Film Festival Blogs
Artists should suffer? No way. "If you don't enjoy the doing, do something else," the filmmaker says.January 31st, 2008 | Randi Cecchine
At Rotterdam, The Independent's Randi Cecchine checks out Lynch, a mysterious character sketch of a film about the inventive and enigmatic filmmaker David Lynch. In the film, the director says that meditating regularly for 32 years has helped him chill out and focus. If that is the case, Cecchine wonders, how come he seems so tightly wound? And what do his experiences tell us about the process of making a film, and the disappointments that seem inevitable when you collaborate with a group of people on a project? You can watch the film's trailer, or a humorous clip of Lynch taking on the iPhone's cinematic aspirations.
The film Lynch, a portrait of filmmaker David Lynch, is described in the Rotterdam film festival catalog as “a documentary sketch about a period of two years, made around the production of his last film, Island Empire.” The film also has an air of mystery.
Filmmaker X' Ho of Singapore packs his new film with images that could land him in jailJanuary 31st, 2008 | Randi Cecchine
Filmmaker and educator Randi Cecchine is blogging from the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdarm. Today, she writes about an explicit short film from Singapore with the catchy title Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head. Filmmaker X' Ho is not afraid to take risks, including many long sequences featuring explicit images. Cecchine is somewhat surprised that the film was included in the festival—despite their reputation, the Dutch are a little suppressed, she says—and wonders whether it's easier to watch this kind of film in a theater with an audience, or alone and on DVD.
My decision to watch Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head, a film by X' Ho, a director from Singapore, speaks volumes about having a film’s title begin with the letter "A" so it will appear at the beginning of the alphabetical catalog listing!
Randi Cecchine arrives in Holland, and checks out Harmut Bitomsky's Staub (Dust)January 29th, 2008 | Randi Cecchine
Filmmaker and educator Randi Cecchine blogs from the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam. Her first film? Staub (Dust), a documentary from Germany the explores the relationship between people and that familiar gray patina. Director Hartmut Bitomsky interviews obsessive cleaners, scientists who study dust to gain insights into the physical world, inventors who have tried to build dust-filtration contraptions, and health experts who worry about the effects of inhaling too much dust. In the end, Cecchine says the film is unexpectedly contemplative. To view a trailer for the film (without subtitles, and in German), check out our Watch page.
The 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam is a 12-day event taking place in fourteen festival locations screening more than 600 films in 26 screening rooms. It is considered to be the Netherlands’ biggest cultural event in terms of paying visitors.
Therese Shechter responds to readers' questions in her second dispatch from SundanceJanuary 26th, 2008 | Therese Shechter
As Sundance devotees start packing their bags, filmmaker and festival volunteer Therese Shechter fields reader questions, including whether or not an average moviegoer should try to attend Sundance at least once, how she pitched her documentary project to potential backers and distributors, and what films she saw at the festival that readers should keep an eye on. She also talks about actor Diego Luna, pictured at left, who participated in the "Latin Renaissance" panel. Apparently, he's very thoughtful about film.
Number of narrative fiction films out of 3,624 submitted that got into the fest: 125
Number of documentary films out of 1,573 submitted that got in: 41
Number of shorts out of 5,107 submitted that got in: 85
Percent likelihood that an indie filmmaker will submit again anyway: 100
Filmmaker Therese Shechter tells all in the first of two dispatches from SundanceJanuary 22nd, 2008 | Therese Shechter
Didn't make it to Park City this year? Therese Shechter did—in fact, for the seventh year in a row, she's volunteering at the festival. So what makes this Sundance different from every other one? After a few days in Park City, Shechter finds herself lamenting a lack of a functional hot tub at her condo and professing love for strangers who deliver hot food. Oh, and she has caught a few films—so far, Anvil! The Story of Anvil! (pictured at left) is her favorite—in between pitching her latest documentary, The American Virigin, to movers and shakers in the indie world. In her next dispatch, Shechter will answer readers' questions about Sundance. To submit one, click here.
Films I've seen: 5
Good films I've seen: 1.5
Hot meals I’ve eaten in five days: 2
Vodka-based cocktails drunk in five days: Lost count sometime in the middle of the Queer Lounge kickoff party
Mg of vitamin C ingested per day: 3,000
Good it's done me: 0
Number of “demi-gods of Canadian metal” I've met: 3
Number of Irish filmmaker/playwrights who make my knees weak: 1
Day Two at the Asheville Film FestivalNovember 13th, 2007 | Darren Dahl
At the Asheville Film Festival, big-name films such as The Savages and When The Devil Knows You're Dead fail to impress, while an animated film from China wins the top honors. A mob comedy wowed the crowd, as did a horror film about a very hungry car. And did we mention Marisa Tomei's commitment to her craft? Also, check our recap on Day One at the festival.
The Asheville Film Festival wrapped up this weekend. The Year of the Fish, an animated take on a Chinese version of the Cinderella story garnered top film honors. Given America's perpetual fascination with gangsters, though, the comedy Randy and the Mob, a runner-up best feature award-winner, may prove to have the most legs.
Day One at the Asheville Film FestivalNovember 9th, 2007 | Darren Dahl
Tamara Jenkins's film The Savages is getting a lot of buzz. But the buzz at the Asheville Film Festival, where the film was screened on opening night, was mostly from the handheld wands that the security guards used to make sure that absolutely no mobile phones or recording devices made it into the Diana Wortham Theatre. The Independent's Darren Dahl reports on the scene. Visit our film festival page for more festival news.
The fifth annual Asheville Film festival kicked off last night with The Savages, the eagerly anticipated film directed by Tamara Jenkins and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney. In contrast with typical standards of Southern hospitality, the film's producers made festival goers run a gauntlet at the screening at the Diana Wortham Theatre.
What sticks? A film that could be called "the feelbad movie of the year"October 19th, 2007
Back home from the festival, Sarah Coleman finds that the film that has stuck with her the most is Operation Filmmaker, about a young Iraqi student given the chance to work on a film production. (The story doesn't deliver the happy outcome you might expect.) To read Sarah's breakdown of Days One, Two, Three, and Four of the festival, visit our blogs page.
My sojourn at the Woodstock Film Festival is over, and it's time to reflect a little on the gazillions of frames that have passed in front of my eyeballs in the last four days. As with any other works of art, films often demand some settling-in time.
Day Four at the Woodstock Film FestivalOctober 16th, 2007
Today is Bob Dylan day at the Woodstock Film Festival. The four-day fest is closing tonight with a screening of the Todd Haynes biopic I’m Not There, in which six different actors, including Christian Bale, Richard Gere, and Cate Blanchett, portray various incarnations of His Bobness over the years.
Day Three at the Woodstock Film FestivalOctober 15th, 2007
Meira Blaustein is the director of the Woodstock Film Festival, but this year she's also a contributing filmmaker. She's screening her heartrending documentary about her disabled son, For the Love of Julian, and it begins my day of documentary viewing. "I made the film out of necessity," Blaustein told me when I bumped into her at the opening night party.
Day Two at the Woodstock Film FestivalOctober 14th, 2007
I'm facing a difficult choice this morning: whether to go to the screening of Black White & Gray, James' Crump's documentary about the relationship between Robert Mapplethorpe and his curator/lover Sam Wagstaff, or Julian Schnabel's feature The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (which sounds even prettier in its French title, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon.) In the end, for logistic
Day One at the Woodstock Film FestivalOctober 12th, 2007
Everyone loves the Woodstock Film Festival. That's the sense you get, anyway, when arriving at this picturesque little Catskills town that proudly bills itself as a "colony of the arts." Here, there are no red carpets, no velvet ropes. The town's only permanent big screen venue, the Tinker Street Cinema, is a modest white clapboard building that used to be a church.