MID FESTIVAL RESULTS LOOKING GOOD FOR THE 2017 BERLINALE
Audience crowds at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival have once again been overwhelming. Halfway through the festival, again more than 250,000 tickets have been sold.
“We’re very happy that the Berlinale has drawn so many people into cinemas again this year. The passion for film shown by curious audiences who spend eleven days on a cinematic voyage of discovery, is really impressive. And the response to the new EFM initiatives and events is extremely positive”, says Festival Director Dieter Kosslik.
The Open House program at the Audi Berlinale Lounge gives the public an additional opportunity to experience the festival up-close and personal and see Berlinale guests in the flesh. Open events are held there every day, such as talks with celebrity filmmakers, discussions, and lounge nights with a DJ or live music.
The 2017 European Film Market (EFM) has drawn more participants than last year (9,640). The popular “EFM Industry Debates” segment celebrated its ten-year anniversary this weekend. This year, Gropius Park also played host for the first time to the “Berlinale Africa Hub”, a platform for innovative projects and ideas from the African film industry.
Over at Berlinale Talents, Jury President Paul Verhoeven and juror of the International Jury Maggie Gyllenhaal, as well as the artist Christo, have been among the distinguished guests at the panel discussions. The coming days will see more exciting events, with Agnieszka Holland, Isabel Coixet, Sally Potter, David OReilly, Raoul Peck and juror Olafur Eliasson on the program.
The Berlinale Publikumstag on Sunday, February 19, 2017, provides an encore chance for audiences. That day, numerous festival films from various sections will have repeat screenings at the Berlinale venues.
Another must-see! Mr. Washington has had another extraordinary achievement with August Wilson’s “Fences.” Denzel Washington is set to receive the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 32nd SBIFF! Washington will be honored for his longstanding contributions to the film industry culminating with Paramount’s upcoming Fences which he directs, produces and stars in. Leonard Maltin, for who the award was recently renamed after, will return for his 26th year to moderate the evening. The award will be presented on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theatre. Open the link for tickets.
‘Tower,’ About 1966, Before Mass Shootings Became Routine
By Manohla Dargis – The New York Times
The haunting documentary Tower revisits a 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin that shocked the country. It may be difficult to comprehend the reaction to the horror of Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student who shot more than a dozen dead, wounding more than twice as many. A cover story in Life magazine suggested just how alien the carnage seemed at the time, noting that during the rampage Whitman’s actions were “so outrageous, so hard to grasp, that people could not believe it.” Many more mass shootings later, it’s now tragically easy to believe.
You get a sense of just how brutal and absolutely foreign that violence must once have seemed in Tower. Directed by Keith Maitland, the movie is partly based on “96 Minutes,” an article by Pamela Colloff that ran in Texas Monthly in 2006, the 40th anniversary of the shooting. Most of the article was an oral history based on interviews that she skillfully pieced together for a mosaiclike remembrance. Mr. Maitland borrows this approach, drawing on first-person accounts, as well as archival and original sources. He’s also turned much of this material into walking, talking animations with the help of actors, an ingenious stroke that — at least at first — helps create some needed critical distance.
Whitman was one of the year’s big news stories alongside Vietnam. Time magazine put him on its cover, running a banner (“The Psychotic & Society”) across a photo of him — just another smiling guy in glasses — reading a newspaper, with a small dog at his side. In time, he was transformed into a popular culture touchstone in Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, a 1968 thriller that drew on the incident; “The Ballad of Charles Whitman,” Kinky Friedman’s 1973 satirical song that frames the blood bath as an all-American story; and “The Deadly Tower,” a 1975 made-for-TV drama. By important contrast, Tower isn’t about Whitman; he isn’t its subject, star or selling point.
Tower also isn’t about why Whitman committed his atrocities or even how. There’s little information on him — his background, beliefs, history or health — in the documentary. His name is barely mentioned. He’s there throughout, though, represented as the unknown shooter in the frightened recordings of people phoning in reports; in police dispatch calls; in intermittent gunfire; and in the eerie puffs of gun smoke emanating from the university tower where he took position. He is a question mark, a lethal void whose immateriality makes an agonizing contrast to the men and women he shot, those who died as well as those who suffered and survived.
This shift in focus — from the perpetrator to the victims — doesn’t read as especially American or cinematic. (One of Hollywood’s most durable genres is the gangster movie, after all, not the victim picture.) And while there may be all sorts of sociopolitical and psychological explanations for why movies are so violent, it’s also just an easy way to keep people nervously waiting and watching. Mr. Maitland put in time as an assistant director on the TV series “Law & Order” and he understands how to narratively string out violence. The movie begins with Neal Spelce (Monty Muir), a journalist gutsily reporting from the scene while driving closer to it, an opener that creates instant tension.
The scene then shifts to Claire Wilson James (Violett Beane), a heavily pregnant freshman who is just finishing a coffee break with her boyfriend, Tom Eckman (Cole Bee Wilson). As they’re walking across campus, they are both hit. Claire goes down first, followed by Tom. They remain where they fall for an unbearably long time, creating a ghastly spectacle that becomes an emblematic tableau that Mr. Maitland returns to again and again, at times using news footage. He soon adds other victims and voices, including that of Aleck Hernandez Jr. (Aldo Ordoñez), a teenager on his paper route riding past the campus, his cousin perched on his bike.
The expressive animation was done via rotoscoping, a technique that involves tracing moving images by hand (as in Disney’s Snow White) or through software (as in Richard Linklater’s Waking Life). The results in Tower are extremely liquid, with each line incessantly ebbing and flowing, creating a vivid sense of life. The animation gives Mr. Maitland a lot of creative freedom, allowing him to take Expressionistic leaps. When Ms. James and Mr. Eckman are shot, their bodies briefly transform into wrenching, twisting white silhouettes while the backdrop becomes a blast of bright red. You are spared the blood, even as the horror creeps in and then floods you.
In her article, Ms. Colloff noted that, surprisingly, perhaps, outside of some bullet holes, there were no physical reminders of the shooting at the University of Texas until 1999, when the school created a memorial garden. “No plaques had ever been displayed, no list of names read, no memorial services held,” she wrote. In 2007, the school finally installed a plaque observing the shooting, and this Aug. 1, the 50th anniversary, it dedicated a new memorial. Using a limited frame, Mr. Maitland does his own commemorating, inherently raising questions about terror, the nature of heroism and what it means to really survive. He also does something even more necessary: He turns names on a plaque into people.
Blossoming auteur, Anna Biller, makes her follow-up directorial to her self-headlined Viva with this fantastical, comedic, Technicolor thriller of Elaine, a beautiful young witch, with an undying determination to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. Her spills and potions work a little too well, leaving a string of helpless, hapless victims. After she finally meets up with the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved drives her over the edge of insanity to commit murder.
Come see the Love Witch and a Q & A with Director Anna Biller at the Los Angeles Nuart Theater!
The Love Witch is the second feature film from Anna Biller and it recently received distribution from Oscilloscope Laboratories. Biller’s first feature was Viva(2007), a dramedy about two Los Angeles suburbanites who experiment with drugs
HollywoodGlee talked with Biller about the film screening in select theaters beginning November 11th. For detailed information on screenings click here.
How Did the Premise Of The Screenplay for TheLove Witch come to you?
I wanted to write something to do with women’s psychology. So, I created a character who has a very complex psychology that allowed her to have power over men by using her sexuality. And, I wanted the audience to get to know my character. I spent the first phase of the process writing dialogue that would express the psychology of my characters. I wanted Elaine to be from the Golden Age of Film where intelligent women characters are interesting to learn about while getting to know who they are as people. I ended up cutting much of the other characters dialogue in the editing process.
2. Horror films about witchcraft and the occult often don’t have comedic tones.
The Love Witch isn’t necessarily meant to be comedy. It’s just the absurdity of the relationship aspect. Relationship issues are often comedic so I feel it’s an interesting dynamic that adds color to the witchcraft versus it all being dark and frightening.
3. You’re credited with writing, directing, set design and costuming.
I enjoy making things with my hands. It took me seven years to create the props and the costumes. I didn’t have the financing of a studio so I could oversee it and still have control.
4. Your lead actor Samantha Robinson had been a stage actor and a model. What did she bring to the character of Elaine that surprised you?
She had been doing theater and was taking acting classes. She brought a strong presence with her poise and added a lot to the character with her subtle nuances.
5. Any filmmakers have an influence on your work?
Alfred Hitchcock. He was a master technician. His use of lighting to convey meaning and emotion and his use of psychology especially with women are big influences. I spent a lot of time working out the character’s psychology and needed to re-write and adjust some of the dialogue to keep the pace of the film where I wanted it. I would have loved to have been able to fulfill all the characters.
6. Why did you choose Technicolor for your films?
The films I watched were made in Technicolor so I wanted my films to look that way. I feel it’s a richer viewing experience with color. I use a lot of red.
7. What’s next?
I’d like to do a film about a sociopathic husband from the wife’s point of view as she uncovers the issues her husband has been hiding from her.
The Love Witch opens in Los Angeles at the Landmark Nuart Theater on November 11th. For information on additional screenings click here.
Here is a Public Service Announcement courtesy of Oscilloscope Labs: