Movie City Indie Archive for April, 2009

Hot Docs 16 opens tonight in Toronto



The sixteenth edition of HotDocs, the terrific Toronto documentary event, opens with Jennifer Baichwal‘s Act of God. [Baichwal, after the jump.] “Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival,” to use its full name, programs over 170 films from 39 countries. Sidebars include Spotlight on the NFB at 70 and Made In South Korea programs; retrospectives of work by Torontonian filmmaker Ron Mann and 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Alanis Obomsawin. Here’s the Hot Docs Daily. For the third year, I’ll be observing and reporting from the fest, starting on Tuesday and running through the end. Monday, I’ll have a preview of some movies I’ve seen and others I’m anticipating. Expect photographs and video. [View from the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt, a popular sunset destination for certain repasts: gin martinis are popular.]

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Soderbergh on film crickets

Todd Hill of Staten Island Advance blogs part of an interview with Steven Soderbergh, where he talks about movie reviews. “I just don’t read them. It’s just not something that helps me at that point. First of all, I’m usually already two movies away from what they’re looking at. They have a role, they just don’t really have a role for me. I’m aware of the general critical response to sswish_d195.jpgsomething as it affects the business life of the film. If you make a film that’s kind of a specialty film and you get trashed by everyone you’re going to have a tough time trying to break through. It’s like getting hit by a car and six months later somebody going, ‘You shouldn’t have stepped in front of that car.’ Yeah, okay. Wish you had been there. I have nothing to say in response. The film is what it is… I’m sure we all have complex feelings about the Internet. On the one hand, in theory, if you write about movies you can go on the Internet and write a 5,000-word piece on something if you’re so moved. The question is whether anybody will get to word 500 before they go, ‘Oh Jesus, just tell me how many stars.’ Culturally, that kind of question of whether there is a place for that kind of ruminative, complex criticism, that’s an open question, and not just for cinema, for everything.”

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An account of being roughed up after a film festival in Greece

Press
FACE DOWN ON THE TABLE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM, I hold stock-still as the young doctor with the needle poised to pierce my scalp deadpans, “How are you enjoying our Greek hospitality?” Two female doctors in training, tall, longhaired brunettes, giggle at his banter between instructions in their language: he’s fascinated that I’m calm after being attacked by a mob. “So you’re a photojournalist?” “Po-po journalist, it seems,” I joke, using slang that’s an all purpose “oh-oh.” The women giggle. “I don’t get it,” he says, as he pulls thread through my lacerated skin.
It’s been a little more than a month since that Sunday night and most aches have subsided. My insurance covered the CAT scan and other tests once I was back in the States, assuring nothing might be permanently awry. Cumulatively, I’ve spent almost six months of my life in the north of Greece but this is the first time I’ve been taken for an anarchist infiltrator and roughed up by a gang of nationalists. [Machine translation]
Thessaloniki is a city of just over a million. Street protests are common, prevalent, even. One cloudy afternoon a couple of years ago, I asked a cop in knee-high black boots standing beside his motorcycle as a main artery was filled with red flags of a communist youth party and black flags of some anarchist faction, what’s this one about? “Just another regularly scheduled spontaneous demonstration,” he answered.
That Sunday was the last of ten days of the eleventh Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival. I had been watching films and talking to directors and photographers and programmers for a print piece for Filmmaker magazine. The usual suspects: homelessness, globalization, genocide. Earlier, I’d had conversations with a young Rwandan director who made one of several films about that last topic as part of a section of films made specifically by African directors. I had a drink with a few filmmakers and colleagues and chose to stop by a friends’ apartment rather than ending the event on the bloody note of his film: he is a good storyteller and I’d gotten more than the gist of the horror, physical and moral, of that tragedy.
Along the eight blocks to the apartment, a square bristles with a crowd of middle-aged men listening to an energetic older man. A rank of blinding bright white lights stands between the speaker and the Byzantine edifice behind him. This is the square of Agia Sofia, the “Church of the Holy Wisdom.” It’s a neighborhood I know well; I feel safe. The words of his urgent peroration that I understand are mostly along the lines of “homeland” and “patriotism.” Riot police stand at the perimeter of the gathering. I have my DSLR camera with me, walk past without even framing a picture. I move along. “Homeland.” “Patriotism.”
Bloodied platea
Journalists watch, movie reviewers watch, photographers watch, used to seeing. Seeing without being seen, as well. I was about to get a simple lesson in observation. The speaker’s voice resounds through the shutters of the flat several blocks away. “Homeland. “Patriotism.” I take the same route half-an-hour later, 9:15, after dark. Observing, I reach toward my unzipped camera bag, more to protect its contents than to take out any equipment. Three, then four middle-aged men are abruptly in my face shouting in Greek, “Who are you?” “Who sent you?” “What are you doing?” I’m surrounded. I move to protect my bag as punches fly and fall.
Sloppy punches and kicks from a dozen men in a mob scrum are always to be preferred over two guys in an alley. If you get dragged free soon enough, it’s more roughing up than being beaten stupid. Still, there’s blood. The velocity of the event? Under two minutes, I would guess.
Irony
I was told later the men who kicked, swung, slapped, as I crouched on the ground to protect my face, might have taken me for “an anarchist infiltrator.” Fast, furious. Less than two minutes and about a pint of blood later, soaking my hair and cascading down the back of my jacket, police pull me away, to insure “bodily integrity,” as the term of art of Greek law has it. Adrenaline brings clarity. My upturned palms are covered with blood from the gash on the back of my head. I hold them up. “American… Journalist… NOT political. What do you need?” My fingerprints blood my press pass as I hand it across.
A rare incident, I’m assured later by Greek friends, the police, the U. S. Consulate. And a modest one compared to the blood that had run through the aisles during so many of the thirty or so documentaries I’d seen in the ten days prior. Greek friends expressed concern about the temperature in their streets: these were the middle-aged fed up with riots in the streets of cities since the December shooting of a 15-year-old boy in the Exarchia district of Athens. What had I done? What a reviewer, a journalist, a photographer does. Just looking. My “crime.” Just being seen looking. And remembering the image of my two bloody hands, red, La chinoise-red, which I could not take a picture of.
CODA: Last week I saw Z for the first time in memory. Costa-Gavras’ restored thriller is the most authentic representation of getting your head lacerated in Greek street violence that I know. My injuries were in almost the same place on the back of the skull as those that kill Yves Montand’s political figure. I sat stock-still, rapt with fascination.

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Werner rephrases

Sometimes Mr. Herzog rephrases a thought and it comes out all the better in front of an inventive writer like Will Self: “With his sniff_scene_5678.jpgastonishing work rate, I asked him how he felt about the films he had completed. ‘They are like burglars in the night who all of a sudden raid your home—you’ve got to get them out! Or rather, you open the door to let one guest in, and suddenly 85 people are swarming all over you.’ When the unwanted guests burst in, I asked him, did he know if they were feature films or documentaries or, indeed, operas—which he has been known to direct—or books—which he has been known to write (he has a new one out, about Fitzcarraldo, this summer)? ‘Only when I wrestle with them, and I feel their skin and sniff their scent, do I make a distinction.'”

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Epic understated "oops": Fox News' Shepard Smith murmurs



Whoa.

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Indie may be constructive

Chicago

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"Love Will Tear Us Apart (Again)" cover


Brian Gibson – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division Cover) from Johnny Internets .


Not exactly how Wong Kar-Wai might use it, but….

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Indie is reflective

Spring

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Who's writing the great Kat Dennings role right now?



“I could say I’m sorry, but… [ffff] … what would that do?”

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[PR] Sofia checks into the Chateau Marmont

chuckchuck_4567.jpg


From The Plaza to the Tokyo Hyatt to Sunset Boulevard: “OSCAR-WINNING WRITER/DIRECTOR SOFIA COPPOLA TO MAKE SOMEWHERE WITH FOCUS FEATURES; STEPHEN DORFF TO STAR: Reuniting with the film company with which she made the Academy Award-winning hit Lost in Translation, writer-director Sofia Coppola will make her next movie, Somewhere, with Focus Features. Somewhere will star Stephen Dorff (soon to be seen in Public Enemies) and Elle Fanning (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.
Ms. Coppola is also reteamed with Pathé, which will have rights to the film in France, Benelux, and Switzerland; and Tohokushinsa, which will hold rights to the film in Japan and select Asian territories. Medusa Film will have rights to Somewhere in Italy, where a portion of the filming will be done, and is lending production assistance. Focus will hold rights to the film in all other territories.
In addition to directing Somewhere from her original screenplay, Ms. Coppola will produce the feature with Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited) and G. Mac Brown (Australia) through American Zoetrope. Harris Savides (cinematographer on Focus’ Academy Award-winning Milk) will be director of photography on the movie. Lost in Translation executive producers Francis Ford Coppola and Fred Roos and Marie Antoinette executive producer Paul Rassam will encore in the same capacities on Somewhere, which will be overseen for Focus by president of production John Lyons.
Somewhere will begin production on location in Los Angeles this summer. Somewhere is the story of Johnny Marco (to be played by Mr. Dorff), a bad-boy actor stumbling through a life of excess at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood. With an unexpected visit from his 11-year-old daughter (Ms. Fanning), Johnny is forced to look at the questions we all must confront.

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Indie is afoot

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Best of luck to the Movieline crew…

Stu smokes


setting their sails with gales of snark this morn… hello Seth, Kyle and Stu [pictured; photo © Ray Pride]

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Movie City Indie

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Film criticism as a business operates like the film industry itself: The people in charge like to hire people who remind them of themselves, and those people at the top are by and large straight white dudes (baseball caps are an option). That’s not to say they can’t have wildly diverging opinions on a variety of topics, but privilege comes with blinders that are often hard to acknowledge and even tougher to remove. The past few months have seen some of the most prominent film publications taking on new writers who are for the most part white men: Rolling Stone, Film Comment, Indiewire, and of course, Owen Gleiberman at Variety. Many of them have championed underdog filmmakers, but you can’t get over the sense of gatekeeping going on. Film criticism often feels like the treehouse girls are banned from entering, and it’s not hard to assume the conversations we’re missing out on aren’t exactly centered on women in the business… Our world and our art suffers when we limit the number of perspectives allowed to not only tell the story but to discuss it. Women are no better or worse in their opinions than men, but the key differences we bring allow further dimensions in the narrative. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, the ingrained biases of white maleness will continue unchallenged without contrasting voices under the banner, and the commodification of women’s faces and bodies will exacerbate to increasingly damaging levels.”
~ Ceilidhann

DENNIS COOPER

The next thing that really changed my world and thoroughly influenced my writing were the films of Robert Bresson. When I discovered them in the late seventies, I felt I had found the final ingredient I needed to write the fiction I wanted to write.

INTERVIEWER

What was the final ingredient?

DENNIS COOPER

Recognizing that the films were entirely about emotion and, to me, ­ profoundly moving while, at the same time, stylistically inexpressive and monotonic. On the surface, they were nothing but style, and the style was extremely rigorous to boot, but they seemed almost transparent and purely content driven. Bresson’s use of untrained nonactors influenced my concentration on characters who are amateurs or noncharacters or characters who are ill equipped to handle the job of manning a story line or holding the reader’s attention in a conventional way. Altogether, I think Bresson’s films had the greatest influence on my work of any art I’ve ever encountered. In fact, the first fiction of mine that was ever published was a chapbook called “Antoine Monnier,” which was a god-awful, incompetent attempt to rewrite Bresson’s film Le diable ­probablement as a pornographic novella. So I came to writing novels through a channel that included experimental fiction, poetry, and nonliterary influences pretty much exclusively. I never read normal novels with any real interest or close attention.
~ Dennis Cooper Discovers Bresson

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