Category:film festivals

Gaston Biraben's Captive, image: filmlinc.comI saw Captive, the debut feature from Gaston Biraben, at New Directors/New Films last night; it's a subtly powerful movie that gripped the sellout audience at MoMA Gramercy.

Captive is a fictionalized telling of real events, a surreal, politically charged story of, "You're adopted...And then some." A 15-year old Buenos Aires girl's life is turned upsidedown when she learns her real parents were among The Disappeared, the tens of thousands of Argentines kidnapped, tortured and killed by the country's military dictatorship in the 70's. On top of dealing with a new family of strangers, the girl has to confront the chilling circumstances of her birth and her adoptive parents' possible complicity in the systematic crimes of the junta.

By keeping a restrained, naturalistic focus on a the experience of one girl, the film tackles the third rail of the Argentine psyche--accountability for The Disappeared--with tremendous skill, and without devolving into political agitprop. Biraben coaxed a highly effective, intuitive performance from his star, Barbara Lombardo, which holds the film together.

Almost the entire audience stayed for the Q&A. Sensing, perhaps, Captive's potential for making great political waves, many questions were about where the film has shown and what was the reaction. It turns out ND/NF is one of the first screenings for Captive, so the impact is still to come. [The film was also at Palm Springs and San Sebastian, where it won the Horizontes award for Latin American films.]

This all serves as setup for the improbably story of Biraben's getting the film made in the first place, and how he scored a cameo that elicited surprised howls of recognition from the New York audience. I spoke with Gaston and his co-producer/editor Tammis Chandler after the Q&A.

[via Gawker] Todd Levin gets all excited, then he gets all real about the program notes for this year's New York Underground Film Festival. He has provided funny-because-it's-true guide to interpreting the program and selecting your screenings wisely.

"' ode to lights and color'
'Even my closest friends and family will have second thoughts about attending this film.'"


"'Vice Magazine presents:...'
Be prepared to laugh the meanest, most self-righteous laughs possible for about six minutes, and then hate yourself for the remaining 54 minutes."

February 15, 2004

New York Film Festival(s)

[via Gawker] Manhattan User's Guide has compiled a list of film festivals in New York. At last count, there are 28, including six at Lincoln Center and four at Anthology. Start dubbing those screener tapes.

Between Jonathan Marlow's voluminous Park City dispatches and David's Berlinale preview, you can basically sound like you've been to both all three festivals and figured out what was worth seeing and tracking.

Can't wait for Rotterdam to get the GreenCine treatment.

Awards were handed out last night at Sundance. Check out the list of winners at IndieWIRE.

Or, check out IndieWIRE's profiles of the first-timers in the competition, including New Yorkers Morgan Spurlock, who won the directing award for his masochistic documentary, Super Size Me! and Josh Marston, whose Maria Full of Grace won the audience award for dramatic feature.

Gowanus, Brooklyn, co-winner of the short film competition, is also by a New Yorker and Sundance vet, Ryan Fleck, who lives in Williamsburg. It's the start of something big (ie., it was produced to raise money for the feature version, a direct contradiction of Filmmaker's rules of great short-making. The moral: If there is a rule, think about breaking it.

Bonus: a Film Threat interview with Spurlock, who conceived and made Super Size Me in less time than it takes at the drive-through window. My version of a doc about McDonald's would be a road trip, a global search for unconventional pies.

With daily reports from the frontlines filling the Festival site, IndieWIRE, Movie City News, the Times, the trades, , Sundance needs weblogging about as much as Bush's march to war did.

Naturally, that's not stopping anyone. If you still think you should've gone, check out reports from the standby lines, bathroom lines, and coke lines as well: Weblogs, Inc. [portally]; Eric Snider [Utah-funny]; Dan Webster [Pf'ingH?]; Alastik [lots of waiting]; Peter Vonder Haar [lots of pics so far]; I'll keep adding them as they cross my path [thanks? GreenCine, Gawker, and email]

Filmmaker Magazine's weblog, to their great credit, actually includes posts from the filmworld beyond the steamed-up windows of Park City.

The National Post has a nice highlights reel, with reports from the field (and locker rooms, apparently) at the Toronto Film Festival. Some of it's like listening to cricket scores on the BBC, though; you can recognize the language as English, but you can't understand WTF it means.

One thing I do understand, though is the mention of met-on-the-set couple, Christina Ricci and Adam Goldberg, who are premiering their film I Love Your Work, which was co-produced by Josh & Co at Cyan Pictures. Josh and ILYW are getting some good buzz and press; and they're posting festival updates on their production company weblog,

Also, from BoingBoing, comes a Festival groupblog from the FilmNerds. Public screenings (and an enthusiastic, thoughtful audience base) are one of Toronto's greatest strengths, and these four guys apparently have over six years of festival experience...between them. Hmm. If you're looking for reviews with a sweeping historical context, I suggest not running those numbers. These are fresh, unjaded--and Canadian--perspectives. You've been warned.

September 4, 2003

IndieWIRE, who loves ya, baby

[via GreenCine] IndieWIRE surveys 20 acquisition executives from indie and mini-major studios to see what gets them out of bed in the morning (and to see what gets you into bed with them). Great stuff.

[via GreenCine] David points to a GreenCine article last year where a table of film festival directors review the history and future of the festival.

Some started as propaganda (Venice, Cannes, Berlin), some as flukes founded by freaks, but festivals are constantly balancing the art and commercialism, pure love of cinema with selling out.

How can festivals avoid falling into the trap of becoming just another stop along way for the Hollywood press junket? "Cultivate Internet critics," insisted [Toronto FF head Piers] Handling. "They are young, they are hip, they are different, they have a very different sensibility. And they are trying to discover young talent, new talent... they are not as fixated on Julia Roberts."

1. Kudos to the Guardian for enlisting every film monkey who can type to produce their extensive Cannes coverage. (Granted, Brits::Cote d'Azur, fish::barrel, and it's not exactly a hardship post, either.)
2. Or maybe it is. The Guardian crew seems to be suffering from serious alcohol-free delusion. The evidence is in the writing:

  • Trapped in the (presumably dry) media lounge, Matt Keating is forced to piece a story together using only quotes from his partying fellow journos.
  • The two main themes of Fiachra Gibbons' Cannes diary are old stories of old British actors' penchant for bluedarting (hint: there's a Badass Buddy icon for it.) and complaints about being barred from the bar at the Matrix Reloaded party.
  • The result? A crazytalk-filled, sobriety-induced revenge piece, "Taliban Thinking", where he draws a bizarrely Stryker/Wolfowitzian conclusion about Animatrix. "As with the Terminator, which uses the same thin philosophical veil of man versus machine, the message is simple. If the rebellious robots had been stamped out straight away, Zion would now be safe. [italics added]
  • Then, Gibbons' colleague, Andrew Pulver, also slams Animatrix but for another, wrong-end-of-the-telescope reason. "Attempting to dress up the fictional man/machine conflicts with images from contemporary political protest (The Million Machine March and the like) was not a good idea. African-Americans, Chinese democracy activists, liberal demonstrators - the implication is that they will enslave us all. [Italics=kooky theory #2]"

    Am I high? Just check out Fiachra's last report from France. Garcon, get these people a drink toute de suite.

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    Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

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