April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
Amazing performance by Thomas Hayden Church.
The movie opens on a very dark and blizzardy night in Northern Quebec, when a drunk man driving a small snowplow hits and kills a man standing in the middle of the road. The driver steals the man’s wallet and tries to dispose of the body by burying him under the snow. As his headlights begin to fade into the distance, you then see him go off-roading, recklessly driving until he finally crashes against a tree in the middle of nowhere. He wakes the next morning and begins to flashback to past events leading up to that fatal night. It is then that the viewer realizes that the driver knew the man he struck, and that it was probably intentional, and not an accident.
Bruce (Thomas Hayden Church), looks through the man’s wallet, his ID card, his cash, and begins to reflect back on their past conversations over beers in his house. Paul inquired about Bruce’s wife and Bruce shares that he is recently widowed, and that his wife died of cancer. Paul shared a story about his vacation in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and asks if he can crash on his couch for a few nights. The sense that this man has hit financial hard times is conveyed.
Meanwhile (in real time), the plow is stuck, is running out of gas, Bruce is cold and hungry, and is afraid to turn himself in. He practices what he would say to an officer when and if he does get caught or does decide to turn himself in.
An interesting dark comedy about a man trapped in his own igloo prison.
WINNER Best New Narrative Director at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013!
April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Welcome to Oceana, a town in West Virginia, United States, where the population was 1,394 at the 2010 census, and where a large majority work in the coal mines or sell and abuse the prescription pain killer, Oxycontin. In this small, rural town surrounded by the Appalachian mountains, locals state that it is a 45 minute drive to anything like a movie theater, mall, or bowling alley, and there is nothing to do. The people are bored. Locals confessed that 10-15 years ago they used to use light recreational drugs like pot or alcohol, but nowadays kids are slipping other kids Oxycontin, and everybody knows somebody who has OD’d and died. This once safe community that “was a great place to raise kids”, where no one locked their doors, is now faced with residents who are afraid to walk down the street alone, girls who sell their bodies for $5-$10, and frequent home break-in’s. They need to feed their addictions, or curb the withdrawal symptoms. The elders and Christians won’t agree to bring a methadone maintenance clinic to the town due to the stigma attached, and feel that a clinic is worse than the addiction itself.
The locals no longer trust anyone from the outside, as they have been taken advantage of one too many times by people looking to steal their land’s mineral rights, and the corporate big wigs who had instructed the doctors of their coal mining grandfathers, to keep them productive for as long as possible and prescribe them whatever they needed.
Watch as the documentarian, Sean Dunne, follows a local male, a pregnant woman, two young adult females, a man with cancer mets to the brain and his wife, and others as they walk you through their habits.
April 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Wow!” All you can say is ‘Wow!’ From 8,000 miles away, stationed in Afghanistan, US Army Private Adam Winfield, cried for help. He conversed with his father via facebook and told him that a few of the soldiers were killing innocent Afghan’s just for sport, or just for the fun of it, and that he finds it very offensive and immoral. His dad was trying to help from the US, leaving phone messages for “the right people”. His calls were never returned. He knew that if he told authorities what was going on, he could put his son in jeopardy. Photos began to surface of ringleader, Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, Jeremy Morlock, and Michael Wagnon smiling over the bodies of innocent civilians, and the person who opposed this behaviour the most, Adam, found himself relunctantly along side of them. Seemingly kind-hearted and too good for the Army, Adam, wanted to be deployed to Afghanistan, because he “thought he could do good and make a change, however, all that changed, when the army let him down, and his concept of military honor and integrity of what you expect a soldier to be like, was shattered. Adam explained how a few of the soldiers were bored, their deployment was not at all what they expected it to be like, so they set up innocent people, would place them next to weapons, hurt them, and claim that the civilians approached them first, and that they acted in self defense and their actions, legitimate. This posed a moral and ethical conundrum for Adam. He feared for his life, because if he didn’t go along with the bullies, and told on them, he could wind up hurt, as Sgt. Gibbs threatened, “snitches get stiches.” However, if he went along with the bullies, he could wind up in jail.
Was Adam held accountable for the actions of others that he disapproved of?
Did his whistleblowing result in his own demise?
Was he able to defend himself against the Government which he once fought for?
Although the outcomes of “the Team’s” trial are available on the internet, the documentary is a MUST SEE !!!
“The Rocket” WINNER of the World Narrative Competition and Best Actor at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013!
April 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
WINNER of the 12th Annual Tribeca Film Festival World Narrative Competition!!!
With over 10 years experience living and working in Far East Asia, Australian filmmaker Kim Mordaunt, demonstrates through the personal journey of a young, Laotian boy named “Ahlo” and Ahlo’s family and friends (in the story of the underdog), how present day Laos is rich in superstition, a war-torn past, economic corruption and development, heart, and hope.
When Mali, Ahlo’s beautiful mother, gives birth to Ahlo, she realizes she was carrying twins, however, one, “Little balls” is perfectly healthy, while the other is stillborn. Ahlo’s superstitious, Buddhist grandmother, believed that one of the twins is blessed, while the other cursed, and the baby could bring misfortune to the family. She wants Mali to kill the living child, while, naturally, the mother does not wish to do this. His mother and grandmother opt to keep Ahlo alive and decide not to tell anyone, especially his father, that he is, in fact, a twin.
Later on down the road, when Ahlo is a pre-teen, the family is told by Austral Laos Hydro Electric Energy Corporation that they will be constructing and filling in the upper catchment dams in their area, that their valley will be flooded, and their family will be uprooted from their village, offered a pay out, and be relocated to a better village that offers water and electricity. The grandmother is saddened that they have to leave their traditions behind, and when a catastrophic event occurs while they are “taking only what they need,” and relocating, she lets the cat out of the bag and screams, “Ahlo should have died like his twin brother. He is cursed.”
As they settle into their new village, Ahlo meets a young girl, Kia, and her alcoholic uncle, Yang Pao, or “Uncle Purple”, as he wears a purple suit, loves and resembles James Brown, and is a veteran, having served time in the military fighting wars. It does not take long for them to realize that the energy company has failed to keep their promises, are giving nothing back to “the little people,” and many are living in squallor, with no land to plant their symbolic mangoes, no water to drink, as it has not rained in days, and with no abundance of food to eat like in their old hometown.
When Ahlo hears about a rocket competition, where the grand prize is 10 million kip, he becomes creative and resourceful utilizing all of the life experiences from the land and his family and friends, to create a rocket that will lead them to a better home where he can finally plant the symbolic mango trees. Will he beat out last years Rocket Competition winner, with their entry named “The Million”? Will the gods be in his favour? Will the curse be lifted, so he won’t be hated any longer? MUST SEE!
Filmmaker, Director, and Screenwriter: Kim Mordaunt states,
“Multinational corporations need to be more ethical in their business relationships with Laos, and all of the developing world. Their compensation to traditional people and to the environment needs to be long-term. Traditional people, their histories, their stories are as precious as any and we have to help them not vanish into industrialization.”
Producer: Sylvia Wilczynski
Cinematographer: Andrew Commis
Sitthiphon Disamoe (Best Actor),
Loungnam Kaosainam, Thep Phongam, Bunsri Yindi, Sumrit Warin,
and Alice Keohavong
Article by Sharon Abella
“The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars” WINNER of the Best Short Narrative at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013!
April 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Il Turno di Notte lo Fanno le Stelle” or “The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars”
Winner of the Best Narrative Category at the 12th Annual Tribeca Film Festival!
“Who covered the nightshift to prevent the heart of the world from falling?”
Matteo, played by Enrico Lo Verso, walks out the front door of the hospital and is happy to be breathing fresh air. He glances over at a tall, middle -aged, beautiful blonde, who holds up a mountain climbing carabiner ring. Recently having undergone a heart transplant, receiving the heart from a young girl who was in a car accident, Matteo is thankful for his second chance on life, stating, “There is no greater gift than life with life.”
Sonja, played by Nastassja Kinski, was in the hospital at the same time as Matteo, for a diseased mitral valve, and underwent, a mitral valve replacement. Mitral valve replacement is performed when the valve becomes too tight (mitral valve stenosis) for blood to flow into the left ventricle, or too loose (mitral valve regurgitation) in which case blood can leak back into the left atrium and thereby back into the lung. Mitral valve disease can occur from infection, calcification, inherited collagen disease, or other causes.
While realizing that they both went through similar life changing surgeries, and that they both love to rock climb, Sonja made a promise to Matteo, that they will climb together. Sonja, who is already married to Mark (played by Julian Sands), taught her to climb, and feels threatened by Matteo, however, he allows the two to go climbing together in the Dolomites in Trentino, Italy.
While on route, Matteo talks to his new heart as if it were a real, live young girl in his presence, at one point in the film he explains, “I’m old enough to be the donor’s father, but I am like a son to her.” Meanwhile, Sonja needs closure to determine if her body still has what it takes to climb mountains. She takes her wedding band off during the adventure. The music begins to pulse to the sound of heart beats. Will their hearts remain strong enough to make it to the top safely? Will this test of time result in a love affair?
“Those two, holding each other by the Rhine Bank, could have been you or I, but we will never go walking along the river bank together again. Come walk with me, at least in this poem.” ~Izet Sarajlic
Film directed by Edoardo Ponti, Written by Erri De Luca, Produced by Silvia Bizio, Paola Porrini Bisson, Massimiliano Di Lodovico, Cinematographer, Ferran Paredes Rubio, starring Nastassja Kinski, Enrico LoVerso, Julian Sands, and Erri De Luca.
Article by Sharon Abella
Tribeca Film Festival 2013 MUST SEES! WINNERS of the Best Actress and Best Screenplay Categories at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013!
April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
Every film during the Pre-Festival screenings has been exceptional, however, many are under an embargo, and we are unable to write about them until after the premiere. I will, however, highlight a handful that are not under embargo.
The Broken Circle Breakdown: World Narrative Competition, (Belgium, Netherlands) WINNER OF THE 12th ANNUAL TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL, BEST ACTRESS: Veerle Baetens, and BEST SCREENPLAY, Carl Joos and Felix van Groeningen
Elise runs a tattoo parlor. Didier is a tall, bearded, country-living, singer and banjo player in a bluegrass band. The movie starts off showing them as a couple with a six year old daughter who is battling cancer and seeking treatment in the hospital. Throughout the course of the film, there are flashbacks as to how the couple met, fell in love, their wedding, her pregnancy, and other key events. While Elise is a religious Catholic, Didier is an atheist. When the religious, legal, moral and ethical questions of adult and embryonic stem cells appears in their lives, their relationship(s) and beliefs are put to the test.
Veerle Baetens – Singer
Johan Heldenbergh – Singer
Bjorn Eriksson – Singer and Guitar
Lennart Dauphin – Bass
Geert Waegeman – Violin and Mandolin
Nils De Caster – Violin, Mandolin and Singer
Hank Van Damme – Banjo, Guitar and Singer
David Buyle – Violin on “Sand Mountain”
Arno Kuypers – Guitar on “Sand Mountain”
Peter Pask – Acoustic Guitar on “Sand Mountain”
Geert Van Rampleberg – Extra Singer
Jan Bijvoet – Extra Singer
Robby Cleiren – Extra Singer
Bert Huysentruyt – Extra Singer
“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” – The BCB Band, originally AP Carter
“Mega Mindy Tijo” – Mega Mindy
“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” – The BCB Band, traditional
“Reuben’s Train” – The BCB Band, traditional
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – The BCB Band, originally Louigi Creatore/Solomon Linda/Hugo Peretti/George Weis
“Country in my Genes” – The BCB Band, originally Larry Cordle, Larry Shell, Betty Key
“Wayfaring Stranger” – The BCB Band, traditional
“Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby” – The BCB Band, originally Alan Lomax, T-Bone Burnett, Gillian Welch
“Cowboy Man” – The BCB Band, originally Lyle Lovett
“Over in the Glory Land” – The BCB Band, traditional
“Sand Mountain” – The BCB Band, originally Johnny Bellar
“Bruiloftsmars” – Jan Bijvoet and Robby Cleiren, originally Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
“If I Needed You” – The BCB Band, originally Townes Van Zandt
“Where the Soul of a Man Never Dies” – Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh
The Rocket: Australia, World Narrative Competition
Red Obsession: World Documentary Competition, (Australia)
Narrated by Russell Crowe.
What happens when the gold rush and silk road migrates East towards red grapes and fine wines as investments?
China has become France’s largest importer of exclusive Bordeaux wines including Lafite Rothschild 2008, as “China wants to be richer and more powerful,” “they want to please people”, “they never want to look back towards oppression,” are encouraged to work hard and shoot for the stars, they want to try new things and enjoy outside influences, and would like to make life better for future generations.”
What happens when your best customer turns into your biggest competitor?
In France, vineyards and cellars have been around for hundreds of years, and buyers have become complacent, while in China, wine is new and the silk road ready to connect them to the rest of the world. With over 270 billionaires living in the region, many want to impress their clients as the beverage is thought of as a status symbol which gives them position as they face the West. As this proud culture dreams of doing everything better than the rest of the world, China will soon be the world’s largest producer of wine. When conducting business there, remember, there are lots of conflicts when people think the system in China will work like the one in their own home country. It is China, and it runs differently with Chinese characteristics.
As Australian directors, how did you come to shoot a movie about the relationship between a French wine producing region and China? What was the starting point for RED OBSESSION?
It was serendipitous really – the genesis of the project happened on board a Qantas flight from Sydney to London. Andrew Caillard, a Master of Wine, happened to be on the flight and we struck up a conversation. We had met once before so he knew I was a filmmaker and a vigneron and I knew he was a Master of Wine – (there are fewer MWs in the world than there have been astronauts!). Andrew asked if I had ever thought about making a film about wine, which I hadn’t. As the hours passed on the flight, I became more and more intrigued by what he told me about Bordeaux, a region he knew intimately – prices had been skyrocketing over the past two years for one reason – China. In fact, despite the Global Financial Crisis, which decimated the US and UK markets for these rare and desirable wines, China’s economy had been powering, minting new millionaires at an incredible rate. I was hooked – what happens when the world’s most voracious consumer of luxury goods turns its attention to a rare and ethereal but strictly limited product? On top of that, the next vintage to be released, the 2010, was being mooted as the vintage of the Century. This could be the perfect storm of the wine world.
Was it difficult for you to gain access to the Châteaux in Bordeaux and talk to their owners and managers? Did they voluntarily open their ‘caves’ up to you?
Andrew’s connections in Bordeaux are second to none. MWs are respected as THE wine authorities in the world. They are welcomed and feted in Bordeaux. Andrew’s involvement there goes back many years and although most of the Chateaux were very wary after a few unpleasant experiences with documentary makers, they opened their gates to us, trusting in Andrew’s integrity. As often happens with documentaries that require filming over a long period (in our case we filmed in Bordeaux on and off over 12 months), trust is built over time.Your film follows the development of the Bordeaux vintages over more than two years. How much time did you spend working on the project overall?
After that initial meeting on the aeroplane, I called my long time creative partner, David Roach, then Andrew, David and I met over coffee to discus how we would move forward. I explained to Andrew that we would need 6 months to research, write and raise the budget and it was then that Andrew dropped the bombshell that we needed to be in Bordeaux in 4 weeks time ready to shoot. The reason? – Every year in early April, the Bordelais reveal their new wines to the world’s wine writers, critics and merchants for their assessment. Early rumours out of Bordeaux pointed to the likelihood that the 2010 vintage would be the greatest vintage in 100 years. If we missed that, we would miss a critical moment in the history of Bordeaux. So three weeks later we were on a plane and hit the ground running. That was April 2011 at the En Primeur campaign. We went back again in June to capture summer, then again in September to film the harvest of the 2011 vintage and again for En Primeur in April 2012, so we captured the whole cycle.
What is your relationship to wine – are you collectors, tasters, drinkers…
I (Warwick) am a vigneron myself, so I have the knowledge that any vigneron would have about growing and producing wine. This allowed me to feel very comfortable with the subject and the processes and to empathize to some degree with the growers in Bordeaux. I like a good drop also – and having spent 12 months with some of the world’s greatest Chateaux, the wines we experienced were breathtaking! I’m not really a collector or a taster – I’m a drinker.
You worked with several prominent figures in the international wine world, from Robert Parker to Francis Ford Coppola. What was the most impressive encounter you had during the entire journey?
I think I’ll have to split this answer: As a filmmaker, meeting, interviewing and sharing thoughts about films and film making with Francis Ford Coppola was an exceptional experience. I think I related to that encounter more than any other because we are both filmmakers and wine producers. I’m not sure why those two disciplines go hand in hand so well, but they do. He even spoke about the parallels between filmmaking and wine making which resonated with me.
Oz Clarke was another fascinating interviewee – his candour, insights and wonderful anecdotes (he was a West End actor at one stage) were gold!
Christian Moueix from Chateau Petrus was the most philosophical of our 82 interviewees. He is disarming, charismatic, an art lover and a poet. His descriptions of a bottle of wine being a ‘tweet’ which you send over the world, won us over. His candid assessment of Bordeaux’s hubris allowed us to form our ending.
Russell Crowe narrates the film – how did he become involved in the project?
Russell is a friend of my Executive Producer, Rob Coe. He also loves his wines! The themes of the film resonated with him immediately – Bordeaux and China. The challenge was to try and find some time in his ridiculously busy schedule. He was filming “Noah” in New York and was finishing “Les Miserables” at the same time. Hurricane Sandy, which caused so much misery for so many people, forced a sudden postponement in Russell’s schedule and allowed just enough time for him to record the narration for us.
Starting in Bordeaux, RED OBSESSION takes us on a journey to China, allowing the audience to discover the largely unknown world of chinese wine lovers, collectors and producers. How did you experience this discovery?
We were lucky enough to be taken to places in China we would never have been allowed access to – or even to have known about. Demei Li, China’s most recognized wine maker and a lecturer at Beijing University of Agriculture, suggested we accompany him to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in far western China, on the old Silk Road, where Chinese authorities are planting thousands of acres of vines. The stunning red deserts, camel trains and traditional Muslim communities were scenes reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia – a film-makers dream.
Getting access to billionaire collectors was even more tricky – Chinese society, particularly at the high end, can be very closed, especially to foreigners and it took many months for intermediaries to explain what we wanted to do and to eventually gain their trust to allow us film them in their environments. Once we had their confidence, nothing was too much trouble and we were often invited to stay after the interview and share a superb bottle of Bordeaux over a Chinese banquet.
The emergence of China as a buying power and a dominant force in the wine world has been so swift and so powerful as to represent a near paradigm shift. What questions does this raise about wine as a tradition and an art versus just a pure commodity?
This question is one we faced time and time again during the course of our filming. Ultimately when a product is viewed purely as a commodity, it tends to lose its soul. We discovered that the more valuable wine becomes, the more it’s treated as a pure commodity, attracting the avaricious world of commodity traders. Some clients will spend a million dollars on cases of expensive wine, only to store them in a warehouse somewhere, to be sold in the future when the price has doubled or trebled. The bottles of wine go unopened, even unseen by their owners. This is a pure business trade – about as far away from the passion and art of the vineyard as one can get. This trend emerged some years ago when prices of Bordeaux wines started rising so rapidly (faster than the Dow Jones, the FTSE and Gold) that they became the target of pure investors. The China effect of the past 3 or 4 years has only exacerbated this effect. Ironically, it’s western investors who are doing the investing, while the Chinese, who are driving the prices up through sheer buying power, are either drinking the wines, presenting them as gifts, or serving them to guests to show the esteem in which they are held.
As such, it could be argued that the Chinese are honouring the passion and art of the wines more than the western investors.
By now you must have tasted many great vintages with wine lovers both from Bordeaux and from China. Is there a great difference in how they taste, experience and ‘feel’ the wine itself?
Yes, there is a great difference. Whereas the traditional markets of the US, France, UK and Europe have been drinking wines for hundreds of years, the Chinese are still new to wine culture. Initially, this led to stories of the Chinese adding Coca-Cola to glasses of Chateau Lafite to make them palatable, as the taste of undiluted wine was so foreign. This practice, quite common until recently, has given way to a great desire to appreciate the wine for what it is. As such, it is not uncommon to see bus loads of Chinese visitors in Bordeaux, determined to educate themselves not just about the wine itself but about the intricacies of production methods and ‘terroir’ points of difference. The Chinese have found that the key to appreciating wine is to relate it to their tea culture. Both have a tannic structure – and tea has been part of Chinese meals for centuries.
The film provides a very balanced view of the Bordeaux/China phenomenon, with optimistic as well as more critical voices coming from both sides. Now that you know both of these worlds well, how do you see the future of wine – in China and in Bordeaux?
As the Chinese understanding of wine broadens, Bordeaux will become less of a focus and other regions such as Burgundy, the Rhone etc, not to mention Italy, Spain and South America will feel the surge in Chinese interest. Current predictions are that in 20 or 30 years, the entire world’s production will not be enough to satisfy the China market. This is recognised by the Chinese government, who are now planting tens of thousands of acres of vines each year to try to cope with future demand.
Bordeaux’s fortunes have always been tied to the fluctuations of world markets but with such a limited and finite resource, notwithstanding the broadening out of Chinese interest, there is only one direction the prices of Bordeaux’s finest wines will ultimately go – up.
What Richard Did: Viewpoints, (Ireland)
April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
Music, Time, and Love Heals All Wounds.
Music Heals All Wounds (Guitar Legends), Time Heals All Wounds (10 hours of Guitar Music over 2 nights), and Love Heals All Wounds (Eric Clapton’s Charity, “Crossroads Center”).
Eric Clapton’s fourth “Crossroads Guitar Festival” is a charity concert which brings some of the world’s most legendary guitarists and musicians together over the course of 2 nights, 10 hours, and one stage. Since its inception, Clapton’s vision for the Crossroads Guitar Festival has been to create an event where his friends and contemporaries can have fun and perform together for the benefit of a good cause. All proceeds from the Festival benefit “Crossroads Center”, an international treatment center, located on the Caribbean island of Antigua, that helps those with chemical dependency. It was founded by Eric Clapton, who has also battled and overcome alcoholism in his own life.
So if you like the sounds of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, “Green Onions”, and “Born Under a Bad Sign”, B.B. King’s, “Let the Good Times Roll”, Keith Urban and John Mayer singing “The Beatles” classic, “Don’t Let Me Down”, underrated legend -in-the making, Doyle Bramhall II’s, “Green Light Girl”, Buddy Guy’s, “Don’t Let That Doorknob Hit You”, Dan Aykroyd and Keb Mo paying tribute to Muddy Waters’ what would-have been 100th birthday this past April 4, 2013, Eric Clapton singing “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”, and The Allman Brothers Band and Taj Mahal singing “Statesboro Blues” and “Whipping Post”, then check out this event. More music greats again at MSG 4/13.
Friday, April 12
7:30-Eric Clapton Acoustic Set with Andy Fairweather-Low, Vince Gill
“Tears in Heaven”, “Lay Down Sally”, “Wonderful Tonight”
8:00-Booker T and Band with Steve Cropper, Blake Mills, Keb Mo, Matt Murphy, Albert Lee
8:30- Robert Cray and Band with Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr, Eric Clapton, and BB King
8:50- Sonny Landreth solo
9:00- Doyle Bramhall, Citizen Cope, and Gary Clark, Jr.
9:20 – Ernie Ball
9:40-Kurt Rosenwinkel with Allan Holdsworth, Eric Clapton
10:00-Gary Clark, Jr solo
10:15- John Mayer and Band with Keith Urban
10:40-Buddy Guy and Band with Robert Randolph, Quinn Sullivan
11:30-Allman Brothers with Taj Mahal, David Hidalgo, and Eric Clapton
Saturday Night, April 13
Keith Richards, “Sweet Little Rock N’ Roller”
Article by Sharon Abella