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“Best Film Not Playing…” Nominees Screen At Moma

16 November 2012 4:28 PM, PST

If you’re in New York this weekend head over to the Museum of Modern Art for the museum and Filmmaker‘s annual screenings of the nominees for our “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” Gotham Award. Playing are Terence Nance’s wildly inventive doc/fiction relationship deconstruction, An Oversimplification of her Beauty (pictured); Amy Semitz’s psycho-noir romance, Sun Don’t Shine; Alex Karpovsky’s real-life filmmaker comedy, Red Flag; the Zellner Brothers darkly humorous metaphysical exploration, Kid-Thing; and Frank V. Ross’s subtle and affecting relationship drama, Tiger Tail in Blue. I’ll be joining Nick Dawson, Alicia Van Couvering, MoMA”s Josh Siegel and the Ifp’s Milton Tabbot to intro and do Q&A’s with the filmmakers and actors. The complete schedule is here at the link.

At Indiewire, Eric Kohn previews the program and includes individual assessments of the films. From »

- Scott Macaulay

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Will Comcast Get Disney?

16 November 2012 12:43 PM, PST

Earlier this month Comcast made an unsolicited bid to buy the Walt Disney Company for $66 billion. Other than acknowledging the offer, neither the Disney board nor management has formally responded to the offer.

Over the last decade, Comcast has moved aggressively through a series of mergers and acquisition to become the nation’s largest cable television operator and, potentially, media combine.

The Disney bid comes about two years after federal regulators approved Comcast’s $30 billion acquisition of NBC Universal. In 2002, Comcast acquired At&T’s cable and broadband holdings for $29 billion. In 2004, it made a $48 billion bid for Disney that was rejected.

The pre-nbc Comcast of 2011 operated in 29 states and had 22-plus million cable subscribers along with 8 million Internet subscribers. Comcast has long coveted “content” or programming as part of its business model. It had interests in the Golf Channel, E! Entertainment, G-4, Style, the lifestyle website Daily Candy, and »

- David Rosen

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Five Questions With “Chasing Ice” Director Jeff Orlowski

16 November 2012 10:56 AM, PST

After years of shooting in extreme conditions, National Geographic photographer James Balog finally realized he could no longer ignore the slow disappearance of frozen landscapes he’d come to know and love. In Chasing Ice, director and cinematographer Jeff Orlowski documents Balog’s ambitious plan to install 25 separate time-lapse cameras across the globe in order to record receding glaciers and shifting ice, dire omens of a changing climate with no audience to bear witness. All the while Orlowski follows directly behind, shooting in dog sleds and ice crevasses, capturing the troubles that beset the most impassioned plans and what one man is willing to risk for the perfect shot. Filmmaker spoke to Orlowski about the unique challenges of making the film.

Filmmaker: Balog’s documentation of receding glaciers across the globe is a multi-year endeavor in the film. What was the timeline of following his mission, and the making of Chasing Ice? »

- Martha Early

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A Rogue’S Gallery Of Gorgeousness: Charles Atlas And Antony’S “Turning”

16 November 2012 9:48 AM, PST

It’s been a banner year for Charles Atlas. In 2012, the filmmaker and video artist was included in the Whitney Biennial, opened his first New York solo show, “The Illusion of Democracy” (the inaugural show of Lurhring Augustine’s brand new Bushwick gallery, no less), had seminal, rarely-screened works revived care of keen programming at local NYC film series’ Dirty Looks and Light Industry, and is now unveiling his long-awaited collaboration with enigmatic singer/musician Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), which opens today at IFC Center.

Turning, which had its New York premiere this past weekend at Doc NYC, is a feature-length documentary, and its Atlas’s first film to receive a traditional theatrical release. Part performance film and part backstage portrait, the film is a unique blend of the filmmaker’s entrancing visuals, Antony’s exquisite music and intimate interviews with the thirteen “models,” a diverse collection »

- Paul Dallas

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Susan Youssef, “Habibi”

16 November 2012 9:11 AM, PST

 

Nearly 10 years in the making, Habibi is the semi-autobiographical first feature from 2010 “25 New Face” Susan Youssef, a tale of forbidden love between two Palestinian students who find it impossible for their affection to overcome the rigid conventions of class in Palestinian life and Israel’s ironclad security regime. With Israelis and Palestinians again in actively violent conflict, the film couldn’t be more newsworthy, but Youssef’s low-budget aesthetic ingenuity (she couldn’t shoot in Gaza, but faked it admirably) and a remarkable performance from Maisa Abd Elhadi, as the young woman at the center of multiple circles of conflict (family vs. lover, tradition vs. modernity), should ultimately receive the bulk of attention.

As Layla, a university student whose academic career has been cut short after having her West Bank visa revoked by the Israeli authorities, Elhadi shows tremendous range and vulnerability as her character deals with her traditional but seemingly supportive family. »

- Brandon Harris

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Ra’Anan Alexandrowicz On “The Law In These Parts”

15 November 2012 2:33 PM, PST

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Law in These Parts sheds new light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an unexpected perspective. Interviewing nine military judges, the director explores how Israel created a new legal system to control the Gaza Strip and West Bank after occupying them in 1967. At first, the state may have begun with the understandable desire to defend itself from violence, but its justifications quickly became self-serving. In one of the film’s most memorable examples, a woman was sentenced to a year and a half in jail for giving a “terrorist” bread. The film consists of stylized interviews with the  judges, shot on a set with a green screen, which is sometimes used to project archival footage of Palestinian uprisings. Alexandrowicz covers the history of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the methods used by military law the country to govern a people who became stateless for decades, »

- Steven Erickson

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“First Winter” Opens At Videology

15 November 2012 10:23 AM, PST

Michael Tully of Hammer to Nail passed along this review of Benjamin Dickinson’s First Winter, written by fellow filmmaker Zach Clark. First Winter is an accomplished, compelling and unexpectedly timely first feature, but I debated a second about posting this. That’s because Clark is also the programmer of Videology, where the film is premiering tomorrow. That said, he opens with a quote from Andrei Tarkovsky so, with this disclaimer, I was cool to run it. — Sm

First Winter, Benjamin Dickinson’s microbudget entry into the slow-burn apocalypse pantheon, owes no small debt to that scant subgenre’s zenith – Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice. It seems entirely appropriate then, that a quote from the mustachioed master best sums it up. Here it is:

“’Man is born unto the trouble as the sparks fly upwards.’ In other words suffering is germane to our existence; indeed, how without it, should we be able to ‘fly upwards? »

- Zach Clark

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Discussing The Future Of Hybrid Films At Cph:dox

15 November 2012 9:49 AM, PST

“Let’s start before we kill the term,” joked Jakob Hogel during the opening moments of “The Future of Hybrid Films,” a panel that took place last week at Copenhagen’s Cph:dox. Preempting musty debate about the so-called hybrid genre, where various forms — usually documentary and fiction — are combined in single works, Hogel said, “We should be beyond the point of whether hybrid films exist, are dubious or morally wrong. They exist and who cares?”

Hogel’s dismissal of hybrid handwringing doesn’t mean that the issues posed by such films aren’t being debated in the film industry. It’s just these debates are more likely now to concern issues of funding, marketing and production rather than storytelling ethics or artistic viability. Indeed, the question of just how to promote the hybrid film took center stage as commissioning editors and funders discussed the hybrid films they’ve been involved with. »

- Scott Macaulay

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Tim Heidecker On “The Comedy”

15 November 2012 7:51 AM, PST

It’s unlikely that anyone had a more schizophrenic Sundance this past January than Tim Heidecker. The 36-year old actor and filmmaker attended the festival with two projects – Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, the feature-length culmination of his and longtime collaborator Eric Wareheim’s cult absurdist comedy TV series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and the ironically named The Comedy, a dark drama from filmmaker Rick Alverson (New Jerusalem). And as both films have rolled out over the past year, Heidecker has had to juggle dueling personae – zany comedic curmudgeon and dramatic leading man.

In The Comedy, Heidecker plays Swanson, a depressed, affluent, and serially-detached Williamsburg hipster. Throughout the film, Swanson engages in a series of provocations with the outside world, testing the limits and boundaries of those around him, while arguably spiraling towards some kind of mental break. It’s a dark, pitiless performance — an »

- Dan Schoenbrun

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Five Questions With “Marfa Girl” Director Larry Clark

14 November 2012 2:47 PM, PST

Border patrol police and racial tension are not your usual ingredients for a teen movie. Like the adolescent characters they feature, teen dramas tend to be self-referential: they are rarely concerned with anything beyond drugs, unprotected sex, and emotional confusion. Larry Clark, best known for his 1995 film Kids, specializes in this genre, but his latest feature, Marfa Girl, somehow eludes the teen canon to offer a diagonal take on an oft-predictable format.

Marfa Girl takes place in a small Texas border town that is home to a community of artists and a threatening number of border policemen. While hostility between teenagers and adults often plays out inside the walls of the family home, in Marfa the conflict plays out on the streets. While the clash between border policemen and arty teenagers is by no means peaceful, it offers an opportunity for exploring the cause of the bitter hatred on both sides. »

- Celluloid Liberation Front

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Jamie Stuart’S Short On Hurricane Sandy

13 November 2012 4:03 PM, PST

Jamie Stuart has been Filmmaker‘s videographer for years, but became known to a broader audience in late 2010 when he captured snowbound New York in his short film Idiot with a Tripod.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Stuart was out again filming the impact of extreme weather on the city, and has now released the short film Eternal Storm, to which he adds the following notes:

I don’t know if it’s right to create art out of this experience, yet. I don’t know what the time limit is. But I have created something that I hope people can appreciate. And art always helps.

“Eternal Storm” was shot on location in Far Rockaway, Staten Island, Coney Island and Astoria about a week after Hurricane Sandy hit. The intent was simply to create something beautiful out of something disastrous.

Incidentally, Jamie is also currently trying to raise funds for his debut feature, »

- Nick Dawson

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Destroying “17,000 Islands” At Cph:dox

13 November 2012 1:12 PM, PST

While at Cph:dox I attended a seminar titled “An Interactive Audience” spotlighting new works in transmedia. One of the projects discussed was 17,000 Islands, a work commissioned by the festival’s own Dox:lab, directed by Indonesia’s Edwin (Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly) and Norwegian transmedia doc director Thomas Ostbye, and produced by interactive producer Paramita Nath. The project, in which Edwin and Ostbye make a film that is then “destroyed” by its viewers over the internet, sounded fascinating, so afterwards I pulled Edwin aside to learn more.

First, here’s the description of the project from the Cph:dox catalog:

17000 Islands is an interactive transmedia documentary. In Indonesia, Jakarta, there is a Disneyland style museum park named Taman Mini. It attempts to present the diverse cultures of Indonesia in a condensed and manicured form – an idealized image of the 17.000 Islands of Indonesia. Fascinated by this idealized and artificial representation, Indonesian »

- Scott Macaulay

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Two Filmmakers Walked Into A Bar…

12 November 2012 6:40 PM, PST

The Us in Progress market begins tomorrow. I fly to Wroclaw, Poland, in a few hours. Translation: I am frantically packing, burning DVDs, and researching European distribution companies.

An Introduction: I’m a longtime film worker and first-time filmmaker. I’m in the final stages of finishing my first feature. I’m 33 years old, I have two daughters, and I live in central Pennsylvania. For over 12 years I have been a full-time alchemist attempting to fuse well-rounded family life with a career in film. This is an uncertain science and the results have been inconclusive. But A Song Still Inside, my current project, is my most dedicated experiment to date, one that served as an accelerant in my own experience as an ambitious filmmaker, father, and partner.

Assi, so says our tagline, is about a stay-at-home father struggling in the shadow of his wife’s success. That’s mostly true. »

- Gregory Collins

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Bagel Shops And Muddy Waters: Writing “Happy Baby”

12 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

This week I added Stephen Elliott’s Happy Baby to our curated Kickstarter page, and today Richard Parks, who is working with Elliott on the campaign, emailed to offer Filmmaker readers one of the Vimeo videos that are being sent to backers of the campaign. Here’s Elliott talking about a girl with pink hair and the change editor Dave Eggers made him make to the text.

Happy Baby is a great book. Check out the campaign and help Elliott turn it into a film.

Happy Baby Kickstarter Video Update #3: Muddy Waters from Stephen Elliott on Vimeo.

… Read the rest »

- Scott Macaulay

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Five Questions With “Tricked” Director Paul Verhoeven

12 November 2012 12:05 PM, PST

Chiefly known for his Hollywood output, which includes films such as Robocop, Basic Instinct, Total Recall and ShowgirlsPaul Verhoeven is part of a distinguished lineage of European expats who have made the dream factory great. But the latest project from Verhoeven is the furthest thing from Hollywood one could possibly imagine. This manifests itself not so much in stylistic terms — Tricked (Steekspel) is in fact a soap opera of a comedy — as in the film’s creative process, which saw it being openly crowd-scripted by whomever wanted to contribute. After the first five minutes had been written, the screenplay was posted online where contribution from the public was encouraged in order to fashion a user-generated movie. In Verhoeven’s remarkably well-crafted and likeable film, real estate mogul Remco (Peter Blok) has a weak spot for extramarital affairs, and a wife who is apparently not very concerned about it as »

- Celluloid Liberation Front

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Bill Morrison Hands You The Remote

12 November 2012 10:16 AM, PST

Bill Morrison’s newest film The Shooting Gallery has just finished playing a mere handful of screenings at the Bam Fisher Fishman Space as part of the 30th Next Wave Festival. It represents a new step in Morrison’s oeuvre because it introduces, as far as I’m aware, the concept of interactivity into his work, with audience members each receiving a laser pointer which they used as a remote control to select video and audio clips throughout the screening. The result—with music by Richard Einhorn, design by Jim Findlay, and interactive programming by Ryan Holsopple—is vintage Morrison but also something completely new.

Morrison is best known as a manipulator of archival footage, particularly footage that’s decaying into obsolescence. By showcasing these strips of film that are beyond any hope of restoration, Morrison actually resurrects them, gives them new life, and highlights the physical nature of film—its tactileness, »

- Randy Astle

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