5 items from 2015
The Loft Film Fest is the first American festival member of the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (Cicae), which brings together more than 3,000 screens and approximately 16 festivals across Europe and around the world to promote the production and exhibition of quality independent films from all countries in all countries.
The Cicae award is designed to bring attention to excellent films in order for them to be seen in art houses around the world. The Cicae award is given out at festivals including the Berlinale Forum and Panorama, the Sarajevo International Film Festival, the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.
The Loft Film Fest jury for documentary features includes Peter Belsito, film biz consultant, fest panelist and guest blogger for SydneysBuzz on Indiewire, actress/writer/producer Yareli Arizmendi ("Like Water for Chocolate," "A Day Without a Mexican") and Beverly Seckinger, director of University of Arizona Center for Documentary and Docscapes.
The documentaries in competition are:
Florence, Arizona is a cowboy town with a prison problem. Founded in 1866, this bastion of the Wild West is home to 8,500 civilians and 17,000 inmates spread over nine prisons. Through an unconventional lens, the documentary film "Florence, Arizona" weaves together the stories of four key residents of Florence, whose lives have all been shadowed in some way by the surrounding prison industrial complex. The result is an intricately crafted cinematic tapestry, threaded through with deep strands of Americana, humor, intimacy, and pathos, revealing as much about ourselves as it does about our modern carceral state. (Dir. by Andrea B. Scott, 2014, USA, 78 mins., Not Rated) Official Selection: Doc NYC
"Chuck Norris vs. Communism"
In the 1980s, under the Nicolae Ceaușescu regime, Romanians suffered from little access to foreign goods as well as an information blackout the Communist bureaucrats used to ensure ideological purity. But in clandestine screenings at neighbors’ homes of smuggled VHS tapes dubbed by a one-man distribution network, people got a glimpse of the Western world and a culture of muscular individuality with heroes like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, and, of course, Chuck Norris.
In "Chuck Norris vs Communism," one sees the power of film to change individuals and whole societies. Through the stories of the hardworking female dubber (the most famous voice of Romania), the memories of everyday citizens, evocative re-creations of the time, and an enormous selection of clips from ’80s movies, first-time director Ilinca Calugareanu presents a film about the unexpected consequences of mass entertainment, leading to the conclusion that the greatest threat to Ceaușescu’s dictatorship might just have been the Vcr. (Dir. by Ilinca Calugareanu, 2014, UK/Romania/Germany, in Romanian with subtitles, 83 mins., Not Rated) Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs
From Brazilian favelas to dusty Congolese villages, from Neolithic Scottish isles to modern soccer pitches, "Bounce" explores the little-known origins of our favorite sports.
The film crosses time, languages and continents to discover how the ball has staked its claim on our lives and fueled our passion to compete. Equal parts science, history and cultural essay, "Bounce" removes us from the scandals and commercialism of today’s sports world to uncover the true reasons we play ball, helping us reclaim our universal connection to the games we love. (Dir. by Jerome Thelia, 2015, USA / Brazil / Congo / India / Ireland / Italy / Mexico / UK, in English with subtitles, 71 mins., Not Rated) Official Selection: SXSW
"Double Digits: The Story of a Neighborhood Movie Star"
Deep in the recesses of YouTube there is an ingenious artist who cannot be stopped. He consistently churns out 3-4 original feature-length films a year. He’s made action movies, horror movies, westerns and more. He’s not rich, he has no crew, no formal training and aside from his action figures, plays virtually every part. Welcome to the inspiring, imaginative, and often handmade world of Ultra-diy filmmaker Richard ‘R.G.’ Miller, a 50 year-old man who creates impossible blockbusters from his tiny studio apartment in Wichita, Kansas. His dream audience? More than 9 people. (Dir. by Justin Johnson, 2015, USA, 76 mins., Not Rated)
Born without arms as the result of a severe birth defect, Jessica Cox never allowed herself to believe that she couldn’t accomplish her dreams. An expert martial artist, college graduate and motivational speaker, Jessica is also the world’s only armless airplane pilot, a mentor, and an advocate for people with disability. Directed by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Nick Spark, "Right Footed" chronicles Jessica’s amazing story of overcoming adversity and follows her over a period of two years as she becomes a mentor for children with disabilities and their families, and a disability rights advocate working in the U.S.A. and abroad. (Dir. by Nick Spark, 2015, USA, in English with subtitles, 82 mins., Not Rated)
"Hand Gestures" follows the process of creating one of Velasco Vitali’s famous dog sculptures, from wax to glazed bronze, at the Battaglia Artistic Foundry in Milan. The film observes the work of a group of skilled artisans in this 100-year old foundry and reveals the ancient traditions of bronze sculpture making, unchanged since the sixth century B.C. This method is not taught in school, but is passed on in the ancient oral tradition and through apprenticeships from artisans. This documentary observes and feels the work of the Battaglia Artistic Foundry: a place where the past and present share the same gestures and where each gesture is a sculpture itself.
An artist who sculpts, who works the waxes, is treated in the same way as a craftsman who turns that wax into bronze, building and destroying other ephemeral sculptures: they have been making the same gestures for centuries, and by showing this to the camera they reveal historical “jumps” in time. Director Francesco Clerici has made a fine-tuned, carefully-observed study of a glorious thing to watch: artisans practicing their craft on film. Winner of the Fipresci award at Berlinale Forum 2015. (Dir. by Francesco Clerici, 2015, Italy, in Italian with subtitles, 77 mins., Not Rated) Official Selection: Berlin International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival
In 1979, Kutv in Salt Lake City acquired a new video camera. Trent Harris, a producer for the station’s offbeat show Extra, ventured out into the parking lot to test the new equipment and happened upon a young man taking pictures of the station’s news helicopter.
The kid, calling himself “Groovin’ Gary,” was the self-proclaimed Rich Little of Beaver, Utah. His infectious personality and small-town impressions of John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, and Barry Manilow piqued Harris’s interest enough so he gave him a business card and asked that he alert him if anything newsworthy happened in his hometown. What happened next would become the foundation for "Beaver Trilogy," a unique collection of films that documented Harris’s multiple attempts at re-creating the original magic of the Beaver Kid. Director Brad Besser dives deep into the mystique of this cult classic, unraveling the mystery of Harris’s original inspiration. "Beaver Trilogy Part IV" explores the line between the quest for fame and the exploitation of those who pursue it. (Dir. by Brad Besser, 2015, USA, 84 mins., Not Rated) Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs
The short films in competition are in two programs:
Tickets and passes on sale now at www.loftfilmfest.org. »
- Sydney Levine
Perhaps you don't know this about Thor star Tom Hiddleston, but he's great at impersonating fellow celebrities. That should come as no shock after watching him fully transform into country legend Hank Williams in I Saw the Light. If he wasn't busy building a career as an Oscar-worthy actor, he might have a shot at being the next Rich Little. On the The Graham Norton Show he got to show off some of his skills. And he couldn't pass up the opportunity to break out one of his better routines, especially with the subject of his impersonation sitting on the couch beside him.
Tom Hiddleston and Robert De Niro appeared on the The Graham Norton Show couch together earlier this week. And in what could have been an awkward exchange, Tom Hiddleston broke out his own Bobby De Niro facial ticks and accents. And the whole thing is nothing short of amazing. »
Between 1979 and 1985, cult director Trent Harris made three different films about a character he dubbed “Groovin’ Gary,” aka “the Beaver Kid,” a small-town Utah dreamer with big Hollywood ambitions. That triptych — which comprises an eccentric TV profile and two short-film re-enactments starring Sean Penn and Crispin Glover — eventually found its way to the 2001 Sundance Film Festival as “The Beaver Trilogy,” and now holds a place as one of the oddest footnotes in American cinema, though it’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t already seen it having more than a passing interest in “The Beaver Trilogy Part IV.” While it finally answers so many questions fans have been asking for years, sometimes far more poignantly than devotees would have thought possible, Brad Besser’s obsessive feature-length follow-up documentary ultimately feels like a DVD featurette that spiraled ridiculously out of control.
- Peter Debruge
What would you do if life stood still? Now I’m not talking about the world continually frozen, like a projector stuck on one frame of film (maybe a better modern analogy would be a DVD unable to move past an image, perhaps with that annoying “buffer circle” spinning). I mean what if you, yourself, never changed and remained your current age forever. No wrinkles, no grey hairs, and no internal breakdowns (the plumbing works fine, muscles and joints in great shape). That’s been one of the major benefits of vampirism (like the eternal ten-year old Kirsten Dunst in Interview With The Vampire), a theme of fairy tales (Sleeping Beauty), and science fiction (The Man Who Cheated Death, the Cocoon flicks). Now comes a film that plays with that notion in a more modern, realistic fashion. Call it a modern romantic fable, or the ultimate May-December love story. Or »
- Jim Batts
In 1979, Kutv in Salt Lake City got a new video camera. Trent Harris, a producer for the station’s unconventional show "Extra," went to the parking lot to test the new equipment and bumped into a kid taking photos of the station’s news helicopter. The young man, who called himself "Groovin' Gary," was the self-proclaimed Rich Little of Beaver, Utah. His vibrant personality and small-town impressions of John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, and Barry Manilow interested Harris enough that he gave him a business card and asked that Gary alert him if anything newsworthy happened in his hometown. What happened next spurred the Beaver Trilogy, an inventive collection of films documenting Harris's numerous attempts at re-creating the strange magic of the Beaver Kid. Director Brad Besser explores the appeal of this cult classic, delving into the mystery of Harris’s initial inspiration. Steeped in Sundance Film Festival history (the original Beaver Trilogy premiered at the. »
- Anya Jaremko-Greenwold
5 items from 2015
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