Monthly Archives: January, 2017

"What Lies Upstream" An interview with filmmaker Cullen Hoback by Pamela Powell

January 31st, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “"What Lies Upstream" An interview with filmmaker Cullen Hoback by Pamela Powell”
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Cullen Hoback, filmmaker

Safe drinking water should be a given—for all.  But it’s not.  Not even in the United States.  Filmmaker Cullen Hoback takes us on a disturbing journey of discovery in his new film “What Lies Upstream” which premiered at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival.  Hoback sat down with me to talk about the making of the film, what was most shocking to him, and how he has changed his thoughts and actions after directly witnessing the effects of the chemicals dumped into a small town in West Virginia’s drinking water.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE

“What Lies Upstream” is a riveting and shocking film about the safety of our water.  Documentaries like this give viewers an opportunity to not only learn, but also empowers us to make changes and protect ourselves.

Check back for a full review of the film soon.

"The Polka King" Dances to the beat of a different drum By Pamela Powell

January 29th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"The Polka King" Dances to the beat of a different drum By Pamela Powell”

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“Truth is stranger than fiction,” producer David Permut said about the new film “The Polka King” starring Jack Black, Jenny Slate, and Jackie Weaver.  And he’s absolutely correct.  In the 1990’s, a well-meaning, hard-working immigrant from Poland, barely making ends meet, devises an investment scheme that makes him millions.  The problem?  It’s a Ponzi scheme…A Polish Ponzi scheme.  The first of its kind and probably the last.

Jan Lewan (Black), living in Pennsylvania, with his wife (Slate) and astute yet meaner than a junkyard dog mother-in-law (Weaver), wants nothing more than to make a living and play music to Polka lovers everywhere.  The cost of doing this is greater than he can afford and more than his tchotchke gift store can fund.  So he takes on a few investors in his “company,” eventually swindling trusting elderly members of the community out of approximately $5 million.  If he sounds like a low-life criminal, you’d be wrong.  This guy, as Black portrays him which according to the documentary “The Man Who Would Be Polka King,” (Documentary Trailer Here)  is anything but that.  He’s sweet and devoid of malice.  He puts his family first…even that mother-in-law of his.  The film takes us through the years of Lewan’s misdeeds, giving us an absolutely charming and hilarious look at a man who digs a deeper and deeper hole until there’s seemingly no escape.  His escape, however, is even more hysterical!  There is no way anyone could make this stuff up…truth is truly stranger than fiction.

The husband wife team of Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (“Infinitely Polar Bear”), create and direct one of the most unusual and entertaining comedies of the last few years. There’s not a dull moment in the film as we watch Lewan and his family’s life unfold.  Reportedly, Black, who jumped on this ship before Forbes and Wolodarsky had a single word written, had a hand in bringing Lewan to life on the screen.  This combination of writing talent is the jackpot.

The role of Jan Lewan was made for Black.  After his portrayal of “Bernie” in the film of the same name, Black seems to have a knack for playing unassuming criminals with no malice.  His sense of comedic timing and physical comedy augments his situations with sublime simplicity.  Slate finds a certain rhythm in her role as Lewan’s focused wife, making this odd couple one of the most unusual and entertaining duos to hit the screen.  It’s difficult to think that anyone could be more well-suited to a role than Black as Lewan, but Weaver is simply stellar.  She embodies the all-knowing, suspicious, Mrs. Kravitz-gone-bad relative, never trusting that son-in-law.  She’s scary and hilarious all wrapped into one.

“The Polka King” is 95 minutes of complete entertainment, full of unexpected twists in turns that only real life could provide.  It’s a roller coaster of a ride that you don’t want to end that somehow creates sympathy for a sweet man who happens to be a swindler as well.  When you’re not laughing, your jaw is dropped as you just can’t believe what you’re seeing.  And seeing is believing as this is a true story; albeit one that has the comedic genius of Jack Black behind it.

For more about this film, go to an interview with producer David Permut

RUBBER HEART: An interview with the filmmaker, Lizzy Sanford

January 27th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “RUBBER HEART: An interview with the filmmaker, Lizzy Sanford”

 

RH“Rubber Heart” is one of the many wonderful short films premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festivals.  This dark comedy shows a women’s perspective on life, sex, and vulnerability.  Lizzy Sanford co-wrote this very open and revealing film with Anna Cordell who also stars in “Rubber Heart.”   Sanford, who directed the film, took time out of her day to talk with me about the meaning behind the film.  Check out the link below to hear what she has to say about how pornography has influenced our sexual perceptions and what our expectations are when we are single.

LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE

 

2017 Sundance Highlights by Pamela Powell

January 27th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals 0 thoughts on “2017 Sundance Highlights by Pamela Powell”

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Thirty-three years ago, renowned actor Robert Redford created what would become one of the premier film festivals in the U.S., if not the world — the Sundance Film Festival. Taking place in the sleepy little ski town of Park City, Utah, the town wakes up with the convergence of tens of thousands of people, many of whom are big-name Hollywood actors like Jack Black, as well as entertainers such as John Legend.

While films are the focus, there are plenty of other things to keep you busy, such as special awards events, parties and panel discussions. I watched a lot of films, and here are several recommendations to put on your radar for the coming year. Without further ado, here are the best from the fest!

To read the rest of the article as it appears in today’s edition of The Daily Journal, go to daily-journal.com

THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES: An interview with filmmaker Jared P. Scott by Pamela Powell

January 27th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES: An interview with filmmaker Jared P. Scott by Pamela Powell”

 

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Climate change is much more of a threat to our lives than we may have initially understood.  “The Age of Consequences” by filmmaker Jared P. Scott, directly addresses how climate change is “an accelerant of instability or conflict.”  Using footage of conflict in areas such as Syria, graphic art, and interviews with high level military personnel creates a very clear picture of what climate change means in terms of world peace.  The film succinctly deconstructs how our environment with ever-increasingly more harsh conditions create climate change refugees and social instability and famine to name just a couple. These  situations promote or allow organizations such as ISIS to take advantage and increase in strength.  What will our military do?  How is the U.S. going to act or react?  Will we continue to be a world leader?  These are all questions that this film delves into deeply, allowing you to learn and to probe further into your current knowledge base.

Before the inauguration, I had the opportunity to talk with Scott about making this film.  Scott talks about the upcoming Trump administration and where we are headed.  While it clearly paints a rather gloomy picture, Scott gives us his wisdom and with that wisdom, there is hope.  The link to the interview is available to stream now.

WATCH THE TRAILER

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW with Jared P. Scott here

To find out how you can see the film, go to www.theageofconsequences.com/screenings/

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Sundance's "Walking Out" cinematographer Todd McMullen talks about the making of this chillingly dramatic film By Pamela Powell

January 26th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “Sundance's "Walking Out" cinematographer Todd McMullen talks about the making of this chillingly dramatic film By Pamela Powell”

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WALKING OUT, starring Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins, opened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.  This beautifully dramatic film, addressing father-son relationships and how we cope in extreme environments and situations is one of the top films at Sundance this year.  It’s also, along with Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River,” one of the most chilling…literally.  I had the opportunity to interview the cinematographer, Todd McMullen about what it takes to film in the extreme cold and remote areas of Montana.  The film is as much about the environment as it is the characters dealing with it.  McMucllen and his team capture it in the most extraordinary way. To listen to the interview, go to www.archive.orgWalking Out Snow

"Pet Fooled" opens owners' eyes about big names in pet food By Pamela Powell

January 25th, 2017 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “"Pet Fooled" opens owners' eyes about big names in pet food By Pamela Powell”

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It’s tricky — with all the clever and beautiful marketing and packaging strategies — to really know if what we are feeding our beloved buddies is good for them. It might even be potentially lethal.

 

“Pet Fooled,” a new documentary directed by Kohl Harrington, lets the proverbial cat out of the bag when it comes to finding out what’s actually in dog and cat food. Harrington breaks down the facade, revealing what the major pet food companies really are selling us. Shockingly, their pocketbook seems to be more important than Fido or Skipper’s well-being.

 

The film features former Bourbonnais resident and wellness veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, who opened Natural Pet Animal Hospital in Bourbonnais in 2005. Becker sold the hospital in 2013, but still works at the clinic. She also is a writer and lecturer, splitting time between Chicago, Arizona and Canada.

To read the article in its entirety, go to www.daily-journal.com

"Hold On" An interview with Christine Turner, filmmaker

January 25th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “"Hold On" An interview with Christine Turner, filmmaker”

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“Hold On” premiered and continues to screen at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a part of the Short Film Program 4.  Writer and director Christine Turner tackles the communication divide not only between the generations, but between a young man and his elderly grandmother who suffers from dementia.  The film stars the up and coming actor Jimmie Jeter and the fashion activist Bethann Hardison.  “Hold On” is a film that will certainly resonate with viewers of any age and just might open your eyes to your own interaction with family members.

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I had a chance to talk with Turner, a filmmaker with a documentary background, who finds that although this is a fictional tale, it brings light to this real social issue within our society.  Here’s what she had to say:

 

Reel Honest Reviews (RHR):  What inspired you to create “Hold On?”

 

Christine Turner (CT): I was very much inspired by my experience as a hospice volunteer here in NY.  Over the course of about a year and a half I came to know an elderly woman who suffered from dementia. It was really my experience and serving as a caregiver that inspired me to make this film.

 

RHR:  Tell me about your time with this woman.

 

CT:  I visited her once a week for an hour at a time so it was very limited, but in that small window, over a considerable amount of time, I did start see and start to observe some of the effects that Alzheimer’s has on individuals and their families.  I was touched by her and discovered that I had to adjust to her way of being.  The storyline and characters are fictional [in the film], but there are moments in there that are true to life.  I think it will be familiar to a lot of people whether they have a parent or grandparent suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s

 

RHR:  Your film brings to light how much our cell phones interfere with everyday communication, not just with someone who has dementia, but with everyone.

 

CT:  I’m technically a Millennial, but also a Luddite in some ways as I have trouble communicating with my own friends and my own family because of cell phones.  One of the things in the film that I wanted to explore is the generational difference.  On the one hand you have this young man and he uses the language of Twitter, Instagram and Tinder and you have this grandmother that is 50 years older.  Not only is she of a different generation, but she also suffers from dementia and no longer is able to express herself verbally…at least until the very end of the film when he sings that song to her.

 

RHR:  Tell me about casting Bethann Hardison in this role.  Her background is quite extraordinary.

 

CT:  I came to learn about her through her activism and advocacy in the fashion world.  She has advocated for several decades now for the inclusion of women of color and African American women on the runways.  And she herself broke barriers in the 1970’s as a runway model.  She’s very much an icon in the fashion world.  I was thinking about who I would want to play this woman, take on this non-speaking role and she was one of the first people that came to mind, but I didn’t know if she acted or was interested in acting. I reached out to her [and] we clicked immediately on the phone.  She invited me over to her apartment in NY and we talked about the film and we talked about life. I think she was intrigued about the challenge of the role and taking on a new experience in life. I’m certainly honored that she wanted to participate in the film.  I think she has a presence not only as a model, but as a human being.  She has this very radiant, warm quality to her and I thought she’d be right for the role.

 

RHR:  In 9 short minutes, your film and the actors give us such emotions: loneliness, frustration, anger, humiliation and such a need for interaction.  How do you do this in such a short time?

 

CT:  As a filmmaker, I’m always trying to say as much as possible in the least amount of time.  I hope the film resonates beyond its 9 minutes.  It’s also about being able to say things without being able to say them because she is unable to speak.  It does become all about the gestures and the nonverbal communication that happens between them or doesn’t happen between them.  The film is all about these subtle misunderstandings.  Troy is not attuned to her needs so he misses a lot of clues.  Ones to you and I might be obvious, but to him he doesn’t see that. And part of that is because he is wrapped up in his phone and he’s distracted and multitasking.  We see him struggle with that.  And then we see, in his own way, him attempt to connect with her.

 

RHR:  Jimmy is a perfect representation of the Millenial.  How did you find him?

 

CT:  Jimmy is a recent graduate of Juliard.  2 weeks prior to graduating, he came in for an audition.  He was the first person we saw and auditioned for the role.  I knew immediately he was going to be our Troy.  He could not be more unlike Troy.  He is an incredibly warm, and thoughtful and perceptive human being.  Initially he had played Troy in that manner.  When I asked him to do an adjustment in the audition, he was able to take it the complete opposite direction so I  knew immediately that he had incredible range.

 

RHR:  Where does the song at the end come from?

 

CT:  The film is heavily scripted, but I had not identified specifically what the song would be at the end of the film.  I just called it a lullaby. Jimmy and I talked about it on the phone…I asked him if he would bring in some ideas in rehearsal.  He came up with about 5 different songs, a mixture of lullabies and African American spirituals.  He grew up in the church and so the idea of the spiritual really resonated with him as well as with me.  In the end, he proposed the very song ‘Hold On Just A Little Bit Longer” which the film closes with.  The three of us all agreed that was the most fitting.  And of course I retitled the film to reference that song…It was very collaborative [which] made it really fun.

 

RHR:  What message do you hope this film will send home with the viewer?

 

CT:  Some feeling of understanding what that feels like whether you’re standing in the shoes of Troy or the grandmother…that feeling of recognition; not being alone in that experience.  I think it would be wonderful if it opened a conversation amongst family members about these challenges.  In some ways the film is really about everyday ordinary experiences, caring for ones’ parents or grandparents.  I hope it’s something that resonates with people [and] prompts them to think and communicate better.

 

“Hold On” can be seen tomorrow, Thursday, January 26 at 4 pm at the Holiday Village Cinema as a part of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival’s Short Program 4.  www.sundance.org/projects/hold-on

 

 

 

"Kate Can’t Swim" A Standout at Slamdance by Pamela Powell

January 23rd, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"Kate Can’t Swim" A Standout at Slamdance by Pamela Powell”

 

“Kate Can’t Swim” a feature film at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, is co-written by Josh Helman and Jennifer Allcott.  Helman also directs and stars alongside Allcott, Celeste Arias, and Grayson DeJesus.  This first-time director and writing pair gives us a striking, complex and provocative film that brings relationships and sexuality issues into clear and sometimes harsh view.

Kate (Arias) and Pete (DeJesus) seem the happy, young couple, living the life in NYC.  When Kate’s best friend from childhood, Em (Allcott) returns from living abroad with her new beau by her side, Kate finds extreme difficulty in accepting Em’s very different choice. Nick (Helman) is an extremely successful photographer,  but Kate also questions him about his subject choices and moral boundaries.  In an effort to get to know one another better, Nick and Em invite Kate and Pete to a remote lake house in Upstate New York.  This peaceful backdrop promotes anything but peace amoung the group, giving way to a dramatic weekend for everyone.

“Kate Can’t Swim” is a visually striking film that cinematically captures the atmosphere even when the story and the environment are in complete opposition.  Cinematographer Tommy Agriodimas brings you into the cabin, making you the 5th guest.  You witness the unraveling, the questioning, and the evisceration of emotions.  Helman and Allcott’s  script is succinct with tight dialogue and pacing that runs parallel to the emotion of the scene.  And the dialogue is simply daring and bold, yet still maintaining a sense of reality.

The story tackles the concept of love, sexuality, fear of the future, relationships of many types, and expectations within our society as well as within ourselves which sounds like a lot, but it is never overwhelming.  With the story-line focused upon Kate, the supporting cast adds their story, augmenting the main focus beautifully.

This is a phenomenal ensemble cast.  There is a natural chemistry between not only the two couples, but between Arias and Allcott.  Their gestures and unforced laughter creates a feeling of truly having grown up together.  Arias has a standout performance, skillfully portraying a very complicated character.     While we may not always agree with her decisions, we understand them as we observe them and feel her pain and internal conflict. Her character development,  a testament not only to the writing and directing, but to Arias’ skills, unfolds beautifully.  Helman finds a way to express such subtle nuances in his performance, creating a very intimidating person in one moment, and in the next a very insightful and caring one.  It is this subtly in each actor that brings a level of genuiness to the entire story.  This cohesive group could easily be any one of us in our 20’s or 30’s.

“Kate Can’t Swim” is a standout film this year.  With skillful direction, creatively honed writing, beautiful cinematography, and an amazing cast, the film is one not to be missed.

Check out the interview I had with Josh and Jennifer RIGHT HERE

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KILLING GROUND creates old-fashioned tension in the horror genre By Pamela Powell

January 23rd, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “KILLING GROUND creates old-fashioned tension in the horror genre By Pamela Powell”

 

 

“Killing Ground” is the first feature film from the Australian filmmaker Damien Power.  As a sweet, young, and in-love couple decides to get-away for the weekend to camp in the wild, they notice a tent not far from their area.  After quite some time, the inhabitants are nowhere to be seen.  Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) begin to investigate, but after finding a toddler wandering nearby, their greatest fears don’t begin to compare to the horror that lies ahead.

This is not your classic horror film.  It’s clever and unpredictable using perfect timing of situations and clues to lead you on this “treasure hunt.”  Immediately, you have a sense of dread which is contrary to the sweetness that exudes from this couple.  The intensity is off the charts, but it is the thought-provoking puzzle that makes this a wonderfully creative spin on the classic horror in the woods.

Power sets up all the right situations, pulling you into the story and making you jump and scream out loud as he catches you off guard. Balancing deeply disturbing situations with smart writing that makes you think is a work of art.

If you loved “Don’t Breathe,” you’re going to love this intense psychological thriller that will cut you to your core.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Damien Power, Maya Stange, and Aaron Glenane to talk about the terrifying premise, the unusual storytelling technique, and what it was like to play these disturbing characters.

LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE

 

"Dawn of the Deaf" An unusal spin on this classic horror film now showing at Sundance!

January 21st, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"Dawn of the Deaf" An unusal spin on this classic horror film now showing at Sundance!”

The horror film genre seems to be exploding, but finding a unique spin on the genre is a difficult task.  Rob Savage, director of “Dawn of the Deaf” has found just that much sought after unusual view as an inexplicable apocalypse hits a community which creates zombies of all those affected.  Now that’s unusual, wouldn’t you agree?

We meet a young adult who is hearing impaired, communicating soley through the use of sign language.  There’s a certain sadness deep within her eyes that we can feel, but we initially attribute it to the fact that she can’t communicate like the rest of us.  Nothing could be further from the truth and there is no way that you would even begin to imagine the truth behind her eyes.

This short film is amazingly captivating and creative, taking the viewer on a roller coaster ride of emotions; from sadness and pity, to empathy and understanding, but within the last several minutes of the film, the emotions are utter rage and horror.

The story is quite complex to say the least, with several unexpected layers within the story not to mention a few twists and turns.  And here is another unusual twist—several of the cast members are truly hearing impaired or deaf.  In many ways, this film is a blended language film which will be thoroughly enjoyed by any horror film lover, hearing or deaf.  And trust me, you’ll see this particular group in a new light thanks to this movie!

As with many short films, it has the ability to communicate so much in such a limited time frame.  And again, with wonderful short films, it leaves us wanting more.  Each relationship we see, the father-daughter, the mother-daughter, and the two friends, have so much more to share with us.  Perhaps a full-length feature is in this film’s horizon?

Catch this film at Sundance!

"Beat Beat Heart" A Slamdance Pleaser by Pamela Powell

January 21st, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"Beat Beat Heart" A Slamdance Pleaser by Pamela Powell”

 

“Beat Beat Heart” comes to the Slamdance Film Festival by way of Germany from writer and director Luise Brinkmann.  Kerstin (Lana Cooper) lives in an idyllic area as we find her enjoying a lovely day with her significant other.  Things aren’t always as they seem as we find that we are lost with  Kerstin in her memories.  She is heartbroken and trying to put her life back in order to accomplish her goal: to renovate an old playhouse into a movie theater.

While this may seem an ordinary tale, the supporting cast of characters add a very unique perspective with their own inherent stories.  We meet Kerstin’s roommate who is rather overtly promiscuous to say the least.  And then, drum roll please, we meet her mother who apparently is coming to stay with her, unexpectedly, for an indeterminate period of time.  It’s obvious there is discomfort between the two, but they are experiencing similar traumatic experiences of the heart.  The way they deal with it is just as polar opposite as the two women.

“Beat Beat Heart” in some ways feels very surreal as we are taken back to Kerstin’s memories.  The stylized cinematography is gorgeous as it transports us back and forth between reality and the past.  The generally unspoken difficulties in a mother-daughter relationship are still unspoken, yet are boldly portrayed for us to see.  There’s jealousy that is very unintentional, but felt, with Kersstin watching her mother recover in her own way.  And we also see that deadly sin rear its ugly head when her mother and roomate become friends.  While this is a drama, there are truly laugh out loud moments as her mother  attempts to use Finder (Tinder) and how this is portrayed as it is explained.  Imagine a forest of trees and those trees are all men…I’ll let your imagination take it from there.

Lana is simply beautiful to watch on the screen as she gracefully glides through each scene.  But it is her very subtle expressions and slight facial movements and eye gazes that create a genuine and real character.  We know exactly what she is thinking when her mother comes to visit without her saying a word.  Although what she actual does say is simply hysterical!  (Note to self:  Do not show up on my daughter’s doorstep with a lot of luggage in tow.)  And we know how her heart longs for the touch of her love and the feel of his lips.  We find hope in her eyes when she’s drawn to another, but her personality may not allow her to truly heal.  And then we have Saskia Vester’s portrayal of Kerstin’s mom.  As a mother, I could truly relate to much of what she said and felt as she spoke with her daughter.  The dialogue between the two could not have been more natural or real.  Then the risque and truly funny roommate  beautifully balanced the emotionally heavy parts of the film.

“Beat Beat Heart” is an unusual love story focusing upon the heart and dreams of three different women.  It’s engaging story filmed with gorgeous style draws you closer to the characters as you relate to them all in some way. Finding humor within our lives is the reality of this film while affirming our own life’s choices and the consequences.

You can see “Beat Beat Heart” at the Slamdance Film Festival.  For more information, go to www.slamdance.comimage

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Sundance Day 1 Highlights by Pamela Powell

January 20th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Sundance Day 1 Highlights by Pamela Powell”

The Sundance Film Festival is well underway as opening night is officially over.  6 full-length feature films were shown and RHR has a capsule review for 3 of them.

POP AYE:  As a middle-aged man whose personal and professional life is waning, he stumbles upon an elephant in captivity who he recognizes as a childhood family pet.  He sets out on an adventure with Pop Aye to return him to his homeland.  It’s  a journey of self-discovery filled with humor and bumps in the road.  The unique individuals he encounters add such emotional beauty, driving the story forward.  This coming-of-age (middle-age, that is) film, gorgeously shot, depicts a certain human quality that we can all relate to.  Think about it as a grown-ups version of a boy and his dog…substitute “man” and “elephant” and you’ve got the concept.

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL:  Former Vice President Al Gore gives us a follow up film to the original “An Inconvenient Truth,” made 10 years ago.  This newest film depicts the rapid progression of the detrimental effects of global warming and the path that we are on.  While most documentaries that tackle this topic are all doom and gloom, “An Inconvenient Sequel” is inspiring as we learn about the technological advances in renewable energy and how the entire world and its leaders are not only recognizing the problem, but addressing it.  Where the doom comes in is how the U.S. is failing in leading the world in helping to solve this global issue.  Mr. Gore takes us on his journey to Paris to the summit where it came down to the ingenuity of his problem solving skills and his ability to work together with others for a greater good.  To say he is passionate is not a strong enough word.  He is truly inspiring and if he can help convince the leader of India to reconsider, perhaps he can convince the U.S. nay-sayers as well.

THE LITTLE HOURS:  The cast including Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Allison Brie, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, and Molly Shannon would make anyone go see this movie about three nuns placed in a situation of temptation.  Unfortunately, the plot never really got anywhere although there were plenty of laugh out loud moments.  Overall, a bit of a disappointment.

Stay tuned for Day 2!

 

 

"An Inconvenient Sequel" Passionately inspiring By Pamela Powell

January 20th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"An Inconvenient Sequel" Passionately inspiring By Pamela Powell”

There is no denying climate change, but what can be denied is whether or not the US will be a leader in one of the most important issues facing our world today. Former vice president Al Gore’s  newest documentary, a follow-up to an inconvenient truth, brings us up to date nearly 10 years after his first film.

The significance statistics are there.  The educational aspects are there, but most importantly the humanity is there. And it comes through on so many levels. But it is Al Gore’s dedication, determination, and passion that comes through that is truly inspiring as well as instill hope for our future.

Also Watch for the thorough and supporting documentary by Jared Scott and Kelly Nyks, “The Age of Consequence.”  It’s a perfect film to give a complete picture augmenting “An Inconvenient Sequel.”

 

You can see “An Inconvenient Sequel” at the Sundance film Festival.

The genius behind "The Polka King:" An interview with producer David Permut

January 18th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “The genius behind "The Polka King:" An interview with producer David Permut”
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David Permut, Producer

Move over King of Rock ‘n’ Roll because there’s new royalty in town—at least in Park City, Utah at the Sundance Film Festival.  “The Polka King” will premiere to tell audiences the bizarre yet hilarious story about Jan Lewan, the “King of Pennsylvania Polka” starring Jack Black.   The film is based upon the 1990’s  true story about a Polish immigrant who creates a Polka Ponzi scheme in order to support his love of Polka playing, and as the prolific producer, David Permut explains, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

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I had the opportunity to talk with Permut not only about his new film and his other widely talked about film vying for Oscar’s attention, “Hacksaw Ridge,” but also about how he finds these “gold nuggets” and the other unique films currently in production.  Permut’s energetic and upbeat vocal cadence had me on the edge of my seat as I hung on every word.

 

Permut attends the Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals every year possible, seeing upward of 45 films in 10 days, and says it’s all about discovery.  “If I don’t have a film in a festival, I’m just going as you are, watching movies…I’m just discovering new talents.”  While casting Jack Black to play the role of Jan Lewan in “The Polka King” doesn’t seem like a discovery in its outward appearance, the story behind it certainly is.

Permut recalls, “I saw this documentary called ‘The Man Who Would Be Polka King,’ and I’m laughing! I’m just hysterical!  I can’t believe what I’m watching!”  The documentary captures the life story of Jan Lewan, a Polish immigrant who owns a chain of gift stores.  He also lives for playing and traveling with his band, but financially is in over his head.  His solution is the creation of a Polka ponzi scheme.  Permut explains that  he and his team acquired the rights from Jan Lewan and the documentary filmmakers three years ago.  Permut then sent the documentary to Ben Stiller’s company and to Jack Black.  Permut, laughing aloud as he reminisces, says, “Jack called up a few days later and said, ‘I was born to play Jan Lewan.’”  Black, a major star, was on board before a word of the script had been written.

Permut’s discovery process continued as he brought on writers Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarksy, a husband and wife team who created the brilliant film “Infinitely Polar Bear,” from Sundance in 2014.    Permut loved their first film and ultimately they not only wrote “The Polka King,” they  directed it.   While “The Polka King” and “Infinitely Polar Bear” are very different movies, “…they are both inspired by true stories.”  He continued, “What I loved about it was the humanity of it. The humanity needed to be there and I knew that Wally and Maya were the people to do that.”

Permut confided that he and Stuart Cornfeld, a co-producer, along with Black, were all very hands-on in the development of the script for “The Polka King.”  He said, “We honed the script, working hand in hand with Maya and Wally [and] tailored the script for [Black]” since he was on board before it was even written.

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Permut promised me that it’ll be “…the craziest ride you’ve ever seen…”  He continued to express the need for not only original content in films, but the need for films to keep the audience guessing.  “I think we underestimate audiences.  I think that most audiences know where they’re going in the third act. This is a movie that you’re always in back of the story, not in front of it.  You’re on this journey and you have no idea where you’re going,” he said.

“The Polka King” is more than just a comedy, however.  Permut feels that, “It’s fun and hugely funny, but I think there’s humanity to it.  There’s a redemption quality, and a quality of his humanity.”  Permut finds that the character fits Black “like a glove” as he “embraced the character musically and in every other way too.  There’s a heartfelt nature as Jack portrayed him.”

Jenny Slate portrays Jan’s wife and Jackie Weaver is the mother-in-law who moves in with them.  Jason Schwartzman rounds out this comedically talented cast as Jan’s best friend and bandmate.  Given the creative cast and the financial backing of executive producers Shivani Rawat and Monica Levinson who gave us such stellar films as “thepolkaking3Captain Fantastic” and “Trumbo”, “The Polka King” has all the markings of a Sundance hit.

 

Permut and I discussed festivals (and favorite seats at theaters), but how does he discern what will make a great story within a film as Permut is responsible for beautiful and unique movies such as “Juno,” “Struck By Lightning,” and “Charlie Bartlett” coming to film life.  Permut reiterates that he loves true stories “…because truth is stranger than fiction.  To me, it’s usually what hits me emotionally.  If it’s supposed to be funny, am I laughing out loud?  If it’s dramatic and heartfelt, am I moved emotionally?”  But it has to have “ a hook” much like the unusual story-line of “Hacksaw Ridge,” the medic without a gun.  He says, “The Polka King is such an original idea [and] I thought it had an inherent hook…but how do you rise above every weekend with 10 movies opening at the box office?  Casting a major star and a true story helps to elevate a movie, [but] I think it’s originality, making something distinctly different.”

Permut can’t wait to be surrounded by the beauty of Park City’s ski slopes and walk through the doors at the Eccles theater, finding his favorite seat (and perhaps mine) and to show his film to an audience.  Until this film is picked up for distribution for all to see, which I am going to bet will be very soon, you can look forward to seeing “Punching Henry,” a sequel to the off-beat Slamdance Film Festival discovery “Punching the Clown” opening in March, 2017.  Permut is also working on “Russ and Roger Go Beyond,” a story about a young critic whose name you might recognize, Roger Ebert, and his relationship with the “maverick rogue filmmaker Russ Meyers.”  Will Farrell is set to star in this film.

I’m sure Permut will be discovering even more new great talents at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  I’ll be sure to save that aisle seat for him.  For more information about the film and how to see it at Sundance go to www.sundance.org/projects/the-polka-king

 

 

 

 

Fete Lifestyle Magazine's January Issue Highlights Oscar and Sundance!

January 17th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, News 0 thoughts on “Fete Lifestyle Magazine's January Issue Highlights Oscar and Sundance!”

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What is FLM? Check out this video and find out!

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What to see at Sundance 2017!

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And the winner is…

SUNDANCE AHEAD! An interview with Stanley Nelson, filmmaker of TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES by Pamela Powell

January 17th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “SUNDANCE AHEAD! An interview with Stanley Nelson, filmmaker of TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES by Pamela Powell”

 

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Stanley Nelson, MacArthur “genius” Fellow and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has completed his newest documentary which will premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival this week.  The film, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” isn’t his first Sundance film.  Just 2 years ago, the remarkable and award wiUnknown-1nning film “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” educated and entertained audiences.  This newest film, still quite literally in the color-correcting stage of production, will premiere on Monday, Jan. 23rd. Nelson, not worried a bit about finishing in time, shared with me his hopes for the film and the inspiration behind it.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Nelson, the father of 3, a 27 year old and a set of twins setting off for college soon, grew up in New York City, specifically, Manhattan.  He recalls, “My father was a dentist and my mother was a librarian so there was not choice about whether or not to go to college.”  He added, “I got out of high school during the Vietnam era and that was another reason I went to college.”  Initially, although he liked movies as much as the next person, he wasn’t focused upon filmmaking but then he noticed the influx of Blaxploitation films.  He observed that there“…were black people in front of the camera and few behind the camera, [and] I felt like I can do that!  Those films are really bad.  I can make a bad film too,” he chuckled aloud.  Nelson then transferred to Fordham’s film department.

Why did Nelson focus upon this particular topic for his new film?  His mother who attended Talladega College and his father who attended Howard University, while their choices were limited back the 1930’s to black schools only, it did, as he says,  “…make a huge difference in their lives and down through the generations in my family’s lives.”  He continues, “I felt it was a story that

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hadn’t been told.  Black colleges and universities were instrumental in forming black communities and being foundations for black middle class and nobody had ever really done a film about [it].

With a team of 3 researchers and a number of interns, Nelson found archival footage, old photos, and yearbooks to depict the history of several institutions.  Creatively, Nelson uses reenactments and graphic art to help fill in the blanks where photos and footage couldn’t be found.  He said, “So much of the film, maybe half of the film, takes place before 1930, before there was a lot of footScreen Shot 2017-01-17 at 8.44.23 AMage and we wanted to make the film come alive.  As we get later into the film, we don’t have to do recreations, but early on we do.  The film really starts out during slavery when African Americans were not allowed to learn to read and write and it was against the law for a white person to teach a slave how to read and write.  It shows you how scary the idea of education was.”

Nelson hopes that by telling this important part of history using film as the medium, that first and foremost people are entertained by it.  He says, “The next thing you want is for them to learn something.  I think that part of the idea of the film is that you see the great lengths that African Americans have gone through to secure eduction and…to control their own education.  I think it’s important to understand that education has the same importance that it did 170 years ago that it does today.  Why was the white slave holder so afraid of education?  It was a way to freedom.”

Why would someone choose an all black school for higher education?  Nelson explained that, “It’s one of the only times you’re in the majority, especially if you’re living a middle-class life.  A lot of times you’re going to all white schools.  In your work life if you’re moderately successful, you’re in a white majority setting so this is a chance to be in a black majority setting and I think that builds great value.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 8.44.02 AMGiven our current political environment, I asked Nelson about whether or not we were taking a few steps backward and how he thought we could avoid repeating the ugliness of our history.  His answer was sound and confident as he shared, “I think that societies will always tend to, in the long run, move forward.  It’s a roller coaster ride.  I think that’s what we’ve seen recently.  If we don’t constantly regroup and push forward, we go backward.”

As his youngest children head to majority white universities in the fall, not following in their grandparents’ footsteps of all black universities, Nelson hopes that they can both attend an all black university for a semester….it’ll be really interesting for them and they’ll enjoy it.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I want them to make their own choices and be happy in college.

Nelson has an amazing upcoming week with not only his Sundance film premiere, but his special on BET called “Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama” airing on Thursday, January 19 at 7pm EST.  The show explores President Obama’s two terms in office blending archival footage with interviews with some rather extraordinary guests:  Samuel L. Jackson, Common, Usher, and narrated by Jesse Williams.

Nelson’s passion not only for filmmaking, but for portraying life shines through with every film he makes.  Sundance will be yet another shining example of his work and he says, “I’m really excited to see the film with an audience and see the reaction!”

 

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"The Book of Love" is an emotional voyage by Pamela Powell

January 17th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"The Book of Love" is an emotional voyage by Pamela Powell”

 

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THE BOOK OF LOVE

Starring: Maisie Williams, Jason Sudeikis, and Jessica Biel

Directed by: William Purple

“The Book of Love” formerly  “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” premiered  at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and is now available on VOD (video on demand) starring Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Biel, and Maisie Williams.  Directed by William Purple, the film addresses loss and the grieving process in a realistic and rather poignant way.  Its message will resonate with anyone who has suffered a loss or tragedy in life—in other words, everyone will find the ability to relate to the subject.

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Henry Herschel (Sudeikis) is an introverted, up-and-coming, young architect who tragically loses his carefree and loving pregnant wife, Penny (Biel), in a car accident.  Upon honoring his promise to his deceased wife, Henry finds himself helping a streetwise teen, Millie (Williams) who is attempting to build a raft to sail across the Atlantic in search of her long-missing father.  This father-daughter type of relationship between Henry and Millie delves deeply into how they each navigate the waves of emotional healing.

“The Book of Love” is steeped in reality.  From the moment we meet Penny and Henry with their care-free and happy marital banter, the familiarity brings you back to an early time in a marriage.  It’s a time when you look forward to the future together—smooth sailing.  But just like real life, tragedy can strike at any time.  Henry is truly crushed; swept away by the sea of uncertainty ahead.  Within this tragedy, however, there is still a well-balanced element of humor—just like real life.

Set in Louisiana, the unusual surrounding seems to beautifully augment the depth of each character as does the soulful soundtrack.   Williams’ portrayal of Millie as a rough and wise-beyond-her years street teen touches an emotional chord of sympathy within each of us.  Although we may not relate to her situation, we do relate to her needs as a child and understand her reactions or walls that she has built to protect herself.  Her ability to consistently portray a true Creole accent is questionable, but given the depth of her character, this is easily forgiven.

Sudeikis, known primarily for his comedic roles,  shines in this dramatic endeavor.   He creates a lost soul that is devastated, giving a range of emotions that swing like a pendulum allowing us to feel what he is feeling.  In addition, there is an organic and natural interaction between he and Williams.  They each peel away the layers of their true selves to find a new self.  It’s simply beautiful.

Biel is a light and comforting sight as the expectant mother.  Her whimsical ways are heartwarming and we immediately identify with her love of life.  The comedic element is spearheaded by Paul Reiser as Henry’s boss with additional humor brought to us by the two workers, Pascal and Dumbass.  The unintelligible Creole  and his buddy’s interaction is exactly the levity that is needed in this film to give it a balanced feel.

You never know who will have an effect on your life or perhaps what effect you may have on others.  “The Book of Love”  reminds us that people come in and out of our lives for a reason.  With profoundly eloquent narration, expressing the deepest thoughts in an almost poetic way, the film will captivate your spirit, mind, and perhaps most importantly, your heart.

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Chris Cordone talks about the making of "Stevie D" with Pamela Powell

January 14th, 2017 Posted by Interviews 0 thoughts on “Chris Cordone talks about the making of "Stevie D" with Pamela Powell”

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“Stevie D,” an unusual crime drama full of ironic humor is now available on demand via all digital platforms.  Chris Cordone, writer, director and dual-role star of this film sat down to talk with me about how he went from a baseball playing athlete at Wake Forest University, to Wall St., to Hollywood.  It sounds bizarre, but with his calm and reassuring voice filled with a reflective chuckle, Cordone’s path in life makes complete sense.

Cordone, growing up in small town in Fairfield County, just outside New York City, had always been drawn to the allure of Wall St.  But baseball was his first love and he was able to play for Wake Forest University.  He reassured me that he was an very good student but it was his minor in Italian that continued to light the film spark within him.  His professor  was a film fanatic, much like Cordone’s father, and introduced him to all the film artistry and beauty within this rich culture.  But after college, Cordone refocused himself and shared,

“I thought I’m not going to play baseball anymore.  It’s time to stop playing and do something serious.  I tried to get the best job that I could and I was very lucky.  I got a very highly coveted job as an investment banking analyst.  I was really enticed by the idea of being a young man living in NYC with a great job.  [Then] I quickly realized that life was happening now.  You can talk about your plans and your dreams in high school and college, but then when you’re getting up every morning to do it, there’s no more dreaming.  I have to figure out if I’m doing the right thing.”

 Cordone completed his tenure on Wall St. and left NYC after toying with the idea of going back to film school.  He opted to become an actor and follow the paths of greats like Cassavetes who were first actors and then writers and directors.  While NYC was still suffering the devastating financial and emotional fallout from Sept. 11, acting jobs were far and few between.  Cordone moved to L.A. and after a few bit roles here and there, he decided to start writing “Stevie D.”  Cordone recalls, “I didn’t want to be an actor waiting for a phone call,” which ironically happens in the screenplay of “Stevie D.”  With the help of friends who stayed on Wall St., Cordone brought the film to life.

Kevin ChapmanKevin Chapman plays Lenny, the “enforcer” in the “family.”  Cordone felt that finding the right actor to play this role was key.  “That character was the core, the most important in the film.”  While the film really is about father-son types of relationships, “Lenny” needed to be believably tough yet funny.  Cordone recalls how Chapman came aboard:

“His agent read the script and I’m thankful to her for doing that.  A lot of bigger agents won’t do that because they know there’s not a lot of money associated with it.  He just wanted to do something different.  He wanted to feel the passion of a smaller production.  He had to be believably tough and then he also had to be funny.  What I liked about Kevin is that he didn’t try to be funny!  The jokes came out of the situation.  The more he tried to do what he does, the [funnier he is]. The scheduling worked out and it was really just perfect.”

Cordone not only wrote and directed “Stevie D,” but he also starred in it as the leads Stevie D and Michael.  Cordone shared with me some of the logistics of taking on a dual role and filming an independent film.

 “I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think on set.  I had to set the two apart and trust my impulses.  We needed to differentiate the characters a bit and Stevie fit the scruffy kind of guy.  The beard for Stevie is fake and she (the make up artist) had to put it on me every time.  I have no problem growing a beard…I’m Italian!  But I often had to film the two characters on the same location on the same day.  She’d take it off and I’d be Michael.”Stevie D Chris

Cordone shared that the two characters have a little bit of him in each.  He admitted that he’s got a temper and then laughed that perhaps his wife should weigh in on his other attributes of each character.  He enjoyed the fact that there’s even a joke about auditioning and always bringing your other character, the wrong one, to the audition.  “That’s the way Hollywood is,” he sighed.

While the pre-production and filming went off without a hitch, the post-production seemed a bit more stressful as Cordone and his wife had become new parents.  Balancing being a new dad and attempting to edit with post-production personnel long distance while being sleep deprived was a bit challenging.  The pride and love in Cordone’s voice could be easily heard as we chatted about kids growing up.  “He’s my little guy.  I’ll change his diapers forever if he just stays like this.”

Cordone continues to work on new screenplays which don’t feature him as one of the actors.  He said, “It was really liberating to not have to write for myself.”  Currently he is “shopping” these scripts around.  Cordone and his wife, co-owner of Cake Monkey Bakery in L.A., are “…supportive of one another, but we don’t live in each other’s worlds” which sounds like a delicious and perfect balance.

You can read the entire review here

 

"Sing (Mindenki)" A Melodic Message of Friendship By Pamela Powell

January 13th, 2017 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “"Sing (Mindenki)" A Melodic Message of Friendship By Pamela Powell”

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Hungarian writer and director Kristof Deak’s short film “Sing” has been short-listed for the Academy Awards this year and with good reason.  This beautifully poignant film creates a rich and multi-layered story that captures your heart and gives you hope in our youth and community.  This short film has already accumulated numerous awards such as the People’s Choice Award at TIFF Kids Toronto and the Best Live Action Short Film Award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival to name just a couple.  WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

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The story revolves around newcomer Zsofi who is excited to attend her new school that has a choir.  Fitting in to an established school-setting, no matter what country you’re in, can be intimidating, but Zsofi immediately connects with Liza, the star singer within the choir.  Zsofi is quickly and quietly singled out by the  choir leader Miss Erika who tells her to just pantomime because she’s just not good enough.  Heartbreaking though it may seem, Zsofi trudges forward, but the secret may be more than she can bear by herself.  The solution is unexpected and absolutely heartwarming.  To say more would take away your joy in watching how our youth has mMindenki_Ms_Erika_3k_minioral character and resiliency.

In just 25 minutes, “Sing” finds a simple yet extraordinarily deep and meaningful story to tell.  One that will resonate not only with the main characters’ ages, but with adults as well.  Zsofi must confront her own issues of value, worth, and ambition much like we all do on a daily basis.  Dorka Gasparfalvi gives us a natural and sublime performance as Zsofi.  Her internal emotional roller coaster is never too heavy-handed, but is easily understood.  The subtleties within her portrayal are what bring that needed seMindenki_Zsofi1_3K_mininse of genuineness to the film.  While she and Dorka Hais (Liza) create a beautiful and realistic childhood friendship, it is their chemistry as friends that warm your heart.  Walking and talking as they go home from school, hanging together as they listen to music, it is this interaction that solidifies their willingness to go to any lengths to protect one another.  This ensemble cast is small, but powerful, stitched together with the gorgeous Zsofia Szamosi (Miss Erika) who betrays your eyes with the harshness that lies beneath.

“Sing” offers inspiration, love, and the hope for solidarity, helping one another and putting the goal of what’s right ahead of what’s expected.  Beautiful filming, concise editing, and a gorgeous yet understated script allow the story to truly shine.  Deak creates a melodic message that will keep you mesmerized and perhaps allow you to remember to put the greater good at the forefront of your decisions.

After seeing hundreds of films each year, “Sing” is one that deserves the Academy’s recognition.

 

WHAT TO SEE AT SLAMDANCE 2017

January 13th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, News 0 thoughts on “WHAT TO SEE AT SLAMDANCE 2017”
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The often-times overlooked film festival, Slamdance, which takes place in that same quaint ski town of Park City, Utah at the same time as Sundance, is about to begin.  While the festival may be much smaller than Sundance, the significance of the films are just as great.  Last year, the breakout film HONEY BUDDIES aka BUDDYMOON premiered along with THE TAIL JOB, MAD, and many more.  This year, the list looks just as promising and I’m excited to share a few of my recommendations:
Water1In an era where we seem to have to question everything in our environment, “What Lies Upstream” goes against the governmental current to dive into the contamination of our water sources.  What are you really drinking?  Writer/director Cullen Hoback tackles one of the largest chemical drinking water contaminations to give us information and knowledge about a situation that may not be isolated.
“Beat Beat Heart” takes us on a journey of love, love lost, and the ever-challenging mother-daughter relationship.  This film promises to make us laugh and sigh in empathy becausbeat_beat_heart_still_01_600e we’ve all had a broken heart.
“Suck It Up” finds two former best friends having gone their very separate ways, uniting as they deal with loss.  It’s a road trip story of friendship, secrets, and confessions with a few laughs promised as well.
“Dave Made a Maze” brings us on a fantaMazestical journey of what could happen by building a living room fort and then getting trapped inside!  It’ll be up to Dave’s girlfriend to rescue him from this magical place full of booby traps and strange creatures.
“Dim the Fluorescents” creates a darkly comic situation as a struggling actress and a playwright must make ends meet, but aren’t willing to give up their craft.  The compromise?  Get paid to create  role-playing demonstrations for corporations.
“Kate Can’t Swim” brings us back to the innocence of young love and the delicate balance of friendships.  This promises to be a refreshing look at growing up and the emotional complications associated with it.
“Automatic At Sea” blurs the lines of reality while a young traveler is stranded on an island.  Is she even there?  “Automatic At Sea” looks like a mind-boggling thriller that will have you glued to every scene.
“Weather House,” set in the future where climate change has made its mark, catapulting housebound residents into bizarre belief systems and actions.  It’s sure to be a sometimes funny and ironic film, but may plant a few seeds of fear for our actual future.
“Neighborhood Food Drive” set with Chicago as its backdrop, follows a group of well-meaning misfits as they attempt to better their community.  Their misguided intentions may bring some rather unsettling or unexpected results full of humor and drama.
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And finally, “Wexford Plaza” focuses upon a lonely strip mall security guard, Betty, and her chance encounter with “deadbeat Danny.”  Awkwardly hilarious yet realistic situations promise to unfold as we get to know these two characters.
One of the charming aspects of the Slamdance Film Festival is the fact that a coordinating short film is shown before the feature film, getting you ready for what’s to come.  If short films are more your style, they also offer blocks of short films with specific headings such as “Experimental Shorts” and “Documentary Shorts.”
For more information about the Slamdance Film Festival, programming, location, and ticket purchases, go to Slamdance.com/Film-Festival
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"Timecode" Gets stamp of approval by Pamela Powell

January 11th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “"Timecode" Gets stamp of approval by Pamela Powell”

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Luna (Lali Ayguade) and Diego (Nicolas Ricchini) are security guards in a parking garage.  The two pass each other as their shifts change and take over the surveillance cameras until one day, Luna must backtrack and view a specific time coded recording.  What she sees will change her perception and interaction with Diego forever.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

“Timecode” is an unexpectedly delightful film filled with charm and grace.  While little is spoken aloud, so much is actually heard.  The two guards lead a rather dull, solitary, and seemingly uninteresting life until their paths quite literally cross.  The delicate balance in communication using timecode stamping allows the two to have sometTimecode_Still_01_Main-framehing to look forward to, a more complete work life and perhaps even more.

Juanjo Gimenez and Pere Altimira co-wrote this gorgeously shot film creating a sweet and lovely story taking us from loneliness to companionship in the most unusual way.  Initially, the antics of Diego make you chuckle, but then when Luna is drawn in, we see beauty absolute beauty.  Granted, this is one of the shiniest and cleanest parking garages I have ever seen, but the glistening floors coordinate with the spectacular dancing and reciprocal emotional compatibility.  Needless to say, the music, composed by Ivan Cester, perfectly augments each and eveTimecode_Still_04_hiry scene to fill the air with unspoken words with each note that is struck.  It is a complete work of auditory, visual, and emotional artistry.

It is no wonder that “Timecode” is the winner of more than 50 prizes including the Festival de Cannes (France) and the Whistler Film Festival.  In just 15 minutes, we readily identify with the emotional status of each of the main actors and then are not only intrigued by their interactions, but truly care about what happens to them at the end.  It is a complete joy to watch and feel this story unfold.  And in this 15 minute time-period, the end will make you laugh out loud.

Creating such a beautifully rich story in just 15 minutes is extraordinary.  Many full-length feature films struggle with doing so in 86 minutes, but “Timecode” successfully engages and entertains you.  Make time to see this sweet and gracefully beautiful film.

 

 

"Pet Fooled" Unveils the Truth Behind Pet Food Manufacturing and Marketing BY Pamela Powell

January 11th, 2017 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “"Pet Fooled" Unveils the Truth Behind Pet Food Manufacturing and Marketing BY Pamela Powell”

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We dog and cat lovers are a wonderfully crazy and doting group of people.    We change our lives for our cuddly canines and cats.  We buy them more toys than they could ever need or want, and their bedding is tempurpedic—better than my own.  We buy them the best of the best of everything, but what about their food?  “Pet Fooled,” a new documentary exposing the real contents of what’s inside that bag or can, by Kohl Harrington, features leading veterinarians and the research pertaining to the pet food industry.  It’s a film that will change your life, or at least your pet’s life!

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Harrington breaks down the entire pet food industry for us to see behind the curtain of this $60 Billion conglomerate.  With 5 major companies ruling the roost, it would appear that there are a myriad number of choices out there, but in reality, according to Harrington, there are not.  These few companies use ingenious marketing and packaging plans to lure us into buying what we think is good for our pets.

karen-vetThe film features experts in the field of veterinary medicine, Drs. Karen Becker and Barbara Royal who bring us back to the basics of the actual needs of dogs and cats or as they call it, a “species appropriate diet.”  Our DNA dictates what we need to be healthy, but these major companies use ingredients that make them money, not what the animal actually needs.  Royal points out that an increase in our pets’ health issues such as allergies, obesity, infections, and other diseases are a direct result of their diet.  She says, “We are actually creating these problems…all of them I believe can be linked to a simple problem of diet.”

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One of the many foods not recommended

The film goes on to dissect the packaging and materials within the bag.  For example, if the bag says, “dinner,” “nugget,” or “formula” there needs to be no more than 25% meat, but the derivation of the meat is undisclosed as there is no regulatory agency grading this meat.  And if the bag says “flavor” it doesn’t have to contain ANY meat at all!  In 2007, animals were dying unexpectedly due to the addition of melamine which is a fertilizer used in Asia and is a component to manufacturing kitchen utensils—something not to be found in any type of food.  And then there are the trace amounts of carcinogenic materials in bags of dog food.  Law suits were filed, dog food companies were called on the carpet and government officials like Illinois’ representative Dick Durbin grilled these companies calling for better regulation and accountability.

The film is enlightening as you learn about what you’re really feeding your four-legged companion.  The compelling testimonies of pet owners like you and me, recounting their losses and experiences are enough to make you want to change your pet’s diet.  But it is the science and information that the two veterinarians share that persuade you to actually invest in a better diet for Fido.

chewy-dog-food-2016

“Pet Fooled” examines the pet food industry, shedding a bright light upon the realities of this money making industry and the marketing ploys that dupe us all.  It’s a concise and thorough documentary giving viewers needed information about what they are actually feeding their pets.  Information is knowledge and knowledge is power to make better decisions.  Where the film lets us down is while it identifies the types of food that are not only not nutritional, but actually dangerous, it does not give us a clear list of what we can buy.  Purina, ProPlan, Science Diet, Hills, Iams, etc. all do nothing for our pets.

After watching this film several times, I have a list of companies that appear to be safe and I can personally attest to the better hea_dsc1815lth of my dogs, especially my 11 year old Cairn Terrier.  After eating this diet for just one month, she is active again, has lost weight, and seems generally younger.  The companies I noted in the film are the following:  Darwin’s, The Honest Kitchen, Northwest Naturals, and Stella & Chewy’s.  I am sure there are more and will add to this list as I learn.

See “Pet Fooled” available on digital platforms such as Amazon.   WATCH THE FILM AT AMAZON It’ll not only change your life, but your pet’s as well.

 

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