Interview with Festival Directors Daniel Foreman & Sharlene Millang (Edmonton Short Film Festival)

 

The Edmonton Short Film Festival (ESFF) is dedicated to the elevation of Alberta Independent film. The ESFF showcases Alberta filmmakers outside of the “normal” festival market and features diverse projects (newly created or “dusted off” favourites) including: trailers, music videos, web series, commercials, short films … as long as it’s less than 15 minutes, we’ll accept it! There are two main screening events: a Red Carpet Gala on October 14 and a Family Fun Film Fest on October 15.

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

Daniel Foreman & Sharlene Millang: We are a jumping point to take emerging Alberta filmmakers and help them progress in their careers. A lot of them have only known YouTube as an audience and never played in a sold out theatre or networked with industry professionals. We give them the opportunity to move forward professionally with a filmmaker skills class (included in each submission), and we offer cash prizes for best of category. We also bring them up on stage to be recognized.

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


Saturday night Gala:

As a film lover, you will be greeted by ushers at the door and directed to the ticket table, refreshment bars and to volunteers serving free, fresh, hot popcorn. There is a selection of pre-gala movies playing on the screens in the lobby and many opportunities to network and interact with other filmmakers and film fans. There is a silent auction where you can bid on exciting prizes. If you prefer, you can relax in the theatre and experience the pre-show on the big screen. We encourage our patrons to become engaged by tagging #ESFF2017 and
seeing their posts live on our Twitter wall.​

The first batch of films run for about 45 minutes and the audience will experience documentaries, commercials, comedies, dramas, animations and more. The maximum length of each film is 15 minutes so if someone doesn’t like what they’re seeing, they can just wait a few minutes and they will experience something new​

At the intermission, you will be entertained by live music by Olivia Rose and be fed hot food served by Drift Food Truck, which is all included in your ticket price of under $20. Free popcorn and bars serving local beer (as well as wine and soft drinks) give you get a great chance to meet new people and have fun in our festive atmosphere. Take a moment to have your photo taken on the red carpet!​

The second act has another 45 minutes of film and then the audience votes on the their choice from all the films that have been screened. ​

Sunday afternoon Family Fun Film Fest​

This FREE event includes a variety of activities for younger children including virtual reality demonstrations, facepainting, green screen backgrounds to play against, a GPS scavenger hunt, a photobooth with costumes and more. ​

The movies in the theatre include many excellent student films and family friendly shorts, and will showcase a special presentation by Edmonton born Hollywood actor Josh Emerson.

Filmmakers in attendance will also be recognized.​

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The only mandatory requirements are Alberta-created, under 15 minutes, screenable content (e.g., no pornography, extreme violence or extreme language). We accept all genres and any date of creation. Our selection process is based on production value, story and performance. Then the program is pulled from the best technical films to create an awesome audience experience.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival? ​


Our biggest motivation is to help emerging Alberta filmmakers move their careers forward. It is a great feeling to have the filmmakers on stage beside us at the end of the evening and celebrating with them in front of a packed house.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?​

This was our first year on Film Freeway and it has been fabulous. It’s been a great way to supplement direct submissions on our site and opened a whole new group of Alberta filmmakers who may not otherwise have found our festival.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We see it including the western provinces and territories in Canada: BC, Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It will be a week-long festival with speakers from across Canada, industry professionals and agents buying films. The short film section will still be the focus but we will expand to features as well.

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

Dan: Ghostbusters. I saw it at least 10 times in the theatre and countless times on video after. I still own and watch the original VHS tape which has held up remarkably well.

Sharlene: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

In one sentence, what makes a great film? ​

A great film comprises of compelling story and interesting characters all woven together with fantastic visuals and stellar sound.

How is the film scene in your city? ​

Edmonton has a dynamic, vibrant film scene that is very, very indie. We don’t get a lot of big productions here currently but we make up for it with rich grassroots filmmaking. ​

Here’s a tidbit just for your information (not part of our official response):​
The newly-created Edmonton Screen Industries Office includes the full range of
screen-based entertainment, education and training – from mobile, television, Internet streaming and theatrical release inclusive of live action, animation and interactive video games. http://www.edmontonscreenindustries.com/​

With the creation of this new organization Edmonton is poised to become a leader in digital entertainment across Canada, North America and the globe.

Edmonton Short Film Festival.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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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Interview with Festival Director Matthew Rooney (VideoDrunk Film Festival)

Ranking as one of Toronto’s Top Alternative Film Festivals, Videodrunk is a small indie/experimental/underground/genre film festival that will be taking place in Toronto this November and December at Farside. The festival is run by filmmakers and video artists and aims to present an eclectic collection of films in an almost mixtape sort of way to audiences in a non-formal easy going non-cinema environment. We’re basically a party film festival. Amateurs, students, DIYers and pros all are treated as equals.

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

Matthew Rooney: We’re providing a fun event for filmmakers to show their films in a different atmosphere than other festivals around Toronto. We’ve given filmmakers that might not get a chance because of their genre or style get a chance to show where they might not have.

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

A little more party-like than last year I’d say thanks to the venue we’re using being less gallery/theatre like. We’re also trying to build a line up that’s a little more off the wall than past years but also more accessible at the same time. We like having active and energetic crowds but film loving crowds that are respectful of what’s going on.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Be enjoyable or interesting. Pretty simple.

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

I do even with smaller festivals. I feel a lot of them have rules that are too strict and sometimes genre festivals have a narrow scope of what fits their festivals.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Love of film, the fun of the final festival and the satisfaction of a job well done.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Simply amazing.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

This one is a little tricky because there are so many factors at play with it. For example, I might be moving out of the country in the next 2 years and maybe Videodrunk retires or goes on hiatus or moves with me and brings its style to Luxemburgish or goes digital or my friend Emil takes it over and turns it into his Uncanny Beauty Film Festival. I don’t know, we’ll see.

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

Not sure, maybe “Duck Soup”

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Can’t answer that because any answer I give will be wrong.

How is the film scene in your city?

We have 100 some odd festivals and dozens of productions (both big and small and domestic and international) going on at any given time plus some amazing video stores. It’s very strong. Strong enough that TIFF makes traveling around downtown nearly impossible.

videodrunk.jpg

*****

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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Programmer Ross Williams (KILLER VALLEY HORROR FILM FESTIVAL)

The Killer Valley Horror Film Festival was founded in 2007 by filmmaker Randy Granstrom. For 10 years we’ve been showcasing the best in indie horror and sci-fi.

Interview with Festival Director Jorge Blanco (THE HELL CHESS FILM FESTIVAL)

The Hell Chess Film festival is an event celebrated in Campo de Gibraltar, Spain.

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

Jorge Blanco: My personal experience as filmmaker in Festivals is negative. The most part of festivals got nothing to do with the filmmakers dreams, but with another interests. The Hell Chess Festival is all about creativity, constant communication with the filmmakers and a beautiful message to the world.

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

This year 2017 we had three venues, two in Madrid (Spain) and another in a big cinema of St Julian’s (Malta). Now, we are opening the submissions to the 2018 edition, probably in January. The new venues are still in searching process.
You will find pureness in terms of faith in creativity and faith in the best of the human spirit.

And probably if you are sensitive enough, a big surprise will change your life vision.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

When you select a film, even in the most honest way you choose what you like not what is always the best.

You got your own tastes. So the concept of winning means nothing when art itself is not objective.

So, all the non accepted films receive a letter explaining our reasons and our reviews to improve future films. In fact, the winner of our last edition got an incredible story behind. This filmmaker sent us a lot of films which were the most part of them rejected, but she improved the quality of her films until being the winner of the festival (what was a big surprise to her). The criteria of the festival is based in innovation, good taste and ethical values.

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

We live in a dark period to cinema. All the commercial films are based on remakes or old ideas but in the worst possible way. So, the lack of an ethical commitment penalizes the original works. So, many good brave films do not get a fair shake, but an unfair treatment. That´s why we invent the Hell Chess Festival, to all filmmakers who are hungry of justice.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I tell you a story, Matthew. A real story. We needed an upper force to decide a prize to our festival. We were confused. It was a difficult decision. And when we chose the most beautiful verdict based in high ideals then something supernatural (or unknown) happened. It´s difficult to explain, so the best thing is watching the final minutes of this video made by our last season winner:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFEFqriK59g . The Hell chess Trophy has been the most important prize of her life, a prize guessed from beyond our reality.

This is our intimate motivation. Because we knew our path.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Very hard. Filmfreeway is a good tool but I personally hate the “Not Accepted” button. So, in the future I want to change the selection process. Maybe, we´d search for films and ask the directors to be included in the festival, or maybe creating special films only for the Hell Chess Festival. Something unique and compatible with our spirit.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

I see a bigger one but not a better one. Today´s Hell Chess Festival is heroic and pure. We need go on so. The last thing we want to be is a fake independent festival run by a Hollywood actor who wants all the cinema honey but none of the real independent sourness. If you decided to be a rich slave you cannot pretend to be a free adventurer.

My Festival got only one sponsor: From the ruin to paradise, society.
That´s the secret of being unique.

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

The Sidney Pollack´s romantic comedy Tootsie. Around 50 times, specially when I was a child. I remember our video Beta and I related the coming of home video with this film. Maybe Tootsie is more deeper than it looks, with a bunch of inspired actors and a story of acting, Television, good tips about men and women psychology, and the irony of success and failure in the audiovisual world.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

When you watch a great film you feel your life becomes important.

How is the film scene in your city?

Very funny. This is a spanish town with no cinemas in the centre (the old cinema disappeared) so you got to drive 7 kilometres to the unique cinema in 1.529 km². The decadence of cinemas is evident. Once upon a time things were different. But the key is not only Internet or tv or videoclubs. The key of this decadence is the decadence of cinema itself. I think in the place I live there was an actor of silent films. Everything is silence and I´m the only who speaks, that´s why I need to make festival far away my place. Sometimes I feel more closed to people like you than from my neighbours. I was 4 years old when I watched my first film Superman (1978) in a cinema room. I still remember my sensations. And not only I want to make movies, but being a saviour. Thanks for the questions.
 

Festival Director BIO: 

I founded a society called “From the ruin to Paradise” in 1998. 
Since that moment nothing is more important to me than this project. 
This society got cinema, educative and spiritual goals. 
The main project of this society is a feature film which is still the biggest, rebel and intelligent project you can imagine. 
In the meanwhile, I directed a 30 minutes film called Hell Chess. A totally innovative 
film in terms of narrative forms and a revision of our values as humans. 
And this film gives the name to our cinema event, The Hell Chess Festival. 
The Festival was a private event 5 years ago (where we played a chess tournament and watched our own movies) but in the Summer of 2016 the Festival began in Centro Cultural Pilar Miró, one of the best theatres in Madrid. We discovered experimental filmmakers like the veteran australian David King, a man of true talent who never won a prize until our event. We do not make any difference between actor/actress all compete in the same category of “Best Acting” like the last season where the actress Lola Manzano won her prize against many men. So our purpose is different indeed.

hellchess.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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Full Review: DO DONKEYS ACT? (Canada/Ireland/UK/USA 2017) ***

Do Donkeys Act? Poster
Donkeys inhabit and communicate with each other – and the filmmakers – in a Sanctuary.

Directors:

David RedmonAshley Sabin

Star:

Willem Dafoe

It has to happen eventually – a documentary on donkeys from the donkey’s point of view.

 

One might complain as the poetic prose narrative voiced by actor Willem Dafoe.  It might seem really silly, but after a while, one might accept the directors’ decision and play along with this somewhat funny poetic play.  Sample proses:  “These donkeys have a wind of curiosity on their side.”  “When donkeys walk to a dead end… They have several ways in but no way out.”  Dafoe is the ideal choice as the narrator of such sayings/

 

The film begins with words on the screen saying how other animals communicate without words but with song or rhythm.  It then goes to say that still others communicate by gestures in the shadows – whatever that means.  So, DO DONKEYS ACT? invites the audience to “step into their shade and to listen closely” as the audience attune to a series of dramatic performances in which one can eavesdrop on donkeys speaking amongst themselves.

 

The film elicits the audience’s pity of donkeys.  The film is quick to point out that these donkeys are often abused and neglected.  One was stabbed many times be teens playing stab the donkey with a knife while another is blind.  One was shown in neglect with long curved nails ingrown due to its hoofs.  The nails are removed by cutting using clippers.  Still, the directors show that these are still beautiful creatures with their thick manes and loud and distinct braying.  Hee-haw, hee-haw!!! 

     Among the film’s highlights are:

 

the donkey at the dentist (a live dental experience like an alien encounter;)

 

a beautiful and moving sight of donkeys freely running around in the open after a long winter confinement

 

the birth of a new foal

 

the feeding of a foal

 

Directors  David Redmon and Ashley Sabin have worked before on films like GIRL MODEL and KINGDOM OF ANIMALS as well as several other documentaries.  DO DONKEYS ACT? clearly shows assured work, quirky though it may seem, but still thoroughly entertaining.

 

Though it might seem trivial to learn more about donkeys, curiosity eventually has its day in this occasionally fascinating portrayal of the neglected animal who is still part of God’s animal Kingdom.  Everything you wanted to know that happens inside a donkey sanctuary. The film was shot in several docket sanctuaries in the U.K., U.S., Ireland and Canada including the one in Guelph, Ontario.

 

The film played to rave reviews at the Hit Docs Festival this year in Toronto.

 

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/200043031

 

Film Review: THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (UK 2017)

 

The Time of Their Lives Poster
A former Hollywood star enlists the help of a new friend in order to journey from London to France for her ex-lover’s funeral, with the various mishaps en route making the trip unforgettable.

Director:

Roger Goldby

Writer:

Roger Goldby

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES is a road trip comedy starring Golden Globe-winner Joan Collins, Academy Award-nominee Pauline Collins and Italian film star Franco Nero.  Cineastes should be pleased to see there stars of the 70’s and 80’s now in their golden years.

 

Joan Collins plays a character reminiscent of one of her better known films THE BITCH while Pauline Collins one reminiscent of SHIRLEY VALENTINE. 

 

This is a film about escaping and breaking free – and how it’s never too late to have another chance at life.  Determined to gatecrash her ex-lover’s funeral on the glamorous French hideaway of Île de Ré, former Hollywood siren Helen (Joan Collins) escapes her London retirement home with the help of Priscilla (Pauline Collins), a repressed English housewife stuck in a dwindling marriage.  Helen is not shy to remind everyone she encounters that she used to be a famous star.  And she is bitchy at that and especially even more bitchy that no one remembers who she is.  Priscilla, like her SHIRLEY VALENTINE (she was in both the one-woman Scottish play at London’s west-end and in the film – both of which I and seen) character is one who has spent her entire life as a housewife looking after her husband,  She finally decides enough is enough and she has to take sometime for herself.  The plot of that film is incorporated in Goldby’s script. 

 

  In THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES Helen and Priscilla pool their limited resources, they hit the road like a senior THELMA AND LOUISE in a race to get to Île de Ré, becoming entangled in a love triangle with a reclusive Italian millionaire, Alberto (the still dashing Franco Nero, real life husband of Vanessa Redgrave) along the way.  On this journey, they find true friendship in one another – and of course, have the time of their lives.

 

If all this sounds exciting, the film is not.  It is ridden and bogged down by cliches of similar countless films centred on old people.  While it is tedious to watch a re-hash of the Shirley Valentine, Pauline Collins almost pulls it off.  She is one of my and many others’ favourite actresses and she still manages to elicit sympathy, respect and admiration for a familiar character.  On the other hand, Joan Collins’ Helen character is annoying and as said, bitchy. 

 

Goldby’s script includes two subplots – one involving Helen seeking her daughter and the other Priscilla’s drowned son that gets too sentimental.  The Hollywood ending is too far-fetched for credibility.

 

Writer/director Goldby falls into all the traps of films about senior where they think too much of their glorious past youth and think that they are always pretty enough.  Worst still, these films always bring the embarrassing topic of sex into the equation.  Helen and Priscilla act like teenagers most of the time, creating mischief.  Both women want Antonio, just as teens want the handsome young hunk.

 

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES despite having three famous older stars ends up as another old farts movie.

Trailer: https://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2017/jan/27/joan-collins-the-time-of-their-lives-trailer-video

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES

1997 Movie Review: COP LAND, 1997

COP LAND,  MOVIE POSTERCOP LAND, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by: James Mangold

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Rober De Niro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport
Review by Jarred Thomas

SYNOPSIS:

The sheriff of a suburban New Jersey community populated by New York City policeman slowly discovers the town is a front for mob connections and corruption.

 

REVIEW:

Writer/director James Mangold creates a film that examines the underbelly of corruption among New York City cops who reside in New Jersey, bending the rules to fit their needs while hiding a dark secret about a recent murder. Sylvester Stallone plays the morally straight New Jersey cop who suffered an ear injury that has relegated him to only work small time crimes. He has become something of joke among most of the residents, in particular NY cops led by Harvey Keitel who reside in the community.

Stallone’s understated performance plays against type and he does a wonderful job in his role. Stallone gained weight for the role and it adds to the character as he appears slow and out of shape. He looks like a real person and not some caricature. It’s a quiet performance unlike his previous films and one that gained Stallone critical praise from critics and peers.

Freddy Heflin (Stallone) is the sheriff of a fictional town called Garrison in New Jersey. When he was a teenager he jumped into the river to save a girl who plunged in from the bridge. In doing so, he damaged his ear making him unable to become an officer on the streets. Now, he’s relegated to perform small deeds such as preserving the peace, scolding rowdy children and check parking. His authority is limited, if he has any at all.

Cop Land is a look at big city corruption in a small town. Harvey Keitel as Ray Donlan does a nice job in his role playing a corrupt officer who acts with more authority in town then he really has, but when he speaks, people listen out of fear. Donlan has ties with the mob which have allowed him to have certain cops placed in his town, giving the name “Cop Land.” Many of the houses in town were bought through dirty money and the depravity doesn’t end there.

Ray’s nephew, Murray (Rapaport), a young cop, unintentionally kills to two black teens after his car side swipes them. Out of fear of racial incident, Ray tries to fake Murray’s suicide. However, when Moe Tilden (De Niro), an Internal Affairs investigator comes investigating, he smells a cover up. Not willing to get caught, Ray tries to have Murray killed, but the job doesn’t go as planned leading Murray to seek the help of Freddy. Can Freddy stand up against the corruption in town or is he simply out of his league?

Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel both provide a well needed boost of energy in this film because although Stallone does a solid job as the slow witted sheriff, there’s really not much to speak of with the other actors. Liotta plays a good/bad cop whose conscience is starting to get the best of him and his loyalties come into question. But it feels clichéd like most of the other characters who hit only one note.

Cop Land has its strong moments, most coming from the three actors De Niro, Keitel and Stallone, but it’s not entirely enough. Towards the middle of the movie, it meanders a bit like Freddy does, maybe even more. Perhaps Stallone being out of his action element too draws attention to itself, and when he finally picks up a weapon the action scene is far too predictable to be even remotely believable. There’s just not enough to recommend this film despite the standout performance of Stallone.