How To Tell Cannes And Slamdance Apart

Ian at Water Cooler Games has been writing about an incident at Slamdance. Seems the founder of the alt-alt festival yanked Super Columbine Massacre, a charming -sounding RPG that tells the tale of some innocent, young, all-American scamps, from the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition.
At first, the line was extreme sponsor displeasure with having a Columbine-themed title in competition. [I mean, just look at what it did to Cannes and Cannes. No one’s ever heard of them again.] But now it turns out that it was really just Slamdance president Peter Baxter’s own call in anticipation of possible sponsor displeasure–or else his own distaste for the game itself. Either way, it sounds like crap.
There’s a lot of heated discussion among gamers and developers about the artistic merits of games vs their “mere entertainment” value. I think that’s ridiculous and beyond discussion. Games have as much claim on “art” as film does. If anything, the nexis of creative, literary, and narrative innovation has shifted to games and away from almost any other medium I can think of at the moment.
This just sounds like a dumb-ass move by a blindered geezer whose vested interests are too tied up with the establishment. Exactly the kind of rejection and narrow-mindedness that spurred the creation of Slamdance in the first place. The only proper response, obviously, is for gamers to break off and make their own damn festival in response.
Then after this happens seven times, the Matrix collapses and has to be restarted from scratch.

Slamdance: SCMRPG removal was personal, not business
[ via boingboing]
the always awesome Greg Costikyan’s reponse, plus they posted the game: SCMRPG: Artwork or Menace? []
Previously: Gus Van Sant’s Elephant is part of the canon around here. Read my interview with producer Dany Wolf about the in-movie homebrewed video game based on Gerry.
Also: the art-movie-as-video-game-at Sundance, Gerry/video game connection.
1/9 update: Costikyan reports that to date, five gamemakers have withdrawn their titles from the festival. Yesterday, it was just one.

New Director, Familiar Film: Ryan Fleck Turns Short Into Feature

halfnelson.jpgYou may know him from such blog entries about Sundance-winning short films as Gowanus, Brooklyn. Now director Ryan Fleck has made Half Nelson, a feature-length adaptation of Gowanus, which debuted at Sundance 06, where ThinkFilm picked it up.
Half Nelson will also be the opening night feature of this year’s New Directors/New Films program, which rocks. Both leads, Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, got huge acting props from critics in IndieWIRE’s Sundance poll.
See the full ND/NF 2006 lineup at
[a big high five to idol Hunter Gray, who helped produce Half Nelson]

Cinema Paramilitaristo


Despite the ravages of war and the censorship imposed by local religious authorities, a lovable young scamp in a rubble-strewn town finds solace, even hope, in the movies.
If only there was a kindly old projectionist to take the place of the boy’s father, who’d been disappeared at Abu Ghraib…
Defying Terror, Filmgoers Attend a Festival in Baghdad [nyt]
While half of me says, “Congratulations, Karen Hughes,” the other half wonders what the story is in the two movie theaters still operating in Baghdad.

Cinema Paramilitaristo


Despite the ravages of war and the censorship imposed by local religious authorities, a lovable young scamp in a rubble-strewn town finds solace, even hope, in the movies.
If only there was a kindly old projectionist to take the place of the boy’s father, who’d been disappeared at Abu Ghraib…
Defying Terror, Filmgoers Attend a Festival in Baghdad [nyt]
While half of me says, “Congratulations, Karen Hughes,” the other half wonders what the story is in the two movie theaters still operating in Baghdad.

What Cannes I Do

Fear and self-loathing in Cannes [guardian]
A step up from when they the Guardian crew would just complain about the shortage of open bars, Mark Lawson looks for the big themes in Cannes. The result: 1) guilt, 2) loser fathers. And the Palme d’Or goes to: Loser Fathers. The Dardennes’ doc-style filmmaking wins again.
I [heart] Manohla Dargis, whose Cannes Journal with Tony Scott was very funny. Plus, she namechecked I’d say more, but I can’t; it’s off the record.
The film US TV networks dare not show [guardian]
BBC series-turned-feature at Cannes by the “anti-Michael Moore” examines US origins of fanatics: Strauss (and Strauss begat Wolfowitz) and Qutb (and Qutb begat Al Zawahiri and Al Zawahiri begat Bin Laden). Let’s see, BBC-produced, Moore-invoked, Cannes-premiered, Al Jazeera-aired, and yet no giant media conglomerate in the US wants to air it? Go figure.
That cranky Galloway testified before Congress and all he got was press coverage in the UK–and mysteriously, no officially published transcript. Your tax dollars at work. [, via robotwisdom]

We’re Going To The Pan Pacifics, Fran!

“‘We’ve been given the mandate to compete on a more aggressive level,’ says [Paramount Classics co-pres David] Dinerstein, who also helped orchestrate the reported $2 million purchase of Mad Hot Ballroom, a Slamdance documentary widely described as Spellbound meets Strictly Ballroom.”
1) One of the odd, still-annoys-me things was that Strictly Ballroom was vaguely a documentary, too. The early scenes were all “talking-head-and-captions,” and then it just disappeared. Weird, edgy, or sloppy, whatever, it got him to Romeo+Juliet.
2) Every group with more than five adolescent dorks in it should get an agent, or at least look up “life rights” on Google before the cameras descend. Drill teamers, pep clubbers, band members, chess clubbers, debaters, science fair entrants, video gamers, D&D/RPG players, and incessant IM’ers, this means you.

Strictly Business
[Village Voice]

What Sharon Waxman Heard At Sundance

As people were rushing away from her or avoiding her while they were caught up in a bidding war at Sundance for the Craig Brewer-directed, John Singleton-produced Hustle and Flow:

“The adrenalin is flowing,” David Dinerstein, co-chairman of Paramount Classics, tossed over his shoulder as he hurried out of the screening…
Specialty movie executives went barreling from the hall to their cell phones, then back into the hall to make initial offers to the United Talent Agency agents…
“This is torture,” mouthed the Focus executive John Lyons…

In the true indie spirit of Sundance, the previously unknown Singleton–who financed the $3.5mm film himself–got a $17 million, three-picture deal with scrappy upstart distributor Paramount. Reports Ms. Waxman, “Mr. Singleton gleefully boarded a charter jet, paid for by Paramount [obviously, Singleton has points against gross, not net] to return to the set of his movie Four Brothers in Toronto.
Note: Heisenberg’s Principle is obviously suspended for the two weeks at Sundance; the NY Times Hollywood correspondent’s attending the crew’s pre-screening dinner, the screening, and the afterparty, and chasing down the principals during negotiations in now way influenced the outcome.

Wee-Hours Wheeling and Dealing at Sundance

IP Documentary Contest Finalists

In a bit of tail-eating snake-ism, The Arts Project at The Center for The Study of The Public Domain at Duke sponsored a contest as part of this year’s Full Frame Documentary Festival [got all that?] for the best 2-minute or shorter film about intellectual property’s impact on art, specifically music or documentary film.
Well, the finalists are in, and you can view and vote for them online.
The Arts Project Moving Image Contest [Duke Law]

US Film Festival Goes International, Changes Name

Apologies for the scarce posts lately; I’ve been busy with offline writing and real work. Still, I don’t know how I missed this: The US Film Festival is now called the Sundance Film Festival?? I guess since they added two world cinema competitions for docs and narrative films, the USFF name just didn’t make sense anymore.
Here’s this year’s list of films [minus the shorts, set for release Monday] which all sorts of folks are unpacking. Meanwhile, David Hudson unpacks the unpackers at GreenCine.

I Scoopa de World, Chico, ‘n everthin’s’innit

These are the first color photographs released of Les Arenes de Chaillot. They’ll be running this weekend in Le Monde.
Supposedly, the staff of La Mexicaine de Perforation are dressed like this for the screening of Mister Freedom and Sgt Kabukiman.
That, or this whole underground cinema thing is really a publicity stunt for Fox’s upcoming The Tick: The Musical.

Muchas gracias por todo, Mexicaines!
Previously on
Les Arenes de Chaillot: complete programme guide
Exclusive: La Mexicaine Le Interview
Search results for “Mexicaine”

Les Arenes de Chaillot: The Complete Programme Guide

If were a magazine, this would be the big sidebar. But you can call it what it is: whoring for traffic. Here, for the first time in the indexable media, are the programmes–complete with my poor translations of their film descriptions–of La Sesion Comoda and Urbex Movie, the 2003 and 2004 series, respectively, organized by La Mexicaine de Perforation.
Screenings began at midnight in Les Arenes de Chaillot, the group’s underground cinema adjacent to la Cinematheque Francaise.


Continue reading “Les Arenes de Chaillot: The Complete Programme Guide”

Exclusive: La Mexicaine Le Interview


While the discovery of an underground cinema in the center of Paris has been widely covered, little or no attention has been paid to what the films actually played there. Les Arenes de Chaillot (The Chaillot Arenas) was created by La Mexicaine de Perforation, a group of self-labeled urban explorers who, for the last five or so years, have used the invisible and forgotten infrastructure of Paris as their own curatorial venue, putting on exhibitions, concerts, and, beginning last year, film screenings.
Early Sunday morning I spoke with Lazar Kunstmann, a filmmaker, editor, and the public spokesman of LMDP about the group’s objectives, ideas, and inspirations. Turns out there were at least two weekly film series, including Urbex Movie, the one that someone narc’ed out this past summer. Here’s what they showed and why:

Continue reading “Exclusive: La Mexicaine Le Interview”

Mexican Consolidated Drilling Authority

That’s one suggested translation of “La Mexicaine de Perforation,” the amorphous group of urban explorers who built and operated a subterranean cinema in the center of Paris until it was discovered last month.
The group’s spokesman, Lazar Kunsman, originally explained the name in a French radio interview, but early English language reports of the movie theater botched both the original and the translation, and I unwittingly perpetuated their mistakes. La Mexicaine de la Perforation [sic] became The Perforating Mexicans [sic sic], which is what happens when British people think they speak French.
Le Mexico is the bar where the explorers would meet, and perforation is drilling, as in mining and quarrying. According to Language Log, the name shares its construction with industrial, utility, and institutional names in France.
This is all fascinating, I’m sure, but it’s not nearly as interesting as what films LMDP screened during its summer-long film series, Urbex Movie. I’m still working on that. [Thanks, Tristan, for the correction]
Related: Language Log deciphers “LMDP”

Wong Kar Wai talks about 2046

2046 barely screened at Cannes, after the director hand-carried the not-quite-finished print to the rebooked theatre. Now it’s being released in the UK, and it turns out Wong has actually re-edited it since May.
Read Howard Feinstein’s interview with WKW and his recounting of the tortured making of in the Guardian
“It was like being in jail” [Guardian UK]
Related: I, too, delivered an unfinished film to Cannes, a fact I mention because of the deep, meaningful resonance between Wong Kar Wai’s films and career and my own.