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Showing posts from April, 2007

Here's an idea for a movie: a movie about a bunch of British indie filmmakers trying to make a road movie

This amusing article in the Guardian made me think of an idea for some plucky UK based indie filmmakers: a movie, would have to be a comedy, about a group of quirky (yes, would have to be) British filmmakers trying to make a road movie; you know, the kind that the US releases in "bundles" (Little Miss Sunshine, The Puffy Chair, etc.). Could be funny, could work. If anyone in the UK pulls this off, lemme know.

Here's the link to the Guardian article about American road movies (including a Puffy Chair mention) & the lack of British road movies.

- Sujewa

Washington Post article wonders why Filmfest DC is not bigger & more famous

Read it here.

Some people in DC want the fest to be famous like Sundance or SXSW, the fest's director Tony Gittens is happy with how things are.

Filmfest DC is 20 years old, has a budget of about $410,000, and the '06 version of the fest reported attendance by 34,000 people.

Check out the long & informative article here.

- Sujewa

1 year anniversary of Date Number One premiere in 15 days! :: indieWIRE's Blogs We Love page readers are probably pretty tired of reading about DNO :)

Man, things in the DIY indie film world can take a loooong time to get done. It's like fighting underwater with a non hydro-dynamic haircut (and here i am hoping that hydro-dynamic means the same thing as aero-dynamic, except, u know, for water). Anyway, the months have rolled by, this May 13 will be the 1 year anniversary of the World Premiere of Date Number One.

I better have the DVD available for sale before 5/13.

Once the DVD is ready, I can get busy with some other DNO distribution & promotional things that I want to try.

The other important project right now is trying to get a ton of DC area press coverage for the 1 week DNO run in Kensington; July 12 - 18. Scroll a few posts down for more info. on that run.

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Topic # 2:

There are two ways most people who encounter this blog end up doing so; either by dialing up the blog directly or by seeing my blog posts at indieWIRE's Blogs page (under Blogs We Love) - which carries a portion of each of my entries on their Blogs page …

Sense of Cinema article on the beat generation artists & filmmaking

i am posting this as a part of the Beats & Film blog-a-thon, happening 4/27 - 9/6 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Kerouac's On The Road

There is an article at Sense of Cinema about beat generation artists & their relationship with independent/underground filmmaking of the time. The article is called "A brief introduction to beat (in) film", written by Jack Sargeant in 2000. Here are a few lines:

"In late '50s and early '60s America the beat experiment in film was primarily linked to the emergence of underground film (a.k.a. New American Cinema). Perhaps the most famous beat film was created by two young artists, the painter Alfred Lesley and the photographer Robert Frank, who began to collaborate with Jack Kerouac on an idea for a film adaptation of a short play by Kerouac entitled The Beat Generation or The New Amaraen Church. The film - eventually entitled Pull My Daisy (1959) - was cast with leading members of the beat l…

Wow, On The Road is gonna be 50 years old this year, dig it baby :: Beats & Film Blog-A-Thon

On September 5, 1957, Jack Kerouac's novel On The Road was published. The book was controversial in its time, but is now considered an American classic, and is taught in high school. The book's focus on travel, exotic religion & philosophy, jazz, sex, and the lives of several unconventional young writers was considered rebellious and the book has been popular with segments of several generations of youth. The initial wave of youth who were seemingly reflective of the kind of people Kerouac wrote about were dubbed The Beat Generation by the mainstream press of the time.

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How is that film adaptation of On The Road coming along anyway?

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Beats & Film Blog-A-Thon

To celebrate the occasion, let's do a Beats & Film blog-a-thon. Post something about an instance where a Beat writer or something significantly related to the Beats and cinema comes together (Allen Ginsburg in a movie, a Kerouac type character in an episode of Quantum Leap, film by Robert Frank with a few Be…

Nothing new, a new label on an old thing, but the extra press attention sure is nice: Filmmaker Mag article on Mumblecore

Twenty and thirtysomething (& slightly younger & slightly older) indie filmmakers have been making movies about or inspired by events in their lives and their friends lives since, oh, about the early 1980's or before (when was Return of the Secaucus Seven made? maybe Permanent Vacation and Downtown 81 are better examples). But, right now it is cool that a handful of filmmakers who are friends with each other are getting their blogger friends to write about them & their movies under the banner of Mumblecore. A DIY filmmaking & self-distribution friendly promotion model that can be used by other groups of filmmakers and their friends to make their films stand out from the pack of no-budget indies that come out each year at festivals or on DVD or through DIY screenings. Mumblecore crosses into print in a pretty big way, I think, with this Filmmaker Magazine article. My favorite Mumblecore movies so far are: The Puffy Chair, Mutual Appreciation, Dance Party USA, i…

Mark Andersen interview (from 2001, still very good)

A Conversation with DC Based Humanitarian Activist & Punk Author Mark Andersen
By Sujewa Ekanayake

[from 2001, re-posted here as a part of the Humanitarian Activism Blog-A-Thon project]On a warm, sunny July afternoon in 2001, I visited the Washington, DC based humanitarian activist, punk and author Mark Andersen (and his cat Demo) in order to learn more about Mark’s activist work. Mark is a founding member of the punk activist collective Positive Force. He has also worked for the Washington Peace Center and has volunteered with Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS). At the time of this interview he was doing outreach work for the Emmaus Services for the Aging, helping to bring about an artist/activist center called the Flemming Center and was a recently published author. Mark’s book "Dance Of Days: Two Decades Of Punk In The Nation’s Capital" (co-authored by Mark Jenkins) was published by Soft Skull Press in early 2001. The following conversation touches on many di…

The Stop All This Violence & Killing Blog-A-Thon/Humanitarian Activism Blog-A-Thon

All these wars & fighting & killing around the planet is making it difficult for us to be happy. So, those of us interested in peace must speak up, talk, tell, push, yell, maneuver & force combatants and killers and other people who use violence to try to achieve their objectives to stop. So, a project: eternal anti-violence blog-a-thon: people around the planet blogging about ending violence, celebrating anti-violence success stories, blogging about great strategies and examples - courses of action that take people away from killing & maiming & violence as a conflict resolution tool. Also blogging about related issues: ending poverty, hunger, etc. - dealing with stuff that leads to frustration & violence. This project might lead to some good things. Project starts today. Open ended, no closing date set at the moment. I am going to blog about the topic as often as I can, several times a week. If you post something related to ending wars…

July 1971 Playboy interview with John Cassavetes

It's a 13 page document, lots of good stuff to read.

Here is a sample:

"After that, we took Faces to Montreal and Toronto, where it did well, and then screened it for the Venice Film Festival committee. We got admitted to the festival - and walked out with five awards. We then sold the film to the Walter Reade Organization, which released it here and in Canada. And, surprise of surprises: I had an artistic and financial hit on my hands - this time in my own country. Proving to me that it was worth all the nonsense I went through. Proving to me that moviemakers don't have to spend their time doing garbage they hate. And when Husbands performed the same way Faces did, it gave me the opportunity to line up just about whatever projects I may want to do without having to sweat the money. Unbelievable as this may sound and for whatever it's worth, I'm doing just what I want to with my life and on my own terms, without any hassling whatsoever. And never have I felt…

Somebodies sounds interesting

Heard a tiny bit about this film, am in the process of learning more about it. Roger Ebert had some very nice things to say about Somebodies, check it out here, from early '06, from Sundance.

UPDATE: This looks like the official website for Somebodies.

And here's the blog, written by Somebodies director Hadjii (yeah, he only uses one name).

About Hadjii, from Somebodies website:

"Writer/director/actor/humorist Hadjii was born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with a BA degree in Telecommunications Arts. In 2004, he was a finalist in the Image Film Festival Perfect Pitch Competition with his pitch for his original screenplay “My Father’s Business.” His 2002 short film “The Making of Brick City” won 2nd place at the 2002 Peach City Short Film Festival and was featured in the 2003 Hollywood Black Film Festival. He was also a semi-finalist in the 2002 Hollywood Black Film Festival St…

Entourage plus more realism/sadness/darkness = Unscripted, another awesome HBO show

HBO continues to put the rest of the filmed entertainment making industry to shame with their awesome shows (Rome, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc.). How does HBO keep coming up with hit after hit (actually, i am not sure if the HBO shows i dig are really "hits", but HBO does keep cranking out some very excellent work, as far as my eyes & brain are concerned)?

Anyway, if you are an Entourage fan and you want to see more along those lines but perhaps with characters with less access to Hollywood success & more struggle, then check out HBO's show Unscripted. It is out on DVD (probably has been for some time, i just saw 10 or 12 episodes for the first time yesterday). Unscripted follows a young actor & his friends, all actors (unlike in Entourage), as they tackle Hollywood. The tone is less light, more dramatic. There is a lot of fun & funny moments in the show also. But generally, Unscripted is darker than Entourage. But very good, check it out, …

Heartfelt Good-byes to James Lyons at indieWIRE & Filmmaker

About James Lyons (1960 - 2007), from Filmmaker Magazine's blog:

"If you didn’t know Jim personally and just recognize his name from movie credits, then you most probably remember him as an editor. His credits include four films by Todd Haynes – Poison, Safe, Velvet Goldmine and Far from Heaven – as well as Spring Forward, The Virgin Suicides, Silver Lake Life, and, most recently, A Walk into the Sea: The Danny Williams Story. The latter, a documentary by Esther Robinson about her uncle’s relationship with Andy Warhol and The Factory, won the Teddy at Berlin this year and receives its U.S. premiere at Tribeca this month. He was also an AIDS activist and educator."

Here is the link to indieWIRE's tribute page to Lyons.

Here is a paragraph from Spring Forward's director Tom Gilroy's entry regarding Lyons, from the indieWIRE tribute page:

"Although Jim was a dear friend and peer, he was, in many ways, the closest thing I ever had to a mentor. To me, he was the …

Notes from a Jon Jost screening

Long before I became a DIY filmmaker, around 1990-91, I checked out a book by Rick Schmidt called Feature Filmmaking At Used Car Prices from the Gaithersburg, MD library. In it was a mention of one Jon Jost - super independent & self-reliant filmmaker. And of course by the time I first read about Jost he had been making real indie/DIY movies for probably longer than I had been alive. So, after all this time, it is great to hear that Jost is still going strong; selling lots of DVDs at well attended screenings full of passionate audience members and tackling complicated and important topics with his movies (most recently Homecoming, and La Lunga Ombra - read about both at this LA Weekly article). Read about the experience of attending a recent Jost screening at Jerry Lentz's blog.

Here is a sample from the post:

"Jon Jost was everything I expected and more. He looks like a Social Studies teacher I had, but acts like the Wood Shop teacher we all loved because he wasn't af…

Third World Cruelty: A Human Rights Watch doc on India's Caste System

A number of people larger than half of the total US population, about 160 million people, are forced to live in sub-human/less than second class citizenship (both legally and in all other areas of life) conditions in India right now. Get all the sad and enraging news at this Human Rights Watch document: India's Dalits: between atrocity and protest.

The same article can be found at the website Open Democracy, with comments and related links.

- Sujewa

We grieve with you Virginia Tech

As everyone in the country and probably the world must know by now, a horrible tragedy happened earlier today at Virginia Tech; just a couple of hours from where I write this, at a college with many connections to families & individuals throughout the DC area. 33 people are dead, a senseless loss, and thousands of others are deeply affected by the shootings today. It is difficult to come up with words that seem sufficient, words that are able to properly deal with the magnitude of the loss experienced today by the Virginia Tech community. I am sure that millions of us throughout the country and the world grieve with you tonight Virginia Tech. We wish you the best in dealing with today's tragic events, and many of us will no doubt gladly do what we can to try to make things even a little better for you.

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LINKS

Here is the link to a blog by filmmaker and Virginia Tech professor Paul Harrill.

Virginia Tech's website

Google search with links to many stories re: Virginia Tech trag…

Jon Moritsugu's FAME WHORE available for rent on DVD at Potomac Video in Chevy Chase DC :: Review

For all you DC area readers: my favorite video store - Potomac Video near Chevy Chase Circle in DC - now has DIY/real indie filmmaker Jon Moritsugu's excellent & accessible flick Fame Whore for rent on DVD. Here's the link to the store. Below is the review of the film that I wrote & published in this blog last year.

FAME WHORE Review

Review originally published 9/27/06

Jon Moritsugu's 1997 comedy-drama Fame Whore (due out soon on DVD) tells 3 stories: 1) about a tennis pro, #1 in the world - as he often tells everyone, or rather yells at everyone, one of the most annoying characters in cinema, and the turn his wealthy & successful life takes when a French newspaper outs him as being gay, 2) about an artist with very little talent, with I would say anti-talent, for singing attempting to master & create careers in music, video, photography, film and several other mediums of expression, played well & hilariously by Amy Davis, 3) about a lonely & friendl…

10 Features in 12 Months project changes to 10 Features in 30 Months

To make life a little bit easier for myself, the goal of creating & releasing 10 new feature films in 12 months (see post below) has been changed to 10 new features in 30 months; May '07 - October '09. This change allows me more time to work on getting distribution started a bit better for each finished film. So, a new feature every 3 months. Expect the first of the 10 new features to be available to view at screenings & on DVD in August.

Other upcoming major projects over here at Wild Diner Films:

- Date Number One on DVD starting at some point this month!

- Date Number One July 12 - 18 run in Kensington, MD

- The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival (KRIFF), September 6 - 9, Kensington, MD

Minor Project:

- Microinvesting in a real indie film. In May will figure out who/which project gets the money ($500).

Projects w/ Details To Be Determined:

- Date Number One 1 week or longer runs in NYC, LA, Chicago
- Also DNO for 1 week or longer runs in San Francisco, Seattle, Baltim…

10 new features in 12 months project

So I got a second day job - assistant manager at a very cool video store in DC, started it last week. This will mean that although my 5 day work week will be much busier, I will have some extra money, a little more so than before, every week (plus health insurance! - mom will be happy :). I've got 2 days off (mostly off) from day job work every week, so that's 8 days a month, definitely enough time to shoot a "no" budget DV feature. There seems to be a shortage of good real indie movies by minority directors, or at least good real indie movies featuring minority & multi-ethnic or integrated casts, and I have a bunch of unproduced scripts & a ton of new ideas for "no" budget features, so, all this equals:

Sujewa's 10 Features In 12 Months Project

Bangor Films' Todd Verow & co. did something similar a few years ago; made several DV features in a short amount of time. So this is definitely doable. The goal is; from May '07 until Ma…

"Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die? on DVD at Potomac Video" post link

Explore it all here.

And here is the link to a New York Times review of filmmaker Laurence Jarvik's documentary Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?, regarding the role America played (or rather, sadly did not play when she had the chance to rescue many future victims) regarding the holocaust.

Here is a little bit from Vincent Canby's 1982 review (linked above):

"The film is full of uncomfortable testimony to the effect that this country's leaders were well aware of the form that Hitler's ''final solution'' was taking as early as August 1942, but that any concerted efforts to save the victims were sidetracked until the formation of the War Refugee Board early in 1944."

Here is Laurence Jarvik's blog.

The doc is out on DVD from Kino.

- Sujewa

ps - i work at potomac video now (2nd day job, started recently - will help with all the '07 film projects of mine), very cool dc video store; great collection of old movies, got a section of Jarmusch films,…

White Lies, Black Sheep

James "Afro-Punk" Spooner's new film is titled White Lies, Black Sheep. Here is a part of the plot description of the movie:

"A.J.'s real name is Ajamu Talib. His dislike for his African name is the least of his problems, still it says a lot about him. Brooklyn born and bred yet outcast by his peers, his only escape was music. A.J. found freedom in rock n roll. Tight clothes, straightened hair, popular with girls and partying every night, he is fully entrenched, in the debaucherous New York rock n roll scene. For once he feels like everyone else. Well almost. He begins to find that his chosen community, the white rock world, only seems to run smoothly for white rockers. A series of events force him to recognize his friends both exotify him and are in denial of his blackness. Black, but not "really" black. What's a young black rocker to do? "

Read the rest here at WLBS's MySpace page.

- Sujewa

9 questions re: race & indie film in America :: the shorter version/intro to Conversation About "Ethnic/"Racial" Diversity post

For the recent & longer post on this subject, go here.

Otherwise, check out these questions, offer your opinion, & please keep the tone of your comments professional or semi-pro. thanksalot!

9 Questions Regarding Race & Independent Film In America

(and by independent film i mean real independent film: outside of Hollywood/Indiewood, low budget, no-star stuff. mostly festival screened & self-distributed stuff. such as Mumblecore movies, DIY movies, etc.)

1 - Is the US indie film scene/industry "ethnically" & gender wise sufficiently diverse at this point?

2 - What exactly is sufficient diversity?

3 - I don't see a lot of minority & also female indie filmmakers getting a lot of press from indie film blogs & websites (besides mine :), & the occasional indieWIRE article) but is that just perception (as in my eyes only picking up certain stuff) or is there actually a huge lack of coverage on good indie films made by non-"white" US male f…

New York African Film Festival panel notes by the Film Panel Notetaker

Here is a sample:

"(MN) There are about 700-1,000 films made a year in Nigeria under the term “Nollywood.” These films are very popular and accessible and are not on the par of artistic/independent films. How can we reverse this trend?

(JA) Not sure you want to reverse it. In fact, Africans were some of the first to be at the table of cinema. Images of Africans exist throughout the archives of cinema. In the 1970s & 1980s, curfews came in place. You couldn’t go out at night so cinemas closed down then. The idea if Nollywood is artistic or not is neither here nor there."

Check out the rest here.

- Sujewa

Hey, Let's Have A Real Conversation About "Ethnic"/"Racial" Diversity In Indie Film!

I am sure it will be fun.

This idea came out of a comment that I just left about Mumblecore & "ethnic"/"racial" diversity at Cinephiliac. Here is my comment, and it quotes a comment left at Cinephiliac by David Redmon (David's words are in quotes):

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David,

Re: "Identity politics is a wave born out of and a reaction to the deadening 60s politics in the US."

Maybe.

" It's a strategy used to criticize any aspect of a genre or movement simply by launching a critique of race, able bodied, gender, sexuality, age, eye color, hair style, clothing, etc etc etc."

OK.

"Therefore, I hope critiques against any so called "movement" can be as original as the movement itself."

Hmmm. That's a difficult one to figure out. In the case of M-core, it is not very original, people have been making low budget indie movies about twentysomethings at least since the early 80's or earlier. Jarmusch's Permanent…