Tag Archives: Film Festival

ABOUT #SLOIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, surrounded by lush vineyards, ranchland and a 100-mile coastline, the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLOIFF) is headquartered in the quaint, sophisticated downtown of San Luis Obispo on the spectacular Central Coast of California. As a premiere 6-day annual event, the SLOIFF showcases contemporary and classic film screenings in a wide variety of venues, from the city’s classic art deco Fremont Theatre, to the popular independent Palm Theatre, with a variety of unexpected venues from the wine country of Paso Robles to the seaside towns of Avila Beach and Pismo Beach.

This year marks the 23rd year for the festival with run dates of March 14-19. Tickets and passes are still available here.

That being said variety is the spice of life, and the SLOIFF is proud to embrace that philosophy in its programming. From cutting edge documentaries to tried and true cinema classics, the SLOIFF celebrates film on the ‘big screen’ by offering something for everyone. Experience HOLLYWOOD & VINES EVENTS that pair excellent local wines with film classics. Or the RED CARPET EVENTS, where celebrities from Hollywood filmmakers to action sports legends are welcomed.

This year’s Opening Night is blasting off with a New Orleans style theme party followed by Leslie Iwerks new film, “ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table,” about one of New Orleans’ most famous restaurants, Commander’s Palace. The evening is sponsored by Jim Sargen, Taste Buds, The Krush 92.5, Cafe Musique and the following restaurants & caterers:

Baklava RoyaleThe Spoon TradeGiuseppe’s, ChipwreckedPapi’s GrillBunn Thai, The Cracked CrabEfren’s Mexican RestaurantJeffery’s CateringApple FarmOki Momo Asian GrillVivant Fine CheesesSurfside Deli, and Bon Temps Creole Cafe

And libations from: Amplify WinesBaker and Brian, Barrel House BrewingField RecordingsOpolo VineyardKynsi WineryCass Winery, The Central RoastTimbre Wines, Puffers of Pismo, Robin Bogue formerly of William James, Summerland Wines, Cambria Wines, Talley Vineyards and M Special Brewing Company.

And afterward Opening night enjoy premieres of INDEPENDENT FILMS – films that you may not have a chance to see anywhere else. Filmmakers from all over the world attend the Festival and offer informative Q & A sessions after the screening of their films.Last year’s Borrowed Time made it all the way to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2017 Oscars as an animated short.

This is a film festival and locale on the move within the filmmaking world. If you haven’t made it yet, get there. You’ll be glad you did! Check out this year’s Lineup and create your own film viewing schedule. I did.

See you at the cinema!

SLOIFF MISSION STATEMENT: To entertain, educate and inspire film-goers and filmmakers. Movies Matter!

SLOIFF VISION STATEMENT: The SLOIFF will continue to grow in importance as a successful regional event, providing cultural and economic benefit to San Luis Obispo County by promoting the concept that “Movies Matter” and that the art of film is a cultural force with the capacity to transform lives of individuals and society at large, we will nurture new filmmakers, attract new audiences, and develop film-related youth outreach and education programs. We will expand collaboration with other community non-profits, and the local hospitality and wine industries with events that emphasize the uniqueness of our area.

(Source: slofilmfest.org)

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TCM to Honor Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner

Posted by Larry Gleeson

TCM to Honor Father & Son Filmmaking Icons Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner with Hand and Footprint Ceremony

Celebration to Take Place April 7 at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

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Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will honor legendary father and son film icons Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner during a hand and footprint ceremony at the world-famous TCL Chinese Theater IMAX® in Hollywood during the eigth annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Friday, April 7. TCM will celebrate the storied careers of the father and son duo who have collectively worked in the industry for over a century and amassed countless accolades along the way. This marks the first occasion that a father and son have jointly been honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX®.

 

Industry titan Carl Reiner has been a celebrated director and comedic performer for more than 70 years, gaining a loyal following for his sketch comedy work alongside Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks and for directing such beloved films as Oh, God! (1977), Dead Men Don’t War Plaid (1982), Where’s Poppa? (1970), The Jerk (1979) and for creating and writing The Dick Van Dyke Show, for which he collected multiple Emmys® during his career.

 

Filmmaker and political activist Rob Reiner has had an equally illustrious career, from his Emmy®-award winning role on the revered television sitcom All in the Family to his work behind the camera, directing such American cinematic classics as This Is Spinal Tap (1984), Stand by Me (1986), The Princess Bride (1987), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), Misery (1990) and A Few Good Men (1992). Renowned for his staunch support of civil rights, Reiner is a co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and has long lent his support to non-profits that address social and environmental issues.

 

“Carl Reiner is a genuine comedy pioneer, a breakthrough artist from Hollywood’s golden era,” said TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, who also serves as the official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. “It’s never easy following in the footsteps of a force as innovative and creative as that, but Rob found his own way to success, as an actor, first as a vital part of the social relevance of All in the Family, then as thoughtful director and producer of both comedies and dramas. There’s is a family that belongs forever imprinted in Hollywood history.”

 

This marks the seventh consecutive year TCM has featured a hand and footprint ceremony at the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®. In 2011, Peter O’Toole was the honoree, followed by Kim Novak in 2012, Jane Fonda in 2013, Jerry Lewis in 2014, Christopher Plummer in 2015 and Francis Ford Coppola in 2016.

 

Carl Reiner Biography

Depending on who you talk to, Carl Reiner is best known as a co-star on the legendary television program, Your Show of Shows…or as the creator and co-star of The Dick Van Dyke Show…or as The Interviewer of “The 2000 Year Old Man”…or a director of feature films, including Where’s Poppa (1970), Oh, God! (1977), The Jerk (1979) and All of Me (1984)…or as father of actor-writer-director-producer Rob Reiner and husband of jazz vocalist Estelle Reiner…or as the recipient of twelve Emmy Awards…or…

 

Born in the Bronx, Reiner is the son of a watchmaker. At Evander Childs High School, his interest was baseball, but at age sixteen he took a job as a machinist’s helper in the millinery trade. He simultaneously enrolled in drama school for eight months and landed a part as a second tenor in an updated version of The Merry Widow.

 

Reiner subsequently served in World War II, first training as a radio operator in the Air Force, followed by an assignment to Georgetown University to study French in order to become an interpreter, then as a Teletype operator in the Signal Corps, and later as a comedian and actor with Maurice Evans’ Special Services Entertainment Unit.  He toured the Pacific for eighteen months in G.I. revues.

 

Upon his honorable discharge in 1946, he won the leading role in the national company of Call Me Mister and after three more years in various Broadway musicals, joined Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on Your Show of Shows.

 

In 1958, his first novel, Enter Laughing, was published. An autobiographical work, the book chronicled Reiner’s frustrations as a young machinist helper in the millinery trade and his eventual entry into show business.  The book subsequently became the basis for a Broadway play (adapted by Joe Stein) and feature film (directed and co-produced by Reiner) of the same name.

 

In 1961, Reiner conceived The Dick Van Dyke Show, which would become one of the most famous and best loved sitcoms in television history. Of course, audiences have never forgotten his co-starring role on the show as the toupee-wearing producer, Alan Brady. That same year, he wrote his first feature film, The Thrill of It All, for Doris Day and James Garner.

 

Reiner’s other feature film credits as a director include: The Comic (1969), co-written by Reiner and Aaron Ruben; Where’s Poppa? (1970), starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon; Oh, God! (1977), starring George Burns; films with actor Steve Martin: The Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man With Two Brains (1983) and All of Me (1984); Summer Rental (1985), with John Candy; The One And Only (1978), with Henry Winkler; Summer School (1987), with Mark Harmon; Bert Rigby, You’re A Fool! (1989), which Reiner also wrote; Sibling Rivalry (1990), with Kirstie Alley; Fatal Instinct (1993) with Armand Assante and Kate Nelligan; and That Old Feeling (1997), with Bette Midler and Dennis Farina. Mr. Reiner and Mel Brooks released a CD and book with new material in Oct. 1997, The 2000 Year Old Man In The Year 2000. (Harper Collins Publisher and Rhino Records Distributor)

 

His motion picture acting credits include a starring role in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966), and featured or cameo roles in It’s A Man, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Gazebo (1959), Generation (1969), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The End (1978), and Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). His most recent acting role was of Sol in the remake of Ocean’s 11 in 2002.  He is the voice of one of the characters in Good Boy, which opened in October 2003. He reprised his role of Saul in Ocean’s 12, which opened December, 2004 and Ocean’s 13 which opened in June 2007.

 

His TV acting credits include features roles in Beggars and Choosers, Family Law, The Bernie Mack Show, Crossing Jordan, The Bonnie Hunt Show and, most recently, Boston Legal.   He is the voice of one of the characters in the new DreamWorks animated television show Father Of The Pride. TV Land produced and broadcast an animated half-hour pilot of Reiner’s famous character, Alan Brady.  He’s also had recurring roles in Disney’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates as well as animated TV show Family Guy from 20th Century Fox.

 

His second novel, All Kinds of Love, was published in 1993.  His third novel, Continue Laughing, was published in l995.  How Paul Robeson Saved My Life, a book of short stories, was published in l999.  His latest book, My Anecdotal Life, was published in April of 2003 and his children’s book, Tell Me A Scary Story, was published in Fall 2003. The Two Thousand Year Old Man Goes To School was published Spring 2005.  NNNNN, a novel, was published in February 2006.  Another book, Just Desserts, was published in July 2009.  He has published two other children’s books: Tell Me Another Scary Story and Tell Me A Silly Story. Carl’s memoir, I Remember Me, was published in January 2012.

 

In 2014, the second volume of his memoirs, I Just Remembered, was published. The third volume, What I Forgot To Remember, was published last year, along with another children’s book, The Secret Treasure of Taka Pahka. His next book, Why and When The Dick Van Dyke Show Was Born, was also released in 2015.  His latest, Carl Reiner, Now You’re Ninety-Four, was just released in November 2016.

 

Reiner was married for 64 years to Estelle, before her passing in October 2008.  They are also parents of two other children: Annie Reiner, a poet-painter-playwright-psychoanalyst; and Lucas Reiner, a painter-screenwriter-director.  They are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren.  He calls all three of his children “terribly civilized, wonderful human beings.”

 

Rob Reiner Biography

Rob Reiner first came to fame as an actor in the landmark television series All In the Family but went on to become the acclaimed director of some of the most popular and influential motion pictures of the past few decades, deftly moving among many styles.  His work ranges from the pure comedy of This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and The Princess Bride (1987) to the intense drama of Stand By Me (1986), Misery (1990), A Few Good Men (1992) and Ghosts of Mississippi (1996); from the romantic comedy of When Harry Met Sally… (1989), The American President (1995) and Flipped (2010) to the poignant comedy-drama, The Bucket List (2007), And So It Goes (2014) starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, Being Charlie (2015), which was co-written by Reiner’s son, Nick and LBJ (2016) starring Woody Harrelson, and he is currently in post production on his latest Shock and Awe which again stars Woody Harrelson along with Alec Baldwin, Tommy Lee Jones and James Marsden.

 

Reiner is also a vigorous political activist and was instrumental in establishing the California Children & Families Commission, which he chaired for seven years. Recently, he and his wife Michele joined with the American Foundation for Equal Rights to bring the landmark federal court challenge to California’s Prop. 8, the ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

 

About The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX ®

Since 1927, The TCL Chinese Theatre has been the home of the most important, star powered red carpet movie premieres and special events, where Hollywood’s biggest and brightest talents have come to watch their movies.  The most famous movie theatre on the globe is world-renowned for its unique forecourt of the stars, featuring cement hand and footprints of major movie stars, from Marilyn Monroe to Brad Pitt, and numerous stars from all eras of Hollywood. In 2013, the main theatre was relaunched as the world’s largest IMAX® theatre.

 

About the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

For the eighth consecutive year, thousands of movie lovers from around the globe will descend upon Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2017 festival is set to take place Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 9, 2017. Over four packed days and nights, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events and more.

 

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz will serve as official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival, with TCM’s Tiffany Vazquez introducing various events. The festival’s official hotel and central gathering point for the eighth consecutive year will be The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Academy Awards® ceremony. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will also offer special rates for festival attendees. Screenings and events during the festival will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres and the Egyptian Theatre, as well as other Hollywood venues.

 

Description of the 2017 festival theme Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy In The Movies:

From lowbrow to high, slapstick to sophisticated comedies of manners—the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival will showcase the greatest cinematic achievements of lone clowns, comedic duos and madcap ensembles.

 

Festival Passes

Passes for the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival are on sale now. Fans are able to purchase them through the TCM Classic Film Festival website. As the number of passes available is limited, fans are encouraged to purchase their passes as soon as possible.

 

The “Spotlight” Festival Pass: $2,149 – Includes all privileges available to “Classic” and “Essential” passholders, priority entry to all screening events; plus entry to the exclusive opening-night party following the red-carpet gala screening at TCL Chinese Theatre; meet-and-greet events with special guests,; and a limited edition TCM Classic Film Festival poster.

 

The “Essential” Festival Pass: $799 – Includes all privileges available to “Classic” passholders, plus entry to the opening-night red-carpet gala screening at TCL Chinese Theatre and official TCM Classic Film Festival gift bags.

 

The “Classic” Festival Pass: $649 – Includes access to all film programs at festival venues Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 9 (does not include admittance to the opening-night red-carpet gala screening at TCL Chinese Theatre or the opening-night party); access to all Club TCM events, panels and poolside screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; an opening-night welcome reception at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; and the closing-night event.

 

The “Palace” Festival Pass: $299 – Includes access to all screenings and events at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre (excluding the opening-night red-carpet gala) and the Egyptian Theatre Friday, April 7 – Sunday, April 9, as well as poolside screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

 

About Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights of hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. Currently in its 22nd year as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® in February and Summer Under the Stars in August. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood and the TCM Classic Cruise, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app.

 

TCM is a division of Turner, a Time Warner company, Turner creates and programs branded news, entertainment, sports, animation and young adult multi-platform content for consumers around the world. Turner brands and businesses include CNN/U.S., HLN, CNN International and CNN.com, TBS, TNT, TCM, truTV, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, FilmStruck, Super Deluxe, iStreamPlanet and ELEAGUE

(Source: TCM Press Release)

Exploring Themes In the SXSW Film Lineup: Not Just About Animals

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Neha Aziz

This year SXSW has a handful of films that feature animals in their titles. But why judge a film by its title (or poster)! These movies crossover many of screening sections, from Documentary to Midnighters to Global. Getting curiouser and curiouser!

Bad Lucky Goat

(Colombia) (World Premiere) Director/Screenwriter: Samir Oliveros

After accidentally killing a bearded goat, teenage siblings Corn and Rita must quickly find a way to repair their father’s truck, enlisting the help of a butcher, rastafari drum makers, a pawn shop and even a witch doctor, in a 24-hour adventure around Port Paradise. Cast: Honlenny Huffington, Kiara Howard, Elkin Robinson, Michel Robinson, Ambrosio Huffington, Jean Bush.

Hounds of Love

(Australia) (North American Premiere) Director/Screenwriter: Ben Young

In the mid 1980’s seventeen-year-old Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realizes she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive. Cast: Ashleigh Cummings, Emma Booth, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson, Fletcher Humphrys.

Paa Joe & The Lion

(Ghana, United Kingdom) (North American Premiere) Director: Benjamin Wigley

A true story about the art of love and death. A thought provoking and cinematic documentary film rooted in the universal themes of love, death and legacy set against one of the most beautiful art-forms in the world – Ghana’s very own fantasy coffin.

PIG: The Final Screenings

(World Premiere) Director: Adam Mason

A savage satire of gender politics in America, Adam Mason is guaranteed to shock and offend with Pig. Created with actor and long time collaborator Andrew Howard, Pig is a virtuoso piece of pure cinema. Cast: Andrew Howard, Guy Burnet, Lorry Stone, Juliet Quintin-Archard, Molly Black.

Rat Film

(U.S. Premiere) Director/Screenwriter: Theo Anthony

Across walls, fences, and alleys, rats not only expose our boundaries of separation but make homes in them. Rat Film is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat—as well as the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them.

The festival will run March 10-18, 2017. For more information on attending  click here!

About SXSW

The SXSW Film Festival celebrates raw innovation and emerging talent both behind and in front of the camera. Featuring provocative documentaries, comedies, genre standouts and more, the festival has become known for the high caliber and diversity of films presented, and for its smart, enthusiastic audiences.

Running simultaneously with SXSW Interactive and SXSW Music, film festival attendees have the opportunity to connect with tech and music industry experts, making the SXSW Film Festival an unparalleled experience at the forefront of discovery, creativity, and innovation.

(Sourced from: sxsw.com)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Colo (Villaverde, 2017): Portugal

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Colo, a new film by Alce Films from Writer/Director Teresa Villaverde was screened at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition. The film utilized an unorthodox approach. After the opening scene of over-the-sholuder close-ups and Hollywood style medium close-ups on reverse angles, deep focus long-shots were utilized. Often times the frame pulled out rather than pushing in – a more typical filmmaking technique.

The narrative focuses on a family in the midst of economic crisis. The father, played by João Pedro Vaz, has lost. not only his job, but his strength and fortitude to continue looking for work. Instead, he escapes to the apartment dwelling rooftop to look wistfully upon the horizon. The mother, played by Beatriz Batarda, works two jobs with little time for her daughter or husband. It’s not a lack of caring. Rather, it’s a lack of life force energy. Alice Albergaria Borges portrays the daughter. She’s of high school age and is experiencing all the typical changes and social issues inherent within. Only, her issues seem magnified. Until the camera pulls out revealing stunning, picturesque mise-en-scene.

Consequently, the emotionality of the film revealed little intimacy while the overall feeling was one of benevolence. Low-key lighting and shadows added to the film’s mystique. I can’t say this was one of my favorite films. I imagine it was considered for the Silver Bear for New Perspectives in filmmaking.

Nevertheless, the film showcased the natural beauty of the Romanian countryside and allowed for character development without delving deeply into the emotional states via camera framing.

Unfortunately, by the film’s end the benevolent feeling I had felt throughout the film was gone and the film seemingly was wanting a redo. Not recommended at this time. However, with minor tweaks, I predict the film will be visible on this year’s festival circuit and will eventually have a successful theatrical run. It may be arthouse. It may be grindhouse. Or it may be avant-garde. Stay tuned for more. Until then, I’ll see you at the cineam!

Berlinale FILM REVIEW: Andres Veiel’s ‘Beuys’ is One for the Ages

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Andres Veiel brought the documentary Beuys, an in-depth look into the profound psyche of German performance artist and 1960’s era philosophe, Joseph Beuys, and a co-production from Terz Filmproduktion, Köln, SWR, Baden-Baden, WDR, Köln in cooperation with Arte, to the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. Veiel studied directing and dramaturgy at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin under Krzysztof Kieślowski. Some of his other documentary works include Balagan (Berlinale 1994) and Black Box BRD (Black Box Germany, Berlinale 2002). His feature film debut Wer wenn nicht wir (If Not Us, Who) premiered in the Berlinale Competition in 2011 and won the Alfred Bauer Prize.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-34-23-amUtilizing previously unpublished archival video and audio footage, In Beuys Veiel brings light to a man of profound intellectual capacity in the vein of Goethe, Voltaire and Machiavelli. Often derided in his home country of Germany, Joseph Beuys, holds the distinction of being the first German artist to be granted a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. While most contemporaries compare Beuys to another 1960’s era personality, Andy Warhol, Veiel’s Beuys, emerges from a much deeper metaphysical, philosophical framework.

The film is a linear piece. Veiel uses a cookie cutter approach in introducing the viewer to the central character. A Beuys voice-over-narration philosophises on the properties of art while still photos are shown in 3-5 second intervals set to non-diagetic music and sounds.A first real, humanistic impression is of Beuys performing on the street in clown-like fashion drawing attention to himself. Eccentric. Yet quite popular.

From here Veiel moves right into one of the most critical tenants of Beuys’ social outlook with an archival video clip of Beuys on money. Beuys acquiesces he wants to get by and thus money is important. Then, Beuys goes nuclear with “but it’s not part of the revolution.”

Quickly an interesting distinction is made by Veiel as Beuys is commonly referred to as the “Andy Warhol of Germany.”  Warhol, an American pop cultural icon, loved and adored for his flamboyant use of everyday, commonplace items like a Campbell’s soup can to create art, is shown via archival footage stating “every moral situation has the potential to become art.” Beuys, on the other hand is often shown being mocked and derided by the formal press in this documentary, takes Warhol’s statement further into the humanist/social philosophical lineage that “every social situation has the potential to be art.”

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A well-liked teacher, philosopher and Green Party candidate for Prime Minister, Beuys was questioned deeply, just short of being interrogated, over his art and his ideas. One particularly obtuse questioner, posed the query, “Do you consider yourself an artist?” Followed by “Will you use baby buggies in your next art project?” Loud guffaws from the present journalists set the tone for Beuys’ response. With a quiet, reflective voice, Beuys answered that he felt “everyone is an artist.” Facing further derision, Beuys quickly moved his response into a less provocative line of thought with “I mean social art when I say everyone is an artist.” Herein lies the essence of Beuys truth. Beuys profoundly believed in everyone’s unique capacity to move society and culture forward to a more perfect state of being through “the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world that is accessible by direct experience through inner development,” known as anthroposophy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy)

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-29-22-amThroughout the film, Beuys defied and acted against much of what he saw as injustice through his art work seeking a better way and ultimately a better society. With this mindset, Beuys endlessly worked toward a more perfect state. His art and his world views reflected this aim. In one particularly bold art project Beuys promised a planting of 7000 new trees. Using 7000 rock boulders placed in a free space the project began. As a tree was planted a boulder was removed. Veiel uses time lapse via still photos to mark the passage of time as the boulders slowly disappear and new trees are seen being planted. As the project neared completion, however, Beuys’ light began to fade as he called for an end to currency’s dominant role in democracy. Despite his art work being called “the most expensive piece of trash,” Beuys, disciplined and tempered from war wounds, held his ground responding, “Yes, I want to expand people’s consciousness.”

In Beuys, Director Veiel lets the artist speak for himself without outsiders commenting creating an expansive space for the exploration of Beuys’ ideas. Joseph Beuys passed away in 1986. Interestingly, Beuys sweeping concepts of art are still alive and relevant today in Germany’s ongoing social, moral and political debates. The film was presented in black and white with traditional documentary filmmaking techniques including narrative voice-overs, still photography, archival film clips, and present day interviews from primary and secondary sources.

As the film closes, Joseph Beuys emerges as a man of the ages, a thinker beyond his time. Often seen as a revolutionary, Joseph Beuys was seemingly always a mind in touch with the absolute principle behind Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan.” Highly recommended and hands down, my favorite film of the festival.

*All photos courtesy of berlinale.de

*

THE PANORAMA AUDIENCE AWARDS GO TO INSYRIATED AND I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The public has cast its votes: the 19th Panorama Audience Awards – presented by the Berlinale Panorama section in collaboration with radioeins and for the first time in co-operation with rbb television (Berlin-Brandenburg Broadcasting) – go to Insyriated by Philipp Van Leeuw for best fiction film and I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck for best documentary.

Insyriated is a tautly-constructed chamber drama about trying to live a normal life in a war zone. It is the second film starring Hiam Abbass that has won the Panorama Audience Award (she also played the lead in Eran Riklis’s Lemon Tree in 2008).

Raoul Peck’s filmic essay I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin and his three assassinated friends – civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X – has also been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature.

The official award ceremony will be held at 5 pm on Sunday, February 19 in CinemaxX 7 at Potsdamer Platz. The prizes will be awarded by rbb director Patricia Schlesinger. Knut Elstermann, radioeins film expert, and Panorama curator Wieland Speck will host the event. Directly after the ceremony, the winning fiction film will be shown. The Panorama Dokumente winner will be screened at 8 pm, also in CinemaxX 7.

The Panorama Audience Award has been given since 1999. Since 2011, not only the best fiction film but also the best documentary film have received awards. During the festival, moviegoers are asked to rate the films shown in Panorama on voting cards after the screenings. In 2017 a total of 29,000 votes were cast and counted.

This year Panorama presented 50 feature-length films from 43 countries, of which 21 screened in the Panorama Dokumente series.

Panorama Audience Award Winner Fiction Film 2017
Insyriated
Belgium / France / Lebanon 2017
By Philippe Van Leeuw

2nd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017
Karera ga Honki de Amu toki wa (Close-Knit)
Japan 2017
By Naoko Ogigami

3rd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017
1945
Hungary 2017
By Ferenc Török

Panorama Audience Award Winner Panorama Dokumente 2017
I Am Not Your Negro
France / USA / Belgium / Switzerland 2016
By Raoul Peck

2nd place Panorama Audience Award Panorama Dokumente 2017
Chavela
USA 2017
By Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi

3rd place Panorama Audience Award Panorama Dokumente 2017
Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting)
France / Palestine / Switzerland / Qatar 2017
By Raed Andoni

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: The Lost City of Z (Gray, 2016): Ireland

Posted by Larry Gleeson

James Gray directs The Lost City of Z, his adaptation of the David Grann book “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.” A Plan B Production starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland, The Lost City of Z tells the real-life story of Col. Percival “Percy” Fawcett and his search for the existence of a mysterious, sunken metropolis – the City of Z. Along the way, Gray delivers social commentary on the social norms during a time of tremendous scientific and social upheaval.

The film opens with a military social where Percy sees his ambitions diminished as he is classed as having been born with “unfortunate ancestors.” Percy, played by Brit Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) finds climbing the military ranks in 1920’s England a cumbersome ordeal. Seeking promotion and the financial security it will bring, Percy accepts a land surveying mission in Bolivia. Military trained and hardened with discipline, Percy thrives in the harsh environment where others falter.

After the 1911 expedition, Percy returns full of vigor detailing the stories he has heard of the Lost Civilization and having felt remnants of an ancient civilization in his bare hands and acquiesces to going back into the jungle for deeper expeditions to provide a comfortable life for his family. His children are small. His wife capable.  As he reconnects with his wife Nina (Sienna Miller), he stimulates her interest in the lost city and reignites the passion the two had always shared. In a heartfelt moment, Nina proposes they return to the Amazon and find the lost civilization together.

In May of 1912, Percy returns to the Amazon with his expeditionary team leaving Nina to look after the children. Here the filmmaking opens up. The production design becomes quite plush. Director of Photography Darius Khondji frames exquisite jungle shots. The musical score and diagetic sounds from Christopher Spelman complement and enhance the luscious mise-en-scene and aid in the film’s storytelling. The narrative is chronological and carries the film quite well with two diverse settings – the familial setting in Ireland and the expeditionary setting in the Amazon jungle.

Pushing through unmapped territory in the Amazon, the expedition is confronted by a tribe of cannibals preparing for dinner. An already despondent team has had enough of Percy’s ramrodding them deeper and deeper into the unknown where danger seems to be awaiting with each step.

Nevertheless, Percy continues his almost maniacal pursuit citing the military commander’s need for critical information. A ranking member of the team begins sloughing off eventually ruining any chance of continuing the expedition and the team achieving its stated mission. The team is forced to return home much with Percy vowing to return.

The First World War breaks out and all expeditions to the Amazon are put on hold. In combat (trench warfare) Percy suffers from chlorine gas exposure. While recovering, Percy and his son Jack (Tom Holland), now a grown man, reconnect with Jack coming to admire and respect his father immensely. So much so that Jack proposes the two go back to the Amazon and find the Lost City of Z together. Percy makes a bold proposal to the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) on returning to find the Lost City of Z with his son Jack. A stupefied RGS appears dumbfounded as they give Percy approval with his stated stipulations.

Percy and Jack renew the search for the Lost City of Z and what transpires there remains a mystery today. Stories and remnants of truths spontaneously make their way back to Nina indicating Percy and Jack found the Lost City of Z and have chosen to stay there for the time being. Nina never lost hope that Percy and Jack would someday return.

Gray’s The Lost City of Z is a grand tale, well told with strong, compelling acting. Hunnam understands character arc and it’s a viewing treat to watch him unfold and develop the powerful, inner character of Colonel Percival Fawcett. Sienna Miller turns in a masterful performance as the doting, supportive wife, Nina.  Kate Ringsell managed the film’s casting.

The production design is as good as it gets with Production Designer Jean-Vincent Puzos providing breath-taking and often, stunning glimpses of jungle life as well as the enchanting landscape of Ireland.  The Lost City of Z is also a solid period piece with excellent costuming provided by Sonia Grande. Highly recommended film.

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Bright Nights (Arslan, 2017) Norway

Posted by Larry Gleeson

German Director Thomas Arslan brings it home with his latest Golden Bear nominated film, Bright Nights (Helle Nachte). Arslan had been previously nominated for the Golden Bear, the festival’s top film prize in 2013 for his film GoldBright Nights, making its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition, tells the story of a single, working father, Michael,  who reunites with his son, Luis, after the loss of his own father.

Arslan proves he is a master of cinematic language from the opening scene set within an industrial batch plant on a waterway. The image of a plant operator seated at his indoor work station wearing a protective hard hat speaks volumes. The lighting recedes from a medium to high key to low key lighting. The man removes his hard hat and drops his head into his hands exasperated. The scene transitions to the solidly built man walking through the night in profile. Reinhild Blaschke managed the Production Design. Director of Photography Reinhold Vorschneider allows much of the story to unfold with long takes.

Later in the film, after discovering his father has died, the man has opted to bring his son to help remediate his father’s cabin. As Michael is packing up his father’s belonging, a silence ensues where Michael comes to the realization, he doesn’t really know his own son.

With a sense of his own mortality now, Michael seeks to reconnect and re-establish a relationship with Luis. Visually pleasing mise-en-scene depicts scenes of father and son hiking and fishing in breathtaking Austrian locations. However, not everything is perfect in this natural sportsman’s paradise. Luis feels confused and rebels.

The relationship teeters in the balance when an young woman befriends the son and the two share their experiences. The son decides to give his father a second chance. Going for one last hike the father drives for through a gray, fogged in road. The drive goes on for an uncomfortable amount of time signifying the large amount of gray space in the relationship.

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@Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

The film transitions revealing vibrant colors of green and yellow symbolizing a time of joy and healing with a touch of red foreshadowing a powerful element of emotionality is still present. The relationship dynamic between Michael, played by Georg Friedrich and Luis, played by Tristan Göbel drives the narrative. Both actors deliver very compelling performances.

In my opinion, the climatic image comes quickly thereafter, as the son goes off on his own. A wide angle long shot of the man running across a mountain ridge with a large mountain range looming in the background slightly out of focus reminiscent of Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia as he rides solo across the barren Arabian desert. Again, the cinematic language is so much greater than mere words. The lengths the father is willing to go to in order to re-establish the father/son relationship bond is beyond measure. Reinhold Vorschneider served as the film’s Director of Photography.

While there are many father/son relationship dynamic films, there is only one Bright Nights. Highly recommended. A cinematic language extraordinaire.

*Featured photo courtesy of Berlinale.de and @Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

 

 

 

 

The Berlin New Compass Perspektive Award Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

BEST FILM IN THE PROGRAM GOES TO ADRIAN GOIGINGER

On Friday, February 17, the jury members – filmmakers Feo Aladag, Sigrid Hoerner, and Johannes Naber – presented the 2017 Compass Perspektive Award for Best Film. Awarded for the first time this year and endowed with EUR 5,000, the prize goes to the fiction film Die Beste aller Welten by Adrian Goiginger. The trophy is a small compass conceived to provide orientation and direction to a new generation of Perspektive filmmakers.

The jury members watched the 14 films in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino section. After debating passionately, they picked their favorite.

Jury statement – The Best of All Worlds
The film is the story of seven-year-old Adrian, who lives in 1990s Salzburg with a heroin-addicted, but loving mother and her friends. His life is like an adventure playground – until both child services and the brutal reality of drug addiction threaten to destroy his world.

Director Adrian Goiginger’s film is based on his own childhood and is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of the seemingly hopeless battle between maternal love and addiction. Goiginger leaves open to interpretation whether it is the drug itself, or society’s way of dealing with it, that presents a greater threat to the child protagonist.

With his sensitive direction of a brilliant ensemble cast, the film is touching without becoming kitschy; the unpretentious cinematography gets under your skin without being voyeuristic.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Have a Nice Day (Liu Jian, 2017) China

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Liu Jian mortgages the house to make films! Chinese artist/filmmaker Liu Jian delighted the house at the Berlinale Palast Theater during the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

Utilizing a warm color palette and an exceptional musical score mixing classical American jazz with traditional Chinese sounds, Liu Jian takes the viewer on a colorful journey through a southern Chinese city drawing several people from diverse backgrounds with different motives into bloody conflict in the darkly comedic, animation feature film, Have a Nice Day.  But wait, there’s more!

Have a Nice Day is Liu Jian second foray into feature animation film. His first Piercing I, a cold, hard look at the 2008 global financial crisis. Liu Jian is now in production on his third film, a self-reflective animation feature, School Town, an autobiographical look at Liu Jian’s own life.

In Have a Nice Day, Liu Jian allows a bag containing a million yuan to take center stage. Greed and selfish motives take over. The gangster boss who lays claim to the bagful of yuan holds court and wistfully recalls days from future past while pontificating to a subordinate who has spunk and maintains he’s an artist. Some philosophical discourse takes place on what exactly constitute art and who can call themselves a true artist. The bag has been lost and/or stolen and a butcher/hitman is sent to recover the money-laden bag.

The bag representing progress continues to move from one point to another. Various, vicarious and unsuspecting, dialoguing individuals reveal social and moral issues issues while clutching the bag of money tightly in hopes of securing a better life. In the end, it’s all just an illusory pipe dream fantasy.

Nevertheless, Modern China is in flux and a real war for control is ripe with violence and dangerous activities. With the animation format, Liu Jian is adeptly able to circumvent and soften some of the more distasteful aspects of this movement toward progress while heightening and stylizing the mood in China today.

Along the way, Liu Jian adds some subtle Western influences as he develops nuances of character. For example, the Hitman is a butcher when he’s not working for the mob boss. To add depth to the butcher, Liu Jian inserts a Rocky movie poster starring Sylvester Stallone on the Hitman’s locker at the meat processing plant.

In recent time, much is made of China’s growing economic power and goal of world dominance and, by the film’s end, one of the film’s protagonists, the Hitman, laments, “without high-technologies we just can’t win.” The film closes with an earthy mise-en-scene as a large city-scape with shades of browns and grays sits silently while a long, steady rain cascades across the screen in a vertical fashion.

Another beautiful film in the Berlinale Competition. While Chinese animation short films have been in previous Berlinales, Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, is the first feature-length, Chinese animation film to be screened at a Berlinale. It’s a touching expose. And, it’s a worthy contender for the Golden Bear. Warmly recommended.

*Featured photo: Courtesy of Liu Jian/Berlinale.de