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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“I went through my Twitter feed recently, muting anybody talking about politics. I’ve just had enough. My attitude is to always be encouraging, be as positive and as constructive as possible. People are too quick to form an opinion and to judge. It’s a scramble up the hill to the moral high ground isn’t it?”

“It’s quite weird going from never having been interviewed before to being interviewed 500 times. Suddenly people are writing down what you’re saying, they’re recording it and putting online. We lucked out with Down Terrace because people were really kind about it – it was a first film and low budget, we felt we’d been given the benefit of the doubt. With Kill List, I thought critically we were gonna get really fucked. But it didn’t happen. It’s a very weird film, you know. And it’s a mean film, it’s much meaner than most movies are. I watch a lot of modern horror movies and they’re scary, but they’re not mean like that.”
~ Ben Wheatley

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray