Archive for June 24th, 2010

Local production “Grassroots” announces casting of Jason Biggs

June 24, 2010

This just in from producer Peggy Case, formerly of Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle fame…

GRASSROOTS – CAST ANNOUNCED FOR QUIRKY GYLLENHAAL COMEDY
A short-tempered, unemployed music critic who likes to dress as a polar bear thinks he can harness the power of the people to ride the monorail to political victory in Seattle. And he’s right. Almost…
SEATTLE – Stephen Gyllenhaal co-writes and will direct GRASSROOTS, produced by Oscar-winner Peggy Rajski, based on the memoir “Zioncheck for President” by former “Stranger” writer Phil Campbell.

Stage and screen veteran Jason Biggs (AMERICAN PIE, MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL) has signed to star as Campbell, a recently fired journalist who reluctantly agrees to spearhead the Seattle City Council campaign of his eccentric friend Grant Cogswell. Rapidly rising star Joel David Moore (AVATAR, MEDIUM, BONES, HOUSE) co-stars as Cogswell, a former pedicab driver with a burning passion for the Monorail.

Can two completely broke political newbies with no campaign contributors, a collection of homemade yard signs, and a ragtag crew of unruly young supporters unseat their powerful opponent?  Well, maybe…

Writer-director Stephen Gyllenhaal adapts this true story into a touching, hilarious portrait of the Emerald City and its unique political landscape.

“I can hardly wait to bring it to the screen,” says Gyllenhaal. “I am so thrilled with the chemistry the actors have together.”

“I think we have the perfect cast for this unique comedy,” adds Rajski, ” it’s half buddy movie and half political knucklebiter, and it’s all about having the guts to stand up for what you believe in.”

GRASSROOTS begins shooting next week in Seattle.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS:
Award-winning director Stephen Gyllenhaal’s productions include LOSING ISAIAH with Jessica Lange and Halle Berry; DANGEROUS WOMAN with Debra Winger and David Strathairn; WATERLAND with Jeremy Irons; PARIS TROUT with Ed Harris and Dennis Hopper; and KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN with Barbara Hershey. He also co-wrote and directed HOMEGROWN with Billie Bob Thornton, Hank Azaria, Jamie Lee Curtis and John Lithgow.

Rajski’s producing credits include TOWELHEAD, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, LITTLE MAN TATE, THE GRIFTERS, MATEWAN, EIGHT MEN OUT and THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET. Her collaborations with iconoclastic filmmakers like Jodie Foster, Stephen Frears, Alan Ball and John Sayles have garnered over 40 award nominations including wins at the Independent Spirit Awards and Academy Awards.

GO GET SOME ROSEMARY: The Safdie Brothers Come to Seattle

June 24, 2010

Daddy Longlegs begins with a dedication, scrawled on the screen as if it were a handwritten note left on a kitchen table:

FOR OUR FATHER, FOR FUN AS A RESPONSIBILITY,

FOR THE MIDDLE PERSPECTIVE, A LOST PAST, LIGHTS

ON DURING THE DAY TIME, LOST LOVE BUT STILL

SOMETHING THERE, EXCUSES, THE FRIDGE FULL OF GAMES,

SMALL APARTMENTS & OUR MOTHER

The effect is that of something homemade and haphazard, underscored by an opening scene that eavesdrops on a random New York deli order – “two hotdogs with mustard, onions, sauerkraut…and a large piña colada” – before introducing Lenny, stumbling over a Central Park fence like Buster Keaton straying into a Cassavetes reel, the first in a succession of minor humiliations suffered by the single father of two precocious boys, Frey and Sage. For the directors, brothers Josh and Bennie Safdie, is there a sadder instance of everyday poetry than the sight of a half-eaten hotdog strewn on a lawn, strangely worthy of your attention? (see also: their Red Bucket Films collective) And is there anything ultimately more homemade and haphazard than a family?

Known as Go Get Some Rosemary at its Cannes premiere (a directive from Lenny to his kids to buy groceries) and now as Lenny and the Kids in France (where it received critical attention in the pages of Cahiers du Cinema, along with a snapshot of Safdie père and the kids, an emotional arrow shot from the same bow as Robert Frank’s later work of visual autobiography), the film’s final incarnation as Daddy Longlegs seems fitting for its childlike perspective; it is Lenny in shorts on the racquetball court, and it seems to be the arachnid that Lenny encounters in a fever dream after the kids have left. In any case, it’s a mercurial film, including but not limited to: a grade-school teacher with an inexplicable black eye; a proposed nap on the emergency third rail; a can of coke in a Chinese restaurant, without the MSG; a rat trapped in a peanut butter jar; a squirt-gun full of pee; a singing water-skier with full band on board; and that salamander in a cereal box, just incredible…

I spoke with Bennie and Joshua Safdie at the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival, where they proved to be typically forthcoming about what motivates their tragically funny art. The interview appears in the forthcoming issue of Cinema Scope magazine, but in anticipation of their Seattle visit at Northwest Film Forum, where they will introduce their film and conduct a weekend workshop, here’s a small preview in the hope that this unconventional, boldly candid, emotionally exhausting immersion into the life of a fracture family in New York will lure you to the cinema…

Josh Safdie: “I’m an advocate of personal cinema, of personal movies. But I don’t think the goal is for anyone to go out and make a movie about their life. In the end this is a reflection of where we were are right now, where we were in the past, and it’s very much a reflection of how we were left feeling by the hectic circumstances of growing up with our father. Factually, we’re not to the point where we’re checking things off – did this or that happen – but the truth of the matter is that our father, who was the inspiration for the movie, saw it and couldn’t tell truth from fiction, he felt it was all real. The most important thing is harking on this sense of distress and confusion. We dealt with some of the trauma by romanticizing it out of proportion. The movie is torn: the child in us is screaming for love, the adult is screaming expose! expose! It’s a constant clash, and that’s the emotional aspect.”

Bennie: “It sucks to see the other side, and that’s what we’re forcing ourselves to do here. Kill your childhood memories, so you may remember them again! It’s a messed up way of going about it, but… For us it was an act of understanding our father, of understanding that someone was ultimately trying. It’s such a raw, human gesture. When someone tries very hard but fails, you feel something for them. Acceptance is where the compassion comes in. As for a lost childhood, yes, I think that too is where the compassion comes in, and it makes sense because I’ve mentally blacked out certain parts of it to forget the bad things. We wanted to re-feel certain emotions that we had lost touch with, had lost our grasp on.”


Brand New iMacs in our Edit Suite!

June 24, 2010

Thanks to a generous donation from The Schreiber Family Charitable Foundation, the Film Forum has replaced all of the aging computers in our edit room with six shiny new Apple iMacs! And just in time for our summer of youth filmmaking camps, which start June 28.

The specs of our edit suite iMacs: 21.5″ HD displays, 3.06 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo Processors, with 4Gb Ram, blue tooth keyboards and mice, running OSX Snow Leopard.

With the hardware upgrade, our edit suite is an ideal facility for both youth and adult classes (beginning and intermediate FCP, introductions to Flash, AE and Blender), and is an ideal place to work on your project, whether it’s capturing footage, making your rough cut, or doing your final color correction.

As always, NWFF’s Studio Director, Dave Hanagan, is on-hand 30 hours a week to provide expert technical assistance.

We are eager to upgrade our editing and graphics software. If you or your organization would like to make a donation of software (current versions of FCP, Adobe CS5, 3-D modeling and animation, etc), please contact Dave Hanagan at 206-329-2629 or dave at nwfilmforum.org.

Another place to submit your Local Sightings

June 24, 2010

Documentary Filmmakers Please Take Note – Storyville Vancouver Call for Submissions!

The Vancouver Film & TV Forum (British Columbia, Canada) runs from Sept. 28 – Oct. 1 plus New Filmmakers’ Day, Oct. 2. The 2010 Forum is proud to stimulate the development, co-financing and co-production of the creative documentary by creating Storyville Vancouver. an opportunity for filmmakers based in the Pacific Northwest to pitch their projects to an international forum of commissioning editors. Pre-selected creative, feature length (minimum TV hour) documentary projects, at various levels of development, from the Pacific Northwest will be publicly pitched to international commissioning editors with accredited Forum observers in attendance. Key commissioning editors from the UK, Sweden, Germany, US, Japan and Canada will be in attendance at the pitch forum. Visit http://www.viff.org/storyville for entry forms and further details.

(and don’t forget, the Local Sightings Film Festival submission deadline is July 1)

9500 Liberty: an issue doc, and also a new model in film distribution

June 24, 2010

There are lots of reasons to catch 9500 Liberty this weekend (it plays Fri-Sun at 7 and 9pm). It tackles the timely issues surrounding immigration, it educates you about the debate swirling in Virginia (which strongly foreshadowed Arizona’s recent legislation), and it’s a great movie (The Stranger calls it “Excellent…If a viewer is unaware of the year the documentary was shot, 2007 (near the twilight of Bush’s presidency), he/she will easily think it was made mere minutes ago”).

But the movie is also about the process of documentary-making in today’s fast paced media environment. As the filmmakers discuss in what quickly becomes a meta-documentary, they decided the issue was too important and their footage too contentious to save for a theatrical release, often months (if not years) after the completion of a movie. So they started to release their footage on YouTube, with some clips going viral and getting over 40,000 views in a matter of days.

The editing process became almost open-source, and their YouTube channel became a place for people to comment and watch interview footage in a “safer” environment, rather than the charged atmosphere of public hearings. They then integrated that reaction in their final cut.

It’s an interesting approach, and perhaps one we’ll see more and more often, especially with these tightly issue-focus documentaries. Come check it out, see what you think, and perhaps join the conversation on their YouTube channel afterwards.