(May 03, 2002) FESTIVAL: Sexual Frenzies Onscreen and Off: Gen Art Raises The Bar In Its Seventh Year
The official mission of the seventh annual Gen Art Film Festival: Showcase Emerging Talent. The unofficial mission: Get People Laid. Granted, the Gen Art Film Festival, which closed April 30 after seven days of premiers and parties, has always flaunted its sexuality (2001's vibrator party comes to mind), but this year has raised the bar. Many of the films were sexually charged as well -- including the charming "Love in the Time of Money," and the less-interesting "Tattoo: A Love Story," and the cybersex tale "On_Line." Interestingly, the Fest's strongest film was the documentary "Hell House," about fundamentalist Christians rallying against sin. Dave Ratzlow surveys the films and the after parties.

(Jan 31, 2002) FESTIVALS: Raising the Standard; Sarasota Fest Steps Up
This year the Sarasota Film Festival finally deserves to get put on the map. Its precise location may still lie somewhere between high-brow and low-brow, but in its fourth year the event has moved one notch closer to being considered a world-class film festival. In previous years, it was unclear which held more importance at Sarasota, the nightly parties or the films themselves. Dave Ratzlow reports from the Gulf Coast.

(Nov 16, 2001) FESTIVALS: Mai Tai's, Movies and New Growing Pains; 21st Hawaii International
I'm lounging on a white sand beach in Honolulu, sipping a pina colada with a perfect view of a turquoise sea when my watch alarm goes off. An afternoon screening awaits around the corner at the 21st Hawaii International Film Festival (Nov. 2 - 11). Traditionally known as the Asian film industry's gateway to the West, this year's festival had a lot of obstacles to overcome. In addition to post-9/11 chaos, which delayed some prints and prompted many delegates to stay home, the festival had to overcome some bad press following the sudden departure two years ago of former Executive Director Christian Gaines who went on to run the AFI Film Festival in L.A. Indeed, HIFF seemed to be experiencing some growing pains. But for the most part, current Executive Director Chuck Boller and his staff of amiable and dedicated young film buffs pulled it off, showing a record 170 films to enthusiastic audiences during the nine day festival. Dave Ratzlow reports on Asian highlights, lowlights, and the Hendrix of the ukulele players.

(May 22, 2001) FESTIVALS: Gen Art Celebrates 6th Party Hardy Year with Chick Flicks
As if it were inaugurating a summer of goddess worship, the 6th Annual Gen Art Film Festival ran earlier this month in New York City proudly flaunting a distinctly feminine sensibility. Almost every film, from Ilya Chaikin's young mother drama "Margarita Happy Hour," to Anurag Mehta's romantic comedy "American Chai," could easily wear the label chick flick. While only two of seven feature directors and three of seven short film directors were women, a mid-week "vibrator party" confirmed the festival's heart with the ladies. Dave Ratzlow attended the 7-party, 7-film NYC extravaganza, and highlights Jesse Peretz's "The Cheteau," Ilya Chaiken's "Margarita Happy Hour," Ari Gold's heart-wrenching short "Helicopter," and the future of "American Chai" director Anurag Mehta. Not to mention the parties, parties, parties.

(Jan 17, 2001) FESTIVALS: In Florida with Goodfellas, a Replicant and the Most Famous Woman in the World
One part cheese whiz and one part brie, Sarasota Florida closed its 3rd annual film festival this past weekend after screening more than 50 features and 50 shorts from around the world. Dubbed "five days of film, five nights of glamour" the festival did show some impressive films this year, but it's certainly more in touch with it's cheesy glamour side: celebrity-driven movies followed by black-tie galas with the stars. In addition to being ardently environmentalist and excellent hosts, the people of Sarasota are enthusiastic audiences, coming out in droves for the festival buying about 13,000 tickets, nearly double last year's amount. Dave Ratzlow reports on mediocre gangster films, Sean Young, Katherine Harris, and small, subtle films vying for attention against a backdrop of celebrity autograph-seekers (as we head into Sundance 2001 this week, sound familiar?).

(Apr 11, 2000) INTERVIEW: "Indochine" Director Spans "East West" in Stalin Era Epic
Inspired by the true stories of people who lived through a shameful episode of Soviet history, the Oscar nominated "East West" (which opened last weekend in New York and L.A.) is a disturbing account of a young doctor who returns to his homeland just after WWII. But he and his family soon realize that Stalin's post-war Soviet Union is not the utopia they imagined. Director Rˇgis Wargnier teams up again with French icon Catherine Denueve, star of his 1993 Oscar winner, "Indochine," along with Sandrine Bonnaire ("The Ceremony") and Russian actors Oleg Menchikov ("Burnt by the Sun") and Sergei Bodrov Jr. ("Brat"). Dave Ratzlow speaks to the director about Franco-Russian screenwriting, the Leonardo DiCaprio of Russia, and his prima donna cast member -- not Deneuve -- but Menchikov.

(Apr 04, 2000) Cleveland's Community Supports Indie Films, "The Dream Catcher" Returns Home with Trophy
For a former steel town, Cleveland is pretty tenderhearted. Among the more popular films screening last month at the 24th Annual Cleveland International Film Festival were Kevin Jordan's "Goats on Fire and Smiling Fish" about two sensitive brothers looking for love in L.A., Tom Gilroy's male bonding picture "Spring Forward," and "The Hand Behind the Mouse," Leslie Iwerks doc about one of Disney's first animators. Dave Ratzlow reports from Cleveland's fest, the Midwest Independent Filmmakers Conference and Ed Radtke's homecoming with his under appreciated gem, "The Dream Catcher."

(Nov 08, 1999) INTERVIEW: "Last Night," Don McKellar's Intimate Armageddon
Don McKellar is about as famous as you can get in Canada. Not only is he an Atom Egoyan regular ("The Adjuster," "Exotica"), but he appears frequently on Canadian TV and has written several film scripts from Bruce MacDonald's "Highway 61" to most recently Frian¨ois Girard's "The Red Violin." His impressive feature directorial debut is "Last Night," a perfect antidote to our cynical 90's and a character driven alternative to the effects-driven disaster pictures brought to us by Hollywood each year. indieWIRE talks with writer/director/actor McKellar about making mayhem for cheap, persevering in the face of annihilation, and directing yourself.

(Jul 27, 1999) INTERVIEW: Yugoslav Filmmakers Fight A Different War, Speaking with Goran Paskaljevic and Srdjan Dragojevic
"In my country, there are no happy endings," says Goran Paskaljevic, the acclaimed director of "Cabaret Balkan," one of three Yugoslav movies hitting American shores with a sobering vengeance this season. Next week, Srdjan Dragojevic's "The Wounds" opens in Boston, followed by the release of Emir Kusturica's long-awaited "Black Cat, White Cat" in the Fall. Serb filmmakers Paskaljevic and Dragojevic speak to indieWIRE about the troubles of filmmaking in their country, from producing without facilities, distributing despite censorship, casting teenagers with criminal records -- and the overriding hopelessness in the Balkans.

(Mar 03, 1999) What's the Deal with the New York International Independent Film and Video Fest?
More than a few filmmakers have contacted indieWIRE with this very question. Highly criticized in a Village Voice article in October 1997, the six-year-old NY International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF) looks to be unfazed, having completed its first tri-annual event of '99 this January. When filmmaker Will Lyman contacted indieWIRE after last Fall's event alleging check forgery, our investigation began. Anthony Kaufman and Dave Ratzlow report.

(Feb 04, 1999) "My Knees Were Jumping": Children Rescued from World War II
Dave Ratzlow interviews Melissa Hacker, director of compelling WWII documentary.

(Dec 02, 1998) Reel School Report, Part I: The Art of Collaboration
This fall, the Filmmaker's Collaborative offered a series of intimate seminars designed and instructed by independent filmmakers as part of a project called The Reel School. Reporter Dave Ratzlow attended "The Art of Collaboration: Relationships in Directing," sitting in on informative workshops with Brad Anderson, Lisa Cholodenko, Julie Lynch, Tom Noonan and Bennett Miller together with their collaborators.

(Dec 01, 1998) Thessaloniki, Part II: "Fishes" and "Bees" Take Home Grecian Urn of Cash
This year's 39th International Thessaloniki Film Festival once again proved itself to be one of the Mediterranean's most anticipated cultural and cinematic events. Reporter Dave Ratzlow runs down the winners, highlights the best of the Balkans, the worst of the Greeks, and the dominance of the American indie.

(Nov 20, 1998) In Thessaloniki, "Lola" Keeps Running, "Keg" Explodes, "Pi" Finds a Home
The 39th International Thessaloniki Film Festival opened last Friday in this Northern Greek city, with a hefty 150-film selection including the high-stakes Competition entries, films from the Balkans and Asia, and retrospectives of Peter Greenaway, Ken Loach and Akira Kurosawa. Reporter Dave Ratzlow surveys the race for the Alexander prize, the Greek films and Paramount Classic's little publicized Serbian acquisition.

(Sep 17, 1998) Ramin Niami Gets Stars and Songs for his debut "Somewherein the City"
Ramin Niami, the Iranian forty-two-year old director of "Somewhere inthe City," attracted an impressive cast of indie-bred actors andinternational stars as well as an equally impressive soundtrack andproduction design for such a low-budget film. Writer Dave Ratzlowspeaks with the debuting filmmaker.