Monthly Archives: January, 2016

Sundance 2016 Winners

January 31st, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Sundance 2016 Winners”

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It’s Sunday and the awards were presented last night with a celebration afterward.  Given the difficulty of getting into this particular festival, the mere fact that the films were a part of Sundance automatically makes them winners. But in the end, the judges have the final say.  Here is the list of award winning films:

Audience Award: U.S. DOCUMENTARY

JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY, directed by Brian Oakes

Audience Award: U.S. DRAMATIC


NEXT Audience Award






U.S. Grand Jury Prize: DOCUMENTARY

WEINER, directed by Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman

U.S. Grand Jury Prize: DRAMATIC

THE BIRTH OF A NATION, directed by Nate Parker

Directing Award: U.S. DOCUMENTARY

LIFE, ANIMATED, directed by Roger Ross Williams

Directing Award: U.S. DRAMATIC

SWISS ARMY MAN, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award

AS YOU ARE, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance


U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance


Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. DRAMATIC

MORRIS FROM AMERICA, written by Chad Hartigan

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking

TRAPPED, directed by Dawn Porter

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing

NUTS! edited by Penny Lane and Thom Stylinski

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: DOCUMENTARY

SONITA, directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, directed by Ciro Guerra

For the full list of winners, go to:


"Honey Buddies" An Interview with the Filmmakers by Pamela Powell

January 31st, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “"Honey Buddies" An Interview with the Filmmakers by Pamela Powell”

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Flula Borg and Alex Simmons join me to talk about their outdoor comedy adventure HONEY BUDDIES which won the audience choice award at Slamdance 2016!

To watch the interview go HERE

Sundance 2016 Reel Talk Wrap Up by Pamela Powell

January 30th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Sundance 2016 Reel Talk Wrap Up by Pamela Powell”

Sundance 2016

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival is wrapping up this weekend. What is typically a quiet ski town of Park City, Utah, now is bursting at the seams with filmmakers, actors and fans from all over the world. It started in 1985 as an answer to a filmmaker’s need for a place to learn and has grown into one of the most prestigious and star-studded festivals in the country.

owenpainting_thumbnailTo read the article in its entirety as it appears in the Friday, January 29th edition of The Daily Journal go HERE

To watch a few more interviews from Sundance including James Redford from RESILIENCE and W. Kamau Bell from UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA, CNN’s new series, go to WATCH VIDEO HERE

'Honey Buddies' A Comedic Gem by Pamela Powell

January 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Honey Buddies' A Comedic Gem by Pamela Powell”


“Honey Buddies” premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, winning the Audience Choice Award.  It’s no doubt that this film is a crowd pleaser as it is a rare comedic gem.  This “bromance” adventure film stars David Giuntoli as David, a rising acting star that’s been jilted, and Flula Borg, the relentlessly up-beat and comically irritating best man.  Written by Alex Simmons and the two lead actors, “Honey Buddies” takes you on an historically hysterical walk in the woods.


An Interview with the Filmmakers

As the “Save the Date” Wedding postcard is going through the shredder and David is chugging his rose wine from the bottle, sitting on the floor of an empty apartment with the exception of camping equipment, we know life has taken an unexpected turn.    Flula  has flown in from Germany for the wedding that has been canceled and the two decide to go on the week-long honeymoon trip together.  This trip isn’t going to be a honeymoon for either of them!

The film parallels the adventure and lives of Louis and Clark.  OK.  That might be pushing it, but the narration of the embellished diary of William Clark during significant events of Flula and David’s expedition give this comedy adventure story a fun and interesting flare.  What can go wrong does.  And what can’t go wrong also does.  From encountering a conspiracy theorist (Brian T. Finney) who just might have eaten a few too many mushrooms that weren’t shitake, to having to navigate using the stars just like David’s historical heroes, these buddies create not only a new path for themselves, but tell a story that is innovative and genuinely funny.

honey2David Guintoli (David) captures the heartbroken young man with ease, yet he makes you laugh at his terribly sad situation.  We can all relate to David and his feelings.  We then watch his patience wax and wane with his German buddy and understand his reactions and emotions.  We are rooting for him the entire way.

Flula is simply brilliant in his performance.  The perfectly timed and nuanced comedy, both physically and verbally, create the most unusual character that you want to love and throttle at the same time.  He’s literal in his understanding of the English language, and confuses concepts and words which takes you off guard momentarily, only to make you laugh even more loudly when his quirky style of reasoning finally hits you.

David and Flula are an odd couple that balance each other perfectly; a yin-yang of buddies.  Their conversations, pranks, and baring of their souls is like riding a roller coaster; so thrilling that it brings tears of joy to your eyes.  Placing these two talented actors in themost beautiful area of the Columbia River Gorge just makes this film even more enjoyable.  The beauty of Oregon is unmatched as the cinematographer captures the lush and breathtaking scenery.  The waterfhoney cinematogalls and peacefulness of this area will make you want to find a “honey buddy” to take camping this summer.

“Honey Buddies” is an exceptionally funny and imaginative  film about love, friendship, and priorities.  This relatable and comedic film finds a way to harness each and every part of life.  With every step the David and Flula take, you’ll be craning your neck to look ahead, anticipating the next crazy and unexpected piece ofHoney1 life’s puzzle.  There’s only one thing missing:  The recipe for “Backpack Beer!”

4 Stars!



Sundance 2016: It's A Wrap by Pamela Powell

January 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Sundance 2016: It's A Wrap by Pamela Powell”


Check out the article about this year’s Sundance Film Festival as it appears in the Friday, January 29th edition of The Daily Journal here

"Dinner with Family" Insanely Funny by Pamela Powell

January 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “"Dinner with Family" Insanely Funny by Pamela Powell”

Dinner With Family

Jason Woliner and Brett Gelman sat down with me to talk about the making of their new short film DINNER WITH FAMILY which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Fesitval.  How dark, sick, and twisted can it be and where do they get their material? WATCH THE VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE  to find out!

HOW TO TELL YOU'RE A DOUCHEBAG Interview with the Stars

January 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “HOW TO TELL YOU'RE A DOUCHEBAG Interview with the Stars”



DeWanda Wise, Charles Brice, Pamela Powell

Charles Brice and DeWanda Wise join me during the Sundance Film Festival to talk about their new film HOW TO TELL YOU’RE A DOUCHEBAG.  Watch the short clip that will appear in The Daily Journal tomorrow as we highlight many wonderful films at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Watch a clip of the interview here: “Douchebag” Interview Clip

Watch for the full interview and review coming shortly!


Honey Buddies a favorite at Slamdance Film Festival 2016 with Pamela Powell

January 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Honey Buddies a favorite at Slamdance Film Festival 2016 with Pamela Powell”


I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with the filmmakers for one of my favorite Slamdance Film Festival movies, HONEY BUDDIES!  Flula Borg and Alex Simmons tell me all the behind the scenes “dirt” about making a camping movie.

To watch the short video, go to HONEY BUDDIES INTERVIEW


January 24th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “SUNDANCE and SLAMDANCE UPDATES”



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Sundance Day 1: Robert Redford Press Conference

January 22nd, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Sundance Day 1: Robert Redford Press Conference”



Lights!  Cameras!  Action!  The Sundance Film Festival is ready to roll as the opening day press conference with founder, Robert Redford, setting the tone at the Egyptian Theater in quaint downtown Park City, Utah.

Sean Means, a Salt Lake City film critic, moderated the much anticipated first day press conference to light the festival’s torch.  In attendance were John Cooper (Director), Keri Putnam (Executive Director) and Robert Redford, President and Founder of the 31 year old independent film festival, Sundance.  While Means gently tossed questions to his Sundance panel, it wasn’t until the target word “diversity” was mentioned that you could hear the press shift in their seats, and a few audible noises of appreciation for having this question asked.  Redford, as with most answers, kept it simple, straightforward, yet eloquent as he said, “If you’re independent, you’re automatically diverse.”  Putnam added that she felt that Sundance filmmakers are finally at “a seat at that [selection] table…to try to facilitate diversity” in the entertainment world.  All three Sundance representatives stated that this festival brings attention to areas that perhaps are overlooked such as women in film, but reiterated that what is essential most important is the story.  Redford emphasized that “the most important thing is the story…story-telling.”

Youth and how they will bring a new voice and diversity with it is also a focal point in film and Sundance.  Creating an encouraging environment to share this is key and the Ignite Program is just one such element used here to bring 18-25 year olds interested in films to the festival and to learn.  His recommendation wasn’t to go to film school and then make a movie.  He suggested that these young people “have some real life experiences.”  That’s what makes a good story.

In closing, Redord joked that the missionaries brought and  kept both he and Sundance Film Festival to Utah, but in all seriousness, Sundance is a Destination Festival.  What was begun as a domestic festival has now, through globalization, become “a cultural exchange,” said Redford.  The Sundance Film Festival, although has its roots here in Utah, is also reaching out to Hong Kong and London, bringing the American independent filmmakers’ voices abroad.  Diversity is exchanged through film as “borders are disolved,” Redford said.  But back to Utah,  Redford felt that Utah and Park City (and director John Cooper) “just make it wierd”—in a good way, of course.


Reel Talk's Web Series: "The Big Short"

January 20th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Reel Talk's Web Series: "The Big Short"”


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Christopher Tocke joins me on The Daily Journal’s Reel Talk web series to discuss THE BIG SHORT, one of my top films of 2015!  Christopher has read the book by Michael Lewis…see how he compares the book to the movie!

Watch the video here

'Mountain Men' A Comedic Uphill Climb by Pamela Powell

January 18th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Mountain Men' A Comedic Uphill Climb by Pamela Powell”



“Welcome to the not so great outdoors.”

“Mountain Men” is writtenand directed by Cameron Labine and stars his brother, Tyler Labine as Toph, a pot smoking (and dealing) unmotivated young man.  Chase Crawford is Cooper, Toph’s brother, as the apparently successful NYC lawyer.  Chase begrudgingly flies home to his long-forgotten quaint logging home town in the Pacific Northwest for their mother’s upcoming nuptials for the weekend.   As the two polar opposite siblings are reunited, they find themselves investigating  a  reported squatter residing in their presumably deceased father’s remote cabin in the woods.   They also find themselves on a journey of self-discovery as they also learn about each other…and try to survive in the brutal outdoors with few supplies.  This comedic adventure will have you in stitches as well as tears as the two try to survive.



Set in a small town and then in the beautiful snow covered wilderness, “Mountain Men” captures the essence of this life and the peacefulness that the remote forest has to offer.  Comedy is at the forefront from the start as we find Toph shopping at the Good Will store for an “outfit” to wear to his mother’s wedding.  He finds it and it’s a doozy!  It is difficult to determine which is more entertaining—Toph’s decisions or Cooper’s reactions to them.  This type of humor is interspersed throughout the film at just the right moments.

The characters of Toph and Cooper truly are opposites, but their interactions suggest something quite contrary to that.  As the story unfolds, we see where the similarities lie and how important they are.  The two are perhaps not who they initially appear to be and must find strength in who they truly are in order to get out of this mess.  And as Murphy’s Law seems to take hold, you laugh, but have pangs of guilt for doing so.


Cameron Labine finds the perfect balancing point between drama and comedy with the dialogue and situations.  The initially superficial and outwardly awkward conversations that occur between Toph and Cooper eventually become heartfelt and soulful, lending way for not only the two characters to grow, but for the viewer to really know them.  There’s a natural fluidity to the verbal exchanges that delves deeply into their background and shared common connections.

Labine and Crawford look so different, but their obvious connection immediately enable the viewer to believe they could be brothers.  They are so comfortable with each other that you feel that you are a fly on the wall, witnessing the events occur.  There is a bit of all of us in each of these characters so that you can empathize with them both.

“Mountain Men” is a creative and hilarious adventure film full of drama.  It’s a soul-searching type of film that keeps it light, finding just the right timing to bring in the realities of life.  With captivating cinematography and acting, this film hooks you form the beginning, and doesn’t let go until the bitter end.

3 1/2 Stars/8 Reels

Opening Friday, January 29th in the following theatres
New York | Village East Cinema
Los Angeles | Arena Cinema
Austin | Southwest Theatres
Boston | AMC Liberty Tree Mall
Denver | AMC Highlands Ranch
Chicago | AMC Streets of Woodfield
Detroit | AMC Southfield 
Seattle | ACM Cascade Mall
Minneapolis | Mall of America
Phoenix | Harkins Theatres


Diversity at Sundance 2016—It's Here! by Pamela Powell

January 10th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Diversity at Sundance 2016—It's Here! by Pamela Powell”

Catching Up one sheet high res for publication

Diversity in the film industry is a current topic of interest with Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival leading the way as this year’s fest boasts over 40% of the filmmakers to be women.  Diversity isn’t just including women in the film industry, though.  Ethnic diversity that is not stereotypical, and inclusion of people with disabilities also falls under the “diversity” topic.  The new short narrative film premiering at Sundance on January 24th  “Catching Up”  eloquently portrays diversity like you’ve never seen it before.  The producerJill Gray Savarese head shot, Jill Gray Savarese, talked with me about this film as well as her involvement with making the entertainment industry more diverse.


“Catching Up” addresses relationships, love, and sex as two young men sit in a restaurant discussing their wants, needs, desires, and dreams.  Although this could be any two young men discussing women, these men are physically disabled.  Savarese explained that “everybody’s looking for that first date and everyone has different obstacles to getting it.”  Frank (Bill Crossland) who has Muscular Dystrophy, passionately expresses his fears and longings in his love for an “able bodied” woman who happens to be their  waitress.  The film allows the viewers to see these men and their “issues from different angles,” Savarese explains.  She adds, “As an able bodied person, I had questions…you don’t want to ask questions that are stupid or offensive.”  The take away is the ability “…to understand and that brings us closer together…”

Savarese’s background is the perfect fit for bringing the disabled into various parts of the film industry.  As an advocate for people with disabilities, a sign language interpreter, actress, and currently CEO of the production company Gray Savarese Films, she seems naturally drawn to addressing diversity.  It’s “what I find interesting,” she says.  Crossland who is the writer, director, and lead actor pitched the film to Savarese.  It was a perfect fit.  Savarese feels that “…it’s important to hire people with disabilities that actually have them because the opportunities are so limited for them.”  Making a difference in lives through film is one very important goal.  “Hopefully, we can make a difference” by getting a “variety of people represented in films…”


“Catching Up” is an honest and open discussion between two long-time friends, sorting out their thoughts, dreams, and fears as they pertain to love, relationships, and sex.  The additional hurdle of physical handicaps opens up a conversation that is rarely heard.  The candid and sometimes harsh dialogue in the film allows us to see how similar we all are even when wCatching up still Bill and Erike may look different on the outside.  Their matter-of-fact verbal exchanges create awkwardness and humility that only two long-time friends could convey.  The tight script answers many questions, but it leaves you wanting to know more about what will happen in the near future; truly a cliff hanger!

Luckily, this short film is in the process of becoming a full-length feature film where our main character, Frank, (Crossland) delves more deeply into his situation.  Savarese describes it as “a lighthearted take on a serious issue.”  If Savarese has anything to do with it, we will find out if Frank…  Hey, I can’t tell you!   Keep checking back for information on how you can see this short film.  If you’re lucky enough to attend Sundance, be sure to put this short film on your list of films to see. For more information about “Catching Up” at Sundance, go to




"Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club" Delicious Entertainment by Pamela Powell

January 9th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “"Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club" Delicious Entertainment by Pamela Powell”



Imagine the possibility of walking back in time to the mid-1900’s and dining.  It would be a totally different experience than it is today.  No rushing through your meal, but actually dining.  It’s a bit of a bizarre concept to most of us these days who wolf down our food just to fill our gullet because our schedules are so packed.  But if you’re lucky to live in or near Wisconsin, you can travel through time just by getting in your car and driving to one of the numerous “Supper Clubs” ready to welcome you through their doors. What?  You  don’t know what a Supper Club is?  Don’t feel bad.  I didn’t either and I even went to one and turned around because I thought I needed a membership.  “Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club” is an artistic, educational, and entertaining film that will whet your dining appetite. (No membership needed!)



Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 3.55.50 PM“Old Fashioned” creates the simple yet enticing introduction complete with “motion graphics,” catchy  music, and stylized cartoons, as a narrator’s smooth and mellow voice enlightens us with the explanation of “the supper club.”  Broken into segments about the origins, history, and consistencies of supper clubs, the film invites you into the communal area, behind the scenes, and into the kitchen to give you a sampling of what makes a Supper Club different than any other dining experience.  The film beautifully augments our visual experience with the use of  old footage and stills as the voiceovers by journalists, historians, owners and patrons sate our intellectual appetite about this concept.



Let me give you a little taste of what’s in store for you at a supper club as the filmmakers describe it.  Imagine going to a restaurant where that is your sole entertainment for the night.  It’s a relaxed environment beginning with cocktails, frequently a brandy Old-Fashioned, as you converse with the regulars who are also sipping their favorite aperitif.  Sauntering to your table covered in a white cloth and linen napkins, there’s more conversation with neighboring tables.  There’s also a buzz in the air with the staff, owner of these family-run places, and patrons all catching up and being introduced to new friends.  It feels like home…but better.  There’s no rush to order as the relish tray is presented while you peruse the limited menu.  But “limited” isn’t a bad thing in this case because all of these supper clubs use only the freshest ingredients, taking no short cuts.  It’s real cooking.  No packages.  Just real flavor from local farms when possible.  It takes time, but cooking is an art and art can’t be rushed.  The patrons can then savor the simple yet delectable creations. In addition, the entertainment can be the setting or even a band and dancing.   The evening concludes with more conversation with new and old friends and perhaps an after dinner drink.  It’s a dining experience, not just eating.

“Old Fashioned” takes us back in time to discover a unique and currently thriving Wisconsin treasure—the supper club.  We meet the people behind the success of this concept, learn about the origins, and are reintroduced to a possibly forgotten way to dine and socialize.  In a day and age where everything to eat is processed and comes from a box, while we look at our e-mails on our phones, perhaps we should instead all jump in our cars and travel to a state (and a state of mind) that hasn’t forgotten how to enjoy dining.  “Old Fashioned” is a scrumptious documentary that will awaken your tastebuds and educate you on the importance of dining.

See this film on Jan. 23 and Jan 28, 2016 at The Siskel Film Center!  For more information go HERE  The filmmaker will be at these screenings for a Question & Answer session.  You won’t want to miss it!

For more information about this film, go to


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"Roller Coaster" times the highs and the lows perfectly by Pamela Powell

January 8th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “"Roller Coaster" times the highs and the lows perfectly by Pamela Powell”



Bradley Hawkins, filmmaker

Life truly is a roller coaster ride and there’s no better example of this than the short film “Roller Coaster” by Bradley Hawkins.  As a struggling young actress attempts to find her way into the competitive and discouraging world of film auditions, she is on the ride of her life; full of stomach-dropping plummets  as on one particular day, everything that can go wrong, does.  This beautifully executed film takes us on a visual journey of determination  in the life of an actor, but Murphy’s Law seems to be the other major character in the film.


Creating a short film in many ways is even more challenging than a feature film as you have to convey an entertaining and detailed story in a fraction of the time.  “Roller Coaster” immediately rises to the challenge as we see a replica of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree complete wrollerith a single red ornament straining a tender young branch which sets the tone for how this young woman’s life has gone so far. Initially, we find the young actress, Emily (Hawkins) panicking as she oversleeps for an audition.  (Who can’t relate to that?) She then frantically gets dressed, dons make up, and then her car won’t start.  The day spirals downward with a myriad number of other frustrating and realistic problems.  We are right there with her, not judging, but empathizing,  as she has a bit of a temper tantrum behind the wheel of her parked car.   Her ever-increasing level of frustration keeps us glued to her reactions, thinking we know where this day is going.  The situations she finds herself dealing with are ironic, memorable, and simply priceless.  “Roller Coaster” however, is anything but predictable.  We relate, but trust me, we cannot see what lies around the next bend or the final destination.  Life is full of surprises and so is “Roller Coaster!”

Humor is also an integral part of this film, eroller1ven as it focuses upon the bad luck at every turn in Emily’s day, “Roller Coaster” is hilarious.  We have the stereotypical  voluptuous blondes who look down their noses at this sweet All-American looking girl and their  synchronized hair flip had me in stitches!  With impeccably timed cuts, superb attention to detail, and creative edits, we have a wonderfully entertaining film and story.

Ms. Hawkins shines as the lead in this film conveying every moment of her frustrating day with few words, but an array of expressions and body language allowing the viewers to have no question as to how she is feeling.  The physical acting of the supporting cast members succinctly and skillfully supplements the story-line.

“Roller Coaster” is a relatable, comedic, and totally satisfying film giving you the same sensation as when the ride ends at the amusement park.  It’s exhilaratingly fun!

2015's Favorite Films (and Dogs) on Reel Talk with Pamela Powell

January 7th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “2015's Favorite Films (and Dogs) on Reel Talk with Pamela Powell”


The best films in several categories, including indie gems, documentaries, and mainstream blockbusters, are highlighted in this unique episode of Reel Talk.  There are a few surprising “dogs” as well!

To watch the short episode, click HERE

CONCUSSION reviewed by Neurosurgeon, Dr. Juan Jimenez on Reel Talk's Web Series

January 3rd, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “CONCUSSION reviewed by Neurosurgeon, Dr. Juan Jimenez on Reel Talk's Web Series”

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Dr. Juan Jimenez, Neurosurgeon at Riverside Medical Center, sits down and discusses the validity and credibility of Will Smith’s new film, “Concussion.”  What he says just might surprise you!

Watch the short video HERE



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