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Elisabeth's blog


Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
More on Cannes at :

 


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MENTHOL: Mumblecore at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Director Micah Van Hove and cast of "Menthol." If you ever wondered if it would be interesting if you recorded your friends partying the answer is… kind of. Mumblecore is defined by Urban Dictionary as “A genre of independent films in which the characters are involved in a personal crisis. Known for their realistic point of view, these movies are the eyes of the just-out-of-college generation.” As we sat down for the full-house world premiere of MENTHOL ...

Film Independent Forum Keynote Ava DuVernay: Filmmakers, Take Off the Coat of Desperation!

  Last summer I saw Middle of Nowhere and was introduced to Sundance "Best Director" award winner Ava DuVernay at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. Since then DuVernay has directed a 30 for 30 ESPN documentary about Venus Williams, a few delicious kicka** shorts, network series TV, and was recently named director for the upcoming MLK biopic “Selma, among other things. Her keynote speech at Film Independent Forum was an empowering call to action! ...It centered ...

Dances With Films Begins Today in LA! Interview with Cofounder Leslee Scallon

  Sixteen years ago when Michael Trent and Leslee Scallon’s feature length crime drama thriller didn’t get into any of the industry festivals, feeling slighted by being passed up for not having any big names attached, they decided to found a film festival. Trent’s idea would bring together the forces of filmmakers who weren’t getting play on the festival circuit just because there were no big names attached. Nine months later they had 300 submissions, and had sere...

CROSSTOWN World Premiere in Santa Barbara, Directed by Miriam Kruishoop

  Some movies are important. Some movies are really good. Miriam Kruishoop’s Crosstown is both. Last week the film had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. It is the story of an illegal immigrant family in LA. I sighed in exasperation, I got the chills, I cried. I have not been this moved by a film since seeing Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere last summer. "Crosstown is a story about two marginalized families dealing with the brutal realities about what ...

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Wraps

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The 28th Annual SBIFF came to a close on Sunday, February 3rd. 

The 11 day festival screened nearly 200 hundred films, hosted various Academy Award nominees and brought out the latest creative forces in independent films, world wide.

 In an assembly such as this, the genre's were eclectic from sexual adventures (An Awkward Sexual Adventure) to meditation (Retreat), extreme sports (Discovering Mavericks) to nature (Revolution).  Features and shorts, both live and animated fille...

A Year in Burgundy World Premiere in Santa Barbara

Documentary filmmaker David Kennard first came to LA in the seventies, when he worked with Carl Sagan on Cosmos, the biggest documentary series that had ever been done any where in the world at that time (which I just found out from Wikipedia was as of 2009 the most widely watched PBS series in the world!) From stars to wine, Kennard's latest film, A Year in Burgundy, had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival last weekend. I had the chance to sit ...

Director's Panel at Santa Barbara Film Festival: Hooper, O. Russell, Zeitlin, Andrews, Bendjelloul, Moore

((photo cred: SBIFF) The director’s panel at SBIFF this year was quite the line-up! In attendance were: Tom Hooper, Les Miserables; Rich Moore, Wreck-it Ralph; David O Russell, Silver Linings Playbook; Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Malik Bendjelloul, Searching for Sugar Man; and Mark Andrews of Brave. Tom Hooper talked about his “visceral connection” to the story of Les Miserables like a “moth to a flame.” What really draws him to the story is how it ...

Writers Panel @ Santa Barbara Int’l Film Fest

  Saturday in Santa Barbara writers of the year's prominent movies gathered to talk in the annual “It Starts with the Script” panel. In attendance were Stephen Chbosky: "Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Roman Coppola: “Moonrise Kingdom,” John Gatins: “Flight,” Rian Johnson: “Looper,” and David Magee: of “Life of Pi.” I love film festivals for these kinds of events that let us in; so close to the perspectives of peop...

CENTRAL PARK FIVE: A Very Important Documentary @ AFI Fest

 Sarah Burns and husband/ fellow director David McMahon were in attendance at AFI fest last week to present their new film that they co-directed along with documentary master Ken Burns, CENTRAL PARK FIVE. “This film will make you angry,” said AFI moderator upon introducing the film. “It shows how important it is to look back at history.” ...

Sally Potter and Elle Fanning Bring Excellence with Ginger and Rosa

 "Making a film is like having half a conversation - until you see it with the audience," says Director Sally Potter. Potter and stars were in attendance Wednesday night at AFI Fest on Hollywood Boulevard. Potter’s GINGER AND ROSA, set in the backdrop of 1962 London, is a tale of two best friends born in hospital beds in 1945, the same year the first nuclear bomb was dropped. If this movie is about one thing, it's the feeling of the world as a teenager, the journey from bein...

Rebecca Thomas' Debut Feature ELECTRICK CHILDREN Starring Julia Garner, Rory Culkin @ AFI Fest in Los Angeles

Stunning ELECTRICK CHILDREN is Rebecca Thomas' debut feature film, surprising as that may be. The movie tells the story of 15 year-old Rachel, played wonderfully by Julia Garner, who lives on a fundamentalist Mormon homestead in the Utah desert, just outside Las Vegas. On her 15th birthday Rachel must answer routine questions about her life, recorded on tape deck. Fascinated with the tape deck, later that night she creeps into the basement to find it.  When she discovers a rock mus...

Sorkin Presents NEWSROOM at Los Angeles Film Festival

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Halfway through the first scene (he writes long scenes) of Sorkin's NEWSROOM I thought, "This show could change the world." I am a Sorkin fan, and an idealist, but that's besides the point. In the same way that THE WEST WING made Americans feel apart of what was happening in Washington, NEWSROOM does too. It takes place in a newsroom in Washington, and not only that but it's set during the real events of the day beginning on April 20, 2010. I feel like this kind of pseudo-inside look...

Middle of Nowhere public premiere @ LA Film Festival

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“I’m really nervous,” said Duvernay as she introduced the film. “Maybe it’s because this is my hometown. Maybe it’s because there are over 1,000 of us here...But it’s probably the Angela Bassett factor.” Bassett showed up just to support the film. DuVernay is the first African American to win the Sundance award for Best Directing.  "Stephanie Allain is a doer," said DuVernay. "She said, 'This is a small story, but it&rsquo...

Crazy & Thief @ Los Angeles Film Festival

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Last night at the Los Angeles Film Festival I almost went to a gala screening of BRAVE. Pixar is God, but I'm so glad I went to see the last screening of CRAZY AND THIEF instead! Wow it was inspiring and beautiful. I mean, it has baby subtitles. That's right, the baby language of a 2 year-old translated clearly for the audience via subtitles throughout the 50 minute piece. If there weren't subtitles none of us would have any idea what Thief says, at all. How does the director know? He's ...

World Premiere: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World @ LA Film Festival

Last night at the Los Angeles Film Festival Seeking a Friend for the End of the World premiered. A glowing cast (Ms. Knightly is knewly engaged, Carell looked tan and happy) posed for pictures on the red carpet in downtown Los Angeles to support the film, along with Director Lorene Scafaria, who looked quite stunning herself. Plus a few others.  Once we had all sat down, Scafaria introduced the film to the large audience: "It's about the power of having one very good friend.&...

Danny Elfman at the Los Angeles Film Festival

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"His work features an undercurrent of faith and malice you just can't shake out of your head." Great film composer Danny Elfman was introduced at the LA Film Festival Saturday night with such ideas as, "His work brings the life of the mind to the screen." As an 18-year old, Elfman's first performance was in Paris, where he followed his brother. Together they were in Le Grand Magic Circus, an avant-garde musical theater group. "It was a crazy experience that put t...

Where Should Films be Going? From Some of the Best - Produced by 2012 Notes

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Game Changers: Where Should Films be Going? A panel including Ceán Chaffin, Michael de Luca, Mark Johnson, Doug Wick, and moderator Michael Shamberg opened Day 2 of the Produced by Conference by attempting to answer that question.  Ceán Chaffin (Producer & partner of David Fincher- Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo): "We don't have tentpole movies." The audience is harder and harder to find. "We mak...

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas at Produced by 2012

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Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas were humble and introspective in front of the eager audience at as they opened Produced by 2012 last weekend. Nolan and Thomas worked together in England before bringing their first film Following to the US in 1998, at a time in the US when there was a "movement of cheap films that secured distribution through the festival circuit." They submitted it to the Sundance Film Festival, didn't make it, but there met a programmer from the San Francisco In...

Martin Scorsese at 27th Santa Barbara Int'l FIlm Fest

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Martin Scorsese was honored Monday night at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Sir Ben Kingsley was in attendance as well, to award Scorsese with the American Riviera Award. Here are some tidbits from the gentle evening in Santa Barbara paradise, 90 miles outside of Los Angeles. Upon the stage before Scorsese came on moderator Leonard Maltin said,  "I like to talk to a man who likes to talk." Soon enough I realized how TRUE this is about the greatest living ...

Santa Barbara Int'l Film Fest 27: Writers Panel

                                My experience of the Santa Barbara International FIlm Festival began Saturday morning at the Lobero Theatre with JC Chandor (Margin Call), Tate Taylor (The Help), Jim Rash (Descendents) Will Reiser (50/50), and Mike Mills (Beginners). The artists spoke passionately & candidly about their writin...

Notes from Film Independent Forum

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Some are here to learn, some are here to share. Everyone is here in the name of film. Each have different experiences, backgrounds, and levels of expertise. As I sat in one panel about film financing Saturday I looked back at the packed auditorium and thought to myself, "Damn. Each of these people are here just because they want to make movies." They don't have money to make it happen, but they are here because they believe in what they want to do enough that they believe they can make...

Werner Herzog at Film Independent Forum

Werner Herzog deletes all of his unused footage when he's done making a movie. Why? 1: Storage takes up too much space; and 2) "A carpenter doesn't sit on his shavings either." This means that he doesn't have the option to go back and re-edit films. "I accept all my errors, and my films have many of them." You have to accept that the "child has a stutter, a squint, a limp." The great filmmaker delivered many gems and to a packed house of filmmakers and asp...

Like Crazy Creative Team at Film Independent Forum

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The annual Film Independent Forum was held this weekend in Los Angeles. The goal of the 3 day event, filled with panels, lectures, Q & A sessions, screenings, and networking lunches, is to empower filmmakers "to take control of their projects." "Like Crazy," best picture pic at Sundance opened the event Friday night, one week before it opens limited release. A Q & A with the creative team followed the screening. A beautiful film about love, Film Indepe...

Shriekfest, Part 2

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After the interesting conversation with Micah Levin of "Opus" Cubby and I wandered on through the Shriekfest opening night party and didn't even make it upstairs before running into a former coworker of hers. Turns out Mr. Morgan Peter Brown produced and acted in the closing night film. In "Absentia" a woman struggles with being haunted by the memories of her missing husband. There's a law, "death in absentia," that says when someone goes missing they can only be ...

"Opus" Opens Shriekfest Los Angeles

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I'm unfamiliar with the genre of "horror." I loved "Scream," and "I Know what you did Last Summer," in high-school when they came out, but somewhere along the way my interest piqued and hasn't come back again. I don't know, I like happy things. So last night I was excited to see inside an unfamiliar world at the Shriekfest opening night party. I talked to filmmakers about their work, horror as a genre, and the state of indie filmmaking. My wingman Cubby and I or...
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