Friday, October 28, 2011

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Read my coverage in the Fall issue!

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

Back when I fled Colorado for NYC it was the rebellious thing for an artist to do. Now two decades later it’s the opposite as young bohemians across the nation are radically giving the finger to both coasts, forcing the arts culture to come to them. Case in point, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, which was originally launched just three years ago as a Slamdance-style antidote to the more established Santa Fe Film Festival, and is made up of folks who want to play in their own backyard – and spruce it up locally. This year the two festivals’ dates unfortunately overlapped – with The (smaller) Man opening with Michel Hazanavicius’s Cannes buzz-generating “The Artist” and bringing in Emilio Estevez and his dad for a screening of Estvez’s “The Way,” while the sprawling SFIFF chose to present Billy Wilder’s Albuquerque-set classic “Ace in the Hole” at the New Mexico History Museum, and hosted Kirby Dick (along with a special screening of Dick’s bar-none best work “Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist”).

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jeremiah Zagar on "Starved For Attention"

It’s been awhile since I sat down to chat with director Jeremiah Zagar, one half of Brooklyn-based Herzliya Films, which he runs with his producer Jeremy Yaches, so I was pretty excited to hear about their latest venture, “Starved For Attention.” A short film series created at the behest of Doctors Without Borders and VII Photo designed to highlight childhood malnutrition around the world “Starved For Attention” also seems to be the rarest of public service announcements, doubling as works of cinematic art. I spoke briefly with Zagar as he was preparing for the release of the eighth doc in the series, dealing with the food crisis in Somalia and Northern Kenya.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wladimir Klitschko on "Klitschko"

Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, the 6’6″ Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World subjects of Sebastian Dehnhardt’s "Klitschko," are to pugilism what the Williams sisters are to tennis. But unlike Venus and Serena, these chess-playing siblings, who became the first brothers to hold world titles at the same time, also hold PhDs and are fluent in four languages. Coming of age behind the Iron Curtain, the Ukrainian brothers’ psyches were shaped both by black- market Bruce Lee movies and the Chernobyl disaster (their military dad was a first responder). So when I heard that current champ Wladimir was available for interviews – maybe running a political party in the homeland is keeping his big brother too busy? – I leapt at the chance to chat with one of (what a talking head in "Klitschko" calls) “the most intelligent heavyweights ever.”

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Arizona Underground Film Festival 2011

It’s surprising that the Arizona Underground Film Festival is only in its fourth year since it’s got the vision and confidence of fests that have been around a lot longer. The brainchild of founder/director David Pike, who handles acquisitions for locally based BrinkDVD, AZUFF seems to have a strong sense of film camaraderie and community on its side. (Indeed, stepping out of the hot Tucson sun and into the downtown art-house The Screening Room – one of the venues of the Arizona International Film Festival, which I covered back in April – to pick up my press pass, I was greeted by none other than Giulio Scalinger, founder/director of the 20-year-old AIFF, who runs the cozy theater and was busy setting up the concession stand.)

To read the rest of my coverage visit Filmmaker magazine.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone

"I've seen them do every style—in the same song!" Mike Watt of Minutemen declares early on in “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone,” Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler's cinematic tribute to the titular SoCal black punk rock band. Fishbone also makes other white talking heads, including Perry Farrell, Gwen Stefani, Flea, and, uh, Tim Robbins (who seems to have wandered into the wrong documentary), gush like giddy school kids. Even better regarded black musicians such as Branford Marsalis, who says about the band, "The musicians get it; the other people don't," and George Clinton, who theorizes that the members are too white for black people and too black for white people, seem in awe.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant Magazine.

Hell and Back Again

Unlike most war docs, which tend to only skim the surface of its gun-toting subjects' lives, photojournalist Danfung Dennis's “Hell and Back Again” isn't content to merely capture warriors in combat. He follows an injured Sgt. Nathan Harris all the way from Afghanistan to his home in North Carolina, where his wife and high school sweetheart Ashley is helping to reconstruct their former lives. From its high-adrenaline opening of Echo Company preparing to take a Taliban stronghold before they're ambushed and lose a man, which segues to footage of the unit's homecoming, the documentary smartly shuttles between the sergeant in the heat of battle and his tackling of daily mundane tasks. Refreshingly, Dennis is less concerned with questions of morality than he is in pondering how a person can mentally take the leap from making life and death choices for himself and the men under him to deciding where to park the car at Wal-Mart.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant Magazine.