12 items from 2010
The documentary October Country, which played the Dallas International Film Festival this spring, is now available on DVD this week through Carnivalesque Films. The film's tagline -- "Every family has its ghosts" -- may imply that this story of a working poor family isn't unique to our culture. It's true that there's nothing new here, but the collaboration between director/cinematographer Michael Palmieri and writer/photographer Donal Mosher paints such a poignant portrait of the Mosher family that one wishes for a happy or dramatic ending. There are so many misfortunes in the Moshers' lives that most people will either identify with a particular aspect or be thankful for having lesser troubles.
Filmed over the course of a year from one Halloween to the next, we see an American family that seems normal at first. It is through the camera lens that we are allowed a more intimate view of »
- Debbie Cerda
Getting a film to audiences can be a daunting proposition, especially for a documentary that may seem a bit unconventional and is not immediately embraced by film festivals. "We finished the film and we were broke," Mike Palmieri told indieWIRE last week as he recounted his experience taking his first feature co-directed with Donal Mosher, "October Country," around the world, in search of appreciative audiences in pockets across the globe. The »
From Upstate New York to South Africa, all around New York City, and a trip back in time to Japan and Vietnam, this week's small screen must-sees take us all around the world. Without further ado, here are this week's top picks on TV, DVD, and VOD: 1. "October Country" (criticWIRE rating: B+) The pick of the week this week is the first film from Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. "October »
This is a not a festival report because the festival it deals with – Dok 2009, Leipzig – happened several months ago. But it is about what film juries appear to prefer today especially in the documentary medium. Leipzig is a beautiful city in the eastern part of Germany and holds a wonderful film festival each year for documentary and animated films called Dok Leipzig. Apart from the competition sections for international and German documentaries and the corresponding ones for animated films, the festival also has (among several other things) a young cinema section - called Generation Dok- and retrospectives dedicated to masters of the medium.
Dok Leipzig is a major festival and brilliantly organized. The personal touch was much in evidence with the festival director Claas Danielsen whizzing around on a bicycle, finding time to talk to invitees personally, at length and even dwelling on intellectual issues pertaining to cinema! Given the »
- MK Raghavendra
Welcome back to Moment of Truth, Movieline's new weekly spotlight on the best in nonfiction cinema. This week, welcome the makers of October Country , currently playing in New York, opening tomorrow in Los Angeles, and expanding on March 12 to San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.
You've already read a little bit here about October Country, the lyrical, harrowing debut documentary by co-directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. The story of Mosher's family -- three generations attempting to extract themselves from the grip of abuse, teenage pregnancy and other haunted memories in New York's working-class Mohawk Valley -- has attracted acclaim virtually everywhere it's played, and it will compete next month for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. Yet October Country yields another, less-heralded tale as well -- one about a filmmaker and a photographer whose chance encounter in the unlikeliest of spots resulted in one of the unlikeliest (and most fruitful) of collaborations. »
October Country follows a year in the life of the Moshers, residents of New York State's economically depressed Herkimer Valley. Co-director Donal Mosher escaped the region to pursue a career in photography, though one of his most notable projects documents the travails of his family back home. In the original photo series "October Country," Mosher's images of modestly decorated households, empty factory lots, turning foliage and Colonial graveyards convey a post-rural, post-industrial landscape endowed with a eerily gothic splendor. Co-director Michael Palmieri brought his background in experimental and music video to coax Mosher's work into a cinematic dimension. The result, a breathtaking work, offers new aesthetic possibilities in depicting working class American reality. The film endows more empathy and dignity than could ever be found in white trash reality TV, while bringing touches of stylization (i.e. Halloween party scenes shot in ghostly slow-motion) not found in more vanilla strains of social observation documentary. »
It may be harder to sell a documentary in the contemporary industry climate, but some docs are so provocative, produce so much chatter, that they find comfy homes challenging minds and perspectives in theaters and living rooms. This week, two such docs that have treated festival audiences to intrigue, disgust, and laughter, debut in theaters: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's "October Country" and Erik Gandini's "Videocracy." First, we'll take up Palmieri »
"The type of introspective, intimate domestic American nonfiction that has sprouted up so much in art-house theaters in the wake of the success of Capturing the Friedmans has come to typify documentary filmmaking of the past decade," writes Michael Koresky for indieWIRE. "Itself somewhat of an acolyte of the far more sensitive Crumb, which at least foregrounded its inevitable grotesquerie, Andrew Jarecki's sensational depiction of an upper-middle-class Jewish family torn apart by intimations of child molestation tried to pass off its essentially exploitative nature as an investigation into American suburbia.... Filmmakers Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher correct Jarecki's inelegance with their surprisingly stirring new film October Country, a visually remarkable and thematically unpretentious peek behind the doors of one upstate New York family." »
October Country is a unique documentary that uses the themes of Halloween and, in particular, ghosts to give voice to a working-class family in Mohawk Valley, NY. The Mosher family had long been a subject of Donal Mosher's evocative photography and writing when he met director Michael Palmieri; together, they co-wrote and -directed this documentary that offers the viewer a very personal glimpse of the struggles the Moshers face every day. The evocative and often startlingly beautiful result is a portrait of a family haunted by the Vietnam War, cycles of abuse, and financial woes. TribecaFilm: How did you realize that you would make a really great film together, with Donal's photography and essays and Michael's experience directing? Michael Palmieri: The idea of doing it together sort of dawned on us essentially at the same time... I was exposed to Donal's photography at the same time he was exposed to my work, »
The Northwest Film Center Presents:
The 33rd Portland International Film Festival
February 11-28, 2010
The World Comes to Us in Film.
The Northwest Film Center announces the 33rd Portland International Film Festival (Piff), its annual cinematic foray of thought-provoking, engaging and entertaining works from around the globe. Over the last 33 years, the Festival has screened diverse and innovative films for thousands of people from throughout the Northwest. This year’s Festival will showcase 117 compelling new films, from three dozen countries, including regional work, to an audience of more than 35,000.
The Festival opens Thursday, February 11, at the Newmark Theater in the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (Pcpa) with the Italian film I Am Love, directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading, The Deep End). The film’s score is provided by minimalist musician John Adams. Following the screening is an opening night party in »
- Jeff Bayer
Documentarians carve stories out of the ebb and flow of real life, making the struggles of a Canadian metal band into a rousing tale of standing by your dreams, or finding echoes of "A Chorus Line" in the backstage process of putting together a Broadway revival of the show. So it's no surprise that the 2010 Cinema Eye Honors, which took place on Friday in New York, were filled with their own anecdotes about nonfiction films and the process of making them.
The venerable Albert Maysles, in a salute to influential Canadian filmmaker Allan King, who passed away earlier this year, told the crowd how his first date with his wife was to see King's 1967 doc "Warrendale." Editor Sloane Klevin, presenting the award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing, in turn recounted how the back of her apartment faces that of Maysles, and how she often sees him at night, washing dishes, »
- Alison Willmore
Louie Psihoyos's The Cove was the big winner at the Cinema Eye Awards, which were held tonight at the Times Center in midtown Manhattan. The film won the Oustanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Filmmaking Award as well as the Production and Cinematography Awards. A complete list of the awards follows. 2010 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking: Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking: The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos, produced by Paula DuPre Pesman and Fisher Stevens Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film: October Country, directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher Outstanding Achievement in Direction: Agnes Varda, The Beaches of Agnes Outstanding Achievement in Production: Paula DuPre Pressman and »
- Scott Macaulay
12 items from 2010
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