Fourteen years ago, Chlotrudis President Michael Colford got tired of listening to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences dictate the apparently limited notion of what is good in film during a given year and started the Chlotrudis Awards to honor independent film. Now, for reasons not all that dissimilar, Chlotrudis Award-winning direction A.J. Schnack has followed suit, developing with IndiePix a new award for non-fiction films.
Back in late November, after the Academy announced its short list of documentaries for Awards consideration, A.J. expressed his dismay at its treatment of docs. A.J. had been reporting, sometimes controversially, over the past year plus about the quixotic and confusing rule-changing the Academy had been engaging in with regard to documentaries' requirements for award eligibility. Apparently he has had enough.
A.J. sought out online independent film distributor IndiePix, and a group of North American film festival programmers to launch a new nonfiction filmmaking awards event, set for March 18, 2008 at IFC Center in New York City. Awards will be given in eight categories including Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Filmmaking, International Feature, Debut Feature, Direction, Production, Editing, Cinematography, and Graphics and Animation. I have no idea how long this idea has been kicking around in A.J.'s head, but he clearly pulled this together so quickly that the passion and commitment from those involved is clear.
As the key organizer, A.J. held his 2007 film KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON from consideration, but the group announced its own short list yesterday:
BILLY THE KID
THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK
GHOSTS OF CITE SOLEIL
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON
INTO GREAT SILENCE
LAKE OF FIRE
NO END IN SIGHT
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE
So welcome, A.J. to the awards milieu! It's great to see the Academy, in all of its shortcomings, inspiring yet another Awards Ceremony. Find out who Chlotrudis nominates in the Best Documentary category in just over two weeks.
Today the Boston Society of Film Critics announced their awards for 2007. Awards season has begun with a vengeance, with announcements for the Independent Spirit Awards, National Board of Review Awards, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association already released, and the Golden Globe nominees coming next Thursday. Here in Boston, our critics followed the lead of the NBR by selecting the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN as their top film of the year. I guess the most surprising thing for me here is the hometown allegiance to GONE BABY GONE, and more particularly, Ben Affleck. I haven't seen the film, so I probably shouldn't comment, but I find it hard to believe (from what I've heard) that he's deserving of the Best New Filmmaker Award. Here's the complete list:
Frank Langella for STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING
Marion Cotillard for LA VIE EN ROSE
Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Ryan for GONE BABY GONE
Julian Schnabel for THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Brad Bird for RATATOUILLE
Janusz Kaminski for THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Best Foreign-Language Film
Best New Filmmaker
Ben Affleck for GONE BABY GONE
Best Ensemble Cast
The Boston Society of Film Critics is a group of 18 film writers who publish in the Boston area, including several friends of Chlotrudis including Ty Burr, Peter Keough, Loren King, Wesley Morris, and Gerry Peary. I wonder if their meeting today was as fun and/or contentious as our upcoming Chlotrudis Awards Nominating Committee Meeting which will take place on Saturday, January 19.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced its Shortlist for the Oscars Documentary category yesterday, and much of the film blogging world has been reacting. A.J. Schnack, documentary filmmaker and Chlotrudis Advisory Council member, whose first feature doc, GIGANTIC: A TALE OF TWO JOHNS was the Chlotrudis Award for Best Documentary, and whose latest work, KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON is enjoying a theatrical run right now, shares his thoughts on the Academy's selections in an insightful post over at his blog, All These Wonderful Things. Check it out.
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:
- a young monk playing a guitar
- a group of doctors drinking whisky in a hospital basement
- a doctor kissing his girlfriend in a hospital locker room
- two monks playing with a radio-controlled flying saucer
Now don't you really want to sign the petition?
Those Danes and their rules. Most film enthusiasts are familiar with the Dogme95 collective, which has spawned some remarkable films such as Thomas Vinterberg's THE CELEBRATION; Lars Von Trier's THE IDIOTS; Søren Kragh-Jacobsen's MIFUNE; Lone Scherfig's ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS; and Susanne Bier's OPEN HEARTS. Now after a conversation with Lars Von Trier, directors Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen (whose film ADAM'S APPLES we are going to see Monday night) have come up with a new concept called The Advance Party. The Advance Party is the banner for films incorporating the characters originated by Scherfig and Jensen after Lars von Trier had set the challenge of putting the same actors playing the same characters into different films authored by different directors. It was originated in 2002 by the Glasgow Film Office who suggested to Scottish Production Company Sigma Films that they persuade theirs partners at Zentropa (the Danish Production Company responsible for many Dogme95 films) to collaborate on a series of films by emerging directors.
The rules are as follows:
- The scripts can take their starting point in one or more characters or they may be subjected to an external drama. The characters can also participate in a form that is governed primarily by neither characters nor plot.
- The films take place in Scotland but apart from that the writers are free to place them anywhere according to geography, social setting or ethnic background. Their back-stories can be expanded, family relations can be created between them, they can be given habits good or bad, and secondary characters can be added if it is proper for the individual film.
- The interpersonal relationships of the characters differ from film to film and they may be weighted differently as major or minor characters.
- The development of the characters in each story or genre does not affect the other scripts.
- All of the characters must appear in all of the films.
- The various parts will be cast with the same actors in the same parts in all of the films.
Less technical and more character-driven than Dogme95, but still a spur to creativity by its limitations, The Advance Party first brings to mind the self-imposed structure of Chlotrudis Award multiple winner THE TRILOGY by Belgian director Lucas Belvaux, where three films, in different genres, about the same characters were filmed and released at the same time. THE TRILOGY won four Chlotrudis Awards in 1995 including Best Cast, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Movie (for which it tied with SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER... AND SPRING.)
The first of the Advance Party's films is Andrea Arnold's RED ROAD, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year. In RED ROAD, Jackie (Kate Dickie) works as a CCTV operator. Each day she watches over a small part of the world, protecting the people living their lives under her gaze. One day a man appears on her monitor, a man she thought she would never see again, a man she never wanted to see again. Now she has no choice, she is compelled to confront him. RED ROAD has already drawn comparisons to REAR WINDOW and Michael Haneke's Chlotrudis Awards winning CACHE.
In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine earlier this week, writer/director Arnold discusses The Advance Party, and the making of RED ROAD. Chlotrudis Board Member Bruce Kingsley caught RED ROAD earlier this year at the Miami International Film Festival, where it won Best Film. RED ROAD also features as one of its stars, Natalie Press, who was nominated for a Best Actress Chlotrudis Award for MY SUMMER OF LOVE. All of this is just to say that I'm very intrigued and getting excited about RED ROAD'S release, and it will be interesting to see where the other two participating directors (Morag Mckinnon and Mikkel Norsgaard) take these characters. It's the first time in several months that I have been intrigued and excited by an upcoming release that I'd never heard of before.
Variety reports that Cormac McCarthy's chilling, post-apocalyptic tale, The Road will be adapted for the big screen by screenwriter Joe Penhall (who penned the movie version of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love to mixed results. Australian director Joe Hillcoat, who recently helmed multiple Chlotrudis-nominee THE PROPOSITION, will direct. That's going to be one chilling movie... I just hope they don't go the full-out zombie route. The terror of McCarthy's book comes largely from the isolation surrounding the main characters, and the potential danger of discovery. It might be difficult to successfully translate to the big screen. I can see it working in Hillcoat's hands as long as he mixes in a little restraint. It's really a character piece and a road movie; I'd hate to see it turned into a horror flick. We'll see.
Some Chlotrudis members know Peter Keough, film critic at the Boston Phoenix, as the good-looking, grumpy guy who claims to be working on a cure for cancer. The lucky members know that he's an opinionated, skilled film critic who has supported Chlotrudis for many years, and always livens things up when he presents an award for us. If you haven't taken a look at his blog, Outside the Frame, do so now. He has posted a wrap-up on our Awards Ceremony. Thanks, Peter!
Over at GreenCine Daily, there's a report on Opening Night at SXSW which features Reg Harkema's MONKEY WARFARE, starring this year's Chlotrudis guests Don McKellar and Tracy Wright. Chlotrudis Board members Beth Curran and Nancy Campbell caught MONKEY WARFARE in Toronto, and through Nancy and Chlotrudis member Brian Tamm's efforts, we will be lucky enough to catch this film in April at the Indepedent Film Festival of Boston. With 2006 being a slight year for Canadian films, here's hoping that 2007 yields a better batch. MONKEY WARFARE also stars Nadia Litz, who won a Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress way back in 2001 for her work in THE FIVE SENSES.
Speaking of SXSW, Chlotrudis members Ned Hinkle, Gil Cordova, and Amanda Doran are all enjoying the festival this week. Let's hope they see some terrific new films to bring to Boston!
A few weeks ago, Scot reported to the Chlotrudis membership that our beloved Canadian TV sitcom, "Twitch City," was finally being released in the U.S. (it was finally released in Canada last fall). Now it hasn't yet appeared in Netflix, but it is available for purchase over at Amazon. We were wondering if the commentary on the U.S. version would be the same as the Canadian, and judging from the description on Amazon, it does sound like it will be. This is actually an exciting bit of news for Chlotrudis. The commentary is done by Don McKellar, this year's Chlotrudis special guest, and lead actor from the show, who calls his co-stars on the phone for assistance. When he reaches Daniel McIvor, past Chlotrudis "Body-of-Work" Award winner, the two have a rather amusing conversation while watching the debut episode. When they get to the "job wheel" scene (one that Chlotrudis members should know well) Daniel actually starts talking about coming to Boston to receive an award for his body of work, and the fact that we showed this clip. It's pretty cool and pretty funny, even though he doesn't mention us by name.
In related news, we have now confirmed our second guest for the 13th Annual Chlotrudis Awards coming up soon. This is an unofficial announcement, as a press release will follow, but I'm just so excited I couldn't contain myself any longer. She's got "cat-i-tude!" Tracy Wright will be honored at the Awards Ceremony for her "career-so-far!" Tracy is best known in the U.S. for being part of the Chlotrudis Awards-winning Ensemble Cast of ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW. She has done extensive work in Canadian film and tv, including the wacky Dizelle in the afore-mentioned "Twitch City," a major part in Don McKellar's ensemble piece, LAST NIGHT, and a lead role in the upcoming MONKEY WARFARE, co-starring McKellar and Nadia Litz. She most recently appeared off-Broadway in "A Beautiful View" at the Public Theatre, a play written and directed by Daniel McIvor (see how synchronistic this post is?) Tracy Wright makes every movie she is in better, and I can't wait to meet her. Look for the official word on the front page of this website very soon.