Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kicking Ass in Clintonland: The Little Rock Film Festival

“A great film is made with love and time. Then it knocks you on your ass.” Such was the guerrilla tagline for the seven-year-old Little Rock Film Festival, and the same could be said regarding fests themselves – and writing about them, for that matter. Truth be told, I was initially on the fence about heading south to cover a festival in a state I was hard-pressed to locate on a map, and knew only through its past racist history and present-day Jeff Nichols films. Fortunately, my sister pointed out why passing up the chance to visit Little Rock would have been insane: “It’s the next best thing to Graceland!” And so I was sold.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, May 13, 2013

“Shadow Dancer”: An Interview with Director James Marsh

“Fiercely intelligent” is the phrase used by a recent acquaintance, whose husband worked on “Shadow Dancer,” to describe the film’s director James Marsh. It’s a spot-on assessment that I couldn’t agree with more. The Oscar-winning filmmaker behind “Man On Wire” – who I last interviewed for Global Comment in 2011 about his follow-up doc “Project Nim” – is an artist drawn to exploring the complexities and puzzles in life, rather than to providing grand conclusions or even any solutions. Such is the case with Marsh’s latest narrative feature, a nail-biting, Belfast-set thriller (starring the dynamite duo of Andrea Riseborough and Clive Owen) about a single mom forced to choose between going to jail for her involvement in an IRA bomb plot, or turning government informant and spying on her hardliner family. I spoke with the British-born, Denmark-based director prior to the flick’s NYC theatrical release on May 31st. (“Shadow Dancer” will also be available on iTunes and On Demand everywhere else.)

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Talking with Michael Di Jiacomo and John Turturro about “1-900-Tonight”

One of the most frustrating things about covering film festivals is making discoveries that few movie lovers will ever see. Filmmaking is an industry after all, and as such, artistry will always play second fiddle to marketability. Even so, I was quite surprised to learn that one of my favorite films from the 2011 edition of the prestigious Karlovy Vary International Film Festival never found U.S. theatrical distribution. Surely someone could have figured a way to sell a John Turturro-starring, NYC-set story about two lost souls on opposite ends of an adult chat line? (Especially considering Turturro last year appeared at the Toronto International Film Festival to pitch what sounded like another brilliantly offbeat, sex-themed project, “Fading Gigolo,” in which he’d play a hooker to Woody Allen’s pimp.)

Fortunately, one of the most exciting things about covering film festivals is that nagging questions like these can be taken straight to the creators themselves. “Filmmaker” spoke with both the writer/director and lead actor of “1-900-Tonight” (formerly “Somewhere Tonight”), Michael Di Jiacomo and John Turturro, respectively, about the indie film life, the death of Theo Van Gogh, and ending up where they least expected – on demand on Starz.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Phie Ambo on “Free the Mind”

Phie Ambo’s “Free the Mind” was one of my favorite flicks at this past International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, so I was thrilled to learn it would finally reach these American shores via a premiere at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC on May 3rd. (And hopefully roll out nationwide if the filmmakers’ Indiegogo financing effort – which includes a photo op with the Dalai Lama as a reward – goes according to plan.) And I was even more excited to have the chance to speak with the Danish documentarian herself, whose film about University of Wisconsin professor Richard Davidson (named to “Time” magazine’s 2006 list of the 100 most influential people in the world), and his use of meditation and other mindfulness techniques to treat everyone from PTSD suffering soldiers to an ADHD affected preschooler, yields astonishing on-camera, real-world results.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.