Archive for November, 2009

The Festivals You’ve Never Heard of and the Movies you Will

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 by Joonmoon

Every year we see previews boasting awards from film festivals we’ve never heard of. We flock to the indie section of our video stores and rent the entire Sundance section and try to decide which one will make a big splash in the theatres. This year it’s time to branch out and explore some of the more successful, albeit off the beaten track, festivals around the world. Some are a little strange and others fill a cinematic void but they have all become a force in their field.

Slamdance Film Festival

While it may not be featured on Entourage any time soon, the Slamdance Film Festival is the coolest Independent Film Festival around. In a bold move the festival takes place in Park City, Utah at the same time as Sundance. In true indie fashion Slamdance accepts only films made by nobodies with next to no money (ok, so that is studio speak for under one million). It’s the festival “by filmmakers for filmmakers” and it’s good at its game. Recent turn outs have included Mad Hot Ballroom, which received the highest price ever for a full-length documentary, Napoleon Dynamite and Memento.
Winners this year include How to Be with surprise star Rob Pattinson BEFORE he became a vampire. Pattinson goes back to his rock star beginnings in this film about a wanna-be lyricist and his budding friendship with a self-help guru.

The Faux Film Festival

These films are often short but are truly independent. The annual festival lives in Portland Oregon but most films show up on Youtube.com. Hands are Bananas was a 2007 entry by Nick Andrews that erupted into one of the most viewed and discussed clips on-line. It wasn’t even voted the best on at the festival!

The Pocket Film Festival

Calling all hi-tech artists… the PFF features only films made using cell phone camera. Putting a new cap on low budget many artists have used this Paris institution as a chance to test out a new medium. This ‘sensible’ festival is based on the idea that you always have your phone with you, so you’ll never miss that perfect French New Wave shot. Perhaps Jean-Luc Godard will give the 2010 festival a shot?

Bourne to Die Horror Film Festival

Hopping across the pond to Dorset UK you can find a small festival with big screams. Focusing on the truly disturbing films, Bourne’s features all pull storyline from the deepest darkest fears of mankind. Last festival, the found footage film Home Movie carefully presented the home videos of a family after a recent move. The two 10-year old twin boys slowly develop as the embodiment of pure evil as their sweet parents also begin to see the truth. Shadowland was also featured and has won awards at festivals the globe over. After being left for dead, Laura crawls from the sewer with no memory at all. She is stalked by a man in the shadows as she attempts to reach help. These and more spine tingling features and shorts await you at the Bourne Festival.

Tropfest Short Film Festival
Often noted as the largest short film festival in the world this fest started as nothing but a movie screening night at the local Tropicana Café. Now it has more then 150,000 visitors a night and gets international buzz. Tropfest keeps things interesting by requiring filmmakers to reference the TSI, Tropfest Signature Item, in their submission. Past TSIs have been pickles, chopsticks and muffins. Supposedly this is an inspiration technique to keep the festival fresh.

Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
Everything is always fantastic in Amsterdam. Showing off a lot of gore from the UK and sci-fi from everywhere else (in their Brave New World Programme) the festival has shown classic such as the newly released Haunting in Connecticut. Another haunting tale, 100 Feet, stars Famke Janssen and Ed Westwick. Janssen plays a prisoner on house arrest after serving seven years in prison for killing her abusive husband. Not only does she now find herself stalked by his ex-partner but she is haunted by her husband’s vengeful spirit while she moves within a 100 ft radius. This program lines up a lot of movies that are sure to make a big splash in the cinemas.

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RIP, it up, Tear it up, have a Ball —– Woodstock closing credits

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 by Joonmoon

It’s the most famous concert no one in our generation can attend and no one in our parents’ generation can remember. The plan was simple, get the greatest musical acts of the era together on one farm in New York and bring to life the living creature that was the Now Generation. By now most know it was more complicated than that, with local objections, last minute venue changes and so many guests that they stopped selling tickets and left the gates open.
Ask someone what Woodstock is and the answers today may vary.
‘It’s where Hendrix played the ultimate rendition of the Star Spangle Banner.’
‘It’s where Santana made his debut.’
‘It’s where Peace and Love met.’
‘It’s where Peace and Love delivered the infamous ‘Woodstock Baby’, the child of love that has never been confirmed.’
But is that really what Woodstock was about? A bunch of drug-addled hippies strumming guitars? According to Elliot Tiber, the music wasn’t the point. While Joplin may have rocked harder that weekend than any other, it wasn’t about the music. It was about family.
That message was first laid onto celluloid frames and shipped around the world by docu-director Michael Wadleigh [with famed Martin Scorsese editing, (imdb.com)]. His footage of the concert formed the documentary ‘Woodstock’. It won the 1970 Academy Award and is preserved by the Library of Congress as a historically significant source (Wikipedia).
Yet it was another movie that caused a storm during the 40th anniversary of that epic weekend. ‘Taking Woodstock’, directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and based on the book by Elliot Tiber, gave viewers the chance to get personal with someone close to the event. While Tiber wasn’t one of the members of Woodstock Inc. who put on the show, his autobiography puts him in the thick of the action.
Stuck in upstate New York and spending his life savings rebuilding his parent’s dream, Tiber (Demetri Martin) was desperate to escape. He needed the freedom of the Woodstock family. In the end he discovers he’s a part of a generation that can’t be held down. There are no restrictions. He’s free to be himself, a gay interior designer with an penchant for dropping acid.
The Woodstock perspective says that everyone can be happy and in love. A modern Woodstock would consist of Emo-rock, anti-depressants and the unifying feeling that things could be better. The irony is that the current Millennial Generation, people born between 1985 – 1998, is obsessed with the ideals of the Hippie Generation. The idea of living the life of a flower child appeals, so why not embrace it? How could the flower children bear such pessimistic spawn? Maybe it’s because everyone keeps saying that we live in apocalyptic times (buzz kill anyone?)
Or perhaps Millennials don’t appreciate Woodstock for what it truly was. The Hippie Generation built Woodstock as a chance for the unification of people with a purpose. The generation of Millennials seems to have turned these ideals into a tye-dye tee-shirt and Beatles tramp stamp fad, seeing only the greatest concert of all time and not the cause. Or maybe we’re just looking for our own great, living creature to be a part of; the thing that binds us all; only something that we can process in our over-stimulated, post-YouTube world.
We’re not apathetic, we’re just ADD. I blame the internet and therefore I blame Al Gore. (If I learned anything from Woodstock, it’s always blame The Man.)

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Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 by Joonmoon

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