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Interview with Festival Director Oliver Wolfson (THE 60 SECOND FILM FESTIVAL)

Introducing The 60 Second Film Festival India 2018. Presented with Yayin Studios, Pune India. Event sponsored by Chandan Kumar Entertainment, Chandan Kumar Film Director & Producer.

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1) What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

We give filmmakers a chance to be seen and enjoyed by peers and professionals. We also offer freedom of creativity for artists.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

Joy, entertainment, education, and community.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Films should be 60 seconds or less, and have some good qualities that can benefit a live film festival audience.

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

No we think there are massive opportunities for filmmakers now to get their work seen at festivals, but also a lot of competition. There are no barriers except for the filmmakers energy, endurance, and creativity.

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

We love to see talented creatives join together and become more than the sum of their parts.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We like this platform. It has been wonderful so far.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We have many interesting plans for this festival, but it will grow organically, so it’s hard to predict. We expect our audience and amount of creators to grow a lot by then.

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

16 Candles. I was stuck in a snow lodge for three month with only this VHS (in the late 1980s)

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

Emotional impact.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Film and video is constantly being consumed on big and small screens.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Film Review: DISOBEDIENCE (UK/Ireland/USA 2017) ***1/2

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Disobedience Poster
Trailer

A woman returns to the community that shunned her for her attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.

Director:

Sebastián Lelio

 

Three big reasons stand out for one to see DISOBEDIENCE.  The first is its director, Chilean Sebastian Leilo who won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for A FANTASTIC WOMAN this year.  The second is the script, based on Naomi Alderman’s 2006 acclaimed novel, co-written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz who wrote the Best Foreign Film Oscar Winner IDA, a few years back.  The third is the cast of Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams who go all out to do a same-sex love story compete with a no-holds barred erotic sex scene.

The film begins with a scene of a dissatisfied New York photographer, Ronit (Weisz), a single woman in the city, shown never smiling and having casual sex while receiving news of her father’s passing in London.  She travels to London only to be met with a surprise welcome by the Orthodox Jews that she ran away from.  Her father was a strong pillar, a Rabbi of the Jewish Orthodox Community and she is deemed an outcast.  This is material that moviegoers would shy less run away from.  The film takes a while to gets its footing, and if one is patient enough not to give up on the uncommercial storyline, the reward is a well told powerful tale of freedom, especially from the feminine point of view that is so relevant in today’s times.

So, with her edgy clothing and tousled hair, Ronit looks out of place among the Orthodox women in their plain black garments and synthetic wigs.  She is also in for some unsetting surprises, including the contents of her father’s obituary and will.  She is further shocked to find that her two childhood friends – Esti (McAdams) and rabbi-to-be Dovid (Novice) – are now married.  When Dovid invites Ronit to stay with them, Esti and Ronit rekindle their secret passion for each other.  The film’s second half focuses on the love affair and Esti’s demand to be freed from her marriage form Dovid.

The Jewish rituals are respectfully created with perfect voices singing of the hymns.  But the film clearly has a prejudiced view of the Orthodox Jewish ways.  It looks down at the practices from the very first scene with the over-stern sermon on devils and angels given by the Rabbi before suffering the heart attack that initiates the story’s chain of events.

The sexual scenes are very graphic and erotic especially in the sharing of saliva during a sex scene, reminiscent of Stephen Frears’ sex scene in MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE

The same-sex love is also seen for Esti’s point of view, not only from Ronit’s.  This makes the drama even more relevant.  Understandably, the film’s best scene is the confrontation between Esti and her husband when beating him on the chest, she confesses that she always loved Rachel.

The one reason the film about freedom is so powerful is that erector Leilo switches the points of view from Ronit to Esti to Dovid.  The audience sees and sympathizes with each, not only seeing each person in the love triangle’s point of view but knowing that each are trapped by the past and present emotions.

It does not matter how the story ends.  The film is about emotions and the right to choose, and Leilo’s message comes across bight and clear in his well-executed drama.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEVonh8bjC0

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Film Review: A QUIET PLACE (USA 2018) ***1/2

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A Quiet Place Poster
A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

Director:

John Krasinski

Writers:

Bryan Woods (screenplay by), Scott Beck (screenplay by) |3 more credits »

A QUIET PLACE is actor John Krasinki’s third directorial effort, a horror film that premiered at the South by Southwest film festival.  Krasinski also co-write the script with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck based on their story.  His first two films (THE HOLLARS, BREIF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN) were, to put it mildly, nothing to write home about .  A QUIET PLACE also stars Krasinki’s wife, Emily Blunt, which is a clear signal to stay away.  But DON’T.  A QUIET PLACE is his assured directorial piece that would put many horror directors to shame.  It is scary, suspenseful and even had the audience (at the promo I attended) cheering at the end.  These are signs of a good horror film, and the film has been getting rave reviews since its premiere.

The poster looks like David Cronenberg’s RABID.  A woman, bloodied lies in a bath tub.  The scene occurs in the middle of the film when Evelyn (Blunt) has to deliver a new born in silence while the monster attracted to sound lurks around the house.

The script concentrates on scary set-ups but omits details and history of the setting.  Nothing is mentioned on how the situation came about.  What brought about the destruction of the human race?  Where did these supposedly deaf creatures come from?  What is the reason the Abbott family is the only one that survived?  But one can argue that if the film works in its aim at scaring, no one should question these omissions in plot.  As Hitchcock as proven in many of his films, the same holds true in A QUIET PLACE.

The placement of an expecting mother having to give birth in silence for fear of monsters attracted to noise is nothing short of brilliant.  The delivery scene kept the audience at the edge of their seats, evident as I looked around the theatre during the segment.

A word of warning!  This film requires a very silent audience, so pick a seat away from others.  The screening I attended had a person bring his own snacks, and one could hear him crackling his packages open and cans of pop.  Really annoying.  The theatre should ban popcorn and snacks for the screening of this film.

The special effects and sound are impressive.  The monster with its big ears and dripping saliva moving around to the sound of a creaking door is sufficiently menacing.

It is well to note that Millicent Simmonds (Todd Hayne’s WONDERSTRUCK) who plays Regan the deaf daughter is deaf in real life.  Krasinksi did not want a non-deaf actress pretending to be deaf.  Most important is the fact that a deaf actress would help his knowledge and understanding of the situations tenfold.  Simmonds who communicates in American Sign Language in the film to avoid sound taught the actors ASL during the filming.  The authenticity comes through in the film.

A QUIET PLACE achieves what it aims at, a solid horror film with a message of strong family values that ends up satisfying entertainment for all. 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9wE8dyzEJE

 

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Film Review: IN BETWEEN (BAR BAHAR) (Israel/France 2016) ***1/2

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In Between Poster
Trailer

Three Palestinian women living in an apartment in Tel Aviv try to find a balance between traditional and modern culture.

Director:

Maysaloun Hamoud

 

IN BETWEEN is a film that follows the lives of three young Palestinian women living in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv.  For males just about to dismiss the film as another feminist movie, it should be noted that though all the characters, writer and director all being female, IN BETWEEN especially opens the eyes of those in North America, male and female alike on what it is like to be female in Tel Aviv.  For one, the film covers the little-known underground club scene (which the director grew up on).

The three women are Lalia (Mouna Hawa), Salma (Sana Jammelieh), and Nur (Shaden Kanboura) who share an apartment in Tel Aviv.  Lalia, a criminal lawyer with a wicked wit, loves to burn off her workday stress in the already described underground club scene. Salma, slightly more subdued though no less lively, is a DJ and bartender.  Nur is the younger, religious Muslim girl who moves into the apartment in order to study at the university.  Nur is both intrigued and intimidated by her two sophisticated roommates but eventually grows closer to see a new view of life.

Director Hamoud then introduces males into the picture.  The most hilarious of these is

Nir’s conservative fiancé who visits.  He is totally horrified (to the audience’s delight) by her secular friends, entreating her to hasten their marriage, leave Tel Aviv, and assume her rightful role as a wife.  This is when Hamoud’s film begins to make a statement, and an important one for all females all over the world that has more meaning now with all the sexual abuse allegations going on in the world.  Hamoud turns on the dramatic content in the film’s second half.  Nur refuses her fiance’s wishes, and his violent rebuttal leaves all of the women shaken.  Salma and Lalia also face turmoil: Lalia has found love with a modern Muslim man whose acceptance proves less than unconditional while Salma discovers that her Christian family in a northern Galilean village is not as liberal as they claim.  Hamoud riles up the audience’s anger at the fiancé by making him also a hypocrite and bold face liar.

The three interwoven stories are all very interesting and different enough.  Hamoud has her audience rooting for her spirited characters of three very different women finding themselves doing the same balancing act between tradition and modernity, citizenship and culture, fealty and freedom.  The film’s soundtrack also deserves mention.

Looking deeper into the film, the three characters incorporate females younger and older; from the town and the city as well as more traditional and less traditional.  Feminism is revealed in a different light especially in the film as a necessity to be liberated from the abuse of men.  Hamoud accomplishes the rare achievement of having even males despise male behaviour in her film.

The film has been selected for quite a few International Film Festivals so far including the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 where it won the NETPAC Award, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPiVZj8Mm7o

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Film Review: MONOLITH (Italy 2016) ***1/2

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Monolith Poster
A mother and her son plan a surprise visit to Los Angeles to see her husband/his father. Halfway there they get into a terrible accident in the middle of nowhere and now must fight to survive.

Director:

Ivan Silvestrini

Writers:

Elena Bucaccio (screenplay), Roberto Recchioni (story) |3 more credits »

MONOLITH is an effective thrilling Italian entertainer made for Sky Pictures.  Director Ivan Silverstrini loves and as well as knows how to tease his audience.

This, Silverstrini does at the start of the film.  The MONOLITH car is explained, a 4 by 4 all terrain vehicle that can self-drive and enter into armour mode.  The car is absolutely modern and protective but these features eventually cause deadly problems to Sandra. The car is so well explained that the film could pass off as a real documentary.  (The narration at the start:  With the MONOLITH, we introduce a car in the safest possible environment…). The film shifts gradually to horror mode.

The plot involves the safest car in the world turning into a death trap when Sandra (Katrina Bowden) and her son get into a car accident in the middle of  a scorching desert. With her son gets trapped inside a car known for being bullet-proof, Sandra must fight to save him.

Silverstrini plays with the background in many instances.  The first is observed when Sandra is video calling her husband and there is a knock on the door of the husband’s room.  The audience never sees who is at the husband’s door and the audience hopes of course he is not cheating on Sandra.  The person is never revealed.  Another has her toddler son suddenly gone missing after a stop at a convenience store.  She finds her son with three teens and pulls him apart from them scolding them.  In reality the teens picked the kid up from wandering outside the store.  “You are a bad mother,” quips one of them.  As it turns out, Sandra is quite the bad mother.  She also buys David a bag of marbles, and it is shown through the car’s rearview mirror that he is about to put one in his mouth.  Sandra also smokes causing David to cough and keep letting him play ‘turtle’ on her cell phone to keep him quite, though resulting in a disaster.  Yet she tries her best to be  good mother and husband.

It is also good to see a male director deal so well with a female protagonist, giving Sandra a strong character though not without weaknesses.  Bowden does a good job portraying the mother, down to a scantily  lad outfit because of the desert heat.  Silverstrini elicits a  fantastic performance from the young child actor playing the son.

For this modern vehicle, the special effects provided are quite cheesy yet enhance the film’s entertainment value.  The glowing ring, the tooting noises and the voice of ‘Lillith’ are hilarious.

The film’s genuinely scariest parts involve the car sliding backwards (the child locked inside) towards a cliff and the other with Sandra hiding underneath the vehicle with a hungry coyote looking for prey.

MONOLITH emerges as a very effective and satisfying low-budget film with a completely identifiable character with weaknesses that audiences can still root for.  The film proves that a little imagination can go a long way in making an entertaining thriller.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-Wd8HCX08k

 

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Film Review: BIRDLAND (Canada 2017)

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Birdland Poster
An ex-cop whose marriage is on the rocks hides surveillance cameras in her home and watches her husbands transgressions, becoming a voyeur of her own life.

Director:

Peter Lynch

 

BIRDLAND is a heralded DGC (Directors Guild of Canada) film from DRG veteran Peter Lynch who made the successful ARROWHEAD and PROJECT GRIZZLY.  The special screening I attended was followed by an extensive Q and A session with director Lynch, his wife, the film’s editor, Caroline Christie and its production designer and Patricia Christie moderated by Canadian director Atom Egoyan.

Described by Lynch himself as a 60’s style European art movie, the film follows an ex-cop, Sheila Hood (Kathleen Munroe) whose marriage is on the rocks.  Sheila hides surveillance cameras in her home and watches her husband’s (David Alpay) transgressions, becoming a voyeur of her own life.  When the husband, Tom Kale is suspect for two murders, she is forced to question her motives.  The script by Lynch and Lee Gowan bring in current events of oil and fracking into the story.  If all this sound straight forward, the film isn’t.  Lynch’s film is very difficult to follow.  When asked about this, the reason given is to keep the audience on their toes.  But it seems more an excuse than anything else.

The film was shot in 6 weeks on a minuscule budget with $6,000 devoted to the production. It is therefore not surprising that the film looks so badly edited and confused.  To the production designer Patricia Christie’s credit and the Director of Photography, the film looks stylish and expensive.  Lynch apparently borrowed artwork from friends and filmed in a friend’s very expensive and plush apartment as well as at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Surveillance is the common thread in the story.  Human beings are seen as if living in a birdcage with all their actions observed.  The song BIRDCAGE is also performed a few times in the film.

BIRDLAND is too stylish and artsy for audiences to feel for the characters.  Besides the story being difficult to follow, the film requires full concentration.  Lynch in the film’s defence, said that it is necessary for the audience to get lost in the film.  The result is quite a few of the audience ‘politely’ leaving the theatre (including my guest) midway during the film.  Lynch says that the film should be watched at one go, maybe on a computer, something that very few directors ever say about their movie.

The plot leads nowhere.  Despite having the topic of surveillance on display, Lynch never leads the topic anywhere either, nor does the film contain any clear message on surveillance in the 21st century.  Lynch is also fond of repetitive scenes.  The one with Sheila looking up at he closed circuit cameras and tapping on the lens is one example.  Another is the one with a subway rider listening to her headphones before pressing the emergency stop break as a result of an accident (a victim thrown from the bridge on to the train.)

To the film’s credit, Lynch has made a film that looks expensive despite its low budget.  This is not enough a good reason for this terrible film.

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

 

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Film Review: THE SNOWMAN (USA 2017) **

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The Snowman Poster
Trailer

Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.

Director:

Tomas Alfredson

Writers:

Peter Straughan (screenplay by), Hossein Amini (screenplay by)

 

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