Interview with Festival Director William Vela (Miami Short Film Festival)

Miami short Film Festival is a film festival based in Miami, Florida that features short films of 20-minutes or less each. A growing movement to exhibit and expand the art form of short film making providing a venue to build community around the arts. Philosophy: Short films, past and present, are true works of art, and deserve a venue dedicated to their exhibition. Their mission is to present quality films from around the world as well as support, recognize and honor filmmakers creating a films under 20 minutes.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

William Vela: Miami short Film Festival is succeeding because we continue to promote the short film genre and supporting local and international filmmakers providing an ideal platform in a popular city such Miami Florida. The MsFF is international in scope and as a result, the festival has showcased over 1,000 high-quality films from around the world representing over 70 countries and has given the filmmaker a gateway for exposure and to short film an identity differentiating it from the classical feature lent films.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

MsFF will offer our audience a one of a kind selection of the best short films across all genres from all over the world. From original scripts to different perspectives, to new cinematography and film techniques, each piece is the result of true emotion andexpression. Today’s short film cinema is beyond doubt, the nurturing ground of tomorrow’s world-renowned filmmakers.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

When selecting the films, our goal is to find films that are
distinctive and with a powerful team. We look for a storyline that can transform audiences, living them with a powerful message.

Technical Requirements:
-Films must have been completed after Jan. 1, 2015
-All non-English films must have English sub-titles.
-Films must be submitted electronically
-We will only consider works with a maximum running time of 20 minutes or less. There is no minimum running time.
-Works-in-progress will be considered, provided they will be completed prior to the Festival.
-We do not allow multiple category entries.
-Though not a requirement, we prefer that films NOT have previously screened in a public theatrical setting in Dade or Broward County FL prior to their screening at MiamisFF.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

No comment.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

The love of filmmaking and desire to contribute to the cultural scene of our community. Also the responsibility of having create a dependable film festival that filmmakers and our audience wait for every year.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Film Freeway has been very helpful offering filmmakers and Film
Festival organizers a friendly tool to process all the materials. It has also provided a reachable staff that you can contact any time. They are way better than any other exiting platforms.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

The film that I have seen the most times in my life is The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Great films most have a good storyline, interesting characters and good performance.

How is the film scene in your city?

Miami’s independent film scene is flourishing, even as hundreds of arthouse cinemas close around the country. The city is home to seven independent cinemas, most of which have opened in the last four years, and its increasing number of film festivals and notable filmmakers is propelling South Florida into a passionate film mecca with more than 10 festivals and an entire month dedicated to showcasing film such as the Miami short Film Festival.

miamishorts1.jpg

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Interviewee BIO: For the past thirteen years Mr. Vela has been the Executive Director of the MsFF organization, overseeing every single aspect of this exiting international film festival. With more than 20 years of experience working as a professional actor, producer and director, he has work in over 250 TV commercial for the locals, nationals and international market. A creative and dynamic leader in the entertainment field industry, with continued success in event planning and media productions. Mr. Vela has been focus on expanding local, national and international independent short film productions while integrating influential and diverse partnership and sponsors to this campaign

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Shira Dubrovner (Mammoth Lakes Film Festival)

Awarded in 2016 by MovieMaker Magazine as a top 50 film festival worth the entry fee. In 2017, the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival will screen over 60 features and shorts in the spectacular setting of Mammoth Lakes—California’s premier mountain resort, high in the Eastern Sierra. It will take place on the Wednesday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

http://www.mammothlakesfilmfestival.com/

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Shira Dubrovner: We combine our commitment to cutting-edge programming with our efforts to create a friendly, nurturing, fun atmosphere, giving our filmmakers a unique experience to be a part of what’s new and exciting in the independent film world and to make personal and professional connections in a truly unique setting. We believe films can change the world, but we also believe in art for art’s sake. Our slogan is “Movies Unfiltered,” and we make a point of showcasing work that digs deep, gets personal, and gets real and raw and confrontational when necessary. We put our filmmakers first, and make every effort to bring them to the festival and give them an unforgettable experience. We are truly a filmmaker friendly film festival. We offer all our filmmakers travel stipends and housing. We take over a student housing facility and house all the filmmakers under one roof, which creates a great synergy and a “Filmmaker-First Festival”.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

We create an intimate atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable to connect: filmmaker to filmmaker, filmmaker to audience, and filmmaker to industry professionals (from our Jury) and sponsors. Whether you are a filmmaker or cinephile you will be inspired and challenged with the lineup of films that we carefully procure for our audiences. We also have both guided and spontaneous outings to visit the amazing natural surroundings.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

For this year, 2017, they must have been completed after January 1, 2016. They also must not have had a theatrical release.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

I think the bigger festivals rely on reaching out to established filmmakers and organizations for their programming, and submitted films can become an afterthought. We make a point of carefully evaluating all submitted films and drawing a large percentage of our program from blind submissions.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our commitment to find films with a specific and original vision. We love discovering the filmmakers of the future. Our director of programming Paul Sbrizzi discovered Lena Dunham and Ben Zeitlen before their careers took off. We love discovering and nurturing young filmmakers’ careers and watching them grow. We also love to showcase fresh and stimulating work by established filmmakers.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Very smooth. We find the platform very easy to use and easy to keep all the submissions organized and we are able to communicate with all the programmers well through the platform.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Our goal is to be a destination festival that is known for showcasing a selection of the best new work from around the world as well as finding up-and-coming talent. We are well on our way and intend on achieving that by 2020.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

The Wizard of Oz because it comes on T.V. every year and it brings out the kid in me.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A naturally gifted filmmaker who is unafraid of expressing a personal, inspired vision with style and sensitivity.

How is the film scene in your city?

Mammoth Lakes is a ski resort where many second-home-owners are industry professionals with a passion for filmmaking and a great interest in new talent. A lot of the year-round locals have a taste for art and culture; they welcome the festival and the filmmakers with open arms.

mammothlakes1.jpg

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Film Review: GET OUT (USA 2017) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

get_out.jpgDirector: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Review by Gilbert Seah

Imagine a horror version of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER with a director trained in comedy with an act at Second City, Chicago, and the result is the priceless horror comedy GET OUT that opens this weekend and the most fun at the movies so far this year.

Now that Chris Washington (British Daniel Kaluuya, SICARIO, JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford). At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behaviour as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

First of all, there is the weird as hell maid, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who has the uncanny ability to cry while laughing at the same time. Then there is the assortment of guests that show up, apparently for an annual event, all of whom treat Chris with the greets oddity. The best inspired character is the blind owner of an art gallery, Jim Hudson (Stephen Root).

Things take a turn for the worse when Missy hypnotizes Chris to strop smoking. Chis finds himself stuck in a void whenever Missy stirs tea in a tea cup, which is actually one of the scariest scenes in a horror movie this year – credit to director Jordan Peel.

Director Peel appears to figure that if he directs very act set-up to perfection, then the combination of all these acts would make a perfect movie. The tactic actually works. Each horror set up is devised with the greatest of both creepiness and campiness that delight the audience, judging from the laughter and scares of the audience at the promo screening.
Every actor performs his or her part to almost perfection. Peel appears to be able to elicit excellent performances from all. Catherine Keener is again a pleasure to watch, and I have never seen her in a bad film. She has the knack of picking the best films.

There are a few forgivable flaws in the script, which is also written by Peel. One is the careless placement of the red box, discovered by Chris revealing all of the family’s past victims. The box should have been kept under lock and key. The other is Dean performing the operation before the victim is wheeled into the operating room.

But the film is deliciously wicked, from the camp humour to the suspense to the sexual innuendo and racial connotations. The film is also brave enough to attempt a horror film in which a black man is the victim with a racial setting. (Director Jordan Peel is black.)

My favourite camp horror is Dario Argento’s OPERA. GET OUT marks a close second. Low budget but high in hilarity and entertainment. Highly recommended!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRfnevzM9kQ

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: SHADOWS OF PARADISE

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

shadows_of_paradise.jpgDirector: Sebastian Lange
Writer: Sebastian Lange

Review by Gilbert Seah

SHADOWS OF PARADISE is a not-your-usual documentary about Transcendental Meditation. It answers the question how do TM’s adherents continue when a spiritual luminary dies.

With intimate access to two of Transcendental Meditation’s new leaders – iconic filmmaker David Lynch and dedicated disciple Bobby Roth – director Sebastian Lange documents the Movement’s metamorphosis following the passing of its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Having himself grown up within the Movement, director Sebastian Lange approaches his subject through an introspective and essayistic lens, seeking to reconcile TM’s present-day incarnation with the teachings and practices that have shaped his worldview. The film documents the star-studded galas hosted by Lynch’s Manhattan-based foundation to a perilous cliffside cave in Madhya Pradesh.

Word of warning: The inspiration of the teachings propaganda-d in this film originated from Guru Dev. Guru Dev lived in a distant cave, north of India and dismissed normal life for meditation. So, this film might not be for everyone. In fact many will likely laugh at the film’s teachings, so if you are not with open mind, it is best to skip reading this review as well as the film – no insult to the person involved. Even if one is of open mind, there is a lot to take and believe in this film. Before reading this review, please bear in mind that this reviewer is no proponent of transcendental meditation (TM). This reviewer is a nonbeliever of TM, but will try to have an open mind in reviewing the film and in the examination of the subject.

Director David Lynch is a champion of the cause of TM. He has made MULHOLLAND DRIVE, a film critically acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all time. It is a film that is as weird as it is brilliant and covers multiple layers of consciousness. But I wonder now if Lynch has not lost some of his marbles. His hairstyle in the film – a streaked white coiffe does not help his looks either. Other celebrities involved whose presence are seen on screen include Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Lynch has a special ‘Lynch Foundation’ that collects money and donations for the cause.
Director Lange is quick to point out that TM is neither a religion, cult, government or industry. But he fails to define what TM really is.

For a film that champions TM, there is little about what TM actually is. It is only near the end of the film when the audiences sees a practical illustration of TM as executed by both Roth and Lynch. The director of the film Sebastian Lange is also a believer. His goal, which forms the climax of the film is to understand TM as well. His quest is to search for this remote cave that both Maharashi and Guru Dev spent years in. But it is reputed that the cave is swamped with bees and many who have ventured there have ended up in hospital.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/184505918
 
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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: DEPARTURE (DEPART) (UK/France 2015)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

departure.jpgDirector: Andrew Steggall
Writer: Andrew Steggall
Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Alex Lawther, Phénix Brossard

Review by Gilbert Seah

 The reason for the bilingual title is that the film is shot in South France and in both French and English, though English is the main order of the day.

DEPARTURE tells the simple story that in reality could have layers making it more complex. Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson) is going through a marital crisis and she has brought her son – Elliot to help her pack up their idyllic summer home in the south of France. The two hardly do any packing but wander around the market in the village. Elliot is of the age of puberty. He sees a local lad swimming in the reservoir and smoking a cigarette and decides he has to get to know this boy better – nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean?

This lad is rural Clement (Phénix Brossard) all macho and a complete opposite in character and physique from Elliot. It is hard to believe that he has no clue the reason of Elliot’s fondness for him. What happens after makes the rest of the film. Whether the film succeeds depends on director Steggall whether he can invoke enough interest from the audience or maybe bring some twist to the plot.

Steggall does however, create a believable idyllic atmosphere of a rural French village – with English outsiders treated politely as income generating tourists for the French peasants. There is little hostility, at least, and none that needs to be built up or included into the story. Steggall tells his tale directly with few distractions.

Some films have little going on in appearance. DEPARTURE is one of those films. But to be fair to the writer and director of DEPARTURE, there could be more than meets the eye – if the audiences were to read between the lines (or see between the images). But there is quite a lot of inane dialogue – lines that make no sense being there. One sample occurs in the beginning of the film when Elliot asks his mother about a photograph he finds: “Who is this man in the boat with dad?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replies. Another lengthy conversation takes place between the boy and a cafe owner about poetry, acting and plays – which has little impact on the plot, exempt to maybe establish (not very credibly) that the boy is a gifted writer.

Elliot, the boy is not the perfect model of a son. Elliot, the wannabe poet (his talent is questionable) is described as a cliche by Clement. Elliot acts like a spoiled little princess half the time, who wants his mother dead so that he can have a sex life. He is indifferent to his dad’s visit. He masturbates with a carrot from the fridge and dumps the soiled vegetable in the bin, which his mother discovers.

DEPARTURE is extremely slow moving. After 30 minutes of the film’s running time, nothing much happens – except the boy has seen another boy and the mother and son is still in the French village.

It is good to see Juliet Stevenson (famous after her role opposite the late Alan Rickman in TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY) on the screen after a long absence, though she does not get to do that much. Alex Lawther who plays Elliot has played big roles in the past, like the young Alan Turing in THE IMITATION GAME and the math film X + Y

DEPARTURE has gone on to win a few awards already at minor film festivals. But it is slow haul which will test the patience of many a viewer. The film is available DVD / VOD on March 7th in the U.S. and Canada via Wolfe Video.

Trailer: https://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2016/feb/02/departure-watch-an-exclusive-trailer-for-the-new-british-drama-video

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (USA/Fr/Belg/Switz 2016) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

iamnotyournego.jpgDirector: Raoul Peck
Writer: James Baldwin
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Dick Cavett

Review by Gilbert Seah

The title of this new documentary immediately implies a film that would rock the boat in the topic of racism. It also implies an era when the ’n’ word was widely used before deemed inappropriate. The opening credits are done in black and white to emphasize the film’s seriousness.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, by Raoul Peck attempts to reveal that the ‘negro’ thought understood by most Americans is in fact a stereotyped misunderstood one The doc is based on the unfinished book by James Baldwin (narrated by Samuel L.Jackson) and looks at the impressions made by 3 murdered negroes – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. The three black men were killed roughly three years apart. As informed by the voiceover, these are three different men, each of whom have done so much for the people who have betrayed them.

The premise of the film is to tell the history of the black men as seen from the eyes of Medgar, Malcolm and Martin Luther as purported by a book that is to be written by James Baldwin. The book never got past 30 pages, due to Baldwin’s death. The film illustrates what happened and which truths have been revealed. The film gives the feel that director Peck wants his film to be as controversial as possible, hopefully to stir discussion on the topic of racism.

Peck spends screen time mourning the deaths of the three – with voiceover relating the details. He also mentions through Baldwin, that the Americans do not know what to do with the black population while the ‘nigger’ has never been happy in his place, just trying to survive in America. John Wayne and George Washington were the typical white men as perceived by a black person. Often he sees the piles of black men pile up. When the black stands up, he attacks the power structure of the entire world.

The film offers many arguments illustrated with many archive stills. The most interesting revelation of the film is the argument between King and Malcolm X – showing the two different approaches of dealing with black racism. The doc also includes rare clips of ‘negro’ old movies (WAY OUT, A RAISIN IN THE SUN, THE DEFIANT ONES, all with Sidney Poitier who appears in all the controversial movies) which were acceptable then but considered unacceptable now. Also shown are unforgettable scenes like one on on a bus with the segregation of black and white seating at the back and front of the bus respectively.

The film ends up successfully criticizing America from the black man’s point of view. It also riles up emotions of the black man with appropriate examples given. The film ends with the footage of the Rodney King beaten by white police – still a very disturbing scene to watch.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year (with long line-ups), garnering praises together with other racial-themed films like MOONLIGHT, LOVING and A UNITED KINGDOM. The film has been nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNUYdgIyaPM

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: LOGAN (USA 2017) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

logan.jpgDirector: James Mangold
Writers: Michael Green (screenplay), Scott Frank (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel comic universe – LOGAN is the name of the Wolverine mutant in the X-MEN series. He has been played by actor Hugh Jackson in the past as well as in this latest edition, which is supposed to be his last. To put everyone in line with the Wolverine Universe, LOGAN is intended to be the tenth installment in the X-Men film series, as well as the third and final Wolverine solo film following X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Wolverine (2013).

Director James Mangold has made a slew of movies, but I fir
st noticed his film COP LAND which dealt with an ageing sheriff played by Sylvester Stallone, forced out of his complacency to do what is right. The premise of LOGAN is quite the same. Wolverine (Jackman) just wants to be left alone – drinking and driving his car for hire, until he encounters mutants running away from a government control experiment gone haywire.

The setting of the story is the near future with Wolverine. dealing with his age and ailment. His abilities are not what they once were”. So, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X aka Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with an albino mutant called Caliban (Steven Mercahnt) in a hideout on the Mexican border. (Caliban is named after Prospero’s slave, the ugly monster of the island he is shipwrecked in, in Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST). His attempts to hide from the world and his legacy, however, are up-ended when a young mutant, Laura (Dane Keen) arrives, being pursued by dark force. The first fight arrives a late 45 minutes into the film.

As in the Marvel action films, the fight scenes have to be awesome. The ones here meet the standard, being violent enough with head rolling off and sharp blade slicing up bodies. The editing is quick, but the scenes held long enough for the audience to figure out what is happening.

The script, partly written by Mangold together with Scott Frank and Michael Green, shows occasional bouts of brilliance. At one point in the film, Logan discovers X-MEN comic books in Aurora’s bag. Reading them, he finds that the Eden place that they are going to is described in the comic book as well as certain past events. The film here takes an eerie look, with a chilly feel similar to what could be felt in David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE. The story also pays a clever nod to the classic western SHANE that appears on the television. Logan, Charles and Laura on their journey to find Eden, encounter a family, just as the stranger SHANE does in the film, and their encounter affects the destiny of the family who like the movie SHANE, is being hustled out of the land by mercenary gunmen. The script does not shy away from senseless killings, which is a good thing. A lot of innocent people die in this movie.

LOGAN costs a whopping 127 million to make. It is a handsomely mounted production with impressive special effects and great fight choreography. It should make is money back based on the fact that the film is quite good. Only thing is that much publicity is required to let the world be aware that this is actually another X-MEN movie despite the words “X-MEN” missing from the innocently chosen title.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Div0iP65aZo

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com