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New York – 2008 International Independent Film and Video Festival

Presenting from February 28 to March 6th close to 100 productions in two Manhattan venues, the IIFVF covered virtually all genres in feature films, shorts and documentaries with a selection from fifty countries that ranging from outstanding and innovative productions to those shown once, and soon to be forgotten. This festival receives contradictory reactions from trade and website publications, with some simply refusing to cover it. A few participating producers and directors participating in the 2008 edition were critical of the high entry and market fees and deplored that few people showed up for their films and few distributors attended.

Though some of this reaction may be well founded, one must note that entry fees for most festivals have gone up as driven by the need to recoup the festival costs, the necessity to limit the number of productions to review, and the willingness of an ever growing number of directors and producers to pay for exposure. One should however give credit to IIFVF for indicating on its website what happened to productions shown in prior editions of the fest, a practice which is rather rare on the festival circuit and the most helpful publicist. Also, there were fairly large audiences for the evening screenings, even for films which had in diplomatic terms restrained artistic value.

EAGLE TALON THE MOVIE: THE CHANCELLOR ONLY LIVES TWICE by Frogman was one of the most innovative productions shown. EAGLE TALON is the first feature film in flash animation in the world’s film industry with IIFVF premiering it in the United States. It is a comedy which satirizes the media and consumption industry and its audience, and paraphrases in an absurd comedic fashion the star wars epic and other space films. The film is unique in its approach, offering a satirical portrait of the US and UN functionaries and political institutions as they face domination by star wars clones and space invaders, not to speak of the background imagery presenting figures such as George Bush, his North Korean counter part, and the pope. The film pokes fund
at the audience which is provided with ‘confessional time’ interrupting the erratic flow of the story. You can follow the declining budget of the film on a budget gauge visible throughout the film. As Frogman the director of the film notes he was surprised that the US audience had the same reaction to the film as his Japanese audience

JOURNAL OF A CONTRACT KILLER by Tony Maylam, depicts a female hit woman killing for the Italian Mafia, a fast and well orchestrated thriller. To the best of my knowledge it is the first film showing a woman as a murderer for hire motivated by protection of her child. LIME SALTED LOVE by Danielle Agnello and Joe Hall offers excellent acting, commendable photography in the portrait of four individuals impaired by childhood traumas and has an interesting story line. Yet the feature falls short due to structural problems as reflected in overloading the story by flash backs, surreal ventures and secondary sub plots. Several first class documentaries were part of the program, productions which somehow appeared to be superior to many of the fest’s features. The Irish THE FLIGHT OF THE EARLS by Paul Larkin reveals in a fascinating approach a little known part of Ireland’s history, the exodus of the Irish exodus to continental Europe in 1607. Tood Kwait’s CHASIN’ GUS’ GHOST is one of the best music documentaries I have seen. Kwait recuperates the history of Jug Band Music


through perceptive interviews, revealing archival footage and images, and a superb illustrative soundtrack. Whereas in the US this folk music has moved into the background it is experiencing a revival in Japan, as the annual Yokohama Jug Band Festival demonstrates.
One guide to excellence in documentary film making are the sponsors of a film. Like other note worthy production frequenting the festival circuit or European public television, the documentary MOEBIUS REDUX- LIFE IN PICTURES by Hasko Baumann, was funded by ZDF/ARTE with additional backing from the European Union’s media program. Its central character Jean Giroud Moebius has been acknowledged by peers like Stan Lee (Marvel Comics) Mike Mignola, and H.R. Riger as the most brilliant living comic book illustrator. Further Moebius has been recognized as an extraordinary film designer as demonstrated by his work on ALIENS, TRON, and THE FIFTH ELEMENT. Discussions with long time collaborators, specifically Alejandro Jodorowsky permit the viewer to enter the Moebius mindscape and share his artistic development. This film is a learning exercise and gives comic books its proper place as an art form, if executed by creative talents like Moebius. Mesmerizing imagery and a sound track by a former Kraftwerk musician are central elements in this great documentary and add to its power.

Claus Mueller
New York Correspondent
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