Film Fests Archive for February, 2009

It's a Music Fest! It's a Film Fest! It's Jewlicious!

If I was Jewish (or even if I wasn’t), and I lived in or near Long Beach, California, I know where I’d be next weekend: the 5th annual Jewlicious Music Festival, Film Festival and Spiritual gathering, which will feature, among other things, an appearance by Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu.
New to this year’s fest: a short film competition for young filmmakers ages 18-26. The top ten films with the most votes from the public will make the finals, with the winner being determined by a panel of Jewish TV and film professionals. There will be lots of other music, from hip-hop to traditional European and other programming including meditation, yoga and discussions with Jewish filmmakers, artists and writers.
Also? There will be feasts, “locally procured,” and challah baking! Me, I’d go just for the feasting, the challah and the music, but it would be interesting to check out the short films by all these young Jewish filmmakers as well. You never know what promising new filmmaker you might uncover at a little fest like this. The fest website has their full line-up, so you can check out all the Jewlicious goodness the fest has in store.

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Oxford Film Festival Wrap

This past weekend I attended the Oxford Film Festival, for which I served on the docs jury, participated on a panel on film criticism, led a Q&A, and enjoyed the marvelous Southern hospitality. Oxford is one of my favorite small-town film fests; they work hard to bring interesting films to this college town, the all-volunteer festival staff goes all out to take care of their guests, and the Southern comfort food is plentiful and delicious.
Collectively, I think the jurors, panelists and filmmakers consumed about 89,000,000 calories at the Ajax Diner in the Square (Oxford’s social center); this restaurant is a favorite with fest guests for its reasonable prices and generous servings of excellent comfort food: chicken and dumplings, cheese-stuffed meatloaf, fried catfish, sqaush, broccoli-and-rice and sweet potato casseroles, fried okra, mac & cheese and jalapeno cornbread. It’s like going to one of those old-timey church socials where all the town womenfolk competed against each other to bring the best dish for the potluck table — everything is homemade and tastes sinfully delicious.

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Honeybunny

Two kids re-create the diner scene from Pulp Fiction for a competition at the Oxford Film Festival. Funny stuff…

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Santa Barbara: Wrapping Up

Saturday I caught a couple of panels and tributes at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. First up was the “Movers and Shakers” producer panel, moderated by Patrick Goldstein and featuring Jim Morris (Wall-E), Neda Armian (Rachel Getting Married), Dan Jinks (Milk), Christian Colson (Slumdog Millionaire) and Charles Roven (The Dark Knight/Get Smart). I was on the fence about making it to this panel, but I’m glad I showed up for it, because it proved to be both informative and interesting.
The insights these people had around the way movies are managed was fascinating, in particular Morris talking about the difference between producing an animated film with a lengthy production schedule and pre-set budget versus the different skill set of producing an independent film or even a studio blockbuster, and Armian talking about what it’s like to work with Jonathan Demme. My favorite quote of the panel: “No one says when they’re seven, ‘I want to produce movies when I grow up.'” Probably very true … but what a fascinating career to fall into.

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Santa Barbara Dispatch Day Three

I got a little busy here in Santa Barbara, so catching up. Here’s Day Three …
Friday we caught two films. First up was Necessities of Life, the Canadian Oscar submission for best foreign film. I’d heard many good things about this film, so when I saw it was on the SBIFF slate I added it to my schedule right away, and I’m glad I did — what a moving, original tale.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“When Bay keeps these absurd plot-gears spinning, he’s displaying his skill as a slick, professional entertainer. But then there are the images of motion—I hesitate to say, of things in motion, because it’s not clear how many things there are in the movie, instead of mere digital simulations of things. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there’s a car chase through London, seen from the level of tires, that could have gone on for an hour, um, tirelessly. What matters is that the defenestrated Cade saves himself by leaping from drone to drone in midair like a frog skipping among lotus pads; that he and Vivian slide along the colossal, polished expanses of sharply tilting age-old fields of metal like luge Olympians. What matters is that, when this heroic duo find themselves thrust out into the void of inner space from a collapsing planet, it has a terrifyingly vast emptiness that Bay doesn’t dare hold for more than an instant lest he become the nightmare-master. What matters is that the enormous thing hurtling toward Earth is composed in a fanatical detail that would repay slow-motion viewing with near-geological patience. Bay has an authentic sense of the gigantic; beside the playful enormity of his Transformerized universe, the ostensibly heroic dimensions of Ridley Scott’s and Christopher Nolan’s massive visions seem like petulant vanities.”
~ Michael Bay Gives Richard Brody A Tingle

How do you see film evolving in this age of Netflix?

I thought the swing would be quicker and more violent. There have been two landmark moments in the history of French film. First in 1946, with the creation of the CNC under the aegis of Malraux. He saved French cinema by establishing the advance on receipts and support fund mechanisms. We’re all children of this political invention. Americans think that the State gives money to French films, but they’re wrong. Through this system, films fund themselves!

The other great turning point came by the hand of Jack Lang in the 1980s, after the creation of Canal+. While television was getting ready to become the nemesis of film, he created the decoder, and a specific broadcasting space between film and television, using new investments for film. That once again saved French film.

These political decisions are important. We’re once again facing big change. If our political masters don’t take control of the situation and new stakeholders like Netflix, Google and Amazon, we’re headed for disaster. We need to create obligations for Internet service providers. They can’t always be against film. They used to allow piracy, but now that they’ve become producers themselves, they’re starting to see things in a different light. This is a moment of transition, a strong political act needs to be put forward. And it can’t just be at national level, it has to happen at European level.

Filmmaker Cédric Klapisch