Archive for February, 2010

Here And Now – Magnificient Tati

February 11, 2010

Director Michael House just forwarded us an interview he did with NPR today for his film Magnificient Tati, which screens as part of our Sunday Masters Series. Other directors represented in the series are Eric Rohmer and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Great news about that New Yorker Films catalogue

February 9, 2010

“Nearly a year after closing its doors, New Yorker Films is back in business.

Jose Lopez, longtime VP at New Yorker Films alongside founder Dan Talbot, is the new president of the new New Yorker Films in the wake of the company’s name and library being acquired by California based Aladdin Distribution LLC. Talbot is no longer involved in the business but has given his blessing to the re-organized New Yorker and is supportive of the company’s return.

“It’s good news,” Talbot told indieWIRE today, amidst preparing to head to the Berlin International Film Festival tonight. He will remain focused on his Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.”

More from The Return of New Yorker Films – indieWIRE.

When It Was Blue: filmmaking beyond the narrative

February 9, 2010

I didn’t attend the University of Colorado because Stan Brakhage taught there. I didn’t know who he was when I landed on campus in the fall of 2000. I soon learned he was the wizened patriarch of the film program at CU. Brakhage would shuffle into screenings unannounced and a stirring of awe would sweep through the theater.

Brakhage was more than the force behind the film program at CU, he was also the most renowned experimental filmmaker of the last half of the 20th Century (superlatives don’t scare me). However, being the most renowned experimental filmmaker of the last half of the 20th Century may be a bit like being the most renowned offensive linemen in the history of professional football. Mmmm.

Thus, I have a healthy respect for experimental film earned through hours of screening the work of Brakhage, Phil Solomon (a Brakhage protégé and one of my teachers), Michael Snow, Kenneth Anger, and the legend of experimental film, Maya Deren. I fell in love with Tarkovsky (literally) while watching Nostalghia with the sound turned off and I’ll willingly argue for hours about the dead donkeys of Un Chien Andalou.

What are my feelings about experimental film? Misnomer: yep. Non-narrative: no problem. Oblique: sure. Impressionistic: at times. Cryptic: whatever. Purposeful: not necessarily. Serendipitous: when it’s done well.

When It Was Blue, Jennifer Reeves’s eerie film that screens Wednesday, Feb 10 at the NWFF is experimental film, but don’t let that stop you from checking it out. Open your head.

When It Was Blue was shot in 16 mm over many years in a number of locations around the world. Reeves uses painted celluloid  and double projection to create a journey into Freud’s version of the uncanny: our world ripped up and taped together with a splash of added color until it becomes unfamiliar, yet somehow familiar.

Reeves’s film works as a mournful love poem to the earth, a nostalgic elegy for one not quite dead. It also reminds that humans are part of this world no matter how well we manipulate its resources. We may pave land, explore the oceans, build cities, and fly through the air; but we are once and always of this sphere while in this physical plane. So are the buildings, the ships, and the artificial sweeteners.

That’s not to say this is everything When It Was Blue is about. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about experimental film in general and When It Was Blue in particular is the ability to be esoteric and universal. There is no definitive meaning, no single experience for each viewer. The film’s symbols and referents become un-tethered, yet remain tethered. Reality is reordered over and over until new meanings bubble up with each repeated screening.

When It Was Blue compels you to consider everything film might be capable of beyond the narrative. The use of B/W early on that segues into the judicious use of primary colors that skew decidedly cool feels purposeful, if discomforting, amid the chaos. The cool primary colors are eventually joined by secondary greens and oranges, warmer colors that give you an uncertain ease. The images are fleeting, the camera unsteady, some frames speed by over the top of others left static. The result is often destabilizing visually, physically, and intellectually. Then there is the sound, the relentless layers of earthly and un-earthly noises covered at times lovingly and at times discordantly by Skúli Sverrisson’s haunting score.

In fact, calling When It Was Blue an experimental film is insufficient. It’s more like postmodern cave painting that comes together as a subtle but terrifying nightmare. Reeves creates an uncanny apocalyptic vision that gives no quarter and requires the viewer to come to it wearing a gauzy nightgown willing to consummate the affair.

I may chafe at such simplistic language as “experimental” to describe a genre as diverse and complicated as the genre we label experimental film. However, that’s what we’ve all agreed to call films like When It Was Blue even if that makes as much sense as calling a chair a chair (say it over and over when you’re high and the word will soon mean nothing at all). We do it as a linguistic convenience much to the disservice of filmmakers like Jennifer Reeves (and Stan). When It Was Blue is only experimental in the sense that it plays by its own rules and may not care who joins the game.

Though not all experimental film is done well (and most is not), when things are firing on cylinders, like they are with When It Was Blue, approaching the cinematic sublime suddenly becomes an earthly possibility.

Canoe Way: The Sacred Journey

February 8, 2010

Puyallup Canoe Family

Screening February 20, 2010 @ 5:00 pm Northwest Film Forum (Director and some Puyallup Canoe Family participants in attendance)

Each summer, tribes and First Nations from Oregon, Washington, Canada and Alaska, follow their ancestral pathways – traveling hundreds of miles through the waters of Puget Sound, Inside Passage and the Northwest Coast during the event known as Tribal Journeys. Families and youth reconnect with the past and with each other. Ancient songs, dances, regalia, ceremonies, and language that were almost lost, are coming back.

Witness the contemporary resurgence of the cedar canoe societies and how it has opened a spiritual path of healing through tradition for Coast Salish Native Americans. This inspiring 54-minute documentary contains interviews with elders and youth, songs and dances from tribal canoe families, and powerful canoe ceremonies.

Indigenous Showcase

Northwest Film Forum partners with Longhouse Media and National Geographic All Roads Film Project to present a monthly series showcasing emerging talents in indigenous communities. This exciting program exemplifies how Native American and indigenous filmmakers are at the forefront of the industry, successfully establishing a dialogue and creating images that are challenging and changing long established cultural attitudes towards indigenous culture. For more film information and show-times, please check http://www.nwfilmforum.org

An update from team “Little Blue Pill”

February 8, 2010

This just in from director Aaron Godfred, of the new Northwest-shot movie Little Blue Pill:

Greetings from Team Little Blue Pill. As we near the end of post-production with the Foley, effects and audio mix remaining, we reflect on the journey. It’s been a long road since principal photography in Renton and Portland this summer but it was worth it. We’re really happy with the final product and know we’ve got a big laugher on our hands. How could it not be? It’s about a guy who takes two of… you guessed it… an Erectile Dysfunction pill.

We had an absolute blast shooting in the Northwest. Everyone is so amazingly friendly and encouraging to filmmakers. From the UW fraternity that housed crew and let them use their gym, to the Mercer Island neighbors who didn’t complain when 12 people crashed in a vacant house and then threw an impromptu after-wrap-party, and everyone else, we salute you! Thanks to the City of Portland for letting us run wild in the streets with a camera and a permit. Who would have thought that Renton would house one of the most advanced surgical training facilities in the world which doubles as a bad-ass pharmaceutical laboratory? Thanks to Full Sail for the beer sponsorship, which was enjoyed by all and to the very last drop.

Lastly, We’d like to say a word to our local cast and background actors. The movie wouldn’t be what it is without your hard work and dedication. We’ve gotten so many comments on the talented Northwest actors. Also, without you we wouldn’t have gang of diapered E.D. pill test subjects, sexy receptionists, doctors and burly orderlies.

Even though we’re back here in Los Angeles, our heart is still in our green neighbors to the North. Because of the winter storms down here expect a hundred thousand or so Californians to move to Seattle for the better weather.

Check out the production photos and stay posted on the movie and future screenings in Seattle and Portland at http://www.facebook.com/LittleBluePill

Adios,

Aaron Godfred (Director)

And here’s a little more about the production from a press release I got a few days ago:

Montauk Project Films Announces Debut Feature: LITTLE BLUE PILL

“Little Pill, Big Problem.”

Contact: Terme Hayempour, pr@montaukprojectfilms.com

Los Angeles, Calif. (Feb. 2, 2010) – Montauk Project Films announces debut feature length film, LITTLE BLUE PILL: a comedy about an unlucky hipster who accidentally takes two Erectile Dysfunction pills and goes on a day of misadventures.

The Erectile Dysfunction and male enhancement industries are overripe for satire and parody. Drugs designed to help people with Erectile Dysfunction are the butt of many jokes, and have become a huge part of our popular culture, yet no one has produced a film about this hilarious and explosive subject. Until now…

The movie was written and directed by Aaron Godfred and produced by Dave Szamet, Aaron Godfred and Montauk Project Films. Little Blue Pill stars up-and-coming comedic actors: Aaron Kuban, Adam Carr, Rosie Tisch, Gerold Wunstel and Jonathan Ahdout.

Little Blue Pill was shot in July of 2009 in Portland, Oregon and Renton, Washington. The story is set in Portland and filmed at many iconic and infamous locations such as the Pittock Mansion, Burnside St., Voodoo Doughnuts, Wapato County Jail, the Northwest 23rd District, the Pearl District, Downtown, an I-5 rest stop, The Rheinlander, and more.

Many of the filmmakers were friends and fraternity brothers while at Linfield College in McMinnville. “It was amazing to come back to the Northwest and work with a big group of old friends. It also helped in getting locations, cars, actors and heaps of volunteers for the party scene. Portland has an incredible visual aesthetic to it. The river, buildings, parks, local businesses and people are all characters,” says Aaron Godfred.

“From my first interactions with Film Oregon and the City of Portland, I discovered that filming in Portland was unlike filming in any other city. Portland officials strive to help filmmakers achieve their visions, while helping them navigate through the red tape that often makes it so arduous to film in cities like Los Angeles,” exclaimed Dave Szamet.

One week of shooting took place inside NW B.E.S.T.’s state of the art surgical training facility in Renton, Washington. The high-tech facility served as the headquarters for the fictional pharmaceutical manufacturer. Much of the crew was housed at a University of Washington fraternity.

This film is in the vein of male skewed comedies such as Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, The Hangover, Superbad and The Big Lebowski, with satirical elements and parody reminiscent of Thank You For Smoking. Little Blue Pill has a hard rocking soundtrack from many up-and-coming hip-hop and rock and roll artists.

The movie is picture-locked, color corrected, and is currently in final audio mixing.

About Montauk Project Films

Montauk Project Films was founded in 2008 by filmmaker Aaron Godfred. Godfred, a former assistant at the Endeavor agency, brings over ten years of filmmaking experience to the team. His credits include work with short films, music videos and commercials, including producing OREGON’S WAR AT HOME, a documentary awarded a Northwest Regional Emmy. Aaron has an undergraduate degree in International Business from Linfield College and an MBA from the University of Oregon.

Other producers include Dave Szamet, a solo producer on BEYOND BORDERS: THE DEBATE OVER HUMAN MIGRATION, a feature documentary that screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, and several other film festivals. Dave is currently pursuing a Masters degree in producing from the American Film Institute.

Writer/Director – Aaron Godfred
Producers – Dave Szamet, Aaron Godfred, Alex Ginno
Lead Actors – Aaron Kuban, Adam Carr, Rosie Tisch, Gerold Wunstel, Trevor Coppola, Jonathan Ahdout
Production Company – Montauk Project Films

(more…)

Rotterdam Standouts

February 6, 2010

All told i saw 32 films (not including shorts) this week at Rotterdam, but only a few stood out. Like any festival it could often be the result of your only selection process and considering the 21 screens screenings films in Rotterdam, that might very well be the case for me. Nevertheless here’s a brief list of some titles I caught at the festival that I hope will make their way to Seattle.

Ruhr- James Bennings’ first foray into video is nothing short of genius.  Ruhr finds the master of the one shot pulling out all the stops,my personal favorite is the final nearly 30 minute image, a study in light as the sun sets over a coke factory, steam emits from above a smoke stack holding the eyes attention on the horizon. Small birds pass through the frame as the suns rays and their location in the sky change the color scheme. No other film displays the sun light’s magnificent work on our senses better than this.

Chaque jour est une fête – Lebanon has certainly shown us its cinematic strength in the last few years and Dima El-Horr’s Chaque jour est une fête is no exception. An evocative dream-like piece the film follows three women is riding in the same bus through Lebanon for a day’s journey towards the same destination: the men’s prison. A journey of a woman’s body through the desert, El-Horr masterfully choreographs our gaze through a landscape that is both absurd and beautiful.

Two in The Wave – Although occasionally too broad, this look back the friendship and falling out of two of cinema’s masters Godard and Truffaut is a wonderful trip through one of cinema’s most vibrant eras. Punctuated periodically by the presence of French actress Islid Lebresco who sifts through images, articles, and letters, Emmanuel Laurent’s film is far from definitive, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Inferno – Another look back at cinema’s past, Serge Bromberg uncovers a splendid treasure of outtakes from Henri-Georges Cluzot’s uncompleted feature. Easily some of the sexiest images ever taking of the luscious Romy Schneider, the film is worth viewing for that alone. As a cautionary tale of what happens when a director has too much control and too much money to burn, Inferno should be viewed by everyone in Hollywood. Bromberg’s only misstep was casting contemporary actors to perform much of the un-shot sequences dialogue, a device that added nothing to this otherwise wonderful work.

El Camino Entre Dos Puntos – Video artist Sebastian Diaz Morales makes his feature bow with this nearly wordless investigation into Patagonia’s tainted nature. Following a ruggedly handsome Jose Soraide from the city into the desert, Diaz Morales’ film gives us a portrait of isolation in images that will surely haunt my dreams for weeks to come.

Hiroshima – Not as good as the others, but worth mentioning is Pablo Stoll’s fist solo work, an absurdist traverse of the mundane day of a slacker. The film features one of the best soundtracks of the year.

Now onto Berlin whose Forum line-up looks outstanding. More from the road soon.

Additional screening added for “Women of Dirt” tonight

February 5, 2010

Tonight’s screening of Awesome Land: Women of Dirt is completely sold out for the 8pm show.

BUT…we’ve added an additional show at 9:30pm! Tickets will only be available at the door beginning at 9pm.

Tonight’s Seattle premiere will be a party, complete with prizes, special guests and more. See you there!


AWESOME LAND: WOMEN OF DIRT
February 5-11
Featuring the bicycle stylings of Tammy Donahugh, Stephanie Nychka, Cierra Smith, Emily Johnston, Lisa Myklak, Jill Kintner, Leana Gerrard, Dawn Cashen, Katrina Strand, Kathy Pruitt, and Darcy Turenne, Awesome Land: Women Of Dirt is a unique look into the world of Downhill Racing, Dirt Jumping and Freeriding. This film looks through the eyes of the wondrous women that have helped grow the sport of Gravity Mountain Biking with their strength and courage. Other mountain bike films have overlooked these vibrant and dedicated women but no longer! Awesome Land: Women Of Dirt celebrates the mountain bike while celebrating the women who love them. A beautiful and energetic film that opens a window into an awesome world.

http://www.nwfilmforum.org/live/page/calendar/1177

Kino Climates

February 4, 2010

One section of the IFFR this year, Kino Climates, provided space for dialogue amongst small venues throughout Europe, something like a mini-winter camp for these passionate exhibitors who champion the experimental, avant-garde, and independent cinema from their region and throughout the globe. Akin to the Arthouse Convergence at Sundance, this program was specifically designed to bring  contact with like minded venues that shared a vision of what cinema could be and the type of spaces it could be exhibited in. These venues are not too disimilar to our own Grand Illusion or Northwest Film Forum, often run by dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers whose passion provide the soul and back bone for their organizations. I spent a few days with one of those curators, Carolina Lopez of Xcentric:Cinema, who not only curates a program but also releases dvds and newprints of Spanish experimental cinema. One of her programs is currently touring the US and after some conversation, will hopefully make a stop in our cinema this summer. These kinds of partnerships are just some of the spoils of a trip to Rotterdam, meeting like minded film curators, filmmakers, and festival producers who want to collaborate and connect with audiences across the globe.

Award winning film editor killed by a getaway car in a freak accident

February 2, 2010

NEW YORK – An award-winning film editor who worked on many of Errol Morris’ documentaries, including “The Fog of War,” was struck and killed by a getaway car speeding from a Manhattan drugstore robbery, police and her mother said on Saturday.

Karen Schmeer was crossing Broadway at West 90th Street on the Upper West Side on Friday when she was struck by a car driven by two suspects in the theft of over-the-counter medication from a CVS drugstore a few blocks away, police said.

Full story here.

The Dutch Do It Right

February 2, 2010

Greetings from Rotterdam where I’m attending the 2010 installment of Europe’s (if not the world) boldest festival. International Film Festival Rotterdam (IRRF) gives the world’s curators something to aspire to, and the 2010 edition is no exception. 

This year festival organizers dared their audience to not attend screenings by tempting them into their  festival  commercial venue, Break Even Store, a rented storefront just beneath De Dolen, the festival’s industry headquarters.  Inside of this 20 ft x 20ft market place one finds a daily schedule of free screenings, lectures and performances, as well as the finest cinema bookstore Rotterdam has to offer. Included on its shelves are recent musings in the form of literature written by academics, critics, and cinephiles from across the globe plus a cornicopia of experimntal and hard to find dvd from Raro Video (Italy) Index (Austria), Lux ( UK), Re:Voir (Paris), Raum fur Projektion, Lowave, Wolphin, Reel 23, Other Cinema, Cinemtek (Belgium), Edition Filmmuseum, La petite collection, and others.

Don’t be fooled though, the twenty-one screens here at Rotterdam find themslelves illuminated from 9AM until midnight by a fine crop of recent offerings from the world’s emerging talent and often peppered with some this year’s discoveries from the vaults of national cinemateques. 

The conversation commences moments before and after entry to screenings, while waiting in line for the ten computer terminals, or nightly at the festivals cocktail hour where indutry guests and filmmakers recount the days spoils.

Periodically I’ll report back on screenings, discussions and festival gossip. For instance right now I’m crowded by several cinema journalists who are streaming the Oscar nominations live, commenting after each name announced. The festival is a fine confluence of both high art and high commerce. Yes this is paradise for the film programmer and I’m on a mission.


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