Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chris Sullivan on his Animated Feature, “Consuming Spirits”

I first became aware of Chris Sullivan’s epic experimental animation “Consuming Spirits” while trolling the Tribeca Film Festival website, searching for cutting-edge work that might play well in the wild southwest. (I served as the director of programming for the 2012 edition of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.) Needless to say, Sullivan’s painstakingly handcrafted, novelistic tale of darkly intersecting lives at a small town newspaper – one that eschews any hint of flashy Disney for highly detailed Cassavetes – turned out to be both a must-see and a must-get for me. So I was pleased to recently have the opportunity to chat more deeply with Sullivan, who fresh off his NYC Film Forum premiere spoke with “Filmmaker” about everything from bringing experimental theater to animation, to academia’s cultural hegemony, to never sacrificing cooking for art.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

The Atomic States of America: An Interview with Co-Directors Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce

Premiering at this past Sundance Film Festival, Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce’s “The Atomic States of America” is now coming to a digital – here’s to iTunes and Netflix! – format near you. Unsurprisingly, given that Argott is one of the forces behind “Last Days Here,” last year’s winner of the music doc category at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (and for more on that flick, see my interview for Global Comment with Argott and his longtime editor and co-director Demian Fenton), “Atomic States” is a refreshingly entertaining look at a very thorny social issue. Based on Kelly McMasters’s memoir about life in her Long Island, nuclear-reactor hometown, the film eloquently universalizes the many risks of “going green” – or as McMasters likes to say, “We all live downstream from something.” I spoke with the passionate co-directors prior to the film’s (Sundance Institute Artist Services Initiative-enabled) January 15th release.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Queen of A Doll’s House: Toneelgroep Amsterdam Stages Ibsen’s “Nora”

For the past few years I’ve been covering IDFA for “Filmmaker,” and whenever I’m in the city of canals I make sure to find time to catch the latest from Toneelgroep Amsterdam, which presents English sur-titled productions (often frustratingly projected too high above the action – please, directors, my neck!) on Thursday nights. Under the artistic leadership of internationally acclaimed Belgian director Ivo van Hove – known mostly to NYC audiences through his longtime relationship with New York Theatre Workshop – the Netherlands’ largest repertory company is shaking up the stage in ways I could only wish the Dutch filmmaking scene would for the screen.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Top of the Doc: Toasting 25 Years at IDFA 2012

Once in a blue moon a festival competition film comes along that’s a masterpiece, so flawless it’s inconceivable that it won’t take top prize. This year at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, that film was Alan Berliner’s “First Cousin Once Removed” (which I actually saw before this year’s 25th edition began), and it did indeed nab the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary, along with a nice sum of 12,500 euros. Fittingly, my reaction towards Berliner’s breathtaking portrait of his mentor and relative, the acclaimed poet and translator Edwin Honig, as he succumbs to Alzheimer’s disease, mirrors my take on IDFA itself. This crème de la crème fest, that in the past quarter century has grown to become the biggest doc event in the world, is simply in a league of its own.

To read the rest of my coverage visit Filmmaker magazine.