Set in the beautiful and culturally vibrant city of Portland, Maine, Bluestocking Film Series is an exclusive showcase for films that pass the Bechdel Test and feature fascinating, multifaceted female protagonists who drive the story and lead the action. Artistic Director Kate Kaminski says she founded the series in 2011 because she wants to see more films produced that explore women’s lives, experiences, and relationships with each other.
Think about the last movie you saw. Now ask yourself:
1. Were there two or more (named) women characters in it?
2. Did they talk to each other?
3. Did they talk about something other than a man?
These three simple questions are called the Bechdel Test. Once you start applying the test to the films you watch, you will notice that even in the year 2014, there is still a long way to go to see as many women characters in movies who are portrayed as strong and complex as their male counterparts.
By introducing these international shorts to cinema-loving audiences, the Bluestocking also promotes and nurtures talented, emerging filmmakers who, Kaminski says, “have the potential to influence the future of entertainment.” This year’s selections ‘in competition’ range in genre from dark to light comedy, intense drama to heartwarming coming of age stories. “The female characters around whom these films are centered are as various in age and type as they could be,” Kaminski says, noting that there are films in the program that touch on themes of ageism, racism, and gender questioning as well.
Bluestocking Film Series is the very first festival in the United States to receive Sweden’s ‘A’ rating. The brainchild of a consortium of Swedish cinema activists, the rating is intended to inform consumers that a particular film passes the Bechdel Test. According to leading A-Rating activist Ellen Tejle, “the goal of the [Swedish] ratings project is to encourage the telling of more female stories and perspectives.” The Bluestocking shares A-Rating status with blockbuster Hollywood films like VERONICA MARS, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, DIVERGENT and CATCHING FIRE.
The Bluestocking (formerly biannual) has been steadily growing since it began in 2011 and has gained visibility and support by initiating and developing connections with others who are working for better representation of women in film in front of and behind the camera, such as Marian Evans of Wellywood Woman blog (http://wellywoodwoman.blogspot.com/) Seed&Spark (http://www.SeedandSpark.com), and many others.
Of seventy-five entries received for the 2014 season, eleven films were selected by Kaminski with able assistance from two discerning judges. One of the judges was Ellen Tejle, Director at Cinema Rio in Stockholm, Sweden, who says, “I get so inspired by The Bluestocking Film Series and their work to highlight films with complex female characters – I’m so excited to be a judge this year.” Joining Tejle was Amanda Trokan, Director of Content at the crowdfunding site Seed&Spark. Trokan has worked at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and is also a screener for the Hamptons International Film Festival.
This year, two filmmakers will walk away with cash prizes for winning the Audience Choice award by blind ballot and one filmmaker will be chosen to receive a Best in Show award.
By providing a place where films about women and girl characters can be celebrated, Kaminski hopes to fuel and encourage writers and filmmakers to invest in complex female protagonists at least half the time. But with regard to the Bechdel Test , she cautions, “it’s not enough to make a film that passes unless the impetus is to express a deeper understanding of what it implies about the importance of women’s conversations.”
The 2014 Bluestocking Film Series Official Selections are:
HANNA (Joel Stockman, Sweden – World Premiere)
CABBIE (Brian C Miller Richard, Louisiana – Maine Premiere)
THE RUN AWAY (Penny Eizenga, Canada – World Premiere)
CRYSTAL (Chell Stephen, US/Canada – Maine Premiere)
KIMBAP (Alex Kyo Won Lee, New Zealand – US Premiere)
GRACE (Liz Cooper, Australia – Maine Premiere)
RAWHEAD AND BLOODY BONES (Merry Grissom, Los Angeles – Maine Premiere)
STICKS AND STONES (Chloe Dahl, Los Angeles – New England Premiere)
GRETCHEN (Carin Bräck, Sweden – US Premiere)
DEAR SANTA (Maura Smith, Massachusetts – Maine Premiere)
THE RAPTURE AND GRAMMY GWEN (Brittany Reeber, Texas – East Coast Premiere)
Also playing, out of competition, will be Madeleine Olnek’s award-winner COUNTERTRANSFERENCE and two surprise shorts to be unveiled at the screening.
Filmmaker Maura Smith will be making her second appearance at the Bluestocking. “As a filmmaker, [the series] is a favorite of mine,” she says. “Attending the festival is a creatively invigorating experience, and one that offers viewers the chance to see the work of talented filmmakers from across the globe. I am thrilled to be a part of the Bluestocking Film Festival once again this year.” Smith’s film BETTER DAYS screened at the spring 2012 Bluestocking.
Faren Humes whose award-winning film OUR RHINELAND screened at the fall 2013 event, says, “The fest features programming with female protagonists by some of the industry’s best up and coming filmmakers. I was honored to be a part of the lineup.”
The Bluestocking Film Series is happening on July 18-19 at Space Gallery (http://space538.org), 538 Congress Street, Portland, Maine. Come for the weekend and enjoy the best days of summer in Maine and and two memorable evenings of short films featuring complex female protagonists.
For more information about the Bluestocking Film Series, contact Kate Kaminski (bluestockingfilmseries@gmail. com). Watch trailers for past and upcoming events at bluestockingfilms.com.
Brings Films, Filmmakers and Film Lovers to Waterville
The 17th Annual Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) will be held July 11-20 at the historic Waterville Opera House and the iconic art house theater, Railroad Square Cinema. The ten-day cinematic celebration offers around one hundred films that represent the very best of new American independent, international, and locally made movies as well as new restorations of past cinema masterpieces.
The festival will open on July 11 with Richard Linklater’s much-anticipated BOYHOOD, which will be opening in New York that same evening. Filmed over twelve years with the same cast, BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.
More than just movies, MIFF also offers visitors a chance to interact with directors, actors, producers, musicians, and other special guests through intimate Q&As, panel discussions and parties. Each year, MIFF brings around fifty filmmakers from around the world to the festival, and this year is no exception. Special guests will include Brazilian filmmaker Claudio Marques, returning guest Oscar winner Ernest Thompson, indie filmmaker Sara Driver, and the 2014 Mid-Life Achievement Award honoree Glenn Close.
A six-time Academy Award nominee, Close will receive the festival’s highest honor on Sunday, July 13 after a special screening of ALBERT NOBBS, a film that she co-wrote, co-produced, starred in, and composed the lyrics for the Golden Globe and World Soundtrack nominated song, “Lay Your Head Down.” Additional films to be shown as part of the festival’s tribute to Close include COOKIE’S FORTUNE, DANGEROUS LIAISONS, and LOW DOWN, which debuted at Sundance earlier this year.
This year’s festival will also include a special section of sixteen films from the Martin Scorsese presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema collection and will once again feature a selection of “Re-discovery” films, classic films that have been newly restored, including THE CONFORMIST, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, GUN CRAZY, and TOO MUCH JOHNSON, Orson Welles’ first film. MIFF 2014 will also feature a special section entitled Leonard Mann and Eurocrime: Found in Translation with American actor Leonard Mann, who at the age of twenty in the late 60s and early 70s, became a star of “Spaghetti westerns” and Italian “Eurocrime” thrillers in Italy.
In addition to featuring films from around the world, MIFF also showcases some of the best films made within the state of Maine. Each year, one day of the festival is named as Making It In Maine Day, where audience members have the opportunity to see a Maine-made film in any time slot during the festival. New this year, MIFF will be co-hosting with MPBN, the Maine Film Office, and the Maine Arts Commission a brunch for Maine filmmakers to provide opportunities for them to network with the presenting agencies as well as each other. Making It In Maine Day 2014 will be held on July 12th and the brunch is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. at the Hathaway Creative Center.
MIFF 2014 will also include Volume 2 of MIFFONEDGE, a new initiative of the festival that was introduced last year. Featuring exciting and innovative work spanning decades of moving image history, MIFFONEDGE explores the intersection of film and art and pushes the boundaries of commonly accepted notions of cinema. This year’s program features a drop-in exhibition, a cameraless film workshop, and a special Found Films event, all hosted at Common Street Arts, as well as a live performance by the Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra at the Waterville Opera House on Saturday, July 19.
The full MIFF schedule will be available on the festival’s website in mid to late June. Passes are now available for purchase through the website. The Maine International Film Festival is a project of the Maine Film Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to enrich, educate and entertain the community through film and art.
Apparently it takes a small film to make it big on the global stage. Rhode Island’s own ALMOST HUMAN was chosen to have its world premiere amongst some of the brightest stars in Hollywood at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) early this September 5th through 15th.
Written, produced and directed by former Coventry resident Joe Begos, ALMOST HUMAN, which TIFF describes as “… a raging inferno of axe murders and alien abduction…” and a ”… lean, mean, grisly indie horror flick,” was shot in February of 2012 with little fanfare and no big stars in front of or behind the camera. “I’ve always wanted my first film to be a gritty, dirty, low budget splatter movie made with my friends just like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson did for their first features, and it feels amazing that it actually happened and that people are responding to it,” said director Joe Begos. About shooting in his home state, Joe added, “I love the feeling New England adds, I grew up loving Stephen King and in his stories the setting of Maine is like its own character, and I wanted to elicit that same feeling with Rhode Island.”
Shot on a modest budget, the film was a co-production of Channel 83 Films and the RI based producing team Ambrosino/ Delmenico. “Getting into a festival of this importance is crazy for a small film like this, but it’s a testament to Joe and the rest of our cast and crew, he’s a unique talent and the movie was a ton of fun to make,” said producer Anthony Ambrosino.
Josh Ethier of Channel 83 Films not only served as a producer on the film but as both the editor and lead actor. He added, “Joe and I have been making films together since we were teenagers, and to go from Western Coventry to the Midnight Madness program at TIFF is a dream come true.”
Rhode Island is well represented in front of the camera as well. Many of the film’s stars are from New England with the majority being from the Ocean State.
For more information about this film email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, October 26th at the Robbins Library and The Regent Theatre
The 3rd annual Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) shows independent cinematic masterpieces from filmmakers around the world. It is also dedicated to promoting the next generation of filmmakers by showcasing a special category of student shorts. This year twenty-one high school students competed for “Best” in film categories awarded by the festival’s Selection Committee. Submissions came from as near as the Massachusetts towns of Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Dorchester, Roxbury, Wayland and Winchester and as far as Montreal, Canada. AIFF is proud to show these excellent student filmmakers shorts reflecting the opinions, fears, dreams and talents of a young generation as represented through the eye of the lens.
The winner of the “2013 Best Narrative Short” is Malcolm DC, a Boston resident, for his film, THE SHINGLES. Tessa Tracy and Sophia Santos of Cambridge, MA received “2013 Best Documentary Short” for their film, LA LUCHA.
Shorts that received “Honorable Mention” are as follows: 2013 Narrative Short awarded to Jasper Hamilton of Arlington, MA for his film, ELIZA; 2013 Documentary Short awarded to Diana Julien of Roxbury, MA for her film, MY PHOENIX; 2013 Experimental Short awarded to Henry Nineberg of Cambridge, MA for his film, BRAND NEW.
Other film shorts that have been chosen for the festival screening and will be presented as part of the two hour 2013 Student Short Program are: BOSTON 2:50 by Franklin Santiago, Dorchester; OUT OF THE WOODS by Asa Minter, Arlington; PERSEVERANCE by Jacob Sussman, Wayland; RECOLLECTION by Karen Chen, Cambridge; WITH THE EYES OF BEAUTY by Izzy Ramirez, Boston and the program will close with DON’T TEXT & DRIVE by Adrián García, Boston and a graduate of MassArt.
You are invited to a Pre-screening Reception Saturday, October 26th at 10 am at the Robbins Library Community Room, hosting our student filmmakers, parents, teachers and the community. Anna’s Taqueria is sponsoring the event followed by the Festival
Kicks off its 17th Season with over 200 Films
August 6th – 11th at Locations Across the State of Rhode Island
BY BRETT TREACY & GRAHAM CARTER
On August 6, 2013, Flickers kicks-off its 17th annual Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) in Providence, RI. The week-long celebration of independent cinema and film arts is New England’s largest film festival and only Academy Award qualifying event for short films. Only 75 festivals worldwide share this distinction. In addition to film screenings, the festival will feature the return of the Rhode Island Film Forum geared to be a region- wide educational workshop on bringing film production to the Ocean State. Included are award ceremonies, filmmaker symposia, the annual ScriptBiz Screenwriting Workshop, a walking tour of film locations in Providence, and networking events.
Over 200 feature length, documentary and short films from 65 countries , and 36 states in the United States will be screened at locations throughout the state of Rhode Island. Films have been selected from a record entry base of 5,100 submissions.
RIIFF is a magnet for those who’ve made short films because it is a qualifying event for the short film category of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2012 three of the films that premiered at RIIFF went on to receive Academy Award nominations.
Planned festival highlights include:
Showcase of Japanese Films celebrating our Festival partnership with ShortShorts Film Festival Asia.
The RI Film Forum, scheduled for Thursday, August 8th in collaboration with the RI Film & Television Office and the Harrington School of Communication and Media at URI. A New England Film Festival Symposium for organizers of all the regional film festivals to discuss the evolution and changing role of the Festivals within the industry.
New programming focus for the annual ScriptBizTM Screenplay Pitch Seminar with spotlight on this year’s Grand Prize Screenplay Competition winner “Betrayed,” by Alfred Thomas Catalfo of New Hampshire. This year’s seminar directed by Professor William Torgenson from St. John’s University, New York, who is a previous Grand Prize winner for “Love on the Big Screen.”
Showcase of films and cultural activities from the Province of Québec and the newly created Québec Film Festival celebrating the twenty year partnership with the Délègation du Québec, Boston and Tourism Québec.
Films from over 60 countries across the globe.
Showcase of new work from the INSAS (Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de diffusion), the Graduate School of Arts of the French Community of Belgium.
Select films from New England filmmakers take the stage in partnership with the Woods Hole Film Festival, and the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival with a guest speaker panel.
Live music programming throughout the Festival by Flickers’ artists.
Providence Location Tour with the RI Historical Society and the RI Film & Television Office.
Partnership screenings with the International Cinematographers Guild and showcase of short film winners of the Emerging Cinematographer Awards.
Expanded Youth Film Jury Screenings in collaboration with RI Foundation Equity Action to expand LGBTQ youth participation.
Additional RIIFF Summer Programming:
FLICKERS: Kids Eye TM Summer Filmmaking Camp takes place from July 8-12th. This is the original five-day filmmaking camp for kids aged 8-17. Participants shoot several short films and a promotional trailer, attend workshops taught by certified educators and movie industry professionals, and learn about screenwriting, acting for the camera, directing, makeup, camera, costuming, and special effects. The event takes place at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston campus.
Advance ticket sales for screenings and special events are available through the FLICKERS/RIIFF website www.RIFilmFest.org.
Student, group, and senior discounts are also available but only in advance. To purchase tickets or obtain more information about any aspect of RIIFF, call 401 861-4445 or email email@example.com
The quaint village of Woods Hole on Cape Cod is perhaps best known as the stomping ground of scientists, Nobel laureates, and vacationers on their way to the islands, but every year during the last week in July and the first week in August the population swells to include a community of filmmakers and film goers involved in sharing stories and insights during the annual Woods Hole Film Festival, which at twenty- two years is the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the islands.
The eight-day festival, which runs July 27-August 3, features an abundance of riches: five phenomenal filmmakers-in-residence, a record thirty-three narrative and documentary feature-length films, and nearly seventy narrative, documentary, and animated films. Besides the requisite film screening followed by a Q&A it features a rich selection of workshops and master classes with the filmmakers-in-residence, retrospectives, and panel discussions for the true film aficionado. The nightly parties at various restaurants at the water’s edge within walking distance of the screenings also offer lots of casual and relaxed “schmoozing” with filmmakers and fans and top-notch musical entertainment, including a kick-off concert featuring the John Jorgenson Quintet on Friday, July 26. Recently chosen to portray Django Reinhardt in the feature film HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, Jorgenson played guitar with Elton John’s band for six years and is often sought out by artists such as Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Raitt and Earl Scruggs.
The festival also continues its tradition of showcasing and promoting the work of independent, emerging filmmakers, particularly those from or with connections to New England and Cape Cod. “We’ve stayed true to the vision of supporting emerging independent filmmakers,” says Judy Laster, the festival’s founder and executive director. “I think because we stayed true to this vision, it is a very attractive place for independent filmmakers, with many first-time filmmakers returning to the festival with subsequent films or as filmmakers- in-residence. After twenty-one years we have accrued a large and loyal alumni network.”
In fact, nearly twenty filmmakers are returning with their subsequent films this year. Based on the novel by Howard Frank Mosher and set in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Jay Craven’s (A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT) latest narrative feature, NORTHERN BORDERS, stars Bruce Dern and Genevieve Bujold as a quarreling couple who take their ten year-old grandson in with them with humorous and sometimes startling results (August 2). Boston-based Allan Piper (STARVING ARTISTS) returns with his award-wining documentary MARRIED AND COUNTING about a gay couple who celebrate their 25th year together by getting married in every state with legalized gay marriage (July 30). Festival favorite Bill Plympton returns with his latest animated short, DRUNKER THAN A SKUNK, an adaptation of Walt Curtis’s poem about a cowboy town that torments the local drunk (July 30).
Of the returning filmmakers, two are screening their first feature length films at the festival: Maria Agui Carter (CLEATS), a Boston-based multicultural filmmaker, presents her first feature documentary, REBEL, about a Cuban woman soldier and spy of the American Civil War (July 28), and Andrew Mudge (THE PERFECT GOOSEYS), whose entire body of short films were shown at the festival when he was living in Boston, presents the regional premiere of THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM, a narrative feature about returning to one’s roots that was shot entirely in South Africa and Lesotho (August 1). It is sort of a homecoming for Mudge who earned the distinction of being the first filmmaker to produce a feature-length film in Lesotho.
Even crew members connected to festival alumni make sure to put Woods Hole on their lists: Amir Noorani, the director of SHAYA, a narrative short about a tribal Pakistani family that is sent to live in Los Angeles as refugees, only to find life more challenging than in war-torn Pakistan, was an assistant editor on Justin Lerner’s (2011 Best of the Fest winner THE GIRLFRIEND) graduate thesis film.
Several filmmakers-in-residence are also returning to the festival after either presenting their films or attending as filmmakers-in-residence in previous festivals. Director James Mottern, who brought his first film, TRUCKER starring Michele Monahan to Woods Hole in 2010, returns to the festival to conduct two workshops, one on breaking into the film business and one on directing actors. He recently finished a Boston shoot of his second feature film, GOD ONLY KNOWS, starring Ben Barnes, Leighton Meester, and Harvey Keitel and is currently prepping another performance-driven action-thriller set in New England. Documentary filmmaker Heidi Ewing (DETROPIA, JESUS CAMP) filmmaker-in-residence in 2011 and her co-director and co-producer Rachel Grady will conduct a workshop on DIY (do-it-yourself) film distribution, based on their experience self- distributing DETROPIA after they received less than satisfactory offers from distributors when the film premiered at Sundance in 2012.
Two additional filmmakers-in-residence are making their first appearance at the festival: Chicken and Egg Pictures and Working Films founder Judith Helfand, whose BLUE VINYL won the best cinematography award at Sundance in 2002, and Megan Sanchez-Warner, currently executive producer and show runner for “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” who will hold a workshop on storytelling in film and television.
A significant trend this year is films created by, within, and about communities. Oscar winner Ernest Thompson (ON GOLDEN POND), who works out of New Hampshire with a regular community of writers, actors, and producers, brings his group’s most recent effort, HEAVENLY ANGLE, to the festival on August 1, with Thompson and a number of the folks involved with the production in attendance. Set in a small town in New Hampshire, the film is about a down on his luck Hollywood film director who shows up to con the town’s mayor and residents into putting money into a movie he has no intention of making. NORTHERN BORDER’s Jay Craven, mentioned earlier, creates films that celebrate regional character and culture, most often that of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Similarly, Australian director Philip Crawford’s RITES OF PASSAGE was filmed over the course of three years in New South Wales, Australia and features the true stories of six individuals from the region in their struggle to grow up amidst a variety of problems, including homelessness and addiction (August 2). Each of these films enlisted their communities to participate in the filmmaking process. Stephen Silha, co-director and producer of the documentary BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON and formerly a reporter at The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, also communicates in his films about what makes communities and relationships work. BIG JOY illustrates the power of art and poetry to change lives, using the life and work of pansexual poet and filmmaker James Broughton as a lens (August 2).
Besides the filmmakers with New England connections mentioned earlier—such as Ernest Thompson, Jay Craven, Andrew Mudge, Allan Piper, Stephen Silha, and Maria Agui Carter— regional filmmakers, especially those with a Cape Cod connection, are represented in large numbers this year. Although her short film is set in Ireland, LAMBING SEASON writer and director Jeannie Donohoe was raised in Massachusetts and attended Dartmouth College; many of her producers and crew members either live near Woods Hole or are from New England. Boston University student Kristin Holodak’s KILLER, a narrative short about the dangers of waiting for a bus, features an entire cast of Boston actors.
Films made on the Cape or by Cape Cod filmmakers include: Cape born and bred Isaak James’s BY WAY OF HOME, a narrative feature shot in Brewster, Chatham and Provincetown about a woman who returns home to work in her family’s restaurant (July 29); Eastham- based on Joseph Laraja’s THE GOLDEN SCALLOP, a narrative feature about three finalists in the Golden Scallop contest on Cape Cod (July 27); Kristin Alexander’s MY NAME IS AL, the true story of a grizzly, old-timer named Al who started the Committee on Drug and Alcohol Dependency, a recovery program for doctors and dentists (July 28); Sky Sabin’s ART IS A VERB, a documentary short in which the filmmaker asks for advice from three of the most inspirational people she knows- -Stephan Connor, luthier and owner of Connor Guitars on the Cape, Martin Keen, founder of Keen Sandals and CEO of Focal Upright Furniture, and Mike Fink, professor and author at RISD (July 29); Natasha Kermani’s short documentary ATLANTIS EARTH, an artist’s interpretation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Atlantis voyage (July 29); and MASS DOLPHIN STRANDING, a short about 180 dolphins that were stranded on the Cape during winter 2012 (July 29).
Fans of George Romero won’t want to miss BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD, a documentary feature that demonstrates how Romero gathered an unlikely team of amateur actors from Pittsburgh—policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives, and a roller-rink owner—to be part of his revolutionary film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The film shows how the young Romero created a world-renowned horror film that also provided a profound insight into how society really works (July 27, August 2). Romero also has a cameo at the end of Matt Birman’s and Sam Roberts’s A FISH STORY, which stars Eddie McClintock (NBC’s Warehouse 13) as a fugitive on the run whose body becomes inhabited by the soul of a another man (July 27). Birman and Romero are old friends, as Birman has worked as a second unit director and stunt coordinator on Romero’s films since 2004. Birman and McClintock are in discussions to make an upcoming zombie movie under Romero’s aegis.
Screenings and events are held at a variety of venues—including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s modern Redfield Auditorium and the folksy Woods Hole Community Hall—with most taking place within walking distance of one another in compact Woods Hole. Getting around is easy and specific festival parking is available. Admission to screenings, panels and parties are $12 (ticket packages and full festival passes also available). Tickets are for sale online through the festival’s web site at www.woodsholefilmfestival.org on June 29, or at the box office during the festival. For more information, contact 508 495-3456 or <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>.
The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) launched its 2013 season with the celebration of the winner of their third annual poster contest and their official Call for Entries at a reception held early in February at the Arlington Town Hall. Master story teller Brendyn Schneider presided as Master of Ceremonies.
Poster submission from Arlington High School and Arlington Catholic High School students were reviewed by a panel of judges who winnowed the pool to the top seven finalists. Representing the Arlington Cultural Council, Scott Samenfeld announced the winner of the contest, Marley Jurgensmeyer, and awarded her $500 on behalf of AIFF. The reception also marked the official launch of the 2013 Festival scheduled in October as well as the Call for Entries.
Marley Jurgensmeyer is a tenth-grade student at Arlington High School and the winner of the AIFF’s Poster Contest for the second year.
The Festival’s mission aims to foster appreciation for different cultures by exploring the lives of people around the globe through independent film — to nurture the next generation of filmmakers within our community. The Festival is accepting narrative, documentary, experimental and animated features and shorts. There is a special category of short submissions that will be accepted from local high school filmmakers. Entry fees are waived for this category.
Deadline for submissions is April 15, 2013.
Visit www.AIFF.org for guidelines and more information.
I wanted to have a sense of place. I wanted to have a sense of community. I wanted to do projects that were different than run-of-the-mill. That’s how this thing started. -Robert Redford
When Robert Redford first became involved with what was then called the “Utah/US Film Festival” in the early 1980’s, there were two dozen films and one movie theater. Reportedly, his duties included standing on the street and trying to persuade people to come inside and buy tickets to help keep the financial losses to a minimum.
These days Redford sets the tone at a global, live-streamed press conference attended by top media from around the world, welcomes moguls and the stars, and then goes incognito to try to see a few films himself as 60,000 excited fans — and $80 million dollars — pour into Park City.
We sat with Mr. Redford at a roundtable following the press conference. He spoke of embracing change and also of preserving his original vision. The focus that first year was on the filmmakers themselves, and for him that is still the sacred center of the festival, and the aspect he strives to keep unchanged despite all the hoopla and hype and money that now surrounds it. Every year he invites the filmmakers to a private brunch at his cozy ski resort of Sundance, and creates an informal family atmosphere to build the community which inspired his vision. After that, and throughout the festival, there are events sponsored by Redford’s Sundance Institute where those with films being shown can meet and mingle with their peers.
And it works. Filmmakers we spoke to, many of whom had struggled with micro-budgets and endless challenges, felt warmed and welcomed by the Redford touch. Though some of the films shown at Sundance are unlikely to be seen beyond the festival circuit, this moment of inclusion gives the filmmakers the encouragement and energy to keep practicing their art.
And, of course, every year, there are the surprises, the breakouts, the multimillion dollar deals, and careers are born. And for Redford that’s part of it too. “When somebody comes out of nowhere and with our support goes somewhere, that’s a real pleasure to me.”
This was a very good year at Sundance. Energy and optimism were high, there were more events and parties than ever before, and there were so many good films it was impossible to see them all.
We were up at seven every day to collect press tickets, then on to a morning panel discussion or screening, lunchtime interviews, afternoon receptions, evening film premieres, after parties, midnight screenings and late night events. A ten-day whirlwind.
Now much more than just a film festival, Sundance has become a cultural change nexus, networking artists and financing, activists and sponsors.
Government organizations, independent charities and leading non-profits come to Sundance to benefit from the intersection of celebrities, filmmakers, and funders. The Sundance Institute sets the tone, providing creative and financial support to emerging and aspiring filmmakers and theater artists through a series of Labs, Fellowships, and Retreats, both in the U.S. and, increasingly, abroad. Its opening-night “Artists at the Table” dinner brought contributors together with filmmakers, composers, and other film and theater artists.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation hosted various receptions as well as a science-in-film panel in connection with its science screenplay fellowships and annual Sloan Feature Film Prize.
The Washington D.C.- based entertainment and arts advocate Creative Coalition is a major presence at the festival, and their Spotlight Initiative Awards dinner is the unofficial Sundance gala.
The British Film Commission and British Film Institute were on hand to support British filmmakers and help them meet their American counterparts at the always well-attended British Brunch. This year Los Angeles British Consul-General Dame Barbara Hay welcomed guests and delivered opening remarks.
There was also a celebrity brunch in support of the Ascend Humanitarian Alliance and their fight against poverty, and an opening night dinner and mid-festival reception hosted by the Skoll Foundation, which supports social entrepreneurs working to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
It’s virtually impossible to attend or report on more than a small fraction of the three hundred parties thrown over ten days by studios and film production companies, the Sundance Institute, corporate sponsors and individuals. Here are a few.
The scene kicked off on Thursday night (January 17th) with the Day 1 Party at the Legacy Lodge. The festival took over the massive venue and filled it to overflowing with filmmakers and festival goers.
BAMCinemaFest’s fifth anniversary party, hosted by Peter Saarsgard, was Friday evening, along with the first gourmet dinner at ChefDance.
On Saturday afternoon, and throughout the festival, the Sundance Channel hosted four o’clock tea and cocktails at its headquarters on Main Street, also the venue for a variety of press conferences and special events.
Saturday’s after-party for the premiere of James Franco’s boundary-pushing INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR was held at Cisero’s on Main Street. Revelry continued deep into the night at Las Vegas Tao’s pop-up club, which transforms an underground parking lot into a late night hot spot.
The iPhone app “Everest” heralded the “Everest Mansion” up the mountain, which, among other events, hosted a one a.m. after party for KINK where James Franco and Christina Voros celebrated with Emile Hirsch, Paul Rudd, Mekhi Phifer and many others until close to dawn.
The Sunday schmooze started early at the UK Film Brunch at the High West Distillery. The networking continued at the Deluxe Cocktail party at Riverhorse on Main Street.
Hollywood’s most powerful agencies vied for attention Sunday night with competing parties. WME hosted a packed event upstairs at Wahso while CAA took over the Claim Jumper.
Thursday night took us out of Park City to the Middle Eastern Filmmaker’s reception at the Casa Nova mansion in Deer Valley, which especially recognized THE SQUARE and its makers, who risked so much to bring this story to light.
The jOBS after party was the centerpiece of Friday night. Held in a converted loft space, it was attended by the film’s enthusiastic cast, crew and talent, including director Joshua Michael Stern, writer Matt Whitely, and star Ashton Kutcher.
The last party of the festival is, of course, the Awards, which take over the entire Basin Recreation Field House. Hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this Academy Awards of independent film featured delicious food, music, a wellpaced award ceremony, and dancing and partying late into the night.
Panels and Installations
Sundance continues its tradition of assembling excellent panels and presentations. There are several ticketed largescale panels in the Egyptian Theater, this year including subjects such as “Science and Cinema” and “The Power of Story.” But some of the most engaging conversations with filmmakers take place in the free daily 10 a.m. Cinema Cafe presentations in the Filmmakers Lodge. These are community-rich occasions. Attendees bring in coffee and tea from the adjacent Lounge and panelists are generally available for casual conversations after the formal discussion ends.
This year panelists included David Seidler (THE KING’S SPEECH), Robin Swicord (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON), Dave Grohl (SOUND CITY), and many others.
And many days, in the Filmmakers Lodge, at 1 p.m. there are special subject panels such as “Turning the Tide” about films and social change with Gael García Bernal (WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, NO), Jehane Noujaim (THE SQUARE), and Robert Reich (INEQUALITY FOR ALL), Free and open to all, New Frontier is a social and creative space that showcases non-narrative storytelling, media installations and multimedia performances.
This year there was a total immersion film NORTH OF SOUTH, WEST OF EAST projected on all four walls of a room, and CORAL: REKINDLING VENUS. Viewed in a portable dome by twelve people at a time lying on their backs, it takes participants deep under the ocean to see the amazing effects of the planet Venus on the life of coral. Following Sundance the show will tour planetariums around the country.
John Cooper, festival director, says that every year after, and only after, films have been selected on merit, themes emerge. This year they were: sexuality and social protest.
Sexually Themed Films
Redford said that when he started acting in the 60s movies mainly showed sexuality wrapped in romance, which reflected the perceptions of the day, but that now, with the internet and people texting instead of dating, sexuality was more matter-of-fact and open, and Sundance’s selections reflected that trend. Or, as Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer, co-star of THE LIFEGUARD, was quoted as saying “Sex is trendy.”
This, after all, is the festival were Steven Soderbergh became
famous when SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE screened in 1989. But there does seem to be a different attitude towards sex in film these days, perhaps because of the internet, or just the cultural cycle that led from the sensuality of Regency England to Victorian uptightness, or the repression of the fifties to the liberality of the sixties.
For example, at the midnight screening of KINK, directed by Christina Voros and produced by James Franco, “the true story of sex, submission, and big business as seen through the eyes of the unlikely pornographers of Kink. com,” grandmotherly and grandfatherly locals seemed comfortable mixing with the twenty-something bi-coastal crowd for this graphic documentary of the BDSM porn industry — and staying for the Q&A.
James Franco and Sundance favorite-son Joseph Gordon- Levitt are at the forefront of this change. Franco was involved in three sexually charged films at Sundance this year — INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR, as director, producer and actor; KINK as Producer; and LOVELACE, playing Hugh Hefner.
In INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR Franco speaks passionately of his desire to break free of the sexual attitudes and taboos he internalized growing up. Inspired by the forty minutes of graphic footage rumored to have been cut from William Friedkin’s 1980 film CRUISING, Franco collaborated with San Francisco filmmaker Travis
Matthews to imagine their own lost footage. They set out to make a film which was “a provocative exploration of the importance of the radical and transgressive in society” and so is more about the complex subtexts of INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR, then about the lost footage. The film is a mixture of the seemingly spontaneous and the scripted, creating deliberate discomfort and confusion in the audience as it blurs the lines between what emotions the actors are simulating and what they are truly feeling.
In DON JON’S ADDICTION, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a fitness obsessed New Jersey Roman Catholic addicted to internet porn. He says he wanted to raise awareness of the growing incomprehension between young men consuming graphic pornography and young women consuming romantic comedies, and does so with wit and skill in this impressive writing/directing debut.
Another noteworthy film is KILL YOUR DARLINGS starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, and Dane Dehaan as the Byronic friend who introduces him to fellow Beat writers Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs and helps him come to terms with his homosexuality, leading to what some critics are calling “Harry Potter’s gay kiss.” Both Daniel Radcliffe’s and Dane Dehaan’s acting is superb throughout the film.
If You Go Next Year
If you’re a skier, you’ll be in heaven. With all the accommodations full of festival goers, the slopes are always wide open. For immediate gratification, it’s as easy as getting on the Town Lift at the bottom of Main Street and riding it to the top of Park City Mountain Resort. Deer Valley, known for its perfectly groomed slopes and great food, is a short shuttle ride or drive away. We enjoyed a full venison lunch for the price of a deli sandwich before going out for some wonderful glade skiing.
While there is a shuttle bus to the major venues, a car is highly recommended. Parking is a challenge, but if you plan ahead you can purchase in and out privileges for the central parking garage online two months ahead of the festival.
With the ever increasing prominence of Sundance, accommodation prices have become what a friend calls “surreal.” The best bet is to share a condo with a group. You can search for more affordable condos on sites such as Homeaway.com, AirBnB, and Craigslist. But be sure to book your condo at least six months ahead. By the end of September the choice is limited, and expensive.
If you’re going at the last minute, consider the second half of the festival. Most of the Hollywood elite come only for the opening weekend, and later in the festival there is greater ticket availability, as well as a chance of more reasonably priced last-minute accommodations
Having a pass will greatly enrich your festival experience. The most affordable option is the $200 I.D. pass which gives you access to festival-sponsored lounges, panels, and venues, and helps in getting access to some of the parties. This compares with the $5,000 A pass which gives unlimited access to films on the opening weekend.
If you buy the I.D. pass, tickets may be bought online, both in ten ticket packages, which give you earlier and greater choice of films, or individually. To buy tickets or passes online you first need to register for a purchase timeslot. This year registration was for three weeks beginning on September 18th, so if you’re interested be sure to mark your calendar.
Sundance will be held next year from January 16th to 26th.
Andrew Arthur and James Patton are principals in EarthHart Productions, Ltd., a film production company with the mission of creating films which support individual rights and people’s connection with the natural world.