Interview with actor George Katt

Posted in Previous Interviews

One Bad Mice

Free link to Matthew Rafferty’s film One Bad Mice – Winner Best Teen Pick Bare Bones Film Festival: http://www.filmnet.com/films/one_bad_mice/

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Ex-Girlfriends, written and directed by Alexander Poe

Synopsis: Ex-Girlfriends is a feature comedy about three people trying to sort out their love lives while questioning the contradictions and complexities of modern relationships. When Graham (writer/director Alexander Poe) runs into his ex-girlfriend, Laura (Kristen Connolly from Cabin in the Woods), he immediately falls back in love until he learns that she has a new boyfriend (Noah Bean from Damages). What neither of them know is that Laura’s new boyfriend is two-timing her with Graham’s other ex-girlfriend, Kate (Jennifer Carpenter from Dexter).

Made on a budget raised through crowd funding, Ex-Girlfriends is the feature follow-up to my 2009 short film The Eight Percent (starring Ben McKenzie from Southland and winner of the Delta Best Short Film Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival). I’ve always been intrigued by the complicated nature of relationships and the search for happiness. I love films like Eric Rohmer’s Moral Tales or Francois Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel films that show relationships in all of their complexity and contradictory emotions. When I started thinking about directing my first feature I knew that I wanted to tell a story that found the drama and the comedy inherent in our oft-misguided attempts to find happiness.

Visit the website at: www.exgirlfriendsmovie.com

An article written by Alexander Poe for Filmmaker Magazine on making the film can be read here: http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/news/2011/11/the-microbudget-conversation-ex-girlfriends/

Alexander Poe is a New York based filmmaker with an MFA in film from Columbia University. His feature film debut as writer/director/actor, Ex-Girlfriends (co-starring Jennifer Carpenter from Showtime’s Dexter and Kristen Connolly from Cabin in the Woods, is currently in submission to festivals. His short film, The Eight Percent (starring Ben McKenzie from Southland), won the Delta Fly-In Movies award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival and his play, I Was Tom Cruise, won Outstanding Play at the 2006 New York International Fringe Festival. His writing/directing work has also been seen at the Tropfest@Tribeca Film Festival, the New York 48 Hour Film Project (winner Best Film 2007), the NYC Midnight Madness Film Competition (winner Best Horror Film 2006), the Edgar Allan Poe Theatre Festival and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Khsara, written and directed by Suha Araj

Khsara is a comedy feature about women who don’t get married “in time.”

I’m Suha, an Arab-American woman making a film about a not-so-often-told, but often-experienced story: The unmarried woman past her prime. Despite her successes in life, her lack of life’s “most important” accomplishment, a HUSBAND, leaves her with the most undesirable designation: “Khsara.” Khsara, an Arabic word, means “What a shame” “Too bad” “What a pity.”

It’s a universal phenomenon. In other communities khsara might be: “pickled”(Iran), “on the shelf”(Australia), “spinster” (USA), “lost the bus” (Latin America) or “Christmas cake” (Japan).

Synopsis: When naïve Arab American Nisreen is deflowered and dumped by her boyfriend at the tender age of 29 she falls at risk of becoming a Khsara at age 30. Her sassy 35-year-old divorcee cousin Gina inspires Nisreen to start the Khsara Club finding sisterhood and adventure against her mother’s attempts at suitors and society’s judgment of their unwed status, until Nisreen must eventually choose between a modern or traditional life.

Khsara has been developed with the Sundance Rawi screenwriter’s lab, the Interchange program (Torino Film Lab, EAVE, and Dubai Film Festival), IFP, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Emerging Visionaries, Berlin Talent Campus and Market. For more information and to support this project, please visit the links below. Thank you!

kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1955539544/khsara
website: www.khsara.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/khsaraclub
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KhsaraClub

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Whaling City, written and directed by Jay Burke


Synopsis: Whaling City is a dramatic narrative feature film set in New Bedford, Mass. in the rapidly changing world of the modern fishing industry. It tells the story of a third-generation independent commercial fisherman, struggling to keep a grasp on his way of life – and a long-held family boat – as costs rise and the heavily regulated fishing industry is pushed towards a corporate model of efficiency. While developing an unlikely relationship with a marine biologist, he is tempted to do whatever it takes to keep his boat.

The Whaling City screenplay was workshopped at Columbia University’s graduate film program from 1999 to 2002. It won the 2005 Alfred P. Sloan Screenwriting Award and the 2007 Sloan Feature Film Production Grant, and has been recognized in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Principal photography was completed in fall 2010. Whaling City is currently in post-production and in the process of submitting to film festivals.

Web Links:
www.whalingcityfilm.com
www.facebook.com/whalingcityfilm
www.twitter.com/whalingcity

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Cabby, Written/Directed/Edited by Xiaocao Liu


Cabby: A lonely cab driver tries to connect with people in the busy city of Beijing.

Year of Production: 2011
Running Time: 18:38 minutes
Produced by Yige SunCo-Producers Leon Gao, Xiaocao Liu
Director of Photography Dongliang Yang
Composer Richard Xu
Sound Design Vera Qiao
Cast Xu Guan, Jun He, Peiyao Liu


Writer/Director Xiaocao Liu

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Turnabout (2012 Movie Trailer)

Billy Cain needs help. Perry Hayes can help him.
The fifteen years of silence between them abruptly ends when a phone rings in the middle of the night. In no time, these former best friends finally connect. What ensues is a hazy night of excessive indulgence that ultimately turns tragic and by daybreak their lives will have changed forever.

Turnabout (2012 Movie Trailer). Trailer Debut at The 2012 Sundance Independent Film Festival. Starring Waylon Payne, George Katt, Rosebud Baker and Sayra Player. Featuring Peter Greene. Written and Directed by E.B. Hughes. Produced by Jon McGrath. Original Music by Jeff Bowron. Turnabout (2012 Movie Trailer) Designed and Edited by Jeff Bowron for Eggshell Films.

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Green, written and directed by Sophia Takal

Green, written and directed by Sophia Takal

Film review by Shirley Rodriguez

I love being pleasantly surprised. I especially love a surprise when it involves creativity and passion. This was the case when I was invited to a screening of Sophia Takal’s film Green at the Museum of Modern Art. The focus of the film is the jealous nature of Genevieve, played by Kate Lyn Sheil, whose jealousy steadily begins to consume her. I attended the screening knowing very little of the film, but left wanting to know everything. It is one thing to leave a film only questioning the film and another thing to question yourself. Green is both, it grips you while you watch it and haunts you long afterward.

Genevieve and her fiancé Sebastian played by Lawrence Michael Levine, Takal’s fiance in real life, are a young couple who move from the city to the country. The move is Sebastian’s decision and it’s clear that he is the one calling the shots. The change of environment brings at first subtle changes and subsequently role reversals. It feels as if the introduction of nature brings out the primitive and not so prim and discreet behaviors witnessed in their city life. Genevieve and Sebastian meet a young local named Robin, played by Takal herself. Robin both wittingly and unwittingly shakes up the couple’s relationship. The presence of Robin as the imagined rival to Genevieve becomes integral to Genevieve’s awakening. Genevieve’s previous passive aggressive personality now has Robin as a catalyst to express what before was hidden. The effect of the film is strong even when it is being subtle; the simmering frustration of a look or seemingly simple scene that speaks volumes with its body language and symbolism.

The subject of jealousy has been visited many times before in other films, but Takal makes it personal, intimate and awkward. Those who do not or have ever felt jealousy on the level of Genevieve’s character, cannot know how painful it is. Personally, I can attest to the pain, and thus could easily empathize. I admire Ms. Takal’s bravery in addressing the issue of jealousy because she is taking something so personal and sharing it with us. For those outside looking in on a jealous woman’s behavior, it can be easy to label it as “crazy.” It may be simple to label what you cannot comprehend, but upon closer investigation there are many layers and subtleties. Full blame in this case placed entirely on the jealous woman is not the entire story. In our real lives it also deserves a respectful and compassionate understanding. I have always known jealousy to be a highly controversial topic from it’s minimal to full blown expression. Some people may defend it and some may be against it, but none of us have escaped feeling it. The motivations may vary greatly, but the emotion is universal. Jealousy does not “just appear” out of nowhere and it is important to know where it stems from. Jealousy is defined by being fearful of losing something or someone you value to a rival. It can be trivialized, hidden, shameful or denied among other things, but cannot be eliminated. It can take hold of you at your best moments and when you least expect it. Sometimes the object of your affection can benignly or purposely trigger it by doing or not doing something.

After the screening in a Q&A session with Ms. Takal that also included her fiancé Mr. Levine, she spoke candidly and at times humorously of her personal experience with jealousy. They both shared how they have worked through it and continue to, putting a welcome positive spin on it. Green causes you to examine how jealousy plays a role in your relationships. It will push your buttons without hitting you over the head. Jealousy may be uncomfortable and taboo to some, but Ms. Takal confronts it with courage in the face of uncertainty. She serves as a medium to uncover this powerful emotion in an effort to find freedom in its expression. We may not get every answer we are looking for, but sometimes just being able to ask the questions is what we need.

Thank you again, Ms. Takal.

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

Brendan Rose’s Top 2011 Film List


Brendan Rose’s Top 2011 Film List

2011 has shaped up as quite the year in film, as the roster of released movies was, throughout the year, replete with strong offerings. The year was buoyed by especially provocative, original work from the international art-house cinema sector, while also including some excellent documentaries, American Indies, and even a few very stellar Hollywood productions.

In short, the embarrassment of riches made for some tough decisions when it came to winnowing down the list. As a result, I have expanded the ‘Honorable Mention’ section to account for this overabundance of quality. Even still, plenty of solid movies didn’t make my list.

And as it is now awards season—when the hype and chatter surrounding mediocre films being pawned off as masterpieces reaches nausea-inducing levels—I have added a ‘Biggest Disappointment’ list to call out a few of these underwhelming, overrated films.

With apologies to a few of the promising films I have not yet seen from 2011—amongst others, Margaret, Margin Call, My Peristroika, Mysteries of Lisbon and Silent Souls come to mind—here is the 2011 list:

TOP 10
1. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) – Tragic drama at its best: a tight, complex tour-de-force propelled by exceptional performances, a sharp script and pitch-perfect direction from Farhadi.
2. The Interrupters (Steve James) – A moving documentary about street violence in Chicago and those who struggle relentlessly to end it.
3. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami) – A clever, pensive, elusive encounter film of the Before Sunset-In the Mood for Love-L’Avventura variety.
4. Melancholia (Lars Von Trier) – Von Trier captures deep, authentic, at times terrifying emotion by employing a literally enormous, fast-approaching conceit. Dunst is at her best.
5. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt) – A formally rigorous, gritty yet metaphorical Western. Reichardt continues to define and dominate the American indie landscape.
6. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen) – Sheer exuberant storytelling by Allen; and oddly inspiring to all of us Paris-enchanted dreamers out there.
7. Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino) – Depicting the folk practices and everyday oddities of a Southern Italian village, Frammartino’s little hamlet contains worlds of beauty and novelty. Plus, an outstanding canine performance!
8. Poetry (Lee Chang-dong) – A biting, quiet drama with a delicately captured lyrical bent.
9. The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar) – A gothic, (seemingly) absurd premise that only Almodóvar could pull off by imbuing it with his own special blend of matter-of-fact realism, rococo melodrama and humanistic intensity.
10. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick) – The nuclear family, Waco, Texas sequences in this film are perfectly realized gems that expand the boundaries of cinematic possibility.

HONORABLE MENTION: Beats, Rhymes and Life (Michael Rapaport); Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog); Hugo (Martin Scorsese); Moneyball (Bennett Miller); Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois); A Screaming Man (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun); Shame (Steve McQueen); Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson)

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
1. The Descendants (Alexander Payne) – By far the #1 most overrated film of 2011; the insipid first 30 minutes of this movie prove it dead on arrival.
2. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg) – Expert lead performances, sure, but Cronenberg’s Jung-Freud film is surprisingly dull and uninspired.
3. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick) – On both lists. The fatal flaw of this film is not the Big Bang-to-Humans (by way of Dinosaurs) sequence, but rather the gratuitous, unnecessary framing story of the protagonist as adult (played by Sean Penn), especially those pseudo-philosophical scenes of endless beach meandering.
4. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols) – Yes, there’s a metaphor here, but no, it does not resonate, instead smacking the viewer over the head with pomp.
5. Super Eight (JJ Abrams) – Of course, this is no awards film, but it nonetheless received a good deal of hype upon release. The first 45 minutes were promising, but then it all fell apart with the first look at the silly aliens.
6. The Future (Miranda July) – Another cutesy, overly ironic, slacker fest from July. Is she interrogating the ethos of her drifting class or 30-somethings or merely reinforcing their excuses to inaction? I fear the latter.
7. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher) – Fincher’s version is certainly an improvement on the stolid Swedish original, and Rooney Mara admittedly gives a brave, striking performance, but in the end, an overblown disappointment by a usually solid director.
8. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) – I enjoyed this film, but best picture consideration?? Come on!! Much of the second act drags and the nod to the silent era is often little more than superficial.

2011 Top Films List by Brendan Rose.

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

Donna Wheeler (Filmmaker Donna)

Death of a Saleswoman
Written and directed by Donna Wheeler (Filmmaker Donna)
6 housewives. One dead body. A trunk full of plastic storageware.
Nominated for Best Feature and Best Comedy awards at more than seven U.S. and Canadian film festivals, and winner of Best Feature and Best Director awards at two festivals, this “quirky new twist on the whodunit genre” (withoutabox.com) combines a comedic, Emmy nominated** cast with an intricately woven plot about devious housewives – who kill for plastic storageware fame and fortune.
When star RubberTubber saleswoman, Agatha Ruby is shot down in cold blood during her morning jog (and $6500 worth of her storageware is stolen!), the police hone in on the suspects – all 200 of them. Everyone in Aggie’s hometome of Mametville, WA knew her personally. And nearly all had reasons to kill her. See if you can figure it out.
**Ursula Burton (The Office, 2007)

Website: http://www.deathofasaleswoman.com


Isabella and Lucy (working title)
Isabella is a burnt-out, sarcastic, 20-something social worker who has cynically given up her dreams for real love and makes a living attempting to help broken families reunite. Isabella’s estranged and loose canon younger sister, Rachel, arrives to stay at Isabella’s house after a debilitating car accident. Isabella and Rachel parted ways many years ago because of the untimely death of their mother, from an accidental overdose, that happened in front of a 10 yr old Isabella while she was home sick from school.

Jim is Isabella’s fiance, an overly ambitious and needy attorney working in the child care system. Despite having to take time off to care for the troublesome Rachel, and deal with her teetering relationship with Jim, Isabella becomes the case worker for the equally feisty Lucy. Lucy is a 10 yr old orphan whose younger brother, Joshua, accidentally drowned in a swimming accident while Lucy was playing with him. Lucy’s grieving and detached mother, Helen, is unable to effectively deal with the loss since she was watching the kids when the accident happened. Helen has placed Lucy into the foster care system and wants some time away from mothering, to sort out her feelings and her life – and to possibly give Lucy up for adoption.

Lucy wants only to reunite with her broken family. But her father, Ben, left to fight in the Iraq war while Lucy was growing up, and wants nothing to do with the family’s recent problems, especially after Joshua’s tragic accident. Ben and Helen are at odds about how to handle Joshua’s death and Lucy’s life.

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

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