October 2018 – Read the best of Screenwriter Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 35 different interviews with the best of new screenwriters from around the world.

Interview with Screenwriter Sara Landucci (STRONG ENOUGH)
Interview with Screenwriter Sara Landucci (STRONG ENOUGH)

Interview with Screenwriter 42 Tribes (Nyobaywa)
Interview with Screenwriter 42 Tribes (Nyobaywa)

Interview with Screenwriter Rita Martinos (ON THE VERGE)
Interview with Screenwriter Rita Martinos (ON THE VERGE)

Interview with Screenwriter M.V. Montgomery (DON-JOHN’S DISAPPOINTED MAM)
Interview with Screenwriter M.V. Montgomery (DON-JOHN’S DISAPPOINTED MAM)

Interview with Screenwriter Colleen Asbury (The Dance of the Desert Mermaids)
Interview with Screenwriter Colleen Asbury (The Dance of the Desert Mermaids)

Interview with Screenwriter Chloë J. Hightower (Monochrome)
Interview with Screenwriter Chloë J. Hightower (Monochrome)

Interview with Screenwriter Travis Darkow (HOW DID WE GET HERE?)
Interview with Screenwriter Travis Darkow (HOW DID WE GET HERE?)

Interview with Debasree Banerjee (GERALDINE HALL)
Interview with Debasree Banerjee (GERALDINE HALL)

Interview with Screenwriters Jeff & Julia Heinen (COFFEE IN SOUTHTOWN)
Interview with Screenwriters Jeff & Julia Heinen (COFFEE IN SOUTHTOWN)
Very good. Helps us track submission and awards very easily.

Interview with Screenwriter Daniel Cook (HELL ON EARTH)
Interview with Screenwriter Daniel Cook (HELL ON EARTH)

Interview with Screenwriter Sheila Warren (MOVING ON)
Interview with Screenwriter Sheila Warren (MOVING ON)

Interview with Screenwriter Frank Baruch (WHERE KOMAINU CRY)
Interview with Screenwriter Frank Baruch (WHERE KOMAINU CRY)

Interview with Screenwriter Richard Geiwitz (WIGGLE ROOM)
Interview with Screenwriter Richard Geiwitz (WIGGLE ROOM)

Interview with Screenwriter Iannis Aliferis (Samantha Rutledge PI, A Killer Case)
Interview with Screenwriter Iannis Aliferis (Samantha Rutledge PI, A Killer Case)

Interview with Screenwriter Ricardo Fleshman (KILLING MOSES)
Interview with Screenwriter Ricardo Fleshman (KILLING MOSES)

Interview with Screenwriter Hank Biro (SPACE FISH)
Interview with Screenwriter Hank Biro (SPACE FISH)

Interview with Screenwriter Toni Nagy (The Masses)
Interview with Screenwriter Toni Nagy (The Masses)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Agnese Pagliarani (TO HELL AND BACK)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Agnese Pagliarani (TO HELL AND BACK)

Interview with Screenplay Writer Adam Lapallo (WOLFPACK FENCERS)
Interview with Screenplay Writer Adam Lapallo (WOLFPACK FENCERS)

Interview with Screenplay Writer Terry Connell (PLANS FOR THE HOLIDAYS)
Interview with Screenplay Writer Terry Connell (PLANS FOR THE HOLIDAYS)

Interview with Screenplay Writer Todd Bird (LITTLE EARTHQUAKES)
Interview with Screenplay Writer Todd Bird (LITTLE EARTHQUAKES)

Interview with Screenplay Writers Charzette Torrence & Danielle Johnson (JILLIAN’S PEAK)
Interview with Screenplay Writers Charzette Torrence & Danielle Johnson (JILLIAN’S PEAK)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Waide Riddle (Dear Tom Hardy: I love you)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Waide Riddle (Dear Tom Hardy: I love you)

Interview with Winning Screenwriters Nicholas Downs, Susan Mac Nicol (SIGHT UNSEEN)
Interview with Winning Screenwriters Nicholas Downs, Susan Mac Nicol (SIGHT UNSEEN)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Dallas Rico (MARRED)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Dallas Rico (MARRED)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter S.W. Andersen (SOMEWHERE BETWEEN LOVE AND JUSTICE)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter S.W. Andersen (SOMEWHERE BETWEEN LOVE AND JUSTICE)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert David Simpson (THE HUNT FOR CHUCK BERRY)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert David Simpson (THE HUNT FOR CHUCK BERRY)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Fritz Mueller (ANAHNA)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Fritz Mueller (ANAHNA)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Christianne Charles (CAKE)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Christianne Charles (CAKE)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Leah Pollack (MARKED)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Leah Pollack (MARKED)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Andrew Ward (BROWN DOG)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Andrew Ward (BROWN DOG)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Michael Zielinski (CHRISTMAS PAST AND PRESENT)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Michael Zielinski (CHRISTMAS PAST AND PRESENT)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Julian Blondell (Xightfall)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Julian Blondell (Xightfall)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Nate Yacos (Tugnutt: A Love Supreme)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Nate Yacos (Tugnutt: A Love Supreme)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Cicely Wynne (REMEMBER KENT STATE)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Cicely Wynne (REMEMBER KENT STATE)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Mirka Kettunen (MAJOR TOM AND THE ALIEN GIRL)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Mirka Kettunen (MAJOR TOM AND THE ALIEN GIRL)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Rodrigo Juatco (HERO OF HEROES)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Rodrigo Juatco (HERO OF HEROES)

October 2018 – Read the best of Filmmaker Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 28 different interviews with the best of new filmmakers from around the world.


Interview with Filmmaker Deniz Campinar (THE REVELATOR)
Interview with Filmmaker Deniz Campinar (THE REVELATOR)

Interview with Filmmaker Nesli Ozalp Tuncer (THE RETURN)
Interview with Filmmaker Nesli Ozalp Tuncer (THE RETURN)

Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)
Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)
Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)

Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)
Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)

Interview with Filmmaker Graeme Bachiu (WHY WE PUSH?)
Interview with Filmmaker Graeme Bachiu (WHY WE PUSH?)

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)
Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)

Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)
Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)

Interview with Filmmaker Manfred Borsch (MIRRORS)
Interview with Filmmaker Manfred Borsch (MIRRORS)

Interview with Filmmaker Nancy Allison (MARMO)
Interview with Filmmaker Nancy Allison (MARMO)

Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx (SCANDAL)
Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx (SCANDAL)

Interview with Filmmakers Hope Carew & Allison O’Conor (MR. NICE GIRLS)
Interview with Filmmakers Hope Carew & Allison O’Conor (MR. NICE GIRLS)

Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)
Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)

Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)
Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)

Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Bergeson (UNEARTHED)
Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Bergeson (UNEARTHED)

Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)
Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)

Interview with Filmmaker Peta Milan (RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN)
Interview with Filmmaker Peta Milan (RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN)

Interview with Filmmaker Shinya Isobe (FOR REST)
Interview with Filmmaker Shinya Isobe (FOR REST)

Interview with Filmmaker Sam South (EAT JEREMY)
Interview with Filmmaker Sam South (EAT JEREMY)

Interview with Filmmaker Larissa Pruett (GET HOME SAFE)
Interview with Filmmaker Larissa Pruett (GET HOME SAFE)

Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)
Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Champneys (STAR WARS: DRESCA)
Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Champneys (STAR WARS: DRESCA)

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)
Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)

Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)
Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)

Interview with Filmmaker Zena AbdelBaky (ALL THAT REMAINS)
Interview with Filmmaker Zena AbdelBaky (ALL THAT REMAINS)

Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)
Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)

Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Rudelson (NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME)
Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Rudelson (NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME)

Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)
Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)

Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)
Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)

Movie Review: DAY FOR NIGHT, 1973, Directed by Francois Truffaut

DAY FOR NIGHT,  MOVIE POSTERDAY FOR NIGHT, 1973
Movie Reviews

Directed by François Truffaut
Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Dani, Alexandra Stewart, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean Champion
Review by Jordan Young

SYNOPSIS:

A film company at work. Actors arrive and depart; liaisons develop. Julie, the beautiful but possibly unstable lead, is recovering from a breakdown, aided by an older physician, her new husband. Alphonse is insecure, he babbles. When his fiance exits with a stunt man, he threatens to quit. Julie must convince him to stay. Alexandre, a consummate pro on the set, runs back and forth to the airport hoping a certain young man will visit. Severine, no longer young, hits the bottle and covers blown lines with emotional outbursts. At the center is Ferrand, the writer director, who must make constant decisions, answer a stream of questions, and deliver the film on schedule.

REVIEW:

In Truffaut’s film about a film “Day For Night”, he accurately (for better and for worse) shows the ups and downs that are involved in film making. This was my introduction to working on a film crew… a month later.

Some of you are more familiar with the American remake of this film, “State and Main”, which I believe is a little more chaotic, but nonetheless a good movie. In this version, Truffaut himself plays the director, Ferrand, and how he deals with the struggles of the actors and the actresses.

Jacqueline Bisset plays Julie Baker who is the actress on rebound from a nervous breakdown, and who’s ridiculous demands are only fulfilled because of her A-list star power. (My personal favorite, being the request of making a specific butter sculpture, which is unavailable and is therefore handmade by the script supervisor.) I had a similar experience where I had to drive an multiple miles for batteries, hard drives, and yerba mate… in the middle of central Pennsylvania.

Then there is the very difficult encounter with an actress who won’t wear a swimsuit because she is pregnant. These are just some examples of the difficulty of movie-making. “Day for Night” is genius in depicting the illusions within cinema. There are many clear examples of this, but there are vague examples as well. This film does a bit of demystifying the cinematic process, yet it doesn’t cast a film shoot in a completely negative tone.

The films plot revolves around the character’s struggles in regards to acting and to living, but this is more than enough to fuel the narrative development… This isn’t like Richard Linklater’s “Slacker”, in that regard. But it does gets you to sympathize with all of these character’s endeavors.

This film dealt with much bigger crises than the average shoot, like actors and actresses threatening (and succeeding) at leaving the shoot, as opposed to the minutia of, where can we plug this in and waiting for the sun to get to just the right space. But nonetheless, it accurately depicts, the turbulence of the movie shoot.

Nearly all of the picture is summarized in the beginning by a voice over by Truffaut. “Shooting a movie is like a stagecoach trip. At first you hope for a nice ride. Then you just hope to reach your destination.” In this tumultuous trip that viewer is about to be shown, this point is definitely realized. Very entertaining and highly recommend to anyone about to start their first shoot as well… it could be thought of as a training ground for aspiring film makers.

Movie Review: JULES AND JIM, 1962, Directed by Francois Truffaut

JULES AND JIM,   MOVIE POSTERJULES AND JIM, 1962
Movie Reviews

Directed by François Truffaut
Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre, Vanna Urbino, Boris Bassiak, Anny Nelsen, Sabine Haudepin, Marie Dubois
Review by Silvana Jakich

SYNOPSIS:

Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman.

REVIEW:

Francois Truffaut’s third feature film, “Jules and Jim” has been touted as one of his most poignant masterpieces. Based on a semi autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, Truffaut’s film begins just before WW1 in Paris.

Jules (Oskar Werner)- a shy German writer and Jim (Henri Serre)- a more extrovert French writer, meet and forge a friendship that is rooted in a deep respect for one another as both artists and human beings. Through the use of a narrator, Truffaut beautifully sets up the immense bond that forms between these two men as they share life experiences and the arts together. Their close friendship reminded me of the close knit friendships we weave when we are younger which are very much “in the moment”, spontaneous and full to the brim of utter devotion.

Into this tight knit connection explodes the free spirited, uninhibited Cartherine (Jeanne Moreau). In most films, the appearance of such a character would be used as a starting point for conflict between the two friends. There would be competition and the friendship would sour but instead of this typical route, the bond was now between three people instead of two.

The joy of Jim, Jules and Catherine’s relationship coupled with wonderful shots of a European summer holiday together will make any viewer envious. The carefree joyous time they share at the seaside makes the three characters inseparable. Even when Jules and Jim become completely enamored with Catherine, the typical competitiveness which would normally be highlighted in this situation is over ruled by each character’s love for the others.

Ultimately, Jim makes way for Jules to have a relationship with Catherine after Jules wards Jim off by saying: “not this one”. Catherine and Jules marry and move to Austria.

WW1 begins and both men are sent away to fight on opposing sides. The contrast between the visuals of war and previous images of countrysides and sunshine are extreme and violently bring home the drastic change in everyones’ circumstances. Yet, even in the war time moments, Jules and Jim express great humanity as their greatest concern is that they may end up killing one another.

Fortunately, both men survive the war and meet again but now the complexities of their various relationships with Catherine come to the surface and the element of self destruction begins.

Although the character of Catherine is often fickle, selfish,cruel, unstable and vengeful, Jeanne Moreau manages to play her with a bewitching effervescence and joie de vivre which prevents her from becoming a one dimensional villain. Here is an interesting exploration of a woman who requires many lovers during a period in history when women were restricted sexually and boxed into an identity of utter loyalty to one man.

This film is also tribute to the strength of friendship and all that is pure and innocent when it comes to a deep bond. The fact that even betrayal cannot taint feelings of love that human beings have for one another is a testament to the beautiful side of human nature.

 

Movie Review: THE 400 BLOWS, 1959. Directed by Francois Truffaut

THE 400 BLOWSTHE 400 BLOWS, 1959
Movie Reviews

Directed by Francois Truffaut

Cast: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Remy, Guy Decomble, Georges Flamant, Patrick Auffay, Daniel Couturier
Review by Vinny Borocci

SYNOPSIS:

A young adolescent boy by the name of Antoine is not cared for at home by his parents. The boy begins to misbehave in class, steal from his parents, form lies, and engage in criminal activities. He escapes with his friend and finds other places to stay, while avoiding his parents. Ultimately, the parents send him to reform school in order to help clear his thoughts and shape his poor behavior. While there, he is left with a choice: to cooperate and attempt to work out his problems, or continue to act inappropriately. What will this troubled young boy decide?

REVIEW:

As we all should know, Francois Truffaut first made his name working for the film journal, Cahiers du Cinema, a magazine which spent heavy time evaluating Hollywood films and directors. Unabashed and undaunted, Truffaut zealously began writing critically on films offering his own unique style. Spending arduous time studying the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, and Nicholas Ray, bringing a new perspective to criticism, combining somewhat blatant words with sincere appreciation, Truffaut helped solidify the idea that the director has omnipotence and authority for engineering the cinematic experience. Through his passion for films and literature, Truffaut’s uncommon criticism became the forefront in cinema evaluation. It was in this way, Truffaut’s name caught the attention of readers and avid cinema followers. The result: recognition and popularity, culminating in Truffaut venturing out to make his first (personal) feature film, The 400 Blows.

In The 400 Blows, Truffaut continues his writing approach and simply applies it to directing his first feature film, becoming the so-called “author” of the film. From the very beginning sequence, as the opening shots are beautifully shot, with the camera gracefully capturing various shots of the Eiffel Tower, Truffaut sends a message that the director’s artistic vision “towers” over the medium itself. Incorporating his own techniques while also including overt references to his admirers (mainly of Renoir in this film with the use of long tracking shots), Truffaut creates an environment dedicated to the distinct visual styles in which the director exhibits. For The 400 Blows, in recognition of his writing icon, Andre Bazin, who died just before production, the director’s style is clearly nothing more than a personal exposition.

The story revolves around a young, troubled preadolescent boy named Antoine, whom Truffaut utilizes to represent his own childhood struggles. Through multiple instances, Antoine is presented with a set of unprincipled values: we see in the classroom Antoine initiating disturbance by mocking his teacher; Antoine roguishly scampers through his own parents belongings and steals money, along with stealing a typewriter from his father’s work later in the film; not only performing an ill-advised action by ditching school and his studies, Antoine foolishly creates lies to cover his school’s absence by falsely claiming his own mother’s death. In these ways, however, Truffaut is not depicting Antoine’s character to distribute a sense of immoral behaviors, but rather establishing Antoine as an image of pathos, to voice his idea on the meaning of family and parenting, while in the process, brazenly expressing his deprecation for his own childhood upbringing.

As we see Antoine repeatedly scurry through the bustling city streets, almost all of the time on his own, Truffaut reinforces the idea of the importance of the parent in a child’s life. The boy’s mother gives him harsh orders, while never showing an offering of care – only after the boy catches her having an affair with another man is when she attempts to suck up to him. The relationship between Antoine and his mother’s husband – as we find out that the father is not Antoine’s – is nothing more than a token friendship. They talk about sports and women, but the man never gives Antoine a sense of “fatherly” direction. In some ways, the man looks forward to the boy getting out of the house for good. On multiple occasions we hear the man and mother having conversations about sending the boy away to reform school, while Antoine listens in the background, dejected but unruffled.

In the scene where Antoine skips school with his friend, the boys wander off to an amusement area. While there, Antoine decides to go on a “Wheel-spinning” ride, where Antoine stands against a wall, and the ride spins at an incredible rate, forcing Antoine and the other adventurers to rise in the air and stick to the wall. Truffaut decides to capture this scene with mostly point of view shots, where we see through Antoine’s eyes the blurry and chaotic vision in which he sees, or in some ways, understands. Because of the insecurity provided by his parents, Antoine deliberately acts foolish; with the lack of comfort in his own home, filled with displeasure, punishment, and alienation, Antoine does not recognize a sense of stability, but identifies with the jumbled interactions which he finds in the streets causing disarray and confusion. Ironically, it is here, on the lively, brisk and active streets, running away from the lack of affection from his parents, where Antoine finds his repose and his depth of solitude.

After Antoine continues to create havoc for his parents, they finally agree to send him away to reform school. As this happens, Antoine is taken away in a truck, as he looks out from the vertical, impenetrable bars, blocking his view and access from the city streets. In some ways, as we see from Antoine’s point of view, or Truffaut’s own, we can say that the bars are blocking his sense of freedom; Antoine can no longer escape from his struggles, but must find within himself a sense of self-determination. Later, at reform school, Truffaut expands this message when Antoine is presented within the confines of a cell, with images of similar bars like those of the truck, surrounding the boy in four corners. This time, we see the bars suffocate the boy, as he exhaustingly enhales the smoke from his tattered cigarette.

Finally, while the group of problematic children are playing a game of soccer, Antoine escapes the surveillance of authorities. In the same fashion as escaping from his parents, Antoine runs away from the reform school. This time, running through the barren woods, Truffaut utilizes an extremely long, tracking shot following Antoine running. It is in this way, by shooting this long, tense, and fatiguing take, that Truffaut reflects the “auteur’s” approach by indicating the pain and suffering produced not only in Antoine’s life, but of his own. When Antoine arrives at a shore, still running from authorities, trying to keep his breath, he continues toward the ocean. After taking a few steps into the water, Antoine quickly and suddenly looks back. Truffaut ends the film on this frame exactly, as he provides the shot of Antoine’s face with a still image; even though Antoine senses freedom as he enters the ocean, his footprints will remain: Truffaut splashes away his troubled past, but his childhood isolation will never be forgotten. As a result, it is not whether or not Antoine has looked back because the authority might be there, but rather Truffaut asking if he can avoid revisiting his troubled youth. In the same fashion with Antoine, the end result is probably not good.

 

Interview with Festival Director Martin Tran (Seattle Asian American Film Festival)

Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) is the only film festival in Seattle to provide a space for Asian American voices, perspectives and histories by screening independent films that reflect the diversity and richness of the city’s Asian American community.

Web: seattleaaff.org
Facebook: facebook.com/seattleaaff

Twitter: twitter.com/seattleaaff
 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Martin Tran: Our greatest success as a festival is how we grow a supportive community for our filmmakers. As independent Asian American filmmakers, it’s important to us that we connect them with people who are hungry to hear their stories, and to champion them and their work in the future.

It starts with partnering with local community organizations to help promote the films. For each screening we select organizations that have thematic alignment with the films, which plugs the filmmakers into organizations and communities that are eager to engage.

We also create spaces for the filmmakers to meet and engage with each other; from brunches to VIP rooms to parties. We’re all in this together so let’s connect and celebrate it!

And we as festival organizers we are such a tight knit group that we want to make the filmmakers feel like part of our community. They did the hard work of making a film for us to showcase, and we want to let them know that we appreciate them and will support them in all their future endeavors. To that end we always spread the word whenever they have screenings, crowdfunding campaigns, and new projects.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

From a first time festival goer to our longtime festival pass holders, we expect our audiences to see the type of films that are rarely showcased; ones that will reflect, entertain, and illuminate the experiences of the Asian diaspora.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We have a large team of volunteers who rate and review the submissions, and all of the reviewers come with their own tastes and experiences. What we ask them to look for most is originality, craft, content, and adherence to our mission of being a space to tell the stories of the Asian diaspora. How a reviewer personally defines that though is entirely up to them. Using the rating system as outlined by Film Freeway, which is a film submission tool used by many film festivals, our programming team aggregates the data and selects the highest rated films. And at a final, in-person meeting, that’s when the bleary eyed debates ensue.

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

It’s hard for me to speak for other film festivals, but in my opinion I believe so. There are so many things that go into selecting films for a festival; your audience, sponsors, mission, you name it. There’s also the notion of what is a festival worthy film. Like it has to be “important” or a “prestige” film. Luckily there are so many festivals out there catering to different audiences and tastes that I believe if you made a good film, no matter the topic or style, there is a festival and audience out there for you.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

It may be a corny answer but it’s love. We’re an all-volunteer organization putting in crazy amounts of our free time to make it happen, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the love. Love for film, community, advocacy, and for each other. We’re a family as much as a festival organizing team, and we always strive to extend that feeling to our filmmakers and filmgoers alike.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been a great tool for us. It’s an easy way for filmmakers to find and submit to festivals like ours. The review and rating process is very streamlined, and it’s nice to have all that data for us.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

I would like to see SAAFF continue to grow as we do every year. By 2023 we will be putting on our 11th festival, and I would like to see us become an even greater part of Seattle’s film scene with bigger venues, more films, and more events.

And in those five years I hope the Crazy Rich Asians effect will continue to bear fruit. 2018 has seen a lot of momentum for Asian American stories in Hollywood, and I hope it continues. So I would love to see an influx of filmmakers who had greater support than before, and a new generation of Asian American filmmakers following in the footsteps of those who opened the doors for them.

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

For me it would have to be The Princess Bride. I’m a sucker for action, comedy, fantasy, and intergenerational family stories.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Story. Story. Story.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

I love the film scene in Seattle. There are so many people doing great, independent work. It’s a very supportive community that just continues to grow. Support from the city and state side though…that could use improvement. But hopefully we’ll get there.
 

 

 

seattle asian 1.jpg

Full Review: SEARCHING FOR INGMAR BERGMAN (Germany/France 2018) ****

Searching for Ingmar Bergman Poster
Trailer

Internationally renowned director Margarethe von Trotta takes a closer look at Bergman’s life and work and explores his film legacy with Bergman’s closest collaborators, both in front and … See full summary »

Writers:

Margarethe von Trotta (concept), Felix Moeller (concept)

German director Margarethe von Trotta pays tribute to Swedish director Ingmar Bergman

in honour of the centennial of his birth. Von Trotta presents a detailed account of his life and his impact on filmmaking through excerpts of his work and interviews with family and contemporaries (Olivier Assayas, Mia Hansen-Love, Ruben Ostlund).  

Her film begins with a segment of THE SEVENTH SEAL with actor Max Von Sydow and explanation of each shot in detail.  Von Sydow is seen waking up on a beach with his squire by his side.  He is seeing washing his face before meeting the Grim Reaper.  There is a fadeout of a chess board with the pieces washed away by the sea.  Each shot is explain by the voiceover, thus allowing the audience to see a different interpretation of the details as well as the mastery of Bergman’s work.

There is a compilation of Bergman’s other films including his more famous ones like WILD STRAWBERRIES, CRIES AND WHISPERS, HOUR OF THE WOLF and his later works like my personal favourite, the over 3-hour long FANNY AND ALEXANDER.

These and many other films are also displayed and put into perspective by actresses who have worked on many of Bergman’s films like Liv Ulmann who speak fondly of the man.  His thoughts and inability to love his own children are also revealed.  FANNY AND ALEXANDER however showed his brilliant portrayal of children.  Von Trotta maintains that all the children portrayed in his films are images of himself.  

The film briefly traces his personal life living in Stockholm as a child.  Nothing is said of his birthplace, the religious town of Uppsala, which I visited when I was in Sweden, being an ardent Bergman fan.

The film has limited footage of Bergman in interviews and on the set.  But these are rare footages prized in the documentary. 

The film is a bit long because it includes quite a few clips from the past Bergman classics.  But thy are an absolute pleasure to watch, so who is one to complain?  The most famous scene of all the Bergman’s films (the one where the elderly man looks into a coffin to see himself in it) is of course, in it.  I am surprised there was no shot of the image with the clock which has no hands.

The film whets the appetite for watching Bergman films, a retrospective of the Master’s work that will be presented by TIFF Cinematheque the fall of 2018.  Extremely insightful and a treasure for cineastes!  Von Trotta’s own film THE GERMAN SISTERS was selected by Bergman as one of his favourite films.

SEARCHING FOR INGMAR BERGMAN is a doc to be seen by all those who not only love the Master but for all those who love the medium of film.  (Bergman was the first auteur that introduced me to non-commercial film in Singapore, his films provided courtesy by the Swedish Institute in Singapore).

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E91QEXSJ1Es

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies At 65

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Allen Paul Allen, who launched Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975 and went on to produce documentaries, own professional sports teams and dedicate time to philanthropy, died this afternoon of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Allen was 65 years old.

“While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern,” Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, wrote on the family’s behalf.

“For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

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Film Review: THE OATH (USA 2018) ***

The Oath Poster
Trailer

The Oath is a fictional black comedy about American citizens given the supposedly option of signing a loyalty oath to the President.   As far as black comedies go, they do not often generate many laughs, and neither does this one.  THE OATH can be best considered a comic look at America and something that could but hopefully never happen.  Citizens are required to sign before the next Thanksgiving is up.  The oath is hopefully to isolate terrorists in America.  The incentive given to those who sign is a huge tax cut, but it seems that those opposing are being persecuted.

This controversial White House policy turns family member against family member when Chris (Ike Barinholtz), a high-strung progressive news junkie, and his more level headed wife Kai (Tiffany Haddish) learn bout it.  Their reaction is disbelief, followed by idealistic refusal.  But as the Thanksgiving deadline to sign approaches, the combination of sparring relatives, and the unexpected arrival of two government agents sends an already tense family gathering completely off the rails.  Chris mentions that this is not the America he knows or the one he wants to grow up with.

Director Barinholtz keeps the film’s budget in check.  Instead of showing an actual riot with cars and buildings set on fire, the above is seen on the television screen.  Most of the action takes place at the dining table with a few exteriors.

The film’s best joke also happens on the television when it is announced (heard) that actor Seth Rogen has disappeared because he was opposed to the oath. 

For a man so geared on Thanksgiving, the film allows the man (Chris) to throw away etiquette and allow him to use his cell phone.  This incident is the catalyst for the big break up at the Thanksgiving dinner. This is a scene well done with tempers flaring and foul language running loose.

Performances-wise, every actor seems to be overdoing their parts.  All this looks normal for the fact that the events unfolding are so over the top.

The film reaches great intensity once the CPU (Citizens Protection Unit) agents invade Chris’s home without a warrant.  Someone in the dinner party had complained that Chris is advising others not to sign the oath, and hence the agents’s sudden intrusion.  Agent Mason (Billy Magnussen) taunts Chris to the point that he pushes him resulting in him taking out his gun, and punches Chris.  As a result Chris’s dad hits Agent Peter (John Cho) with the chimney stoker knocking him out cold.  Mason is tasered and is tied up.  Mason is crazy and continue to threaten Chris while Agent Peter appears the rational one.  Director Marinholtz surprisingly keeps the audience at the edge of their seats during all the action combined with verbal shouting.  The children of the family are never seen during all the commotion, having being conveniently locked in another room or whisked off to another location.

One troubling flaw are the mixed messages sent by Barinholtz’s film.  Should one stand up for ones belief despite opposition from family or should one put family first and personal principles second?   The message is blurred more by the words uttered by Chris’s dad: “One has to do whatever it takes to keep ones family safe.”

When one wonders how all the mayhem and violence will end, Barinholtz gears his film towards an unexpected plot twist.  THE OATH ends up disappointing audiences’ expectations despite some solid compelling set-up drama.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LcVhhno-Uo

Film Review: RESTORING TOMORROW (USA 2018) ***

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Restoring Tomorrow Poster
Trailer

In these divided times, religious institutions are losing young members and even closing their doors at an alarming rate. Director Aaron Wolf’s personal journey of rediscovery comes alive …See full summary »

Director:

Aaron Wolf

Star:

Aaron Wolf

The film begins with these announcements, on titles as well as heard aloud as voiceover.  ‘Historically, the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation has been 10%.  Since 2012, the number of young Americans in this category has been growing 30%.  Historical houses of worship around the world have been closed forever.’

The religion under study here is the Jewish religion, with thought centred on the destruction of their magnificent synagogues.  What is feared that, in the words of an interviewee, these buildings will be brought down like a beautiful cut flower fading in a vase.

The film then narrows down on one person, a good thing as to make the documentary more personal.  The person is Aaron Wolf (the doc’s writer, director and actor), who has moved from L.A. to New York to study and then returned to L.A. He was a third generation belonging to the Wilshire Temple – a huge and handsome structure, but he feels that the connection is lost when he returned.

As religious institutions are losing young members and even closing their doors at an alarming rate, director Aaron Wolf’s personal journey of rediscovery comes alive in RESTORING TOMORROW, a universal story of hope as a treasured local temple near demise, is lifted up by a community’s determination to achieve the impossible.  Wolf’s journey explores how when any community puts their mind to it, the impossible becomes possible.  Wilshire Boulevard Temple, a Los Angeles treasure built by the original Hollywood moguls, needs to raise millions to restore its majesty and vibrancy, thus also restoring the future of the Jewish community, the greater Los Angeles community-and on a personal level, Wolf himself.

  One of the great men examined in the film is Rabbi Edgar Magnin, a well connected man (a photo is shown with human his wife with the Reagans).  Another Rabbi examined in the doc is Rabbi Alfred Wolf, The director’s own father who is described as a visionary and dreamer.  He was selected between two German Jews to study in the U.S. (this meant, at that time, the difference between life and death) and he left Germany.  He founded an inter-religious group that aimed to make peace and give respect to all different religions.  This is the segment of the doc that not only makes most sense and is the most interesting but also more relevant in today’s current affairs.  

Though the documentary lacks a climax (though not without many inspirational moments including the rending of the well-known Hal David and Burt Bacharach song ‘What the World needs Now’ ), it makes up for it by an important message.  The last portion  of the film shows the restoration of the temple in L.A. from its planning to its physical restoration.  The message, and one of one of the Jews’s fulfilment is to make more Jews who will themselves make even more Jews, so that they can do good for the Earth.  

Trailer:  https://vimeo.com/220395027