Archive for August, 2009

TIFF Excitement From NWFF Member Glenn Fox

August 31, 2009

Today we received this very excited email from our member Glenn Fox who will be attending the Toronto International Film Festival(TIFF) this year. Glenn will be acting as a de facto Hot Splice reporter this year, with this preview and a promise of a post-festival report as well. Here’s Glenn’s Hot Splice exclusive preview:

In about a week I’ll be departing Seattle for the ten day Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).  Definitely the giant of the fall North American film festivals, TIFF stands apart and above the Telluride Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.  Telluride is short – four days of intense movie-going over Labor Day weekend with lots of celebrities and directors and famous guests on hand in the tiny resort town in the Colorado mountains.  Telluride is so exclusive they don’t announce their program until you’re already there for the festival.  The New York Film Festival is programmed by a cast of top-notch film critics, like J. Hoberman, Dennis Lim and Melissa Anderson.  They limited their picks to a very exclusive 29 movies this year.  The NYFF can be trusted for quality programming.  TIFF, which happens between Telluride and New York has 273 features and 64 shorts this year from 64 countries.  While you’re sure to see a few clunkers, the Toronto program is packed with exciting world and North American premieres, with many of the Cannes films first appearing in North America at Toronto.

Last year my three favorite films at Toronto included two films that will be playing at NWFF this fall.  Be sure to see Claire Denis’ sublime 35 Shots of Rum starting November 6 and Lisandro Alonso’s wonderfully mediative and poetic Liverpool starting November 13.  I’ve seen all of Mr. Alonso’s feature films (all making their Seattle debuts at NWFF this November), either at TIFF or the Vancouver International Film Festival and he is an incredible filmmaker – currently one of the world’s greatest.  But last year at TIFF, Liverpool just blew me away.

So last year’s TIFF was a great one.  Last year I saw these directors do a Q & A after their film at the festival:  Cliare Denis, Lisandro Alonso, Olivier Assayas, the Dardenne brothers, Terrence Davies, Amos Gitai, Ari Folman, Kelly Reichardt, Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden, Ramin Bahrani and many more.  This year could be just as rich.

Last year’s Toronto Festival also included these films that made their way to NWFF over the past year: Hunger, Medicine for Melancholy, Tony Manero, 24 City, Birdsong, Treeless Mountain, Wendy and Lucy, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, Examined Life and Goodbye, Solo.

Some of the films I’m looking forward to seeing this year:
White Material (Claire Denis)
Antichrist (Lars von Trier)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
A Prophet  (Jacques Audiard)
Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)
Like You Know It All (Hong Sang-soo)
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe)
Le Refuge (Francois Ozon)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont)
Airdoll (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine)
Wild Grass (Alain Resnais)
Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin)
Broken Embraces (Pedro Almadovar)
Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz)
Eccentriciities of a Blond Hair Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio)
Vision (Margarethe von Trotta)
Nymph (Pan-ek Ratanaruang)
Mr. Nobody (Jaco Van Dormael)

Some of the directors with new films in the avant-garde Wavelength’s program:
Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Marie Straub, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Michael Snow, Harun Farocki, Ben Russell, and Lisandro Alonso (with a new one minute short).

Toronto, of course, is also famous for their celebrity filled red carpets.  These are just some of the Hollywood-ish premieres this year at TIFF:
The Men Who Stare at Goats starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Bridges
Chloe starring Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson and directed by Atom Egoyan
The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt
A Serious Man – Joel & Ethan Coen
Up in the Air – Jason Reitman’s new film starring George Clooney
Capitalism: A Love Story – Michael Moore’s new documentary
The Informant! – Steven Soderbergh’s film starring Matt Damon
The Invention of Lying – directed by Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson and starring Gervais
Whip It – Drew Barrymore directing Ellen Page
The Road – starring ViggoMortensen in John Hillcoat’s film
Jennifer’s Body – starring Megan Fox (no relation)

Some of the artist/directors that have shows in art galleries across the city as part of the festival’s Future Projections program “moving images beyond the cinema”:  Mark Lewis, Candice Breitz, Christopher Doyle (cinematographer), Don McKellar (actor-writer-director) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Also part of the Future Projections program is Marco Brambilla’s single-channel installation Civilization which will be projected in a loop whenever it’s dark onto the side of the Toronto Film Festival’s still being completed, but soon to be new home, Bell Lightbox.  You can watch Civilization here

All in all, TIFF should be a great way to kick off the fall movie season.  Reports (or least one report) to follow.

Seattle Magazine features Bao Tran

August 28, 2009

Here’s a nice profile, well-timed as a lead up to the 12th Annual Local Sightings Film Festival (October 3-8), since Bao had an awesome short in last year’s fest, Bookie.

Fall Arts Spotlight: Filmmaker Bao Tran

By Brangien Davis

Filmmaker Bao Tran busts stereotypes on screen

In case you just emerged from 12 months of living “off the grid,” we’re sorry to be the first to tell you: It’s been a rough year for the arts. (Also: Michael Jackson is dead. Seriously!) Not surprisingly, when the economy takes a dive, so do theater and arts attendance numbers. But it’s not all bad news (don’t go running back to your yurt just yet). Our city remains rich in exciting arts offerings for the fall and beyond. We’ve collected our favorites here—as well as those of a few local arts leaders—and grouped them by personality (in the Fall Arts Calendar) so you can take in the arts according to your ever-changing moods. We’re also thrilled to present our 3rd annual Spotlight Award winners—five up-and-coming, peer-recommended local artists whose work we had the true pleasure of experiencing in the last year, and who we believe are on the brink of tremendous achievements. That should be plenty to keep you out of the woods and into the arts.

Read the whole thing here.

An Interview With Ink Director Jamin Winans

August 28, 2009

Came across this interview with the director of INK which we screen tomorrow and Sunday. The film is something like DONNIE DARKO dipped into a corporate greed blender. A great genre film that we hope you’ll enjoy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Interview with ‘Ink’ Filmmaker Jamin Winans

Jamin Winans has just completed his second feature film, Ink, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Action Thriller about the people who come out at night and give us dreams and nightmares. It is the allegorical story of good and evil and those trapped in between. No matter how safe you feel, evil may find you. But no matter how far you’ve fallen, redemption is possible. (To really understand what this all means, the Must See Movie Trailer is Below)

Filmmaker Jamin Winans on the set of Ink

Tell us one thing about yourself that no one really knows?

I really wanted to be a ventriloquist for most of my childhood, but I found filmmaking was a lot more versatile. No joke, I collected 5 or 6 very sophisticated ventriloquist dolls and got pretty good at it. Retired around 10 or 11 years old…okay, it was last week.

Are there any books you consider invaluable to your process as a writer and director?

Reading books and interviews of other filmmakers in general has been really helpful psychologically. They remind you that everyone struggles and that you’re not alone. My all time favorite is of course Rebel Without A Crew by Robert Rodriguez. It’s just a reminder that anything’s possible.

What area of filmmaking do you feel filmmakers often overlook? Something that comes back to bite you in the ass if you aren’t careful?

From a technical standpoint, sound is often overlooked, but yet extremely important. I would argue that good sound is almost more important than a good picture. For some reason we’re a lot more annoyed when something isn’t audibly clear or strong. Yet new filmmakers almost always underestimate this.

But from a thematic standpoint, story is really overlooked. A film can be phenomenal from a technical standpoint, but if the story just isn’t strong, it’s all for nothing.

There is the creative side of film and there is the business side of film. From developing the idea, to final cut of the film, to getting people to be interested in your project and having them pay to see it, which has been the toughest phase for you?

Sadly, it’s all very hard. I think production itself is probably the hardest on me because of the ticking clock and overwhelming pressure. There’s a constant sense that any one mistake will ruin your film, which is sometimes true. Once the film is in the can, it’s definitely easier to relax, but I can’t say I never feel a real sense of contentment.

Often times in the independent movie world, we see a filmmaker make his first feature film, then we never hear from him again. What is your reaction to that?

More power to them. Filmmaking is a horrible endevour with varying degrees of pain and humiliation. The glamorous perception of filmmaking is nothing like reality, especially indie filmmaking. It requires unreal perseverance and huge sacrifices. I think a lot of filmmakers just realize they would rather actually live life than go through that process again. If I didn’t feel so compelled to keep going no matter what the cost, I would easily walk away and do something else.

Congratulations on completing your second feature film. What were some of the lessons you learned in making your first feature film that you carried over into the making of your second feature?

Thanks! I’m sure there were a lot of bits of wisdom I took from the 11:59 (my first feature) filmmaking process, but the most I learned was in the distribution process. Going through distribution, you realize how shady the industry really is. There’s countless bloodsuckers out there just waiting to take advantage of new filmmakers who are desperate for distribution. There are producer reps who will take advantage of you and there are distributors who will never pay you. I’ve found that shady distributors are almost the norm. Filmmakers have to talk to each other and check references on anyone they deal with. That’s the only way to avoid being screwed no matter how big and successful the film.

The-Storytellers – Eme-Ikwuakor, Jeremy Make, Jennifer Batter, and Shelby Malone

Taking a moment to reflect on both of your professional features, which of the two was harder to make, the first or the second? Why?

Ink, the second film, was definitely the hardest. We shot 11:59 in about 30-35 days, but Ink was 83 days. My feeling going in was that it would be so nice to have all that extra time to really shoot what I wanted, but it turns out Ink was so logistically complicated, it still didn’t feel like enough time. And shooting that long with such a small budget becomes a test of sheer will to just keep going. I was dying after day three and I realized I still had 3 months to go. Some of the crew started falling apart and people were getting pissed. It was hard physically, mentally, but most of all emotionally.

Was it easier to raise money for “Ink” with your proven track record of quality films and a successful feature already in the books?

It was easier. 11:59 helped a lot, and to my surprise our short, Spin helped a lot as well. We met a lot of people and made a lot of good friends on the path of those two films. A few of those people really supported us on Ink from the get go. It was still a task, but we weren’t looking for too much money, which certainly makes it easier.

How did you go about financing Ink?

We wrote a business plan and really thought through the film’s marketable attributes. We talked to our friends and contacts we had made from the other films and about half a year later, we had enough money to go.

The most important thing we did was set a date and commit to shooting the film no matter what. If we couldn’t get any money, we would shoot the film with a camera, no lighting and no crew. As it turned out, we did get a little money, and that just made the film a little easier. But committing to do it no matter was the key. When people know something is going to happen with or without their help, they’re more confident about getting involved.

Quinn Hunchar as Emma, Jessica Duffy as Liev, and Ink-travel to The Collector

With “11:59” you said it was tough on you because it didn’t fit into one genre. It had a bit of everything. Looks like “Ink” is a clear cut Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller. Was this a conscious decision?

Ink is actually a hybrid of genres too, but it’s a lot more marketable than 11:59. It has a lot of action and suspense, but there’s also a deeper dramatic story at the root.

Ink was already in the works before 11:59 was out, so it didn’t really influence the decisions I made regarding story and genre. Regardless, I’m happy it is what it is because it’s already been an easier path than 11:59 on the festival and distribution route.

How long did you work on the script to Ink? What was the process like? What was the germinating seed? What was it about this story that drove you to make this film?

The story of Ink was in my head for years. It was all based on a creature I was convinced I saw in my bedroom when I was about four years old. After completing 11:59 I knew I wanted to tackle a more extravagant fantasy film, but I wanted to approach it in a grittier and more authentic manner than anything I had seen in regards to fantasy/sci-fi. I started with the memory of the creature in my bedroom and branched off into an idea of people who give us dreams and nightmares while we sleep. Thematically I was really interested in the idea of redemption and that became the core in which the story was built around.

I outlined the story heavily over the course of about a year. Ink has a very complicated structure and an unformulated build, which is always risky. So during the outlining and early drafts I focused more on structure than anything else. I probably went through six or seven drafts of the script before I really had the characters fleshed out. My wife and producer, Kiowa Winans and the lead actor, Chris Kelly, were really helpful with feedback and suggestions as I moved through the drafts.

Not only did you Write and Direct Ink, you also serve as Composer and Editor. Which of these is the most fun for you? Which is the toughest?

I would say both are the most enjoyable parts of the filmmaking process. Editing is really rewarding because you’re seeing the story and all the hard work coming together. Composing is probably the most fun because it’s something I don’t take very seriously. I never set out to be a composer and I’ve accepted I’m sort of a hack, so I haven’t ruined the process by trying to be perfect at it.

“The-Incubi” from Jamin Winan’s Ink

What was the most challenging thing you had to face with this project?

The fear that I was somehow making something totally ridiculous and didn’t know it. It wasn’t until the last leg of the edit that I felt entirely confident with what we had created. We took a lot of risks and when you do that, you can bomb really hard.

What did you love most about being involved with this production?

It was a real team effort with my wife. We struggled a lot, but we struggled together which turned out to be a great thing.

You have released a kick ass HD Trailer for Ink, but what we really want to know, is the full length film better than the trailer?

I appreciate you saying so. It’s tough to compare a trailer to a film. One is an advertisement and one is a story. So the question really is, “Does the trailer represent the film accurately?” I would say it’s about 80 percent accurate. The feedback I’ve heard on the trailer is that it’s reading more horror/scary than I would like. The film does have it’s very dark elements, but it’s a dark modern fantasy, not a horror movie.

Personally, the film plays a lot stronger for me than the trailer because it’s much more complex, emotional, and rich. The trailer shows just a fraction of what the story actually is. But it will be up to the viewer to decide.

What are you hoping audiences take away from this film?

I hope they walk away thinking about the power of humility.

What are your goals for Ink?

I would love to make our investors money back and I would love for the right people to see the film. Beyond that, I’m happy with anything.

Will you share this film with your Mom?

Absolutely. There’s a lot of bad language in the film, but she forgives me for that.

What does this film have that you will not find in a big Studio release?

A story you won’t be able to predict the ending to in the first 20 minutes.

What makes this a ‘must see’ movie?

It’s totally unique, it’s moving, and it offers perspective on your dreams and the possibility of unseen influences in our lives. Well, that and there’s some guy with a huge nose running up an invisible staircase.

Two “excellent” docs, taken from the headlines

August 28, 2009

The Seattle Times on locally made Arid Lands:

“A clear-thinking portrait of our state…makes excellent viewing for any Washingtonian seeking to further understand the complexities of the region once considered a nuclear wasteland.”

And here’s a few reasons to check out Burma VJ:

“An excellent portrayal of recent events told in a unique way, through uncommon means. Burma VJ sheds light on the history of people who are displeased yet too scared to speak out.” –NW Asian Weekly

“This screening of Burma VJ could not come at a more crucial time. With elections coming up next year we can expect more demonstrations such as the Saffron Revolution to take root once again” –International Examiner

“SW Pick: Burma VJ takes us on a roller coaster of alternating hope and despair as the young guerrilla reporters, always on the lookout for ubiquitous informers, wade into the thick of the struggle with Handycams hidden in bags…” –Seattle Weekly

LACMA Film Program Saved by Foreign Press

August 26, 2009

Good news for our friend Ian Bernie down in LA, Anne Thomson reports that LACMA’s film program has been saved by $150,000 in support from the Hollywood Foreign press Association (they put on the Golden Globes) and Time Warner Cable.

Some lovely Bike-In photos posted

August 26, 2009

There’s more at www.iamnotafashionphotographer.com, courtesy of David Gallo.

A Remix of The Remix

August 26, 2009

Last month we had Joe Milutis here for a remixing of the moonlanding for the 40th anniversary. Today Joe sent me a remix of the remix for those of you who missed it.Hope you enjoy!

Ted Kennedy Tribute

August 25, 2009

I was saddened to hear of Senator Kennedy’s passing today and was reminded of the Ken Burns tribute that screened at the DNC convention nearly one year ago. As a fitting tribute I’m posting it here.

Melvin Van Peebles an astronomer? Hell Yeah!

August 25, 2009

A supremely interesting interview with Melvin Van Peebles revealing all sorts of crazy history about the man here

Saturday Night Fiebre

August 25, 2009

If you go see one dark, violent, movie-referencing cinematic period piece about power and male identity this week, don’t make it Inglourious Basterds (that can wait). See director Pablo Larrain’s new film Tony Manero.

Much has been said about how Tony Manero uses its setting, Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship in 1978, as a backdrop to explore power, impotence and frustration, but I was struck simply by how well the film echoed the 1977 movie that so obsesses its main character, Raul. In many ways, Tony Manero is an amplified Chilean remake of Saturday Night Fever, with darker darks that make the lighter moments appear more bright and funny in juxtaposition.

And indeed, there are funny parts in Tony Manero.  Earnest disco dancing is funny, when viewed thirty years later.  But I think it is easy to forget that Saturday Night Fever was neither a comedy nor a musical.  It was not the Rocky of dance movies (though at one point it was helmed by Rocky director John Avidsen).

Saturday Night Fever has very dark moments, makes audiences uncomfortable, often treats its female stars with shocking cruelty (if I remember correctly there are two rape scenes), and is based on an article about real young men in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who have dead-end lives but find respect in the dance hall on Saturday nights. Actress Karen Lynn Gorney even described it as “more of a documentary” in the article “Fever Pitch” by Sam Kashner (published in Vanity Fair).  The iconic dance scenes are what many people remember, but Saturday Night Fever is no Grease; it is a complex movie that many disenfranchised men, such as Tony Manero’s Raul, could understandably relate to. (And indeed they did—the film grossed $285 million and sparked a pop culture phenomenon around the world.)

So, I encourage you to see Tony Manero, not just as an exciting and interesting new work of cinema from Chile, but as a thought-provoking spin on an American classic; a Chilean interpretation of Saturday Night Fever.