Movies at the 2006 High Falls Film festival
NARRATIVE, France/Georgia, 2005, 93 minutes; in French with English subtitles
Director/Writer: Géla Babluani
Producers: Jean-Baptiste Legrand, Fanny Saadi
This neo-noir film has caused a sensation wherever it is played, picking up top awards at several prestigious festivals. Whether you love it or are shocked by it, chances are you won’t leave your seat. Clearly, this effort by first-time helmer Gela Babluani has announced the arrival of a major new talent on the scene. Shot in desolate black and white, the director (son of Georgian director Temur Babluani) has learned much from classic East European cinema – eerie faces and images bring Sabine Bauchart’s highly original screenplay to life, and add to a sense of impending dread. The plot centers around Sebastien, a young poor immigrant who overhears a neighbor’s chance at a big score. When the neighbor winds up dead, Sebastian decides to try for the money himself. As he travels by train and car to his increasingly forbidding destination, the viewer is hit with the realization that is perhaps the hallmark of all great films of this genre. Rather than hoping he will turn around, a darker place in our psyche encourages him to keep going. Wherever he’s heading and whatever is waiting for him there, we want to watch. And in true noir fashion, we will pay for that crime. (Ruth Cowing)
• 2005 Venice Festival: Best First Feature Film
• 2006 Sundance Festival: Grand Jury Prize World Cinema
Nabila Daniault was the Color Timer and Production Manager for both 13 (TZAMETI) and Babluani’s next film L’HERITAGE. She has also done visual effects on FEMME FATALE, BARNIE’S MINOR ANNOYANCES and THE CRIMSON RIVERS.
21 UP AMERICA
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2006, 99 minutes
Director: Christopher Quinn
Producer: Victoria Bippart
Victoria Bippart in attendance
Modeled on the famed British documentary series by Michael Apted, this is the third installment of an ambitious and fascinating project that chronicles the lives of 16 Americans by filming them every seven years as they grow from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. The subjects range from privileged New York Upper Eastsiders to residents of Chicago’s most infamous public housing project to middle-class suburbanites to children of the Midwest farm belt. At 21, they are barely adults, but the choices they make now about education, jobs, marriage and parenthood may well determine the rest of their lives. Director Christopher Quinn has an excellent rapport with all these young men and women, and he adroitly weaves clips from the two earlier films to show us that the course of someone’s life is never entirely predictable. (Amy Taubin)
Victoria Bippart’s relationship with the American Up kids goes back to the inception of the Peabody Award-winning series. Her other producing credits include LONDON CALLING, an A.C.E. award-winning, 12-part series about English pop culture. Directing credits include two episodes of the award-winning series THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL; PHISH; and a film about Dan Kiley, America’s first “modern” landscape architect. Bippart is an instructor at M.I.T.’s Media-Lab, where she helped develop the first interactive video journal.
DOCUMENTARY, USA/Germany, 2006, 105 minutes
Director/Producer/Writer: Katharina Otto-Bernstein
Co-Producer: Penny CM Stankiewicz
This film is a provocative and moving portrait of perhaps the most visionary theater artist of our time, the legendary Robert Wilson. The film delivers a surprisingly candid look at Wilson the man: his lonely childhood in Waco, Texas; his early learning disabilities; his work with disabled children; his departure from Texas at the time of his coming out and his fascination with the downtown New York avant-garde scene of the late 60′s. What emerges is a life full of impressions, colors and rhythms, making it all the more poignant how Wilson’s early hardships ultimately shaped his ground-breaking aesthetic vision, creating some of the most historic theatre and opera productions of the twentieth century. David Byrne, William Burroughs, Tom Waits and Philip Glass are featured among his collaborators. It is a remarkable tale of a shy, stuttering boy’s triumph over adversity – and an extraordinary opportunity for the viewer to know this amazing talent.
• 2006 Berlin, Jerusalem, Montreal, Warsaw International Film Festivals: Official Selection
Katharina Otto-Bernstein was born in Hamburg, and raised in England and the U.S. She graduated from Columbia University Film School and has worked as an independent filmmaker in New York for the past 15 years. In 1999, she met Robert Wilson at a cocktail party, who asked her for a shot of vodka. The chance meeting evolved into a three-hour conversation that in turn evolved into the five-year production of ABSOLUTE WILSON. Her book “Absolute Wilson: The Biography” has just been published.
AFTER THE WEDDING
NARRATIVE, Denmark/Sweden, 2006, 120 minutes; in Danish with English subtitles
Director/Writer: Susanne Bier
Producer: Sisse Graum Olsen
Jacob (Danish movie idol Mads Mikkelson) is dedicated to the children he cares for in an orphanage in India, but the orphanage is on the brink of closing for lack of funds. Jorgen, a wealthy industrialist and devoted family man in Copenhagen, is considering a major gift that will save the organization, but insists on meeting Jacob in Denmark before doing so. Against his will, Jacob journeys to Copenhagen and discovers that his past and Jorgen’s present are entwined in the person of Jorgen’s wife, and Jorgen’s manipulations have only just begun…
The strong performances of Denmark’s leading actors, the skilled direction of Susanne Bier and the high production values combine in a riveting, emotional, romantic drama that is also a commentary on wealth and poverty in our global community. (Catherine Wyler)
Susanne Bier was born in Denmark and graduated from the National Film School of Denmark. She has directed music videos, shorts and features including ONCE IN A LIFETIME, the Dogme sensation OPEN HEARTS and the international hit BROTHERS. Her film THE ONE AND ONLY won numerous Danish Film Academy and film critics’ awards, and is one of the five most popular Danish feature films of all time.
AIR GUITAR NATION
DOCUMENTARY, USA, 2006, 81 minutes
Director: Alexandra Lipsitz
Producers: Anna Barber, Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz
If the title of this film isn’t enough to get your attention, then perhaps a few riffs from Bjorn Turoque, C-Diddy or Krye Tuff will do – watching these guys contort their faces, leap in the air and grip their fingers around non-existent strings is an experience not to be missed. A rapidly growing cult sensation, AIR GUITAR NATION chronicles the birth of the U.S. Air Guitar Championships, from its beginnings at NYC’s Pussycat Lounge to the Roxy in LA and on to Finland for the international championships. While the Europeans gloomily eye the upstarts from across the pond with dire predictions re: the death of the artform, the film hilariously captures the fascinating relationships that develop as the contestants circle each other at a pre-contest air guitar “boot camp,” run by the idolized-by-all gurus of the sport. The climax of the film is of course the big night, packed to the gills with fans. Judged on technical accuracy, stage presence and “airness,” a Zen-like state that transcends all else, it suddenly becomes clear this is one competitive sport that binds instead of separates. As the final triumphant note is played, it’s all we can do not to leap out of our seats. (Ruth Cowing)
• 2006 Tribeca Film Festival: Best Documentary
• 2006 South by Southwest: Audience Award
Alexandra Lipsitz began working on documentaries in the 1980s in Poland with Andzje Kostenko and the BBC. She has worked on a sailboat in Southeast Asia, crewed on several circuses in the United States and assisted Ondi Timoner on two documentary projects. Lipsitz has also produced hours of “scintillating television” for Project Greenlight and Project Runway. This is her first feature-length documentary.
Director: Ian Inaba
Producer: Anastasia King
Anastasia King and Cynthia McKinney in attendance
If any documentary could inspire people to fight for their right to vote, this one is it. Director Ian Inaba delves into the systematic disenfranchisement of African-American voters in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. The film’s heroine is the controversial Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, whose investigation of the Florida election, as well as her outspoken criticism of the war in Iraq, has made her a target of a relentless rightwing “swiftboating” campaign. McKinney’s habit of speaking truth to power (her confrontation of an openly contemptuous Donald Rumsfeld is one of the film’s high points) has also caused her own party to view her as an extremist, but her dedication to exposing racist policies, particularly in relation to voting rights cannot be denied. The recent renewal of the Voting Rights Act does not mean that dirty tricks will not continue at the polls. AMERICAN BLACKOUT is an inspiring voters’ manual for the immediate future. (Amy Taubin)
Anastasia King launched her career in entertainment with renowned choreographer/director Otis Sallid after studying Economics and Entrepreneurial Management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She has since accumulated dozens of credits, including THE VISIT, a feature film starring Billy Dee Williams and Phylicia Rashad; a concert video for Alicia Keys; and music videos for Nine Inch Nails, LL Cool J, And The Notorious B.I.G.
• 2006 Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize
• 2006 Cleveland International Film Festival: Best Documentary
• 2006 Boston Independent Film Festival: Best Documentary
• 2006 Urbanworld Film Festival: Best Documentary
NARRATIVE, France, 2006, 106 minutes; in French with English subtitles
Director: Danièle Thompson
Producer: Christine Gozlan
Set in Paris at its most sparkling, this witty romantic comedy by Danièle Thompson, director of LA BÛCHE (High Falls Film Festival, 2001), is so suffused with joie de vivre it will have you floating out of the theater. In classic fairy tale fashion, a young woman (buoyant French star Cecile de France) arrives from the provinces and finds a job at a café adjacent to a celebrated theater, concert hall and art auction house. There she observes the entanglements of some brilliant Parisians: a popular TV actress (the irresistible Valerie Le Mercier) whose hilarious modernization of a Feydeau farce horrifies her director; a pianist (Albert Dupontel) who wants to abandon stuffy concertizing for the public square; and a widowed art collector (veteran Claude Brasseur) at loggerheads with his college professor son (Christopher Thompson, the director’s son and the film’s co-writer) who’s handsome enough to be Prince Charming. (Amy Taubin)
Danièle Thompson was born in Monaco to the prolific filmmaker Gérard Oury, and received her first screenwriting credits on his 1966 film LA GRANDE VADROUILLE. Along with Marcel Jullian, she wrote scripts for nine more of her father’s movies throughout the next few decades. Thompson made her directorial debut with the Cesar-nominated LA BÛCHE, followed by the romantic comedy DÉCALAGE HORAIRE starring Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno.
THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI
DOCUMENTARY, USA, 2006, 74 minutes
Director/Cinematographer: Linda Hattendorf
Producers: Masa Hoshikawa, Linda Hattendorf
Editors: Keiko Deguchi, Linda Hattendorf
A familiar figure on the streets of Soho during the 90s, Jimmy Mirikitani sat on the sidewalk turning out countless paintings of cats and, less happily, of the Tule Lake internment camp where he was imprisoned for over three years, and of Hiroshima, where he grew up and where his mother’s entire family died in the bombing. Documentarian Linda Hattendorf began videotaping the elderly, homeless artist in 2001, and on 9/11, when the neighborhood was so engulfed by smoke and ash that it turned into a black and white movie version of itself, she invited him into her apartment. As Jimmy reveals his frustrations and his anger toward the government that took away years of his life and unlawfully revoked his American citizenship, Hattendorf tries to gets him into the social service system and discovers how easy it is to get lost in America. (Amy Taubin)
• 2006 Tribeca Film Festival: Audience Award
• 2006 New York Documentary Feature Competition: Honorable Mention
Linda Hattendorf has been working in the New York documentary community for more than a decade. Her editing work has aired on PBS, A&E, The Sundance Channel and in theatrical venues and many festivals. Other credits include Associate Editor on Barbara Kopple’s BEARING WITNESS, cameraperson for William Greaves’ SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM TAKE 2 1/2, and a researcher for the Ken Burns series THE WEST. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds degrees in Literature, Art History, and Media Studies. This is her directorial debut.
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2006, 86 minutes
Director/Writer: Jon Fauer
Producer/Cinematographer: Volker Bahnemann
Special appearance by cinematographer Ellen Kuras
If you’ve ever wondered about the art of cinematography, this film will introduce you to 110 leading practitioners from 15 countries, explaining how and why the movies look the way they do. These cinematographers have worked in all sectors of the industry: feature films, television, documentaries, commercials and music videos. They explain that there are no rules for artful cinematography. It is an art like painting, writing literature or composing music. This film will provide insights into the art of visual storytelling that may never have entered your mind, and it will leave you with a ravenous appetite for the movies. Art or craft, cinematography has not been very open to women, as this film makes evident. Ellen Kuras (one of the 110 cinematographers) will introduce the film and lead the Q and A.
• 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival: Official Selection
[Sponsored by Kodak Entertainment Imaging]
Ellen Kuras studied still photography at Rochester’s Visual Studies Workshop and at the Rhode Island School of Design; she also has a degree in Anthropology and Semiotics from Brown and was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. Now an award-winning cinematographer, her credits include DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY, much of Spike Lee’s work, PERSONAL VELOCITY, COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, SIX FEET UNDER and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
A COAT OF SNOW
NARRATIVE, US, 2004, 73 minutes
Director/Writer: Gordy Hoffman
Producers: Jason Blumenfeld, Gordy Hoffman, Paul Kumpata
Jennifer Christopher in attendance
When a young woman arrives with her video camera at her cousin’s bachelorette party, the evening begins with the light anticipation that accompanies a happy event. Slowly, what begins as a high-spirited celebration turns into a “long, dark night of the soul” as it becomes apparent that the bride-to-be is hiding a grim secret. Avant-garde and richly original, A COAT OF SNOW is writer/director and Fairport, NY native’s Gordy Hoffman’s directorial début. Extraordinarily shot from the party guest’s point of view, Hoffman takes the audience on a strange odyssey of image and emotion to the stark conclusion of his tale. The spontaneous, improvisation style belies the fact that every word is scripted. Hoffman comments “the combination of unknown actors carrying a camera with the intimacy inherent in the texture of home video vigorously serves the emotional arc of this movie.” (June Foster)
· 2005 Locarno & 2006 Milan Film Festival: Official Selection
Jennifer Christopher’s extensive work in the Theater includes The Aquarium, Burn This, Critical Condition and Closer. She played the younger version of the late Carrie Snodgress in The Kentucky Cycle; and Maggie in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Her film work includes CRITICAL CONDITION, GOD’S ARMY and MUSIC FROM ANOTHER ROOM. TV work includes a recurring role on ABC’s Port Charles, music videos by Reba McEntire and the newest Keane video alongside Giovanni Ribisi.
NARRATIVE, USA/Germany, 2006, 104 minutes
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Producers: Sidney Kimmel, Stephen J. Rivele
Starring: Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Phyllida Law
Agnieszka Holland in attendance
Ludwig van Beethoven — sexy? When Ed Harris plays him, you bet he is, and not just sexy, also bawdy, irascible, passionate, violent — a turmoil of contradictions, and a genius too, of course. Diane Kruger is the ambitious young composition student/copyist sent by his publisher to help him set down his Ninth Symphony. It’s 1824, and a woman in this role is almost unthinkable, but Anna’s self-confidence and dire necessity combine to get her the job. So begins a fascinating, complicated (fictional) relationship. COPYING BEETHOVEN is a richly imagined story by writer Christopher Wilkinson, and it is beautifully executed by renowned filmmaker Agnieszka Holland (THE SECRET GARDEN) at her most romantic. The masterful sequence built around the first public performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, with the beautiful young copyist aiding the maestro while she’s transported by his creation, will sing in your memory…whatever your taste in music. (Catherine Wyler)
· 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival: Official Selection
· 2006 Toronto International Film Festival: Official Selection
Agnieszka Holland was born in Warsaw and studied film in Prague. Her mentor was famed director Andrzej Wajda, with whom she wrote several scripts before moving on to direct her own films. Holland gained notoriety as part of the Polish New Wave, and has won numerous international awards over her distinguished career. She is best known in the U.S. for such films as THE SECRET GARDEN, the Oscar-nominated EUROPA, EUROPA, and WASHINGTON SQUARE.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2006, 101 minutes
Director/Producer: Amy Berg
This is the story of Father Oliver O’Grady, an ingratiating man but also a notorious pedophile. O’Grady used his charm and authority as a priest to exploit children in Northern California over the course of twenty years. Despite early warning signs and complaints, the Church continued to move him from parish to parish. Following O’Grady’s incarceration and deportation to Ireland, filmmaker Amy Berg, remarkably, persuaded him to participate in the making of her film, and several of O’Grady’s victims also finally speak out, shedding light on the sad legacy of sexual abuse. As we go to press, DELIVER US FROM EVIL is causing an earthquake within the Los Angeles Archdiocese under the jurisdiction of Cardinal Roger Mahony with its searing indictment concerning church practices.
· 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival: Target Documentary Award
Amy Berg has spent the past five years producing documentary segments for CNN Investigations and the CBS News program 30 Minutes of Special Assignment, for which she received two Emmy’s. DELIVER US FROM EVIL is her first long-form documentary. She is currently working on a narrative feature: THIS IS NOT AMERICA.
FOLLOW MY VOICE
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2006, 100 minutes
Director: Katherine Linton
Producer/Editor: Kim Connell
Producer/DP: Joel Pomeroy
Featuring: John Cameron Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, They Might Be Giants, Rufus Wainwright
Part of the High Falls Film Festival Young Adult Series
Katherine Linton and Angel in attendance
Most everyone is familiar with John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the rock musical that first took New York by storm in 1998 and went on to become an international cult film classic. Fewer people are familiar with NYC’s Harvey Milk High School, set up by the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HRI) to provide a “safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning teens.” The two became forever linked when record producer Chris Slusarenko asked an impressive list of indie rock musicians– including Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, They Might Be Giants, and Rufus Wainwright –to record Wig in a Box: Songs from and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch, to benefit HRI. FOLLOW MY VOICE expertly interweaves the making of the record with interviews with such alt icons as Cameron Mitchell and, perhaps most importantly, four Harvey Milk students as they attempt to traverse the tightrope of being a teen in today’s often intolerant society. Their at times uplifting and oftentimes heartbreaking stories will stay with you, much like the music of HEDWIG. (Ruth Cowing)
Katherine Linton is an award-winning producer whose documentaries have aired on PBS, VH1, Bravo, A&E, TLC and Discovery Health. She has been producing socially relevant media for 10 years. In 2004, she started Linton Media Inc. whose first project, THE EVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED, launched Viacom’s newest channel. Films currently in production include CONEY ISLAND; SERENADE; INSIDE THE MIND OF RANDALL TERRY and a series on Lesbians and Sex for Here TV.
FREESTYLE: THE ART OF RHYME
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2004, 75 minutes
Director: Kevin Fitzgerald
Producer: Tiare White
Featuring: JUICE, Supernatural, Notorious B.l.G., Mos Def
Part of the High Falls Film Festival Young Adult Series
Director Kevin Fitzgerald spent 10 years on this labor of love documentary, gathering hours of footage of street-based freestylers and battle-rappers – whose only “rules” are don’t make up your rhymes ahead of time and don’t engage in physical violence. Exuberantly capturing the spirit of the movement on street corners and on nightclub stages, Fitzgerald (aka DJ Organic) spends time with the best of the best – Juice, Craig G, Supernatural – battlers whose ferocious performances have become the stuff of legends. The film also explores the emergence of freestyling as an art form, and makes important connections to the improvisation of jazz, the rhetorical genius of Muhammed Ali, the ecstatic performances of black preachers and seminal proto-rap figures like The Last Poets. Interwoven into the mix are chance encounters with such future megastars as Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. With a running time of little over an hour the film is savvy enough, like any good rapper, to leave audiences hungry for more. (compiled by Ruth Cowing)
Tiare White is a graduate of the A.F.I. Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies, and co-founder of Industrial Media Arts, a content development company in Santa Monica, California. She is the author, with Camille Landau, of the best selling What They Don’t Teach You at Film School, published by Hyperion Books. She is currently working for the television show The Biggest Loser.
GOODBYE LIFE (ADIEU LA VIE / SHAB BEKHEIR FARMANDEH)
NARRATIVE, Iran, 2006, 95 minutes; in Farsi with English subtitles
Director/Writer: Ensieh Shah-Hosseini
Producer: Seyyed Saeid Seyyedzadeh
The first feature by Iranian filmmaker Ensieh Shah-Hosseini is based on her eight-year-long experience as a journalist during the 1980’s Iran/Iraq war. Maryam, the film’s heroine, goes to the war zone as a photographer as a way of committing suicide for her country and expiating the shame she feels for divorcing her husband. Amid the slaughter she discovers new meaning in life. A profoundly anti-war film, GOODBYE LIFE is unsparing in depicting death and destruction. But it also shows Iranian villagers living in the war zone determined to preserve the rituals of daily life, even when a wedding celebration turns into a funeral. Except for Ladan Mostofi, who gives an exceptionally intelligent performance as Maryam, most of the actors are friends Shah-Hosseini made during the war, who reenact, with great conviction, events that happened to them at that time. (Amy Taubin)
· 2006 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Special Mention
Ensieh Shah-Hosseini was born in Gorgan, and graduated with a degree in Cinematography. Her remarkable resume includes stints as a war reporter, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, researcher and award-winning novelist. Her short film DEADLINE won the first prize at the 2001 Women’s Film Festival in Seoul.
THE HOST (GWOEMUL)
NARRATIVE, South Korea, 2006, 119 minutes; in Korean with English subtitles
Director/Writer: Bong Joon-ho
Producer: Choi Yong-bae
Production Designer: Seong-hie Ryu
A monster emerges from the Han River in Seoul, following a U.S. doctor’s dumping of chemicals into the waterway. The mutated creature, an Alien-sized tadpole as agile on land as in the water, kills many beachgoers, then nabs a young girl and carries her off. In the ensuing panic, the government takes its focus off capturing the monster and, instead, enforces round-ups and quarantines of innocent by-standers, fearing that they have contracted a deadly virus. The girl’s wildly dysfunctional family must undertake the dangerous mission to rescue her. Allegories abound in Korea’s biggest box office and critical success. Director/writer Bong Joon-Ho (who some are calling his country’s Steven Spielberg) binds genre elements to rich, appealing depictions of working class people. Smart, touching, funny, and scary, The Host is a hybrid in more ways than one. The spiffy visual effects were provided by the San Francisco company The Orphanage, and supervised by Hollywood ace Kevin Rafferty. (Amy Taubin)
· 2006 CANNES Film Festival: Directors’ Fortnight
· Toronto Film Festival: Official Selection
· New York Film Festival: Official Selection
RYU Seong-hee has created a distinctive look and atmosphere for MEMORIES OF MURDER, OLD BOY and A BITTERSWEET LIFE. She has been paid the ultimate compliment for a technical staff member: her designs have been described as being as essential to the movies as their main characters. RYU claims that she always agonizes over the borderline between reality and fantasy. She has seized upon THE HOST as her perfect chance to depict the tensions generated by the strange, phantasmagorical presence of the Creature amidst the very realistic and mundane space of contemporary Seoul.
Director/Producer/Writer: Pippa Scott
Co-Director: Oreet Rees
Co-Producer: Glory Friend
Voice-overs: Don Cheadle, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell
Pippa Scott in attendance
With its glorious array of natural resources – ivory, rubber, uranium – Congo should have been the wealthiest country in Africa. Instead its people have suffered slavery, torture, and genocide, first at the hands of Belgium’s 19th-century King Leopold, who looted the country and murdered millions of its people. This imperialist horror story continued throughout the 20th century. During the Cold war, the CIA was instrumental in the coup that brought the military thug Mobuto to power. Mobuto turned Leopold’s policies on his own people in the name of anti-Communism. Director Pippa Scott, well known for her role as the older daughter in John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS, isn’t shy about naming racism as the reason Europe and the United States felt free to participate in unlimited, appalling economic exploitation. She tells this atrocious history through archival photographs and film clips, and with the help of voice-overs by actors Don Cheadle, Alfre Woodard, and James Cromwell. (Amy Taubin)
KISS ME NOT ON THE EYES (DUNIA)
NARRATIVE, Lebanon, 2005, 112 minutes; subtitled
Director/Writer/Set Designer: Jocelyne Saab
Executive Producer: Ismail Mourad
After studying literature at Cairo University, 23-year-old Dunia wants to become a professional dancer. She attends an audition for an Asian dance contest where she recites Arabian poetry without any body movement. She explains to the perplexed jury that a woman can’t move her body or evoke acts of love when society asks women to hide their femininity. She is selected for the contest and meets Beshir, an intellectual and activist who will supervise her thesis on ecstasy in Sufi love poetry. Their attraction is mutual. This could be liberation for Dunia, but the constraints on women in Egyptian society goes deeper than she suspects.
2005 Montréal International Film Festival: American Grand Prize
2006 International Festival of Film, Fribourg Switzerland: Audience Award and Youth Jury Award
2006 Milan International Festival: Province of Milan Award
2006 Algarve, Portugal International Film Festival Mediterranean Award, Best Feature Film
2006 Sundance Film Festival: World Competition
Jocelyne Saab, a journalist and filmmaker, has directed over 20 documentary films shown worldwide on French and European channels, on NBC in the United States and NHK in Japan. To date, she has shot in Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Kurdistan, Ex-Spanish Sahara, and Vietnam. She has written all of her films except SUSPENDED LIFE, written by Gerard Brach.
DOCUMENTARY, UK, 2005, 98 minutes; in German with English subtitles
Director: Rex Bloomstein
Producer: Tony Tabatznik
The picturesque Austrian town of Mauthausen was the site of a concentration camp to which the Nazis shipped Eastern Europeans, homosexuals, and American POWs; in last year of the war, it became a death camp for Jews. Now, it is a tourist destination. British documentarian Rex Bloomstein focuses on the people who today cross paths there. Despite the many international tour groups of teenagers and adults who come to confront a horrific history, most of the residents – both newcomers and those who lived in Mauthausen during the war – are practiced in denial and compartmentalization. On the other hand, the Austrian tours guides, some of whom have chosen the job of recounting atrocities in lieu of military service, are clearly tortured by what they’ve come to know. KZ is about how we, in present, respond to the horror of this historic massive extermination. (Amy Taubin)
· 2006 Sundance Film Festival: Nominated, Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema Documentary
Diana Holtzberg is an executive with the distribution company Films Transit, which concentrates on documentaries. In 2003, she served as Executive Producer on END OF THE CENTURY: THE STORY OF THE RAMONES and in 2004, IMAGINARY WITNESS: Hollywood And The Holocaust.
LIFE AFTER TOMORROW
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2005, 73 minutes
Directors/Producers: Julie Stevens, Gil Cates Jr.
Featuring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Smith
Thousands of young girls got their start in show business during the original five-year run of the hit musical ANNIE, among them Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald and MSNBC anchor Dara Brown. When the curtain bowed in 1983 after 2,377 performances, many a career had been launched. But for others the reality of life after such a dazzling burst of fame was hard to reconcile. In 2000, former ANNIE orphan Julie Stevens launched annieorphans.com, hoping to reconnect with some of her fellow castmembers. The site became the premiere site for fans worldwide, and helped create a sisterhood of young women who appeared in the show. Over 40 of these women make up the core of this film, and in highly personal interviews talk about life behind the scenes of a Broadway hit — how it affected their childhoods, their families, and their lives “after tomorrow,” a reference to the show’s signature song. Though part cautionary tale for those dreaming of a life in the theatre, there’s no denying the vicarious thrill of watching a group of thirty-somethings sing and dance their way through “A Hard Knock Life” like it was yesterday. (Ruth Cowing)
Julie Stevens combined her love of acting with a Master’s Degree in Education. She has been a teaching artist for many theatre companies and schools, and an on set studio teacher for professional children. Her voiceover credits include My Little Pony and Cheer Bear. Currently, her singing voice can be heard as Barbie in the animated feature film, THE PRINCESS AND THE PAUPER.
LITTLE RED FLOWERS
NARRATIVE, China/Italy, 2006, 92 minutes; in Chinese with English subtitles
Director/Producer: Zhang Yuan
Producers: Marco Müller, Allen Chan, Li Bolun, Yao Lifeng
Based on the novel by Wang Shuo
Celebrated director Zhang Yuan lets his film unfold like the most beautiful of flowers, revealing layer after layer of complexity along the way. Immediately apparent is the breathtaking cinematography by director of photography Yang Tao, and a series of simply remarkable performances by a group of largely untrained four and five-year-old children. But at the real heart of this film is an examination of Chinese life that tackles questions of conformity and mass movement vs. individualism. The charming but rebellious Fang is dropped off by his busy father at a boarding school run by, among others, the strict disciplinarian Miss Li. As the children are led briskly through their daily routine, Fang breaks rank at every turn, resulting in a series of incidents that are at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking. At one point the children turn against Fang en masse; in another memorable scene he leads them to near revolution by convincing them Miss Li is a child-eating monster. Eventually locked up in isolation for his transgressions, Fang must decide if he will ultimately conform, or continue to express his individuality despite the cost. (Ruth Cowing)
· 2006 Berlin Film Festival: Panorama Special
· 2006 Sundance Film Festival: World Dramatic Competition
Natalie Cristiani was born in Rimini, Italy. She served as Assistant Editor on LITTLE RED FLOWERS, in addition to FACE ADDICT, THE SCENT OF BLOOD, and TEN MINUTES OLDER: THE CELLO. Her Editor credits include BEFORE IT HAD A NAME, PETROLEO MEXICO, PATRIZIA CAVALLI STANZE E VERSI, and CAMERA OBSCURA.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
NARRATIVE, Germany, 2006, 137 minutes; in German with English subtitles
Director: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck
Producers: Qurin Berg, Max Wiedemann
Editor: Patricia Rommel
It is 1984 in East Berlin, when a perfectly non-descript, colorless operative of the East German secret police, the Stasi, is ordered to find something incriminating — anything will do — in the life of the country’s most popular –and loyal — young playwright. His offense? He is living with a very attractive actress who has caught the eye of an important government minister who will have her, whatever it takes. Although both playwright and actress are highly regarded cultural figures, their lives will be turned inside out. Brilliantly written and directed, this unusual thriller unfolds in a riveting, edge-of-your-seat manner. All the characters are richly drawn, the story complex but readily understood, and the chill of a ruthless, all-powerful regime will creep into your bones. This is an extraordinary directorial debut, and Germany’s Oscar contender. Already considered the movie to beat, it is not to be missed. (Catherine Wyler).
· 2006 Lola Awards (German Academy Awards): Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Production Design
· 2006 Telluride Film Festival: Official Selection
· 2006 Toronto International Film Festival: Official Selection
Patricia Rommel is a renowned German editor and winner of many editing awards. She is best known in the U.S. for such films as GRIPSHOLM, EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES and NOWHERE IN AFRICA (High Falls Film Festival 2002).
Accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra
NARRATIVE (SILENT), US, 1928, 72 minutes
Director: Paul Fejos
Producer: Universal Studios
Based on a story by Mann Page
Presented by Stella Pence, Co-Director, Telluride Film Festival and 2006 High Falls Film Festival Elizabeth Cady Stanton “Thorn in the Side” Award Honoree; and Patrick Loughney, Curator, Motion Picture Department, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
A classic charmer from 1928, the transitional period between “silents” and “talkies”, LONESOME at High Falls will be given anything but classical treatment with the renowned Alloy Orchestra providing the sound track. Paul Fejus’ romantic comedy brims with humor, pathos, energy and movement, although the plot is familiar. The story takes place in New York City, where two lonely people, Jim and Mary, live in the same building, and work in the same factory, but don’t know each other. They both hear an advertisement for Coney Island. and decide to take a bus to the amusement park… As the movie that touched off the Telluride Film Festival in 1974, LONESOME represents the height of silent film artistry, and tells a delicious and universal love story.
The Alloy Orchestra is a world-renowned three man musical ensemble which has appeared at numerous prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the U.S. and abroad, including the Telluride Film Festival, the Louvre, Lincoln Center, the Academy of Motion Pictures and the National Gallery of Art. Alloy has helped revive some of the great masterpieces of the silent era. An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable. Utilizing their famous “rack of junk” and electronic synthesizers, the group generates beautiful music in a spectacular variety of styles.
MEN AT WORK
NARRATIVE, Iran, 2006, 75 minutes; in Farsi with English subtitles
Director/Writer: Mani Haghighi
Producer: Mohammad-Reza Takhtkeshian
Writer: Abbas Kiarostami
Editor: Mastaneh Mohajer
Returning to Tehran from a ski trip, four middle-aged male friends spot a strange object at the edge of a cliff. It might be an Easter Island-like stone statue or a fossilized tree, but in any case, its phallic monumentality presents a challenge and they become obsessed with literally overthrowing it. A hilarious comedy of machismo emerges as the men strategize, enlist passersby, and risk life and limb in this absurd project. Working from a story suggested by Abbas Kiarostami, Mani Haghighi, director of ABADAN, a High Falls favorite in 2004, weaves an exceptionally rich social canvas, filled with vibrant characters from many walks of Iranian life. In their ridiculous obstinacy and their confusion about the women in their lives, Haghighi’s quartet of friends could not be further from the current medieval, demonic depiction of Iranian society. Indeed, they seem like men we know well – husbands, brothers, fathers, lovers and friends. (Amy Taubin)
· 2006 Fajr International Film Festival: Best Screenplay
· 2006 Berlin Film Festival: Official Selection
· 2006 Tribeca Film Festival: Official Selection
Mastaneh Mohajer edited the Iranian films PICCOLI LADRI, JOY OF MADNESS and ABADAN (High Falls Film Festival 2004) and was a sound mixer and assistant editor on the award-winning Afghani film OSAMA (High Falls Film Festival 2003).
THE NIGHT OF THE WHITE PANTS
NARRATIVE, US, 2006, 90 minutes
Director/Writer: Amy Talkington
Producer: Anne Harrison
Starring: Selma Blair, Nick Stahl, Francis Fisher
Amy Talkington in attendance
DALLAS, the TV show that put tasteless affluence and big hair on the television map, gets a 21st century make-over from debutant director Amy Talkington. Tom Wilkenson plays Max, the patriarch of a wildly dysfunctional family, who survives a heart-attack, a failing business, and an acrimonious divorce with enough adventurous spirit intact to explore Dallas’s punk underground scene with his ambitious daughter (Selma Blair) and her maverick web designer/rocker boyfriend (Nick Stahl.) The cast, which also includes the beguilingly tough Laura Jordan as a punkette who captures Max’s fancy, and a warm, ironic Francis Fisher as one of his ex-wives, is first-rate. [RIT grad] Jim Denault’s DV–cinematography is appropriately over-saturated. Talkington’s commitment to Dallas’s music scene (she writes rock criticism) pays off in a score that juices the film throughout. Where can we buy the CD? (Amy Taubin)
Amy Talkington is best known for her award-winning shorts, shown at festivals worldwide. Her work has also been featured on MTV, The Sundance Channel, The Independent Film Channel, CNN, E!, MSNBC and the BBC. Her accolades include the New Line Cinema Award for Best Director and Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Indie Faces to Watch.” She is currently developing her sophomore effort, DEEPLY SHALLOW AND REALLY FAKE, also set in her native Dallas.
NARRATIVE, US, 2006, 97 minutes
Director/Writer: Mia Goldman
Producer: Midge Sanford, Thomas Barad
Starring: Robin Tunney, Joel Edgerton, Cybill Shepherd, Elliot Gould, Shirley Knight
Mia Goldman in attendance
What happens to a seemingly loving couple when one of them experiences a severe trauma that the other cannot share? Robin Tunney and Joel Edgerton give subtle, emotionally transparent performances as Izzy, a photographer, and Peter, a college professor. One night, an intruder comes though an open window in Izzy’s studio and rapes her. Although Peter tries to support her in the months that follow, he becomes defensive and alienated when Izzy does not bounce back. Peter is not the only one who has expectations of Izzy that don’t match her needs. Her parents, played by Cybill Shepherd and Elliot Gould are also out of sync. Izzy’s most challenging and empathic connection is with her therapist, sharply played by Shirley Knight. An accomplished editor, Mia Goldman’s first feature is well-produced and beautifully shot on 35mm. (Amy Taubin)
Open Window marks the feature debut for Mia Goldman as writer/director. Long recognized by directors such as Lasse Hallström, Lawrence Kasdan, Alan Rudolph and Steve Kloves as a gifted film editor, Goldman began her career as an assistant editor to one of film’s great contemporary masters, Carol Littleton. After assisting on films like The Big Chill, Body Heat and Roadie, Goldman was asked by Alan Rudolph to edit the now cult classic Choose Me in 1984. Following that, she was a second editor on Silverado with Ms. Littleton, for Lawrence Kasdan. She has edited numerous films, including The Big Easy, Something to Talk About, Flesh and Bone and Dick. She was editorial consultant on the Oscar nominated In the Bedroom and edited the sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She most recently cut The In-Laws for director Andrew Fleming, starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks. Goldman is on the executive committee of the Editor’s Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as well as The Nichol Fellowship committee. Goldman received fellowships to the Sundance Institute for both writing and directing. She developed her first screenplay, To Have and to Hold, at the Institute and wrote and directed Dizziness, a short starring Annette O’Toole, Ed Begley, Jr., Steven Weber and Leslie Hope. Goldman returned to Sundance with Open Window.
DOCUMENTARY, Turkey, 2006, 70 minutes; in Turkish with English subtitles
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor: Pelin Esmer
Co-Producer: Nida Karabol Akdeniz
While working in the fields outside her remote Turkish village, a forceful peasant woman decides that her story and those of her women friends are the stuff of theater. She enlists the high school principal to fashion the work, then cajoles her friends into telling their stories (often for the first time), and performing the resulting play for the village.
The power of theater to inform and change lives is vividly demonstrated in this moving and life-affirming documentary. As the work proceeds, the women — and their men — begin to feel differently about themselves and each other. The women are finding their voices. Their tenacity and humor is affecting, and the village will never be the same.
· 2006 Tribeca Film Festival: Best New Documentary Filmmaker
· 2006 Trieste International Film Festival: Best Documentary
· 2006 Navarra Punto de Vista Film Festival: Audience Award
· 2006 Vitoria New European Film Festival: Human Rights Award
Pelin Esmer was born in Istanbul in 1972. She majored in sociology at Bogazici University. She was assistant director on many Turkish and foreign films and commercials. THE PLAY is Esmer’s first feature-length work – to date it has received the Best New Documentary Filmmaker award at Tribeca, plus awards at Trieste, Creteil and other festivals.
ANIMATED FEATURE, France/UK/Luxembourg, 2006, 105 minutes
Director: Christian Volckman
Producers: Alexis Vonarb, Roch Lenner, Aton Soumache
Voiceovers: Ian Holm, Jonathan Pryce, Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack
Casting Director: Celestia Fox
Imagine METROPOLIS and BLADERUNNER, then step further into the imagination where science fiction and digital animation meet to create an extraordinary world, giving film noir a new look and new life. It is the year 2054, and Paris is a city-state where big brother watches from above and all movement is monitored and recorded. The once ancient and beautiful skyline is overlaid with high tech skyscrapers. Avalon – the multinational cosmetic company – casts a long and dark shadow over the city. When a human genome scientist whose research may change the evolution of mankind forever is kidnapped, detective Karas is called in to help. In an underworld of dark secrets, corporate espionage, organized crime and genetic research, Karas finds a trail of dead witnesses and more. Christian Volckman stunning imagery combines high-tech animation, the look of black and white cinema with his own chiaroscuro painting style to bring the illusion of still-frame comics vividly to life. The narrative woven with futuristic imagery is completely absorbing and speaks of unlimited potential. (Kathy Kristich)
· 2006 Annecy International Film Festival: Feature Film Award
Celestia Fox began her casting career in 1978 with THE HOUND OF BASKERVILLE. She has taken on wide ranging projects from the edg: PINK FLOYD THE WALL, THE NAME OF THE ROSE, LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS to the extremely elegant REMAINS OF THE DAY, UP AT THE VILLA, THE GOLDEN BOWL. She currently resides in London.
SHOOT THE MESSENGER
NARRATIVE, UK, 2006, 100 minutes
Director: Ngozi Onwurah
Producer: Anne Pivcevic
Co-Producer: Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo
Screenwriter: Sharon Foster
Ngozi Onwurah in attendance
Working with acid-tongued screenwriter Sharon Foster and agile, bold actor David Oyelowo, director Ngozi Onwurah has fashioned a brilliant, flamboyantly theatrical, social satire that fearlessly takes on issues of black identity and self-hatred. The fall of Joe (Oyelowo,) a middle class black Londoner, begins when he loses his teaching job, thanks to the scheming of one of his students who resents his missionary attitude and regards him as a slumming Buppie. Blaming black people for everything wrong with his life, Joe descends into a paranoid-schizophrenic state, from which he is rescued by the very black people he believed were out to get him. Shoot the Messenger proved highly controversial in Britain when it aired on the BBC, which is exactly what Onwurah and Foster wanted it to be. It’s a film that will provoke discussion long after it’s over. (Amy Taubin)
· BBC Dennis Potter Screenwriting Award
Ngozi OnWurah was born in Britain then moved to Nigeria with her family, returning seven years later during the Nigerian civil war. She has been widely acknowledged as one of the most talented directors in Britain and has won international acclaim. She graduated St Martins School of Art with a First Class honours degree in Fine Art Film & Video. Her graduation film COFFEE COLOURED CHILDREN, kick-started her career when it won first prize in the BBC Showreel competition. She then completed postgraduate studies in Drama Direction at the National film & Television School.
More success and awards followed with further dramas and documentaries for a number of British and international broadcasters including SOUTH OF THE BORDER, a ground breaking drama series for the BBC. She was awarded the prestigious honour of a special retrospective screenings at the New York Film Festival for her films, THE BODY BEAUTIFUL (Channel 4/BFI), MONDAYS GIRLS (BBC) and AND STILL I RISE (BBC). Her first feature film, WELCOME II THE TERRORDOME, won first prize at the Birmingham International Film Festival & the Cologne Film Festival as well as the audience prize at the Verona Film Festival.
Ngozi has directed episodes of HEARTBEAT for Yorkshire Television, the top-rated British drama series with an audience of over 18 million. BEHIND THE MASK (BBC/M-Net, Africa), a drama-documentary made in collaboration with Broker Prize winner Ben Okri has been a great success in international television markets. I BRING YOU FRANKINCENSE (BBC) was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and received awards at several international film festivals. HANGTIME (M-Net/Wellspring) had a theatrical release in America as part of MAMA AFRICA. Ngozi has also presented lectures, workshops and seminars at several universities including Harvard, Yale, UCLA, USC, NYU, Colombia, Wellesley, Spellman, Cornell, Syracuse, Morehouse and was a visiting fellow at University of Michigan. SHOOT THE MESSENGER (BBC Films) is her first project following a 4-year ‘baby making’ break.
NARRATIVE, Australia, 2006, 90 minutes
Director/Writer: Rolf de Heer
Co-Director: Peter Djigirr
Producer: Rolf de Heer, Domenico Procacci, Julie Ryan
This remarkable film has been receiving rave reviews since its debut, for reasons that are apparent from its first stunning frame. In collaboration with the Ramingining Aboriginal community, director de Heer and indigenous co-director Djiggir have crafted a film that pays such authentic homage to ancient oral tradition that the two almost seem to meld. Celebrated actor David Gulpilil narrates the viewer through a story that grows, he explains, like a tree, for it is only in veering off from the trunk that one can ultimately get to know the whole in its entirety. The story in question concerns young Dayindi, who secretly covets his much older brother’s Minygululu’s youngest wife. While traveling with their fellow tribesmen to harvest bark to make canoes (a remarkable sequence in and of itself), Minygululu retells an ancestral story that has odd parallels to Dayindi’s own. Weaving dazzlingly back and forth in time, the story unfolds in non-linear fashion, exploring side branches laden with tales of sorcery, gluttony, kidnapping, war, revenge, and of course forbidden love. While ultimately a lesson about respect for one’s culture and the laws that bind it, this is a funny, ribald, and joyous film. (Ruth Cowing).
· 2006 Cannes Film Festival: Special Jury Prize
Julie Ryan has been working with Rolf de Heer since 1996; their films have received many awards through the years. In 1999, Ryan spent three months in the jungles of French Guyana co-producing her first feature film, THE OLD MAN WHO READ LOVE STORIES, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Hugo Weaving. The film was nominated for Best Film at the 2005 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards, Australian Film Institute Awards and the IF Awards.
NARRATIVE, US, 2005, 86 minutes
Director: Oren Rudavsky
Producer: Jonathan Shoemaker
Production Design: Edwige Geminel
Starring: Famke Janssen, Ian Holm
Jake Singer is an anxious young schoolteacher in New York – barely on speaking terms with his father, recently abandoned by his girlfriend, and heading for a life of compromise and mediocrity. Emotionally paralyzed by his mother’s death, he embarks on a course of psychoanalysis with a maniacal Freudian – Dr. Ernesto Morales, therapist from hell. But when the meets socialite widow Allegra Marshall, and finds himself upwardly mobile in the Manhattan of serious money and glamour – as he bounces from the couch to Allegra’s bed in the allegedly real world and back again – his whole life begins to take on the eerie, over determined quality of an analytic session and he must figure out his escape.
SPONSORED BY CRAIG AUTOMETRICS
- 2006 Tribeca WINNER Best made in New York Narrative Feature
Edwige Geminel, born and raised in France moved to the United States 12 years ago. She pursued her studies in music and film at The New School in NYC and started to work on her own film projects (a short film and music video). After few years, she focused her creativity in film and begin working in the art departments of numerous TV Shows (“The Dave Chapelle Show”), music videos, commercials and feature films (The Thing About My Folks with Paul Reiser and Peter Falk).
Her first film as Production Designer was Love, Ludlow (Director: Adrienne Weiss), in 2004 which screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, followed by: The Favor (Director: Eva Aridjis), which premiered at Cine Vegas 2006, Real La Pelicula (Director: Borja Manso) which received major European distribution; and The Treatment (Director: Oren Rudavski), which was named Best NY, NY film at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
She designed a TV show, (“Style Me with Rachel Hunter”), for W&E entertainments as well as a series for the web (“In Men we Trust”); music videos include work for Lenny Kravitz, Rooster, Regina Spektor, etc.; and numerous commercials. She is currently in production on the film Frame of Mind (Director: Carl Evans), a fiction based on the assassination of JFK. She is also in post production of her own documentary, shot at the World Social Forum, in Venezuela in 2005, where she followed a group of youngpolitical activists for a month.
UNFOLDING FLORENCE: THE MANY LIVES OF FLORENCE BROADHURST
DOCUMENTARY, Australia, 2006, 82 minutes
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Producer: Sue Clothier, Charles Hannah
Writer: Katherine Thomson
Acclaimed Aussie director Gillian Armstrong (MY BRILLIANT CAREER, OSCAR AND LUCINDA), returns to documentary to capture the mystery, style and flamboyance of a Sydney society icon. Known to designing and fashion enthusiasts for her colorful wallpaper designs that broke new ground in the 60s, Florence Broadhurst had many lives before she became a Sydney society darling and industry magnate. Born in 1899 in a mud hut in rural Queensland, she reinvented herself throughout the course of her life, lying about her past, her age and even pretending to be British to gain admission into Sydney’s loftier social circles. None of these facts were known, however, until her brutal murder, making her posthumous reputation that much more scintillating. Using a mix of stylized re-enactments, animated photographs and talking heads, the film charts the many phases of Florence’s richly-patterned life (and death) – from opera singer to dance-academy manager in Shanghai, from fashion retailer in London to failed painter until her successful reinvention and eventual death.
· 2006 Sundance Film Festival: World Cinema Documentary Competition
· 2006 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Documentary Competition
· 2006 Australian Writers’ Guild (Awgie) Award: Nominated, Best Documentary
Gillian Armstrong is one of the Australia’s best-known film directors. Her formidable body of features includes OSCAR AND LUCINDA, LITTLE WOMEN (nominated for three Academy Awards), MRS SOFFEL and the Oscar-nominated MY BRILLIANT CAREER. To date, Armstrong has made four documentaries that has tracked the lives of three South Australian women from girlhood to motherhood.
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2005, 80 minutes
Director: Stephen Cantor
Producers: Mandy Stein
Composer/Original Music: Mary Lorson
Mary Lorson in attendance
“It’s been my philosophy to make art out of the everyday and the ordinary,” says the photographer Sally Mann in this wonderfully intelligent and intimate documentary. Steven Cantor follows his award-winning short film about Mann’s controversial photographs of her children with a feature that covers the extended period of Mann’s landscape photos, her death and decay series, and her recent self-portraits. The film shows Mann at work behind the camera and also allows her opportunities to talk at length about her work process and how she arrives at a subject that will sustain her for years. Mann trusts Cantor enough to let him into a domestic life that is inseparable from her work and also to film her despair when Pace/McGill, her New York gallery, rejects her death and decay photos and her elation when that work opens at D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery in the memorable installation from which the film takes its title. (Amy Taubin)
· 2006 Tribeca Film Festival: New York Loves Film Documentary Award
Guitarist, songwriter and producer Billy Coté created the alt-rock band Madder Rose in the early 90’s, with Mary Lorson as lead singer and rhythm guitarist The band released three albums on Atlantic Records for three albums, switching to Cooking Vinyl for a fourth. Madder Rose enjoyed critical acclaim and toured extensively on their own and as support act for some of the most popular artists of that time, headlining the Melody Maker stage at the Reading Festival in 1993. Their songs appeared in popular television shows and films as well.
Since the Madder Rose days, Lorson created the artrock project Mary Lorson and Saint Low in the late-1990′s, releasing an eponymous debut in 2000 on the Cooking Vinyl and Thirsty Ear labels. She has been hired as a touring keyboardist and singer for Belly’s Tanya Donelly and Willard Grant Conspiracy, and Jennie Stearns, and can be heard guesting on recordings by Willard Grant Conspiracy, Seafood, the Walkabouts, and others. Saint Low’s sophomore effort, Tricks for Dawn, was released on spinART! (US) and Cooking Vinyl (ROW) in May of 2002. The album received enthusiastic press, with Evan Dando as a featured guest. In August of 2005, Lorson was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and her solo performance there is archived on their website. Mary Lorson and Saint Low’s current release, Realistic, reached stores in the February of 2006, on the Cooking Vinyl USA label. The album, which was released in the UK and Europe in 2005, was voted album of the month by German Rolling Stone, and received very enthusiastic press worldwide.
Meanwhile, Coté has released the full length recording Jazz Cannon (released on San Francisco’s Function 8 Records, home of Tommy Guerrero, Jet Black Crayon). He shares production credit with Lorson on the Saint Low cds, and has produced an album by the emerging alt-country outfit Hubcap. With vocalist Uniit Carruyo, Cote released the experimental pop album Glen the Owl in 2005.
Over the years, songs by Lorson and/or Cote have been showcased on numerous films and television shows, including “Mad Love,” “Reunion,” “Alias,” “Felicity,” “The Real World,” “Beautiful People,” “Santa Barbara,” and “Still Life,” “Nordkraft.” They live in Ithaca, New York, with their 4-year-old son.
Mary Lorson and Billy Coté began doing music for films in 2000, and released their instrumental album Piano Creeps, a collection of pieces expanded from film work, in 2003. Among their credits are Grace Lee’s “Barrier Device,” starring Sandra Oh. They created the original music for “What Remains,” Steven Cantor’s stirring documentary on photographer Sally Mann. Additionally, they have done extensive for-commission film library work. In March of 2006, Mary Lorson and Billy Cote created and performed the accompaniment for the opening program of the Finger Lakes International Film Festival, which featured rarely-screened vintage silent films from all over the world, and will perform at the Corning Museum of Glass in the coming months.
WHEN I CAME HOME
DOCUMENTARY, US, 2006, 70 minutes
Director: Dan Lohaus
Producer: Nancy Roth
Nancy Roth and Herold Noel in attendance
Today in America, over 300,000 veterans are homeless. WHEN I CAME HOME is a film about this surprising and unfortunate population: those who served in Vietnam and those returning from the current war in Iraq. It is a film about history repeating itself. Through the story of Herold Noel, an Iraq War veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and living out of his car in Brooklyn, the film looks at the challenges faced by returning combat veterans and the battle many must fight for the benefits promised to them. WHEN I CAME HOME reveals a failing system and the veteran’s struggle to survive after returning from the war — a struggle often as traumatic as the battlefield they’ve just left.
· 2006 Tribeca Film Festival: New York Loves Film Documentary Award
Nancy Roth’s previous productions include OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND. The film, released theatrically in 2005, won the 2006 Independent Spirit “Truer Than Fiction” Award and is currently airing on the Sundance Channel. Her other films include PACK, STRAP, SWALLOW, also airing on the Sundance Channel, and THE PERFECT LIFE, which premiered at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival.