Film Capsule: Bobbi Jene (Lind, 2017):USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Bobbi Jene, a documentary feature film, highlights the modern dance form of Bobbi Jene Smith.

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After a decade of stardom in Israel, American dancer Bobbi Jene decides to leave behind her prominent position at the world-famous Batsheva Dance Company, as well as the love of her life, to return to the U.S. to create her own boundary breaking art. Tracking the personal and professional challenges that await her, Elvira Lind’s film lovingly and intimately documents the dilemmas and inevitable consequences of ambition. BOBBI JENE delves into what it takes for a woman to gain her own independence in the extremely competitive world of dance and to find self-fulfillment in the process.

The film is far from perfect. But rather than focus on what’s not right about the film from a technical perspective, I’d rather tell about the striking physical ability Bobbi Jene’s protagonist possesses. Truthfully, I felt, at times, the physicality possessed Bobbi Jene. Espousing GAGA dance techniques, Bobbi Jene pushes, contorts, writhes and composes in a mesmerizing modern dance of isokinetic resistance and rapid-fire, ecstatic releases. Pushing boundaries, her dance reveals as much as it exposes. And, it’s a lot. Her energy, experience and intellect are laid bare. She literally and figuratively leaves it all out on the dance floor.

Without a doubt in my mind, Bobbi Jene is a calling card announcing the arrival of one of the greats of modern dance. The film serves its purpose well. I can only hope it’s the first of many more to come. Watch the trailer at the bottom of the page and see Bobbi Jene this Friday, October 6th at the Royal Theatre in Los Angeles (in select theaters the following week). Feel free to drop back by and add your comments!

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About Bobbi Jene Smith

Born in Centerville, Iowa. From 2005-2014 she was a member of the Batsheva Dance Company under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin. She is an alumnus of the Juilliard School, North Carolina School of the Arts, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Her choreography and solo work has been presented by The Batsheva Dance Company, PS122 COIL Festival, The Israel Museum, Luminato Festival, The Wild Project, Machol Shalem, Sacramento Ballet, The CCA, The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, NYU, and The Juilliard School. She has worked in Punchdrunk’s production of Sleep No More as Lady Macbeth as well as ‘Dido and Aeneas’ and ‘Orphic Moment’ choreographed by Zack Winokur. Her film and video work include, “Annihilation,” directed by Alex Garland; “MA,” directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall; and “Yossi” directed by Eytan Fox. Bobbi is a certified GAGA teacher and has taught Ohad Naharin’s repertory in schools and universities around the world. In 2015, Smith relocated to New York City, NY.

About Elvira Lind

Director Elvira Lind HeadshotBorn in 1981 in Copenhagen, Elvira Lind graduated from City Varsity – School of Media and Creative Arts in Cape Town in 2006 majoring in documentary film. She has worked within that field since directing and shooting documentaries of various lengths for TV, cinema, and web on four different continents. Elvira now lives and works out of New York, where she also writes on various fiction projects.

Elvira’s first feature documentary Songs for Alexis competed at IDFA in 2014 and screened at a long list of international festivals; she received CPH:DOX new talent award in 2015; and her first international documentary TV series ‘Twiz and Tuck’ launched on Viceland this year.

BOBBI JENE is Elvira’s second feature documentary, which premiered at Tribeca 2017.

About Producers Julie Leerskov and Sara Stockmann

BOBBI JENE is produced by Julie Leerskov and Sara Stockmann, the two main producers at SONNTAG PICTURES.

Sonntag Pictures is a Copenhagen-based film production company with a strong focus on cinematic, auteur-driven documentaries for a broad domestic and international audience. Sonntag Pictures identify with films that combine a strong artistic standpoint to a global social thinking—often with an urge to create political impact.

The company is headed by award-winning producer Sara Stockmann: Producer of ARMADILLO (Cannes Critics Week – Grand Prix 2010, Emmy-award 2011) and IDFA-nominee MERCY MERCY: A PORTRAIT OF A TRUE ADOPTION.

Julie Leerskov joined Sonntag Pictures in 2016, she has produced THE WILL by Christian Sønderby Jepsen (Danish Film Critics Association award 2012, DOX award, Doc Alliance Award) and has also produced Elvira Lind’s first feature documentary film SONGS FOR ALEXIS (selected for IDFA).

(Source: Press kit provided by Oscilloscope Laboratories)


AFI FEST to Present Robert Altman Retrospective

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI has announced an inaugural, annual retrospective to spotlight one filmmaker of global significance, as part of AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi, running November 9–16, 2017, in Hollywood, CA.

This year, AFI FEST will present the work of Robert Altman, with screenings and discussions of 12 films — historically the most programmed in the festival for one filmmaker. For the retrospective, legendary director/producer/writer Altman (1925–2006) will be honored with screenings and discussions of his classic  films, including: M*A*S*H (1970), MCCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971), THE LONG GOODBYE (1972), CALIFORNIA SPLIT (1973), NASHVILLE (1975), 3 WOMEN (1977), VINCENT & THEO (1990), THE PLAYER (1992), SHORT CUTS (1993), KANSAS CITY (1996), GOSFORD PARK (2001) and A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (2006).

pictured above: NASHVILLE, #59 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies





Posted by Larry Gleeson


LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy has voted 17 students as winners of the 44th Student Academy Awards® competition.  This year, the Student Academy Awards competition received a total of 1,587 entries from 267 domestic and 89 international colleges and universities – which were voted by a record number of Academy members.  The 2017 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis.

The winners are (listed alphabetically by film title):

Alternative (Domestic Film Schools)
“Opera of Cruelty,” Max R. A. Fedore, New York University

Animation (Domestic Film Schools)
“Cradle,” Devon Manney, University of Southern California
“E-delivery,” Young Gul Cho, School of Visual Arts
“In a Heartbeat,” Beth David and Esteban Bravo, Ringling College of Art and Design

Documentary (Domestic Film Schools)
“Hale,” Brad Bailey, University of California, Berkeley
“On Pointe,” Priscilla Thompson and Joy Jihyun Jeong, Columbia University
“One Way Home,” Qingzi Fan, New York University

Narrative (Domestic Film Schools)
“Mammoth,” Ariel Heller, University of Southern California
“My Newphew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr., New York University
“Who’s Who in Mycology,” Marie Dvorakova, New York University

Narrative (International Film Schools)
“Facing Mecca,” Jan-Eric Mack, Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Hamburg Media School (Germany)
“When Grey is a Colour,” Marit Weerheijm, Netherlands Film Academy (Netherlands)

Animation (International Film Schools)
“Life Smartphone,” Chenglin Xie, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (China)

Documentary (International Film Schools)
“Galamsey,” Johannes Preuss, Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg (Germany)

First-time honors go to China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

All Student Academy Award-winning films are eligible to compete for 2017 Oscars® in the Animated Short Film or Live Action Short Film category and 2018 Oscars in the Documentary Short Subject category.  Past winners have gone on to receive 57 Oscar nominations and have won or shared 11 awards.  This year one 2016 Student Academy Award winner received an Oscar nomination in the Documentary Short Subject category: Daphne Matziaraki, a Gold Medal winner in the Documentary category for “4.1 Miles.”

Students will arrive in Los Angeles for a week of industry activities that will culminate in the awards ceremony on Thursday, October 12, at 7:30 p.m., at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.  The medal placements – gold, silver and bronze – in the seven award categories will be announced at the ceremony.

New this year, the competition was expanded to allow two options for students at international film schools to submit their films. In addition to CILECT-member schools submitting one student film per international film school category, international students may now enter films that qualify through film festivals recognized by the Student Academy Awards Executive Committee.

The 44th Student Academy Awards ceremony on October 12 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required.  Tickets may be obtained online at starting today.  Any remaining tickets will be made available at the door on the evening of the event.  The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 to provide a platform for emerging global talent by creating opportunities within the industry to showcase their work.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 8,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.


(Source: press release provided by


IDFA New Amsterdam Human Rights Award

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Amsterdam, 14 September 2017

New Amsterdam Human Rights Award at IDFA for best human rights documentary

The inaugural Amsterdam Human Rights Award will be presented for the best human rights documentary at the upcoming 30th edition of IDFA. An international jury will choose a film from the IDFA program with strong cinematography that best presents the theme of human rights. The Amsterdam Human Rights Award is accompanied by a cash prize of € 25,000. The award has been created by the City of Amsterdam.

Artistic and urgent
The creative documentary lies at the heart of IDFA; quality in artistic and cinematographic terms is key. The documentaries selected often deal with socially relevant and urgent themes, whereby human rights – and the violation of these – are central. The films stimulate reflection and interpretation on the part of their audiences.

From its program this year (more than 300 films), IDFA will select at least six and no more than ten documentaries to be submitted to an international, three-strong jury made up of film and human rights experts. The jury will then nominate three films for their cinematographic qualities. The winner of the Amsterdam Human Rights Award will be announced during the festival.

Human rights themed day
On Monday, 20 November – International Children’s Rights Day – IDFA will be focussing especially on human rights. The three nominated films will be screened, with an introduction by one of the members of the jury and post-screening discussions with the director or main characters from the film in Tuschinski 1. During the morning, a special interactive film program for pupils from Amsterdam schools will take place, with screenings of brand new documentaries from the ‘Mensjesrechten’ (‘Just Kids’) series (EO/IKONdocs).

The 30th edition of IDFA will take place November 15 – 26. Click herefor accreditation.

For more information or interview requests, contact Irene Frijters:


(Source: press release provided by IDFA)

Small But Mighty Telluride Film Festival Brings Out Best Of The Best

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Howie Movshovitz

The Telluride Film Festival is small. It runs only three and a half days over Labor Day weekend, tucked into that box canyon. Yet many people consider it the best film festival in the world.

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The Telluride Film Festival takes place over Labor Day weekend.
Telluride Film Festival

The festival makes smart selections of new films. It shows remarkable restorations of older films and for the most part the audience at Telluride is there to appreciate good work, whether old or new, and without the distractions of celebrity events, awards or most of the other nonsense that plagues many festivals.

Even so, to leave Telluride thinking about seven legitimate masterpieces is beyond wonderful. If I put the superlatives aside, film after film came along to provoke talk about film, about the world and human life, amazement at some of the best work there and delightful argument about films that were not universally loved.

For me – and no one can see even half of the films in the schedule – the best were: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water; Paul Schrader’s First Reformed; The Insult by Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri; Faces Places by the 89-year-old French master Agnes Varda and the 33-year-old photographer JR; the banned Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof’s A Man of Integrity; Wonderstruck by Todd Haynes; and Human Flow, a documentary about refugees by the wonderful Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei. As the films rolled out during the festival, it was hard to believe that so many could be so good, but there’s only time to talk about a couple of them this week.

Credit Pouyan Behagh / Courtesy of Telluride Film Festival

In Mohammed Rasoulof’s A Man of Integrity, Reza raises fish on his farm. He doesn’t know it yet, but someone with local power wants his land. Suddenly his irrigation water is cut off and then his pond is poisoned. A lot of Iranian film works on this incremental growth of trouble. Bit by bit, the situation grows worse. Complications pile up one at a time. Eventually Reza’s wife, a school teacher, gets involved, and the question is how long can this family hold out against the constant and ever-increasing pressure of corruption, before they either give up and abandon their farm, or they join the matrix of corruption that seems to cover the entire country.

A Man of Integrity pictures a society dominated by illegitimate authority and thorough religious hypocrisy. Reza’s struggle grows exhausting and there is constant temptation to give into it, to go along and to get by.

It’s also a mystery how Mohammad Rasoulof managed to shoot the film. His movies cannot be seen in Iran. At times, it seems he is at least allowed to shoot these films that can never be seen in his own country. At other times you wonder how great is the danger he faces simply by having a camera in his country.

Credit Human Flow / Ai Weiwei

The miracle of Human Flow – and I mean miracle – is that while Ai Weiwei films thousands and thousands of refugees all over the world – those coming to Europe from the Middle East and Africa, as well as Rohingya fleeing Burma, Latin Americans entering America and others – these human beings never feel like a shapeless mass. The film makes you understand that the word refugee distracts us from the actuality of what is happening.

Ai Weiwei shows masses of people, but then close up portraits of individuals. Refugees are children, women and men, individual human beings with their personal histories and existence. Even in the most ghastly camps wracked by the depression of dislocation and other miseries, kids manage to find something to play with, something to keep themselves human. It’s a devastating documentary, but it’s at the same time alive with the realization that every human being matters; abstractions and group nouns fall short.

And then there is Wonderstruck, which left viewers sobbing at the sight of such beauty.


Vote Now VIZIO + Dolby Vision Filmmaker Challenge

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Established to celebrate excellence in the art of storytelling and advancements in filmmaking, the second annual VIZIO + Dolby Vision Filmmaker Challenge inspires rising cinematographers to showcase their filmmaking prowess.

The contest invited second-year Fellows from the AFI Conservatory — the American Film Institute’s renowned film training program — to submit their films. From the pool of entries, a panel of judges selected the top five that best showcased striking visuals, a compelling narrative and creativity.

Watch clips of the AFI Conservatory thesis films from all five finalists, vote on your favorite and enter to win a 65″ VIZIO television with Dolby Vision™ High Dynamic Range — here!


The Return of the Showcase #SBIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The long-awaited return of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) Showcase Film Series is upon us. Here’s what leading outlets have to say about the opening film at the newly retrofitted Lynda and Bruce’s (named for recently named SBIFF Board President and founder of festival sponsor, Lynda Weinman and her husband, Bruce Heavin, co-founder of Riviera Theater, LE TROU:

The New York Times


The Lynda and Bruce’s Riviera Theater features new seating and state-of-the-art Dolby sound and projection. A newly designed concession stand will be offering designer-made candies, fresh popcorn and a variety of sundries.  And if that isn’t already enough, here comes LE TROU, a 1960 classic film, where four men in La Santé Prison, staring down the barrel at hard time, decide to execute a prison break and are forced to bring on a fifth member, Claude Gaspard (Marc Michel), when he is assigned to their cell. The particulars of the escape, based on actual events, are rendered in painstaking detail as the five men dream of freedom.

*To note, today is the “soft opening” of Lynda and Bruce’s Riviera Theater. Nevertheless, what a “soft opening” film!

Le Trou

Get Tickets Here

Friday, September 8 – 14


Directed by Jacques Becker
Written by Jacques Becker, José Giovanni, Jean Aurel
Starring Marc Michel, Raymond Meunier, Jean Keraudy, Michel Constantin, Philippe Leroy
Country of Origin: France/Italy
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 132 minutes



See you there!



(Media materials provided by



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