Monday, October 28, 2013

Gangsters, Baseball, Bathhouses and Bill: The 22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Toronto, Sheffield – Hot Springs, Arkansas? When one thinks of big doc fests, the onetime playground of Al Capone – and Bill Clinton’s childhood home – doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Yet this historic spa town, containing 47 natural hot springs and Hot Springs National Park, the oldest federal reserve in the U.S., also hosts the country’s oldest doc fest. Now in its impressive 22nd year, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival exceeded my expectations and then some, its programmers bringing in high-quality nonfiction fare – not to mention topnotch filmmakers and colorful characters – that perfectly aligned with the city’s oddball Southern charm.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bright Ideas

CosyMo’s Solar Cinema, a solar-powered, mobile movie theater that brings socially engaged art films to underserved communities, is the brainchild of Dutch filmmaker Maureen Prins, who, ironically, is based in Tilburg, Holland’s rainy southern city. Now in its seventh year, Prins’s sustainable cinema has traversed both Europe and Latin America, with the activist artist hoping to “conquer the world and create an international network of Ecocinemas that distribute and show films everywhere.” To that end, Prins has been screening films throughout Europe since 2010, partnering with such organizations as France’s Cine sin Fronteras, Croatia’s Pula Film Festival, Malta’s Cinemastik, Slovenia’s Marindol Children’s Holiday camp and The Netherlands’ own Latin American Film Festival. (Not to mention working with similar entities in Switzerland, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and Belgium.) And last year saw the creation of Ecocinemas on the other side of the Atlantic in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile, with more Latin American countries to come.

To read the rest visit the Fall 2013 issue of Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, October 25, 2013

“Narco Cultura” Director Saul Schwarz Discusses The Glamorization of Mexico’s Drug Lords

Mere miles from El Paso, Texas, one of the safest cities in America, lies Ciudad Juárez, ground zero for the drug war – only conventional wars have rules of engagement. The battle raging within our neighbor to the south is something far more disturbing since Juárez is at heart a no man’s land, where rhyme and reason do not exist. Enter veteran photojournalist Shaul Schwarz. With honest artifice-free filmmaking and gorgeous lush cinematography – that allows us to viscerally experience the surreal nature of life on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border – the Israeli director has created a debut feature equal parts elegant and eye-opening. Shifting from the tale of a hugely popular, Los Angeles-based musician whose “narcocorridos” celebrate the drug lord lifestyle, to a Mexican crime scene investigator who puts his life on the line everyday sifting through the chaos, Schwarz gives us a glimpse through a looking glass filled with contradiction, frustration and ultimately death. After having played to great acclaim at this year’s Sundance and Berlin film festivals, “Narco Cultura” opens in NYC in November with a national rollout to follow.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Arthouse in the Caribbean: The Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival 2013

Now in its seventh year, the Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival is both a celebration of Caribbean cinema and of the young country itself, which only gained independence from its British rulers, after a long series of turnovers through the hands of Spain, France, The Netherlands and Courland a little over 50 years ago. (Though I’ve covered many film festivals both in the U.S. and abroad over the past few years, this was the first time I was required to stand for the singing of a national anthem on opening night.) And while many international festivals struggle for a taste of European flavor, TTFF is firmly dedicated to its own and historical past’s shores, preferring to mostly showcase the best from surrounding islands, Africa and South Asia, giving it a brand identity all its own.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, October 7, 2013

More Than Saunas and Kaurismäkis: The Second Finnish Film Affair

“Love & Anarchy” may have been the motto of the 26th Helsinki International Film Festival, which took over the Finnish capital the last ten days of September, but hospitality and order ruled the three-day Finnish Film Affair. The industry event, which takes place during the fest and is now in its second year, was created in 2012 to highlight Finnish films and connect international professionals (mostly sales agents, distributors, and programmers) with the Nordic country’s surprisingly robust film scene. To that end, works in progress were presented alongside prestigious festival hits. And an abundance of networking opportunities at nightly parties – and even a panel on Finnish-Russian co-productions (a no-brainer given the two nations’ geographic proximity) – was on offer.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.