Two Marilyn Monroe movies for the price of, well, two – which quite possibly means $50 by the time they come out.
One, to be called Blonde, will star King Kong‘s Naomi Watts as Monroe, apparently having affairs right and left. Based on Joyce Carol Oates’ fictionalized Monroe “memoirs,” Blonde will be directed by Andrew Dominik, best known for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (Poppy Montgomery played Monroe in a 2001 miniseries based on Oates’ book.)
The other, called My Week with Marilyn, will star Brokeback Mountain‘s Michelle Williams as the Monroe who gave Laurence Olivier headaches and Vivien Leigh jealousy attacks while Olivier directed/co-starred with the Hollywood star in The Prince and the Showgirl, shot in England in 1957.
Simon Curtis, who has done lots of television work in the UK, will direct My Week with Marilyn.
A couple of other times when producers had the same idea of making movies about tragic blonde actresses of the past:
In 1965, there were two movies about 1930s MGM star Jean Harlow. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, both were called Harlow. One starred Carroll Baker and was critically panned (though it looks good); the other, a low-budget production, starred Carol Lynley and disappeared without a trace.
In the early 1980s, there were two movies about 1930s Paramount star Frances Farmer. One, called Frances (1982), starred Jessica Lange, who earned a Best Actress nomination for her performance. The other was the 1983 television production Will There Really Be a Morning? (based on Farmer’s autobiography), starring Susan Blakely.
Brittany Murphy’s British-born screenwriter husband Simon Monjack was found dead at his Hollywood Hills home on Sunday night. He was 39.
Murphy, who had roles in Clueless, 8 Mile, and Just Married, died of pneumonia five months ago. She was 32.
Monjack, who had been suffering from a serious heart condition, co-wrote the original story of Factory Girl. The 2006 film – Captain Mauzner received screenplay credit – starred Guy Pearce and Sienna Miller as pop cult figure Andy Warhol and one of his muses, Edie Sedgwick. George Hickenlooper directed.
Monjack also directed, produced, and co-wrote (with Nick McDowell and Jessica Wells) the 2001 drug-rehabilitation drama Two Days, Nine Lives, starring Luke Goss and Sienna Guillory.
‘Fair Game’ reviews
Fair Game, which Summit Entertainment will release in the United States, stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn as, respectively, covert CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson.
The film is set in 2003, when the George W. Bush White House, doing all in its power to come up with reasons — however nefarious — to invade Iraq, leaked Plame’s identity in July of that year, thus endangering not only her life but also the lives of those who had assisted her in her missions.
The Bush government then proceeded to distort the facts about Wilson’s own mission to Niger some time earlier, telling the world that Saddam Hussein had been trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
The White House’s intent: to discredit Wilson’s New York Times op-ed piece, in which he asserted that Bush and his cohorts had manipulated intelligence data to justify the United States’ imminent invasion of Iraq.
Based on Valerie Plame’s 2007 book of the same name, Fair Game was adapted by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. The title is derived from a statement Karl Rove made to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in July 2003: “Wilson’s wife is fair game.”
Below are snippets from a few Fair Game reviews:
“Fair Game might be one of the best spy movies ever, even if it contains little skullduggery. Like a John le Carré novel, its story shows how things really work and how compromised lives can become when one must serve more than one master.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt, who also says that the real-life couple are “extremely well-played by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.”
“What Fair Game delivers doesn’t quite live up to that promise, but it does introduce a director ready to move into his own, and above-the-title. It’s mature, smart and engaging and, critically, strikes a new tone for Liman’s work, suggesting he’s got plenty of versatility.” Joe Utichi at Cinematical.
“After delivering genre excitement with varying degrees of success in The Bourne Identity (excellent), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (glossy trashy fun) and Jumper (a blatant sellout no one wanted to buy), Doug Liman tries to bridge the distance between run-and-gun excitement and solid, serious drama with Fair Game, … It’s a well-made and stirring movie, on the level of both the personal (How will this marriage survive?) and the political (How will this nation survive?). Fair Game is nicely shot, written in a blunt and brisk style that assumes you’re capable of following along, a rare pleasure in the modern American cinema.” James Rocchi at IFC.com.
Ashton Kutcher & Katherine Heigl ‘Killers’: No Reviews Before Opening Day
Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl’s romantic comedy Killers will not be reviewed by critics before it hits theaters on June 4.
In an unusual move (for this type of film), Killers distributor Lionsgate wants their pricey $70 million investment to be “reviewed” by those who watch the film on opening day (and weekend) and then post their impressions on Twitter and Facebook.
“We want to capitalize on the revolution in social media by letting audiences and critics define this film concurrently,” Lionsgate said in a statement released on Wednesday. “In today’s socially connected marketplace, we all have the ability to share feedback instantly around the world. In keeping with this spirit, Lionsgate and the filmmakers want to give the opportunity to moviegoing audiences and critics alike to see Killers simultaneously, and share their thoughts in the medium of their choosing. We felt that this sense of immediacy could be a real asset in the marketing of Killers.”
In other words, it doesn’t look like Lionsgate is expecting many kudos for Killers.
Directed by Robert Luketic from a screenplay by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin, Killers stars Heigl (who also starred for Luketic in The Ugly Truth) as a lovesick woman who believes she has found her soulmate in the person of Ashton Kutcher, who just happens to be an international assassin. Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara top the supporting cast.
Photo: Killers (Melissa Moseley / Lionsgate).
‘The Hurt Locker’ Producer Latest Eye-Popping Email Storm
Below is an e-mail sent by Nicolas Chartier (right), best known as the Hurt Locker producer who was barred from the Academy Awards ceremony earlier this year after sending out e-mails requesting votes for his film and not for that other big-studio flick (that’s James Cameron’s Avatar).
The latest Chartier missile-missive was directed at a Toronto-based BoingBoing reader who wrote the producer to “politely register my disapproval” of Chartier’s decision to sue BitTorrent users who have downloaded films produced by his company, Voltage Pictures.
From: “Nicolas Chartier”
Date: May 15, 2010 2:30:30 AM PDT
Subject: RE: Hurt Locker lawsuit
Hi Nicholas, please feel free to leave your house open every time you go out and please tell your family to do so, please invite people in the streets to come in and take things from you, not to make money out of it by reselling it but just to use it for themselves and help themselves. If you think it’s normal they take my work for free, I’m sure you will give away all your furniture and possessions and your family will do the same. I can also send you my bank account information since apparently you work for free and your family too so since you have so much money you should give it away… I actually like to pay my employees, my family, my bank for their work and like to get paid for my work. I’m glad you’re a moron who believes stealing is right. I hope your family and your kids end up in jail one day for stealing so maybe they can be taught the difference. Until then, keep being stupid, you’re doing that very well. And please do not download, rent, or pay for my movies, I actually like smart and more important HONEST people to watch my films.
Voltage Pictures, LLC
[address, phone, other personal details redacted]
Five foreign finalists – all from European countries – have been selected for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 37th Annual Student Academy Awards competition.
The winning student filmmaker will be brought to Los Angeles to join U.S.-based Student Academy Award winners for a week of industry-related activities and social events. The awards ceremony, where the foreign student will receive the 2010 Honorary Foreign Film award, will be held on Saturday, June 12, at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The finalists, selected from a record 61 entries from 36 countries, are (listed alphabetically by film title):
- The Confession, Tanel Toom, National Film and Television School, United Kingdom
- Janna & Liv, Therese Ahlbeck, Dramatiska Institutet, Sweden
- The Night Father Christmas Died, Martin Schreier, Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
- The Road Home, Rahul Gandotra, London Film School, United Kingdom
- Trieste Is Ours, Ziga Virc, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Reto Caffi, an Honorary Foreign Film award winner in 2008, went on receive a nomination in the Live Action Short Film category for his film Auf der Strecke (On the Line) at the 81st Academy Awards.
In 2005, at the 78th Academy Awards, winner Ulrike Grote’s Ausreisser (The Runaway) was nominated in the Live Action Short Film category.
At the 75th Academy Awards, student winner Martin Strange-Hansen of Denmark won the Oscar in the Live Action Short Film category for This Charming Man (Der Er En Yndig Mand). He had won the Honorary Foreign Film award that same year (2002) with Feeding Desire.
In 2000 Florian Gallenberger of Germany won both the Honorary Foreign Film award and the Oscar in the Live Action Short Film category with Quiero Ser (I want to be…).
Two other previous winners, Jan Sverak, a student in the former Czechoslovakia, and Mike van Diem of The Netherlands, went on to direct films that won Oscars in the Foreign Language Film category, respectively Kolya (1996) and Karakter (1997).
The 37th Annual Student Academy Awards ceremony on June 12 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained online at the Academy’s website, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.
Los Angeles Film Festival movies
The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival runs June 17-27.
Dog Sweat (Aragh Sagee.) Iran/USA (DIRECTOR Hossein Keshavarz WRITERS Hossein Keshavarz, Maryam Azadi PRODUCERS Maryam Azadi, Hossein Keshavarz, Alan Oxman. CAST Ahmad Akbarzadeh, Tahereh Esfahani, Bagher Forohar, Shahrokh Taslimi, Rahim Zamani.) Shot clandestinely in Tehran, the subversive Dog Sweat intertwines the lives of six young Iranians as they struggle to satisfy their private desires in the face of conservative Islamic society. World Premiere
A Family (En Familie.) Denmark (DIRECTOR Pernille Fischer Christensen WRITERS Kim Fupz Aakeson, Pernille Fischer Christensen PRODUCERS Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Vinca Wiedemann. CAST Jesper Christensen, Lene Maria Christensen, Line Kruse, Pilou Asbæk, Anne Louise Hassing.) The conflict between love and duty plays out in this stunning, award-winning saga about a successful Danish family that faces agonizing choices when its charismatic patriarch falls ill. North American Premiere
Hello Lonesome: (DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER Adam Reid. CAST Sabrina Lloyd, James Urbaniak, Lynn Cohen, Harry Chase, Nate Smith, Kamel Boutros.) With an enchanting mixture of laughter and longing, the worlds of six eclectic, lonely individuals are woven together as they explore those age-old human desires: to love and be loved. World Premiere
The New Year: (DIRECTOR Brett Haley WRITERS/PRODUCERS Brett Haley, Elizabeth Kennedy. CAST Trieste Kelly Dunn, Ryan Hunter, Kevin Wheatley, Linda Lee McBride, Marc Petersen, Lance Brannon.) Featuring a breakout performance by Trieste Kelly Dunn, as a young woman whos put her own life on hold. This note-perfect, bittersweet drama of self-discovery is a quiet revelation.
Of Love and Other Demons: (Del amor y otros demonios.) Colombia/Costa Rica (DIRECTOR/WRITER Hilda Hidalgo PRODUCERS Laura Imperiale, Clara María Ochoa, Laura Pacheco, Hilda Hidalgo. CAST Pablo Derqui, Eliza Triana, Jordi Dauder, Joaquin Climent, Margarita Rosa de Francisco, Damián Alcázar, Martha Leal.) Based on Gabriel García Marquezs sweeping novel, Of Love and Other Demons is a sensual tale of taboo passions set in a South American seaport during the Inquisition. North American Premiere
Orly Germany/France: (DIRECTOR/WRITER Angela Schanelec PRODUCERS Gian-Piero Ringel, Angela Schanelec. CAST Natacha Regnier, Bruno Todeschini, Mireille Perrier, Emile Berling, Jirka Zett.) Amidst the impersonal hubbub of Paris Orly Airport, strangers meet, secrets are revealed, and sudden intimacies develop in this beautifully observed mosaic of lives in transit. North American Premiere
Parade Japan: (DIRECTOR/WRITER Isao Yukisada PRODUCERS Mamoru Inoue, Testsu Kuchigouchi, Atsushi Sugai, Ryuta Inoue. CAST Tatsuya Fujiwara, Karina, Shihori Kanjiya, Kento Hayashi, Keisuke Koide.) Sharing a small Tokyo apartment, four oddly matched twenty-some things and a teen male hustler who mysteriously materializes in their living room deal with broken hearts, deadlines, hangovers andoh yes, a neighborhood serial killer.
Upstate: (DIRECTORS Katherine Nolfi, Andrew Luis WRITER Katherine Nolfi PRODUCER Melanie Pimentel. CAST Iracel Rivero, Max Arnaud, Suzan Mikiel Kennedy.) A simple weekend away becomes far more complicated when a young woman visits a friend, now married, that she has not seen in years, and long-buried feelings reemerge in this dreamlike meditation on the road not taken.
The Wolf Knife: (DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER Laurel Nakadate. CAST Christina Kolozsvary, Julie Potratz.) A road movie where no one is ever seen on the road, this striking, unconventional feature detours from genre conventions as it follows two Floridian teenaged girls on a journey fraught with sexual mystery and suppressed desire.
‘Deadline,’ ‘Prayers for Peace’: Student Academy Awards Finalists
For the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 37th Annual Student Academy Awards competition, 37 students from 21 US colleges and universities have been selected as finalists.
Academy members will view these films at special screenings and vote to select the winners. (The number of members who actually attend the screenings is unclear.)
Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal awards, along with accompanying cash prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively, may be presented in each of four categories.
The winning filmmakers will be brought to Los Angeles for a week of industry-related activities and social events that will culminate at the Student Academy Awards ceremony on Saturday, June 12, at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The finalists are (listed alphabetically by film title):
- Balance, Debra Sea, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
- Multiply, Emily Henricks, University of Southern California
- My Mother’s Prelude, Imran Shafi, University of Southern California
- Surface: Film from Below, Varathit Uthaisri, Parsons The New School for Design, New York
- Water, Moon, Mirror, Flower, Tianran Duan, University of Southern California
- Deadline, Bang Lao Yir, Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia
- Departure of Love, Jennifer Bors, Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida
- Down to the Bone, Peter Ahern, Pratt Institute, New York
- Dried Up, Isaiah Powers and Jeremy Casper, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri
- Lifeline, Andres Salaff, California Institute of the Arts
- Mashed, Adam Fisher, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York
- Piece of Cake, Eliza Ivanova, California Institute of the Arts
- The Wonder Hospital, Beomsik Shimbe Shim, California Institute of the Arts
- A’plas, Diego Colombi, Savannah College of Art and Design
- Arresting Ana, Lucie Schwartz, University of California, Berkeley
- Dreams Awake (Suena Despierto), Kevin Gordon and Rebekah Meredith, Stanford University, California
- Ecoviews: Three Stories from Chesapeake Bay, Ted Roach and J.P. Eason, American University, Washington, D.C.
- My Name Is Sydney, Melanie Vi Levy, Stanford University
- Prayers for Peace, Dustin Grella, School of Visual Arts, New York
- Rediscovering Pape, Maria Royo, City College of New York
- When I’m 64, Caitlin Brown, New York University
- ‘Yizkor’ Remembrance, Ruth Fertig, University of Texas at Austin
- The Cemetery Club, Yitz Brilliant and Geoffrey Booth, Columbia University, New York
- Day Labor, Lowell Frank, San Diego State University, California
- Down in Number 5, Kim Spurlock, New York University
- Equestrian Sexual Response, Zeke Hawkins, American Film Institute, California
- God of Love, Luke Matheny, New York University
- Inspector 42, Nathan Lee and Lyvia Martinez, Brigham Young University
- The Last Bogatyr, Sarah R. Lotfi and Kevin Beechwood, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
- The Lunch Box, Lubomir Kocka, Savannah College of Art and Design
- Patrol, John Ford, American Film Institute
According to the Academy’s press release, “to reach this stage, students competed in one of three regional competitions. Each region is permitted to send to the Academy up to three finalists in each of the four categories.”
A film by a student attending a foreign university or school will also be honored as the year’s Honorary Foreign Film.
The Academy established the Student Academy Awards in 1972. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 40 Oscar nominations and have won or shared seven awards.
At the 82nd Academy Awards earlier this year, Pete Docter took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for Up and 2009 Student Academy Award winner Gregg Helvey was a nominee in the Live Action Short Film category for Kavi.
The 37th Annual Student Academy Awards ceremony on June 12 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained online at the Academy’s website, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.
Percy Adlon and Felix O. Adlon’s Mahler auf der Couch / Mahler on the Couch will be screened as part of Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival at the REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles on Thu., June 24, at 8:00 p.m., Regal 1, and on Sat., June 26, at 1:45 p.m., Regal 10.
The information below is from the REDCAT’s press release:
“Percy Adlon, director of Bagdad Café and Sugarbaby, makes a dazzling return with Mahler on the Couch, a passionate and witty examination of the marriage of the great composer Gustav Mahler and his legendary, ambitious young wife, Alma. Avoiding stuffy biopic conventions, Adlon – collaborating with his son Felix – tells the story of this ecstatic, doomed marriage through the seriocomic lens of Sigmund Freud, whom the freaked-out Mahler consults in Amsterdam after discovering that Alma has had an affair with the young architect Walter Gropius. Moving, surprisingly funny, and filled with Mahler’s sublime music, Adlon’s movie is a sensory feast.”
This German-Austrian co-production stars Barbara Romaner, Johannes Silberschneider, Karl Markovics, Friedrich Mücke, and veterans Eva Mattes and Lena Stolze.
The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival takes place June 17-27, 2010 in downtown Los Angeles. The Festival will screen more than 200 features, shorts, documentaries and music videos from more than 40 countries.
Passes on sale now. Tickets on sale June 1. For full Festival details, please call 1.866.FilmFest or visit www.LAFilmFest.com.
REDCAT is located at 631 West 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 – in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets, inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Visit www.redcat.org for more information.
Photo: Los Angeles Film Festival
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival, which takes place June 21-27, 2010 in the Washington, D.C. area, have announced their 2010 line-up. Films will be presented in five sections: Sterling US Feature Competition, Sterling World Feature Competition, Sterling Short Film Competition, and the to-be-announced Silver Spectrum and Spotlight Programs.
According to the Silverdocs Festival website, “new this year is a retrospective series of films by Guggenheim honoree Frederick Wiseman and a special ‘Peacebuilding On Screen’ strand organized in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace. AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs 2010 will present films from around the globe selected from a record 2,163 submissions and featuring exciting new work and festival favorites from the world’s top documentarians.”
Audience Award winners for Best Feature and Short will be announced on Sunday, June 27, 2010, the closing day of the Festival. Other award winners will be announced at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Awards presentation on Saturday, June 26.
STERLING SHORT COMPETITION
ALBERT’S WINTER / Denmark, 2009, 30 minutes (Director: Andreas Koefad)—A young boy in Germany struggles to deal with his mother’s devastating terminal cancer. As the illness lingers unspoken in the background, Albert goes through the motions of his day-to-day life but knows that something is terribly wrong.
ARIRANG – LETTER TO BARACK / Germany/North Korea, 2010, 8 minutes (Director: Gerd Konrad)—The world appears very different from inside the hermit kingdom of North Korea. Huge mosaics created by one hundred thousand schoolchildren holding aloft colored cards in unison are a source of national pride, but so is the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. Pageantry and atomic blasts are juxtaposed in this chilling thought piece.
ARSY-VERSY / Slovakia, 2009, 24 minutes (Director Miro Remo)—Lubos is a happy-go-lucky 50-something who lives with his aging mother in what some would call a codependent relationship. The film takes a unique look at a mother-son relationship and the way in which Lubos lives his free-spirited life, like the title says, upside down.
BETWEEN DREAMS / Finland/France/Russian Federation, 2009, 11 minutes (Director: Iris Olsson)—A hundred souls lost in dreams in the dead of night cross a Siberian moonscape aboard a battered Russian train. A fortunate few dream happily and carefree, but most toss uneasily, gripped by fears for the future or guilt about the past.
BIG BIRDING DAY / USA, 2010, 13 minutes (Director: David Wilson)—Competitive bird watching comes alive in this delightful short. As three friends attempt to catch a glimpse of as many species as possible within the course of 24 hours, the special camaraderie that emerges between friends who enjoy the rituals of a unique hobby together is highlighted.
BORN SWEET / USA/Cambodia, 2010, 28 minutes (Director: Cynthia Wade)—Vinh, a rural Cambodian teen, dreams of falling in love, moving to the city and becoming a karaoke star. Alas, for Vinh and the millions of other children worldwide suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning, even reaching adulthood is a dream in doubt.
BYE BYE NOW / Ireland, 2009, 15 minutes (Director: Aideen O’Sullivan, Ross Whitaker)—The film offers a charming look at the gradual disappearance of phone booths in Ireland. With the advent of modern technology, the phone booth has all but vanished all over the world. In a loving tribute to this soon-to-be relic of the past, the film is a nostalgic reminder of yesteryear.
CORNER PLOT / USA, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Ian Cook)—In this heart-warming short, 89-year-old Charlie Koiner cares for a one-acre piece of farmland that rests just inside urban Washington, D.C. With help from his daughter, Charlie works the land and shares his crops at the local farmer’s market. In a rapidly changing modern world, this unique farmer remains dedicated to the life he has always known.
THE DARKNESS OF DAY / USA, 2009, 25 minutes (Director: Jay Rosenblatt)—This moving and thought-provoking meditation on depression and suicide stretches the boundaries of “documentary.” Built from found footage, and using both biographical details from Rosenblatt’s life and readings from a journal of someone who committed suicide, the film gently spurs you to ask exactly what it aims to document.
THE FAUX REAL / USA, 2010, 21 minutes (Director: Suzanne Hillinger)—This engaging short documentary introduces three biologically born females who identify as drag queens. Challenging traditional ideas of gender and drag, these unconventional women don wigs, false eyelashes, heavy makeup and chokers to perform burlesque as women trying to pass as men in drag.
FLAWED / Canada, 2010, 12 minutes Director: (Andrea Dorfman)—Unfolding like a graphic novel, director and artist Andrea Dorfman illustrates her way through her unlikely pairing with a cosmetic surgeon. This animated short is a lovely meditation on falling in love, when the most trying battle is the one fought between the heart’s desires and the mind’s insecurities.
FOUND / Canada, 2009, 6 minutes (Director: Paramita Nath)—For Laotian-Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, a discarded scrapbook sheds light on a harsh infancy in Southeast Asia emphasizing how family memory is often an aggregation of disparate pieces.
THE HERD / Ireland, 2008, 4 minutes (Director: Ken Wardrop)—One of these things is not like the other. But don’t tell that to the newest addition to the cow herd on the filmmaker’s family farm. When a little fawn finds herself out of place amid the sole company of cows, she attempts to fit in unnoticed. Can she succeed?
HOLDING STILL / Germany/USA, 2010, 26 minutes (Director:Florian Riegel)—Imagine if the last 20 years of your life were lived entirely in one room, yet you have the ability to see and photograph the world outside. This is the story of Janis, a woman whose artistic voice is remarkably unconstrained by physical obstacles or tragedies in her past.
THE HOUSEKEEPER / Scotland, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Tali Yankelevich)—The care bestowed on a venerable priest by his elderly Greek housekeeper may at first blush appear to be all in a day’s work, but beneath the surface flow strong currents of platonic love and mutual need.
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK / Ireland, 2009, 12 minutes (Director: Anna Rodgers)— This haunting and visually stunning short film explores several desolate and abandoned psychiatric hospitals throughout Ireland. The voices of former long-term patients permeate the corridors, still struggling to understand the circumstances that brought them there.
I’M JUST ANNEKE / USA, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Jonathan Skurnik)—Anneke is a 12-year-old girl who has begun taking a hormone blocker so that she can delay puberty to ultimately decide for herself whether or not she wants to grow up as a woman or a man. This thought-provoking film brings to light the choices of a new generation facing gender identity issues with remarkable sensitivity and respect.
KEEP DANCING / USA, 2010, 21 minutes (Director: Greg Vander Veer)—Well into their ninth decade of life, dance icon Marge Champion and Tony-winning choreographer Donald Saddler became fast friends while performing in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies. Now 90, the two continue to rehearse and choreograph original work, revealing a passion for dance undimmed by the passage of time.
LAST ADDRESS /USA, 2009, 9 minutes (Director: Ira Sachs)—A series of exterior shots of buildings that all have one thing in common: they were the last residential addresses of some of New York’s most prominent artists who lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses. This simple yet poignant short film is an elegant tribute to those remarkable people whose voices were silenced much too soon.
LIES / Sweden, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Jonas Odell)—With playful animation and lively narration, three people share their individual stories of lying, and the surprising consequences of their deception.
LISTENING TO THE SILENCES / UK, 2009, 11 minutes (Director: Pedro Flores)—What does it feel like to hear voices inside your head? Roy Vincent attempts to explain. Living alone in the isolated countryside, Vincent’s battle with mental illness is a daily struggle. This quiet, penetrating film presents a sympathetic portrait of a man accepting his inner demons.
MARIA’S WAY / Scotland/Spain, 2009, 15 minutes (Director: Anne Milne)—A feisty elderly woman’s sole purpose in life appears to be setting up an isolated roadside stand along the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrim route. A seemingly mundane daily task soon evolves into a humorous and charming observation on the importance of purpose, commitment and tradition.
MISSED CONNECTIONS / USA, 2010, 9 minutes (Director: Mary Robertson)—This delightful film is an amuse-bouche for anyone who has ever perused the ‘Missed Connections’ section of the classifieds in the hope they will recognize themselves as the ‘missed connection’ in question.
A MOTH IN SPRING / USA/Canada, 2010, 26 minutes (Director: Yu Gu)—While attempting to produce a film in China inspired by her parents’ involvement with the Student Democracy Movement of the 1980s, a young filmmaker’s life and work quickly begin to parallel her parents’ trials and alienation when the film is shut down and she is ordered to leave the country.
MRS. BIRK’S SUNDAY ROAST / UK, 2009, 6 minutes (Director: Kyoko Miyake)—This beautifully shot slice-of-life short introduces Mrs. Fukio Birks, a Japanese woman living in England with her British husband. Embracing the new life she has created, Mrs. Birks dedicates herself to embracing English culture—beginning with its cuisine. As she prepares a delectable English Sunday dinner, Mrs. Birks shares her thoughts on cooking, home, culture and family.
NOTES ON THE OTHER / Spain, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Sergio Oksman)—Ostensibly about Ernest Hemingway, this intriguing short is more a meditation on reality and simulation—like a Baudrillard lecture, except more fun. Contrasting Hemingway with his impersonators in Key West, the film questions the writer’s account of the running of the bulls, moving quickly to challenging the concept of the Real.
ON THE RUN WITH ABDUL / UK/France, 2009, 24 Minutes (Directors: James Newton, Kristian Hove Sorensen and David Lalé)—When sixteen year old Abdul’s life is suddenly in jeopardy because of his involvement with a film on refugees, the filmmakers take it upon themselves to protect the boy. Exploring the delicate balance of how involved documentarians should become with their subjects, the film is a remarkable reassessment on the craft of non-fiction filmmaking.
OVERNIGHT STAY / USA, 2009, 9 minutes (Director: Daniela Sherer)—Using hand-drawn animation, the film illustrates an 83-year-old woman’s vivid memory of an event during World War II that likely saved her life when she was a young girl. On a cold night in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1941, she was taken in by strangers and given a place to sleep.
PARA FUERA: PORTRAIT OF DR. RICHARD J. BING / USA, 2010, 9 minutes (Director: Nicholas Jasenovec)—How could a centenarian who is an accomplished doctor and musician sum up the totality of experiences in his life in one word? Dr. Richard Bing is able to do so—and along the way you will learn what motivated and assisted him in living his challenging yet charmed life.
PLASTIC AND GLASS / France, 2009, 9 minutes (Director: Tessa Joosse)—In a recycling factory in the north of France, workers settle into the daily grind of reprocessing plastic and glass. In an effort to transcend the routine, the workers playfully adapt the steady rhythm of the machines into a melody for a song and dance.
THE POODLE TRAINER / USA/Russia, 2009, 8 minutes (Director: Vance Malone)—Irina Markova is a Russian poodle trainer who has dedicated her life to training her 20 colorfully costumed poodles to perform clever acrobatic tricks. Fueled by a childhood tragedy that sparked a fierce desire to avoid people, Markova welcomes the solace of her animals and the isolation she finds behind the red velvet curtain of the circus.
PRAYERS FOR PEACE / USA, 2009, 8 minutes (Director: Dustin Grella)—Through the use of stop-motion animation, a man reflects on the memory of his younger brother, recently killed in Iraq. This deeply personal film offers an elegant introspection about a brother and soldier whose loss is deeply felt by those who loved him.
QUADRANGLE / USA, 2010, 20 minutes (Director: Amy Grappell)—In the ’70s, two “conventional” couples embark on a most unconventional arrangement when they attempt to ward off marital ennui by swapping partners. Moving into the same home, merging families, sharing in a group marriage, can this four-way affair ever work?
SELTZER WORKS / USA, 2010, 7 minutes (Director: Jessica Edwards)—New York’s last seltzer bottler makes for a refreshing subject in this effervescent look at a tradesman who refuses to compromise on taste while facing the inevitable decline of a dying commercial tradition.
THE SPACE YOU LEAVE / UK, 2009,10 minutes (Director: James Newton)—Thoughts of their long-vanished children are never far off for several British parents whose lives seem all but consumed by overarching loss. The daunting impact of an estimated 200,000 annual disappearances in the UK is brought to scale in three gripping portraits of lives now defined by the presence of absence.
THEY ARE GIANTS / Netherlands, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Koert Davidse)—The Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor is a breathtakingly beautiful old world library filled with hand-crafted leather tomes nestled in exquisite mahogany bookcases. No human has ever walked its halls, climbed its stairs, or sat at its tables because this library is no more than eight feet long and four feet high; its books no taller than your little finger.
THIS CHAIR IS NOT ME /UK, 2010, 10 minutes (Director: Andy Taylor Smith)—While cerebral palsy confines Alan Martin to a wheelchair and inhibits his speech, he refuses to limit himself. When he gains access to technology that enables him to find a voice, his life is transformed. Utilizing stunning visual vocabulary and subtle re-enactment, the film presents a cinematic experience as unique as the subject himself.
TRASH-OUT / USA, 6 minutes (Director: Maria Fortiz-Morse)—This deeply affecting and simple short shows workers cleaning out a house that has been foreclosed. What do the things left behind say about a family? What does an empty house that was once a home say? In a mere six minutes, TRASH-OUT makes a poignant statement on a timely subject.
UNEARTHING THE PEN / UK/Uganda, 2009, 12 minutes (Director: Carol Salter)— Beautifully photographed, this film poignantly tells the story of a young Ugandan boy’s desperate desire for an education in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds: most daunting is the possibility that the symbolic burying of a pen decades earlier by tribal elders has resulted in a curse on formal education.
THE VEIL / Italy, 2009, 18 minutes (Director: Mattia Colombo)—A young postulant prepares to enter the convent. Older nuns go about their quotidian routines. This intimate portrait of Franciscan sisters in a small Venetian convent reveals the vibrant lives played out beneath the subdued cloth of their vocation.
WORLD CHAMPION / Estonia, 2009, 35 minutes (Director: Moonika Siimets)—Eighty-two-year-old Herbert Sepp is a man’s man. He works out, he speaks his mind, and he knows what he wants in life: a world masters title in pole vaulting. For him, it’s all about the run, the plant… and the very, very short amount of time in the air.
STERLING WORLD FEATURE COMPETITION
THE ARRIVALS / France/French Embassy, (2009), 111 minutes (Directors: Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard)—Arriving on the shores of France is merely the beginning of a labyrinthian journey for more than 50,000 refugees seeking asylum through the municipal reception center in Paris each year. North American Premiere.
AS LILITH / Israel, 2009, 78 minutes (Director: Eytan Harris)—After a 14-year-old Israeli girl commits suicide, her mother, Lilith, wants the body cremated. Before she can proceed, she must fight ZAKA, one of Israel’s most powerful religious organizations, which is fundamentally against cremation. East Coast Premiere.
BUDRUS / Israel/Palestinian Territories/USA, 2009, 81 minutes (Director: Julia Bacha)—This rousing film about one Palestinian village and its unlikely hero—humble family man turned activist Ayed Morrar—reveals the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for extraordinary change.
FAMILIA / Sweden/Peru/Spain, 2010, 82 minutes (Directors: Mikael Wiström and Alberto Herskovits)—Swedish filmmaker Mikael Wiström captures the emotional ups and downs of an impoverished Peruvian family struggling to create a better life and stay together in the midst of great difficulty. US Premiere.
A FILM UNFINISHED / Germany/Israel, 2009, 87 minutes (Director: Yael Hersonski)—In never before seen footage from a lost reel of an incomplete Nazi-produced propaganda film about Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto in 1942, the film captures images of manipulated and staged ghetto life mixed with stunning photographic evidence and testimony—all making for a riveting experience.
INTO ETERNITY / Finland, (2010), 73 minutes (Director: Michael Madsen)—This film ponders how to caution explorers from future civilizations who may be driven by curiosity, or a desire to understand their distant past, to stay clear of buried nuclear waste.
PRESUMED GUILTY / Mexico, 2009, 92 minutes (Directors: Roberto Hernández and Geoffrey Smith)—In its stunning indictment of Mexican jurisprudence, the film invites unsettling suspicion that legions of hapless prisoners face groundless decades behind bars. East Coast Premiere.
REGRETTERS / Sweden, 2010, 59 minutes (Director: Marcus Lindeen)—Mikael and Orlando are two aging Swedes with something unusual in common: They are both biological males who have undergone sex reassignment surgery but now wish to ‘change back.’ The pair’s startling testimony forms a complex philosophical interrogation of gender performance and selfhood.
SPACE TOURISTS / Switzerland, 2009, 98 minutes (Director: Christian Frei)—Amid the crumbling infrastructure of the former Soviet military space program, Russians allow civilians to travel into space for the low, low price of $20 million. Meanwhile, poor herders in Central Asia wait expectantly for the discarded remains of the rocket to sell on the black market. East Coast Premiere.
STEAM OF LIFE / Finland, 2010, 82 minutes (Director: Joonas Bergh?ll and Mika Hotakainen)—It’s neither a therapist’s office nor a lover’s bed where Finnish men’s deepest feelings about life, love and family are brought to the surface: It’s the sauna. The film allows the viewer to become a fly on the wall as it listens in on men—naked men—talking to other men (or occasionally a grizzly bear) in the sanctuary of the country’s ubiquitous saunas. US Premiere.
THE WOMAN WITH THE FIVE ELEPHANTS / Germany/Switzerland/Ukraine, 2009, 92 minutes (Director: Vadim Jeydrenko)—Witness to unspeakable horrors, eighty-five-year-old Svetlana Geier has dedicated her life to language. Considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German, Svetlana has just concluded her magnum opus, completing new translations of Dostoevsky’s five great novels—known as the five elephants. US Premiere.
World Feature Jury: Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director, American Documentary | POV; Havana Marking, Filmmaker (AFGHAN STAR); Andrea Meditch, Executive Producer (MAN ON WIRE, GRIZZLY MAN)