BECOMING ASTRID Opens in Los Angeles and New York

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Music Box Film’s Becoming Astrid, directed by acclaimed Danish filmmaker Pernille Fischer Christensen and inspired by events in Swedish author and literary icon (Pippi Longstocking) Astrid Lindgren’s formative years, is an engaging, heartfelt story of a teenaged Astrid Lindgren, played by Alba August in a breakthrough performance that delvers an emotionally riveting sojourn of the young writer’s early religious upbringing and her advent in becoming a storyteller of mythical proportions.

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 11.45.56 AM

After young Astrid accepts an internship at a local newspaper, she catches the eye of the married editor, Mr. Blomberg, portrayed by Henrik Rafaelsen, and soon becomes pregnant. Forced to leave her childhood home for Copenhagen to avoid the public outcry that could potentially remove her family from their stewardship of church land and to secretly give birth to a bastard child, Astrid perseveres learning difficult life lessons, eventually settling in Stockholm when her parents refuse her with her new son, Lars (Lasse). Reluctantly, Astrid leaves Lasse with a foster mother, Marie, portrayed by Trine Dyrholm, during her exiled time in Stockholm. Saving her money from a paltry secretary’s salary, Astrid visits young Lasse when she can. After Marie falls ill, Astrid uses her imagination and flair for storytelling to reconnect with her child. In spite of her struggles, Astrid emerges with a newfound courage that will form the foundation of a vast and beloved body of literary work.


While Astrid Lindgren is mostly remembered for her Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series, her titles have been translated into 85 languages and published in over 100 countries. Selling approximately 165 million books worldwide, much of her writing was based on her childhood memories growing up in a small Swedish village. Outspoken on topics as diverse as the Vietnam War, children refugees, nuclear power, and urban planning, she always had children and their future at the center of her concerns. In 1958, Lindgren received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the top international award in children’s literature.

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 11.44.30 AM

Becoming Astrid is an excellent film technically as well as aesthetically. The version I viewed was in Swedish and Danish with English subtitles and came in with a run time of a smooth 123 minutes. In addition, the film contained well-rounded cinematography, seamless continuity editing, a strong narrative structure, stellar acting performances, a beautiful mise-en-scene, and an uplifting and complementary, non-diagetic, musical score. Becoming Astrid recently won the Audience Award for Best Foreign-Language Feature in October at the recent Chicago International Film Festival and is a highly recommended film!

Becoming Astrid opened November 23rd at the Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in Los Angeles and in New York at the Film Forum and will soon be followed by a national rollout.


AFI FEST 2018 Announces Additional Conversations

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI announced today additional Conversations that will take place at AFI FEST 2018 presented by Audi.

The lineup includes Conversations with director Rob Marshall about his celebrated career, which will include an exclusive preview of a musical number from MARY POPPINS RETURNS; the cast and filmmakers of CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?; television creator Chuck Lorre; as well as a roundtable of documentary filmmakers presented by the Los Angeles Times; The Hollywood Reporter’s Indie Contenders Roundtable moderated by Scott Feinberg; a panel with four directors with films in this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar® race; a panel with female film critics; and a presentation by director Nina Menkes on female representation in cinema. These new events events join previously announced conversations with Nicole Kidman and Natalie Portman.


Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang will moderate a panel of distinguished directors from this year’s most talked-about and acclaimed documentaries including Alexis Bloom (DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES), Talal Derki (OF FATHERS AND SONS), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (FREE SOLO), Morgan Neville (WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?), RaMell Ross (HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING), Jed Rothstein (ENEMIES: THE PRESIDENT, JUSTICE & THE FBI), Sandi Tan (SHIRKERS), Rudy Valdez (THE SENTENCE) and Betsy West (RBG). 


Hear from a diverse panel of artists who have done standout work in independent film this year. Presented by The Hollywood Reporter and moderated by columnist and blogger Scott Feinberg, the panel will feature a discussion with the artists about their careers and influences, as well as the challenges and rewards of working on indies. Panelists include Willem Dafoe (AT ETERNITY’S GATE), Richard E. Grant (CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?), Kathryn Hahn (PRIVATE LIFE), Felicity Jones (ON THE BASIS OF SEX), Joanna Kulig (COLD WAR), Thomasin McKenzie (LEAVE NO TRACE), Rosamund Pike (A PRIVATE WAR) and John C. Reilly (THE SISTERS BROTHERS and STAN & OLLIE).


Join four directors with films in this year’s foreign Oscar® race — Rima Das (Indian Oscar® entry VILLAGE ROCKSTARS; AFI FEST film BULBUL CAN SING), Sophie Dupuis (Canada’s FAMILY FIRST), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Germany’s NEVER LOOK AWAY) and László Nemes (Hungary’s SUNSET) — in a conversation with Barry Sabath, producer and AFI Conservatory Senior Lecturer.

RAZZLE DAZZLE ‘EM! A Conversation With Rob Marshall

Oscar®-nominated film and stage director Rob Marshall joins us for an in-depth conversation about his career. Considered the master of the modern movie musical, Marshall has brought multi award-winning musicals, such as CHICAGO, NINE and INTO THE WOODS, to film audiences around the globe. His latest, Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, will be released in December. Audience members will get an exclusive preview of one of the musical numbers from MARY POPPINS RETURNS.

WHO SAYS? Underrepresented Voices in Film Criticism

Join Turner Classic Movies’ Alicia Malone and three of the country’s leading voices in film criticism — Jacqueline Coley (Rotten Tomatoes), Ann Hornaday (The Washington Post) and Lisa Kennedy (Denver Post) — for a frank discussion on the state of film criticism and how media outlets, studios and film festivals are working to increase representation among critics and journalists, with an opening presentation by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Founder and Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at USC. 


Join director Marielle Heller, actress Melissa McCarthy and producer Amy Nauiokas as they discuss the making of one of the year’s most acclaimed films. Based on the true story of author Lee Israel, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? stars McCarthy in a virtuoso performance as the fiercely intelligent but tough-to-love Israel who, forced to make ends meet, turns her art form to deception with the help of her witty friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).

Esteemed TV creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre discusses his wide-ranging career, from THE BIG BANG THEORY to TWO AND A HALF MEN, along with his latest series, THE KOMINSKY METHOD, which will be presented as a Gala at AFI FEST.


Filmmaker Nina Menkes presents, analyzes and deconstructs a series of film clips to show how lighting, camera angles, camera movement, blocking and framing are used in mainstream filmmaking to formally disempower women on screen. Menkes presented this lecture at the 2018 Sundance and Cannes film festivals, among other prestigious venues.

Pictured at top: Rob Marshall


Ojai Film Festival Award Brunch celebrating winning films and lifetime achievement

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Ojai Film Festival will hold its Award Brunch and present awards to the winning filmmakers in eight categories, as well as Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, Ojai’s own actor Malcolm McDowell and cinematographer Ellen Kura, ASC.


Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.35.12 AM
Actor and Ojai resident Malcolm McDowell, left, participates in a conversation with Actor/writer Peter Fox at the Ojai Art Center on Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, following the screening of O Lucky Man! during the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival in Ojai, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.40.21 AM
Academy Award-nominee and Primetime Emmy winner, Ellen Kuras, left, shares her experience and insights from her career as a cinematographer and director in a  conversation with Stuart Crowner, Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, at the Ojai Art Center during the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The brunch takes place in the Ojai Art Center Courtyard. The brunch will be catered by Home Kitchen of Ojai and chef Hector Orozco will make his signature crepes onsite along with other brunch items and mimosas. To enjoy the brunch, everyone is welcome to arrive at 10 am. Presentations begins at 11 am. TICKETS: $24

Screen Logo-1

Come and See What’s Happening Today at the Ojai Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Student Filmmaker Program-1
Ojai Film Festival President, Jonathon Lambert, welcomes high school film students to the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival to the festival’s Student Filmmakers Program at the Ojai Art Center in downtown Ojai, Calif., on Friday, November 3rd, 2018. (Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)



The 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival is off to a rousing start. Yesterday four high school groups participated in this year’s Student Filmmakers Program attending two seminars on conducted by industry professionals, filmmaker Q & A’s and festival Screenings.



Today’s festivities include a Business and Legal Seminar with a panel of industry executives led by entertainment legal expert Laura Caulfield followed by a 2 PM Cinematographer Seminar with Ellen Kuras, one of the few female member of the American Society of Cinematographers. And, if you’re looking for something more, The Art of the Pitch, a “how-to” on selling an idea to potential funders with Emily Best, CEO of Seed & Spark,  is scheduled for 4PM.

The main event for the evening is the Screening of this Year’s Lifetime Achievement Actor Recipient Malcolm McDowell’s film, O Lucky Man! The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Mr. McDowell led by actor/writer Peter Fox. A reception in the Ojia Art Center will close out the day’s scheduled activities.

For tickets, passes and additional information visit the Ojai Film Festival website!

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

Screen Logo-1

*Featured photo: Welcome volunteers, left to right, Chris Malzone and Gaile Leskowitz. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)



Eshaana Sheth Brings THE BUTTER KNIFE to Ojai

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Trained Actor-director, Producer-writer Eshaana Sheth unleashed The Butter Knife at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival Friday morning, November 2nd, at the Ojai Art Center Theater. Utilizing snappy banter between her lead characters, Ria (Shalina Bathina), a witty, resourceful young American woman and Alistair (Daniel Halden), a bespectacled young, male Brit, Sheth slashes through cultural norms, stereotypes and even manages to whip in some geopolitical witticisms along with a Hitchcockian cameo!

Filmmaker Eshaana Sheth addresses the audience during a Q & A at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival following the screening of her new film, The Butter Knife, at the Ojai Art Center Theatre, in downtown Ojai, Calif., Friday morning, November 2nd, 2018 (Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

In addition to Sheth’s talents, Cinematographer, Editor and Sound Producer, Sean Cruser, dazzles with a dynamic camera accentuating the hysterical interpersonal, heated exchange between the two leads.

Based on the reaction from the morning screening, The Butter Knife is a film to be reckoned with when it comes time for audience awards and screens again next Sunday, November 11th, 10 AM, at the Chaparral Auditorium in downtown Ojai. The film festival runs through November 11th.

Screen Logo-1

19th Annual Ojai Film Festival Opens

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Opening Night-1

The 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival (OFF) is up and running. Last night at the enchanting Libbey Bowl in downtown Ojai, a free Community screening of Mel Brooks’ raucous and rollicking Young Frankenstein was the Opening Night Film. OFF President Jonathan Lambert jump started the evening with Opening Night remarks including a plug for Loving Vincent and OFF’s new environmentally-oriented films, “Focus Earth.”


Without further adieu Lambert brought forth the evening’s special guest, Hank Wynands. Wynands built the sets for Young Frankenstein and worked on several other of Mel Brooks’ films. Wynands shared some colorful inside jokes on the day-to-day operations on a Brooks film set and the impact budgeting has on a production.

Opening Night-1-2
Special Opening Night guest, Hank Wynands shares his experience on working with Mel Brooks on the set of Young Frankenstein (1974), last night, November 1, 2018, during the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival at The Libbey Bowl in downtown Ojai, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)






Tomorrow is the first full day of OFF starting at 10:00 A.M. with the Student Filmmakers Program at the Ojai Art Center Theater. Stay tuned for more on this emerging film festival! Legendary Hollywood producer Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, told the audience at a recent Toronto International Film Festival that “Ojai is the next Telluride.”

Ojai Street entrance to Libbey Park in downtown Ojai, Calif., on November 1st, at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival. The festival will run through November 11th, 2018. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Opening Night_Post Office-1
Welcome sign to the 19th Annual Film Festival on Ojai Street at Signal Street in downtown Ojai, Calif., November 1st. The festival will run through November 11th, 2018. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

See you at the movies!