see films they may have heard about, while also challenging them with films they otherwise wouldn’t get to see at all. James Faust and Sarah Harris do an exceptional job of knowing the Dallas audience their festival is there to serve, and I was impressed with the films we had to consider on the our jury. Ultimately, we gave a Special Jury Mention to David Zellner’s Kid-Thing and the Grand Jury Prize to Ya’Ke Smith’s Wolf, a searing portrait of the impact on a family when they learn their beloved and trusted pastor has been sexually abusing their teenage son for years. In certain ways, Wolf evoked Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, which I saw at Sundance this year, but Wolf is a much, much better film in pretty much every respect (sorry, ‘strue).
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Life in Time Lapse

God, I wish I’d done this with my kids. This guy took a video of his daughter every week from the time she was born until age 12 (with the rest of it to be continued, natch). The result is this awesome 2 minute 45 second time lapse video that captures the essence of what every parent knows: They grow up so damn fast. Enjoy.

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Review: Goodbye First Love

Note: This review was originally published as a part of our TIFF 2011 coverage. I’m re-running to now in conjunction with the film’s opening this weekend. You should go see it.


With her latest film, Goodbye First Love, Mia Hansen-Løve handles her subject matter of adolescent love in a way that’s remarkably free of pretense and condescension, even as her youthful characters occasionally make choices that make you want to throttle them. The story is pretty simple: 15-year-old Camille (Lola Créton) and 18-year-old Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) are in love. Madly, desperately, in love, with an exuberance declared in the italics with which adolescents abundantly litter their emotional lives.
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Okay, Who Let the Filmmakers Have a Rifle?

Well, this one creates an interesting ethical dilemma for Tribeca Film Festival attendees who are also animal lovers/vegans/card-carrying members of PETA. Apparently two deer were illegally shot (and skinned and cooked, although that bit probably wasn’t illegal once the deer were already dead) in the filming of Tribeca Film Fest entry First Winter, about a group of Brooklyn new-age hippies/hipsters stranded in a remote farmhouse in the dead of winter with the food supply running out. And by “shot” I don’t mean “filmed,” or even “inadvertently shot by some PA screwing around with a loaded rifle.” I mean “shot” as in, the script called for a real live deer to be really shot and killed and skinned and roasted. For authenticity, I guess.

I know what my veggie and vegan friends would have to say about that … what do you say? Killing a wild animal just so you can record the killing (and skinning and roasting) for your film: Okay? Not cool, but not necessarily morally wrong? Or just flat-out ewwww?

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A Kids’ Band Covering German Industrial Metal? Yes, Please.

Happy Saturday, folks! I’m on vacation in lovely Port Townsend with my pack of kids and some friends, but I came across this little bit of awesomeness this morning and knew you’d appreciate it as much as I did. This is Children Medieval Band – Stefan (10) on guitar, violin, harmonica and vocals, Olga (8) on keys, and Cornelia (5) rocking out the drums, performing a cover of Rammstein’s Sonne. Enjoy a little German industrial metal with your weekend brunch. More cuteness, less pyrotechnics than the original. 100% awesome.

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Review: The Cabin in the Woods (Spoiler-Free)

All you need to know at this point is this: You should absolutely go see The Cabin in the Woods. Yes, it’s been hyped so much that you’re probably thinking, “Oh, there’s no way it’s THAT good.” Whether you end up thinking it is that good or not, to miss this film is to render yourself mute at watercooler conversations and happy hours for at least the next couple weeks. You’ll just have to stand there nodding your head and trying to pretend you know what you’re talking about every time someone says, “Oh my God, Cabin in the Woods, right?!” and you’ll say something stupid about the movie you didn’t go see, and everyone will stop talking and give you that look. You don’t want to be that guy.

This is the kind of film you could watch over and over again and still find something you missed on the previous viewings, but the first time, you really should see it knowing as little as possible. The bare bones, so to speak: We have our requisite five good-looking kids who vaguely remind you of the Scooby Gang (coin toss on which of them is Scooby): Our players are The Sporto (Chris Hemsworth), The Beauty/Slut (Anna Hutchison), The Stoner (Fran Kranz, who brilliantly manages to simultaneously evoke Shaggy and be way cooler than Shaggy), The Nice Girl/Kinda-Sorta-Almost Virgin (Kristen Connolly) and The Handsome, Nice and Brainy Guy (Jesse Williams). We have our beat-up RV standing in for the Mystery Machine, the Creepy Old Guy Who Warns Those Darn Kids to Stay Away from the Mysterious Cabin. And of course, we have the titular Cabin itself, which you have no doubt seen on the movie posters flying in the air and turning itself into some kind of puzzle box. That, my friends, is absolutely all you should know, except for this:
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In Defense of Stay-at-Home Moms. Even Ann Romney.

God knows, I don’t want to say anything that could ever be construed as supporting Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president. But this Gawker story about Mitt’s wife Ann joining Twitter to rebut CNN commentator Hilary Rosen, who said of Ms. Romney that the mother of five has “never worked a day in her life” has too much potential to backfire on the Dems to let it slide.

Ms. Romney (or, to be fair, perhaps it’s someone Tweeting on her behalf) tweet-tweet-tweeted in response:

“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

and

“I’ll be with @marthamaccallum this morning at 10:40 discussing Hilary Rosen’s comments. All moms are entitled to choose their path.”

Well, on this issue at least, I have to agree with Ann Romney. As a mom of five myself who has both done time as a stay-at-home mom and balanced working with having a pack of kids, I fully support women who have kids in making the choice that’s right for them. The reality is, once you go down the pregnancy path there’s no going back, and if you are both a mom and a woman who loves her job, you’re screwed no matter which choice you make. Your choices pretty much boil down to:
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On the Loss of Childhood Freedom

I was having a conversation with another mom I don’t know too well when she said something that gave me pause. She was talking about this new family that had moved in on her street, and bemoaning that the parents let their kids “run wild” and that these new kids might be a bad influence on her own kids. Run wild? That sounded interesting. Were the kids committing acts of vandalism, bullying younger kids, terrorizing the neighborhood, running around naked with paintball guns? Nope. “Running wild” meant, to this woman, that these parents allowed their kids (all ages seven and older) to ride their bikes and scooters around the neighborhood, to play in their front yard, and — horror of horrors — to sometimes play outside wearing their pajamas and sneakers. For these transgressions, this woman was pondering calling CPS to report this family.

My mind was boggled.
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Trailering Goodbye First Love

Mia Hansen-Løve, introducing her latest film Goodbye First Love at TIFF last year, warned the audience that probably this film would not be what we expected it to be, that it was not sweet or soft or sentimental, but about the pain of learning that love doesn’t last. About that she was right … like her earlier film, Father of My Children, Goodbye First Love is often bleak and brooding and occasionally surprising; it’s also intimate and smart, honest and perceptive. The film opens April 20 in limited release, before becoming available nationwide through Sundance Selects VOD.

Here’s my review of the film from TIFF 2011.

And here’s the trailer.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“I am just grateful I am still around. I would love to be Steven Soderbergh, but I am lucky to be Joe Swanberg. Actors want to work with me, people want to give me money, and my nightmare scenario remains: Getting in bed with a studio, spending years on a movie, and it turns out horrible, but now I’m rich.”

Actually, by Hollywood standards, you’re right, I said. That is unambitious.

“It is, and yet, if you can go to bed happy at night, doing what you want, isn’t that ambition for a lifetime?”
~ Swanberg On Swanberg By Borelli

“In retrospect, nothing of that kind surprised me about Philip, because his intuition was luminous from the instant you met him. So was his intelligence. A lot of actors act intelligent, but Philip was the real thing: a shining, artistic polymath with an intelligence that came at you like a pair of headlights and enveloped you from the moment he grabbed your hand, put a huge arm round your neck and shoved a cheek against yours; or if the mood took him, hugged you to him like a big, pudgy schoolboy, then stood and beamed at you while he took stock of the effect.”
John le Carré on Philip Seymour Hoffman