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Saturday, June 30, 2007

On Tap magazine's got an article on Date Number One





























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DC's print & web publication On Tap, which deals with area entertainment & night life, has an article about Date Number One in its July issue.

Here is the opening paragraph of the article:

" Having already screened in New York City and Seattle in 2006, Sujewa Ekanayake’s film Date Number One, featuring a number of the District’s indie film actors, will have its first weeklong run in Kensington, Maryland this month. Comprised of five different stories, all about first dates, the film has been described as “about as charming as they come,” by Michael Tully, a SXSW film festival selected filmmaker, who continued on to say Date Number One “presents a world in which cultures don’t clash, they mesh.” Chuck Tryon, a media professor, treaded along this tangent as well, writing that the 30-somethings’ search for love in Ekanayake’s film “might be understood as the anti-Crash depiction of life in the city.”

Read the rest here.

Print copies of the magazine can be found in many metro train stations, bars, restaurants and other venues in DC.

Thanks On Tap!

UPDATE 7/2/07: Just picked up a few print copies of the magazine; Date Number One is listed on the cover - very good. I am going to have some copies of the mag at the Armory during the 7/12 - 18 run, for people to check out.

GreenCine Daily mentions the On Tap article here. Thanks GCD!

- Sujewa

Festwood & friends

Foreignwood = all manner of non-US based/financed/controlled filmmaking & distribution. The Cannes film festival is a famous foreignwood event. A lot of foreignwood movies never play in American movie theaters (but there is always DVDs & GreenCine & maybe Jaman too to pick up the slack).

Hollywood = the major US filmmaking & distribution industry; big money, wide distribution in the US.

Indiewood = the "place" in the US where real independent and hollywood meet and give birth to Napoleon Dynamite type movies, also the "place" that produces low budget & "edgy" hollywood movies that receive relatively wide art house & beyond distribution. You should be able to catch a lot of indiewood movies at Landmark theaters, also smaller independent theaters that program Landmark type stuff & on IFC.

Festwood = the US independent film festival scene. it is possible for a real indie film to do very well in Festwood but have no impact in Indiewood or Hollywood - and some films don't need to make it to the H-wood or I-wood level or are better off without it. Sundance film festival & SXSW film festival are two of the bigger festwood events in America.
(perhaps festwood can also include film festivals world wide, not just US based ones, since festivals in other countries can have an effect on what films get programmed for festivals in the US, and this happens in the other direction too)

DIY = working outside all four above mentioned arenas & avenues of film production & distribution, a great & chosen place for some, a place that most US indie filmmakers must start at 'cause the other four arenas are progressively less accessible to "no"/"low" budget & "unknown" US indie filmmakers.

note: it is possible for one project or one filmmaker to be part of several of these arenas at the same time.

What do you think about this breakdown? Might it be useful in making sense of the gigantic planet wide practice of filmmaking & distribution, for US based indie filmmakers? Lemme know.

- Sujewa

Friday, June 29, 2007

Several '06 filmmaker/bloggers (Schnack, self, Hansen, Swanberg, etc.) having successes right about now - mid '07

Just a quick observation: about this time last year & a little bit earlier Chris Hansen, myself, Joe Swanberg, and AJ Schnack were blogging about our movies & discussing indie/DIY production & distribution. And now, about a year later, we've got some very interesting developments happening with various feature film projects: Hansen's American Messiah (his first feature) announced a significant distribution deal, my Date Number One (my second feature/third long project - over 1 hour long; more info. on previous projects here) is less than two weeks away from having a week long run in the DC area, Swanberg's Hannah Takes the Stairs (his third feature) announced a distribution deal with IFC's First Take, and AJ's Kurt Cobain About A Son (his second feature) is winning raves (and at least one significant award that i know of) from coast to coast at film fests. This is just an off-the-top-of-my-head list, by no means complete, because I am sure there are other filmmaker/bloggers that I first heard about in early '06 or had some web interactions with who are making significant progress in their filmmaking careers right now (leave notes in Comments re: some of these projects please). Explore each of the stories/projects mentioned from the links above & celebrate the fact that a new crop of low budget ultra-indie/DIY inclined filmmaker/bloggers are moving forward, taking big steps, with their filmmaking endeavors. And since we blog we will be leaving a record for future low budget & DIY distro inclined indie filmmakers to, maybe, get some useful tips & strategies from - let's hope :)

UPDATE: Let's not forget Mike Tully - his Silver Jew (follow up to last year's Cocaine Angel) is making the fest rounds & is being received well - plus Tully is planning a new feature, and Susan Buice & Arin Crumley's Four Eyed Monsters (their first feature) - the much talked about DIY/self-distro film that recently did an innovative collaboration using YouTube & the Spout site. All three of those filmmakers were active this time last year with their blogs & movies.

- and I am waiting to see filmmaker/blogger* David Lowery bust out with a feature this year. He wrote about DIY film distribution early last year; he writes well & has made some excellent shorts (on top of being a co-director on the collaborative feature Dead Room).

* filmmaker/blogger = flogger? :)

- and let's not forget Blake Calhoun of Killing Down fame.

- Sujewa

Date Number One's MySpace page updated

Added the 7/12 - 18 screenings info. to the Date Number One's MySpace page, plus a couple more things/changes. Will add new clips from the movie, maybe a trailer or two, stills in the coming 3-4 days. Go become our MySpace pal if ya haven't yet. Thanks!

- Sujewa

Amir Motlagh's new album available through Amazon

Filmmaker/musician Amir Motlagh's band Shanks and the Dreamers (MySpace) has a new album called A Day Late: Instrumentals for Illegal Aliens, available now through Amazon.

I've heard it (well, an earlier version of it), good stuff (it made a barely moving DC traffic jam very bearable one day a couple of months ago - also I was able to daydream to the music), get yerself a copy.

- Sujewa

Jim Jarmusch sighting

Check it out here at Found In Brooklyn blog.

- Sujewa

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Reeler writes about the Afro-Punk Festival

Man, there are like 5 very interesting articles at the Reeler right now.

Check out the one about the Afro-Punk festival.

Also, when you are there, check out the interview with the director of In Between Days.

The Reeler is bringing the good stuff - in significant quantities - this week.

- Sujewa

Is Herzog's Rescue Dawn racist? - discussion at The Reeler

Check out the article re: Rescue Dawn at The Reeler, and the comments, here.

- Sujewa

Doc maker stars Esther Robinson & Doug Block talk with fiction maker/DIY distro star Lance Weiler

Check out the conversation here at The Workbook Project.

Esther Robinson is the director of the award winning doc A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory.

Doug Block is the director of the doc 51 Birch Street - which recently completed an 8 month long theatrical run.

Lance Weiler is the director & distributor of the acclaimed indie horror flick Head Trauma, and a digital film production & distribution pioneer.

- Sujewa

Blake "killing Down" Calhoun news

From Blake:

"My film "Killing Down" played at the Cannes Film Market recently and the DVD should start popping up in Europe and the Middle East in the near future. No domestic deal has been inked yet, but we have several offers. Still trying to find the best fit and honestly not in a huge hurry.

My new feature is moving ahead nicely too..."

Read the rest here at Indie Features.

- Sujewa

The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah DISTRIBUTION NEWS

Chris Hansen, director of Messiah, has the news right here. Congrats Chris & Team Messiah!

- Sujewa

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Film Panel Notetaker mentions the Date Number One 7/12-18 run

Thanks Film Panel Notetaker!

Also, thanks to the Kensington town newsletter for spreading the word.

- Sujewa

Independents Week at Harvard

Film series Independent Week: New American Independent Cinema 2007 is happening June 30 - July 10 at the Harvard Film Archive.

Films featured are:
Great World of Sound
by Craig Zobel,
In Between Days
by So Yung Kim,
Hohokam by Frank V. Ross,
Apart from That by Randy Walker and Jennifer Shainin,
Team Picture
by Kentucker Audley,
Finally Lillian and Dan
by Mike Gibisser,
Honey
by David Ball,
Afraid of Everything
by David Barker,
Yellow
by Nick Peterson,
shorts Contingent, Split Pea Soup, Two, Frenesi by Nick Peterson,
Sullivan's Last Call
by Francesca Rizzo,
We're Going to the Zoo
by Josh Safdie,
Chalk by Mike Akel,
Hannah Takes the Stairs
by Joe Swanberg,
Quiet City
by Aaron Katz,
Frownland by Ronald Bronstein.

Visit the website for the series here.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Got a call from the Post re: DNO 7/12 - 18 run :: Mission: Washington update

A while back, over here, I wrote about the goal of getting mainstream press coverage for the 7/12 - 18 Date Number One run in Kensington. There was some significant progress on that project today - the Washington Post called me & we talked about the movie, the upcoming run, etc. This is very good news because I am very interested in getting local mainstream print press for the movie & the upcoming run. The Post is as mainstream as it gets for print press in these here parts. So hopefully there will be a nice article about the movie & the run in the Post come July 12.

- Sujewa

LAist reviews What We Do Is Secret

What We Do Is Secret is a new movie - about Darby Crash, the singer of the (late 70's? early 80's?) LA punk band The Germs. Don't know much about it but I am always interested in finding out more & checking out art & entertainment related to punk 'cause punk is the philosophical ancestor (that's kind of a funny line :) to DIY filmmaking as I practice it. Anyway, here is the link to the LAist review of What We Do Is Secret.

UPDATE: According to this Wikipedia page The Germs appeared in the late '70's.

- Sujewa

Indie feature This Town available through blog in segments

This Town is available to view, in segments, through this blog.

Here is the synopsis of the film:

" Is it really all about the shoes?

Meet Rick, a 21st century guy facing the eternal quest of finding love that lasts. But designer footwear is only the start on the path to true love... Playing the dating game in this town requires patience, tenacity and an emotional bulletproof vest, not to mention a good sense of humor and an active imagination! Fantasy and fact merge with cheek biting repartee in this hilarious, edgy exploration of men, women and the inexplicable differences between the sexes."

Here's a little bit from the blog about the making of the movie and the current promotion:

" Hello, and welcome to the online version of our feature film This Town, a project made over a 3 year period, premiering at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, in 2002. Since then it has screened in several festivals, and from time to time found a venue in the Boston area. Now that we all have the bandwidth, we're happy to bring you the film as a series of chapters - a new episode posted each Wednesday accompanied by a written commentary to share what went into the making of the film. Enjoy.
- Chris Engles
Director
This Town"

And here's the link to the blog once more - for further exploration.

- Sujewa

Monday, June 25, 2007

SXSWestern Man: Matt Dentler interview

Matt Dentler is the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference & Festival Producer (see SXSW Film site here). He is also a blogger; the keeper of an on-line journal, a fan & commentator on film who also shares notes and observations about his life and non-filmic passions. He may also be found at various film festivals around the country throughout the year as a panel member or a judge. I spoke with Matt late yesterday through the magic of e-mail regarding his SXSW career and related mysterious & exciting matters such as his current home town Austin, Texas - a place that, as I have been informed by several t-shirts, the locals are trying to keep "weird".

And while we are on the topic; click over at some point soon & check out some excellent shorts at the SXSWClick on line shorts fest. Now, the interview:

Sujewa: Matt, how did you get interested in working in or with film, and specifically independent film?

Matt: I've been a film buff/geek as early as I can remember. I grew up in a household where no film was off-limits, and I watched them all. In high school, I started making my own small little shorts, and working in video stores, movie theaters, etc. I thought I'd become a filmmaker, but soon realized I was more talented at exhibition than production.
Sujewa: Is it true that you are one of the youngest producers of a major American film festival? I heard that you are like barely 20 years old.

Matt: I don't think there's ever been an official survey, but yeah, I gather I'm rather young for the job. I'll be 28 in August.

Sujewa: How did you end up becoming the producer of SXSW at such a relatively young age?

Matt: I started as an intern for the festival when I was 18. I just kept working for them until they offered me a part-time job at the age of 20. Then, when I was 22, I got a full-time job with the festival. Very soon after that, I was promoted to what I am today, Film Conference & Festival Producer. I think it was a combination of luck and lots of hard work.

Sujewa: Are you from Austin and or Texas? How has Austin changed (for the better or worse, specifically regarding indie arts & culture) over the last decade?

Matt: I'm from Texas, but only started living in Austin in 1997. In the last 10 years, the city's arts scene has definitely changed for the better. The advent of digital technology and telecommunications has made it easier for artists to make better and better work within the Austin city limits.

Sujewa: One anonymous commenter (yeah, very brave :) left a comment in one of my posts about Mumblecore films & makers that those films are not deserving of the attention they are getting/have gotten and it is only because of your "misguided" support of those movies that they are as talked about as they are. Have you gotten a lot of criticism for championing directors such as Swanberg at SXSW or has the public feedback been generally positive?

Matt: I would say the feedback has been very positive, with regard to this whole so-called "mumblecore" movement. And, suggesting that I have anything to do with these films is both a compliment and inaccurate. These films were gonna get made no matter what, I think we just helped provide a venue and context in which they could be properly consumed and appreciated. We just show the films we like. All the media/industry attention that follows has very little to do with us, but I think it's nice when no-budget films can garner huge awareness like these have.

Sujewa: I saw at SilverDocs that putting on a film festival is a lot of work. What keeps bringing you back to all the work that SXSW must require every year?

Matt: I have a great gig. I'm part of an amazing staff of talented and driven people, and the SXSW vibe is very familial. So, it's very easy to get up and go to work everyday. Plus, once the festival arrives, it's such a thrill to see all these filmmakers and audiences from around the world, come together and celebrate. It's a blast.

Sujewa: By reading your blog it seems like that you are at a film festival every weekend of the year. Are you leading a strange & rare film festival based existence where you spend most of your days out of the year at various film festivals around the country and not at your home/city of residence? If so, is this a good, positive, enjoyable thing?

Matt: I don't attend THAT many festivals. I certainly miss big festivals each year. You have to pace yourself, I think, or you'll get burned out on festival travel. Besides, you always have to check in with your home and the real world. If not, I think you'd lose touch with the kind of audiences you program for. If my world and my friends were only part of the festival scene, then there would be no chance for growth. Either for me, or the festival. So, like a lot of things, it's all about moderation. I hate being away from home, and my fiancee is very understanding of the kind of travel and schedule this sort of gig requires. It requires so much because I choose to stay in Austin, making it necessary to travel more than I would if I lived in New York or L.A.

Sujewa: What's the state of the film festival industry in America? Is it stronger than ever or are there too many festivals and not enough good movies?

Matt: I don't think there are too many festivals, per se. But I do worry that there are too many festivals trying to be something they aren't. In other words, when people ask us, "Do you want SXSW to be the next Sundance?," I started replying with "No, I want it to be the first SXSW."

Sujewa: What spectacular plans do you have for SXSW '08?

Matt: We're just now beginning the planning stages, so I ask everyone to stay tuned to www.sxsw.com, for updates. Or my blog. That's a good one, too.

Thanks Matt!

- Sujewa

Final touches for 1 week DC area run: wilddiner.com site getting that much needed overhaul this week, re: new DNO clips, Armory map link, etc.

Been having some problems with the computer that I use to edit & publish my main site www.wilddiner.com, getting it fixed now, so I should be able to update the site before this week is out.

I'll probably set up a back up site also - later this week.

The MAP link from the 7/12 - 18 run listing from Screenings page of the main site does not seem to work. Use the MAP link off the post above - from the one announcing the 7/12 - 18 run. Hopefully that one works, if not, will update later tonight.
UPDATE: Here's the MAP link.

Working on posting up some new clips from Date Number One, from the final version that will screen 7/12 - 18 in Kensington.

Also will be adding down-loadable stills for media, and director's notes, and other press & publicity friendly material.

Gearing up for the home run - 7/12 is just around the corner, lots more news coming soon.

- Sujewa

Coming this week: Amir Motlagh interview, AJ Schnack interview, Water Flowing Together interview

All those interviews should have been up on the blog by now, but, DNO 7/12 - 18 run work needed attention, so, those interviews will be up before this week is over.

UPDATE 7/2/07: Fully busy with DNO 7/12 - 18 run prep & publicity, will post up the interviews after 7/18.

- Sujewa

New blogger discovery of the day: Ali Naderzad On Film

Check out Ali Naderzad's blog here. Quite a few interesting posts there; re: Cannes, Columbia U. film events, etc.

Always nice to run into people you knew from the very early 90's (or was it '88 -'89?). Me & Ali worked at the same place for a bit back then - at no doubt the "coolest" retail store in Montgomery County, MD :) :) :)

Ali is currently the film editor at Anthem magazine. Here's Anthem on Hal Hartley's Fay Grim.

Now go check out Ali's blog!

- Sujewa

Long interview with the makers of The Devil Came On Horseback at Still in Motion blog

Check it out here.

The Devil Came On Horseback is about the genocide in Darfur. The documentary is directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern.

Here is an exchange from the interview conducted by Pamela Cohn:

" SIM: Do you think a film like this can change things?

AS:
It’s going to happen more and more with other documentaries, but I think something like An Inconvenient Truth broke the mold in a lot of ways in terms of making direct impacts on people’s perception of an issue and has directly resulted in putting the issue of global warming on the map. It engaged viewers at the house parties where it was shown, it changed behavior--the Prius is now the top-selling car. With our film, I feel we're using the same kind of power of “shaming.” The power of photographs and the power of documentary to compel action, that’s vital. One, it can inspire viewers to actually take on an active role in an issue, but it’s also part of the public shaming that apparently needs to happen before people wake up. An example is the China-Darfur connection: there were these photographs that were released by a Security Council member that showed how Chinese-donated aircraft carriers were being painted white, the UN insignia was then painted on the side of them and they were loaded with arms which were then shipped to Darfur. As soon as those photographs became public, Bashir relented to Stage 2 of the U.N. military operations to support 21,000 ground troops there. I think there’s a power to the visual medium that can actually have tangible impact."

Read the rest of the excellent interview here.

- Sujewa

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Washington Post article about my neighbor Mark's 35 year old band The Nighthawks

Fellow Kensingtonian Mark Wenner has been playing with the blues & roots rock band The Nighthawks longer than I've been alive. Check out The Nighthawks story at this past Friday's Washington Post.

Here is a paragraph from the article:

"On liner notes for "Rock 'n' Roll," the Nighthawks' 1974 debut two years after the addition of bass player Jan Zukowski and drummer Pete Ragusa, Wenner had written about reinventing rock-and-roll "by using the same processes with which it had been invented in the first place, going to the various sources and mixing them together -- soul, rockabilly, jump, country, R&B and etc. -- taking all these previously used ingredients, pouring them into a stew and turning it up and stirring it around and seeing what comes out again." "

Check out the entire article here.

- Sujewa

All Day Long review at The Chutry Experiment

Chuck Tryon has written & published a review of the Andrew Semans directed, well shot & well acted short film All Day Long. Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Starting a whole new discussion about gender in America - Interview with Jennifer Fox, director & subject of Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman

Jennifer Fox is the director of the Sundance Film Festival 2007 premiered Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman. Flying is a six hour long, six part documentary that explores the life of Fox and her female friends around the world as they deal with major issues as well as minor challenges and interesting details that come their way. Among other situations, the movie deals with Fox's own debate regarding getting married and also regarding having children, her romantic relationships, a major illness of a friend, and a divorce of another friend. Flying opens for a New York City theatrical run on July 4th at Film Forum and will be available throughout the US and several other countries through theatrical exhibition, television broadcasts and on DVD in the coming months. I spoke with Fox recently about her acclaimed documentary.

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About Jennifer Fox (from the Flying website): Jennifer Fox is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning director, producer, camera woman and educator who has been involved in countless documentaries over the last 25 years. Her first film, BEIRUT THE LAST HOME MOVIE was broadcast in 20 countries and won seven international awards, including Best Documentary Film and Best Cinematography at the 1988 Sundance Film Festival and Best Documentary of the Year at 1988 Cinema Du Reel Festival. She directed the groundbreaking ten hour PBS television series AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY, which received a Gracie Award for Best Television Series and was named ”One of the Top Ten Television Series of 1999” by The New York Times and five other major American papers. Her current work, the cutting edge six part film, FLYING: CONFESSIONS OF A FREE WOMAN was made through a unique Danish American co-production and was funded by the Danish Film Institute, TV-2 Denmark, BBC, ARTE, YLE-1, SBS, SVT, ICON & Humanist Channels Netherlands and HBO -- and was awarded a prestigious Creative Capital Grant. Fox is currently preparing to edit a new feature documentary, filmed over fifteen years, called LEARNING TO SWIM, co-produced with the Dutch Buddhist Television Network (BOS). Fox has Executive Produced many films including the award-winners: LOVE & DIANE; ON THE ROPES; DOUBLE EXPOSURE; PROJECT TEN: REAL STORIES FROM A FREE SOUTH AFRICA; COWBOYS, LAWYERS AND INDIANS; and the soon to be released, "ABSOLUTELY SAFE?". She has consulted on numerous documentaries, including SOUTHERN COMFORT and STONE READER. Fox is one of the subjects of two documentaries on filmmaking, "THE HECK WITH HOLLYWOOD!" by Doug Block, and CINEMA VERITE, DEFINING THE MOMENT by Peter Wintonic.

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Sujewa: What's been the audience reaction to your movie? Are women very appreciative, in general, for the fact that your movie exists? Since there does not seem to be a lot of movies that go into great detail (compared to those about men) about all aspects of the female experience.

Jennifer: The audience reaction to the film has been amazing, especially from women. Many women have come up to me and said that they’d never seen a film that actually shows their real lives until they watched FLYING. The interesting thing is that the film tends to appeal to people of all ages, but for very different reasons. I remember being in Sweden and a 20 something young man and two young women came up to me. They were friends and were saying this is what they talked about all the time, these are the issues they are struggling with for their futures, but they’d never seen it on film before. At the same time, I’ve seen women in their forties respond to the film for other reasons. They feel that the complicated issues of being a woman today are finally being addressed on film. Unlike the young people, who are on the verge of making decisions and so their dialogue is full of these questions; the older women have actually experienced my dilemma first hand. By seeing me go through what they have struggled with, they feel understood for the first time.

Sujewa: How do men who have seen your movie feel about it? So far I have seen 1.25 episodes & liked what I saw, looking forward to watching the rest of the movie when I get a chance (which WILL be before the flick plays in NYC starting 7/4, i want to see the rest of the episodes all in one sitting). Have men been bored by the movie or is there a range of responses, from being interested in the project to being very enthusiastic about the project?

Jennifer: There is definitely a range of responses I’ve seen from men. Many men really love the film. My editor in Demark who is a man, Niels Pagh Andersen, responded to the footage immediately, because he felt he was living a similar life to me. He wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, had a string of love relationships, and like me, he was living in a period of history where the old rules for men no longer applied. He felt as lost as I did and he related to my dilemma, just as the young man in Sweden did. As Niels said recently: “Of course FLYING will appeal to a female audience, but to say it is nothing for men, is to reduce the modern man to a cliche, that belongs in our fathers generation.” I think with the issue of modern life, men and women struggle equally to define their lives when the old expectations have been nullified. Yet in the “new world”, men, like women, are also haunted by traditional gender values. How do I be open, emotional, and sensitive, while at the same time being masculine, powerful, and aggressive? Should I get married? Should I have children? Men are asking these questions equally (although I still think, as a woman, the issue of having children is a different conundrum for women than for men, but this is a longer discussion). The other response I’ve heard from men is a kind of thrill to be let into the “secret world” of women’s conversations that they’ve never been allowed to enter before. A lot of men have told me they feel like they’re getting the hidden guide to femaleness that will help them negotiate with women in their own lives. It’s like they are sitting in a room that normally they’d be kicked out of. A lot of men have come up to me and said how amazing it is to discover what women really talk about when they’re not there!
Of course, there are a small percentage of men, often older men, who find the film to be “too female”. I remember a fifty-something man came up to me after the film and said that this is exactly why he leaves the room when his wife and her friends get together. He said: “I don’t want to hear about menstruation, menopause, or babies, I’d rather watch the ball game!” There are a percentage of men who respond like this, but surprisingly it is relatively few.

Sujewa: In your movie you say that you modeled yourself to a large degree, when it comes to living your life, on your father. Do you think becoming a filmmaker was seen as a male & freeing thing by you when you were younger?

Jennifer: When I was younger I didn’t see things in terms of gender, so it is hard to respond to the question of whether I see filmmaking as masculine. I wanted to have the freedom to do anything I wanted – bar nothing - and I didn’t categorize things as gender specific. I was very naïve. I had no sense of history, no sense of the feminist movement, no sense of what women before me had fought for, to allow me to arrive at 20 years old and say I want to be a filmmaker and not have it be an impossible dream. All I know is that I wanted to do what I wanted to do. It is only looking back now, as a 40+ year old, that I realize that filmmaking requires a lot of “male qualities”. But I would say that, especially in documentary, it is really a mixture of female and male traits. Certainly people would consider the part of me that holds the camera, which is the cinematographer, as being the male aspect of my character. But the part of me that connects with other people, that gets them to reveal their lives, which is about community and compassion, would be considered female. I think for this reason, women often make better documentary filmmakers because it is such a feminine art (but we could get into a huge debate about this!).

Sujewa: Are female filmmakers, in general, supportive of your work & career or do they see you as a threat & as competition?

Jennifer: I think the issue of competition in any field is very individual. I have many girlfriends who are filmmakers who have really kept me going on this project and in my career. They’ve given me love and support and believed in the idea of this film when I was lacking in confidence. In fact it was a dear friend in London who was in the film business who was my biggest supporter for years, all through my 30’s. Whenever I was down, I’d go visit her for a few days and we’d sit down and have long girl talks until I was OK again. I always left her home feeling whole and ready to face “the good fight”. She was actually the first inspiration to make FLYING; she was the one who opened my eyes to how women hold each other together. So for me I don’t think of competition between women, I think more of support. I think competition really happens between strangers. When you don’t know someone, you often feel more competitive than if you have a relationship with him or her, but this is human nature and has nothing to do with being a woman.

Sujewa: What is your recommendation on how to watch the movie? As a mini-series, 1 episode a week or as an epic movie, all six episodes in one sitting?

Jennifer: I think how you watch the film is very individual. To my surprise, I’ve gotten feedback from people who have the DVDs and said “I watched all six hours in one night” or “I only stopped watching because I had to go out and I finished watching the next day.” People use the word “addictive” quite a bit when they tell me about the film and I’m thrilled about that. This was my hope when making FLYING, but you never know if you’ll succeed. On the other hand the way the film is structured I think you can watch one hour a week and it holds together. I see the film like a book in chapters, you can read one chapter a night or you can read a whole book in a night. It depends on your reading habits.

Sujewa: It seems like that there are still far fewer female directors in indie & also Hollywood fiction filmmaking. What do you recommend for young women (or older women for that matter) who are interested in becoming fiction or doc film directors? What are some steps that they should take? Or, at this point, in your view, is access to filmmaking a level playing field & gender neutral so that women should just feel free to do whatever their male counterparts do in developing a filmmaking career?

Jennifer: Gender doesn’t go away in any field. And like in any profession, the more money that is at stake, the more the power often rests in the hands of men -- or there are more men in power positions. That is why documentaries tend to have more women involved, especially in the lower budget documentaries. But when you go around the world the so-called “top” documentarians are mostly always men. I can’t tell you how many panels I’ve been on where I am the only woman with four or five men. It makes me really angry because what message are we sending? The only important artists are men? I think no society in the world has gotten away from the issue of gender, even in 2007. We pretend that we’re beyond it in the West but it is alive and well under the surface. You just don’t change thousands of years of gender politics in a few generations, because we carry the ghost of our forefathers’ and foremothers inside of us. None of us are free – myself included.

Sometimes I hear younger women say there are no gender problems in the film world and I must admit that 10 years ago that could have been me saying that! But now I realize what it took for me to get to where I am now was to pretend that gender didn’t exist - to put on blinders and go forward no matter what. And most young women now are like I was, I didn’t want to talk about gender, gender only slowed me down. I was scared to admit that there was a difference. Because if I admitted the problem, I felt I could be stopped by it. But now I think it is important to see and discuss the differences between men and women and to try to find a way to have real equality in the workplace.

Sujewa: Is Flying a first, as in, has there been other docs like it where the filmmaker examines aspects of her romantic & sexual relationships & difficult situations that her & her female friends face world wide? I've never heard of another movie like that but I am not an expert on documentary film history.

Jennifer: I think FLYING is paving a way for a new genre of filmmaking. In FLYING we merge the personal documentary and the survey documentary into a new hybrid form. We’ve seen filmmakers put themselves in survey films but they limit their role to an external one, the narrator pursuing an external truth. They don’t revel themselves personally on film – like they would in a personal film. FLYING depends on both my personal revelation and the revelations of others on the path of my survey. It uniquely puts five different circles of women together into one film: me; my girlfriends in New York; my girlfriends around the world; the women in my family; and the women strangers who I meet in on my travels. Generally films will have one of these circles or two at best, but here we are weaving a much wider fabric than that to show how all five of these circles have something in common. We’re also using a new, and slightly radical, technique called “Passing the Camera”, where the camera is passed between myself the so-called, “filmmaker”, and the so-called, “subject”. In today’s world we’ve seen filmmakers give subjects cameras to film their own lives but we have never seen the filmmaker give the subject the ability to expose the filmmaker.

Sujewa: I felt that episode 1 was very dramatic, or, full of dramatic situations. Did you think about, at some point, adding more humor to the episode? Episode 2 seems a little bit lighter in tone (what I've seen of it so far, about 20 mins.), but maybe that's because I am familiar with the characters & the situations from episode 1.

Jennifer: I think that we use a very light, playful hand in FLYING. Many of the situations and circumstances you’ll see in the six hours are tragic, but I didn’t want the viewer to think those women’s lives or my life was tragic. I hate pity, I hate it for myself and I hate it for other people. The worst idea is for people to watch the film and think: “Oh that poor spinster Jennifer Fox” or ‘Oh, her poor friend who has a brain tumor or is divorced” or “Oh, those poor women around the world who are so downtrodden”. I think of us as heroes! Not “heroes” with a capital “H” like men in action films, but quiet heroes who don’t have to shout about it. I wanted to tell a story about women who lead their lives with humor, irony and camaraderie without making big pronouncements or lying in bed crying all the time. So in this film, we tried to have a tone of lightness especially thorough the use of the music. Our theme music uses the accordion and is based on the waltz. It says: isn’t life strange? Isn’t life funny? The film should have a kind of Alice In Wonderland feel. I think it makes the film hopeful rather than dark.

Sujewa: Documentaries of all types seem to have become more popular & visible over the last 10 years. Do you think the American public is, to a significant degree, tired of escapist fictional entertainment or are there other reasons for the spike in doc popularity?

Jennifer: Documentaries are exploding all over the world because a great documentary is better than fiction. If you ask me I would rather read a memoir before I read a novel any day. Memoirs use fiction strategies with real life. There’s a lot in a memoir I can take to help me in my own life. Today, documentaries are using more fiction strategies to shape them into a more understandable and enjoyable form for a wider audience, but at the same time you get the best kick of all – they are true!

Sujewa: Are you happy with the distribution arrangement for Flying? Or do you want to see it play wider theatrically on top of the television broadcasts & the limited theatrical? I am not sure exactly what kind of distribution doc makers dream about, for us fiction people wide theatrical is still a big deal.

Jennifer: I am thrilled with the distribution for FLYING. It’s a very big film but its already been sold to nine countries around the world for Television including the Sundance Channel in the US. We are launching it theatrically in New York and plan on a wide theatrical distribution across America in every major city. In addition, we’re doing a college tour in the US in the fall/winter and we’ll have a big DVD release later next year. This is beyond my wildest expectations!! My goal is that FLYING starts a whole new discussion about gender in America. Things can’t get better than this!

Thanks Jennifer!

- Sujewa

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

From Jump Cut: The Aztlan Film Institute's Top 100 List

From the introduction to the list:

"...the list presents a provisional sense of a Chicano film and video heritage, one that remains outside the official histories of the American cinema."

Check it out here.

- Sujewa

From Mediascape: Top 100 American Films By Women Directors

Check it out here.

Got the link from The Chutry Experiment blog.

- Sujewa

Project: Another grand movie list; 100 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILMS 1959 - 2000

The AFI's got their list, based on their tastes & other selection criteria that does not recognize Jim Jarmusch's work, and, as far as I can tell at first glance, no minority directors other than Spike Lee (and only 1 Lee movie at that - what no Malcolm X ???). So let's make another list to go along with the AFI's list, an alternative list, featuring 100 indie movies that people who watch a lot of indie movies (& movies in general) would recommend to someone who is interested in checking out some of the best American indie films. I chose 1959 as the starting point since Shadows was released that year; because it seems as if many observers of American film history believe Shadows was the starting point of art/independent moviemaking as we now know it. I chose 2000 as the end point for the list since, well, that seemed like a good place to stop since the first decade of the '00's are still unfolding and we would need some time after the decade is over in order to get a balanced perspective on this decade's indie output.

Some guidelines:

1. This list will be presented in alphabetical order, since excellence in art/entertainment is often a matter of taste and thus numbering them to show that one movie is "better" than another is kind of pointless.

2. For the purpose of this list independent = made outside of Hollywood or made by a filmmaker know for off-Hollywood filmmaking and then continues to make the type of movies he or she is famous for even when he or she works with Hollywood money or other large corporate money (Spike Lee, Wayne Wang, John Sayles, Richard Linklater, etc.) . That means no Quentin Tarantino movies on this list.

3. Documentaries are acceptable for this list, as long as they are independent, as defined in item #2 above.

So, suggest titles in comments; with a brief description & or links whenever possible. I'll leave this project open for a week or so and then will pull together suggestions made at comments & my own lists, notes & will put together & publish a list containing 100 highly recommended American indie films.

Also, feel free to suggest other useful guidelines that would help in building this list.

Some titles I am thinking about right now, in no special order:

- Paris Is Burning
- Slacker
- The Brother From Another Planet
- Miller's Crossing
- She's Gotta Have It
- Mystery Train
- The Unbelievable Truth

Add more!

Thanks.

6/24/07 UPDATE: I'll need about a month to come up with this list, so, see ya around 7/25/07 for the list!

- Sujewa

Big sale at McSweeney's; attempt to recoup losses from a distributor bankruptcy

Visit the indie book company here to get the story.

Thanks Just A Few Of My Days blog for the link.

- Sujewa

The Singles Map

Not enough singles in your town? Perhaps this map will come in handy when you make moving plans. According to the map lots of single men in the west, with a lot of single women in the east (i knew there had to be some good reasons for staying in the DC area/not moving to LA :). Not sure if the info. on the map is correct, but it is an interesting idea. Thanks The Chutry Experiment for the link.

- Sujewa

Kurt Cobain About A Son review

How well do people know their favorite rock stars? When an artist gets to the level of world wide fame there is a lot of money and quite possibly several careers invested in that person. The famous entertainer at that rare height is a very valuable commodity to many and thus the image of that person being projected through media is most likely carefully managed by a team of professionals. Even if that is not the case often fans choose to see and hear what they want to believe about their stars. On Friday June 15 I attended the Washington, DC area premiere of the documentary Kurt Cobain About A Son at the SilverDocs film festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. The film, directed by AJ Schnack, reveals the deceased Nirvana front man to be a talented artist haunted by many demons and also a rather ordinary individual. In the post-screening discussion one of the audience members strongly disagreed with the suggestion that Kurt Cobain was an ordinary man. This reaction will no doubt be repeated many times in the months to come, as About A Son gets seen by more and more people. Many will love it, some will hate it, others will get a new understanding about Cobain and also about growing up troubled in America in the 1970's and '80's.

I have only seen About A Son once and I believe I need to see it at least two or more times in order to fully take in the wealth of information that the movie offers. The movie is made up of two key elements: Cobain speaking with music journalist Micheal Azerrad set to images of places and people in three Washington state cities: Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle - the three cities that witnessed the unfolding of much of Cobain's life. Cobain says things that are at times troubling, at times amusing, and at other times seem like relatively ordinary observations. When I heard certain sections of Cobain's conversations, I lost track of the images and started thinking about how he might have come to the conclusion that he just shared. At other times the images were so strikingly beautiful I only half-heard what Cobain was saying. After a couple of viewings I may be familiar enough with the movie in order to experience it as a smooth, unified whole. A third and important element of the movie is the soundtrack: made up of music that Cobain listened to and also of music by contemporary musicians that, according to director Schnack, are exploring some of the aspects of life that Cobain explored with his own music. It is possible to imagine that segments of About A Son - a certain sight from a Washington state city set to a certain piece of music - may be replicating an image or memory from Cobain's own mind.

The Kurt Cobain story that we learn from About A Son is the story of a boy growing up in a logging town that is hostile to anyone who seems different, then of a young adult who discovers punk rock as a source of validation and a possible career path, then of a man who is pursuing living and music making in a bohemian community and finally of a world famous and wealthy and yet very troubled artist/entertainer who is also a young father. What were the things that Cobain was against? What were the things that were causing him pain? Cobain said he pretty much hated everyone around him when he was young and also that his body was a constant source of pain for him. Depression was also said to be a constant companion of Cobain from a very young age. At a late point in the film we hear Cobain talking about his decision to work on hating people less. Another thing that troubled Cobain was the way that some journalists were treating him, the band, and his family. The pieces of conversations that make up the main audio track of About A Son were originally recorded late night, I believe Schnack said the conversations happened between 12 AM and 4 AM, during the course of several months, and they offer intimate snapshots of an individual dealing with disappointments, successes, failures and pain.

Cobain appears to have been an intense observer of his own world; his life and his surroundings. A couple of observations that stood out for me were Cobain's concern with the rise of violence in America and the rise of the number of divorces in Aberdeen when he was young. Also his criticism of bands/artists that are content with playing just to their own small bohemian cliques and are not concerned with wider fame or engaging the wider world with their art/music made me think about stances he may have adopted, rejected, and quite possibly adopted again regarding punk rock vs. fame and wealth.

At one point in the movie Cobain says that all he wanted was to have his own apartment and play in a band, travel the country playing music. Then he says that he was able to achieve those goals with Nirvana and that it made him happy. Even though next he goes on to list the problems that he was having with the later, wider success of Nirvana, it is nice to know that a very troubled and very talented young person from a logging town who ultimately met a violent end was able to experience moments of significant happiness during his brief life. Even though Schnack did not express it through words on June 15, there is a lot about the life of Kurt Cobain, as reflected in About A Son, that rise beyond the stuff of ordinary existence and is capable of strongly affecting others.

Kurt Cobain About A Son is a movie loaded with many worthwhile things - including a classic American story of drive for success while battling many inner and outer obstacles - and of achieving a level of success and fame unfamiliar to many who live in a logging town; also a story with a deep layer of anger, loss, disappointment, and frustration. The movie is also a wildly creative, original, and beautiful portrait of a talented artist who captured the admiration and the imagination of millions of young people around the world.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Photos: Amy King, Moose Lodge Action/SilverDocs Party People

The hard working SilverDocs Associate Director Amy King. On Fri 6/15 after Kurt Cobain About A Son screening.

::

And now, some Moose Lodge action from Thu 6/14:



somewhere deep in that frame Brian Liu is DJing. doc makers were shaking their doc making booties at the Moose Lodge on Thu night.

if you can identify some or all of the people posing for photos in the Moose Lodge section of this page, then either you spend a lot of time at film festivals or you spend a lot of time reading indie film blogs, or both. there are worse ways to spend ones days :)


photos copyright 2007 sujewa ekanayake

Thu night was fun. Looking forward to SilverDocs '08!
- Sujewa

Monday, June 18, 2007

SilverDocs notes at the Film Panel Notetaker blog

Brian's got some interesting things up:

SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 2007
Sterling Awards CeremonyJune 16, 2007
http://www.thefilmpanelnotetaker.com/2007/06/silverdocs-2007-sterling-awards.html
*
DocaGora and International Documentary Conference Wrap"What’s It Worth": Value vs. Values
Silverdocs Cinema Lounge June 16, 2007
http://www.thefilmpanelnotetaker.com/2007/06/silverdocs-2007-whats-it-worth-value-vs.html
*
The Gates - Q and A with co-director Antonio Ferrera
SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 2007
June 16, 2007
(Companion notes from June 10th's Maysles Films Program at BAM) http://www.thefilmpanelnotetaker.com/2007/06/silverdocs-2007-gates-companion-notes.html

Check them out!

- Sujewa

SilverDocs coverage in the works: interviews, reviews, photos, links list & more

mysterious filmmaker at 4 pm, 6/16/07 sat
photo copyright sujewa ekanayake 2007

I will be finishing up & posting a bunch more SilverDocs related posts in the coming week. Here is a brief look at the upcoming goodies:

- Interview with AJ Schnack, director of Kurt Cobain About A Son - both an extremely specific and wildly creative/arty work, one of the most memorable documentaries I've seen due to its unusual approach to creating a portrait of an individual and due to its awesome cinematography.
I talked with AJ for about an hour on Saturday, a juicy interview is being transcribed at the moment.

- Interview with the director & subject of Water Flowing Together. I've talked a bit about this movie in previous posts. Another long & interesting interview about a unique & beautiful movie about the renowned dancer Jock Soto.

- Photos, photos, photos. I am going through about 60 photos that I took at SilverDocs, will start posting them up in a couple of hours.

- Reviews; a couple are coming up this week, of flicks I caught at SilverDocs.

- Links list - after Agnes Varnum, AJ Schnack, Matt Dentler, Pamela Cohn & others post up a lot of their SilverDocs related stuff in the coming days, I would like to create an epic list of SilverDocs '07 blog coverage links.

- also need to add the special mentions to the award winners list.

- and whatever else I think up of, SilverDocs related.

OK, see ya here all week long for more SilverDocs goodies!

& Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers in the indiefilmblogland! :)

- Sujewa

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SILVERDOCS documentary film festival 2007 AWARDS WINNERS

a moment from the awards ceremony on sat 6/16/07
photo copyright 2007 sujewa ekanayake


Awards descriptions and descriptions of films are from the SilverDocs website.

Listed in order awards were presented at the awards ceremony on Saturday 6/16/07.

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ACE DOCUMENTARY DEVELOPMENT GRANT
"For the second year, SILVERDOCS is joining forces with ACE (Animal Content in Entertainment), to offer a feature documentary grant of $10,000 for projects in development that highlight animal issues."

WINNER: The Concrete Jungle
Directors: Don Bernier, Rachel Buchanan

::

SILVERDOCS/AMERICAN FILM MARKET AWARD
"Presented to a film of exceptional promise in the marketplace. The award includes passes to the American Film Market (October 31 to November 7, 2007), airfare, five nights hotel and pre-arranged meetings with potential partners (a $5,000 value)."

WINNER: Big Rig

"Epic journey through 45 states, 21,000 miles, and dozens of truck stops, culminating in an exhilarating look into the soul of the American truck driver."

Director: Doug Pray

::

CINEMATIC VISION AWARD
"Presented by Discovery HD Theater will be given to a feature and a short film that exhibit excellence and innovation in visual storytelling ($2,500 each)."

Cinematic Vision Short Award

WINNER: My Eyes

"Music is integral in Katja's life, evoking experiences and emotion. Young Catherine is also grappling with enhanced senses in her blind world, and with her mother discovers the joy in sound and touch."

Director: Erlend Mo
*
Cinematic Vision Feature Award

WINNER: Kurt Cobain About A Son

"Through unprecedented access to over 24 hours of conversation Azerrad audio-recorded during the year just before Cobain’s suicide, filmmaker Schnack liberates Cobain from his rigid celebrity persona, and reveals—through Cobain’s own words—the complex man behind the myth."

Director: AJ Schnack

::

WITNESS AWARD
"In honor of Joey Lozano will be given to a theatrical documentary about human rights violations or social justice issues ($5,000)."

WINNER: The Devil Came On Horseback

"Can one man make a difference? Former US Marine Captain Brian Steidle hopes so. When he first signs on as an unarmed military observer for the African Union, he is largely motivated by money. Yet, his intentions change dramatically when he makes a life-altering decision to transfer to the strife-ridden Western Sudanese region of Darfur. Armed with nothing more than a still camera, he becomes a singular outside witness to what many call a genocide—a conflict that has displaced 2.5 million people and claimed 400,000 lives."

Directors: Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg

::

MUSIC DOCUMENTARY AWARD
"Presented by Pump Audio, recognizes the documentary that best captures the complex artistry, enthusiasm, imagination and inspiration of musicians. The award winner will receive $2,500."

WINNER: Nomadak TX

"Jubilant film about two musicians who journey to some of the most remote regions of the world, using the traditional Basque musical instrument, the txalaparta, as a medium for cross-cultural exchange and understanding"

Director: Raúl De la Fuente

::

BEYOND BELIEF AWARD
"Awarded to a feature documentary that shows excellence in telling complex issues in faith and society."

WINNER: Audience of One

"...Gazowsky and his film crew/congregation soon learn that even divine inspiration is not enough to overcome an increasingly mounting budget, overbearing extras, and technical snafus. Filmmaker Michael Jacobs presents a rollicking journey through the unlikely union of two religions—Christianity and filmmaking—and presents a subject who is not merely inspired, but inspiring in his refusal to give up."

Director: Michael Jacobs

::

STERLING SHORT FILM AWARD
"The SILVERDOCS Shorts Jury gives the Sterling Short Film Award to the documentary that tells a concise story in the most eloquent and powerful way. The winning filmmaker receives a $5,000 cash prize."

WINNER: Lot 63, Grave C

"Altamont Free Concert, 1969. Meredith Hunter is killed at this infamous event; his death becomes an icon for the end of the Summer of Love. Now, he lies forgotten, buried in an unmarked and unvisited grave."

Director: Sam Green

::

STERLING FEATURE AWARD
"The SILVERDOCS Jury, comprised of a distinguished group of documentary film professionals, presents the SILVERDOCS Sterling Award to the most exceptional feature-length documentary screening in competition. The award winner will receive over $25,000 cash and in-kind, including $5,000 in film product from Kodak."

WINNER: Please Vote For Me

"What does democracy look like in the world’s largest Communist country? Start small, very small. This impossibly charming film features a third grade class in Wahun province and the intense politicking in the race to become Class Monitor."

Director: Weijun Chen

::

UPDATE: Audience Awards from Sunday 6/17/07 (I was not able to attend the ceremony, info. courtesy of Pamela Cohn):

AUDIENCE AWARD BEST SHORT FILM: A Son's Sacrifice

"Imran quit being a Manhattan ad man to run the family Halal slaughterhouse in Queens. His faith and patience are tested during Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice."

Director: Yoni Brook

*

AUDIENCE AWARD BEST FEATURE FILM: Souvenirs

"Unemployed Israeli filmmaker Shahar Cohen attends a reunion with his father, a World War II veteran from an all-Jewish brigade, who casually reveals a secret: while stationed in the Netherlands after the war many Jewish soldiers paired up with young Dutch women. These fleeting unions often left behind “souvenirs”—in the form of war babies."

Directors: Shahar Cohen & Halil Efrat

::
To see the list of winners, including honorable mentions, at the SilverDocs website - go here.
::

Congratulations to all the winners!

Every filmmaker who participated in the festival should be proud of that accomplishment.

Thanks to everyone who made the 2007 version of SilverDocs possible, it was a lovely experience.

- Sujewa

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Please Vote For Me wins Sterling Feature Award at SilverDocs :: Cinematic Vision Feature Award goes to Kurt Cobain About A Son

Later tonight I'll have a list of all the winners & many photos from the awards ceremony.

SilverDocs '07 Cinematic Vision Feature Award winner Kurt Cobain About A Son's SilverDocs page.

SilverDocs '07 Sterling Feature Award winner (the most important award at the fest, with a $25,000 cash & in-kind services prize) Please Vote For Me's SilverDocs page.

Few more events & movies to attend tonight & tomorrow at SilverDocs. An excellent festival's '07 version is coming to an end. Congrats to all the winners tonight.

SilverDocs site may have the full list of winners soon. And they'll be listed here later tonight.

- Sujewa

Notes from Thursday 6/14 SilverDocs events at Still in Motion blog

Check them out here at the "Pitching Critters, Demme's Home Movies and Partying at the Moose Lodge" post.

- Sujewa

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Pop View blog writes about Hip-Hop Revolution at SilverDocs

Check it out here. Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.

- Sujewa

Caught world premiere of excellent Water Flowing Together, doc about dancer Jock Soto at SilverDocs

Had it not been for SilverDocs I seriously doubt I would have come across Gwendolen Cates's love letter to a friend/celebration of a unique & accomplished American artist doc Water Flowing Together and that would have been a loss for me. Aside from dealing with the career of an artist, the film contemplates challenges involved in creating & maintaining a non-traditional individual identity in a multi-cultural society, aging & change, and a couple of different takes on the idea of family. I am interviewing Cates & the subject of the documentary - renowned dancer Jock Soto (a principal dancer for 20 years at the New York City Ballet) at the National Museum of the American Indian (Soto is Puerto Rican & Navajo) in Washington, D.C. later today, and after that (later tonight or early tomorrow) I will post a review of the movie & of course the interview. In the meantime, visit the SilverDocs page for Water to read more about it.

- Sujewa

Silver Spring Penguin writes about some of the free movies at SilverDocs

Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Can one man make a difference? The Devil Came on Horseback, doc about the Darfur genocide at SilverDocs

Here is the SilverDocs page for the movie. I am going to try to catch this movie on Sunday.

Here is a part of the SilverDocs synopsis of the movie:

" Can one man make a difference? Former US Marine Captain Brian Steidle hopes so. When he first signs on as an unarmed military observer for the African Union, he is largely motivated by money. Yet, his intentions change dramatically when he makes a life-altering decision to transfer to the strife-ridden Western Sudanese region of Darfur. Armed with nothing more than a still camera, he becomes a singular outside witness to what many call a genocide—a conflict that has displaced 2.5 million people and claimed 400,000 lives."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My SilverDocs latest: got invitation to cover the fest more, will be checking out Water Flowing Together tonight

Kids, don't let yer peers tell you that blogging doesn't pay off, 'cause it does, case in point: I applied for a press badge for SilverDocs & got it because SilverDocs PR likes my blog. So, what this means is I will get the chance to check out a lot of movies, interview a lot of filmmakers & write a lot about the fest this weekend.

Off to go get ready for this new project. Will be catching a movie called Water Flowing Together, about a dancer named Jock Soto, later tonight.

Talk to you soon re: a bunch of SilverDocs goodies.

- Sujewa

A lengthy post on the first 2 days at SilverDocs, by Pamela Cohn

Check it out here at the Still in Motion blog. That's some good bloggin'.

- Sujewa

Yeah, after reading this paragraph, I am going to have to go see Nancy Drew

While electronically leafing through the morning blogs, I ran across J. Hoberman's Village Voice review of the new teen movie Nancy Drew (thanks GreenCine Daily for the link), and this paragraph made me laugh for like 5 minutes:

"In some respects, Fleming's two-track approach recalls the old Jay Ward cartoons—Crusader Rabbit, Rocky & Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle, et al. Nancy herself resembles one of Ward's heroic nerds or super-smarties, spreading goodness as she single-handedly unravels a sinister cabal. Her character is inoculated against insufferability by the addition of a squat, amorous 12-year-old (Josh Flitter), playing a whiny Sancho Panza to Nancy's brainiac Quixote. "I wonder who tried to kill us?" she muses after a speeding SUV nearly flattens them. "I'm wondering too," he replies. "In fact, I'm kind of freaking out about it!!" "

Read the entire review here.

That's some good writing J. Hoberman, & whoever wrote that scene & dialogue in the movie. Looking forwards to checking out the flick even though it is not indie, real indie, DIY or foreign & even though its for the kids (the real kids, not "kids" like me). Drew sounds like a funny & well made & interesting/entertaining movie.

-Sujewa

My SilverDocs Night 1: Met Pamela Cohn, Matt Dentler, Brian Newman, Doug Block & others

(next time i need to smile:), L-R: me/Sujewa Ekanayake, Matt Dentler, Brian Newman

Brian, Matt, Pamela Cohn
::
Doc producer & blogger Pamela Cohn & I met up at the AFI Silver theater - SilverDocs central -& then, after the freaky rain ended (and I met a writer for DCist - useful for upcoming DNO run promo i think), went for dinner at Silver Spring's Bombay Gaylord restaurant. Good Indian food, good conversation - Pamela's got a couple of interesting projects, a great blog & an upcoming Sundance producers conference type thing going on. Later we went down to the fest's Cinema Lounge to hang out. Met SXSW film fest producer & blogger Matt Dentler, Renew Media's executive director & blogger Brian Newman, filmmaker & blogger Doug "51 Birch Street" Block (for like a minute, Doug was on his way out), & DC filmmaker (& a judge for the fest) Brian Liu & a few more people there. Pamela, Matt, Brian Newman & Doug I had not met in person before, only through e-mails & comments on blogs, so the live meetings were fun. Matt & Brian Newman had some tips on distribution, festivals & career building. Looking forward to checking out some movies this weekend, so far this fest is cool. I am going to see if I can meet some filmmakers in the coming days & get some info. on their projects. Also looking forward to meeting & hanging with other bloggers. I may, after all, be able to check out Kurt Cobain About A Son on Fri night - the tix situation may be resolved favorably tomorrow, and that would be sweet. More from SilverDocs coming tomorrow & rest of the week - stay tuned.
- Sujewa

New York Times article on Silver Spring, MD, home of SilverDocs

When me & my indie/punk & other MD/DC suburban "troublemaker" friends were hanging out at the old Tastee Diner (located where the Discovery Channel world headquarters sits now) in the early 90's, Silver Spring was a charmingly run down city; the anti-Bethesda. Now, about 15 or so years later, Silver Spring is a shiny example of urban renewal with a world (or at least doc world :) famous film festival (and a huge dinosaur skeleton roughly where i used to sit & drink coffee all night) . Read all about the transformation of Silver Spring at the New York Times.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Book of Fugazi photos by Glen E. Friedman coming in September :: Fort Reno '07

Read all about it here at DCist. A book of photos featuring the legendary DC punk band Fugazi (see page for the band at their own label Dischord here).

Get a sneak peak here at Rolling Stone.

Here is a site for getting on the book's mailing list.

Fugazi offers a good work/business model for DIY artists & entertainers, I think.

::

More DC music news: Fort Reno free concert series 2007; June 18 - August 16.


- Sujewa

"Online Movie Writer Dan Epstein, Dead at 31" - Cinematical

Read the Cinematical article here.

I think I've read some stuff Epstein wrote.

Death is always tragic, even more so when the person is young.

Rest In Peace Dan Epstein.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

At Still in Motion blog: Interview with Micheal Azerrad & AJ Schnack re: Kurt Cobain About A Son

Well, since this week will see the Silverdocs premiere of About A Son, I guess it's cool that this blog is temporarily turning into an unofficial links site for Son stuff :) Check out this long interview with the creators of the flick, from May, at Still in Motion.

More DNO news coming very soon.

- Sujewa

Spike Lee to make a film about African-American soldiers in WWII

Read all about it at the TV Guide.

Here's a quote:

" "I recently met a black veteran who fought at Iwo Jima and he told me how hurt he was that he could not find a single African-American in Clint Eastwood's two films," Lee said."

Lee will adapt James McBride's novel "Miracle at St. Anna", set in Italy. More here.

- Sujewa

Damn, About A Son sold out :( :: Filmmaker & MovieMaker mags (the print versions) are pretty cool due to...

Instead of trying to buy the tickets to this Fri's Silverdocs screening of Kurt Cobain: About A Son on-line, I took a stroll out to AFI Silver around 7-8 PM tonight & found out that the screening is sold out :( I may still come into possession of a couple of tickets by the time Friday rolls around, otherwise, will have to catch Son some other time.

So, after "the no-tix for Son" let down, to cheer myself up I went to the Borders near AFI Silver & checked out the latest issues of Filmmaker Magazine (Spring '07) & MovieMaker mag (Issue No. 68), bought both. I typically read material from both magazines on line, so it was kind of interesting to have the print versions in my hand. With Filmmaker mag, I know some of the writers from the on-line world, through interacting with their blogs & through some e-mails, so for me that mag is a little bit more exciting now than it was in the pre-blogs days. It was specially cool to see myself & this blog mentioned in one of the articles - an article about new indie film distribution realities by Anthony Kaufman (thanks Anthony, made my day). Anyway, check out the print version of both magazines (specially if you, like I, have not checked out the print versions of the publications in a while), good & useful articles there. MovieMaker has a good article by Dov S-S Simens re: making money from making movies. Both Filmmaker & MovieMaker issues that I picked up today should be at the bigger bookstores everywhere at this point.

- Sujewa

Monday, June 11, 2007

David "GreenCine Daily" Hudson interview at The Rocchi Review

See what one of the most ferocious players in the indie film blogging game is thinking about, here at Cinematical's The Rocchi Review.

- Sujewa

Monday various: did an interview with On Tap mag for the DNO run, gotta get tix for About A Son this Fri

Just did an interview with the local DC area entertainment & night life magazine On Tap re: Date Number One, for the 7/12 - 18 run in Kensington. Will post the link here when the issue comes out.

The new doc Kurt Cobain: About A Son is gonna play in Silver Spring this Fri, at Silverdocs. Gotta go buy me some tix. Though I am not a huge fan of Nirvana (Fugazi is more my cup of punk rock tea), the content of this movie sounds interesting (interviews with Cobain set to images of Seattle area) and the flick is by AJ Schnack, director of the They Might Be Giants doc Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns & fellow member of the US indie film blogger underground/conspiracy/secret society, so it should be good stuff. Go here for the AFI page for About A Son.

- Sujewa

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Indie rockers, vintage porn aesthetics, & philosophy; City Paper article about a DC short film series

Here is a segment of the Washington City Paper article about Las Historias Mas Sexy Del Mundo!:

"Cheevers’ and Mueller’s D.C.-punk-does-retro-European-sleaze aesthetic is the hallmark of the Sexy series. Shot locally on shoestring budgets, the 15-minute short films eschew any actual sex scenes and focus on the narrative, swapping the genre’s ridiculous dialogue with Socratic exchanges about Kierkegaard, theoretical physics, and neo-Luddism—all dubbed in Spanish, of course. By featuring a band in each installment, the filmmakers add an Old Grey Whistle Test twist. The first film features Childballads mastermind Stewart Lupton playing Peeping Tom to ex-Tuscadero chanteuse Melissa Farris; Farris bemoans Guy Debord’s “society of the spectacle” as the Scene Creamers perform in the background. Sexy 2, the second of a planned trilogy, features local financial guru Matthew Lesko (aka “The Question Mark Suit Guy”) discussing special relativity with New York-based makeup artist Veronica Ibarra as a prelude to a Raveonettes performance."

Read the entire article here.

- Sujewa

Washington City Paper article about Alex Pacheco's recently completed feature Praxis

Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Ignored the critics & went to see Paris Je T'Aime, movie was good

The handful of reviews I read of Paris Je T'Aime were not very enthusiastic about the movie, but, I was not feeling too well earlier tonight so it was time to take it easy with a movie, and the flick was playing near me at the Wheaton Plaza (or Westfield as it is known now, but it'll always be Wheaton Plaza to me) in Wheaton, MD, which is kind of shocking since the last time I checked the Wheaton Plaza theater carried like a dozen Hollywood mega-blockbuster type movies, I guess the demographic is changing. Anyway, saw Paris Je T'Aime, liked it, for the following reasons; the film was very well shot & had a great look, all but 2 segments (the mimes, the vampires) had the same look - colorful, nuanced, inviting, each of the stories were interesting though some failed at points to achieve the humorous or dramatic goals that they were shooting for (or so I thought), there were some unpredictable & surreal segments (the one with all the Asian ladies for example), good to great acting in all the segments. The flick had good music, although I did not care much for the extra mushiness that they tried to tag on at the end with a song, trying a little too hard there to evoke that "we are all in this thing together" feeling. All in all it was a strange and, more than half the time, a very enjoyable experience. For me part of the strangeness was watching a French movie at Wheaton Plaza!!! with the total attendance of like 9 other people on a Saturday evening/7 PM show with me being the youngest person in the theater, by at least 20-30 years. Get more info. on Paris Je T'Aime here.

- Sujewa

Friday, June 08, 2007

1 year after Jonathan Marlow wrote about the Maryland New Wave films, flicks & makers still rolling

GreenCine's Jonathan Marlow wrote about real indie films about this time last year at this post and mentioned the Maryland New Wave films The Guatemalan Handshake, Cocaine Angel & Date Number One.

One year later, two of the three films are still being screened at various places in the US, which is a significant accomplishment for low/ultra-low/"no" budget movies that are being self-distributed on ultra-low/"no" budgets.

Go here to get info. on upcoming Handshake screenings & on screenings of Silver Jew, the next film by Angel's director.

Go here to get info. on upcoming Date screenings.

"Kids" from Maryland making it happen real indie style! And keeping it going over 12 months later.

- Sujewa

Watermelon on MySpace

Saw the Melvin Van Peebles doc How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) last night. It was entertaining, very inspirational, & educational. Check out the MySpace page for the flick here.

- Sujewa

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Owl And The Sparrow & several other Asian American & Asian International films at LAFF '07

Read all about it at AsianAmericanFilm.com.

Here is a sample:

OWL AND THE SPARROW

WORLD PREMIERE - 2007 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL

SCREENING TIMES:
Sat. Jun 23, 5:00pm, Landmark's Regent
Tue. Jun 26, 7:00pm, Majestic Crest

SYNOPSIS: Writer-director Stephane Gauger's gentle and luminous film unfolds on the tough but hopeful streets of urban Vietnam. Headstrong and irrepressible, 10-year-old Thuy runs away to Saigon after causing trouble on the job at her uncle's factory. Alone in the city, selling roses on the streets, she eventually befriends two lovelorn strangers: Lan, a beautiful but heartbroken flight attendant, and Hai, a zookeeper more comfortable with his animals than people. Pham Thi Han, in her first film role, is a true discovery as the spirited Thuy, and Gauger directs the young star with an assured, understated hand in this romantic tale of love and loneliness.

Read more here.

- Sujewa

Scott Kirsner's article on selling indie DVDs on line

Check it out here.

- Sujewa

4 Reasons Why Amazon Should Buy Netflix article

Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Feed Off

Some indieWIRE blogs page readers & others (see post below) were having problems with the fact that I am mostly talking about Date Number One at this blog these days ("! the nerve, talking about his own movie at his blog!" :)), so, I just turned off the site feeds. Which means posts made at this blog should not be showing up at indieWIRE's blogs page anymore. This, I think, is the way to go at the moment, since I am more interested in writing about my own movie and less interested in writing about indie film & filmmaking in general right now. Later on iW blogs page, been nice hanging out over there for a while.

Hello people-who-want-to-mostly-read-about-DNO-over-here, pull up a chair.

:: 6/7/07 UPDATE: Feed's are back on. Will be blogging as usual re: DNO & other things. Any iW blogs page reader can just ignore whatever they do not want to read.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How I Assembled A Digital Editing Set Up For Under $1500

* This post was originally published in my other (& now retired) blog Filmmaking For The Poor in 11/7/05, so, it may be possible to pull together the gear described below for even less than $1500.

** The exact amount I spent was $1375 for the editing set up. But $1500 is a good goal to keep in mind in case transportation, additional taxes, other small expenses related to the purchases come up.

How I Assembled A Digital Editing Set Up For Under $1500
(originally published in Nov 7, 2005)

Of course even $1500, a paltry sum by Hollywood standards, is a lot of money for a lot of the poor filmmakers on this planet, but that amount is within reach for the disciplined American indie filmmaker with a dayjob of some kind (that pays in cash, as opposed to livestock or some other form of currency, I do not think the Apple Store trades their goods for chickens or pigs, yet).

Here is the digital video editing set up that I assembled for cutting my new feature "Date Number One" http://www.wilddiner.com/, along with the cost of each item:

Mac Mini, 40 GB storage (from an Apple Store in DC area) - $500
Firewire cable - FREE (already had it, would be less than $20 to buy)
PC Monitor, 17" - FREE (had an extra one at work, would be about $100-$150 or so to buy, I think)
Apple Keyboard - $40
Apple Mouse - $20
Final Cut Express - $300
Speakers (w/ a sub-woofer - weird name for a gadget - from Radio Shack) - $30
Headphones (from Radio Shack) - $15
Extra, external storage drive from Lacie (not bought yet) - $150
DVD burner (not bought yet) - $150

Total Cost: $1375

I am loading my footage in from a MiniDV camera that I already owned. If such an "edit-camera" had to be purchased, you could do it for around $300 (the Canon ZR 100 por ejemplo).
In that case the total cost of the editing set up will go up to: $1675.

So if you've got a burning desire to make a movie, and no one to fund it, now you know that for less than $2000, you can get everything that you need to edit a DV feature. Hope this helps. Go get a PT job, save up $s, get the gear, & be your own Executive Producer baby.

Sujewa
*******

DATE NUMBER ONE on Vimeo VOD

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

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