Movie Review: RED ROVER (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERRED ROVER, 15min, Australia/USA, Fantasy/Action
Directed by Brooke Goldfinch

Two teenagers from a remote religious community travel to town in search of shelter after being told by their Evangelical parents that an asteroid will soon destroy the earth.

Shown at the September 2016 Sci-Fi/Fantasy FEEDBACK Film Festival

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

 A refreshingly different approach to an encroaching apocalypse film, Red Rover, an American film directed by Brooke Goldfinch, straddles the genres of science fiction, romance and drama. As the end of the world approaches, two teenagers escape their religious community to seek shelter and potential survival. The piece is founded in tragedy when the teens realize that they have nothing left to loose except each other.

Unlike many apocalypse films, this piece does not rely on heavy pandemonium- huge riots, teeming masses of terrified people, big explosions- instead it focuses on the last death throws of a society that has already accepted its’ end. The streets are vacant. The shops deserted. The last remains of society exist in debauchery inhabited abandoned hotel rooms. Red Rover’s focus on realism in this way may be disturbing to some, a refreshingly honest to others.

The theme of this film, however, will pull the heart strings of any romantic. As the world approaches its violent end our heroes must re-evaluate what it means to have lived and been alive. Is a life that is short, yet full of love, wonder and joy, any less lived? Red Rover seeks to ponder that question. To find the answer, you’ll have to watch it and see.


Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:


Movie Review: BOTTOMLESS (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERBOTTOMLESS, 2min, USA, Animation/Biography
Directed by Veronique Vanblaere

A Belgian woman seeks citizenship in the United States, and finds that her experiences are bottomless.

Seen at the August 2016 SCI-FI/FANTASY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

This comical inversion on the classic fish out of water story is brought to us by Veronique Vanderlaere of the USA. An unapologetic and endearing story of immigration and assimilation, this piece will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the “otherness” of living what they know and becoming engulfed in someplace new.

Bottomless is refreshing! The artistic tastes are unique, the story is charming and most engaging perhaps is that the central story revolves around a tiny detail the nature of North American drinking glasses. It is not always the obvious change in scenery that gives a traveler culture shock it is the small things that remind us how far from home we are.

But our Heroine embraces her new home, and not only accepts the changes but loves them. A delightful story with some upbeat humor that will make you smile and long for an extra large soft drink.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:


sully.jpgSULLY (USA 2016) **
Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn

Review by Gilbert Seah

Director Clint Eastwood follows his high successful AMERICAN SNIPER, a story of an unlikely American hero with SULLY, a story of a likely American hero.

SULLY is the movie based on Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg’s 2010 autobiography, Highest Duty that envisions the American sense of common humanity.

The so-called miracle on the Hudson occurred in 2009. This was the safe landing on the Hudson of a plane that had two of its engines blown. The captain of the flight known fondly as SULLY piloted the plane to safety saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew. Heralded a hero but not until cleared of accusations that his decisions were not the best, this is the film that praises, or over-praises the deed.

The question is that do we need to re-watch a re-enactment of a story already told and known to most Americans? There is always a need at any time for a story of heroism. In these times of terrorist attacks, Americans need to be reminded of their heroes. SULLY seems a film to do just that.

Eastwood, known to be right-winged, has directed SULLY (Tom Hanks) to show a hero with all the right words to say and a man who can do no harm. He is blessed with a loving family and a wife (Laura Linney) who professes her lover for him constantly.

Eastwood’s film, shot in IMAX shows the plane’s landing on the Hudson in all its glorious images. But there is no suspense or thrills as the audience is well aware of the fact that everyone on board survived. The landing is shown in clumsy flashback, when Sully is having a drink at the bar, again congratulated at very possible moment in the film. Parts of the landing are shown twice as if the audience need be reminded of the heroic deed.

But with the story of SULLY already known, and no real facts provided or insight on the story, Eastwood’s film grows to be quite a bore quite soon, and remains so throughout its full 2 hours and 10 minutes, that seems to be the staple running time for all of his films.

Though Hanks has been praised for his portrayal of SULLY, his performance is nothing new. Like his role in HOLOGRAM, Hanks looks as if he is sleepwalking through his performance. Often sleepless like his character in HOLOGRAM and always thinking of what would have happened or what would have not, Hanks sulks most of the time, looking as if the plane landing was all a dream. Laura Linney who plays Lorraine, Sully’s wife mopes all the time too. The audience gets a glimpse of the real Lorraine Sullenberger, i.e. Sully’s wife at the closing credits.

The audience at the promo screening applauded and seem pleased with the film. Who would not applaud a hero? Still Eastwood’s SULLY is nothing more than a recounting of events, overpraising its hero and lacks any solid thrills or imagination.


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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: LONG EXCUSES (Japan 2016)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

long_excuses_poster.jpgLONG EXCUSES (Japan 2016) **
Directed by Miwa Nishikawa

Starring: Sôsuke Ikematsu, Masahiro Motoki, Eri Fukatsu

Review by Gilbert Seah

Based on her own novel, Miwa Nishikawa’s (DREAMS FOR SALE) film begins with the death of wife Natsuko (Eri Fukatsu). Husband Sachio Kinugasa (Masahiro Motoki) was having sex with another woman at the same exact time of the wife’s drowning and is therefore consumed with guilt.

THE LONG EXCUSE traces the life of Sachio after the death and how he copes with it. While never being a father, he bonds with the children of Yoichi (Pistol Takehara), whose wife died with Miwa.

Running at over two hours, Nishikawa’s film is a ponderous watch especially watching both Sachio’s and Yoichi’s grief. Except for a few dramatic scenes (the dinner scene when Sachio explains why he does not have children), the film is quite bland. It does to help that Nishikawa’s female characters are all superior to the men.

Sachio is an emotional mess and Yoichi is a rather dumb, uneducated father while Sachio’s wife is patient and understanding and Yoichi’s new girlfriend is thoughtful and smart. Do we really need to spend two hours watching to men grief their wives’ death?


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Interview with Festival Director Lynn M. Holley (Fine Arts Film Festival Santa Barbara)

The Fine Arts Film Festival premiered in Santa Barbara, California in 2010; it then occurred as a film festival in Venice, CA in 2015. In 2016 it will explode as an International Fine Arts Film Festival full of shorts plus a few full length features back in fabulous Santa Barbara, California! It will screen at more than one venue, including an outdoor night-time extravaganza. Originally conceived as a festival of films about the fine arts, it now incorporates dance and experimental art forms and approaches.

Interview with Lynn M. Holley:

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

Lynn M. Holley: Exposure they might not get in major, all-purpose festivals.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

LMH: Diversity of place, thought and disciplines. We will screen films from around the world.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

LMH: Made within the last 3 years; related to the visual arts or dance and have some importance to the field.

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

LMH: All-purpose film festivals often ignore the disciplines in the arts: visual, dance, music, science and technology collaborations, etc..

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

LMH: The love film and the love of arts.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

LMH: We now take in entries through http://www.Filmfreeway and focus on more genres in the arts.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

LMH: A larger, more international scene in Santa Barbara CA, which helps promote other film festivals here including the main one SBFF and the Jewish Film Festival.

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

LMH: Caught-In-Paint by Rita Blitt (6 min); and numerous spy films over decades.

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

LMH: There is an importance, a purpose for viewing it that does not require long narratives or dialogue.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

LMH: Incredible; we are, after all, Santa Barbara, CA, home to Hollywood and the world.


Lynn M. Holley is an executive consultant to the arts, a resident curator at the new center in Santa Barbara, CA for art, science and technology ( She was initiated into film as a young film reviewer for a daily newspaper, and then as a journalist and director of galleries and an art center. She is a former journalist, narrative writer and filmmaker for promotions in the arts. She has a B.S. in Communications and an MA in Museum Studies. Ms Holley just returned from giving a presentation to a Global Conference in England on Museums, titled: The Dance of the Muses from Las Vegas to the Louvre.

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

CIMM Fest – Chicago International Movies and Music Fest

This is CIMMfest, the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival—a four-day showcase of outstanding films, energetic concerts, visually stunning VJ/DJ sets, lively Q&A’s, daring live score performances, industry panels and presentations…anything to show just what movies and music mean to each other.

CIMMfest was imagined and brought to life by musician Josh Chicoine (Cloudbirds, The M’s) and filmmaker Ilko Davidov (BulletProof Film). Neither knew what he was getting into at the start, but hundreds of films, thousands of attendees and countless incredible experiences later, CIMMfest is a respected Chicago fixture.

CIMMfest No.7 will take place April 16-19, 2015.

Go to the website and learn more about the upcoming 2015 festival:

Matthew Toffolo recently chatted with the Festival Director CARMINE CERVI

MT: What is the goal of your film festival?

Carmine: Our goal is to create a home for great music-themed films and visually exciting concerts, where fans and industry alike can come together for a long weekend- have a great time, network, learn and possibly do some business. With Chicago being the center of the Midwest, we hope to grow to have a regional presence for the industry and fans. This year we have the City of Chicago partnering with us in this effort by adding a major arts convergence event aligned on CIMMfest’s dates April 16-19.

MT: How has the festival changed since is began until now?

Carmine: When co-founders and original directors, Ilko Davidov and Josh Chicoine (filmmaker and musician, respectfully) and I started out– we knew nothing about running a festival. We only did what was fun for us– and tried to create an experience for both filmmakers and audiences that we would appreciate ourselves. We were punk. We were street-level. Despite all the attention we’ve received, we strive to maintain that street-level experience– and the punk attitude. Two years ago we initiated CIMMcon, a conference component that brings industry professionals together to discuss trends, resources and strategies. It’s a great opportunity for networking and relationship building. We’ve also expanded our outreach and relationships with other festivals and organizations both in Chicago and around the world. In 2013 we created the CIMMfest Baadasssss Award by honoring the man for whom the award was named, Mr. Melvin Van Peebles. Last year we presented it to SXSW founder and CIMMfest board member, Louis Black.

Perhaps our most exciting change this year is the addition of Sundance Film Festival programmer,Adam Montgomery, who last year served on our jury.

One thing that has not changed– our entire staff is comprised of filmmakers, musicians and artists. Our goal continues to keep the artists and audiences as our primary focus.

MT: How many films are you showcasing at your Film Festival?

Carmine: Typically we screen 40-50 feature films (docs, fiction, concert films) and as many shorts and music videos. We try to pair shorts and music videos with like-themed features, as well as shorts programs, and our HQ (CIMMcity) always includes a Music Video Lounge.

A signature feature of our festival is our live scored films. Last year we did 6 in our four-day run. Often these are one-off events created just for CIMMfest. Last year one highlight was Mary Shelly (Members of Smashing Pumpkins and Local H) performing a live score to Battleship Potemkin. Additionally we featured concerts by over 75 bands, as well as 25 Industry related panels, workshops and interviews.

MT: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to except for the 2015 Festival?

Carmine: It’s a little early to make any announcements, those will begin in January. But we will feature music docs and features from a wide variety of genres and countries, plus a multi-venue concert series, industry events and lots of great parties for the musicians, filmmakers and attendees alike. And of course, our partnership with the City of Chicago in the first “Lake FX Summit and Expo”, which will run concurrently with CIMMfest. It is a creative industries conference that brings together the film/media, music, fashion and culinary arts for showcases, keynotes, panels and exhibitions. It is an exciting expansion of what CIMMfest is all about and a great opportunity for expanding the audience for our filmmakers and musical artists.

MT: What type of music do you like to showcase at your festival? Is there a genre theme?

Carmine: One of my favorite things about our programming is that we span the globe of musical genres. Last year our Best Feature Fiction award-winner was a great film from Iceland called Metalhead, and our Best Feature Doc was an American film about a brass band festival in Serbia. We expect more of the same this year with lots of rock-centric films and then a bunch of films featuring music form all over the world.

MT: Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2015 festival?

Carmine: Last year our dates included May 1st, so we were all about revolution and power to the people. This year’s theme is about taking action. One of Chicago’s mottos is “The City That Works”. Creatives are all about the hustle. In 2015 CIMMfest is about Getting It Done!

MT: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Carmine: We see CIMMfest as a regional hub for the film and music industry to gather, celebrate, and create. CIMMcon will grow to be the premier center for resources and education for the creative industries. We’re on the leading edge of helping filmmakers and musicians to collaborate and succeed.

MT: What’s the current status of the Film Scene in your city?

Carmine: Chicago has always been a film city– from Essanay Studios and Charlie Chaplin, to John Hughes, the Wachowski’s and Steve James. Chicago is long established as a documentary town– and today is one of the busiest cities in the country for feature film and television production. Independent productions are stronger than ever in Chicago, which is also the home of one of the most successful independent distributors, Music Box Films, which again this year will have multiple titles nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards– and an Oscar nomination.

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

Carmine: You’ve cleverly sidestepped asking a filmmaker what his favorite movie is– but the question is still not easy to answer. Ilko Davidov and I have made many music-themed films before creating CIMMfest. I feel I should restrict my answer to a music-based film (or can I name 5?) Stop Making Sense and Spinal Tap are always go-to movies. Amadeus is one of my all-time favorites. But I’ve also lost count of how many times I’ve seen the Chicago-produced films, The Blues Brothers and John Cusack’s High Fidelity. Now, watching films and programming for CIMMfest, that list continues to grow; always discovering new, great music-centric movies, like The Winding Stream about the Carter and Cash families, Player Hating: A Love Story, a candid, insightful look at a Brooklyn housing project rapper on the verge of stardom, and Control Tower a universal story from Japan about disaffected youth connecting through music.

CARMINE CERVI, has produced and directed documentaries and short fiction films in both the United States and Italy. A professional actor since the age ten, and alumnus of Chicago’s improv scene, Cervi graduated from Columbia College before relocating to Rome. In Italy he co-wrote and starred in a weekly TV series, as well as appearing in commercials and voice work at the famed Cinecittà. He went on to produce and edit short background docs for DueA Film and directed his first feature documentary, Sacred Sounds, in Morocco. Upon returning to Chicago, he partnered with Ilko Davidov at BulletProof Film to produce and direct fiction and non-fiction films. BulletProof Film’s William S. Burroughs: A Man Within was shown on Independent Lens, enjoyed world-wide theatrical release and is available on home video. Their forthcoming feature documentary, Nelson Algren: The End is Nothing, the Road is All will be released in 2015. Cervi co-founded CIMMfest in 2008 with Ilko Davidov and Josh Chicoine.

Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival . He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes. Took over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in May 2013. From then to the end of 2014, he’s presented over 90 movies at the monthly FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto, plus has had over 60 screenplays and stories performed by professional actors at the bi-monthly Writing Festival.