Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 11 Festival Films 2011

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam marked the 11th film festival (across two continents and five countries) that I covered in 2011. Which means that not only do I probably deserve an Independent Spirit Award for journalistic insanity, but also that I’ve been under a rock when it comes to what’s been playing in actual art-houses and multiplexes for the past 12 months. So with this in mind I’ve compiled a list of my personal greatest fest hits (arranged by festival of discovery, though in no particular order, complete with quotes from previous posts) – from those that have played a theater near you, to those that will in 2012, to those that will frustratingly fall victim to the vagaries of the market only to reappear on someone else’s top DVDs list.

To read my selections visit Filmmaker magazine.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hot off the Press: Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Names Program Director

Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Announces 2011 Award Winners and Lauren Wissot of Filmmaker Magazine Joins Santa Fe IFF as Program Director for 2012

Press Release-December 10, 2011



Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Announces 2011 Award Winners and Lauren Wissot of Filmmaker Magazine Joins Santa Fe IFF as Program Director for 2012

The 2011 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (Santa Fe IFF) is delighted and honored to announce that Filmmaker Magazine's Lauren Wissot is coming onboard as Program Director for the 2012 Festival. The 2011 Santa Fe IFF was a resounding success, bringing independent filmmakers and film lovers from around the world together from October 19-23rd. Lauren Wissot wrote about the 2011 Santa Fe IFF, [T]hey've been able to convince an entire town to come onboard to make their dream come true. Indeed, this is the first time I've ever been to a festival with volunteers (around 75 of them) and local businesses (close to 50!) practically vying with one another to pitch in."

The Santa Fe INDEPENDENT Film Festival was founded in 2009 screening 25 films at Warehouse 21. Santa Fe IFF responded to community and filmmaker interest and programmed 80 films in 2010. The trend of expansion has continued and in 2011, Santa Fe IFF screened over 110 independent films at five Official Sponsorship venues including The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Warehouse 21, New Mexico History Museum, Center for Progress & Justice and El Museo Cultural. The festival included discussions/workshops with award-winning artists and industry professionals including filmmakers Kirby Dick and Norman Patrick Brown, Laugh-In Creator Digby Wolfe, and principle casting director/producer Sheryl Roberts. Discussion panels were led by Karen Koch and Marshall Bear. Santa Fe Independent Film Festival also hosted parties at 5 downtown venues and managed a filmmaker lounge where filmmakers relaxed and networked at the former Corazon.

The films screened at Santa Fe Independent Film Festival covered a wide variety of subjects and genres including Drama, Comedy, Musical, Green Earth, Social Justice, Health Awareness, Indigenous Peoples, Veteran Awareness, Youth, Family, Arts, Spanish, and New Mexico film. Feature films included Academy Award-nominated Kirby Dick's This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Award-winning Bombay Beach by Alma Har'el and White Knight starring Stacy Keach and Tom Sizemore. In 2011, Santa Fe IFF increased audience attendance from 1,500 in 2010 to nearly 2,500. Volunteer support grew from 25 to 85 volunteers. Santa Fe Independent Film Festival increased its local, state and international support and Community Partners rose from 22 in 2010 to 45 in 2011.

On October 22, Santa Fe IFF 2011 Awards were presented at The Lensic by Aviva Farber and Jon Hendry. Santa Fe IFF's American Filmmaker Award went to documenteur Kirby Dick, Outstanding NM Filmmaker Award to Tony Mark and Lifetime Achievement Award to Alton Walpole followed by the screening of the Award-winning Bombay Beach by Alma Har'el. Following the Lensic screening, Maura Studi presented the Santa Fe IFF Jury Awards at the San Francisco Street Bar and Grill VIP Party. Awards Winners are: 2011 Santa Fe IFF Best Production Award to Identical by Daniel Bollag, Best International Film to Niqab by Stefanos Sitaras, Best Animation to The Astronomer's Sun by Peter Kershaw, Best Documentary to Cancerpants by Nevie Owens, Best Short to Compania In-Felix by Ivana Corsale and Best Feature to The Encore of Tony Duran by Fred Sayeg. Audience Choice Award went to Surreal Estate by Lori Romero and Honorable Mentions include Mark Steffen for Lowriders and Brad Littlefield for Becoming Eduardo. Happy New Year by K. Lorrel Manning won the David Horowitz Media Literacy Award in Film and Sacred Poison by Yvonne Latty won the David Horowitz New Mexico Film Award. In absentia awards included Ed Asner for Best Actor Award and Alma Har'el for Best New Filmmaker Award.

Supporters and sponsors included The Santa Fe Arts Commission, IATSE Local 480, Philip and Barbara Gudwin, McCune Charitable Foundation, Bioneers, Livingry Foundation, The Aztec Street Café and Restaurant, The San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, Walter Burke Catering, The Bishop's Lodge, Ojo Caliente Resort and Spa, The Cowgirl Barbecue, Whole Foods, Icelandic Glacial Water, Denny's, Courtyard Marriott, KUNM, New Energy Economy, Vanessie, La Posada, Atomic Grill, Garrett's Desert Inn, Santa Fe Brewing Company, The Santa Fe Reporter, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Hutton Broadcasting, CNM (Corporation for Network Media), Santa, SourceDesign, Senor Murphy Candymaker, Primo Cigar Shop, One Mind Design, Randall D. Moore, Tony Abeyta, Adam's Automotive, Clafoutis, Core Connection, Fiasco Wine, Focus On Recovery, and Greer Enterprises, Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin, L.L.P., Image Ratio, Jambo Café, Joe's Diner, La Montanita Coop, Nambe Mills, Plaza Cafe Southside, Raaga, RDM Associates, Reel West Pictures, RITE Wellness Center, RIZE Nightclub, Sage Inn, Studio Nia Santa Fe, Talisman Tattoo, Winds of Choice Chiropractic and World Class Watches. The number of educational institutions participating in the Santa Fe IFF Internship Program tripled in 2011 with participants from 9 schools including the University of New Mexico, St. John's College, Desert Academy and Santa Fe Prep.

For Further Information Please Contact 505-470-2411 or visit:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Toneelgroep Amsterdam: “Hedda Gabler” outshines “The Miser”

Who knew Ibsen had a canine following in Holland? I thought as I stood in line at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam directly behind a woman carrying a small dog in her purse. I was there to see Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s performance of “Hedda Gabler,” helmed by the company’s artistic director Ivo van Hove and starring the luminous Halina Reijn, one of seven productions being presented with English surtitles on Thursday evenings. (Nevertheless, from the sound of things it seemed the tiny pooch and I were the only ones in the Stadsschouwburg unable to speak Dutch.)

To read the rest of my review visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pairing Films at IDFA 2011

The Jack the Ripper weather that blanketed part of the 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam this year seemed poetically apropos. Rushing from P&I screenings, to public showings, to private viewing booths I often felt like I was lost in a heavy fog of docs. In addition I took great advantage of the many behind-the-scenes and inside-scoop events — most free to the public — that gives this biggest doc fest in Europe its accessible community vibe. I watched a Talk Show with tabloid-deep Nick Broomfield discussing his “Sarah Palin: You Betcha!” over a live Internet feed. I attended in person a much more fascinating Meet the Makers with Steve James (ironically, the very same morning I learned that “The Interrupters” — which I’d predicted would nab this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary — shamefully got booted from the Oscar shortlist), who was being honored with a retrospective on top of presenting his own Top 10 compilation. I caught another Talk Show at the Escape Club with Joe Berlinger — who announced that it was the first time out of the country for his accompanying invitee and longtime “Paradise Lost” series subject, the recently freed Jason Baldwin. (Berlinger and Baldwin were followed by guest Vikram Gandhi, whose “Kumaré” was my top pick at DOC NYC.)

To read the rest of my coverage visit Filmmaker magazine.