PIFF

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Chlotrudis picks the Best of the Fest at the Provincetown International Film Festival

The Way Way BackInspired by the HBO-sponsored Audience Awards selected by attendees at the Provincetown International Film Festival, Chlotrudis polled the members who attended the Fest to make their own picks for the best doc and best narrative feature, with decidedly different results.  The PIFF Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to HAUTE CUISINE, a film that underwhelmed the only Chlotrudis member who saw it, and the Audience Award for Best Documentary went to TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, an entertaining film that failed to get top marks from the Chlotrudis members who checked it out.   | Read more »

CHLOTRUDIS SOCIETY sponsors Xavier Dolan’s transgender love story, ‘LAURENCE ANYWAYS’, at PROVINCETOWN FILM FEST

Laurence AnywaysThe CHLOTRUDIS SOCIETY FOR INDEPENDENT FILM (CSIF) is pleased to announce its sponsorship of LAURENCE ANYWAYS, at the PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (PIFF), to be held June 19 - 23.   The film will have two screenings, 1:30pm on Thursday 6/20 and 11am on Sunday 6/22, both at the Art House. | Read more »

CHLOTRUDIS SOCIETY SPONSORS ASH CHRISTIAN’S SOPHOMORE FILM, THE COMEDY ‘MANGUS! at PROVINCETOWN FILM FEST

Ash Christian's MANGUS!The CHLOTRUDIS SOCIETY FOR INDEPENDENT FILM (CSIF) is pleased to announce its sponsorship of MANGUS!, at the PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (PIFF), to be held June 15 - 19.   The film will have two screenings, 9:30pm on Thursday 6/16 and 7:30pm on Friday 6/17, both at the Provincetown Theater. | Read more »

Peruvian film UNDERTOW gets a U.S. theatrical release!

UndertowThe Film Collaborative has picked up the Peruvian film UNDERTOW for U.S. release.  Many Chlotrudis members will remember that UNDERTOW was the surprise hit of the Provincetown International Film Festival.  Everyone we talked to loved the film, and for so many reasons.  There is the gorgeously shot location, the emotionally powerful story that doesn't take the easy route, the fine acting, and the fact that the central secret of the film wasn't spoiled beforehand!  (Okay, the two incredibly handsome lead actors didn't hurt either... especially in Provincetown.)  Apparently non-Chlotrudis members loved the film as well because it tied for the HBO Audience Award for Best Narrative.  | Read more »

CHLOTRUDIS SOCIETY SPONSORS QUEBECOIS COMIC DRAMA ‘I KILLED MY MOTHER’ at PROVINCETOWN FILM FEST

I Killed My MotherChlotrudis is pleased to announce its sponsorship of I KILLED MY MOTHER, at the PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (PIFF), to be held June 16 - 20.   The film will have two screenings, 7pm on Friday 6/18 and 7pm on Sunday 6/20, both at the Provincetown Theater. | Read more »

Check out the trailer for the U.S. release of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

The best film I saw at the Provincetown International Film Festival was definitely the chilling yet sweet Swedish film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Magnet Films, which is releasing the film domestically, captures the feel of the film wonderfully, although it does show quite a bit, so if you want to be completely surprised, you may want to skip it. I can't wait to see it again.

PIFF - Day Three

Despite the late nights, I got up early on Friday morning in order to make it to my first (and ultimately only) "Breakfast with..." PIFF has this great series of breakfasts which feature different categories of filmmakers discussing their craft over a fine meal in a local restaurant. Friday morning's breakfast featured documentary filmmakers and a lovely breakfast as Bayside Betsy's. On the panel were Randy Barbato, director of THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE and INSIDE DEEP THROAT who was attending the festival with WHEN I KNEW; Lucia Small, director of MY FATHER, THE GENIUS, who was screening THE AXE IN THE ATTIC this year, and John Walter, director of HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY, this year attending with his film THEATER OF WAR. Moderating the panel was Boston Phoenix film critic Gerry Peary. The panelists talked about their very different documentary styles, the profitability of the documentary today, and how their careers evolved. (at right: Peary, Small, Barbato, Walker).

The Substitute (Denmark; 93 min.)
director: Ole Bornedal
cast: Paprika Steen; Ulrich Thomsen; Jonas Wandschneider; Nikolaj Falkenberg-Klok

This Danish science fiction/comedy/suspense film hits all the right notes, especially with the casting of the divine Paprika Steen in the title role. What's a willful and rowdy class of students to do when they discover that the substitute teacher is an alien from outer space? They try to do the right thing and go to their parents, but Ulla is no dummy and she's already spoken to them about their kids' overactive imaginations.

The success or failure of THE SUBSTITUTE relies completely on Steen's performance, and the actress/director's outstanding performance doesn't miss a note. She alternates between cruetly and kindness with her students, she is sweet then monstrous wihotut missing a beat. She is all kinds of fun, and this performance, added to her many others has catapulted her into the upper echelon of my favorite actresses. I wonder if I can get her to come to Chlotrudis next year? This one's tons of fun, and I hope you get a chance to see it. 4 cats.

Were the World Mine (USA; 95 min.)
director: Thomas Gustafson
cast: Tanner Cohen; Wendy Robie; Judy McLane; Nathaniel David Becker

Based on the short film FAIRIES (which was entered into the Chlotrudis Short Film Festival a few years ago) WERE THE WORLD MINE focuses on Timothy a young gay high school student who, after winning the role of Puck in the drama classes' production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," develops a potion to make people fall in love with the first person they see. It sure sounds fun and also like a dream come true for this put upon student in an all-boys' private school. Not only must he endure the taunts and jeers of his classmates and phys. ed. teacher, the conservative little town he lives in is pretty darn homophobic as well, as his single-mother knows and endures herself.

I'm getting tired of films where the protagonist continues to make bad choices that hurt others until they finally learn the lesson of the film. I'm also really tired of seeing films with endless beautiful people. Ironically I was chatting with a young film student at the festival, and he only likes films with beautiful people in it (we were talking about AMERICAN TEEN) so perhas it's a generational thing... and WERE THE WORLD MINE is about high school kids, so maybe that audience needs everyone to be beautiful. Wendy Robie (one-eyed Nadine from David Lynch's "Twin Peaks") is pretty awesome as the Titania-like drama teacher, Ms. Tebbt, and the young men are good singers for the most part... oh did I mention that it's a musical? I usually love a good musical, and the actors are certainly talented, but unfortunately this one just didn't work for me. 2 cats

After the day's films we headed over to the Schoolhouse for the Filmmaker reception. This is one of our favorite parties and I did have the honor of being rubbed against by Gael Garcia Bernal as he left with his fiancee while we arrived. Also saw the ubiquitous John Waters (and got to thank him for his help with the Q&A at last year's AMERICAN CRIME screening) Gregg Araki, Tom Kalin and Christine Vachon. We also hung out with WERE THE WORLD MINE director Tom Gustafson and co-screenwriter Cory James Krueckeberg. Very nice guys and fun to hang out with at a party. I'm sorry I didn't enjoy their movie more.

PIFF - Day Two

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.

Chris & Don: A Love Story (USA; 90 min.)
directors: Tina Mascara and Guido Santi
documentary

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

American Teen (USA; 95 min.)
director: Nanette Burstein
documentary

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

The Axe in the Attic (USA; 110 min.)
directors: Ed Pincus and Lucia Small
documentary

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!

PIFF - Day One

This year, for the first time, we decided to arrive at the Provincetown International Film Festival for Opening Night, so Scot, Beth Caldwell and I boarded the fabulous, if ungodly early Ptown Ferry at 8 a.m. to get a day of relaxing before the movies kicked in. We checked in to Romeo's Holiday, our B&B, got our terrific massages by Lenny, and were prepared for our opening night film.

FILTH & WISDOM (UK; 81 min.)
directed by Madonna
cast: Eugene Hutz; Vicky McClure; Holly Weston; Richard E. Grant

I'm not sure what I expected from Madonna's directorial debut, but I know the main reason why I came was because of a fairly positive review I read from the Berlin Film Festival. Had I dug a little deeper, I would have found this Variety review and stayed far away. That said, FILTH & WISDOM is not without some redeeming qualities (its 81 minute running-time being one of them), and it was fun to be a part of the opening night film. As an added bonus, actress Vicky McClure, one of the film's three leads, was present for the Q&A, which I have to say was a more enjoyable experience than the film itself.

The main problem with FILTH & WISDOM wasn't the direction (although a more experience director would have certainly done a better job, Madonna did a perfectly fine job at the helm) but the writing. While the imdb credits the screenplay to Dan Cadan, the film itself listed the screenwriters as Madonna and Cadan. Based on her own experiences, Madonna would have been better served by a better script. The story, about three roommates living in London and going through some tough times is fairly disjointed (certainly as evidenced by the plot explanations needed by the audience during the Q&A!) and certainly less than compelling. There is some philosophical claptrap about, you guessed it, filth and wisdom, the filth being evident, but where she came up with the wisdom is anyone's guess.

The actors acquitted themselves well, and there are moments of a delicate directing touch that surprised me such as a moving moment with an Indian housewife (that really shouldn't have been in the film in the first place as it came out of nowhere). As A.K., the philosophizing, Ukranian punk-rocker/sex worker, Eugene Hutz (EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED) is certainly a compelling figure and is making quite the name for himself in what seems to be a new stock character. Vicky McClure is wonderfully effective despite the script limitations as a down-on-her-luck retail worker at a chemist who longs only to travel to Africa to help orphans. From the sounds of the Q&A Madonna is a director who works well with her actors, possibly from her experience acting in films. Only time will tell if she can hone her craft to create a truly worthwhile film. 2.5 cats.

After a quick dinner, we regrouped with Beth and Beth for PIFF's opening night party at Crown & Anchor. Again, as my first time attending Opening Night, I was surprised by the number of people who attended that party. The ubiquitous John Waters was there, of course, as were many of the filmmakers with films in this year's festival. One pleasant surprise was re-connecting with Lucia Small (pictured left with Beth Curran and me), director of the Chlotrudis Awards nominated MY FATHER, THE GENIUS, whose latest film, THE AXE IN THE ATTIC is playing this year. Lucia used to live in Boston, but has relocated to NYC, so we haven't seen each other for a while. She's such a delightful person, it was so nice to catch up with her.