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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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas