Sundance Award-winning Short THE ARM to Screen at Columbia

Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos and Jessie Ennis at Sundance 2012

Director Jessie Ennis’ short film THE ARM, winner of the Special Jury Award for Comedic Storytelling at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival will screen in New York City this Saturday, April 21, as part of the Columbia University National Undergraduate Film Festival (CUNUFF).  Ennis co-wrote the film with Sarah Ramos and Brie Larson.

You can read read Ennis’ “Sundance Diaries” over at Huffington Post.

CUNUFF (Columbia University National Undergraduate Film Festival) is proud to present its eighth annual event showcasing outstanding new work in undergraduate filmmaking! This year, we’ve put together an exciting program of six student-produced short films from around the country. From all of the submissions we’ve screened throughout the year, these six films emerged as the most hilarious, moving, beautiful, provocative, creative, or repulsive – sometimes all at the same time.  In other words, these are movies you have to see.

Join us for our main screening followed by award presentations and a special reception at the Village Pourhouse at 5:30.

Tickets are available through the TIC: $3 with CUID, $6 without (http://www.cuarts.com/calendar/view/type/4/event_id/13507).

The festival will be held on Saturday, April 21st from 2:30-4 in Lerner Cinema. 2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

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Saving Pickfair Studios / West Hollywood 4/1/12 at 1p.m.

Filmmaker Allison Anders will be leading a protest tomorrow (Sunday, April 1) at 1:00 pm in West Hollywood, California, to save Pickfair Studios (Pickford-Fairbanks) which is scheduled for demolition.  The studio is a major part of Hollywood, film and American history, an independent studio created in 1922 by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks which was also once known as United Artists.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please consider going to the protest to show your support.  Allison Anders is tweeting about this at @MsAllisonAnders and there is a blog set up with a lot of details on the studio and the importance of saving it.

Visit the blog by clicking here.

Sign the petition to support the preservation of Pickfair Studios by clicking here.

Women’s Stories Weekly

“Ladies Special” Theme at the Muscat International Film Festival

 

 

 

 

The 7th Annual Muscat International Film Festival in Oman held a specially themed day earlier this week: “Ladies Special,” which featured the Indian actress-filmmaker Nandita Das and Her Highness Basma Al Said (of Oman).  The talk was followed by a screening of the 1995 female-focused film Waiting to Exhale, co-written by Terry McMillan and based on her novel of the same name.

Das spoke of her work as a director as well as her work with the Children’s Society of India and the effort it takes to make children’s films: “We are trying to make quality films for children. It is a struggle because economics interferes with art.” (Hmm, a universal truth of filmmaking?)

Read the entire story at the Times of Oman.

Wellywood Woman Interview w/Director of Alice Walker Documentary

Marian Evans of Wellywood Woman posted her latest podcast on Sunday which features an interview with filmmaker Pratibha Parmar who is working on a feature documentary about her friend Alice Walker, the writer, activist and poet.  The film, Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth, “tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman’s journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as a key writer of the 20th Century” (alicewalkerfilm.com).  It’s a brilliant interview by Marian, and a stimulating discussion between two women who are both motivated to share women’s stories.  Marian (@devt) is a vigorous supporter of the film and you can follow the film on twitter, too, @AliceWalkerFilm.  Check out the conversation and become a fellow supporter by spreading the word.

Listen to the interview at Wellywood Woman.

One Way or Another Conference on Women in LatAm Cinema

Alongside the Toulouse Film Festival in France this week, a conference was held to discuss the participation of women in Latin American cinema.  The One Way or Another Conference focused on the move of women in cinema from acting to directing, writing and producing (and beyond).  Included in the discussion was “the treatment of women’s problems in films, including sexism, gender inequality and violence.”  The conference takes its name from a film directed by the late filmmaker Sarah Gomez; she was the first Cuban woman to shoot a fiction film.

Read the entire story at Prensa Latina.

Two African American Female Directors Book New Films

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood blogged earlier this week about director Gina Prince-Blythewood signing on to direct Before I Fall based on a book by Lauren Oliver, and Kasi Lemmons signing on to adapt and direct the Zadie Smith novel On Beauty.  Prince-Bythewood also directed Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees, while Lemmons has directed Eve’s Bayou and Talk To Me.

Kasi Lemmons

 

 

This is extremely exciting news not only because two African American women will be directing films, but for personal reasons for me as Zadie Smith is one of my favorite writers and anything that will allow people to be exposed to her work — whether it’s actually sitting down and reading it or watching a film adaptation — is a great thing!  Wow, I can’t WAIT to see these films released.

Read the details over at Women and Hollywood.

SPOTLIGHT: Anna and Modern Day Slavery

Filmmaker Magda Olchawska’s new feature film Anna and Modern Day Slavery takes on the serious (and not often discussed) subject of sexual slavery and human trafficking.  On a meager budget and with a short production schedule, Magda is making this film because she wants “people to wake up and see how cruel our advanced society is.” (Olchawska is also founder of BulletFilm.com, an online resource for filmmakers to help build online audiences for their work.)  She is also running a daily video blog throughout pre-production, production and post which she estimates will be about five months in duration!  Check out the first video blog from March 11:

 

Of her new film, Magda Olchawska also states, “I can only guess that making ‘Anna and Modern Day Slavery’ is going to be an emotional journey. However I do believe that together we can make a difference and make people more aware of the huge problem humanity is facing.”  As part of her plan to help expose this horrible reality, Magda will also be making the film free to view online by anyone around the world.  Prior to that, she plans on making the festival circuit with the film.

Action opportunities will be included with the film as well to allow audiences to remain engaged on the topic of modern day slavery.  Olchawska explains, “After watching the movie the audience will have a chance to make a donation towards making another Anna movie, (this time about illegal organ selling) & toward charities helping the victims of human trafficking. The charities will receive 55% of the total donations.  We will also have special packages for community & campus screenings of which 55% earnings will go towards the charities, too.”

Olchawska asks, “Why don’t you join us on this crazy and exciting ride and help us make the world a better place?”  Learn more about the film and how you can connect by reading below.

ANNA AND MODERN DAY SLAVERY

Crowdfunding through: IndieGoGo

Campaign goal: $12,500

Days left on campaign: 35 (deadline April 20)

Logline

Anna runs the Organization, a secret network of people around the world exposing uncomfortable truths behind governmental & corporate actions.

Video pitch:

 

Synopsis

After working for years in the top governmental agencies Anna is fed up with lies, corruption and injustice. She goes underground and sets up the Organization which is a secret network of people around the globe.
The Organization tries to make society more aware of one of the pressing issues governments would rather not talk about.  Anna isn’t afraid of using illegal methods such as hacking (she is one of the top hackers in the world) to expose corruption in high places.
Currently Anna is in Eastern Europe trying to expose a gang of human traffickers whose connections run deep into political and business circles across the globe.
Pawel, a talented researcher, helps Anna interview someone who is deep inside the traffickers’ trade. He unwittingly gets entangled in the unstoppable current of events.

Credits

Magda M. Olchawska (Writer/Director)
Jan Broberg Carter (Music Composer)
Rafal Debowski (Production Designer/Art Director)
Marek Olchawski (Producer)
Heather Payer-Smith (Producer: Visual & Marketing & Promotion)
Janet van Eeden Harrison (Producer & Script Advisor)

Connect with this filmmaker and learn more about her new film:

Facebook: /magdaolchawska

Twitter: @magdaolchawska

Website:  www.magdaolchawska.com
_______________________

Do you have a film you are trying to finance that you would like to feature here?  Send us an email with a website and social media page(s) for your film.

Bitter Irony: Most women Genie nominees get shafted on International Women’s Day

The Genie Awards were held last week on March 8 in Toronto to celebrate the best of Canadian cinema.  The Genies are best understood as the Canadian equivalent to the Oscars (though I hate saying it like that because not everything should be understood by comparison).  Back in January, I posted about the Genies after the nominations were announced, and I was happy to have seen so many women up for major awards!  But alas, one film seemed to sweep most of the big awards: Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Philippe Falardeau (which actually sounds like a pretty darn interesting film).

Larysa Kondracki’s The Whistleblower was up for Best Picture (with the picture’s two female producers Ceiline Rattray and Christina Piovesan); Kondracki was up for Achievement in Direction for The Whistleblower; Anne Émond was up for Original Screenplay for Nuit #1 as were Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan for The Whistleblower; Élaine Hébert, Sophie Goyette were up for Best Live Action Short Drama for their film La Ronde (the only all-female team for this category); Michelle Latimer’s Choke was up for Best Animated Short as were Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby, Marcy Page, Bonnie Thompson  for their film Wild Life.

It was only Anne Émond out of all the women nominees who walked away with a pretty big Genie: the Claude Jutra Award which goes to the year’s best feature by a first-time feature film director.  (Interesting she was up in the Original Screenplay category but awarded for her direction!)  It’s like other big film awards shows like the Oscars, Golden Globes or SAG Awards, in that a huge favorite like Monsieur Lazhar ends up with a number of awards.  Just look at this year’s Oscars with The Artist winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Costume Design and Music (Original Score). But I can’t fault a film, or the people who vote for it, for being a favorite, but it makes me wonder about how the Genies work.  Are they similar to the Academy Awards with lobbying for specific titles, sending out fancy screeners, taking out advertisements in trade publications like we see every year in Variety with artsy full-page displays offering Academy voters the standard “For your consideration” pick-up line?  I’m not sure, so I’ll have to look into this through some googling and chats with my Canadian friends.

About Nuit #1:

(from the Toronto International Film Festival description)

“Anne Émond’s dazzling debut feature is a bold and intimate study of a one-night stand. Clara and Nikolai meet at a sweat-soaked rave and end their night at his apartment. The first part of the film is an erotic and candid portrait of their lovemaking, but when Clara tries to sneak out without saying goodbye, this typical hookup takes an unexpected turn.”

The film, Émond’s first feature, was acquired by the Long Island City, New York-based Adopt Films (U.S. rights) following the Toronto International Film Festival last year.  A late July opening is expected.  Read the indieWIRE story from October 2011, and their prediction from January this year that Nuit #1 will be included in the list of films to be distributed through the recently inked Adopt Films and GoDigital theatrical/on demand distribution deal.  Nuit #1 was an official selection of the Goteborg, Rotterdam and Toronto and Vancouver International Film Festivals (Winner, Best Canadian Feature Film at Vancouver International Film Fest).

Writer/Director: Anne Émond

Producer: Nancy Grant

Distributor: Adopt Films

Filmmaker Anne Émond on the set of her film Nuit #1. Émond won the Canadian film industry's 2012 Claude Jutra Award (Genie Award).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Anne Émond:

This film is Émond’s first feature-length work, having been preceded by her 2010 short film Sophie Lavoie (Winner, Best Short Film at Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema) and six other short films.  She is a Quebecois filmmaker based in Montreal (since 2011) who works in the French language.  (Sophie Lavoie will screen at the Seen and Heard Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, on March 15.)

Nuit #1 on Facebook

Anne Émond at Eye On Films

Read more on Adopt Films at www.adoptfilms.net/nuit.

What’s sad, though, is the fact that a number of individual women as well as mainly female or all-female teams were up for big awards and only one of them was handed a Genie for their work.  I consider big awards as the ones in directing, best picture, screenwriting, cinematography.  There weren’t actually any women nominated in the Genies category for cinematography this year.  And to add insult to injury, this all played out on International Women’s Day on March 8.  Let’s celebrate women (like we’ve been doing on this day since 1977!)  And the winner is….. Monsieur Lazhar!  I’m not bitter, actually, I just find it to be completely coincidentally ironic while also being par for the course as far as major film awards ceremonies go.  Oh, and who do I speak to about getting Canada to broadcast the Genies on a Sunday evening when they’re not broadcasting the biggest American television shows day and date?  Thursday night Genie Awards?  My god, man, “30 Rock” is on at the same time, even in Canada!

Review: “One Day” (2011)

“One Day” (2011)

A Film by Lone Scherfig

Ah, the month of love.  Chocolate candies, roses, and of course, love stories.  Last week, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought it fitting to review a film that features a love story.  “One Day” is based on the best-selling book by David Nicholls.

Can a woman’s love make a man a better person?  This age old question envelops the film and follows Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess).  Their love story starts out on the day of their college graduation on July 15, 1988.   The film follows their relationship by checking in with them every year on the anniversary of their graduation.  They are not always together but manage to keep some type of connection throughout the years.

Emma is determined to become a writer but ends up working at a Mexican restaurant after her move to London.  She takes a few detours in her professional life and eventually finds her way back to writing.  Dex, on the other hand, is all about living it up and squeezing every last bit of fun out of life.  He starts a career in television production and quickly starts partying too hard and becomes a drug addict.  His life seems glamorous when compared with Emma’s steady progression, but Dexter’s party boy life puts him on the fast track to self-destruction.

They stay a constant in each other’s lives even after Dexter gets married and Emma starts dating Ian (Rafe Spall).  They keep getting brought back together, sometimes by chance and sometimes by choice.  I know some would say that Emma should just give up on Dex because he should take care of himself, but I can’t help but think that they bring out the best in each other.  Although, yes—there were times when Dex got a bit whiny and just needed to grow up and stop calling Emma every time he was in a jam.

While some love stories can be predictable and cliché, I appreciated that “One Day” wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows.  Some critics have said that Lone Scherfig’s films have light humor, though a pervasive sense of tragic prevails.  I believe this to be right on point with “One Day.”  She dives deeper into the characters and keeps the story flowing with twists and turns.  She brings the ordinary to life and makes you want to invest in the characters and their fates.  This might not be a typical love story, but it is definitely one worth watching.

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Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.

SUNDANCE: days 9-11

The Sundance Film Festival officially ends today, and awards were given out last night.  I’m encouraged that so many women received such international recognition for their films — see below for the list of winning films by women (as directors and writers).

Days 9-11

SUNDANCE AWARDS

Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic & Excellence in Cinematography – U.S. Dramatic

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (co-writer Lucy Alibar)*

U.S. Directing Award: Documentary

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (director Lauren Greenfield)*

U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (writer-director Ava DuVernay)*

World Cinema Screenwriting Award

YOUNG & WILD (director & co-writer Marialy Rivas)

U.S. Documentary Editing Award

DETROPIA (directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady)

World Cinema Documentary Editing Award

INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE (directors & editors Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky)*

World Cinema: Documentary Special Jury Prize

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (director Alison Klayman)

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic

MY BROTHER THE DEVIL (writer-director Sally El Hosaini; cinematographer David Raedeker)

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing

NOBODY WALKS (director & co-writer Ry Russo-Young; co-writer Lena Dunham; producers Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling, Alicia Van Couvering)*

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary

PUTIN’S KISS (director Lise Birk Pedersen; cinematographer Lars Skree)*

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing

SMASHED (co-writer Susan Burke; producers Jennifer Cochis, Jonathan Schwartz, Andrew Sperling)

See the slideshow of all winning titles on the Sundance Channel website.

*Films have been picked up during the festival for theatrical or VOD distribution, except Indie Game which will be adapted into a fictional half-hour series for HBO.

Acquisitions

Writer-director Julie Delpy’s film 2 Days in New York has been picked up by Magnolia Pictures.  Delpy also stars in the film opposite Chris Rock.  Magnolia will release the film via VOD (Video On Demand) as well as in theatres.  No word yet on which territories this covers (I’m assuming at least North America), or a firm release date.  Read the story over at Nikkie Finke’s Deadline Hollywood.

Magnolia has also picked up director & co-writer Ry Russo-Young’s feature film Nobody Walks which she co-wrote with Lena Dunham (most well-known for her film Tiny Furniture and her upcoming HBO series “Girls” which will premiere at SXSW in March, then on HBO in April).  Check out the story over at Reuters (incl. information on 2 Days in New York).

Check out all the distributors that picked up films at Sundance this year in this indieWIRE story.

I’m expecting more acquisitions to happen in the next few days and weeks and will try to update the Sundance film acquisitions list to include those titles.