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Interview with Festival Director Kanithea Powell (Queer Hippo International LGBT Film Festival)

Queer Hippo is a celebration of queer cinema that brings together authentic stories and audacious audiences for its annual program of original documentaries, dramatic films, original teleplays, music videos and shorts. With filmmaker forums and panels, live music performances, distributors, engaging community and student programs, Queer Hippo brings together today’s most original storytellers to a place where they can collaborate and connect.

http://www.queerhippo.com/

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

Kanithea Powell: Queer Hippo provides an amazing platform for queer independent filmmakers. We have had films premier at our festival and go on to win major festivals as a result of winning in Queer Hippo. That says a lot about our ability to choose quality films that tell compelling stories.

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

KP: Another great year of queer films. Last year Queer Hippo represented over 19 different countries. That’s huge. Expect 2017 to give you nothing less than diverse authentic stories, amazing shorts, moving features and documentaries.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

KP: The subject matter must be queer.

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

KP: There are so many great films out there looking for a platform.

If you are a small indie film with a great story, you may not get the attention you deserve when you are up against a larger film with major cast. You can get lost in the shuffle, and that’s unfortunate.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

KP: We love cinema. Being able to provide a safe space for our audience to come and enjoy our selection of films means everything. We are in an environment where it is important to tell those stories and continue to show people we are more alike than we are different.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

KP: FilmFreeway has made this process simple and affordable. The platform works flawlessly for the festival programmer and the filmmaker. The site was easy to navigate and gave me exactly what I needed. This allowed us to get about the business of finding great films for our audience.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

KP: Queer Hippo will be the best place to experience queer cinema.

We will be leaders in providing educational and distribution opportunities for filmmakers.

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

KP: Shine & The Color Purple

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

KP: Storytelling is the beginning and end to a great film.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

KP: Houston has a small, intimate film scene. Austin gets a lot of the work but I think that will change over the next few years.

queerhippo2.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: TIFF Cinematheque Presents – The Films of Anna Magnani

TIFF Cinematheque Presents – The Films of Anna Magnani

This series of Anna Magnani films, with quite a few not screened for a long time, runs from Jan 27th  right up to March 11th.  The Series is entitled:

Volcano: The Films of Anna Magnani

A deluxe tribute to “the She-Wolf of Italian cinema

For the complete list of Magnani films, the dates, venue and ticket pricing,please click on the link below:

http://www.tiff.net/?#volcano-the-films-of-anna-magnani

Capsule Reviews of selected films follows:

(The Full Review for THE PASSIONATE THIEF is available in a separate post on this site).

CAPSULE REVIEWS:

BELLISSIMA (Italy 1951) ****

Directed by Luchino Visconti

BELLISSIMA is about a mother doing everything trying to get her daughter into show business.  Though set decades ago, the film is till relevant seeing how people these days do the same to audition for the realty shows.  The film works as a comedy that is even more hilarious and relevant thanks to the performance of Anna Magnani.  She plays a nurse making a living giving injections while giving her daughter the best audition dress, ballet lessons and acting lessons.  If she is not scramming away, she is praying or sucking unto her macho typcll

MAMMA ROMA (Italy 1962) ****

Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini

An ex-prostitute, Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani in her best role), tries to start a new life selling vegetables with her 16-year-old son Ettore (Ettore Garofolo). When he later finds out that she was a prostitute, he succumbs to the dark side ending with the petty theft of a radio in a hospital and goes to prison.  This is a tragic tale of mother and son, mother wanting too much for her son while he just wanting to be left to his own devices. Pasolini’s film contains lots of homoerotic images like Ettore’s friend wrestling him to the ground and Ettore being strapped down to his underwear in the hospital.  Pasolini also captures the period, classes atmosphere and hopeless of is tale with clarity and emotion.

Screening Jan 28h

THE PASSIONATE THIEF (RISATE DI GIOIA) (Italy 1960) ****
Directed by Mario Monicelli

  

THE PASSIONATE THIEF (RISATE DI GIOIA) marks the collaboration between dramatic actress Anna Magnani and famed comedian Toto.  It is a perfect match as director Monicelli’s film is a perfect blend between drama and comedy.  The film follows two friends, Umberto and Gioia (Toto and Magnani) who live by their wits working as comedians and cabaret at Cinecittà (the famous cinema production studios centre in Rome), before being invited to friends’ parties or masked balls during New Year’s Eve in Rome.  The two, however, even though they make people laugh all the time in public, live an inner conflict, namely that the two have always to be aware to give a smile to someone, but they can never be rich and happy because they are street artists and with a precarious wage.  The meeting with another thief, the well-dressed Lello (Ben Gazzara who appears to speak perfect Italian) throws their relationship into peril.  The film is more drama than comedy.  The audience can clearly sympathize with both the characters of Umberto and Gioia as they both grab at straws to escape the drowning from poverty.  Gioia is hoping for love in the much younger Lello while Umberto finally goes clean in order to save Gioia from Lello.  THE PASSIONATE THEIF looks like a simple film on the surface, but is deep in mood, atmosphere, feeling and life under deeper scrutiny.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFwFYySSWS8

Screening Jan 29th

ROME OPEN CITY (Italy 1946) ***** Top 10

Directed by Roberto Rossellini

 

Rossellini’s ROME – OPEN CITY follows Italian resistance fighters and workers as they struggle through hardship and tyranny to etch out a barely decent daily living with their families while just putting enough food on the table. If not fighting the enemy, the Italians are humorously screaming among themselves. The film centres on expecting Pina (Anna Magnani), a widow with son, Marcello about to be married again. Rossellini captures the essence of war in the details and warmth of the characters. A fly can be seen on the priest’s cloak while dust is plentiful after the bombings. The priest is seen playing football with the school children, then passing messages to the underground and also giving confession to those requiring forgiveness. A very moving film made even more riveting with the famous segment of the pregnant Anna Magnani shot by the Germans as she runs from the three-tonner. This is a must-see, one of the best war films made during war time.

Screening Jan 27th

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

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Film Review: PATERSON (USA 2016) Top 10 *****

paterson.jpgDirector: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Nellie

Review by Gilbert Seah

PATERSON is the brilliant but quiet new film from Jim Jarmusch that focuses on a working-class poet (Adam Driver) in a small New Jersey town who practices his craft amidst the quiet magic of everyday life.

Those familiar with Jarmusch will be glad to notice the director’s traits from his early films present in PATERSON The wide camera panning of STRANGER THAN PARADISE and the dead pan humour of DOWN BY LAW are a few examples. But PATERSON is clearly his best film. Jarmusch captures the simplicity of an American small town and both the complexity and beauty of life amidst the daily routine of bus driver wannabe poet called Paterson in the town ale called Paterson.

Jarmusch shows that magic is where one finds it. The pleasures from the film derive from the audience’s observations of the film. For one, the film is a film about Paterson’s routine. It is a week in the life of Paterson beginning on a Monday and ending on the morning of the Monday of the following week. Paterson carries on his daily routine that includes getting up in the morning at the same time at 6:10 (though he wakes up late one of the days). He kisses his wife, eats the same breakfast of fruit loops and milk and goes to work at the bus garage where he drives the the bus of the same route everyday. When he gets home, he walks his dog, Marvin, and stops for a beer at the neighbourhood bar, chatting with the locals.

Amidst the driving and walking, he writes poems – beautiful and simple ones that the audience can relate to. All these might sound mundane, but Jarmsuch has created a really beautiful film, aided by his muse, actor Adam Driver, whose every facial expression registers his mood and emotion. The Toronto Film Critics Association awarded Driver the Best Actor Prize this year.

PATERSON is also a love story. The two lead a simple life of the same daily routines, but it is clear that they care for each other – deeply. It is tolerance and sensitivity that are the ingredients that make their love so strong. In one of his poems. Paterson says, I see other girls but if his wife were to leave him, he would tear his heart out.

It is also noticeable that Paterson is the happiest character in the film. The bartender Doc envies Paterson’s relationship with his wife. Everett, a local is heartbroken from unrequited love while his fellow bus driver, Donny is always full of personal and family problems. Everything seems to turn out right for Paterson, even his wife’s cupcake sale at the farmer’s market.

A key character in the story is surprisingly Paterson’s dog, Marvin. While Paterson straightens the post of his letter box very day after work, it is Marvin that topples it slanting every day when Paterson is at work. Marvin also chews up Paterson’s book of poems one day, an act that brings the film to its climax.
PATERSON turns out to be the perfect poetic film – visually as well as in the character’s writings. Effective, moving and thoroughly captivating, PATERSON is a a genuine feel-good movie without artificial sweeteners!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8pGJBgiiDU

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
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FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
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writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
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SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
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Film Review: A DOG’S PURPOSE (USA 2017) ***

a_dogs_purpose.jpgDirector: Lasse Hallström
Writers: W. Bruce Cameron (screenplay), Cathryn Michon (screenplay)
Stars: Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton

Review by Gilbert Seah

A DOG’S PURPOSE begins with the birth of a puppy. The question: “What is the purpose of life?” is asked in the voiceover. But the answer comes front he canine point of view. The puppy lives its life and dies. (The first life is really short.) It is reincarnated several times starting as a puppy leading different lives as different breeds with different owners. But the main important one is the one as Bailey (all the dogs voiced by Josh Gad) who has a loving relationship with Ethan (K.J. Apa). But the dog remembers all its past lives.

With so many reincarnations come many stories. Director Hallstrom moves his film fast, so that there is hardly a dull moment. There are 4 separate stories with 4 different owners and reincarnations. The stories are all told from the dog’s point of view. The script tries to be funny, but the result is only polite laughter judging from the promo screening audience.

The ultimate question arises from the film’s title is what a dog’s purpose is. The obvious answer is to be man best friend. But the answer (not to be released in this review) provided by the film is even more specific.

The cast has only one well known name, that of star Dennis Quaid who appears towards the end of the film, though he has an important role. The best performances are from the canine actors, credit going to the trainers of course. It is always a wonder to see how these dog players perform so well – for example running where they are supposed to go, under fences into water, jumping through loops and saving helpless human beings and licking them constantly.

The film, typical from Swede director Hallstrom (MY LIFE AS A DOG, CHOCOLAT, WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? THE CIDER HOUSE RULES) is undeniably mawkish, milking sentiment whenever possible. It is advisable to bring plenty of Kleenex. My guest who loves dogs who I brought to the promo screening, bawled his eye out.

A few words obviously need be said about the film’s controversy. On January 18, 2017, a video surfaced on TMZ showing footage taken from the set of the film, which shows a German Shepherd named Hercules being dragged and dipped into rushing water while visibly resisting. Worst, the following clip shows the dog being submerged in the water at the other end of the tank. As a result, many is expected to boycott the film. So far, Universal Pictures has cancelled the film’s scheduled January 19 Los Angeles premiere and the representative from the Humane Association watching for the cruelty and harm to animals has been suspended. One will see during the weekend at the box-office (expected gross is $20 million) if the adage ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is still valid.

A DOG’S PURPOSE is not the best of Hallstrom’s films, but he manages a successful job. The film is an entertaining family film that caters to all dog lovers. It is pitiful that bad press arose from the TMZ videos, but the filmmakers, I am sure had the best intentions in mind for man’s best friend.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jLOOCADTGs

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script