Tag Archives: television

Broad variety of films in annual Boston Jewish Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

On a day that honors Veterans, the Boston Jewish Film Festival will screen an inspirational documentary about fighters pursing peace.

“I often ask myself where are the peacemakers,” said Jaymie Saks, executive director of the film festival. “This film celebrates people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who are able to overcome their differences to come together for peace.”

Featuring former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian political prisoners, “Disturbing the Peace” is one of 38 documentary, feature and short films that will be shown through Nov. 21 at theatres in Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs.

In its 28th year, this year’s film festival has a strong focus on films about prejudice, anti-Semitism and justice, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation. Identified as part of the Cummings Social Justice Film Series, these films reveal personal, social and political change in a troubled world.

Films on these topics have always been a crucial piece of our festival, but this time we had our eye out specifically for films that touch on these subjects,” Saks said.

Selecting films from Israel, Argentina, Hungary, Poland, France, Germany and other counties, the festival gives audiences opportunities to hear directors and actors speak and answer questions at screenings. About 12,000 people are expected to attend.Many films have a lighter focus, such as “On the Map,” the story of the 1977 Israeli basketball team that beat the Soviets and won the European Cup. It’s appropriately shown just outside Gillette Stadium at Showcase Cinema in Patriot Place.

“It’s called the “Miracle on Hardwood,” Israel’s version of the “Miracle on Ice,” Saks said. “They were the underdog and it’s an exciting story not just about basketball but about Israel.”

Winning awards at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and the Jerusalem Film Festival, the comedy “One Week and A Day” is about a father who copes with the death of his son by smoking his medical marijuana.

And the film “The Last Laugh” features Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman and other comedians exploring the Jewish sense of humor and will be followed by a conversation with the director and Robert Edwards, author of “The Big Book of Jewish Humor.”

The festival also has series on family friendly films, Israeli television hits, and short works about innovative risk-takers.

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A scene from Freedom to Marry

In the Cummings Social Justice Film Series, the documentary “Freedom to Marry” tells the story of the long fight for marriage equality, specifically in Massachusetts. In another film on inequality, “Sand Storm,” a young Bedouin woman in Israel struggles to define herself within her traditional family.

Many feature and documentary films offer a new look at the Holocaust. “Cloudy Sunday” tells the little-known story of what happened in Greece, through a fictionalized love story, and another, “A Grain of Truth” is a murder-mystery that reveals the history of Polish anti-Semitism.

“It’s important to keep talking about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in new ways with a contemporary lens,” Saks said.

That is literally what happens in “Germans and Jews,” a documentary about the evolution of facing the truth about the Holocaust.

Other films reveal unexpected heroes and villains, as truths get revealed about the roles people played in the Holocaust.

In the feature “Origin of Violence,” a young French professor has his world turned upside down when he discovers a truth about his father while on a research trip to Buchenwald. In the documentary, “Keep Quiet,” an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier radically changes when he discovers his grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor. And in the documentary “Kozalchic Affair,” a Jewish collaborator turns out to be more complicated than he seems.

Revealing deep courage and conviction, the documentary “Karski and the Lords of Humanity” is the story of a Polish underground courier, who risked his life to visit the Warsaw Ghetto and a Nazi transit camp in order to deliver eyewitness accounts to the Allied powers. As described in the festival program guide, “His testimonies are some of the most important accounts we have today – and his efforts stand as an example of heroism in the face of atrocity.”

(Source:www.milforddailynews.com)

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Note from Roger – Tower

Dear Cinephiles,

TOWER is flat out brilliant.  One of the best documentaries of the year.    And it’s also the most visually immersive unique visual experience.

I cannot recommend this spellbinding film more.  I’m attaching the NY Times review below which was a Critic’s Pick.

It plays tonight at 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre.

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

Click here for tickets

tower

‘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.

44th #AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to John Williams

For the first time in AFI history, America’s highest honor for a career in film will be bestowed upon a composer. John Williams will receive the 44th AFI Life Achievement Award in 2016.

Watch John Williams as he discusses scoring George Lucas films!

“John Williams has written the soundtrack to our lives,” said Sir Howard Stringer, Chair, AFI Board of Trustees. “Note by note, through chord and chorus, his genius for marrying music with movies has elevated the art form to symphonic levels and inspired generations of audiences to be enriched by the magic of the movies. AFI is proud to present him with its 44th Life Achievement Award.”

John Williams’ storied career as the composer behind many of the greatest American films and television series of all time boasts over 150 credits across seven decades. Perhaps best known for his enduring collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, his scores are among the most iconic and recognizable in film history, from the edge-of-your-seat JAWS (1975) motif to the emotional swell of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) and the haunting elegies of SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993). Always epic in scale, his music has helped define over half a century of the motion picture medium. Three of Williams’ scores landed on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores — a list of the 25 greatest American film scores of all time — including the unforgettable STAR WARS (1977) soundtrack, at number one. With five Academy Award® wins and 49 nominations in total, Williams holds the record for the most Oscar® nominations of any living person.

Williams will be honored at a Gala Tribute on June 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute television special will air on TNT later that same month, followed by an encore presentation on Turner Classic Movies.

For information on tickets or tributes, please contact Amy Campbell at 323.856.7676 or acampbell@afi.com.

(Source: AFI Press Release)

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Launches #TCM Backlot

April 27, 2016

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced the launch of its first ever-official fan club, TCM Backlot, which will serve as the ultimate destination for enthusiasts of TCM. TCM Backlot will give fans unprecedented access to all things TCM including exclusive content, never-before-seen talent interviews, archival videos from the TCM vault, an exclusive TCM podcast, as well as opportunities to win visits to the TCM set, attend meet and greets with TCM hosts and the opportunity to influence programming through online votes. TCM Backlot can be accessed at tcmbacklot.com for an $87 annual fee and will be available for fans to join on April 27, as a kick-off to the 7th annual TCM Classic Film Festival which begins the next day in Hollywood. The fan club was created in partnership with fullcube, a platform integrating and automating subscription-based businesses.

 

“Creating a fan club allows us to super-serve and further engage with our most passionate and devoted fans,” said Jennifer Dorian, general manager of TCM. “We are always looking for exciting and immersive brand extension opportunities and TCM Backlot offers just that – allowing fans the ability to go behind-the-scenes and dive deeper into the world of TCM, providing a consistently updated fan experience filled with entertaining content and engaging opportunities.”

 

“The creation of TCM Backlot shines a spotlight on the tremendous opportunities for media companies, like TCM, to transform their relationship with consumers,” said David Hickson, co-founder and CEO of fullcube. “Fullcube’s capabilities help create a brand extension for TCM by bundling a wide variety of engaging assets such as digital content, e-commerce, event and experiential assets, into a premium subscription offering delivering exclusive benefits to classic movie lovers.”

TCM Backlot will provide members with robust access to TCM content, talent, programming and events. Membership highlights include:

 

  • Programming Influence – receive an advance look at TCM programming and have the opportunity to influence the schedule of movies through contests and voting.
  • Guest Programmer – enter to win an opportunity to co-host a night of movies with a TCM host.
  • On-set Tours – win the opportunity to tour the TCM set and watch a TCM production being shot as well as interact with TCM hosts and crew.
  • VIP Event Access & Members-Only Events – enjoy exclusive access to special events during the annual TCM Classic Film Festival and the TCM Cruise, as well as exclusive events at historical Hollywood sites and members-only TCM Bus Tour events
  • Giveaways and Discounts – receive discounts to TCM related events, tours and merchandise as well as contest givaways of TCM merchandise.

 

For more information on TCM Backlot, please click here or visit tcmbacklot.com.

 

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, which is available in more than 85 million homes, 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, hosted by Robert Osborne and Sally Field, 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 part of Turner, a Time Warner company. Turner creates and programs branded news; entertainment; animation and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

 

About fullcube

 

fullcube is a platform integrating and automating subscription-based businesses. Developed after more than a decade of experience designing, launching and managing premium subscription programs for enthusiast brands, the fullcube platform simplifies the consumer experience and maximizes revenue for subscription offerings from publishers, media, entertainment and sports companies, and membership organizations. fullcube’s platform provides an infrastructure that creates a premium subscription product and integrates multiple subscription offerings into a single hierarchy through the bundling of digital content, commerce, event and experiential assets designed to engage subscribers spanning the spectrum from fanatical to brand-new. For more information, visit: www.fullcu.be.

(Source: Press Release TCM Press Room)