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Trailer for the Latest by Fessenden

Remember the ultra-cool film WENDIGO, an ecological horror film by Larry Fessenden starring Patricia Clarkson? It tied with WAYDOWNTOWN for the Buried Treasure Award at the 9th Annual Chlotrudis Award. Last year in Toronto Fessenden's latest film, THE LAST WINTER debuted and got rave review from Ivy, who was fortunate enough to see it. Now we get a trailer for THE LAST WINTER, which stars Ron Perlman, James LeGros, and Kevin Corrigan, and it looks pretty darn cool. THE LAST WINTER will open in New York City on September 19 followed by a national roll-up. What do you think, Brattle Theatre, sounds like a winner to me!

BLINDNESS Gets Even More Intriguing

Mewsings reported earlier about BLINDNESS, the currently-in-production feature directed by Fernando Meirelles (CITY OF GOD), and adapted from José Saramago's award-winning novel by our Chlotrudis-buddy Don McKellar. I'm currently reading the novel, and it's going to be pretty intense when they bring this to the big screen. Blindness tells the story of an unnamed city whose inhabitants start to go inexplicably blind. Julianne Moore has the leading role, and as reported before, Mark Ruffalo has stepped in to replace Daniel Craig in the male lead.

BLINDNESS is currently shooting in Guelph, Ontario, and a quick check of the Internet Movie Database reveals a pretty compelling, international, supporting cast. In addition to Moore and Ruffalo, there are a couple more names from the movie biz including Danny Glover, and Gael Garcia Bernal, who was last seen in the Chlotrudis-nominated leading role in THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP. I was also pleased to see another past-Chlotrudis honoree getting a role; Canadian mainstay Maury Chaykin. Don McKellar gets a brief but pivotal role as "The Thief." Fans of Hirozaku Koreeda will be pleased to see Yusuke Iseya, one of the leads from his beloved AFTER LIFE in the role of the "first blind man." Finally, for fans of the Canadian television dramedy "Slings & Arrows" (and there are a handful of you out there) two delightfully talented actresses from that show, Martha Burns and Susan Coyne also have roles.

The one name I didn't see in the credits who we were hoping would be involved is Chlotrudis honoree Tracy Wright. Hopefully there is something bigger and better in her future.

What's Up with Chlotrudis Short Film Alum, Patrick Smith?

Patrick Smith, the talented animator whose work for MTV can be seen in the animated series "Down-town" and as the director for several seasons of "Daria," is also known among Chlotrudis members as the filmmaker who has twice been accepted into the Chlotrudis Short Film Festival. In 2006 Smith entered the surreally entertaining HANDSHAKE, and last year he tickled audiences with the adorably sinister PUPPET. Now Smith's animated work has been collected into a DVD called LIQUID TALES. The collection includes five of his most recent, award-winning films, with extra features including pencil tests, director commentary, behind the scenes footage, and an exclusive interview. To order LIQUID TALES, and to find more about Patrick and his work, visit his website, Blend Films.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Petition to Change Thai Law

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Apicatpong "Joe" Weeasethakul's new film SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY. Apparently there's quite a story brewing around this film by the director of Buried Treasure nominee TROPICAL MALADY. After Thailand's Censorship Board demanded Joe cut four "sensitive scenes" from his film, he decided not to release the film in his home country unless the laws were changed to allow it to be screened in its intended form. Joe has started a petition of have those laws changed called the "Free Thai Cinema Movement" where he says, ""We're petitioning not only for a just decision for Syndromes and a Century, but also for a long-needed modernization of Thai legislation concerning movie censorship." GreenCine Daily reports that the movement is receiving some serious backing from political and cultural heavyweights. Chlotrudis members, especially those that voted for this year's Best Documentary winner THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, should take a look at the petition and consider signing it. I did.

Incidentally, according to Limitless Cinema, the four "sensitive scenes" that the Thai Censorship Board demanded cut showed:

  1. a young monk playing a guitar
  2. a group of doctors drinking whisky in a hospital basement
  3. a doctor kissing his girlfriend in a hospital locker room
  4. two monks playing with a radio-controlled flying saucer

Now don't you really want to sign the petition?

SXSW Review/IFFBoston Preview

posted on behalf of Gil Cordova by Michael Colford at the O'Hare Airport in Chicago!

While some may associate the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin only with music, SXSW is actually a ten-day festival in mid-March that also includes an interactive media conference in addition to one of the top film festivals and film conferences in the country. As some of you know, Amanda and I lived in Austin before moving to Boston and we’ve been able to attend SXSW on and off for the last ten years. So this year, we were fortunate enough to travel south for a steady diet of good films interspersed with margaritas, barbecue, and warm weather.

With all that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of the films that we saw:

RUNNING WITH ARNOLD – Half-baked political doc about the action star turned California governor. Despite some great footage, the film only brushed the surface as to why California voters thought Arnold was their best option to govern the state. Due to scheduling, the film didn’t include his recent re-election which would have provided another interesting chapter of the Arnold saga. (2 ½ cats)

THE UNFORESEEN – In this documentary produced by Robert Redford and Terence Malick, Austin filmmaker Laura Dunn profiles the life of real estate developer Gary Bradley and his battles with local Austin environmentalists. The film, which includes some of the most gorgeous cinematography that you are likely to see, presents a thorough analysis of the types of sacrifices that come with economic progress. (4 ½ cats) Will be screened at IFFB.

STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME (www.stealapencil.com)–Director Michele Ohayon (Cowboy del Amor) profiles the life of Jack Polak, a young accountant who was sent to a concentration camp in 1943 with both his wife and girlfriend. Adapted from the novel by the same name, the film is both a tragedy and a love story and also noteworthy for condensing a large amount of history and personal narrative in an informative and engaging manner. (4 ½ cats)

SCRAMBLED BEER (MALTA CON HUEVO) – Odd-couple comedy from Chile about a slob who is trying to get along with his neat freak roommate. Formulaic at first, the film has some nice twists that prove original and entertaining. (3 ½ cats)

EAGLE VS. SHARK – Certain to appeal to fans of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and MURIEL'S WEDDING. A funny little comedy from New Zealand about two relationship-challenged twentysomethings. (4 cats) Will be screened at IFFB.

KNOCKED UP – the latest comedy by one of my favorite writers/directors, Judd Apatow, who directed THE FORTY YEAR-OLD VIRGIN and the cult TV shows "Freaks and Greeks" and "Undeclared." In this film, Seth Rogan plays Ben, an aimless slacker who is forced to make some mature decisions when he “knocks up” Katherine Heigl after a drunken one-night stand. As with Virgin, Apatow brings some heart and depth to a one-note premise and it is certain to be one of the better studio films that will be released this summer. (4 ½ cats)

638 WAYS TO KILL CASTRO – British filmmaker Dollan Cannell looks into the countless attempts by the CIA and Cuban exiles to kill Fidel Castro. Without doubt, the film includes some unbelievable footage, yet I couldn’t help but think that the parts were better than the whole. Still worth checking out for those thought-provoking parts. (3 ½ cats)

RUN GRANNY RUN – Documentary about 90-year-old Doris “Granny D” Haddock who was the Democratic nominee for the New Hampshire US Senate seat. Underestimated by both her opponents and allies, Granny D struck a chord with voters as she campaigned against politicians who caved in to special interests. One of the better political docs that I’ve seen and another example of the difference that one person can make. (4 cats)

MONKEY WARFARE – In this Canadian feature starring Chlotrudis faves Don McKellar and Tracy Wright, the two actors play former revolutionaries who are keeping a low profile from the authorities. As a result they are forced to work low-income office jobs and sell garage sales purchases on the Internet. When the two encounter a young woman intent on taking on the establishment, an interesting conflict develops. While McKellar is great as usual, the film is a true showcase for Wright. (4 cats) Will be screened at IFFBoston AND CO-SPONSORED BY CHLOTRUDIS.

As is the case with festivals, we could not see everything that we wanted to see. Fortunately, the Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFFB) will be screening many of the most buzzed-about films that were shown at SXSW. IFFB starts next Wednesday, April 25 and continues through Monday, April 30th. Some of the films include:

FAY GRIM - the IFFB opening night film and a follow-up to Hal Hartley’s Henry Fool

AUDIENCE OF ONE – Special Jury Award Doc Winner at SXSW about a minister who believes that God told him to make the next blockbuster biblical film

BLACK SHEEP – Peter Jackson-produced horror/comedy about genetically-mutated killer sheep

HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS – the new film from “mumblecore” filmmaker Joe Swanberg (LOL) and starring fellow “mumblecore” filmmakers Andrew Bujalski (MUTUAL APPRECIATION), Mark Duplass (THE PUFFY CHAIR) and Todd Rohal (THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE)

THE KING OF KONG – Documentary about competitors looking to break the world record score on video game classic Donkey Kong

A LAWYER WALKS INTO A BAR – Documentary about the legal world and five law school graduates studying for the bar exam

Many festival films now have their own websites and MySpace pages where you can view trailers which is the best way to get an idea as to whether you might want to see the film. If you haven’t already checked out the IFFBoston lineup (www.iffboston.org), I encourage you to check it out so you’ll be all set for next week.

Director Formerly Known as "Joe" Wows Critics

Last year one of CSIF's Buried Treasure nominees was a surreal, dreamlike film from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul called TROPICAL MALADY. Back than the director was referred to by film critics as "Joe," but with the release of his latest film, SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY the "Joe" references seem to have vanished as critics praise the work of this uncompromising filmmakers. I'm sure Chlotrudis fans of TROPICAL MALADY are looking forward to this new film. It has played at the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, and has fortunately been picked up for U.S. distribution by Strand Releasing. Here's hoping it earns a good theatrical release. Check out some of the glowing reviews: indieWIRE, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Reverse Shot.