Paa Joe & The Lion, directed by Benjamin Wigley

Paa Joe dreams of returning to his glory days as a successful and acclaimed artist in Ghana’s fantasy coffin trade.

Paa Joe dreams of his bygone days — bringing money home in briefcases and work being shipped to galleries the world over. Now, he sleeps as the cars hurtle passed. There are no customers, no tourists — there are no coffins to make. His son, Jacob, dreams too, he dreams of returning his father to his glory days and rebuilding the family legacy together. Over the next four years they stand side-by-side, conquering love and death and embracing a life changing opportunity to travel to the UK to undertake an artist residency. It is the start of their future together — master and son… Paa Joe & The Lion

Vist the website: http://paajoeandthelion.co.uk

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Nourhane, A Child’s Dream, directed by May Kassem

Nourhane a Child's Dream Trailer FINALx 3m04s h264 from May Kassem on Vimeo.

NOURHANE, A CHILD’S DREAM
A film by MAY KASSEM

SYNOPSIS: Nourhane was a singer and actress in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. She put a sudden end to her career and retreated away from the stage in the mid-60s. From that point on, she never spoke about her past, nor did she sing. Her grand-daughter goes into the world of filmmaking and at the age of 21 discovers her grandmother’s past. From that point on, she is on a quest to find out as much as possible about her grandmother’s career and life, and particularly about why her grandmother left a career at its height. Layers and layers of stories emerge through interviews, voice-overs, drawings, and animated sequences in a film centered around passion, and love.

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Inside You, written and directed by Heather Fink

Inside You screened at the first Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema in August, 2017. Mike Fishman sat down to talk with writer/director Heather Fink about her film.

Mike Fishman for IndependentFilmNow (IFN): Where did the idea originally come from to make a switch comedy?

Heather Fink: I had written 2 other feature scripts before Inside You and was still seeking to get my 1st feature made. I thought my script Heart Break covered a topic too commonly covered by female filmmakers. My next script, http 404 a comedy about a digital/internet apocalypse, required too big a budget and I was unsuccessful in getting funding for the film. I decided I needed to write a script that was more affordable and simple to shoot, that still portrayed my voice, carried my feminist agenda of writing strong female protagonists, writing on gender, AND still be fun. The body switch provides all of that – a really fun callback to the 80s movies I loved and grew up with, plus it mainly revolves around story and the performance of 2 characters making it much more achievable to shoot.

IFN: You managed to find a new twist on the switch comedy genre by having the two people involved not only know each other but be a couple in a relationship, allowing you to explore sexuality in a more straightforward way than we’ve seen before. Where did that come from? Was it something you had thought about before deciding to write a switch comedy or did it come out of the process of writing the screenplay?

Heather Fink: I’ve had penis envy my whole life. A curiosity about what it must be like to be a man. The stories we are told are always through a man’s eyes so I think it’s natural to want to know what it’s like. Peeing standing up seems like an amazing freedom. I find often that others reactions to my femininity to be so far removed from actually being a woman in a woman’s body. I know other women feel this way too. Like ok my boobs or butt are such a big deal to others, I could care less about them. So in a way I feel a detachment from my body, but society makes quite a big deal about it. I also don’t feel I’ve seen this movie before. I did my research and watched every body switching comedy I could get my hands on. There was only one I found that had a dating couple switch, a 90s movie from Australia, but I found it was so overwrought with gender stereotypes which is the opposite of the story I want to tell.

IFN: Another twist in the comedy is that the characters aren’t your typical male/female stereotypes. Stephanie is a tomboy who has great mechanical skills while Ryan seems to have less interest in sex and desperately wants to marry Stephanie. How did you weave that subtle messaging into your comedy?

Heather Fink: I’m glad you noticed! It was important to me, the feminist I am, to not be a hypocrite and portray their gender differences in a stereotypical way. It’s also quite true to my personal experience. I feel I’m both feminine and quite a rugged fix-things-yourself woman whose personal tastes and instincts are beyond how female characters are often portrayed. I feel there’s many women like me. As for the male lead character, my last boyfriend when I was writing the script was both masculine but at the same time cared way more about his clothes. We were always shopping for clothes and I hated it! He worked in sales and wore nice outfits, but I work on set and do heavy labor paying the bills as a union sound person/boom operator. These things are true to life, and people are more complex than how we typically see ourselves depicted in film and television.

As for the marriage thing – it’s one of the most important things I wanted to explore in the movie. I think we live in a wedding obsessed society but are extremely negative on marriage. It’s always “ugh my wife” or “the old ball n chain” – marriage is legitimately scary I think as a woman. To lose being a sexy and fun girlfriend and become a nagging burden. However the male character just loves his girlfriend and feels rejected that she doesn’t want to end up with him. I think both of these attitudes really exist amongst both men and women and are not as gender specific as stereotypes lead us to believe. We depict these differences in many ways; wardrobe, dialogue, and what’s expressed around the characters by others in the film.

IFN: You hadn’t planned on acting in the film. How did you come to star in the film as the main character? What were some of the challenges you then faced directing yourself (while giving a laugh-out-loud, clearly committed performance)?

Heather Fink: That’s right! I had cast 2 actors from LA and flew them out and put them up in NYC and then the day before shooting the lead actress had an emergency and we lost the whole shoot and retooled to shoot several months later. As I looked to re-cast the film, I had a hard time getting someone who could really nail the part who would also work for 3 weeks for scale, and do all the crazy embarrassing things in the script. Agents were not keen on some of the dirty sex jokes in the script, nor did they fully understand how their client would act in the opposite gender. I felt acting in the film would help get the movie made, and I felt that my performance in the film was a service to my dream of directing this movie and getting it made one way or the other. So, for me, being my own leading lady was all part of doing what it takes.

I don’t love acting like I did when I was younger, but I could enjoy it if it’s something interesting. I love directing – however I really hate doing both at the same time. I want to give my all to directing, and if I’m acting I want to give my all to the part. It’s simply not possible when distracted by the needs of serving the other role. You can’t fully dive into a part when you’re aware of everything else going on and paying attention to the performance of your co-star. And you are certainly pulled from the needs of the set when you are stuck in a makeup chair. I remember that we didn’t have enough time to film one of the biggest scenes in the movie, so while standing in for lighting and camera, I had the script in hand and was slashing away lines in order to make the scene shootable in the time we had. Thank you so much that you enjoyed the performance! At the end of the day I’m so glad it worked for you or anyone who enjoys the movie.

IFN: What do you think it is about switch comedies that one seems to get made every 5 years or so? Is it just the comedy of the situation or something deeper like wish fulfillment that propels interest in the idea of body swapping?

Heather Fink: I think it’s a great genre that is entirely about empathy for another viewpoint so I hope it stays alive! I’d actually love to make this movie again with a bigger budget :)

IFN: Inside You screened on August 6 at the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema. What’s next for the film?

Heather Fink: In September I’m taking the movie on a cross country screening tour at comedy theatres, cinemas, and arts centers along the way! The next screening is September 5th in NYC at the UCB East Theatre at 10:30pm. After that it’s Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, Boulder, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. (Details still being worked out for some of those cities). I’m currently also working with a digital distributor to get the movie up on one of your favorite streaming platforms, so hopefully it will be easy for everyone to see it soon. All dates and screening info will be updated at www.InsideYouMovie.com

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

IFN interviews In Winter co-writer/co-director Alexander Gutterman

InWinterTrailer from Alexander P Gutterman on Vimeo.

A small team of US midwest filmmakers offered its first effort, In Winter, to NYC film fans on Thursday the 10th of August at 3:30 P.M. as part of the inaugural running of the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.

The film finds its center in the character ANNIKA (Nora Targonski O’Brien), a young woman in constrained circumstances, caring for an aging and senile GRANDFATHER (Dale R. Botten) who is haunted by memories of war. Its setting is a small northern town in the dead of winter. When MARK (Charles Hubbell), a wealthy married man stops in her town to visit affluent friends on his way to the Coast, an intense emotional and sexual entanglement develops between him and ANNIKA, whose powerful emotional depth hides beneath the stoic exterior of the small town underclass.

Under the chaste but passionate eye of local pastor FATHER JIM (John Cromwell), in the milieu of Annika’s world of small town bars and Mark’s background of jaded old money, the affair unfolds. Below the blanket of the bleak frigid sky, ANNIKA opens to possibilities previously inconceivable, while MARK is slowly swallowed by the merciless cold and solitude of the setting and the affair.

IndependentFilmNow interviewed Alexander Gutterman, co-writer and co-director of feature film In Winter (with Aboubacar M. Camara) by e-mail. Excerprts from their interview follow.

Mike Fishman for IndependentFilmNow (IFN): Where did the idea for the story and its Minnesota setting come from?

Alexander Gutterman: The original inspiration for In Winter came from a powerful and painful experience I had over a series of months with a young woman from Vermont. This was around 2006 or so. This intense sexual and emotional entanglement was deeply gratifying but also deeply traumatizing, and at some point after it ended, I wrote and began to develop a short film called Loss which I was planning to shoot in Vermont with some colleagues. After moving to MN to be near my children, the original concept and core emotional tone of Loss developed organically into the In Winter script, informed by the severe cold, bleak emptiness, and post-Us-Steel depressed majestic industry of the Duluth region and the peoples and atmosphere of Northern MN.

IFN: You co-wrote and co-directed In Winter with Aboubacar Camara. How did that process unfold? Did you work remotely by e-mailing back and forth drafts of the screenplay? Did you each work on certain aspects or sections of the story? How did you work out the daily directing of the film?

Alexander Gutterman: When I first met Bouba there was this sense that it was NECESSARY that we collaborate. We met with the In Winter team from 2010 or so on, in study sessions, script reads, brainstorms, casting, and exploratory shoots to develop our understanding of the project. We overlapped to a degree creatively, but once on set Bouba focused primarily on technical oversight of the camera and lighting team while I periodically guided shot set up with the DP and gave most of my attention to the performances. The story was mine, as was the screenplay, but Bouba was both responsible for the formatting of the screenplay and led the editing process. Bouba’s significant work in the editing room was substantive enough to generate a writing credit, as key choices of his made major structural alterations in the unfolding of the film when viewed structurally.

IFN: The direction is at times almost austere and reminiscent of certain European auteurs. In many shots, the camera remains fixed while a character moves in or out of the frame. In one scene, for example, set in a kitchen, the camera remains focused on one character (the grandfather) while Annika (his granddaughter and the film’s main character) moves about just off-screen making him lunch, her body eventually entering the frame but not her face, and holding on that shot. What was your intention with such specific use of the camera and framing?

Alexander Gutterman: A tremendous amount of energy and thought went into the film’s cinematography. At the meta level, we looked closely at Bergman, Ozu, and Kubrick, taking what we thought relevant to our piece from each of them. We also examined each major location from a theoretical and symbolic perspective, and designed a signature use of the camera for each of these locations which remained consistent throughout the work. For example, at the Lake House of the wealthy we lookd to Kubrick’s limpid, clear presentation, at the Church we looked to a chiaroscuro reminiscent of Bergman. We developed our own approach to the Grandfather’s house, where we strove to create a sense of voyeurism by making sure that each shot was occluded or partially blocked by a doorway, wall, or some other aspect of the structure. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our motto for the construction of composition was “every shot a painting.” I worked with Joah Colby and Dan FItzpatrick and Bouba very closely on every single set up, looking for compelling composition, asymmetry, intrugueing depth exploration, and so forth.

With reference to the “kitchen shot” – we wanted to challenge the audience with a painful, lonely, silent and legthy experience where Annika’s frustration and anger is only knowable from the sounds of her opening cans and working with the microwave – in that same kitchen sequence, Annika’s status as an object (which she occupies in the lives of so many men) is explored through presenting only her elbows, hips, legs, buttocks and so forth. In this way her dehumanized situation receives symbolic visual expression.

Visit the films website: http://inwinterfilm.com

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Dark Meridian, written & directed by Rankin Hickman

Synopsis: A New Orleans detective gets caught up in a fight between two rival criminal factions while on a stake out. To survive the night, he must find a killer on the run and make things right before the killer reaches his other targets.

Dark Meridian will make its North American premiere on August 9th at the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.

Visit the film’s IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5846628/

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

In Winter, written & directed by Alexander P. Gutterman & Aboubacar M. Camara

InWinterTrailer from Alexander P Gutterman on Vimeo.

In Winter will have its World Theatrical Premiere at Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, Thursday August 10, 2017, 3:30 PM. The writer/director, editor/director, lead actor, and numerous other team members will be in attendance for this theatrical world premiere as part of the inaugural running of the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.

The film finds its center in the character ANNIKA (Nora Targonski O’Brien), a young woman in constrained circumstances, caring for an aging and senile GRANDFATHER (Dale R. Botten) who is haunted by memories of war. Its setting is a small northern town in the dead of winter. When MARK (Charles Hubbell), a wealthy married man stops in her town to visit affluent friends on his way to the Coast, an intense emotional and sexual entanglement develops between him and ANNIKA, whose powerful emotional depth hides beneath the stoic exterior of the small town underclass.

Under the chaste but passionate eye of local pastor FATHER JIM (John Cromwell), in the milieu of Annika’s world of small town bars and Mark’s background of jaded old money, the affair unfolds. Below the blanket of the bleak frigid sky, ANNIKA opens to possibilities previously inconceivable, while MARK is slowly swallowed by the merciless cold and solitude of the setting and the affair.

Directed by a Minnesota duo originally from NYC (Alexander P. Gutterman) and Africa (Aboubacar M. Camara), and shot in Northern MN during a bleak winter, the film emerges as a fresh voice reminiscent of the European minimalist art film tradition. In Winter breaks new ground in its approach to story, cinematography, editing, and sound. Formulaic work is eschewed in favour of a rich, poetic, and subtle unpredictability in movement from scene to scene, and a risky existential expose of human sexual, emotional, and spiritual vulnerability. All is underlaid by the subtle exploratory soundscape by Tom Hambleton of Undertone Music Inc. which masterfully interweaves the sounds of winter, the human voice, and electronics and tibetan meditation bowls into an evocative and delicate exploration of the audible soul of winter and solitude.

Visit the website: www.inwinterfilm.com

See the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6749002/?ref_=nv_sr_

Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/In-Winter-120807251356169/

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Grand Unified Theory, written and directed by David Ray

Grand Unified Theory Trailer from David Ray on Vimeo.

SYNOPSIS: During one fateful weekend, the family of brilliant astrophysicist Albert James has a complete meltdown, setting in motion a raucous and hilarious series of events that mirror his radical theories of the behaviour of the universe.

The film will be screening as part of the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema on August 10th and is in competition for five awards, including Best Feature Narrative, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. Its world premiere took place at the Beijing International Film Festival in April 2016.

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Interview with Alberto Caviglia (Burning Love)

Trailer: BURNING LOVE – PECORE in ERBA from Gaetano Maiorino on Vimeo.

Mike Fishman recently sat down with Alberto Caviglia to discuss the Italian filmmaker’s latest film, the comedy mockumentary Pecore in Erba, English title Burning Love. (See Mike’s review of the film HERE). Exceprts from their conversation follow.

Mike Fishman (MF): Where did the idea first come from to make a film about anti-Semitism? Has anti-Semitism been on the rise in Italy?

Alberto Caviglia (AC): The idea of Burning Love arrived after quite a long time in which I was questioning myself and looking for a new way to talk about anti-Semitism. My research began because I started to feel that the common ways of telling stories about anti-Semitism were losing their impact because prejudice is so pervasive and because I think it is a very delicate theme with many taboos. I don’t know if anti-Semitism is rising in Italy, but I think it is evolving and we need to be careful and aware to recognise its different shapes.

MF: Why did you decide to make a comedy, and at that, a mockumentary? Were there certain jokes or areas of humor that you decided not to explore during the writing or filming? Were there scenes or moments that you filmed that you decided to leave out of the finished film?

AC: I think that using a satirical point of view, it was something that could make this film different because I wanted to use comedy as a weapon to face anti-Semitism instead of using it just for laughs. I didn’t want to have limits but at the same time I was aware that I had to be very careful using satire with such a delicate theme. I cut some scenes at the end of the shooting, but only because I wasn’t happy about how they come out or because I considered them superfluous, and never because they were “too much.”

MF: What has the reaction been like? How have Jewish audience members in general reacted?

AC: Reactions were really different, including in italy at the many screenings that I attended. I was happy to see people understood the main intent (and humor) of the film abroad, in France, Russia, Sweden, and also Germany where people seemed very struck by the film. Jewish audience members have felt the most direct emotional impact but I think they also mostly enjoyed the movie. They are so involved in the topic that it is almost impossible to have an impartial discussion about the film with them.

MF: How did you fund the film? How long was the shoot? Were there particular challenges to making a mockumentary?

AC: The shooting lasted about 5 weeks. It was very intense because I had about 340 scenes in the script. It was really hard to shoot all of them and in some cases I had to give up if I wanted to repeat different takes because otherwise I would never get through all my scenes. Post-production as well was a real challange in order to finish it in time for the Venice Film Festival. I edited it with my editor Gianni Vezzosi in less than one month and a half, working day and night…I think we needed at least one more month but we did a kind of miracle finishing it on time!

MF: What is the status of the film? Has it been picked up for distribution and will it run in theaters? Do you have plans to stream it?

AC: We don’t yet have any foreign distribution and I hope to find that. In the meantime, the movie is on iTunes and it is available on DVD (https://www.amazon.it/Pecore-Erba-DVD-Davide-Giordano/dp/B01FOSM33Y). It would be really nice to have it streaming as well. I will let you know.

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

The Broken Legacy, written and directed by Miguel Garzón Martínez

The Broken Legacy Official Trailer from Miguel Garzón Martínez on Vimeo.

Synopsis: While voluntarily testing a new drug at a research facility, a lost screenwriter recruits the help of an egotistical philosopher in order to attract the girl of his dreams.
Starring Michael Stahler, Marcos Esteves, Rayne Bidder.
Written and Directed by Miguel Garzón Martínez
Produced by Miguel Garzón Martínez, Casey O’Brien and Cynthia Bravo

Website: https://www.thebrokenlegacy.com

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/189738031

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Texting In New York City, a short film by Mansu Edwards

Synopsis: A college student named Winnerbeme loses a cellphone while approaching a woman on a NYC train platform.

About the filmmaker: Mansu Edwards is a prolific artist who continually challenges art forms with boldness and creativity. He delights in using autonomous monikers to signify a transformative experience when engaging in innovative artistic creations. In 2016, Mr. Edwards produced, wrote and directed his first short film, Texting In New York City. A work inspired from people’s responses to the street marketing of its paperback (text) edition.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/textinginnewyorkcity

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

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