Friday, May 29, 2015

Feminist Pornographer Jennifer Lyon Bell on Silver Shoes,, and the Holy F*ck Film Festival

I’ve known Amsterdam-based, San Francisco-bred, Jennifer Lyon Bell ever since we met over half a decade ago at Brooklyn’s much beloved Monkey Town — back when a DIY, Williamsburg performance space could afford to host a Sunday brunch for CineKink Film Festival award winners. (Bell’s Matinée took the Best Narrative Short prize, while Un Piede di Roman Polanski, an homage to Roman Polanski’s foot fetish I co-directed with Roxanne Kapista, nabbed Best Experimental Short.) Since then Bell’s films have been both banned (Matinée from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival by the Australian Film Commission in 2009) and celebrated, most recently in the U.K. and Canada. Her latest, Silver Shoes, available from, premiered at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and won the Feminist Porn Awards 2014 Movie of the Year.

Filmmaker decided to catch up with Bell to chat about the film’s digital launch via a “fair trade” platform, the current climate for art porn, and Amsterdam’s inaugural (and brilliantly named) Holy F*ck Film Festival.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Film Festivals?

Have something to say? My conversation starter on film fest ethics at Hammer to Nail.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ridiculous Netflix: Sterlin Harjo Discusses Netflix and Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six

“The movie has ‘ridiculous’ in the title for a reason — because it’s ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke.”

So comments Netflix in the wake of the recent exodus of a dozen Native American extras from the set of Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six, its first film in a four-movie deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. The comedy features characters with names like “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra,” so, yes, “ridiculous” certainly seems to be the aim of the script. Yet what’s even more ridiculous is Netflix’s tone-deaf assertion that the film features a cast “in on the joke.” Really?

I decided to approach Sundance vet Sterlin Harjo (Four Sheets to the Wind, Barking Water), who I interviewed prior to the 2014 Park City premiere of This May Be the Last Time – a very personal documentary that looks back at the events behind the mysterious disappearance of Harjo’s grandfather, alongside the history of the Muscogee (Creek) hymns the Seminole community sang as it searched for him. Harjo, whose latest Mekko is set to debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is not only refreshingly vocal about what he sees as pragmatic solutions to Hollywood’s insidiously ingrained misrepresentations of indigenous people, but also about avoiding unintentionally harmful easy fixes. (Hint: Don’t cancel that Netflix subscription just yet.)

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, May 4, 2015

An Interview With the Directors of Kumu Hina, A Hawaiian Transgender Story

Mark your calendars and set your DVRs. If orange is the new black, then Hawaii is the new cool state. Premiering Monday, May 4th on PBS’s Independent Lens is Kumu Hina, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson’s uplifting portrait of gender and cultural empowerment in the Pacific. This enthralling documentary follows titular subject Kumu (“Teacher”) Hina Wong-Kalu, a married woman and dedicated cultural mentor at a native Hawaiian school who also happens to be māhū – or what the west would call a transgender person. As we watch Hina ready her all-male hula troop (which includes one kickass sixth-grader, born female but an out-and-proud māhū) for their year-end performance, and struggle in her relationship with a heterosexual, cisgender Tongan man, what emerges is something extraordinary. Through their patient, cinema vérité style, Hamer and Wilson give us a glimpse into a world where aloha – “love, honor and respect for all” – is not just a catchy word or an abstract idea, but truly a way of life.

I was fortunate enough to speak with the award-winning co-directors prior to the doc’s public broadcasting debut (programmed in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month).

To read my interview visit Global Comment.