10 items from 2011
Why not fold documentaries into my list of the "Best Films of 2011?" After all, a movie is a movie, right? Yes, and some years I've thrown them all into the same mixture. But all of these year-end Best lists serve one useful purpose: They tell you about good movies you may not have seen or heard about. The more films on my list that aren't on yours, the better job I've done.
That's particularly true were you to depend on the "short list" released by the Academy's Documentary Branch of 15 films they deem eligible for nomination. The branch has been through turmoil in the past and its procedures were "reformed" at one point. But this year it has made a particularly scandalous sin of
omission. It doesn't include "The Interrupters" (currently scoring 99% on the Tomatometer), which has received better reviews and been on more critic's Best lists than any other. »
- Roger Ebert
While the television premiere date of a documentary that’s been playing on the festival circuit for nearly two years isn’t necessarily the hottest of news, when it’s a film as wonderful and as dear to my heart as One Lucky Elephant, I can’t help but mention it. My deeply personal reactions to film that center on animals (particularly documentaries) are well-known – in short, I am almost guaranteed to cry. One Lucky Elephant made me cry more consistently than any other film (animal-centric or otherwise) that I’ve ever seen. It is a lovely, moving story – but more than that, it also tackles a very controversial subject. The film centers on circus producer David Balding, a man who has spent his entire life (personal and professional) wanting his own elephant. When Balding acquires orphaned baby elephant Flora, he thinks that his dream has finally come true, a dream that will allow him to save »
- Kate Erbland
Taking place Oct. 21-23 at the Director Guild of America in L.A., Like Crazy (which Paramount Vantage opens on Oct. 28) will kick off the the three-day forum for emerging and established independent filmmakers that covers production, distribution, documentary and new media.
Speakers for the 2011 Film Independent Forum include:
Josh Braun, Submarine
Lisa Callif, Donaldson & Callif, Llp
Juan Devis, Kcet Public Media
Craig Emanuel, Loeb & Loeb
Christian Gaines, withoutabox.com and imdb.com
Matthew Greenfield, Fox Searchlight
Greg Laemmle, Laemmle Theatres
- Jason Guerrasio
After scoring its most successful summer of original programming ever, including the launch of mega-hit Falling Skies, TNT is set to heat up the fall and winter with a terrific lineup of popular and acclaimed original series and a showcase of new original movies. The drama network's slate includes the return of basic cable's top two series of all time, The Closer, starring 2010 Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick, and Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander; all-new episodes of the hit caper series Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; and a new season of the critically acclaimed Southland.
TNT has also unveiled the slate for The TNT Mystery Movie Night, a new showcase of contemporary procedural dramas set to launch Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 9 p.m. (Et/Pt). The showcase will kick off with Scott Turow's Innocent, starring Bill Pullman (Independence Day, Torchwood: Miracle Day), Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock, Damages) and Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, »
Title: One Lucky Elephant Director: Lisa Leeman Featuring: David Balding, Carol Buckley, Flora the Elephant and others A lot of nature documentaries, or films that look at animals, focus in either-or fashion on their behavioral impulses or relationship to and interaction with humans, ignoring the potentiality of a more complex causal relationship. In other words, do human masters, even kind ones, make some animals sad? The heartwarming and thought-provoking new documentary ‘One Lucky Elephant’ tacitly asks this and other tough questions in presenting a look at a compassionate but aging pachyderm owner who’s searching for a suitable place to retire his circus elephant. David Balding adopted Flora, an orphaned African »
First, a quick reminder that entries on several films playing here or there have been updated through today: Film Socialisme, Agrarian Utopia, Road to Nowhere and The Tree of Life. Alright, on with the weekend...
"Jj Abrams imitates to flatter with Super 8, an homage to the seminal science fiction films of Steven Spielberg that succumbs to empty nostalgic pandering," argues Nick Schager in Slant. "As with his Star Trek, Abrams's latest puts a modern spin on classical material, though here reinvention isn't the goal so much as slavish duplication embellished with muscular CG effects. It's akin to returning to a cinematic womb of Spielbergian father-son issues, suburban households under extraterrestrial strain, and teen romance, friendship, and maturation via out-of-this-world circumstances. The effect of such a modus operandi is initial coziness quickly giving way to disheartening familiarity, with Abrams's own preoccupations (if he had any to begin with) becoming subsumed beneath the root themes, »
Lisa Leeman's documentary, "One Lucky Elephant," tracks the nine-year odyssey of circus producer David Balding as he tries to find the star of his circus, the elephant Flora, a good home. Leeman caught up with indieWIRE to discuss the genesis of the project and what it was like working with an elephant. Click here to read indieWIRE's review of the film. It opened today at New York's Film Forum. The »
Elephants are magnificent creatures, possessed of great intelligence and sensitivity, so it's little wonder that people who regularly work with or care for them become devoted. That's mostly a good thing, particularly for elephants who've been transplanted far from home: If you're a 10,000-pound African elephant living 8,000 miles away from your native habitat, you need all the help you can get. Still, these marvelous animals are strangers among us, and understanding them isn't easy. How much human love is too much for an elephant? That's the question Lisa Leeman's One Lucky Elephant attempts to answer, without sentimentality but with the right amount of compassion. »
TNT and TBS, which staged their Upfront presentation today in New York, are making bold moves to bolster their remarkably strong foundations in original programming. The networks are developing extensive new lineups of scripted and unscripted series and making a new push into half-hour comedy in partnership with some of the top talents in the industry, from award-winning actors to acclaimed producers, writers and best-selling authors.
This year marks the beginning of production of the final season of the blockbuster hit The Closer, starring Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick. TNT confirmed today that it has ordered a 10-episode season of Major Crimes, a series set in the Los Angeles Police Department that promises to become television's next great crime drama. The seventh and final season of The Closer will include 15 episodes in 2011 and six in summer 2012, leading into the launch of Major Crimes, starring Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica). McDonnell has been »
The 8th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is all set to run for ten days this Feb. 11-20 in Missoula, Montana. This year, the fest will have a whopping 140 film programs, a growth that necessitates an expansion from its regular home at the Historic Wilma Theatre — where it will occupy two screens — to also feature screenings at the former Pipestone Mountaineering store.
Special events at the fest include a free opening night screening of How to Die in Oregon sponsored by HBO Documentary Films. The film, directed by Peter D. Richardson, examines the impact the legalization of physician-assisted suicide has had on the state. (In 1994, Oregon was the first state to legalize the practice.)
Also, indie rock band Yo La Tengo will perform their acclaimed live score of the films of pioneering French underwater documentary film director Jean Painlevé, something they have done for other film festivals all over the world. »
- Mike Everleth
10 items from 2011
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