Derby Kings, written and directed by Valerie Bischoff


Feuding brothers Ace and Jim collide at a local demolition derby

Synopsis: Derby Kings is a 2012 short film written and directed by Valerie Bischoff, produced by Mayuran Tiruchelvam, starring Tatanka Means (Tiger Eyes, Sedona) and Jerry Wolf (Four Winds). The film follows Jim Sundell (Tatanka Means) as he struggles to make sure his younger brother Ace (Jerry Wolf) appears at an impending trial. Ace, a demolition derby diehard, has other plans. With the local demolition derby looming, Ace makes a bold move that forces Jim to step far outside of his comfort zone. Derby Kings gives audiences insight into the struggles two Native American brothers face and explores how the ritual of the derby reinforces strained family bonds.

For more information and to view the trailer please visit: http://www.derbykingsmovie.com/

    Director’s Statement
    After witnessing my first demolition derby at the Nevada State Fair in 2009, I instantly became fascinated by this bizarre American ritual. As I watched the brutal spectacle of crashing cars, multicolored smoke, and a roaring crowd of colorful characters, I was seduced by the inherent drama that was unfolding before my eyes and became obsessed with the idea of creating a film set in this world. Before I could start writing a script I had to understand the motivations of these drivers. Who would partake in this strange ritual and why? Wanting to fully immerse myself, I started making a small-scale documentary on the subject.

    My background is in television news and documentary filmmaking. Incorporating these skills into my approach as a narrative director has been crucial. The work I have done within the community has given me an opportunity build relationships and understand the true motivations of the drivers. In rural and impoverished areas of Nevada where unemployment has risen to 12%, the highest in the nation, the derby serves as a crucial family ritual, reinforcing bonds that are strained by bleak external factors including a poor economy, lack of education, and high crime rates. This is especially true in American Indian communities where broken treaties and a lack of resources have further broken the family unit. There can be no future without the strength of the family. Derby Kings will give audiences insight into the struggles these two American Indian brothers face and how the love of participating in the demolition derby is their first step towards reconciliation despite overwhelming external factors.

    The brother’s ability to mend broken relationships in the face of hardship will undoubtedly inspire others. I want audiences to connect with their struggle and ultimately gain an understanding of how ingenuity and pride can sometimes trump the most difficult of circumstances.

    Valerie Bischoff

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Alice Perry on cinematographer Janusz Kaminski

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James Carville once said about his relationship with Mary Matalin, “You can hate the sin but love the sinner.”

I feel the same way about Janusz Kaminski, Steven Spielberg’s longtime cinematographer. Mr. Kaminski is a real artist, a real painter of light. His sin? Working with Steven Spielberg, one of the more heavy-handed (think of a sledge hammer repeatedly whacking your head) directors.

Independent filmmakers almost exclusively use the digital medium, but we can all learn a few things from a master manipulator of celluloid like Mr. Kaminski.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Mr. Kaminski described how he made “Lincoln” look like a timeless movie—not by CG effects but by simply moving the lights.

“I felt you had to pull back a bit, so as not to jar the audience,” he explained. “One way of achieving that is to not light the walls. They were not 100% unlit, but enough so that the colors of the walls and carpets were muted. You have to think about the philosophy of light. It’s supposed to be motivated by natural sources. But if that logic doesn’t work for dramatic reasons, you adjust.”

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“For example, the gas lamps of Lincoln’s time wouldn’t give enough illumination for the cameras, which are not as sensitive as the eye,” he continues. “You cannot photograph a Spielberg movie using just candlelight. Stanley Kubrick did some shots like that, but with special lenses and just in certain scenes. If you light with just an oil lamp, you will see only the lamp and the face next to it. So I used the natural light in the scene and moved the film lights back. It’s a trick, a cheat. But it works.”

Mr. Kaminski also explained why some people believe that the acting was better during the black-and-white film era.

 “In color movies, actors are not always the main objects of illumination. Sometimes they’re not lit much at all, and audiences start appreciating things that aren’t the most important to the story. In black-and-white films, there’s no color to distract viewers. Consequently, actors in black-and-white movies are the main focus of the frame because they are often the brightest element in the frame. Because you’re not lighting the actors in color films, some attention is drawn away by that absence.”

Perhaps the use of black-and-white film in “The Artist” was the nudge that pushed the Oscar into Jean Dujardin’s hands last year.

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

NYCFF Film & Finance Forum 2013

Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2013
7:00pm
Alley NYC
500 7th Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, NY

New York City Film & Finance (NYCFF) will continue its popular annual gathering at AlleyNYC, one of NYC’s best co-working environments. Their facilities are conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan near the Fashion District. This gathering is designed to foster productive relationships between our attendees as well as provide an unbiased insight into the business of film and film finance. The event features a powerful roster of highly topical panelists from film & finance industries as well as guests who represent Film Festivals & Crowdfunding. We are delighted to welcome real-world financiers among our guests! The evening’s panel discussions address key issues relevant to filmmakers, financiers and anyone interested in the economics, business mechanics, and financial dynamics of both feature & independent film. Each panel is followed by a Q&A with the participants. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact & network with our featured experts and fellow attendees.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
Entrepreneurs, consultants, attorneys, bankers, investment managers, venture capitalists, angel investors and other professionals with an interest in the movie business will find this event worthwhile. Everyone who cares about independent film is cordially invited to join us. Are you considering taking an active role in film, or would you like to expand your current involvement? Don’t miss this high-value yet low-cost learning experience and the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers. Established & aspiring filmmakers looking to raise capital for their projects, production companies, movie slates, film funds or other ventures are, naturally, more than welcome as well.

WHY ATTEND?
New to film finance? Need to brush up your topical knowledge? Want to deepen your understanding? Care to participate in an ongoing conversation & community dedicated to the subject? This uniquely valuable gathering is right for you! Gain crucial insights from leading experts in their field. Network with fellow film & finance professionals. Meet potential collaborators and future business partners. All this at a price that is hard to beat.

For complete information visit: http://nycff13.eventbrite.com/

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Alice Perry on Room 237

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“Room 237,” a documentary about obsessive fans of “The Shining” who read meaning into the film’s most mundane details, opens at the end of March, and I’ll be the first, or last–depending on those rabid Kubrick devotees–in line.

I believe that the film contains footage from a documentary that Kubrick’s daughter, Vivian, made in 1980. It’s called “Making the Shining” (yes, just “Making,” not “Making of”), and you may be able to find it tacked onto “The Shining” DVD in the Extras’ section. Here are some of my favorite bits from the doc:

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1) Jack Nicholson getting into character while swinging an ax — and almost knocking over an assistant director — and growling, “Death to pussy”;

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2) Kubrick typing up script notes at the same table where Scatman Crothers and Danny have their “Shine” conversation;

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3) a set worker tossing a bucket of fake blood on the wall;

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4) Jack N. demonstrating how he marks up his script lines, a style he says he copied from Boris Karloff.

That picture of Kubrick at the typewriter reminded me of a scene in another “making of” documentary. In “Hearts of Darkness,” a doc about making “Apocalypse Now,” there’s an image of Francis Ford Coppola also at a typewriter.

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Perhaps this is the start of a great idea: a photo book of great film directors on set at the typewriter, entitled “Directors Type.”

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

Going Green On a Electric Motorcycle

A Documentary Film, recording from both HD and POV camera perspectives. Utilizing “Social Media”. Filming begins on Earth Day, 2013.

An Electric Motorcycle, HD POV Cameras, Social Media, The Wild West, and 7 Months of Filming. Discovering innovative and creative ways to be, “Going Green.”

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

2012 Best Film List – Brendan Rose

2012 will be remembered as a year of masterpieces (see the top half of this list), diverse gems from across the globe, and pleasing, if flawed, middlebrow Hollywood award-seekers, all in all making for an eclectic and exciting year for cinema.

The year’s offerings did have their shortcomings, however, especially in the American Independent world. In addition, a number of promising-seeming movies by big-name Anglo-American filmmakers fell completely flat (see ‘Biggest Disappointments’ below).

And, as with every year, there were plenty of well-regarded films, which I did not see in time for this list, especially a number of impressive-looking documentaries. With special apologies to films like Magic Mike, Red Hook Summer, How to Survive a Plague, Holy Motors, and many others, here is the 2012 list:

TOP TEN
1. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) – This elusive, visually stunning, modernist film wears its mystery plot light and its philosophical weight heavy; Ceylan takes a giant leap forward, entering the very upper echelon of world filmmakers.

2. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson) – Anderson wisely avoids a trite Scientology biopic, instead using his melancholic, drifting film to capture the post-war experience of a PTSD-plagued vet via Phoenix and to shine a light on low-grade demagoguery through Hoffman; Anderson now has two of the best American films of the last 25 years with The Master and There Will Be Blood.

3. Amour (Michael Haneke) – The Austrian master turns his rigorous camera toward the subject of love and still manages to plumb the depths of human violence; every image feels essential.

4. The Kid With A Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne) – Another strong child-centered film by the inimitable Belgian fraternal duo unafraid to take on the most wholesome of virtues – in this case goodness and devotion – in the most gritty of manners.

5. Oslo, August 31 (Joachim Trier) – This pitch-perfect story of addiction, compressed into 24 hours of the protagonist’s life, once again confirms Trier as the poet laureate of bohemian-bourgeois Scandinavia.

6. This Is Not A Film (Jafar Panahi) – One of the world’s preeminent filmmakers copes with life in Tehran under house arrest by frenetically plotting out scenes on his floor, screening clips of his own films and palling around with his pet iguana; both the most bizarre and the most authentic film of the year.

7. Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendoca Filho) – A finely wrought social drama set on one block in Recife, which may also be read as an allegory of the history of violence in northeast Brazil.

8. The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-Soo) – A playful cinematic experience of shifting identities, overlapping angles and wistful dreams; a film that trusts the power of the moment.

9. Argo (Ben Affleck) – Stellar semi-historical thriller in which Affleck nicely balances tension-fraught high-stakes hostage smuggling and a humorous look at Hollywood absurdity.

10. Bernie (Richard Linklater) – This Harold-and-Maude gone wrong tale vividly set in small-town Texas is constantly inventive, grimly humorous, and expertly performed.

HONORABLE MENTION (in no particular order): Bonsai (Cristián Jiménez); Life of Pi (Ang Lee); Barbara (Christian Petzold); Lincoln (Steven Spielberg); Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo); Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin); Silver Linings Playbook (David O Russell)

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
1. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow) – By far the most disappointing film of the year; in fact, the most disturbing; a technically brilliant movie that glosses over the horrors of the war on terror and avoids the real facts concerning torture and evidence-gathering.

2. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg) – A wretched adaptation of Don DeLillo, an almost comically bad movie, which reconfirms Cronenberg as one of our most overrated directors.

3. To Rome With Love (Woody Allen) – A solid section with Roberto Benigni and some expert shower-sung opera don’t save this meandering clunker.

4. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan) – The flaws here are legion, but I’ll highlight two: (1) an all-too unfaithful Alfred cries his way through the picture dreaming of Italy; and (2) arch-villain Bane – an at first convincing-seeming foe – is given a ridiculous, humanizing backstory.

5. Skyfall (Sam Mendes) – A bloated, feckless attempt to round out Bond’s biography; moreover, why play the James Bond-is-getting-old card so soon with first-rate 007 Daniel Craig only three films deep into the franchise?”

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

DETONATOR, a film by Damon Maulucci & Keir Politz

An ex punk frontman fights to hold on to his family and day job when a toxic friend resurfaces.
Original score by Joe Jack Talcum

About Detonator: With change comes sacrifice. In this gritty thriller, Sully, former frontman of a once prominent punk band, anxiously trudges toward a new world in order to remain in his young son’s daily life when an ex-bandmate, Mick, catches him mid-stride with a promise to make good on an old debt. In one hellish night that stretches till dawn, Sully chases Mick through the recesses of Philadelphia, forced to rekindle the life he once had in order to pursue a different kind of future.

“Shot on location around Philadelphia, the film has an incredible sense of place and love for the city. Featuring great performances from many of the best actors of current American indie cinema, including Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal, and Joe Swanberg, the film has a punk rock sense of propulsion. It asks tough questions about the ways we choose to live our lives, and intelligently examines the balance between our wildest dreams and our concrete realities.” Philadelphia Film Society

Detonator also showcases the tremendously talented and versatile Robert Longstreet (Septien, Take Shelter, The Catechism Cataclysm), the feature film debut of the mercurial New York theater performer Benjamin Ellis Fine, Joe Jack Talcum’s (of the iconic Philadelphia punk band The Dead Milkmen) beautifully austere musical score and take on the American standards “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and “Some Of These Days,” as well as the acting debut of Toledo punk hero Eric Davidson, his band New Bomb Turks’ version of San Francisco legends the Nubs’ ripping track “Job,” and underground music from Philadelphia’s own Dead People Screaming and Party Photographers, the Flails of San Francisco, and Son de Brooklyn.

Detonator will have its world in March at CINEQUEST. For details please visit: http://payments.cinequest.org/WebSales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo=6912~78899376-35a9-4153-8303-e1557be2dc32&epguid=70d8e056-fa45-4221-9cc7-b6dc88f62c98&#.USKN24X5vM_

https://www.facebook.com/detonator.movie
http://www.detonatormovie.com/

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Athena Film Festival 2013

“Everyone knows that the absence of strong female characters in Hollywood films is epidemic. But we’ve found the antidote, albeit one that lasts only four days: the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College. Here’s a chance to see some Crushworthy cinema.” Alice Perry, CrushworthyMoms.

Read Alice Perry’s intriguing column about the 2013 Athena Film Festival at CrushworthyMoms.com:
http://www.crushworthymoms.com/2013/02/athena-film-festival/

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

Help make it happen for ‘RUN IT’ on Indiegogo

Logline: Two thugs, a substitute teacher, and a young student get tangled up in violent crimes that unexpectedly bind them together in an unforgiving day.

The film focuses on oppression and abuse. How it is layered into our lives and trickles down and affects all aspects of our existence, most of the times, involuntarily.

See the trailer and find out more about the campaign here: http://igg.me/p/290125/x/143393

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

The 17th NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival

http://sephardicfilmfest.org

Posted in Front Page

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