(May 03, 2002) FESTIVAL:
Sexual Frenzies Onscreen and Off: Gen Art Raises The Bar In Its Seventh
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
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.