Competition

Full listing of 2016 Tribeca Film Festival Coverage

 

Day 1, Tribeca 2016

Day One, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

What joy it was to watch film after film at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival #Tribeca 2016. Sometimes five, six films in a day. We were happy as pigs in mud. Rolling around in the excellently curated selections at the festival. Our third consecutive year covering Tribeca proved a dizzying blast as between the three of us, we saw 27 films in four days at the festival. These films were all discussed on our five ‘live from New York’ podcasts devoted to the festival.

Day 2 Tribeca 2016

Day Two, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

Day 3 Tribeca 2016

Day 3, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a full alphabetical listing of the films we watched at #Tribeca2016, with links to the podcast where each film was discussed:

  1. AFTER SPRING, at 31:06 min, Day 2 podcast
  2. AWOL, at 12:38 min, Day 3 podcast
  3. BAD RAP, at 10:10 min, Day 5 podcast
  4. THE BANKSY JOB, at 2:03 min, Day 5 podcast
  5. DETOUR, at 5:45 min, Day 4 podcast
  6. THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, at 1:45 min, Day 2 podcast
  7. DO NOT RESIST, at 7:27 min, Day 2 podcast
  8. DON’T LOOK DOWN, at 25:20 min, Day 2 podcast
  9. ENLIGHTEN US: THE RISE AND FALL OF JAMES ARTHUR RAY, at 28:56 min, Day 5 podcast
  10. THE FAMILY FANG, at 14:40 min, Day 1 podcast
  11. THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY at 4:30 min, Day 1 podcast
  12. HERE ALONE, at 30:17 min, Day 3 podcast
  13. HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM, at 11:14 min, Day 4 podcast
  14. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, at 27:59 min, Day 1 podcast
  15. I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD, at 24:00 min, Day 3 podcast
  16. JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT, at 24:54 min, Day 5 podcast
  17. KEEP QUIET, at 12:34 min, Day 2 podcast
  18. LITTLE BOXES, at 33:57 min, Day 3 podcast
  19. LIVE CARGO, at 9:16 min, Day 3 podcast
  20. THE LONER, at 17:20 min, Day 5 podcast
  21. THE MEDDLER, at 4:48 min, Day 1 podcast
  22. MOTHER (EMA), at 21:58 min, Day 1 podcast
  23. PARENTS (FORAELDRE), at 19:12 min, Day 3 podcast
  24. PISTOL SHRIMPS, at 18:45 min, Day 2 podcast
  25. SHADOW WORLD, at 15:24 min, Day 4 podcast
  26. WOMEN WHO KILL, at 2:00 min, Day 3 podcast
  27. YOUTH IN OREGON, at 1:20 min, Day 4 podcast
Day Four Tribeca 2016

Day Four, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival finds

Day 5 Tribeca 2016

Day Five, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival finds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next year, goodbye Tribeca.

 

 

Natural Sciences | Los Angeles Film Festival 2014

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Nothing in the world is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, wrote Victor Hugo more than a hundred years ago. And so it is with the lead character in the quietly amazing Argentinian film NATURAL SCIENCES (CIENCIAS NATURALES).

 

Lila, a teenager in a boarding school at a rural mountain town has suddenly reached a juncture in life where her paramount need is to find her biological father. Her mother who works a bare, hard life on the farmland will not give her any information regarding the man. Freezing winter is fast approaching but Lila is undeterred in her pursuit. She has tried to run away from school in search of her father, once on a horse through the snow-covered hillsides, and once in a car she doesn’t know how to drive. The school Principal is perplexed, then angered by this sudden, irrational desire on the part of someone who had until then been a quiet, unremarkable student. Reasoning or discipline prove ineffective. Lila is consumed by her mission and is unstoppable. A more sympathetic faculty member, who teaches Natural Sciences at school, also tries to deter Lila. But recognizing that Lila will not relent and likely concerned for her safety, she joins Lila in her quixotic quest. With nary a clue about the man they are looking for, the two hit the road.

 

This should sound like the sort of sappy, road-trip movie that Hollywood likes to dole out with some regularity. If you are more generous, this may seem to you like one of those well-meaning, heartfelt indie films about strangers connecting through unusual circumstances. But NATURAL SCIENCES transcends those categories altogether.

 

This is an accomplished film from first-time director, Matias Lucchesi, who retains a strong, confident hold over this material at all times. Pick a scene from this film, pick any scene, and notice the rigor with which it has been constructed, how it completely bypasses familiar traps, or cliché. You can notice this on a minute by minute basis, in the precise writing, the affectless acting and direction that does not draw attention to itself. In its hard-won naturalness and rigor around all of filmmaking components, NATURAL SCIENCES draws easy comparison to the austere, stark and no less devastating Chilean movie from last year, THURSDAY TILL SUNDAY (DE JUEVES A DOMINGO).

 

The actor who plays Lila (Paula Galinelli Hertzog) necessarily carries the film on her young shoulders. And effortlessly brings it to a place of believability, capturing the sullen, untalkative affect of the teenager whose world is dominated by a singular myopic obsession. She may seem possessed by the fever of an irrational pursuit, and may not have the means to articulate it fully, but she is also inherently a good person, a person trying to discover herself as a grown human being and unable to do so without locating her roots first. And how about Paola Barrientos who plays the teacher who accompanies Liza on her search; one of the hardest things for an actor to do on screen is to transmit empathy, and Barrientos does it with a rare authenticity that never once tilts into cheap sentimentality. What great fortune for this director to have been able to recruit these two actors for his first film.

 

This is a film of quiet wonder. It tells a story that may initially seem familiar, but in how it goes about telling it, the film is note-perfect . I cannot wait to see the next project from this filmmaker.

 

NATURAL SCIENCES is the best film I saw at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. And by a wide margin.

 

[Natural Sciences is an Argentinian film currently making the festival rounds and was screened at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival.  It is awaiting distribution in the U.S. You can watch the trailer here].

 

 

2014 Tribeca Film Festival Dispatch

 

One shows up at the Tribeca Fim Festival not knowing quite what to expect. And then like any other festival, one gets their bearings in the next couple of days.

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One finds out, for example, that none of the three venues where festival films are screened are actually in Tribeca (two are in Chelsea and a third in East Village). One expects the general sensibility of the festival to be like that of the city it is in, hectic and impatient, and no-nonsense and talky. But I am a bit surprised, if pleasantly, to find that the festival is actually rather laid-back and matter of fact. Without exception, the screenings occur like clockwork with nary a hitch. Nobody hyperventilates at the sight of celebrities, and the voices of filmmakers do not crack with nervous gratitude when introducing their product before the start of a screening. Maybe its just that New York crowds are so inured to celebrity run-ins that nothing would be more gauche than to get excited upon seeing Sophia Loren or Mark Ruffalo.

 

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Robert DeNiro and producer Jane Rosenthal in 2002 at a time when Tribeca was an oft ignored neighborhood of the city. Things have come a ways in the thirteen years since during which more than 1500 films have been screened. Created initially as a salve to the 9/11 events and to foster recognition for the Tribeca area, the festival has now evolved into a full-fledged player in the big festivals film circuit.

 

I will be posting reviews of films I saw at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in the coming days.

 

SXSW 2014 IS IN FULL SWING AND I’M LOVING IT

SXSW is now in full swing and as a result, we have been soaking up atmosphere, good barbeque and above all else MOVIES!!!

sxsw logo

SXSW Film has grown year-upon-year and this year over 130 movies were on offer to us.  Expertly chosen and programmed, the festival brought together small and large studios, independent and mainstream films, first time directors and seasoned veterans of the industry. To be honest, it was difficult to choose what to see, but I’m happy to say of the Seventeen movies I watched, all offered something unique and memorable. One of the most memorable things for me though is always the opportunity to interact with the moviemakers themselves which always provides depth and dimension to what you’ve just watched

WILD CANARIESWILD CANARIES: When their elderly neighbor suddenly drops dead, a newly engaged couple investigates signs of foul play.

Barri (Sophia Takal) and Noah (writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine), a newly engaged Brooklyn couple, are disheartened by the death of their elderly downstairs neighbor, Sylvia. Though Noah sees nothing unusual about the old woman’s death, Barri suspects foul play and sets out to investigate, enlisting her roommate Jean (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’S Alia Shawkat) to join her on a reconnaissance mission to trail a possible suspect. Tensions mount, however, when the investigation uncovers unsettling secrets throughout the building—including in their own apartment—and suddenly everyone seems like a reasonable suspect. Boasting a stellar supporting cast including Jason Ritter (PARENTHOOD), Kevin Corrigan (THE DEPARTED), and Annie Parisse (THE FOLLOWING), WILD CANARIES is a freshly comedic take on classic film noir. This movie had a lot of promise that didn’t unfortunately deliver. Disappointing for a number of reasons including a confusing and overcooked plot made this difficult to watch and follow. The tonality changed from scene to scene giving me whiplash at times and the hammy dialogue and rather poor overacting made me feel like I was watching a first year film school project.
You know you should leave the theatre when one of the main protagonists wears a large hat and even larger sunglasses and thinks they are unrecognizable in modern day New York. Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murders did this way better and testament to the fact that if you can’t do it better, leave it alone.

VESSELvessel: A fearless sea captain sails a ship through loopholes in international law, providing abortions on the high seas, and leaving in her wake a network of emboldened activists who trust women to handle abortion on their own terms.

Vessel begins with a young doctor who lived by the sea, and an unlikely idea. Rebecca Gomperts, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion law around the world, felt compelled to challenge this issue; her method: provide abortions on a ship in offshore waters.

Her project, Women on Waves, begins as flawed spectacle, a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockade. But with each roadblock comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca has the revelation that she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to safely give themselves abortions using WHO-sanctioned protocols with pills.

From there we witness her create an underground network of emboldened, informed activists, working at the radical cutting edge of global reproductive rights, who trust women to handle abortion themselves. Vessel is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who heard and answered a calling, and transformed a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.

This is a must see documentary not only because the subject matter is so polarizing but because this really is about a remarkable woman who wants to change the world and is doing so for the thousands of women who she provides assistance to. A well-made account over a period of years, Rebecca Gomperts resolve is unfaltering and enviable. In person, she is as enigmatic and convincing and received a standing ovation at the end of the movie. I’m not sure that the movie will change your mind or position on abortion, but it will prove to you the difference that one person can make and the lengths that people will go to in order to stand up for what they believe in. What I liked most about this movie was the fact that people on both sides of the argument chose to march to the steps of Austin’s parliamentary building following the movie

print the legendPRINT THE LEGEND: 3D printing is changing the world – from printing guns and human organs to dismantling the world’s industrial infrastructure by enabling home manufacturing. It’s “the next Industrial Revolution.”

For the first time in history, the stories of the human beings building an industry have been filmed. The result: Print the Legend which follows the people racing to bring 3D printing to your desktop and into your life. For the winners, there are fortunes – and history – to be made.

Print the Legend is both the definitive 3D Printing Documentary – capturing a tech in the midst of its “Macintosh Moment” – and a compelling tale about what it takes to live the American Dream in any field.

Hands down, this was one of my favorite documentaries of the festival. It even feels strange seeing that in print (uh no pun intended). No really, who thought that a documentary about 3D Printers would rise to the top of my must see list? Well, its because Print the Legend is more than just a movie about the 3D printer itself, this documentary expertly explores a number of themes like friendship, the race for market domination and what happens when a bunch of enthusiastic young extremely clever young men become poisoned by investors and narcissism and we are able to watch the pollution of an American dream. I’m not sure any of us could imagine what it feels like to have to fire your best friends and former co founders, yet we follow this very thing happening and the impact it has on all of those involved. Better than most soap operas, this documentary really will have you on the edge if your seat wondering which company and technology will reign superior in the end. Add to this a charming and controversial fellow who creates videos showing step-by-step instructions to print your very own 3D gun. An explosively smart and engaging look at an industry that is still in it’s infancy and the way in which it may change our world forever with a colorful and entertaining cast of characters who are forerunners in the race. It’s true, Nerds will rule the world but whilst we wait for that to happen watch Print the Legend which will be available on Netflix in 2014. In addition this movie won the 2014 SXSW Film Festival’s special jury recognition award for editing and storytelling in the documentary feature category.

unicornsI BELIEVE IN UNICORNS: Davina is an imaginative and strong-willed teenage girl who often escapes into a beautifully twisted fantasy life. Having grown up quickly as the sole caretaker of her disabled mother, she looks for salvation in a new relationship with an older boy. Davina is swept into a whirlwind of romance and adventure, but the enchantment of her new relationship quickly fades when Sterling’s volatile side begins to emerge. I Believe in Unicorns takes us on a road trip through the stunning and complex landscape of troubled young love.

It would be easy to dismiss this movie as yet another coming of age movie but there is a tragedy and sweetness about the way in which this particular coming of age movie is executed that I haven’t seen often and a depth that is seldom seen as we follow a young girl caring for her very disabled parent. The movie is elevated by two great performances by the two main protagonists played by mesmerizing Natalia Dyer and Peter Vack who capture the impetuousness of young love so perfectly. Yes, there are some huge plot holes and we are asked to take some huge leaps of faith in order to make it to the end of the movie but I think this movie will stay with you long after the credits have run

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; Oscar Nominated Shorts | Review

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  No, I’m not talking about the holidays, I’m talking about the yearly ritual that us film lovers and movie geeks get to indulge in which requires taking a trip to watch the highly coveted series of Oscar Nominated Shorts at the local cinema.

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Oh I how I look forward to this annual treat where I go with my fellow Moviewallas and get to spend a delightful afternoon watching ten of the best shorts Animation and Live action Features; two separate programs with a short break in between.  This year a special pleasure for me, I got to watch five incredible documentaries too.

This collection of shorts representing filmmaking in 2013 is no different to any other year in that the Oscar nominated shorts is an opportunity to watch bite size nuggets of incredible film making from a variety of talented filmmakers from around the world.  Only I am shocked that year upon year the standard gets better and better.

In the live action category:

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” (Director: Esteban Crespo, Spain/Spanish). Synopsis: Paula, a Spanish aid worker, has an encounter with an African child soldier named Kaney.

“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything) (Directors: Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras, France/French). Synopsis: Miriam has left her abusive husband and taken refuge with her children in the local supermarket where she works.

Helium” (Directors Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson, Denmark/Danish). Synopsis: A dying boy finds comfort in the tales of a magical land called HELIUM, told to him by the hospital janitor.

“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)” (Directors: Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari, Finland/Finnish). Synopsis: Sini tries frantically to get her family ready to leave for a wedding, but her husband and two children are interfering with her efforts.

“The Voorman Problem” (Directors: Mark Gill and Baldwin Li, UK/English). Synopsis: A psychiatrist is called to a prison to examine an inmate named Voorman, who is convinced he is a god.

This a rare occaision when I am glad I don’t have to vote for a winner since If I had to pick one, I couldn’t.  I was fascinated by That Wasn’t Me, sat on the edge of my seat as the riveting drama of Just Before Losing Everything played, laughed at Do I Have to Take care of Everything, pondered existential questions whilst watching The Voorman Problem and even shed a tear or two during Helium

 I could have spent way more time with any one of these five movies given the deep well rounded characters and back stories each presented that merit full movies of their own.

For the Animated shorts, this season brings us:

“Feral” (Directors Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden, USA/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: A wild boy who has grown up in the woods is found by a hunter and returned to civilization.

“Get a Horse!” (Directors: Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim, USA/English). Synopsis: Mickey Mouse and his friends are enjoying a wagon ride until Peg-Leg Pete shows up with plans to ruin their day.

“Mr. Hublot” (Directors: Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, Luxembourg/France/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: The eccentric, isolated Mr. Hublot finds his carefully ordered world disrupted by the arrival of Robot Pet.

“Possessions” (Director: Shuhei Morita, Japan/Non-dialogue).  Synopsis: A man seeking shelter from a storm in a dilapidated shrine encounters a series of household objects inhabited  by goblin spirits

“Room on the Broom” (Directors: Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, voices by Simon Pegg, Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon in UK/English). Synopsis: A genial witch and her cat are joined on their broom by several friends as they set off on an adventure

The animation shorts for me represent a vast array of style, story and genre even.  Whilst watching we are reminded by those super smart and talented people at Disney that there is always room in your heart to let in a fresh Mickey Mouse Adventure. In Get a Horse, Mickey and his pals return in this old/new caper.  This time however our eyes get to feast on incredible technology that combines black and white with color and 2D with 3D type animation.  Room on a Broom is a sweet modern day fable told in verse that had me smiling from ear to ear; a special treat for animal lovers.  Atypical subject matter for a traditional cartoon, in Feral and Possessions which to me represent more adult type themes and style and finally a cute futuristic tale called Mr Hublot  which at it’s core is represents a beautiful tale of a man who rescues a dog but realizes in the end that it is he who has been rescued.

Again, a wonderful gaggle of talent collected under the umbrella of animation and if you weren’t  lucky enough to catch The Blue Umbrella when it played as an appetizer to last year’s Disney/Pixar’s Monster’s University, it plays in the  “highly commended section” in this program.  Despite the number of times I see The Blue Umbrella, I can’t help but marvel at the human like emotion that is generously created by Pixar and I always have a lump in my throat when the credits run.

 

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I love the action shorts and the animations, but I am a documentary lover at heart and so the documentary shorts were an absolute treat for me to watch.  This year’s entries:

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” (Directors: Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Canada/USA/UK – English). Synopsis: At 109, Alice Herz Sommer is the world’s oldest pianist…and its oldest Holocaust survivor. At the heart of her remarkable story of courage and endurance is her passion for music.

“Karama Has No Walls” (Director: Sara Ishaq, UAE/UK/Yemen – Arabic). Synopsis: When protesters in Yemen added their voices to those of other nations during the Arab Spring, the government responded with an attack that left 53 people dead and inspired widespread sympathy throughout the country.

“Facing Fear” (Director: Jason Cohen, USA/English). Synopsis: As a gay 13-year-old, Matthew Boger endured a savage beating at the hands of a group of neo-Nazis. Twenty-five years later, he meets one of them again by chance.

“Cavedigger” (Director Jeffrey Karoff, USA/English). Synopsis: New Mexico environmental sculptor Ra Paulette carves elaborately designed and painstakingly executed sandstone caves, driven by an artistic vision that often brings him into conflict with his patrons.

 “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” (Director: Edgar Barens, USA/English). Synopsis: In a maximum security prison, the terminally ill Jack Hall faces his final days with the assistance of hospice care provided by workers drawn from the prison population.

By far, the most difficult category to judge, I was incredibly moved and inspired by The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.  Angered by an astonishing tale of the human spirit and the importance of revolution in Yemen’s account of the Arab Summer in Karama has no Walls, challenged and troubled by both Facing Fear and Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall which made me question my own prejudices and preconceived ideas and intrigued by the account of the environmental sculptor Ra Paulette and his cave digging antics in the aptly titled Cavedigger

So there you have it.  If you have never seen an Oscar short program, I strongly urge you to rush out and watch and if you love movies and have seen a Short program, I urge you to rush out and see this year’s nominees, given the standard is exceptional, in either case, you will not be disappointed, I certainly wasn’t and look forward to next year’s most wonderful time of the year again with baited breath

The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014 open nationwide this Friday, January 31st

In San Diego, the Live Action and Animated programs will open at the Landmark Ken, In Los Angeles the Live Action and Animated programs will open at The Nuart in West L.A. and in Orange County at the Regency South Coast Village 3.

Please see local listings or the link below to find a cinema near you

http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/dates-locations/

Will the Annie Awards winner be a good predictor of “Best Animation” for the Oscars?

Which one is best “Toy Story 3” vs. ‘How to train your dragon” has long been a sometimes heated debate amongst the moviewallas.  With two of the wallas adoring “Toy Story 3” and the other backing the “How to Train Your Dragon” train all the way to the Oscars.  Needless to say, this will be a hard fight to the end since both animations are extremely good.  Methinks this could turn into a replay of the “Big Mac vs. Whopper” debate of Ye Olde time (PS, who won that by the way?).

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However at the 38th Annual Annie Awards held on Saturday, February 5 at UCLA’s Royce Hall a choice was made and DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon” won top honors as the Best Animated Feature. Often a predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 25 categories ranging from best feature, production design, character animation and effects animation to storyboarding, video games, writing, music and voice acting.  (A complete list of the 38th Annual Annie Award winners can be viewed at www.annieawards.org.)

I decided to think of some of the merits of each of these terrific submissions to see if there was any way to separate the two:

Categories

Toy Story 3

How to Train your Dragon

Best Story

Winner

Most heart wrenching

Winner

Best rendition of a dragon that acts like a dog or Cat

Winner

Best story arc

Winner

Best ensemble cast EVER

Winner

The one that made me cry the most

Winner

The one that I would watch again and again

Winner

The one that I would watch if Toy Story 3 got worn out

Winner

So there you have it, both animations, both excellent and little to separate them.  Even in trying to rate the two against each other, I found the choice so difficult.  But remember, I loved “Toy Story 3” and sobbed uncontrollably at the end…for me I think what it comes down to was the familiarity and joy I felt seeing Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head and the rest of the gang for the third time.  That intertwined with Pixar’s amazing talent to tell the story of a young boy all grown up and leaving home for the first time and the impact it has on all of those you leave behind.  Gosh, I’m tearing up just thinking about what a GREAT story this was as I write.  Whatever your preference, “Toy Story 3” or “How to Train your Dragon” what more could we ask for than two brilliant animations in one year that are both deserving of the title “Best animation”

Toy Story 3