Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Acting Up in Uganda: An Interview with “Call Me Kuchu” co-directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall

Recently racking up awards from the Berlin Film Festival to Toronto’s Hot Docs, Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s “Call Me Kuchu,” which follows a group of Ugandan LGBTI activists in Kampala (led by the recently murdered David Kato, the kuchus’ – Ugandan slang for queers – answer to Martin Luther King, Jr.), is one of those rare docs that manages to enlighten, uplift and enrage in equal doses. It’s a sweeping portrait not just of the heroic gays and lesbians who often literally put themselves in the line of fire each and every day just to demand basic human rights, but also of a disturbingly self-righteous Ugandan society, which bans homosexuality and openly advocates for the death penalty for HIV-positive men. I got a chance to speak with the film’s own fearless co-directors as they were preparing for “Call Me Kuchu” to close the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at NYC’s Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater on June 28th.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mission Accomplished: Lorrel Manning and Michael Cuomo on “Happy New Year”

I first met writer/director K. Lorrel Manning and actor/producer Michael Cuomo at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, where we found ourselves the fish-out-of-water New Yorkers in a sea full of Southwest cinephiles. Their SXSW 2011 (sold out) hit "Happy New Year" is grounded in star Cuomo’s nuanced portrayal of a fictional outsider named Cole Lewis, a sergeant who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and now finds himself battling demons both mental and physical in the psych ward of a veterans hospital. I spoke with the two about their veterans outreach effort, Indiegogo versus Kickstarter, and the best places to start a revolution over breakfast.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The 2012 Human Rights Watch Film Festival

The strength of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is also its weakness. This year’s 23rd edition boasts 16 doc and fiction flicks from 12 countries – yet most fall firmly in the category of solid ITVS fare (in fact, only three are narrative features). Like with the agribusiness detailed in Micha X. Peled’s “Bitter Seeds,” about the epidemic of farmer suicides in India, variety is often an illusion – especially when U.S. or U.S. co-productions are in the majority. This is another way of saying that, yes, the chances of seeing a stinker at HRWFF are slim, but there’s also not much in the way of stay-with-you cinematic experience on display, magical discoveries worth dragging yourself up to the Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater for, rather than just wait until the likely PBS broadcast and see it for free. Fortunately, after viewing more than half of this year’s selections I did manage to find the exceptions to what might be called the “Ken Burns Rule.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.