Monday, July 21, 2014

Czech Dream: The 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Though the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival bills itself as “the most important film event in Central and Eastern Europe,” such a bold declaration belies the fact that KVIFF is anything but snobby and self-serious. Back in 2011 I covered the prestigious fest, located in a fairytale scenic, spa city – once frequented by Beethoven and Goethe – about an hour-and-a-half from Prague by car. (That would be a BMW, the “official car” of KVIFF, the company having its own “BMW Zone” where you can check out the latest models nearby the ultra-chic Grandhotel Pupp.) Returning three years later I still find myself surprised by how young this nearly 50-year-old festival feels.

To read the rest of my coverage visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Adam Rifkin on Giuseppe Makes A Movie

With the maniacal film geek erudition of Quentin Tarantino and the madcap family values sensibility of John Waters, Giuseppe Andrews has made 30 independent features that you’ve most likely never heard of. And he probably couldn’t care less about that.

A veteran of both Hollywood and indie film, Adam Rifkin, on the other hand, is a name familiar to any fan of the 1999 cult comedy Detroit Rock City, which Rifkin directed, and which starred Andrews alongside Edward Furlong. Now Rifkin and Andrews have teamed up again as Rifkin follows the director in his quest to shoot in two days his latest flick, Garbanzo Gas, about a cow that gets an all-expense-paid trip to a motel (courtesy of the slaughterhouse).

Andrews may have been so enamored by the scene in Buñuel’s Viridiana, in which the beggars install themselves in the protagonist’s house that he wants to make an entire movie of “just that scene,” but Rifkin seems equally inspired by Andrews. The result is Giuseppe Makes A Movie, the Hollywood outsider/insider’s sweet tribute to his fellow filmmaker friend. And to the Dreamlander-type family of homeless men and trailer park neighbors that orbits Andrews’s mobile home/movie studio in Ventura, CA.

Filmmaker spoke with Rifkin prior to the doc’s New York premiere at Rooftop Films.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Combat Documentarian Rachel Beth Anderson on “First to Fall”

While there seems to be no shortage of cursory stories from the front lines of recent Middle Eastern conflicts, filmmakers Rachel Beth Anderson and Tim Grucza have decided to dig deeper. During the Libyan uprising the duo smartly embedded themselves not with emotionally inaccessible military units but with two Canadian students – friends who cast away their safe and secure western lives to take up arms in the fight to overthrow their homeland’s dictator. The resulting documentary “First to Fall” is an unflinching look not just into the struggle that would eventually oust Gaddafi, but a cinematic, exacting account of how war turns boys into men.

Global Comment spoke with the doc’s co-director (and Sundance award-winning cinematographer) Rachel Beth Anderson prior to the film’s premiere at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in NYC.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Trans(media)ition: the Seattle Transmedia Independent Film Festival

After ten years of being the scrappy little guy to the Seattle International Film Festival’s big kahuna, the Seattle True Independent Film Festival has run its course — which is exactly why I decided to visit the tech-addicted city (as a guest of the fest) to check out the outgoing underdog. Rather than pluck along as second fiddle for another 10 years, STIFF has done what I wish more regional festivals would do: rebrand for the future. As of this year STIFF now stands for the Seattle Transmedia Independent Film Festival, putting the focus squarely on “web series, video game concepts, storytelling apps for mobile phone and tablet, and social media narratives.”

Filmmaker spoke with festival director Tim Vernor throughout the festival, then continued the conversation with the savvy Seattle native post-fest.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Don’t Mess with the Missionary Man: Machine Gun Preacher Sam Childers

I recently attended the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida, where I served on the documentary grand jury as well as a panel discussion about filmmakers and the press. In the Filmmaker Lounge post-panel, I was surprised to meet the subject of one of the docs I’d watched. Kevin Evans’ Machine Gun Preacher tells the unbelievable tale of Sam Childers, outlaw biker turned rescuer of African children, fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army with a Bible in his hand. (If this stranger than fiction story sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw Gerard Butler play Childers in the 2011 Hollywood version of the same name.)

Even odder was Childers’ unabashed openness with a journalist he’d just met and his willingness to flit between diverse subjects: his steadfast belief in Obama’s ties to the loathsome leader of northern Sudan, whether Erik Prince of Blackwater was giving mercenaries a bad name, the reason he was at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in the first place. Because I found myself with more questions than time, I decided to follow up with Childers ASAP, before he was off on his next African mission and out of touch with the first world.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.