Monday, December 31, 2007

Funny or DIE, MySpaceTV, YouTube image & audio playback quality comparison

So I took my short "Magnus & The Air Quotes Woman" from a DVD, turned it into an MPEG file (stumbled through that process, don't really know too much about it yet), and then uploaded it to Funny or DIE, MySpaceTV, & YouTube. On this one, the audio was reproduced best on Funny or DIE. The image was reproduced best on MySpaceTV I think. And YouTube was not as impressive as either of the first two. I am sure I bear a lot of responsibility for the quality outcome or perhaps I can improve audio & video playback quality on future clips by learning more about compression, codecs, etc. But for the Magnus short, my favorite for playback quality is the Funny or DIE version. Check all three out below & see which site produced the best playback quality for the short:

@ Funny or DIE:

@ MySpaceTV:

Magnus and The Air Quotes Woman

Add to My Profile | More Videos

@ YouTube:

- Sujewa

Desperation (a dating video), from Funny or DIE

I thought this video was funny, and sad, which is of course the best kind of funny (well, maybe not the best, but one of the more interesting kinds of funny). Check it out:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Breaking up with weird people is hard to do; short film "Magnus & The Air Quotes Woman"

And the official description:

"A man threatens to break up with his girlfriend if she does not change an annoying habit.

Starring Christine D. Lee and Rob Morris.

Written & Directed by Sujewa Ekanayake. Sound: Fritz Flad.

In 2006 & early 2007 this story was a part of the feature Date Number One, now it is a separate short.

Release date: 12/29/07. Running time: 3 minutes+

Copyright 2006 - 2007 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films."

Happy holidays & happy new year all!!! hope ya enjoy the short.



"Magnus & The Air Quotes Woman" at YouTube


- Sujewa

New book - Punk Is Dead: Punk Is Everything!

Heard about it at the Dischord site.

Here is a description of the book:

"The long awaited follow-up to the 1999 bestseller Fucked Up + Photocopied, Punk Is Dead: Punk Is Everything! exposes the lasting impact of Punk on visual culture worldwide. Hundreds of flyers, photos, set lists, vintage fashions and other ephemera from all of your favorite bands are jammed into this menacing volume. Punk is Dead is massive, featuring a wide spectrum of bands that initially catalyzed the scene, and later fueled its global expansion. Contributing writers such as Wayne Kramer, Arturo Vega, Kid Congo, David Yow, Annie Anxiety, Duane Peters, Marc McCoy, Tony Alva, Don Bolles, Trudie and Pat Smear, flesh out the visual assault. This long awaited follow-up to the highly influential bestselling book Fucked Up + Photocopied - Instant Art of the Punk Rock Movement also features hard hitting interviews with Ian MacKaye, one of the most respected voices of the DIY music underground, and Malcolm McLaren, likely the most impactful promoter of the early punk movement. From the unknown to the infamous, they will likely be found within the pages of Punk is Dead, Punk is Everything!"

Get it here.

- Sujewa

Half-Cocked & Radiation for only $15!

I think I am going to have to spend some of my x-mas/holiday gift cards on these artifacts of 90's indie rock glory.

Check out this review of Half-Cocked at, of all places, Variety!

A little bit from the Variety review:

"Pic's strong suit is an authenticity unique among films dealing with the slacker and '90s college-radio milieu. Cast with non-actors who play in indie bands and shot on the Southeastern club circuit, it starts out seeming almost like a modern WPA docuabout the young and disaffected in Louisville, Ky., with its p.o.v. thoroughly that of the grungy subjects. Yet it also evinces a crucial measure of ironic distance, which emerges in the tale's ruefully witty unfolding."

Get the DVD, & watch a clip, here.

- Sujewa

MySpace page for Lars Von Trier produced film All About Anna

Yes, Dogme 95 movies are not the only kind that Von Trier makes. This one is probably of interest to thousands of dudes (and some ladies no doubt) who have never heard of, or care about, Danish film or the Dogme manifesto.

Read a little bit about Von Trier's other filmmaking career here, if ya haven't heard about it already.

- Sujewa

Friday, December 28, 2007

David Hudson's '02 article about potential of straight-to-DVD for indies still has valid points

In the fast moving digital age indie film world 2002 was a looong time ago, but as I was researching the topic of straight-to-DVD and its possible new & underdeveloped uses for real indie filmmakers, I came upon this '02 article by David "GreenCine Daily" Hudson aka everyone's favorite film blogger. Though some of the things he mentions are no longer questions or possibilities, the following observation caught my eye:

"Some argue that without theatrical release, a film won't get reviewed and that without that free but vital publicity, it doesn't stand a chance. But very, very few electronic games are ever reviewed by the New York Times. And yet the gaming industry is bigger than the movie industry. Gamers know where to go for their new[*] and reviews. What's more: games don't get theatrical release."
[*david probably meant "news" there]

Read the rest of David's article here.

Yes, it would make sense to look at the electronic gaming industry for new ideas that might be useful for indie filmmakers, specially when we are discussing the delivery of content in a home-use type packaging (whether DVDs now or through internet VOD tomorrow).

Even though theatrically self-distributing a feature, even if just to a handful of cities, is almost too much work & too much of an expense for most individual indie filmmakers, perhaps a DVD distribution campaign can be sustained with greater ease and would have greater geographical range with use of mail-order, retail shops, etc. Will have to look further into this.

I know many people are banking on DVD becoming obsolete in a couple of years. But a couple of years can be a looong time in the indie film industry. Plus, it might be easy to adapt any DVD wisdom to internet VOD or whatever else we come up with for future distribution of films.

- Sujewa

Takashi Miike and "straight to DVD" filmmaking discussion at a Criterion Forum

Interesting discussion at a Criterion Forum about how one Japanese director has made & released quality movies using the "straight-to-DVD" production & release method/avenue. Over here in the US straight-to-DVD has generally been a wasteland (or is considered as such by many mainstream consumers, as far as I can tell), but perhaps real indie filmmakers with good movies can use that method of release in a profitable way (no theatrical release expenses, plus there may be other benefits - like greater independence from relying on festivals & critics/reviewers/bloggers for justifying the existence of a film in the market place; as in - if it is already available on DVD for purchase & viewing, then sales figures & the audience response can determine if more money & time needs to be/can be invested in a given title for further exposure & profit/sales, regardless of what fest programmers or critics think about, or not think about, the movie).

Also, as one of the commenters mentioned at the Criterion Forum, once the still developing internet VOD (video-on-demand through the web, maybe in conjunction with the TV set soon since I hear that a lot of people would prefer to watch movies on their ever more sophisticated & high quality home entertainment systems rather than on their computer monitor) industry is popular & profitable in the US, that can work as a release method similar to straight-to-DVD.

Check out the forum here.

- Sujewa

Greg "Smiley Face" Araki interview at The Reeler

Check out the interview here.

I liked this statement by Araki:

"Because I also edit my movies and am really involved in the color timing, I see every movie I make literally 500 or a thousand times, and if I ever made a movie only because I was getting paid I don't think I could take it. You have to love it; it has to be something that's really personal to you that you love."

The rest here.

- Sujewa

Renew Media's interview with Breakthrough Distribution's Jeff Rosen

Check it out here.

Here is a little bit from the introduction to the interview:

"And in today’s virtual world, friends, fans and consumers are, more times than not, the same thing. To help harness that and to increase the ability of filmmakers to efficiently reach core audiences, Breakthrough Distribution, in conjunction with several partners, is building a cooperative database which will be called Indiefanbase. The site will attempt to aggregate and mine the fanbases of individual filmmakers, publishers and nonprofits to help market and target creative content and products. I spoke with Jeff Rosen, one of the four team members that run Breakthrough, about the enormous potential of the Internet and what the distribution company has in store for the near future."

And here again is the interview link. Might be a useful thing to read for indie filmmakers.

- Sujewa

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Great essay about how one man survived the 70's with the help of Robert Altman & Woody Allen movies

Check out the long, excellent essay "Alone at the movies; My days in the dark with Robert Altman and Woody Allen" by Mark Edmundson at The American Scholar (thanks GreenCine Daily for the link). Here is a paragraph from it:

"Might not this be a little like my own condition, or at least a condition I could aspire to? I could, maybe, give up questing for big and exciting things (Those connections! Those parties! That job!) and stop resenting the people who enjoyed them. I could amble and loaf and look around and perhaps store up a few impressions. I was low on cash most of the time, sure, but I had enough to get by. What I had in excess was what Altman and his camera seemed to have, time—time and a marvelous place to spend it, Manhattan, the greatest paradise for walkers and loiterers and trippers and ramblers ever created. Looking around—affectionately, forgivingly, gently—turned out not to be a half bad way of expanding the day. In this particular ambling mood, you don’t ask anything from the world because the world, in its sheer there-ness, is enough, or almost."

Read the rest here. Not just Allen & Altman fans who were adults in the 70's, but fans of certain indie films & makers (Jarmusch, Hartley, etc.) from more recent decades (80's, 90's) might also be able to relate well to Edmundson's perspective.

- Sujewa

"Smiley Face" gets a lot of Nathan Lee/Village Voice luv

Critic Nathan Lee at the Village Voice says Greg Araki's new feature Smiley Face is "an eleventh-hour candidate for the funniest movie of 2007". Read the whole review here (thanks GreenCine Daily for the link!).

And here's a bit more from the Lee/Voice review:

"Confused? Just ride, man: Points B–Y will take Jane, aspiring actress, from an audition that ends with her offering to sell the casting agent a baggie to having a dentist-office freakout in the company of an über-dork who might be able to lend her the cash to pay the dealer and give her a ride to the 33rd Annual Venice Hemp Festival. Visiting the house of a former professor in Marxist studies, she'll inadvertently get her hands on an original copy of The Communist Manifesto (and promptly daydream the glorious results of an eBay auction) and later head to a pork-processing plant in the middle of nowhere, and so on and so forth with maximum silliness, deft narrative drive, and dialogue of sustained hilarity."

Awesome. After reading that review I almost feel like making the 4 hour trip to NYC to watch Smiley Face at the IFC Center.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Got the lead for "Bears", flick will be shot in Atlanta area :: DNO update

The main ideas for my new "no budget" (under $1K, at least that's the budget plan now :) feature "Bears" (working title, more on the flick here) came from hanging out with an old friend of mine - Brian Papin - in the DC area for a couple of years in the late 90's & early '00s. We had some very interesting conversations/arguments about the world, history, individual abilities & responsibilities, as well as a lot of whacked out funny conversations, and some of those ideas & events should work their way into the movie. Brian is slated to play the lead in the flick as of now. I am going to play a supporting role (didn't know I acted did ya? :) Brian lives in the Atlanta area & has many daily/weekly responsibilities (house! jobs! kids!), so I will have to go down to Atlanta for a couple of weeks & shoot the flick there, since it will be difficult for Brian to come down (or is it up?) to DC for an extended period of time. We are aiming for a winter/spring (Feb or March) shoot. More on "Bears" as things get done. Now, on to finishing up the script.


On the Date Number One front, did some merciless cutting on that flick yesterday, the film is 1/2 hour shorter now for sure & a lot slicker (more & better transitions, music, etc.). DNO is gonna have a whole new distribution life in '08!

- Sujewa

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tom Waits - Silent Night & Christmas card...

and now, a word from your local messiah

Flakes was kind of like Reality Bites

Well, satisfied my curiosity about Flakes by watching it; $5.99 & a couple of hours were not horribly wasted. Flakes is a well made movie, but I didn't really enjoy it, but then again watching it was not a painful experience. There are some interesting details in it, I think maybe people who really liked Reality Bites would enjoy Flakes. Flakes is like Reality Bites, except a lot less interesting, but I still think Bites fans might enjoy Flakes.

- Sujewa

Must watch Flakes

Looks like f-i-n-a-l-l-y the InDigEnt flick Flakes is available to see (or is coming very soon, can't tell), from IFC First Take. Flakes is playing at the IFC Center in NYC until tomorrow (last day 12/25). Read about the indie cereal store comedy at The House Next Door (not a flattering review, but am gonna watch that thing anyway :), 'cause i likes me some indigent moovies, & it was directed by Michael Lehman, the dude who directed Heathers)

Here is a synopsis of Flakes from the InDigEnt site:


Directed by:
Michael Lehmann

Written by:
Chris Poche, Karey Kirkpatrick

Produced by:
Mark Ross, Gary Winick, Jake Abraham, Karey Kirkpatrick

Aaron Stanford, Zooey Deschanel, Keir O'Donnell, Ryan Donowho, Frank Wood, Izabella Miko and Christopher Lloyd

FLAKES centers on the mercurial relationship of aspiring rock musician Neal Downs (Stanford), who manages the cereal bar, and Miss Pussy Katz (Deschanel), creator of radically-themed art clothing that she tries, in vain, to sell to French Quarter tourists. The main character, however, is the cereal shop itself, where Neal holds court to an offbeat crew of locals, who debate the arcana of cereal history and ideal milk/flake ratios. But then an aspiring young capitalist rips off the store's concept and, when Miss P. gets involved, suddenly everything is at stake--Flakes, love, and the very survival of righteous breakfast food veneration."

- Sujewa

A new Straight-to-DVD US indie film movement should be coming very soon :: Micheal Atkinson's top 15 '07 Straight-to-DVD titles

Using video for shooting feature films was looked down on & laughed at by many in the industry & many dreaming of getting into the industry for decades, & then Dogme 95 came along in the late 1990's & changed that paradigm.

Self-distribution was, for a long time, the refuge of the "unworthy" in the film world, and then a whole lot of self-distribution activity in the 2005 - 2007 period, undertaken by real indie, indiewood, & Hollywood filmmakers, with the help of some indiewood companies in some cases, made self-distribution cool & in some cases the preferred route for theatrical exhibition.

As far as I recall, day & date type release programs from Landmark & IFC were received not-too-enthusiastically at first by many sectors of the US film industry. About a year and some months later, many experts & professional observers are openly praising the value of such release strategies for certain titles. And I think I read somewhere that IFC is making money with their IFC In Theaters program (films screening in theaters - or maybe just 1 theater, IFC Center in NYC, and being available on cable nationwide through IFC at the same time).

Straight-to-DVD, making a movie available for purchase on DVD without theatrical play, has been used for many years (back in the VHS days it was straight-to-video) by film studios to reduce the financial risk of theatrically distributing certain titles. This strategy however, in the eyes of many in the US, marks the films distributed in that fashion as films that were not "good enough" for the theaters, and thus perhaps unworthy of their time & money or critical attention & respect.

I have heard that in Japan, for several years now, some quality movies first debut on DVD and that this is not reflected negatively on those titles.

At present, in the US, there are many people making indie films, thanks to the digital revolution, but there are few theatrical distributors, and theatrical distribution is very expensive, and the "taste makers" for the indie film market ignore many sectors (minority filmmakers, certain genres, etc.) of this industry (out of habit maybe, who knows) and thus it makes it difficult for many films & filmmakers to utilize the film festival & review support system that helps some indie films (mumblecore films for example) with distribution and publicity. Due to these conditions, it maybe useful for US indie filmmakers & real indie film production & distribution companies to rehabilitate the notion of the direct-to-DVD release (perhaps coupled with DIY publicity, to make up for free & positive press that they may lose by not playing festivals or theaters first). In the near future (and this actually may have been true all along for some titles) I believe that there will be a significant number of high quality indies that make their first public appearance on DVD and that consumers will not react negatively to that scenario. Once sales pick up, critics, bloggers, film festival programmers, etc. may think about incorporating staright-to-DVD titles into their work & worldview.

The cash crunch that real indie filmmakers face - from the long period of production to the long wait to see money come back their way after festivals, theatrical, cable, DVD (and that is if they get any of that distribution in the first place) - may disappear if filmmakers add a number of straight-to-DVD titles or series to their arsenal.

And, as I mentioned above, an obvious attraction of a better received & utilized straight-to-DVD market to real indie/DIY filmmakers is that they may be able to work around gatekeepers (Hollywood studios, indiewood studios, film festival programmers, film critics, bloggers?, etc.) and deal directly with interested customers and build careers & revenue streams.

Perhaps IFC's Micheal Atkinson has already started the straight-to-DVD rehabilitation program/"movement" :), check out his '07 top 15 straight-to-DVD picks here.

- Sujewa

Monday, December 24, 2007

maybe little dissolves will do the trick on DNO :: January '08 $0 - $1K feature project: "Bears"

Little Dissolves

The final version of Date Number One has been done for a while, but I am still iffy about the many jump cuts. I like the jump cuts, do not want to replace them with traditional/match cuts, but maybe the weirdness can be smoothed over (without totally losing the weirdness) a tiny bit by turning the jump cuts into little, fast dissolves, will have to try it out tonight.


"Bears" (working title)

1. I think bears are funny. The actual animal and many ideas related to the animal.

2. I want to try to shoot a new feature in January '08.

3. I don't want to spend a lot of money on this feature because that would mean more debt. Debt is bad.

4. I think I can keep the budget under $1K (meaning as close to $0 as possible) & still create a very entertaining & loopy comedy with beautiful videography & sound.

5. Nothing more on "Bears" until the movie is done. Also no more on Date Number One until the DVD is ready for sale.

Happy New Year to all in case I don't get to blog again until after the 1st (& of course Merry X-mas since today is X-mas eve day).

'08 might be pretty awesome.

- Sujewa

"Whale" is cut & other news from Amir Motlagh

Over at his blog Amir sayz:

"So, the film known as “whale” is officially cut. Just finished picture lock (although, you never really know). It is now in sound design. I am pleased. It is what i always wanted it it become. A trailer should be up very shortly.

Whats the film about? Let me see real. OK…
” An Iranian American writer quickly approaching 30 returns back to his mothers house in the suburbs of Irvine California, unexpectedly, with a broken heart, a never ending manuscript and a few telephone numbers from his old life.” "

Read more here.

Congrats on the progress Mr. Amir. Looking forward to checking out the new movies.

- Sujewa

David Lowery is going to Park City with A Catalog Of Anticipations

I haven't visited David Lowery's blog in a while, so I just discovered that one of the latest news items over there is that David will be attending the upcoming Slamdance film fest with his short A Catalog Of Anticipations. Congrats Mr. Lowery, have fun in Utah. Read more about it here.

- Sujewa

Giant Robot #51 has an article on Jon Moritsugu and a 300 lb. deer

I was at Silver Spring Borders today trying to spend a gift certificate on Criterion's recent release of Godard's Breathless (no luck there, sold out), & I happened to look at the latest issue of Giant Robot magazine (the one with the drawing of a girl on the cover), & in it found an article about indie/DIY filmmaker Jon Moritsugu's recent encounter with a 300 lb. deer. Find the magazine & check it out if you are a Moritsugu fan, might be fun. I don't see a link to the story on the GR site, so maybe it is not on line.

& of course Merry Christmas & Happy Holiday to all!

- Sujewa

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lots of really weird stuff going on underneath the skin of I Am Legend

[Warning: do not read this post if you have not seen I Am Legend yet. Gives away the ending & major story points.]

A beautiful thing about Hollywood craftsmanship is that it can do a pretty good job of hiding several not-very-compatible ideas inside one movie and making it feel almost natural. I just watched almost all of I Am Legend (came in right before the main title, when the Neville character is hunting dear with his car), of course I need to watch the entire movie again, but so far I think the story might have been better if Anna & her son characters were not introduced, and Neville survives his nighttime run in with the vampire creatures at the docks, and then goes on to discover the cure while the vampires are attacking him in the lab, then uses the cure to save the infected New Yorkers and of course everyone else on the planet.

Was it necessary for Smith's character to kill himself when he did? I don't think so. Being an experienced military man who has fought off vampires in the past, he probably could have survived the encounter in the lab, if he chose to.

Also, why did Neville react in such an underwhelmed & confused way when he discovered two other healthy humans? He seemed a little disappointed at all of a sudden not being the last normal human on Earth. Did this disappointment cause him to kill himself in a heroic fashion in order to become special in the eyes of fellow humans? In order to try to once again become very unique, as he though he was before he discovered other healthy humans?

For a while after the Anna & son characters were introduced, I thought the new development in the story was a hallucination that Neville was having during his last moments of life, trapped under the car, being killed by the vampires.

I guess, to mirror the Christian ideas injected into the 3rd act, it was necessary for Neville to die & become the legend & save the world through sacrifice, in Christ fashion. But, like I said before, the movie would have worked better without this obvious & jarring turn into religion.

Also, I didn't believe Neville when he expressed a lack of faith in a better world to Anna. If so, what has kept him going for three years or so against great odds? And why would he buy into such negativity when an almost miraculous thing has occurred - meeting two healthy humans, not to mention the vaccine having some positive effects on test animals.

There are lots more things to think about when it comes to I Am Legend, no doubt, so until I revisit this topic, here is Armond White's review of the movie, which asks some interesting questions. (maybe related: is Armond White the last real film critic on the planet? :) lots of reviewers & critics either have a brief & simple reaction to movies ("bad" or "good") or just add their endorsement to the press material without bringing their own set of ideas to make greater sense out of the success or the failures in a movie, White seems different in some cases - certainly in the case of Legend)

Other than the wrong turn in act 3, I Am Legend was cool. Weird & fun to see Manhattan empty. Looking forward to checking out Legend again & further looking into some weird stuff that I sensed momentarily while watching the movie the first time.

- Sujewa

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Hub - video for human rights

Read all about The Hub at this Filmmaker mag blog post.

And here's a welcome note from The Hub:

" Welcome to the beta of the Hub for human rights media and action!
The Hub is a place for you to find and upload human rights-related media, and to take action on what you see.
Anytime you need further assistance, just visit our Help Center.
We hope you'll take the time to explore the Hub - and we welcome your feedback, via the website or via our blog."

More here.

- Sujewa

Friday, December 21, 2007

Richard Kern interview at Film Threat

I guess I missed this one when it first came out in September. Here's the interview. And here's a segment:

" (FT) What’s the best negative reaction or opinion to your film work you ever provoked?

(RC) During the late 80’s in Berlin, a Feminist group took over the small cinema that was screening “Fingered,” robbed the patrons and poured paint on the projectors as a protest against the films. These idiots obviously had never seen the film cause the film they destroyed was not mine but the co-bill.

In another German college town the school shut down the screening. We moved it to a secret location but again hooded feminist showed up and threw paint at the screen. This was in the early 90’s.

“Fingered” was selected for the Berlin film festival in 86 or 87. When I went up to introduce the film, I got booed. I introduced the film this way: “This film was made as a response to people like you – FUCK YOU!” while giving the audience the finger. This stunt got the film on the front page of Variety the next day but made the festival head cancel further screenings.

I don’t think the film would cause this kind of reaction today. In Germany, my film gave the radical Feminist movement something to rally against. 20 years later, the same groups praise the film."

Read the rest here.

Kern's site (may not be safe for work).

- Sujewa

D.I.Y. design guide

It's a book and a website. The website has supplemental material or in some cases brief introductions to the topics, and it's free. The book is $19.95 and can be purchased here. Made by people from MICA.

- Sujewa

How to create your own drive-in movie theater

Article at Popular Mechanics.

- Sujewa

Build your own video projector

(yeah, even though I said I was done with the blogging for '07, this item just had to be blogged) Thinking about building your own video projector? (they are however pretty cheap now, usually $500 or so on the low end, though i did see one for $290 recently) If so, check out the DIY Projector Company website. All manner of instructions, supplies and also theory there.

- Sujewa

Thursday, December 20, 2007

'07 OK, not as good as '06, need to do more in '08

We've got about 10 days left to go on this year, and there is a lot of holiday stuff coming up, so I think I'll make this my final post for '07. '07 was an interesting year; did a one week run of Date Number One, & got a lot of blogging done. I did more, film wise, in '06, so perhaps in '08 I can be more productive than in '07 - more distribution & filmmaking work.

As far as noteworthy moments in the greater indie/DIY film world, I think this year was kind of not that eventful, certainly not as much as '06. Yes, we had more press for that "indie film movement*" or bloggers & film fest people & small distribs promoting films by their friends featuring their friends (although, the IFC center fest featuring those films was impressive for the amount of press it was able to get, and it was a fun event to attend - met some interesting people), but overall '07 did not feel very impressive when it came to Great Achievements In Real Independent Film. Maybe a lot of people were recovering from '06, and perhaps they'll be back, in top form, in '08. Hmmm, well, actually, even though I may have a few problems with *Mumblecore, I guess that outfit's work this year was kind of a high point in ultra-low budget indie film in this otherwise rather uneventful year (how's that for a strained congratulations? :). All the more reason for the rest of us to do better in '08.

I do recall hearing very good things about Craig Zobel's Great World of Sound this year (mostly from Mike Tully's blog), need to check that movie out.

A filmmaker that needs to be singled out & recognized for his '07 success is Jonas Mekas, for redefining the word productive by releasing 365 short films in '07.

Otherwise, maybe, for real indie film as a whole, '06 was like Star Wars, and '07 was Empire Strikes Back, which will make '08 similar to Return of the Jedi, and that'll be a good thing. Looking forward to the indie film world's version of Ewoks next year.

It was good to observe/hear about IFC's day & date type program IFC In Theaters becoming more popular, used, and possibly profitable in '07 (still waiting on those exact revenue figures :). That program & those like it could become very good revenue streams for many real indies next year.

What about Hollywood & Indiewood output in '07? Kind of OK I guess, felt pretty usual. I did see a lot of indiewood & Hollywood movies this year, and a whole lot of HBO shows, some stuff was very entertaining (Concords, Sopranos, Curb, etc.) - so maybe it was a good year for movie & TV watching overall.

In the blog & fest worlds, I enjoyed the iW Bloggers Meet Up in NYC & covering SilverDocs. Fun stuff. Overall it seemed like there was a lot of fest & blogging activity this year, more so than in '06. IndieWIRE - the main site & the bloggers, and GreenCine Daily were working hard & were essential, as usual, in '07. Read about a few interesting panels at the Film Panel Notetaker. Learned a lot, as usual, about the doc world through AJ Schnack's All These Wonderful Things blog in '07. And I noticed a spike in interesting activity at SpoutBlog this year. Oh, and had some good web based "conversations" re: indie film w/ Tom Hall this year, let's not forget those growing moments :) Cinematical and Filmmaker Magazine blog also seemed to be in top form in '07 (as they were in '06, maybe even a little better). So I guess on the indie film blogging front '07 was very good. Seemed like film festivals were very active in '07 also, heard about some exciting fest almost every week, very cool.

So, that's about it for my '07 film reflections. Unless some really noteworthy stuff happens before 1/1/08 (like, on the personal front, the DNO DVD getting done maybe), I'll see you in the new year.

Thanks for reading, Haaapppppy New Year!

- Sujewa

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

movie baby

From the P.O.V. interview w/ Jay Rosenblatt re: his movie "I Used to be a Filmmaker":

What is this film about?

Jay Rosenblatt: "I Used to be a Filmmaker" tracks the development of my daughter from birth, from 10 minutes old to approximately 18 months, and it also shows the development of our father-daughter relationship. It's about parental love, about my heart opening and about how a relationship develops with a new being. What separates it from just a home movie is that each segment is preceded by a filmmaking term, often used ironically."

Read the rest here, sounds interesting.

- Sujewa

Baltimore movie theaters with John Waters

At FilmInFocus, John Waters talks about Baltimore movie theaters.

- Sujewa

Man vs. Cold/Fever/Whatever, 12 Hours of Sleep, Happy Ending '07

Have not blogged much recently because I was down with a cold/fever/whatever for like, on and off, about 10 days. Finally that's over I think, woke up today after sleeping for 12 hours straight and am feeling more or less fine.

Even though I was sick, went ahead with a holiday party at my new apt; we called it Happy Ending '07 - happened on Sat 12/15. Among other activities; Open Water 2, Night On Earth, Mystery Train, and Living In Oblivion were screened on a wall (nice gigantic image, i need to buy me a projector) and all the Kensingtonians (and 1 Rockvillian) who attended had a good time.

Back to regular blogging & not finishing up the Date Number One DVD tomorrow (although, I plan on getting it done very, very soon - definitely before this month is out) :). Still need to unpack fully from the move to the new apt. Winter is kind of slow, so I am sure I'll get these lingering projects done while sipping some apple cider in the coming days.

Oh, and received a bunch of great b-day gifts recently (including gift cards to book & electronic stores!), looking forward to going shopping & doing my part to stimulate the 'ol economy. Thanks a lot to everyone who made my most recent b-day awesome.

- Sujewa

Friday, December 14, 2007

Helmut, Yo Yo, Angela & A Ride to Brooklyn

Received Criterion's release of Night On Earth as a birthday gift this week; that movie is still very funny & good - & the extras on the DVD are nice (of course more would have been better :), liked the essays a lot). Here's a clip from one of the funniest segments of Night, found on YouTube:

Buy the DVD here (or get someone to get it for you as a holiday gift, it'll probably be a nice thing to have around).

- Sujewa

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rick Schmidt interview at Netribution

This interview may be a little old (can't see a date on it, but it does refer to Schmidt's Dogme 95 movie "Chetzemoka's Curse" - a very good DV film by the way, check it out), still a good read. Here's the interview. Here's a segment:

"Could you outline your history in the film industry?

My history "in the film industry" began in 1970 when I shot my first video that became transferred to 16MM and edited to become a short called "The Legal Operation." From there I became roommates with director Wayne Wang (who then wasn't the director of The Joy Luck Club or Smoke of course...just a graduate student in film). In 1973 we co-directed our first feature together, entitled A MAN, A WOMAN, AND A KILLER, which and ended up winning Director's Choice award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. With that movie I won a $10,000 grant from the American Film Institute (AFI) to make another feature, Showboat 1988-the remake, completing it in 1978 and getting shown at the London Film Festival resulting in a sale for two showings on Channel 4 in England."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cinematographer Ellen Kuras interview re: Personal Velocity

I want some good looking images in my next movie, so I am digging up DV & or HD/HDV movies that look very good, in order to get some ideas about various image possibilities. Some of these movies have been shot by Ellen Kuras. Here is an interview with Kuras, from '02, at indieWIRE, re: shooting Personal Velocity. A segment:

"iW: What attracted you to work on a project like "Personal Velocity"?

Kuras: I was very interested in working on the film because it was a whole different format; almost like three short stories. Rebecca Miller [the writer/director] and I worked together on "Angela" and she is such a pleasure to work with. We have a very interesting symbiotic relationship because we are able to see into each other's heads and speak and work on different planes that are not so literal. Also, a lot of the same crew from "Angela" were interested in working on "Personal Velocity" and we were really excited about getting the gang back together."

And from the intro to the interview, a little bit about the cinematography accomplishments of Velocity:

"Not only did the film take home Sundance's grand jury prize, but it also won a cinematography prize, making Kuras the only director of photography to receive the award twice (she won previously for her first project with Miller). It might not sound surprising when you consider Kuras' filmography, but consider this: "Personal Velocity" was shot in 16 days on digital video under the mandate of NYC filmmaking initiative InDigEnt. With its innovative use of stills, close ups, and delicate palette, "Personal Velocity" is one of the few DV works that actually uses the medium in service of the story."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

old time relijun plot points: buddha vs. mara, jesus vs. the devil

jesus vs. the devil

the buddha vs. mara

some religious art to get you going on this monday morning. when you take two of the most oldest & popular stories on this planet - the journey of prince gotama to buddha-hood & the journey of jesus to christ-hood (is that even a word?, i think so :), you come across two very important "plot points"; that of the buddha resisting temptations offered to him by the demon mara, and jesus resisting temptations offered to him by the devil. so what do we have - two conflicted men resisting evil - a great thing to put in your next screenplay (not specifically those two guys & their temptations, but a character resisting some awesome temptations at possibly great cost to self); it is bound to be popular because it is already a very popular element of human mythology (probably because such actions are necessary for survival in any type of a positive sense - for communities, individuals and organizations).

find out more about the buddha vs. mara incident here at wikipedia. a segment:

"Mara is the demon who tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be his daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive."

and more about jesus vs. the devil incident here at wikipedia. a segment:

"after being baptised, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the desert. During this time, the devil appeared to Jesus and tempted him to demonstrate his supernatural powers as proof of his divinity, each temptation being refused by Jesus with a quote of scripture from the Book of Deuteronomy. The Gospels state that having failed, the devil departed and angels came and brought nourishment to Jesus."

happy screenwriting!

- sujewa

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tracey Moffatt, Nice Coloured Girls

Get an introduction to Australian artist/filmmaker Tracey Moffatt at this wikipedia page.

Sense of Cinema has an analysis of Moffatt's film Nice Coloured Girls. A segment:

"The film confronts orthodox histories of colonial race and gender relations. The use of colonial documents (through the voice-over of Lieutenant Bradley's diaries) recalls the arrival of the First Fleet and the beginning of dispossession for black Australians. The relationship between black women and white men in the film is romantic and paternal (characteristic of early relations but not of contemporary ones) and this serves to illustrate both the naivety and self-deception of the writers of the colonial documents and the astuteness of the women. The colonists are shown to be naive because they believe the women need protection but the women, in fact, have a clear understanding of how interracial relations work and how to manipulate the situation to their advantage to get what they want. The depicted relationship between Aboriginal women and white men links the contemporary Aboriginal women with their female ancestors. Another link to the women's ancestors is the subtitle which informs the audience that they call the white men "Captains" because that is what their grandmothers called them. A continuity of cultural identity is confirmed."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Scott Rudin, Kathleen Kennedy, William Horberg & several well received indiewood movies

There's a Variety article on the important role the producers played in making No Country for Old Men, The Kite Runner & several other well received indiewood movies. Read it here.

- Sujewa

Friday, December 07, 2007

Unraveling Independent Film Distribution

Check out notes from the American Cinamatheque Panel - Unraveling Independent Film Distribution at the Film Panel Notetaker.

Here's how it starts:

"Unraveling Independent Film Distribution
American Cinematheque - Aero Theatre
Los Angeles
December 4, 2007

(BA) Bob Aaronson (Red Envelope Entertainment (REE), a Netflix Company)
(GG) Gary Garfinkel (Senior Vice President - Content Strategy & Acquisition, Showtime Networks)
(BS) Barry Schuler (Managing Director, DFJ Growth, Former Chairman & CEO, AOL, Inc.)
(DS) David Shultz (President, Vitagraph Films LLC (Theatrical)
(TS) Ted Sarandos (Chief Content Officer, Netflix)
(MC) Mike McClellan (VP Film Buyer for Landmark Theaters Corp)
(MG) Margot Gerber (American Cinematheque PR Director)

(MG) How do you decide which festivals to attend, what you watch and what you distribute?

(GG) – I attend Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, and AFM primarily. Showtime is generally more likely to buy from AFM as this market provides more genre driven films. We attend film festivals to get out there and meet the filmmakers and network but these festivals are not really where we acquire films.

(BS) I am not so much in the biz of acquisitions. My background is tech based and so driven by a move for change. My interest is in looking at how to make films that embrace new technology. The arena of distribution has ‘devolved’ as it is not taking advantage of new distribution opportunities and connecting with online communities out there. We need to take advantage of the rich ways currently available to build audiences.

(TS) – We go to Sundance, Toronto Cannes etc. We view the catalogues and decide beforehand what to watch. We feel that film festivals have become similar to the TV pilot system – where a pilot is shown to 16 people and if they don’t like it, the pilot is tossed. When I started Red Envelope it was not to continue the old distribution model but to change it. When we go to festivals we are unlikely to be involved in the bidding for a film. Mostly we are there to network and to buy and sell some films but mainly it is about meeting the filmmaker.

(BA) – Half of the films acquired by Red Envelope will be docs or a third foreign language. We go to the right festival for us – Hot Docs, Silverdocs etc. The festival is used as a filter to know that film has been seen and liked by an audience. A filmmaker should not just hold out for Sundance there are a lot more specific smaller festivals that will help you better find an audience.

(MM) - The big three – Cannes, Sundance and Toronto as well as AFM. We go to preview films and see how they do. We are also are there somewhat as consultants to say if we think the film will have an audience and how it will view. We may also help a film get distribution if we feel that it can. We have different entities and so avenues to engage on this level including Magnolia Pictures.

(DS) – Cannes, Sundance, Berlin and Toronto. We buy film rights including foreign films. We have also picked up films prior to their big debut at festivals like Sundance."

Read the rest here. Good (& probably useful to filmmakers) stuff.

- Sujewa

New York Underground Film Festival regular deadline in 8 days

According to the NYUFF site, the regular deadline is December 15. Final deadline is January 15. Festival happens April 2 - 8 in the city that invented independent film.

A little bit about the fest, from a Withoutabox e-mail that I received today:

" NYUFF has been a great launching pad for its well-regarded alumni, who continue to produce and submit more films to the festival. Some notable Underground alumni include Sam Green and Bill Siegel of THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND; Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley of HALF COCKED, RADIATION, and HORNS AND HALOS; James Fotopoulos of MIGRATING FORMS, and BACK AGAINST THE WALL; and George Kuchar of HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED."

Find out more about the fest here.

- Sujewa

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Youth Without Youth - symbols & motifs, interview with Coppola

Both at Emanuel Levy's site:

Youth Without Youth - Symbols & Motifs

Interview with Coppola

- Sujewa

Yeah, looks like I will have to read Youth Without Youth before watching the movie & then repeat to get it

While working at the bookstore - the day job - I've leisurely shelved (took a while to leaf through the books before shelving them) books by Mircea Eliade and even bought a couple of books by him; dude was deeply into philosophy, linguistics, and religion (even though I have not re-read it in at least three years, I still remember an interpretation of the Buddhist concept of Nirvana by Eliade - it talked about being able to step outside of experiencing the ordinary flow of time in a very significant way; granted, I do not clearly know what that means, but it was memorable because most books on Buddhism do not analyze or talk about exactly what happened during the nirvana experience).

Since, as a novelist, Eliade (read bio below) was most likely no hack - a writer pulling together a bunch of exotic ideas in order to merely entertain - I am thinking that maybe there are some valuable ideas behind the very complex story of Coppola's movie version of Eliade's book Youth Without Youth. Check out Emanuel Levy's review of the movie; it has a pretty detailed summary of the plot. But by the time I was done reading it, I was kind of lost (maybe I just need more coffee :). Anyway, if you too feel the need to read Youth Without Youth in order to make sense of the movie, here's the Amazon link for the book. Looking forward to watching Youth, as most movies are too easy to figure out and are kind of dull & predictable, Youth might actually be a complex, challenging & rewarding experience.

And here's info. on Eliade's life & work, from American Zoetrope's website for Youth:

"Micea Eliade (1907 - 1986)

Romanian-born historian of religion, Eliade was one of the pre-eminent interpreters of world religion in the 20th century. An intensely prolific author of fiction and non-fiction alike, Eliade published 1,300 pieces over 60 years. He earned international fame with LE MYTHE DE L' ÉTERNAL RETOUR (The Myth of the Eternal Return), an interpretation of religious symbols and imagery, while his four volume History of Religious Ideas is considered one of the most comprehensive resources on major religious traditions.

Mircea Eliade began his life in Bucharest, Romania March 9, 1907. Eliade's father, an army officer, changed the family name from Ieremia to Eliade due to his admiration for the writer Eliade-Radulescu. The name change proved prophetic, as Eliade exhibited a passion for writing. A true auto-didactic mind, he was known to sleep only 5 - 6 hours a night to maximize his time for edifying interests like entomology, linguistics, alchemy, Orientalism, religion, literary criticism, and his own short stories.

In 1925, Eliade entered The University of Bucharest, where he pursued studies in Renaissance philosophy. In 1928, Eliade expanded on his Western education by sailing to Calcutta to study Sanskrit and Eastern philosophies until 1931. Calcutta forever changed Eliade and directed his passion for knowledge towards the study of religious history. PhD work and teaching history of religion and metaphysics in Bucharest followed. Besides diplomatic duties during WWII, Eliade remained in academia teaching and publishing, first at The Sorbonne in Paris and then at The University of Chicago where he was the Sewall L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor at the Divinity School and professor in the Committee on Social Thought. Eliade's breadth of religious knowledge was unparalleled and led him to several pioneering conclusions about the nature of religious cultures. His essays The Myth of the Eternal Return (1945) and The Sacred and the Profane (1959) secured Eliade's reputation as an eminent religious scholar and are considered seminal works in comparative religion. Using his fund of knowledge, Eliade passionately insists on the value of understanding primitive religious cultures in order to enrich our contemporary imagination of what it is to be human and sacred.

Eliade also wrote autobiographical works as well as novels, novellas, short stories, and plays. He approached fiction as a complimentary way to creatively explore the themes of his scholarly work. He often used devices of fantasy and the occult to create hidden worlds behind everyday reality. He believed imagination was essential to understanding the sacred in life. Also, erotic love was often a central theme in his fiction. Many of his stories are rooted in personal experience, and were written as a way to transcend the profane and find true meaning in his own life."

- Sujewa

Award winning new indie film DIRTY LAUNDRY opens in LA & NYC on December 7

Maurice Jamal's award winning indie film (the description of which reminds me a little of Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers) Dirty Laundry opens for theatrical play this Friday December 7 in NYC & LA. Here's the screening info:

Los Angeles
Mann Beverly Center Cinemas (Inside Beverly Center)
8522 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038

New York
Clearview Chelsea Theater
West 23rd Street (between 7th & 8th)
New York, NY 10011

Dirty Laundry synopsis from IMDB:

"A modern-day prodigal son story with a twist. It follows Patrick, a magazine writer, who seems to have the "perfect life," until one day, there is a knock at the door. On the other side stands a secret that brings him face to face with the traditional southern family he hasn't seen in over 10 years."

A little bit more about the movie from a comment at IMDB:

"a class-conscious New York-based magazine writer whose discovery of a ten-year old son leads him back to the family he left behind years ago in his hometown of Paris, Georgia."

From an interview with the director at NewsBlaze:

"NewsBlaze: I hear you held some great previews already.

Maurice: The film has been embraced with such warmth and joy by our sneak preview audiences and so many people have been amazing. I am humbled by the support and could not be more proud of the film and its story.

NewsBlaze: The big studios create some really weak black films. What do you say to people who believe in black film?

Maurice: "Dirty Laundry" needs you! The exclusive LA engagement starts Friday, December 7 and we need for it to open HUGE!

We need to blow out opening weekend and show that there is an audience for witty, heartfelt and genuine Black films. The only way we'll be successful is if we each push the film and get "butts in the seats."

I am a passionate advocate of indie film and the need for divergent voices in Black cinema. For it to survive, it's vitally important for communities to support quality films at the box office. In particular an industry city like L.A. can be tough because it seems like there's a "premiere" when someone opens a grocery store. (LOL)"

Read the rest of the NewsBlaze interview here.

Some Dirty Laundry links:


WINNER – Best Picture – Blockbuster Audience Award – American Black Film Festival

WINNER – Best Actor – Loretta Devine – American Black Film Festival

WINNER – Filmmaker of the Year – Maurice Jamal – CLIK Magazine Honors

OFFICIAL SELECTION – UrbanWorld Film Festival (New York)

OFFICIAL SELECTION – FRAMELINE Film Festival (San Francisco)

OFFICIAL SELECTION – OutFest Film Festival (Los Angeles)



“Dirty Laundry…belongs to Loretta Devine. Devine builds a jolly and touching character from the stock figure of a Georgia mom coming to terms with her disaffected gay son.” -- VARIETY

“Black audiences are ready to embrace just this type of film.” -- THE ADVOCATE, May 2007

“It’s an unusual story, and I knew a lot of people would want to see it.” -- LORETTA DEVINE, Black Enterprise, August 2007

“Dirty Laundry is good clean fun for the entire family!” -- FLO ANTHONY, celebrity journalist/radio and TV personality

“Dirty Laundry is a sweet, fun, family comedy with a big heart and a wild cast of outrageous, but real characters. It's as much fun as a raucous family dinner.” -- TOURÉ, novelist, TV host and former Contributing Editor Rolling Stone

“This movie will have a significant and positive impact on the Black community and our country. It is current, important and just in time...the movie is excellent!” -- KEITH BOYKIN, best selling author, host, BET-J's "My Two Cents"

“We sponsored the 12-city summer tour of Dirty Laundry because it is historically significant.” -- JOE SOLMONESE, Executive Director, The Human Rights Campaign

And once more, the official website for the film.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Humanists help bring "Fields of Fuel" to Sundance '08 :: Fuel site

About the Sundance '08 selected doc "Fields of Fuel", from the American Humanist Association press release:

" "Fields of Fuel" is a 90 minute documentary that was filmed over the past 12 years in 5 countries by a team of scientists and filmmakers lead by Tickell, who is an alternative energy activist and humanist. The film explores fossil fuel production and its impacts and provides innovative, ethical and practical solutions. Most importantly, it empowers individuals to change their own energy use as well as the energy use of their communities.

The film will be seen in theaters across the nation. A seven-month-long 50-city Community Action Campaign will bring the film to theaters, town halls, events and schools across the country, accompanied by a professional staff of scientists and educators. "Fields of Fuel" is one of only 15 documentary films that were accepted for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. 3,000 films were submitted to the Festival this year."

Read more here.


And here is the official website for the film. They are collecting donations there for the "national community action campaign" part of this film project.

- Sujewa

A gi-normous book: 30,000 Years of Art

Curious about art? Ya might want to check out the book 30,000 Years of Art.

A description of the book from the Amazon page linked to above:

"30,000 YEARS OF ART: THE STORY OF HUMAN CREATIVITY ACROSS TIME AND SPACE is the follow-up to Phaidon's phenomenally successful THE ART BOOK. This is an accessible, fun and informative compendium of world art that offers a fresh perspective on the whole of art history, from 28,000 BC to the present day. It debunks art historical classifications and hierarchies by presenting 1,000 masterworks of art in simple chronological order, demonstrating what was being created all over the globe at the same time. Only here can you find the Venus de Milo next to a mural from the Mayan civilization, or Velazquez' Las Meninas next to a painting from the Chinese Ming Dynasty, an Indian jade wine cup, a ritual Nepalese plaque, a Korean portrait, and Vermeer's Milkmaid. Each work has been chosen for its unique place in the history of art, and as a representative example of the art of its culture. By juxtaposing works of art from different cultures throughout time, this is the first book to offer a balanced appraisal of world art history, revealing the huge diversity of and similarity between man's artistic achievements.

Each entry includes a full-page color image of the work and a concise descriptive text that sets the work in context, explaining its contribution to the development of art and the medium in which it was created. A comprehensive index, illustrated timelines, and a glossary of terms and movements make this book an invaluable reference tool and teaching resource."

- Sujewa

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Drew a movie poster :: Need to screen DNO in Austin, LA, San Francisco in '08 :: DVDs

Got hold of a gigantic/poster size piece of drawing paper last night & drew a poster for Date Number One. It looks fun. I need to pick up some markers & color it in, and whenever I get it scanned, will post it up here.

Didn't do any traveling with DNO in '07. So, in '08 I want to show the movie in 3 cities that I didn't get to in the '06 screening travels: Austin, LA, and San Francisco. I had planned on getting to those cities in '06 or '07, didn't happen, so '08 it is - a brand new 365 day period of screening opportunities. If you live in Austin, LA or San Fran & you want to help me put together screenings, let me know.

I can display the new hand drawn poster at the next screening.

I think I'll be able to come to a final decision on DVD packaging (& actually make some) this weekend, so, maybe by Monday 12/10 I can have DNO DVDs available for sale - f-i-n-n-a-l-l-y
(no more bloggin' 'till the DVDs are on sale).

Final version of DNO is done.

- Sujewa

Sri Lankan cricket player breaks world record

Congratulations on an awesome job Sri Lankan cricket team & Muttiah Muralitharan. Read about Muralitharan's achievement that will no doubt have all of Sri Lanka & cricket fans in the sub-continent partyin', here. From the article:

"After fittingly breaking the world record for the most career test wickets Monday at Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy, the ground where he created the first of a long list of records as a schoolboy, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan said he never dreamed of coming this far. Muralitharan fell short in his bid to break the record on Warne's home territory when Sri Lanka toured Australia last month. But the off spinner said it was even better that he achieved the record in his home town."

And further down:

"The 35-year-old off spinner's achievement on the cricket field has made him a household name in Sri Lanka - and a source of hope and inspiration to a nation battered by decades of civil war.

His status as the only Tamil in the national team links together the two warring parties on the cricket field."

More at this article. Congrats again Muralitharan & team Sri Lanka!

- Sujewa

Monday, December 03, 2007

On the bright side, much of the world is at peace

December, the most important month of the holiday season in the US, of the 7th year of the new millenium, is here (or maybe the 6th year of the new 1000 years, based on whether you count 2000 or 2001 as the starting point), and, to me, it looks like that the majority of the people who live on this planet are living in places where there are no wars. By wars I mean large scale fighting; a good example would be battles of WW II, with hundreds of armed participants & much damage to cities and towns. Have the who-knows-for-how-long-now secular & religious projects (kingdoms that used various methods of organization & control go back several thousand years, Buddhism is over 2500 years old, Christianity is over 2000 years old, and the US - the most successful of the secular republics/one with a lot of religious activity nevertheless - is over 200 years old) that aimed, in part, to make nations & the world more peaceful been mostly successful? Looks like it. Here's what I am basing my statement on:

There are no wars or large scale organized fighting in much of India or China at the moment, same goes for much or all of Europe, Russia, Australia, Canada, US, and the rest of the Americas. There may be large scale fighting in Chechnya, in Russia. And there is relatively large scale fighting in Afganistan and Iraq. And as far as I know some fighting occurs from time to time in or near Israel. There are many small wars or relatively large scale fighting at various places of the African continent, and of course there is organized but small scale fighting in Sri Lanka. But, given the fact that the total population of India, China, Europe, Russia, US & the rest of the Americas, Australia, much of the middle east, most countries in Asia (so far not mentioned ones) and some African countries not affected by war at the moment is greater than the number of those people living in the handful of countries that have large scale fighting, I would have to say that much of the world at this point is at peace.

Pretty good, pretty good. Good job on keeping the world largely peaceful fellow humans. This will make our holiday celebrations more meaningful.

- Sujewa

Saturday, December 01, 2007

International Tribal Art & Culture Film Festival in India in 2008 :: IFFTAC-2008 Call for Entries

From a press release that I received today:

"VANYA (an enterprise of Deptt of Tribal welfare, Government of Madhya Pradesh) and iiMC(Indian Infotainment Media Corporation) are organising “International Festival of Films on Tribal Art & Culture 2008”(IFFTAC-2008) at Indore, Madhya Pradesh on 1,2 & 3 Feb 2008. It will be an International event that will bring the best films on Tribal culture and art from all over the world. Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh heads the board of patrons of ifftac-2008.

Under the stewardship of Shri Shriram Tiwari as the Festival director, IFFTAC-2008 will showcase films based on the theme of Tribal culture, art, religion, architecture, philosophy, traditions, mythology, history, life-style, food, costumes, jewellery, sports and various aspects associated with them. It will also offer awards and certificates to the participants. There is a competition and any film-maker can enter his/her film. There is no entry fee. Many renowned film personalities would grace the festival. Film makers from all over the country as well as the world have shown keen interest to attend the festival.

We cordially invite you to participate in the competitive section of the festival. Entry is free, open to all film makers… amateurs, students and professionals with respective separate competitive sections for them, and the last date for submission is Jan 10, 2008. There is no entry fee."

Here's their website.

- Sujewa

Karen "Green Party" Jennings is running for office in Annapolis! :)

I met Karen a couple of years ago at a screening I produced in Kensington, and I knew that she was always interested in making the world a better place, so it is exciting to hear that she is getting very directly involved in politics by running for an office in Annapolis. Check out her letter (most of it at least) to friends & family & support her any way you can if you like her politics & enthusiasm (she's got a website for further info, and the most urgent need seems to be for $500 for mailings):

"Dear friends and family,

You had to have known that this day would come... I am running for public office!
Specifically, I am running for the Annapolis, Maryland City Council in a special election to be held on December 19th. It is a special election because the city council representative for this district has resigned. The Green Party asked me to represent them in the election because I have been active in the community and a lot of people in the district know me. It is a part-time council, so I wouldn't be leaving my job to take office.

You can read my campaign webpage at http://

Because I am a Green Party Candidate, I had to collect 100 petition signatures to appear on the ballot. A local Republican blogger had this to say about me: "Also of note, Karen Jennings' petition included 175 signatures. The winner in Ward 4's special election had something like 150 votes, and although more people vote in Ward 2, Ms. Jennings' candidacy should not be taken lightly."

I have a large crew of volunteers that have been helping me to go door-to-door to talk with voters every weekend since the election was announced in late October. My campaign has also been covered in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Annapolis Capital newspapers.

With just 19 days left, we need to raise funds to cover our final mailing expenses. Postage is expensive and we need to raise over $500 in the next week to send out our final mailings. If you can help with a small donation, it would really make a difference. Checks can be made out to "Jennings for Annapolis" and mailed to P.O. Box 2230, Annapolis, MD 21404."

Here's Karen's campaign site again.

- Sujewa

Friday, November 30, 2007

Film Movement's Le Grand Voyage

I saw Le Grand Voyage (an On The Road in Europe & the Arab world story, except with a family member & some family drama), distributed by Film Movement, a few months back & liked it a lot. Here is a synopsis:

"A few weeks before his college entrance exams, Reda (Nicolas Cazale), a young man who lives in the south of France, finds himself obligated to drive his father to Mecca.

From the start, the journey looks to be difficult: Reda and his father (Mohamed Majd) have nothing in common. The wide cultural and generational gap between the two is worsened by the lack of communication between the two. Reda finds it hard to accommodate his father, who demands respect for himself and his pilgrimage.

From France, through Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan to Saudi Arabia- the two will embark on a road trip to Mecca that will change their lives."

Le Grand Voyage was directed by Ismael Ferroukhi.

Find out more about the movie & Film Movement here. Movie is available on DVD.

- Sujewa

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Paisan sounds interesting

I have not seen it yet, but this 1948 New York Times review of the movie Paisan makes it sound very interesting, kind of like some contemporary indie dramas & comedies I've seen. Here is a little bit from the review:

"It is useless to attempt an explanation, in familiar and concrete terms, of its basic theme and nature, for it is not an ordinary film—neither in form nor dramatic construction nor in the things it has to say. In some ways, it is the antithesis of the classic "story film," and certainly it throws off glints of meaning which are strangely unfamiliar on the screen. Possibly for some persons who are accustomed to the routine sort of film, it will be completely bewildering and leave a sad sense of emptiness. But at least it cannot fail to rattle the windowpanes of your eyes. And for many it will crash into the consciousness and leave the emotions limp."

Read the rest of the review here.

- Sujewa

This guy is a rock star in Pakistan

Have not seen Man Push Cart yet, but am looking forward to checking it out. Here is the trailer:

- Sujewa

Ramin "Chop Shop" Bahrani interview :: Chop Shop description

Here is a little bit from the Pop Syndicate interview with director Bahrani re: movie Chop Shop:

" Q: It was a very gritty, New York film but it could have been filmed anywhere. Although we usually think of kids who fall between the cracks living in a 3rd world environment. Why New York?

A: Because the location really is in New York. Also to help erase ideas of entitlement and the brainwashing of colonialism that spur on false classifications such as “3rd world.” Categories like 3rd and 1st world, or East and West, or the “Orient” were shrewdly created in order for one to exploit the other, economically, mentally, and imaginatively."

Read the rest of the interview here.

And an intro to Chop Shop (i believe this came from the AFI Fest):

"Chop Shop

USA, 2007, 84 min, 35 MM

DIR: Ramin Bahrani
SCR: Ramin Bahrani, Bahareh Azimi
PROD: Jeb Brody, Marc Turtletaub, Lisa Muskat
DP: Michael Simmonds
ED: Ramin Bahrani
PROD DES: Richard Wright
EXEC PROD: Peter Saraf
MUS: M. Lo
CAST: Alejandro Polanco, Isamar Gonzales, Rob Sowulski, Carlos Zapata, Ahmad Razvi

Combining the powers of observance and understatement, director Ramin Bahrani is able to render an emotional tale of two siblings who struggle to stay together and get their own little piece of the American dream.

Small in stature but huge in ambition, 12-year-old Dominican orphan Alejandro works every angle in his struggle to support himself and his older sister. He lives and works in an auto-body repair shop in a sprawling junkyard on the outskirts of Queens, New York. CHOP SHOP is a portrait of a young boy navigating his way through a chaotic adult world. Set in a stunning and unique location, it is subtle and simple, but tells a profound story about the people who live, work, and dream there.

With its terrific performances from both Alejandro Polanco (a first-time actor found in a public school in Manhattan) and Isamar Gonzales, CHOP SHOP is a thoughtful, evocative portrayal of family, longing and the chaotic nature of life. Bahrani firmly establishes himself as a bright light in cinema and a passionately inventive filmmaker."

Find out more about Chop Shop & Bahrani at this Noruz Films website.

- Sujewa

Galaxy Quest deleted scenes from YouTube

Saw Galaxy Quest again, still very funny. Some deleted scenes, found on YouTube:

- Sujewa

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Alex "Midnight Kiss" Holdridge interview at Film Threat

From the interview:

" What was the inspiration for your film "In Search of a Midnight Kiss"?

I was dumped, flat broke, at a career low after watching my life fall apart in three months and working at a video store on New Year's Eve when I started to consider, "In Search of a Midnight Kiss." I wanted to watch a really funny and cynical movie about how ridiculous New Year's Eve was when you were dateless and depressed. So that led to thinking about that nether zone of the year between New Year's and Christmas when all the lonely people are hanging around their families going crazy and thinking about the next year and what they will do differently. So Sara Simmonds (Vivian in "ISOAMK") and I walked the streets of downtown talking about this movie and discovered all of these amazing locations. We could not believe that no one had captured the beautiful and post-apocalyptic downtown. That set the wheels in motion, but it took getting the axe with my studio project and a phone call from my friend Robert Murphy (cinematographer of "ISOAMK") saying that he had just bought an HD camera and was coming to L.A. for a week to finally put pen to paper. It was Dec. 26th a year later. I then wrote the 130 page script by Jan. 8th when we began shooting. Robert didn't even know we were shooting a feature. He figured it was a short since we only had 8 days at the time. On the first day he looked over and saw the 130 page script. He didn’t want to ask me such a question, so he whispered to Scoot, 'Is that the script we are shooting?' thinking there was no way we could film that many pages. But we were so desperate and motivated having the chance to shoot again, that we made it happen."

Read the rest at Film Threat.

Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link!

- Sujewa

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Humanists to honor Golden Compass author

And I thought it was just a kids movie. From the press release:

"The American Humanist Association announced today that Philip Pullman, esteemed author of the controversial book, "The Golden Compass"--which has been made into a movie scheduled for release December 7--will be honored with the International Humanist Award in Washington DC in June. The award decision comes near the end of a two-month protest by the Catholic League, which has charged that the book and film are "anti-Catholic" and that the film, by being less confrontational, is part of a deceitful "stealth campaign" to promote an "anti-religious" book series.

"We didn't hear complaints about a pro-evangelical stealth campaign when C.S. Lewis' ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ was made into a film," noted Fred Edwords, American Humanist Association director of communications. "No humanists organized protests nor did the Catholic League complain of evangelical Protestant deceit. So why must we hear this nonsense now? Philip Pullman has provided humanistic fantasy stories that cut across religious barriers and can be enjoyed by most everyone." "

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flip Video camera: $180, YouTube friendly

As I was checking out a DVD at my local Blockbuster Video store earlier today, I saw a small video camera called Flip Video for sale there. Price: $180, stores 1 hour worth of video, looks like it is very easy to use & the best part is that it has a USB arm that plugs into the computer; no cable needed. Looks like it is a cheap & easy to use YouTube machine - a device created pretty much for people interested in easily capturing home/amature/non-professional quality video & getting it up on YouTube & other similar sites. I guess this camera has been around for a few months now, but the first time I found out about it was today. Might make a nice gift for someone who is interested in getting some stuff up on YouTube but is not interested in doing the post-production stuff that comes with shooting on tape. Some Flip Video links:

Official website

CNN Money article on the camera

geeksugar article

- sujewa

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Purple Violets trailer :: flick available from iTunes now

Check out the trailer for Ed Burns's new movie Purple Violets here. Violets in now available for download/purchase from iTunes.

Here is a synopsis of Violets (from Apple's site):

"Set in lower Manhattan, PURPLE VIOLETS is a relationship comedy about four friends from college ready for change. PATTI PETERSON (Selma Blair) is a promising writer, but her marriage and conventional job keep her from her dream. She longs to return to her writing, especially after running into her first love BRIAN CAHILL (Patrick Wilson), a successful crime novelist. KATE (Debra Messing) is Patti’s best friend since college. She’s a tough-talking schoolteacher who plays therapist to all Patti’s problems, while she’s got a few of her own. Despite Brian Cahill’s gorgeous Tribeca loft and perfect house in the Hamptons, he longs to write works of greater literary value. MURPHY (Ed Burns), his lawyer and best friend from college still carries a flame for his former girlfriend Kate, even though their relationship ended badly years ago, and she still holds a major grudge. When Patti sells Murphy a new apartment, and Brian publishes his personal novel, these old friends reconnect in unexpected ways with surprising results. PURPLE VIOLETS is a funny, yet touching story of four friends finding what they need to change their lives."

- Sujewa

Ed Burns interview re: Purple Violets/iTunes at MovieMaker

check out the interview at MovieMaker.

here is a segement:

"MM: Since you are the first person to premiere a feature on iTunes, you get that added press, too.

EB: There is that, yeah. We never really factored that in or gave that much thought cause the press, it still may very well prove to be not necessarily positive. I think it was more about… none of my films have played theatrically in St. Louis since 1996. There are plenty of people there who like my stuff, so maybe now they can see it on the day it opens.

MM: Exactly. Is there any thing you can see though as a threat to the success of this experiment?

EB: I don’t, you know. You’re a filmmaker, and especially as a kid in film school, you dream of sitting in the movie theater and seeing yourself projected on a big screen. I mean, that’s why I think people become filmmakers and actors. You fall in love with the environment and the feeling you get sitting in a theater with an audience. That being said, my movies to date haven’t been cinematic experiences. My movies are small, talky films about people wrestling with human issues. It isn’t about great set pieces or action or special effects. Do I really want people to watch my film on their iPhone? No. But I feel like I can’t stay in love with the old model in the same way that… an audiophile [will] talk to me about an MP3 that’s lacking in quality [and you] can only listen to that record on vinyl. That may be true--maybe it sounds better on vinyl--but that is not our current reality. Sounds fine on my iPod."

read the rest here.

check out the Purple Violets trailer here, looks good.

- sujewa

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hollywood actors to appear in Speechless web video campaign to support the WGA

From Deadline Hollywood Daily:

"On Thanksgiving Day (November 22), a group of Writers Guild Of America members will begin posting Public Service Announcements featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent as part of an independent WGA membership's "Speechless" campaign conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff. For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors will be taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet -- the very medium which is at the center of the current WGA labor strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

The spots will begin appearing on Thursday morning which will begin posting Thanksgiving Day and run exclusively on through Sunday night. Beginning Monday, they can be found on with links on and every day thereafter during the duration of the strike.

Included are SAG talent such as Sean Penn, Holly Hunter, Laura Linney, Alan Cumming, Jay Leno, Harvey Keitel, Kate Beckinsale, Tina Fey, Tim Robbins, Gary Marshall, David Schwimmer, Patricia Clarkson, James Franco, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Martin Sheen, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, Andre 3000, Chazz Palminteri, Jason Bateman, Christine Lahti, Patricia Arquette, Jenna Elfman, Olivia Wilde, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Eva Longoria, Justine Bateman, Joshua Jackson, Rosanna Arquette, Diane Ladd, Rebecca Romjin, Minnie Driver, Nicollette Sheridan, Robert Patrick, Matthew Perry, Ed Asner, and America Ferrera and the cast of Ugly Betty. Arrangements have been made to also shoot Woody Allen, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jane Fonda, Marisa Tomei, Ethan Hawke, Jason Alexander, Charlize Therone, Minnie Driver, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Many, many more are also in the works."

Read the rest here.

The "stars" are comin' to the web on Thanksgiving Day to support the WGA; pretty exciting stuff.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bamboo Laptop

Coming in '08, read about it here.

Now, in a somewhat unrelated note, this might tie in with one of my "wacky" theories about ancient civilizations having computers; what if we eventually make all computers completely (& relatively quickly) bio-degradable, then, in a couple of hundred years after a city is abandoned, there may not be any trace of that city having computers left for future civilizations to discover. This kind of thing could have happened in the past. I think that it is possible that flight, nuclear weapons, computers, etc. could have been invented & used at some earlier points in the 200,000 year long human past; or that as our modern age discovers them, this may not be the first time that those high tech gadgets have made an appearance on Earth. Perhaps that's a theory best left to a sci-fi movie script :) But, the drive to create both high-tech & eco-friendly products does make me wonder.

- Sujewa



Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

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BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer on Vimeo

Breakthrough Weekend teaser trailer on YouTube

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