This year's Independent Film Festival of Boston took place over the weekend, and I was quite happy to catch five films this year. I seem to have trouble doing festivals when they're in my hometown. This year Chlotrudis co-sponsored two films, Bruce McDonald's inventive, psychological thiller, PONTYPOOL, and Hirokazu Kore-eda's masterful homage to Ozu, STILL WALKING. I was also able to catch WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, Ondi Timoner's thought-provoking follow-up to DIG!, I NEED THAT RECORD, a documentary about the fading independent record store, and Monday night's very special event, FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES.
Many attendees of this year's Chlotrudis Awards ceremony noticed that Gerry Peary and Amy Geller (left), stalwart supporters of the Society, were absent. They had a good reason: they were at South by Southwest, premiering their debut documentary, FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES: THE STORY OF AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM. Gerry's been working on this film for years, and we were lucky to be a part of the New England premiere of the film at the Institute of Contemporary Art, as part of this year's IFFB. It was a wonderful evening, with Gerry and Amy;s friends and family in attendance. Chlotrudis members came out in force, filling an entire row in the theatre. It was nice to see Boston film critics and Chlotrudis supporters Peter Keough and Wesley Morris (who also appears in the film) as well as documentary filmmaker, and Chlotrudis nominee Lucia Small (MY FATHER, THE GENIUS and THE AXE IN THE ATTIC).
So congratulations to Gerry and Amy for their accomplished and informative film, and to the Independent Film Festival of Boston for another great year! Next year maybe I'll make it to seven films!
I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention to this year's award's season yet, and while I've been watching with some interest the critics' prizes for 2008, I haven't been moved to post anything about them. This week the Director's Guild of America and Cinema Eye Honors have announced the first rounds in their respective awards, and I felt they worth pointing out. The former because it's always interesting to see which directors are being honored by their peers, and the latter because Cinema Eye Honors is a project created by IndiePix and Chlotrudis Awards Advisory Council member A.J. Schnack.
The Director's Guild's nominations are pretty unsurprising if you've been paying attention to the critics' lists these past few weeks. The winner will be announced on January 31.
The Cinema Eye Honors released their short list of documentary contenders from which a list of nominees will be culled. It's a pretty varied list with representation from all styles in the non-fiction filmmaking spectrum.
THE BETRAYAL (NERAHKOON)
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
THE ENGLISH SURGEON
IN A DREAM
MAN ON WIRE
THE ORDER OF MYTHS
ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
STRANDED, I COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED ON THE MOUNTAINS
TROUBLE THE WATER
UP THE YANGTZE
WALTZ WITH BASHIR
Looks like Chlotrudis members have been slacking off with their reviews! Nominations will be announced on January 19 in Park City, Utah, and the awards will be announced in New York City on March 29. A.J. has an in-depth look at the nominees at his blog. Expect several of these docs to show up on the Chlotrudis Best Documentary list, to be announced during the first week of February.
Chlotrudis Advisory Board member AJ Schnack has posted this year's Oscar shortlist for documentaries; it looks uncommonly strong, finding room for usual suspect Errol Morris, but also Werner Herzog and the excellent AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR, which screened the festival circuit (including IFF Boston) before airing on IFC.
As for omissions, the most glaring one is CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY; I would've also liked to see UNIVERSE OF KEITH HARING and SECRECY on there. What other films (apart from those AJ mentions in his post) do you think got overlooked?
With a few exceptions, PIFF does a superb job selecting documentaries. In fact, looking back, I would say that overall, the docs I saw were for the most part outstanding, and the narratives, generally uneven. Day Two at PIFF was documentary day, with three docs being the order of the day.
This was the film that Chlotrudis co-presented at Ptown, and I was very pleased by the nearly packed house at the Crown & Anchor. CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY beautifully tells the story of the thirty-year relationship of author/poet Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy who was thirty years Isherwood's junior. With Bachardy still living, the film tends to focus more on him, but Isherwood certainly gets his share of attention. All of the issues you might imagine in a relationship with such disparate ages are present, and because Isherwood was a diarist, the access to his most personal thoughts and even video footage is well utilized here. Just thinking about the fact that these two men first met when Don was 16 (they became a couple when he was 18) you can't help but ponder his entire adult identity being shaped by Isherwood. The main point of struggle was certainly Don's search for an identity when partnered with such a talented and well-known figure. I'm sure that if Bachardy had not found his creative talent as an artist, their relationship would never have survived.
Mascara and Santi blend live interview with Don and others who knew the couple, with Isherwood's video footage and readings from his diaries, as well as recreations of some key points in their lives. They shape out of this unconventional, decidedly non-traditional relationship a romance for the ages, with grace, style, and a passionate heart. 5 cats
I was intrigued to see this documentary focusing on the lives of teens today that has been the subject of much praise and controversy on the festival circuit. Burstein spent a year immersed in an Indiana community, seeking out and spending time with a group of teenagers that embody the well-known archetypes (or perhaps that should read stereotypes) made popular by the film THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Unfortunately, AMERICAN TEEN just didn't work for me, and the more people I talk to, I've been finding that it either clicks with people, or it doesn't, but even the people who love it can see the artifice and manipulation that turned me off of the film.
I'm not against staged scenes, recreations, or scripted sequences in documentaries. They can certainly enhance a non-fiction film and make it more entertaining. The problem with AMERICAN TEEN is that the film isn't really honest with its audiences. As thing progress, it becomes increasingly obvious that some of the scenes are staged, and eventually you begin to believe that the teens being depicted in the film might actually be characters, or 'actors' representing archetypes, rather than kids being represented in a documentary. Burstein has sought out (or created) such blatant stereotypes in order to fulfill a publicity department's dream and tapping into the early-80's John Hughes zeitgeist that I was instantly reminded of James Frey and his fictionalized memoir. To further this feeling the storylines in AMERICAN TEEN follow such startlingly scripted paths that you'd think a team of Hollywood screenwriters were coaching the action.
Those people who I've spoken two who enjoyed the film totally bought into the PRETTY IN PINK/THE BREAKFAST CLUB vibe that TEEN apes even while acknowledging the manipulation. While I was at first perplexed and disappointed as I watched AMERICAN TEEN, as time has passed I'm still perplexed but now somewhat annoyed. The film's marketing is trying to further underscore the character-like nature of the subjects, and the inauthenticity of the film has begun to grate on my nerves even more. 2 cats
I have been waiting for Lucia Small, director of MY FATHER, THE GENIUS, to make another film; curious to see what direction she would take after the intensely personal examination of her father's life and its affect on his family. I was not expecting THE AXE IN THE ATTIC, a road-trip across America with co-director Ed Pincus, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the resulting diaspora that occurred, displacing scores of people whose homes were destroyed in the storm. What makes ATTIC different from other films or reports on Katrina's aftermath is the way the filmmakers insert themselves into the film, constantly questioning their roles and responsibilities while shooting the film; asking questions of themselves that viewers of documentary films often ask of the filmmakers without being able to get an answer.
Pincus and Small focus on approximately 50 people in the film, pared down from the hundreds they interviewed on their road trip. These stories, powerful and moving all, are intercut with images of the devastation, and scenes where the filmmakers debate the social responsibilities of the country and the individual, and how this disaster affected them each personally. ATTIC is an elegant work, and one that I would encourage everyone to see. It's wonderful to see Small continue her fine filmmaking career, and again, makes me eager to see what she will do next. 4 1/2 cats.
After the film, a group of us headed to Level at the Commons for a filmmaker reception. We were late arriving, and much of the crowd had thinned out, but a batch of Chlotrudis members, myself, Scot, Beth Curran, Beth Caldwell, Dan McCallum and his partner Jon, spent the next couple of hours with director Lucia Small and her associate producer Emma, Boston Phoenix film critic and Chlotrudis-pal Gerry Peary, and Central Productions CEO Mike Bowes. We even got a few clues as to what Lucia might be working on next!
The Independent Film Festival of Boston has announced its festival line-up for when it returns to the Somerville Theatre, the Brattle Theatre and the Coolidge Corner Theatre April 23 - 29, 2008. Opening the festival is TRANSSIBERIAN, the latest from director Brad Anderson (NEXT STOP, WONDERLAND; HAPPY ACCIDENTS) starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, and Ben Kingsley. Anderson, his screenwriter Will Conroy and the cast will be in attendance at the opening night premiere. Closing the festivities on Tuesday, April 29 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre will be Werner Herzog's environmental documentary ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.
The Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film will be co-presenting two films at the IFFB, both from our neighbors to the north. On Friday, April 25 and Sunday April 27, join us for another tour de force performance by the talented Ellen Page who stars in THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS a visual extravaganza directed by Bruce McDonald. Chlotrudis will also welcome Guy Maddin to town for his magnificent autobiographical, pseudo-documentary, MY WINNIPEG. It screens on Monday, April 28.
Read the IFFB's official announcement below:
The Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFFBoston) today announced the films that will be featured at the 2008 Independent Film Festival of Boston. The sixth annual festival will be held April 23-April 29, 2008. This year, to meet the demands of its growing audience, IFFBoston has expanded its slate to include 96 films. The festival, complete with over 150 film screenings, filmmaker Q&A sessions, panel discussions, visiting filmmakers, parties and events will showcase the works of filmmakers who seek to create films that are life changing, thought provoking and expose aspects of life in new and revealing manners.
TRANSSIBERIAN directed by Brad Anderson, written by Brad Anderson and Will Conroy, and starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, and Sir Ben Kingsley will open the festival on Wednesday, April 23rd at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. This marks a return to Boston for Brad Anderson, who previously shot his features NEXT STOP WONDERLAND and SESSION 9 in the city. Brad Anderson, Will Conroy, and cast will be in attendance for the Opening Night screening.
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD directed by Werner Herzog, will close the Independent Film Festival of Boston on Tuesday April 29th at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.
Two feature length films will be making their World Premiere at the Independent Film Festival of Boston this April. The first, TWELVE, brings twelve of Boston’s brightest young filmmakers together on a collaborative project wherein each of them directed a segment of the film, each in a different month of the year, with the other 11 directors always serving as their crew. The directors who make up the twelve are Scott Masterson, Seanbaker Carter, Andy McCarthy, Garth Donovan, Luke Poling, Noah Lydiard, Megan Summers, Brynmore Williams, Joan Meister, Marc Colucci, Jared Goodman, and Vladmir Minuty.
The second film having its World Premiere at the festival is MEADOWLARK, an autobiographical documentary by first-time filmmaker Taylor Greeson, which simultaneously explores issues of faith and sexuality while confronting the violent murder of the filmmaker’s brother.
Special guests attending the festival include Famke Janssen, Guy Maddin, Harmony Korine, Harlan Ellison, Mary Stuart Masterson, Jay McCarroll, Chris Eigeman, Brad Neely, Harry & The Potters, and many more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Discounted passes are available on the festival website, http://www.iffboston.org, through March 31st. Individual tickets will be available on the website starting April 1st. There are film-only passes, party-only passes, and Chrome passes which grant access to all films and parties available.
INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL OF BOSTON 2008 OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:
AUGUST EVENING, directed by Chris Eska
BALLAST, directed by Lance Hammer
BEAVER TRILOGY, directed by Trent Harris (Buried Treasure screening)
BIG MAN JAPAN, directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto
BLOOD CAR, directed by Alex Orr
THE CAKE EATERS, directed by Mary Stuart Masterson
FLASH POINT, directed by Wilson Yip
FROWNLAND, directed by Ronnie Bronstein
GOLIATH, directed by David Zellner & Nathan Zellner
JETSAM, directed by Simon Welsford
MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, directed by Barry Jenkins
MISTER LONELY, directed by Harmony Korine
MOMMA’S MAN, directed by Azazel Jacobs
MONGOL, directed by Sergei Bodrov
MY EFFORTLESS BRILLIANCE, directed by Lynn Shelton
MY WINNIPEG, directed by Guy Maddin
NATURAL CAUSES, directed by Alex Cannon, Paul Cannon, and Michael Lerman
THE NEW YEAR PARADE, directed by Tom Quinn
PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND, directed by Daniel Barnz
PING PONG PLAYA, directed by Jessica Yu
PINK, directed by Alexander Voulgaris
SAVAGE GRACE, directed by Tom Kalin
SEVERED WAYS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, directed by Tony Stone
STUCK, directed by Stuart Gordon
TIME CRIMES, directed by Nacho Vigalondo
THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, directed by Bruce McDonald
TRANSSIBERIAN, directed by Brad Anderson (Opening Night Film)
TRIANGLE, directed by Ringo Lam, Johnnie To, and Tsui Hark
TURN THE RIVER, directed by Chris Eigeman
TWELVE, directed by Scott Masterson, Seanbaker Carter, Andy McCarthy, Garth Donovan, Luke Poling, Noah Lydiard, Megan Summers, Brynmore Williams, Joan Meister, Marc Colucci, Jared Goodman, and Vladmir Minuty
VEXILLE, directed by Fumihiko Sori
WOODPECKER, directed by Alex Karpovsky
AMERICAN TEEN, directed by Nanette Burnstein
AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR, directed by Steve James and Peter Gilbert
CRAWFORD, directed by David Modigliani
DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH, directed by Erik Nelson
ELEVEN MINUTES, directed by Michael Selditch
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, directed by Werner Herzog (Closing Night Film)
FRONTRUNNER, directed by Virginia Williams
THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE, directed by Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis
INTIMIDAD, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin
JOY DIVISION, directed by Grant Gee
JUMP!, directed by Helen Hood Scheer
LIFE. SUPPORT. MUSIC., directed by Eric Metzgar
THE LINGUISTS, directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger
LIONESS, directed Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers
MEADOWLARK, directed by Taylor Greeson
NERDCORE RISING, directed by Negin Farsad
NOT YOUR TYPICAL BIGFOOT MOVIE, directed by Jay Delaney
PUBLIC ENEMY: WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME, directed by Robert Patton-Spruill
SAVIOURS, directed by Ross Whitaker and Liam Nolan
SECOND SKIN, directed by Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza
SECRECY, directed by Robb Moss and Peter Galison
SEX POSITIVE, directed by Daryl Wein
SONG SUNG BLUE, directed by Greg Kohs
VERY YOUNG GIRLS, directed by David Schisgall
WE ARE WIZARDS, directed by Josh Koury
WILD BLUE YONDER, directed by Celia Maysles
APOCALYPSE OZ, directed by Ewan Telford
AQUARIUM, directed by Rob Meyer
A CATALOG OF MY ANTICIPATIONS, directed by David Lowery
CHIEF, directed by Brett Wagner
DOXOLOGY, directed by Michael Langan
THE DRIFT, directed by Kelly Sears
THE EUROPEAN KID, directed by Ian Martin
THE EXECUTION OF SOLOMON HARRIS, directed by Wyatt Garfield and Ed Yonaitis
FILM MAKES US HAPPY, directed by Bryan Wizemann
GLORY AT SEA, directed by Ben Zeitlin
HEARTBEATS, directed by Vincent Coen
IF A BODY MEET A BODY, directed by Brian Davis
I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE, directed by Cam Christiansen
I LOVE SARAH JANE, directed by Spencer Susser
JACKSON WARD, directed by Matt Petock
KIDS + MONEY, directed by Lauren Greenfield
LA CORONA, directed by Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
LARRY (THE ACTOR), directed by Brett Portanova and Eric Poydar
THE LONELY BLISS OF CANNONBALL LUKE, directed by Levi Abrino
MAN, directed by Myna Joseph
MAYBE IN THE SPRINGTIME, directed by Mai Sato
MR.P, directed by Jake Vaughan
PEPPER, directed by Harry McCoy
PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY, directed by Bo Price
THE PULL, directed by Andy Blubaugh
THE RAMBLER, directed by Calvin Reeder
REORDER, directed by Sean Garrity
SAFARI, directed by Catherine Chalmers
SANGIT SENYOR, directed by Alan Lyddiard
SAVE THE WORLD, directed by David Casals-Roma
SIKUMI (ON THE ICE), directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean
SPIDER, directed by Nash Edgerton
34x24x36, directed by Jesse Epstein
TONY ZOREIL, directed by Valentin Potier
WELL-FOUNDED CONCERNS, directed by Tim Cawley
WOMAN IN BURKA, directed by Jonathan Lisecki
- Collaborative Screenwriting Presented by Zhura.com
A discussion with screenwriters and other industry professionals on the benefits of collaboration featuring Amy Fox (Heights) and Will Conroy (Transsiberian)
- Distribution 2.0
A discussion with some of the companies on the cutting edge of film distribution featuring representatives of Spout.com, Current.com, Indiepix, and Ourstage. Moderated by Amy Dotson of the Independent Feature Project (IFP).
- Comics to Film/ Film to Comics
A presentation by “Robot Stories” writer/director and writer of the hit comics The X-Men and World War Hulk, Greg Pak.
The Independent Film Festival of Boston will reach a diverse audience by incorporating a number of venues in the greater Boston community including:
- Somerville Theatre in Davis Square
- Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square
- Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline
Recently a new Chlotrudis member, Philip, posed a question on the Chlotrudis discussion list for a friend who wanted to know if there were any films focusing on geography, either documentary or narrative. He is pursuing his graduate degree in Geography and Geographic Information Systems. Aside from the Stellar Cartography scenes in the Star Trek TNG films, Philip couldn't think of anything off-hand, but when posed with this challenge, Chlotrudis members came back with several suggestions. We thought it might be nice to provide the list for any curiosity seekers who might wonder the same thing. Here they are... films about geography!
- Berlin: Die Symphonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a City) (doc; Walter Ruttmann)
- David Thompson: the Great Mapmaker (narrative short; Bernard Devlin)
- Encounters at the End of the World (doc; Werner Herzog)
- Fata Morgana (narrative; Werner Herzog)
- Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (The Gleaners & I) (doc; Agnes Varda)
- An Inconvenient Truth (doc; Davis Guggenheim)
- Keep the River on your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale (doc; David and Laurie Shapiro)
- La Soufriere (doc/short; Werner Herzog)
- Lektionen in Finsternis (Lessons in Darkness) (doc; Werner Herzog)
- Manhatta (doc/short; Charles Sheeler/Paul Strand)
- Chelovek s kino-apparatom (The Man with the Movie Camera) (doc; Dziga Vertov)
- Map of the Human Heart (narrative; Vincent Ward)
- The Mapmaker (narrative; Johnny Gogan)
- Manufactured Landscapes (doc; Jennifer Baichwal)
- My Winnipeg (doc/narrative; Guy Maddin)
- Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (doc; Chris Metzler; Jeff Springer)
- À propos de Nice (doc/short; Jean Vigo)
- Regen (doc/short; Mannus Franken/Joris Ivens)
- Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (doc; Thomas Riedelsheimer)
- Tuvalu (narrative; Veit Helmer)
- Winged Migration (doc; Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats)
Can you think of anymore? Add to this list by posting in the comments.
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.
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.
I'm sure you all remember that Chlotrudis Advisory Board member, A.J. Schnack, has a new movie out called KURT COBAIN: ABOUT A SON. The film has been on the festival circuit, most recently, and closest to home at the Newport International Film Festival. For those Chlotrudis members who haven't had the opportunity to see the film yet, you can see a clip on YouTube. Hopefully we'll get to see the film on the big screen here in Boston sometime in the future. I had been hoping for a screening at the Provincetown International Film Festival, which I leave for tomorrow, but no such luck.