Monday, April 14, 2014

Director Kitty Green on Ukraine is Not a Brothel

In (coastal) America the line between performance art and pornography has long been walked by a plethora of female provocateurs, from Annie Sprinkle right up to Sasha Grey. So in this sense Femen – a loose knit group of mostly model-figure feminists who stage topless, flash mob-style protests – aren’t doing anything that would create uproar in New York or San Francisco. But in their native Ukraine, a country with an especially misogynistic mentality that doesn’t take too kindly to any citizen intent on upending the system, they cause a stir and then some.

Luckily there’s Kitty Green’s Ukraine is Not a Brothel, a documentary that goes beyond both politics and T&A hype to bring us a complex portrait of a movement seemingly riddled with contradiction. From its anti-patriarchal male founder, who claims paradoxes are part of history (citing Marx and Lenin – anti-bourgeois figures who were both bourgeois themselves), and who acknowledges he may have started the whole thing in part to be around sexy chicks, to a member who views her decision to work as an exotic dancer as a means not to be dependent on a man, Green’s inquisitive intelligent filmmaking is far more subversive than any bare-breasted sloganeering could ever be.

Global Comment spoke with the Ukrainian-speaking Aussie director prior to the film’s Canadian premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs. To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Directors Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine Discuss The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

I’ve seen Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden twice now, the first time at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and most recently at the Bermuda International Film Festival (where I’m on the international advisory board and served on this year’s jury). Set on the paradise island of Floreana in the Galapagos in the 1930s, it’s a tale of small town feuding and Tinseltown aspirations turned deadly. It features famous names like Cate Blanchett and Diane Kruger, and a colorful cast of characters, from a Nietzsche-reading hermit doctor to a limelight-loving, faux baroness. Most surprisingly, it’s not a Hollywood flick. On the contrary, it’s a documentary – proving once again that truth can be stranger than fiction. And that a nonfiction flick can be entertaining enough to sit through twice. I spoke with the talented co-directors prior to the film’s NYC theatrical premiere on April 4th.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Taste of Cannes in the Yucat√°n: The Riviera Maya Film Festival

For a beach bum cinephile it doesn’t get much better than the Riviera Maya Film Festival. Only in its third year, Riviera Maya mixes the accessibility of AFI Fest – surprisingly, it’s free and open to all – with a bit of the sensational cachet of Cannes. (Right down to a brazenly coordinated, multi-store jewelry heist in Cancun that resulted in the car carrying Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal getting stopped en route to the opening night screening of Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves. Now that’s entertainment!)

To read my coverage visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hot in the City: Previewing the 11th Annual CineKink NYC

This year’s edition of CineKink NYC, now in the final day of its Kickstarter fundraising drive, wastes no time heating up, opening on February 26 with a cinematic bang in the form of Wiktor Ericsson’s The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Movies, a stellar pic about softcore pornographers with a love story at its heart. (The festival’s gala kickoff party is the day before, February 25.) The titular elderly couple at the center of this doc are the legendary porn director Joe — the “Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street” — and his longtime wife and support system (and sometime actress) Peggy. (No surprise the film had its U.S. premiere at DOC NYC in November and is being given a theatrical release by Film Movement in the spring.)

To read the rest of my sneak peek visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Disco and Atomic War: How Dallas and Knight Rider led to the fall of the Iron Curtain

In Disco and Atomic War Estonian filmmaker Jaak Kilmi approaches what is a pretty dry, well-tread political topic – the power of media to not only prop up totalitarian regimes but to take them down – with lighthearted whimsy. Through the use of archival footage, talking head interviews, staged reenactments – and most importantly, cheesy clips from Dallas and Knight Rider – Kilmi takes us on an offbeat historical and personal journey, back in time to 80s Tallinn. It was an era when, using makeshift antennas to hijack broadcasts from Finnish TV, intrepid Soviet citizens came under western influence, and began to unite to fight for more individual freedoms. (And for the right to do the hustle and find out who shot J.R.)

Global Comment spoke with the doc’s director prior to the film’s DVD and VOD release on February 25th.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sebastian Junger on Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues

Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues is surely one of the most fitting tributes to a fallen comrade ever dreamed up. Founded by Sebastian Junger in the wake of the combat zone death of his Restrepo co-director Tim Hetherington (I interviewed both back in 2010) RISC, based on a Wilderness Medical Associates course adapted for combat, aims to provide freelancers in all media with the kinds of lifesaving equipment and techniques that may have prevented Hetherington’s shrapnel wounds in Libya from killing him. Indeed, when I first heard about RISC its mission seemed so obviously crucial – to give combat journos medical training – I wondered why this practical sensible idea wasn’t the norm. But then Junger pointed out that combat journos themselves don’t think like the norm. “I had 20 years of combat journalism – and no medical experience,” he disclosed to my surprise when I recently followed up with him on the phone for the first time since Hetherington’s heartbreaking death.

To read the rest of my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.