Saturday, March 31, 2007

Black Book

I can’t wait to see this movie. I’m a sucker for intrigue and spy movies. I’ve always loved the Hitchcockian average man put in extreme situations theme.

Black Book (Zwartboek) appears to be a return to traditional movies by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. After RoboCop, Basic Instinct and Showgirls, this story appears meaty, beautiful and thrilling.

It will show as part of the Magnolia at the Modern series in Fort Worth in May, and Filmies plans a group outing. So be watching.

The film stars Carice Van Houten and Sebastian Koch, whom we loved in The Lives of Others.

Here’s the synopsis from the press kit:

Holland 1944 – The final years of the Second World War find the beautiful singer Rachel Stein (Carice Van Houten) taking refuge with the Tsjempkema family in rural Holland. Once a popular and wealthy singer, Rachel has been waiting out the war like many Jews in Europe, separated from her family and a moment away from being caught by the Gestapo. Her temporary safe-house is destroyed by an Allied bomber under fire by a German fighter and Rachel is left in the arms of Rob (Michel Huisman), a sympathetic young boy, who promises to help her to safety. The next morning, Rob takes Rachel to her contact in town, who she hopes will help her find her family and escape across into liberated territory.
They arrive at the home of Mr. Smaal (Dolf de Vries) and his wife (Diana Dobbleman), a compassionate lawyer who has worked secretly to help Jews escape from Holland. Reluctantly, Mr. Smaal arranges for Rachel to join her family and cross enemy lines into Allied territory, marking her name and rendez-vous point in a little black leather notebook.
But during the dangerous crossing, the boat is ambushed by German troops. The Nazi’s ruthlessly kill the boats’ passengers and Rachel only narrowly escapes by jumping overboard into the river.
The next morning, Rachel is rescued by Gerben Kuipers, one of the leaders of the Dutch resistance. A kind and generous man, Kuipers offers Rachel a job and a safe place to stay. But embittered by the memory of the ruthless murder of her family, Rachel decides to become a resistance fighter to seek revenge against the Germans.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Goal Tending

Who says foreign films are all about crying, opera-singing clowns? Get ready for a heaping, helping of testosterone Italian and Argentine style
The controversial life of legendary Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona (photo above) makes it to the big screen by Italian director Marco Risi.
Maradona who wowed fans with his skill, was also suspended from playing in Italy in 1991 for drug use and was kicked out of the 1994 U.S. World Cup after failing a doping test. He also suffered a heart attack in 1999 following a cocaine overdose.
The film, Maradona, The Hand of God (Maradona, la mano de Dios), takes its title from the controversial World Cup goal scored by Maradona in which he illegally used his hand. The film uses a series of flashbacks to take us through Maradona’s life. It ends with a corpulent Maradona, strong out on drugs and strapped to a bed in a mental ward, followed by a tagline that says he’s slimmed back down and has not lost his will to fight.
Maradona is played by Italian actor Marco Leonardi, whom audiences will remember from Cinema Paradiso, Like Water for Chocolate and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It was shot largely in Buenos Aires and features an Argentine cast.
The film makes its debut in Rome tomorrow. Maradona played for Napoli, but during World Cup competition played for his home country, including the 1990 World Cup, when Argentina eliminated Italy from competition.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This Just In: DVD Releases

Children of Men
Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron (below) helms this version of P.D. James's classic dystopian novel (and Oscar nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay), a futuristic drama set in a world in which humans have lost the ability to reproduce and subsequently face certain extinction. Things change when a single woman mysteriously becomes pregnant, prompting a conflicted government bureaucrat, played by Clive Owen (above) and his ex-wife, played by Julianne Moore (above) to join forces to protect her. Michael Caine co-stars.
A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971) – Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna
Deborah (Silvia Monti) has disturbing dreams about murdering her neighbor. After she relates the dreams to her therapist, her neighbor is actually murdered -- in exactly the same way Deborah's dreamed it! A police investigation ensues, along with some strange revelations, amazing chase sequences and bizarre plot twists. One of director Lucio Fulci's best films, Lizard in a Woman's Skin will keep you guessing until the end.

Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974) – Gokushiteki Erosu: Renka
In this taboo-smashing documentary by Kazuo Hara, the filmmaker turns his camera on his former lover, Miyuki Takeda. The strong-willed woman -- crusading feminist, bisexual, mother of an interracial baby with an African-American GI -- was a maverick figure, particularly in 1970s Japan. Hara captures his subject in excruciating detail over a period of several years in this keenly personal work, which caused a scandal when it was released.

Lola (1989)
Abandoned by her baby's father, reluctant young mother Lola (Leticia Huijara) struggles to get by in Mexico City. Torn between the duties of a life she didn't ask for and the freedom of the life she once enjoyed, Lola walks the delicate line between guilt and pleasure, responsibility and carelessness. Director María Novaro's debut film examines motherhood and redemption with startling honesty.

Reincarnation (2006)
A Japanese actress (Yûka) comes face to face with a slew of restless spirits when she signs on to star in a horror film -- the true story of a crazed professor's murderous rampage that left 11 victims, including his young daughter, in its wake -- being shot at the very site where the grisly killings took place. J-horror master Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge) directs this darkly mesmerizing tale of crime, punishment and redemption.

Monday, March 26, 2007

AFI Dallas International Film Festival 2007

Dallas launched a new film festival last weekend and several films play this week from our sister city countries. Here’s hoping the Lone Star International Film Festival, which debuts in November has equal success with film, glitterati and, probably most importantly, funding.
By the by, if you’re interested in volunteering your time or money for the Lone Star International Film Festival, email us at Filmies.

Rape of Euopa – Directors Bonni Cohen, Richard Berge, Nicole Newham; USA 2006, International Documentary Competition; Based on the book by Lynn H. Nicolas, Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the theft and destruction of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich. The film explores the history of Nazi art looting, along with dramatic efforts to safeguard and return displaced art. The filmmakers provide an eye-opening account of an often-overlooked chapter from a dark part of history.
7:30 p.m., Monday, March 26, Magnolia 4; 5:15 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, Magnolia 4.

Where the Sun Rises – Director/producer Grace Phan, Singapore 2006, International Documentary Competition; Xanana Gusmao of east Timor is a living legend: warrier, poet, leader and peace advocate. Where the Sun Rises tells the story of the president of the world’s youngest nation, from his bitter guerilla campaign against Indonesian rule to his amazing ability to forgive.
7:30 p.m., Monday, March 26, SMU Hughes-Trigg Theater.

Paprika – Director Satoshi Kon, Japan 2006, Premiere Series; Experimental scientists have developed a new psychiatric tool that allows a doctor to enter directly into his patient’s dream. A crisis arises when three devices are stolen and the thieves begin wrecking havoc in unsuspecting minds. It’s up to Paprika, the alter ego of one of the scientists, to defeat the threat. Director Kon creates incredibly lush and detailed visuals in this stunning animated spectacle.
7:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, Angelika Film Center 7

Drama/Mex – Director Gerado Naranjo, Mexico 2006; the seedy tourist town of Acapulco serves as the background for this bittersweet tale of three intense human relationships revolving around a suicidal old man, a 15-year-old runaway girl and a young couple. Infused with an infectious, youthful engery, Drama/Mex seamleslly interlaces characters, time and place.
9:30 p.m., Friday, March 30, Angelika Film Center 7; 4:15 p.m., Sunday, April 1, Angelika Film Center 6

Just Sex and Nothing Else – Director Krisztina Goda, Hungary 2005; Judith Schell stars as Dora, a 30-something playwright who is searching for her soul mate and frustrated at every turn. Deciding to be a single mother, she places an ad for “just sex and nothing else,” yet finds herself striking up a love/hate relationship with an actor who may be her perfect mate. Dora eventually begins to question what she really wants in this amusing, refreshing look at sexual politics.
7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 29, Magnolia 3; 5:15 p.m., Friday, March 30, Magnolia 3

Running on Empty – Director/screenwriter Bulich Akinci, Germany 2006; Burkhard Wahner is a traveling insurance salesman who, despite his odd demeanor, has a knack for landing clients. Driving endless miles along the Autobahn, he only stops to sleep and leave messages for his wife, promising to come home whe he's made enough money. He is hiding a tragic secret from his loved ones, hoever, and his perceived solution is equal parts selfless, desperate and haunting.
10 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, Angelika Film Center 7; 9:15 p.m., Saturday, March 31, Angelika Film Center 7

Mushishi – Director/screenwriter Hiroshi Nagahama, Japan 2006; The essence of the natural world is personified by strange, ancient natural forces called "mushi" that influence the lives of peopel for reasons yet unknown. Ginko is a "mushishi" who uses his shaman-like knowledge to help the affected come to terms with their afflictions. Brilliant animation and introspective storylines fuel this Japanese anime, a recent creation that has already climbed to classic status in Japan.
noon, Sunday, April 1, Magnolia 4

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lives of Others

Filmies saw The Lives of Others today. Truly fantastic.

I was skeptical that it could be better than Pan's Labyrinth and that some sort of film travesty had occured at the Academy Awards -- some political oversight by the Academy.

I was wrong.

The Lives of Others is a very emotional, moving, spy thriller.

This was certainly one of the best movies of 2006. It holds its own against the best picture nominees and could probably bump Little Miss Sunshine out or possibly The Queen. I liked the storyline of the Mexican nanny in Babel better than the whole of the movie. I loved The Departed, although it's a little foggy in my memory now. The Queen was a very well-acted movie and Little Miss Sunshine was nice and entertaining. I still haven't seen Letters from Iwo Jima, although it's sitting on my DVD player waiting for me.

Ulrich Muhe, who plays the Stasi Capitan Gerd Wiesler plays a perfect blend of Big Brother and priestly piety. Sebastian Koch, who plays playwright Georg Dreyman, and Martina Gedeck, who plays his actress girlfriend, are a great couple trying to survive the system. The scene in the photo above is one of many great moments, as Gedeck simply whimpers. "Just hold me."

The Lives of Others was captivating from the start and had me tearing up several times.

So, go see The Lives of Others. And if you really liked Pan's Labyrinth, don't feel cheated or robbed.

The best film won.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mexican Film News

Directors Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro (above) have met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to encourage governmental support of the film industry. The three were set to visit the Mexican Legislature to seek better distribution and exhibition opportunities for local production companies, according to Reuters. Of about 60 films produced here in 2006, only half hit theaters, they report.
Last week, Mexico joined Germany offering new tax incentives to help boost domestic production.

Mexico Film Awards
Pan’s Labyrinth swept the Mexico Film Awards, also known as the Ariels. The film won nine Ariels, including best picture and director for Gullermo del Toro.

There was a tie for Best Actress award with Spaniard Maribel Verdu winning for Pan's Labyrinth and Mexican Elizabeth Cervantes winning for Mas que a nada en el mundo.

Best Actor went to Damian Alcazar for Cronicas (click to see the trailer). This was his second successive win.

El Orfanato
Meanwhile the trailer for del Toro’s next film El Orfanato (The Orphanage) has been leaked onto You Tube. Creep-O-Rama. A release date hasn’t been set.

Color Me Kubrick

Mbabane’s own Richard E. Grant (photo below) appears in the latest John Malkovich film Color Me Kubrick debuting this weekend. It’s hard to know how much of Grant is in the film.
One review I read said Grant was wasted in a role that anyone could play. I think that’s a compliment.
The official media kit for Color Me Kubrick misspells Mbabane as Mbane. I sent a note to one promoter who said she’d pass along the correction. It wasn’t changed in the online version. At least they referenced his hometown. Most actor’s bios aren’t that detailed.
If you can’t get out to see Color Me Kubrick, the folks at Magnolia Pictures have a deal for you to view the picture at home. HDNet Movies will broadcast the picture Friday, March 23 at 7 p.m. and 10:05 p.m. Central. If that doesn’t fit your schedule, they’ll be releasing the picture to DVD on Tuesday, March 27.
So don’t blink, or you’ll miss it in theaters.

FWSCI Filmies Event Reminder

Don't forget we're gathering for the 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25 showing of The Lives of Others at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. (See details above right)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Asian FIlm Awards

Upsets, upsets, upsets.

OK, I don’t know how big the upsets were, but they were billed that way when the inaugural Asian Film Awards were handed out Monday night with many surprise winners.

South Korea’s monster smash The Host won Best Film, Best Actor, Best Cinematographer and Best Visual Effects.

The biggest surprise of the evening, was the Best Actor win for Song Kang-ho, who beat out Japanese actor Ken Wantanabe for Letters From Iwo Jima.

Other awards included Best Director going to Jia Zhangke for China’s Still Life; Best Actress to Miki Nakatani for Japan’s Memories of Matsuko; Best Screenwriter to Mani Haghighi for Iran’s Men at Work; Best Production Designer to Tim Yip for the Hong Kong/Chinese production The Banquet; and Best Editor to Lee Chatametikool for the Thailand/Austrian/French production of Syndromes and a Century. Best Composer went to Rahayu Supanggah for the Indonesian/Austrian film Opera Jawa.

In addition to the ten award categories, special tributes were also an integral part of the ceremony with Luc Besson presenting legendary Asian actress Josephine Siao with the Asian Film Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema; renowned director Johnnie To honored David Bordwell with the Asian Film Award for Excellence in Scholarship in Asian Cinema, and Asian actor Andy Lau was bestowed the Nielsen Box Office Star of Asia Award.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This Just In: DVD Releases

Apparently it's Italy day at Netflix. Many of the films released today on DVD are from our friends in Italy.

The Passion of Joshua the Jew (2005) - Italy
Born in Spain in 1492 at the time all Jews and Muslims were ordered out of the country, Joshua (Leonardo Cesare Abude) is declared the next messiah by an elder (photo above). Eventually settling in Italy with his family, Joshua grows into a man and becomes fascinated with Catholicism, much to the dismay of local religious leaders. Pasquale Scimeca's religious drama exploring the nature of prejudice and intolerance also stars Anna Bonaiuto and Toni Bertorelli.Director: Pasquale Scimeca.

'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1971) Addio, Fratello Crudele - Italy
When she becomes pregnant from an incestuous affair with her brother Giovanni (Oliver Tobias), Annabella (Charlotte Rampling) quickly marries unsuspecting aristocrat Soranzo (Fabio Testi) in this adaptation of John Ford's 1633 play. But when Soranzo learns the truth, his reaction turns violent. From Italian director Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, this lushly produced tale of forbidden passion also stars Antonio Falsi, Rik Battaglia and Angela Luce.

Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures (2005) Cinema, Aspirinas e Urubus
To distance himself from Adolf Hitler and a war he philosophically opposes, a young German (Peter Ketnath) moves halfway around the world to Brazil, where he meets a hitchhiker (João Miguel) with his own motivations to keep moving. Together, they drive across the country making pit stops in various villages to sell the locals a "miracle" drug. Marcelo Gomes directs this multilingual Cannes Film Festival selection.

Manhattan Gigolo (1986) - Italy
A trip to New York City leads to a racy three-person tryst, a sex tape and big trouble for Johnny (Gianni Dei) in this spicy drama, which also stars former CNN anchor and "NYPD Blue" actress Andrea Thompson. Johnny's wild ride begins when he learns his actor friend Rudy (Aris Iliopulos) is actually a gigolo. The friends engage in a threesome with Leslie (Thompson), but things really heat up when Johnny finds out the encounter was videotaped. Director: Amasi Damiani.

Street War (1976) - Italy
After being dismissed for use of excessive force, former cop Murri (Maurizio Merli) soon finds himself back on the job as the only man who can stop a brutal crime spree. When a mob boss escapes from prison and re-forms his gang, Murri is called on to organize a crackerjack team
to put an end to the gang's reign of terror. Fueled by vengeance, Murri stops at nothing to finish off the boss once and for all. Cyril Cusack and James Mason also star. Director: Giuseppe Rosati.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And the Winner is ...

German Film Awards nominees have been announced. The awards known as the Lolas, are now given by an "academy," having given up the controversial "award jury" format.

Perfume: The Story of a Murder and Four Minutes each received eight nominations including best picture and director.

Four Minutes is the story of an piano teacher who trains a prisoner at a women's penitentiary. The film was a critical success but only brought in $1.7 million at the box office. In contrast Perfume brought in $52 million.

Winners of the 57th German Film Awards will be announced May 4 in a galaceremony at Palais am Funkturm in Berlin.

The Lolas come with a €3 million award and are the biggest symbol of the German government's support of film and culture.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Let the Competition Begin!

The Lone Star International Film Festival has begun accepting entries for the inaugural festival to be held Nov. 8-11, 2007 in Fort Worth, Texas. The first entry was a work filmed in the United States and France.
The competition categories include: Documentary Feature Length, Documentary Short, Feature, Short and, Animation.
Additionally Fort Worth Sister Cities International, will present a film series during the festival focusing on its seen sister cities and countries, Reggio Emilia, Italy; Nagaoka, Japan; Trier, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; Bandung, Indonesia; Mbabane, Swaziland; and Toluca, Mexico. If you know of a great film from these countries or featuring an actor, director or link to these cities/countries, let me know.
FWSCI will host delegations from our cities during a week-long celebration, which will include the Fort Worth Mayor’s International Dinner and a celebration of the 20-year relationship between Fort Worth, Trier and Nagaoka.
The Lone Star International Film Festival competition will be held in downtown Fort Worth with special events, receptions and a gala recognizing the best the world has to offer.
To enter your film in the competition, go to
Good Luck!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Still playing

You still have the chance to see several top movies on the big screen before they go to DVD and small screens. Below are four films that you should see and a repeat of previous blogs about them.

Pan's Labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth is still showing at many screens (Sundance 11 in downtown Fort Worth, as well as Inwood and Magnolia in Dallas.)
After weeks of waiting, I finally saw Pan’s Labyrinth – great picture. Also nice to see a full theater. It’s also a surprising movie. You never know what a film is going to be like based on clips and hype. It’s not all fantasy. It’s not like Lord of the Rings. If you’re not a fantasy film fan, don’t steer clear of the movie just because of that. In fact the storyline I enjoyed the most was following the housekeeper, Mercedes, played by Maribel Verdú, and her brother’s band of resistance fighters against Franco’s Spain. The majority of the film is set in the real world. It had a real Hitchcock feel and urgency about it as in Notorious. It’s violent. There are a lot of cringe-worthy screens, and once out on DVD I don’t’ recommend it for children. Go see it in a theater for the spectacle.

The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others is showing at the Inwood and Magnolia in Dallas.
FWSCI Filmies will go see The Lives of Others next weekend at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The movie shows for two weekends, starting next Friday. We'll be at the 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 25. See the announcement at right.

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) opens in area theaters today, Feb. 23. The film, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film is directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It stars Ulrich Mühe as Stasi agent Gerd Wiesler, Ulrich Tukur as his chief officer Anton Grubitz, Sebastian Koch as the playwright Georg Dreymann, and Martina Gedeck as his lover Christa-Maria Sieland. In 1984 eastern Germany, Stasi agent Gerd Wiesler, is assigned to spy on playwright Georg Dreymann, who is suspected of western leanings. The agent finds out the real reason for the spying is that the spy agency’s minister is attracted to Dreymann’s girlfriend and wants to get the playwright out of the way. While Pan’s Labyrinth has garnered most of the buzz in that category. The Lives of Others made a case for it’s popularity a couple weekends ago during its US premier. The film opened with more than $200,000 in 13 theaters for an average of $16,430. The film is currently an exclusive locally at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth March, The Magnolia, Dallas, and the Angelika Plano.

Letters from Iwo Jima
Letters from Iwo Jima is still showing at the Inwood in Dallas.
Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima is causing a stir on both sides of the Pacific. The film is up for a fistful of Academy Awards and is pulling audiences into the theater across Japan. Already it’s landed a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film Award. Some 7,000 American soldiers died at Iwo Jima and more than 20,000 Japanese soldiers died there. The battle ranged for more than a month from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945. Eastwood’s companion film Flags of Our Fathers, which tells about the battle from an American standpoint, is out now on DVD. The film has been doing well in Japan, and according to Time Magazine: “the Oscar-nominated Letters has grossed just under $40 million, earning it the top spot during the Japanese cinema industry’s all-important New Year holiday season.” Now’s a good time to watch both.,8599,1581828,00.html

And Babel is showing at the Angelika in Dallas. Babel has already gone to DVD.
Babel makes its DVD arrival tomorrow, just in time for pre-Academy Awards viewing. The movie features an international cast, locations and languages – and it’s a candidate for Best Picture. Since I’m behind on my film watching, I’ve decided to wait to watch Babel on DVD. So many films left to see. Stars Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt lead the Hollywood cast, but not the award list. The Academy instead smiled upon two actresses virtually unknown in the United States: Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi. Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu also was nominated for Best Director. Altogether there are seven Academy Award nominations. Inarritu won a Best Actor Award at Cannes Film Festival. The film won Best Picture Award at the Golden Globes and Kikuchi won Best Actress Award from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

SXSW Student FIlms

Two student films from the Fort Worth area have won top honors at Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival. Both are students in the Birdville ISD Media Tech program.

Brandon Day, a senior at Richland Hills High School, won for his 5-minute short Murder for 9 Points. The film features Phil Pratt, Karen Seimears and D.C. Goode.
An innocent game of Scrabble turns into something entirely different.
Watch the video trailer:

Adela Escobar, a student at Haltom High School, won for her 3-minute film Daily Routine.
At the last moment we try to look back at all the things we've done, and all we ever did. Have you lived your life to the fullest?
Watch the video trailer:

Congratulations to our future filmmakers. And kudos for school districts like Birdville who make film programs available for students.

German Film Tax Break
Money makes the world go round! And film money is even better.
Germany has joined Hungary in offering tax break incentive for films produced within its borders, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The German Federal Film Fund, which offers a 20 percent rebate for film production in Germany, was launched in January.

According to the Hollywood Reporter:
“To qualify, 25 percent of the total budget must be spent in Germany. If the budget is more than $26 million, that drops to 20 percent. For international co-productions, the German participation must be at least 20 percent; if the budget is more than $32 million, a participation of $6.5 million is sufficient. The budget of the film project must be more than $1.3 million for feature films, $3.3 million for animation films and $226,000 for documentaries.

“A project must have at least 75 percent of its financing in place, and it must pass a "cultural test," with points given for using German locations or studios; German actors, artists or technicians; and German story or history. A little bit of everything would be the perfect match.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two for Tribeca

Tribeca Film Festival in New York has announced films slated for its World Narrative Features category. Mexico and Germany scored entries in the field of 34 features and documentaries competing for a share of $100,000.

Tribeca, founded by film legend Robert De Niro (at left), runs April 25 – May 6 in New York.

The films are Two Embraces (Dos Abrazos) from Mexico and Vivere, directed and written by Angelina Maccarone, from Germany.

Tres Amigos
The New York Times has a great feature on Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón.

This Just In

This week brings multiple new releases from our seven Sister City countries. DVDs are available in stores, via Amazon or Netlfilx.
Two samurai classics from Akira Kurosawa get reissued by Criterion with improved features. The New York Times gives a great review of the improvements.

Fires on the Plain (Nobi) 1959
Director Kon Ichikawa's harrowing film set in the Philippines during World War II, a Japanese soldier, his emotional and physical resources nearly depleted, endures the vicissitudes of war. Ichikawa, whom some cineastes say was as talented as his better-known contemporaries, including Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi, had a way with infusing light in the darkest places.

The Burmese Harp (1956) – Japan
Also directored by Kon Ichikawa. Set during World War II's last days, this indelible antiwar drama chronicles a Japanese soldier's transformation after coming face to face with the human cost of war. Sent to inform another platoon the war is over, Cpl. Mizushima (Shôji Yasui) can't persuade the men to surrender and becomes the lone survivor when the British attack. But the casualties he sees on the way to rejoin his unit overwhelm Mizushima, and he soon finds a higher calling.

Tales of Terror from Tokyo and All Over Japan: Vol. 3: Part 2 (2006) – Japan
Demons materialize during a high school video project and ghouls stir up deadly mischief in a deserted office space in this collection of 20 supernatural stories from horror writers Kihara Hirokatsu and Nakayama Ichiro. These startling stories are adapted from accounts of true events that occurred all across Japan. This collection showcases truly terrifying episodes of the TV series Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro.

Con Artists (1978) – Italy
Directed by Sergio Corbucci, Bluff storia di truffe e di imbroglioni, features, a notorious con man named Bang who somehow manages to elude the long arm of the law – just barely. As he weaves in and out of trouble, Bang’s misadventures involve him with a delightfully rakish cast of characters.

Hellbenders (1967) – Italy
An earlier work by director Sergio Corbucci Italian. In this gritty spaghetti Western helmed by Sergio Corbucci, Joseph Cotten headlines the cast as a bitter ex-Confederate officer named Jonas who hatches a scheme to reignite the Civil War by robbing a freight train carrying Union soldiers. After slaughtering them, Jonas and his three sons find themselves in a battle against the U.S. Cavalry and a tribe of Indians. Julián Mateos, Ángel Aranda, Gino Pernice and Norma Bengell also star.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Simpsons No Mas

Mexican voice over artists are still feuding with Grabaciones y Doblajes Intl. (GDI) over The Simpsons Movie slated for this summers. GDI handles dubbing for Gracie Films, which produces The Simpsons TV show.
GDI wants at least 40 percent of the dubbing voices to be non-union.
The National Actor's Association is now threatening to boycott the movie in Mexico if the voice over artists who have created the characters of Homer, Bart and the rest of the TV cast for the last 15 years are not used for the upcoming movie.
The TV series is in its 18th year.
Filmies Meeting Today
FWSCI Filmies has it's first meeting today at 6 p.m. in Fort Worth, Texas. See full info below. See you at the meeting,

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Texas Film Hall of Fame

The Austin Film Society inducted Fort Worth natives Betty Buckley and Bill Paxton to the Texas Film Hall of Fame last night.

Paxton was born May 17, 1955 in Fort Worth and moved to Los Angeles at age 18.
His films have included The Good Life (2007), Spy Kids, Titanic, The Evening Star, Twister, Apollo 13, Tombstone, Boxing Helena, Aliens and Weird Science. Paxton and his wife Louise are seen in photo above on the red carpet before the film induction.

Buckley was born in Fort Worth on July 3, 1947. Although known more for TV and theater work, Buckley’s films have included Funny Peculiar (2007), Frantic, Tender Mercies and Carrie.

Both continued to be very involved in Fort Worth and the Lone Star Film Society.


Friday, March 9, 2007

First Filmies Meeting

Meeting, Monday, March 12, 2007
Fort Worth Sister Cities International

It's Show Time!
Please join us for the first meeting of the Fort Worth Sister Cities International Film Special Interest Group, where we will discuss our future plans and enjoy a wonderful and informative program by Fort Worth's local independent film producer, J. Mitchell Johnson.
Learn about our upcoming international film series that will be held simultaneously and in partnership with the Lone Star Film International Film Festival in November. Click here to view the agenda for the meeting and then click below to RSVP to Lisa Gail Barnes, or request more information.

The meeting will be held Monday, March 12, at 6:00 p.m. at the Four Star Coffee Bar, which is located at 3324 West 7th street, Fort Worth, Texas.
RSVP to Lisa Gail by clicking here.

Click here to contact me and Let's get rolling!
Lisa Gail Barnes
Communication's DirectorFort Worth Sister Cities International

Unknown German’s 'Grave'

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of the Academy Award-winning Lives of Others, isn’t the only up-and-coming, young German director you’ve never heard of.
Marcus H. Rosenmueller (photo below) has two hit movies, a third to debut soon and a stable of others in production or funded and on the books.
The Bavarian director burst onto German screens with the low-budge Grave Decisions, a dark comedy about death and damnation – that tried and true comedy combo.
Marketers apparently had trouble promoting the film and distributors feared the Bavarian dialect, which other Germans have often have trouble understanding, would turn away ticketbuyers.
With word of mouth the film ended on the top 10 list, sold 1.5 million tickets and had a boxoffice take of $12 million.
Now that’s inspiration for indie filmmakers everywhere.
Finding comedy in Bavarian roots
By Scott Roxborough
March 6, 2007 COLOGNE, Germany -- Forty miles south of Munich, pushed up against the Alps, lies Hausham, a sleepy provincial town of 8,000 residents. It's an unlikely spot to find the next big thing, but Hausham is home and inspiration to one of Germany's hottest young directors, Marcus H. Rosenmueller. While Rosenmueller's Munich Film School alumnus Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck traveled back to East Berlin in the 1980s for the inspiration for his Oscar-winning drama The Lives of Others, Rosemueller stuck closer to home with his debut, the low-budget dark comedy Grave Decisions. Grave Decisions didn't appear to have much going for it. It's a family comedy about death and damnation featuring a cast of mostly unknowns and shot in the local Bavarian dialect -- a thick, guttural vernacular even other Germans find almost incomprehensible. But with almost no publicity behind it, Grave became the sleeper hit of 2006, selling 1.5 million tickets for a boxoffice take of more than $12 million. "It was almost all word-of-mouth. The distributor found it almost impossible to advertise the film, a comedy about death in rural Bavaria," Rosenmueller says. "People heard about the movie and didn't want to go see it, but as soon as people did see it, they told their friends to go." Grave spent 16 weeks in the top 10, as Hollywood tentpoles like Scary Movie 4 and Mission: Impossible III came and went, grossing less in the territory than this local upstart. The success was all the more surprising because many theaters outside of Bavaria initially boycotted the film, convinced that northern German audiences wouldn't get the dialect, or the humor. "It was a really tough decision to shoot in the Bavarian dialect," Rosenmueller recalls. "We knew it would hurt us at the boxoffice. But it just seemed right, authentic. That's where I'm from and that's the source of my inspiration." Rosenmueller stayed close to the source for his second feature, the bobsledding comedy Heavyweights, the true story of a group of Bavarian amateurs who won Olympic gold in 1952. Released early this year, the film has so far grossed $4 million in Germany. These twin successes have turned Rosenmueller into Germany's hardest working director. He is in postproduction on Best Time, the first in a Bavarian coming-of-age comedy trilogy he is directing for Monaco Film. He'll shoot the second installment, Best Place, in May before switching to social drama with Der Raueber Kneissel, about a legendary 19th century Bavarian bandit. Then comes Die Perlmutterfarbe, an adaptation of the 1948 children's novel by German-Jewish author Anna Maria Jokl, which Rosenmueller is writing with his Grave co-author Christian Lerch. Next year Rosenmuller will direct another black comedy for Grave producers Roxy Film, Von Erden und Sterben, which Rosenmueller and Lerch will write. The film will once again be set in Bavaria. "Eventually, I'll have to write something in proper German so people outside Bavaria can understand it," the director quips.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Dead Time

Indonesian writer and director Joko Anwar (photo below) is creating a lot of buzz in Indonesia with the anticipated arrival of his new film Kala (Dead Time). Anwar, 31, is a former critic for the Jakarta Post newspaper, in addition to his film work.
His previous movies were the light-hearted romantic comedies, Arisan! (2003) and Janji Joni (2005). This film appears to be a dark, film noir-inspired work. Anwar’s personal blog has great info about the film, photos and trailers.
Here’s a synopsis from his blog:
“A nameless country is in a state of chaos as natural disasters, corruption, and street justice rise. Some of the people grow more violent, the others hope for the arrival of a promised leader. A cop named Eros is investigating the case of five men who were burned to death by a mob after somebody screamed "thief" at the crowd. A journalist named Janus is also covering the story. The two are quickly drawn into a labyrinth of mysteries and murders. Janus accidentally discovers a secret. But everyone he tells the secret to soon meets a terrible death. When Eros also learns the secret, they both know that one of them has to die, unless they can find the promised leader before the angel of death arrives.”
I’m hoping to learn more about him and his work in the near future. The film opens in Indonesia April 19.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Wire Tap Dancing

So did Lives of Others register with Academy voters last month because of the underlying comparison to the Bush Administration’s wiretapping policy?
I’m guessing it had more to do with superior storytelling, but I haven’t had the chance to see it yet.
Here’s an interesting look at the East German Stasi from the German Financial Times.

Film on Stasi stirs new interest in history
von Hugh Williamson
(Berlin)Millions of people have opened their Stasi files to be shocked by Intimate details of how secret agents recruited hundreds of thousands of informers to spy on innocent citizens.
On Sunday in Hollywood it picked up the Oscar for best foreign language film. Yesterday in the grey, east Berlin suburb of Lichtenberg the Movie The Lives of Others revived emotional memories of how the Stasi, communist East Germany's secret police, ruined the lives of millions.
The prize for the film, that captures the evil skill of one of the communist era's most determined - and feared - spy agencies, was welcomed by visitors to the former Stasi headquarters in this sprawling Berlin district.Christiana Barzik, a middle-aged West German tourist, said the film, about a Stasi agent who in the 1980s bugs the home of two artists and develops an unexpected sympathy for them, was a breakthrough.
"It's good that a German film has finally dealt seriously with such a sensitive issue," she said, standing among exhibits of spying equipment - hidden in watering cans, briefcases and overcoats - in the communist regime's rather threadbare former spy centre that was also a location for the award-winning movie.
"The film really hits home emotionally on how ingenious, and evil, the Stasi were," said Gisle Raasberg, a Norwegian who has seen it twice.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, an easterner, said the "sensitively produced Stasi drama had . . . touched people deeply".
Millions of people have, since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, opened their Stasi files, to be shocked by intimate details of how secret agents recruited hundreds of thousands of informers to spy on innocent citizens.
The film, the first by the west German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, has won extra resonance given recent revelations in Poland over church leaders' ties to the communist secret police, and worries in the US and elsewhere over civil liberty breaches due to tougher anti-terror laws.
Mr von Donnersmarck, 33, said recently that many people in the US who had seen the film had told him of parallels to concerns over increased state-backed eavesdropping in the US as an anti-terror measure.
Wolfgang Thierse, deputy president of Germany's parliament and a respected east German politician, said the film had an international appeal.
"The underlying themes of repression, cowardice, anxiety and alienation are not unique to the
Stasi or East Germany," he said.
He said many West Germans with little interest in unification themes "have also been touched by the film" which, with a budget of only $1.8m ($1.2m), has been seen by 1.7m people in Germany and launched successfully in France and Denmark.
Film satirizes Japan's economic bubble,1,5488027.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Los Angeles Times
In Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust, a movie now playing in Japan, a heroine travels back in time to the country's heady days of economic expansion and consumer excess – which ended with a thud, a turnabout that still haunts the Japanese today.
"It was a weird period of history," says Chihiro Kameyama, the film's producer.
Fuji Television Network TOKYO – Japanese audiences can be excused for feeling nostalgia for the 1980s while watching Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust, a movie about those champagne days when a man could drape a Tiffany necklace around the neck of a woman he had just met and friends would tell her to take it because "everyone's got too much money anyway."
Japan's bubble era seems surreal in hindsight: too much cash, too much consumption and zero recognition of the recklessness of those days. It ended in tears, of course. Real estate prices collapsed. Banks failed. And Japan embarked on a long period of economic stagnation.
Only in the past two years have economists declared the lost decade over, pointing to jumps in corporate profits and the vigor of Japanese stock markets. To the makers of Bubble Fiction," the economic recovery signaled that the time had arrived for a satirical look at this national trauma.
They figured that each new bit of happy economic news makes Japanese audiences better equipped to look back at their folly with amusement instead of anguish.
"If we had made this movie five years ago, it would have been a much darker comedy," said Yasuo Baba, the director. "Even last year, when the script was approved, we asked ourselves if it was an appropriate theme. There are many people out there who were burned by the bubble and still have bad feelings about it."
It's still a soft recovery -- incomes remain virtually static -- and the word "bubble" still frequently pops up in conversations here. The experience has been seared onto the consciousness of a generation now in its late 30s, 40s and 50s, much the way the Great Depression's misery dictated a lifetime of cautious spending habits for the millions it touched.
"People were spend-happy in the bubble days," Baba said. "If you were a newly hired salaryman, the first thing you did was buy an Armani suit. But in the last 10 years, Japan has raised a generation that will not spend. It's not an economic issue. It's psychological."
Baba knows the bubble era well, though he said he was not badly burned financially. His career was built on three hit romantic comedies made in the 1980s that captured the social essence of that time. After a bit of a lost decade of his own during which he drew lots of manga but made only one movie, Baba has returned to that period with Bubble Fiction.
The movie was made by Fuji TV, a conglomerate known for entertainment values and a finger on the public mood. For all the movie's cartoonish violence and lack of serious pretensions (the plot involves time travel to 1990 in a washing machine), it does offer a populist view of Japan's current troubles.
The movie opens with a debt collector harassing a woman named Mayumi at a funeral parlor as she grieves for her mother. He helps himself to the money in the condolence tray, an eerie reminder of the notoriously heavy-handed collection methods of Japan's loan companies. Desperate to get out of debt, Mayumi agrees to go back to 1990 on behalf of a small group of bureaucrats. They want her to correct the bad political decision that popped the bubble and will, if left untreated, push 21st century Japan into bankruptcy and a social implosion.
And it's in 1990 we find the villains: foreign bankers and their Japanese collaborators in business and government who are orchestrating a collapse so they can scoop up assets on the cheap. This has strong echoes of the current mood in Japan, where there is much muttering about foreign "vulture" capital firms buying fire-sale assets of buildings, golf courses and the like, and reselling them at a profit. In a reversal of the bubble era, when Japanese firms were picking off American landmarks, these days U.S. hedge funds scour Japan for bargain pearls.
This is the calamity that Bubble Fiction tries to undo with its time-travel trick. In the end, with the evil Japanese bureaucrat and his foreign cronies exposed, and the bubble's bust averted, Mayumi returns to a different Japan of 2007. Prosperity has continued unbroken. Family values are still strong. Japan even has won a soccer World Cup.
"We spent the most money on that last scene," said Chihiro Kameyama, the film's producer. "It is what Japan could have been, a richer, more fun place to be. "But the movie was not made with nostalgia," he added. "It was a weird period of history, and Japanese people know there is nothing to go back to. It was a bubble. And they know it had consequences."

Where's Tsotsi?

Last year Tsotsi won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, a huge win for South African filmmakers. So how did that film not win top prize at FESPACO this year? Hope to hear from folks who've seen both films.

African Film Festival Gives Top Award to Child Soldier Film
By Phuong Tran Dakar
04 March 2007
Africa's largest film festival, the Pan African Film and Television Festival, FESPACO, finished on Saturday in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Nigerian filmmaker Newton Aduaka took the top prize for his film about a child soldier in West Africa. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West Africa Bureau in Dakar with reporting by Zoumana Wonogo in Ouagadougou who spoke with festival winners. Aduaka's film, Ezra,tells the story of a seven-year old boy kidnapped by rebels and forced to fight in a civil war. Though no location is ever specified in the film, the story is based on the war that began in Sierra Leone in the early nineties. According to United Nations, around 10,000 children fought in Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war. In Ezra the child soldier attacks his village, kills his family, and denies all when called before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Filmmaker Aduaka accepted the top festival prize, Golden Stallion, as well as a check for $20,000, from the president of Burkino Faso, Blaise Compaore. At previous FESPACO festivals, Aduaka won Best First Work for his film Rage and Best Short Film for On the Edge, but this is the first time he has won the top prize. Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo won the Silver Stallion, or second place, for his film Les Saignantes, an erotic story set in the future of two women who try to win politicians' favor with their beauty. Chad's Mahamat-Saleh Haroun won Bronze Stallion for his film Daratt in which a young man tries to find and kill the man who murdered his father. Altogether, more than 80 films competed for the festival's six awards. Rhalib Jawad from Morocco won first prize in the documentary category for his film El Ejido, the Law of Profit, a film about African immigrants working in Spain. For films done outside Africa, a film from Haiti, The President Has AIDS, by Haitian filmmaker Arnold Antonin won the top prize. Daniel Taye Workou from Ethiopia was overwhelmed when his film Menged, which tells the story of a trip to the market by a father and son, won the short film competition. In his acceptance speech, Workou expressed the hope that Africans would have the opportunity to view more films by Africans. "To have a prize in West Africa being from East Africa is a very nice honor because it shows the story of my film is [appeals to all Africans]. I wish Africa can make quality films so we do not have to watch all the American films that come [just] because they are there and available," he said. "We have to have our own films that give the people hope, strength and identity." In the television series and sitcoms, Abdoulaye Dao became the only Burkinabe to take home a prize when he won an award for his series When Elephants Fight. Cyrille Masso from Cameroon won with his fiction video Confidences. Thousands of people connected with the world of African cinema attended the awards ceremony, including many Africans now living outside the continent, as well as a small number of non-African filmmakers. Over the course of the week-long festival more than 200 films from 44 countries were shown. When the festival first opened in 1969, five countries participated. Held every two years, the next festival will be 2009 in Ouagadougou, which will mark the 40th anniversary of Africa's largest film festival.

This Just In: DVD Releases

This 2006 German hit stormed the film festival circuit competing in at Berlinale, Seattle and Toronto. Actress Sandra Hüller won a Silver Bear in Berlin, director Hans-Christian Schmid won a critics prize at FIPRESCI and Hüller won best actress at the Bavarian Film Awards.

The film, set in the 1970s, tells the true story of a sheltered Catholic girl who breaks free to attend college only to have her epilepsy lead to an exorcism.

Al Otro Lado (2004), Latin America
These three stories of the bonds between children and their absent parents are directed by Gusavo Loza. In one story, a Mexican boy disobeys his father and visits a strange lagoon.

El de la Camisa Negra (2006), Mexico
Three brothers return to their hometown seeking revenge following the murder of their parents and face the town's new sherrif. The action flick is directed by Arturo Martinez.

Lagrimas de Cristal (2006), Mexico
This love triangle film, directed by Carlos Valdemar, is about a poor man who falls in love with an older, married woman. The husband loses a great debt and the wife creates a plan to help all three.

Strange Circus (2005), Japan
This fantasy shocker, directed by Sion Sono, is sexually charged and features a suicidal teen who witnesses many shocking sexual situations. Later her tale may simply be the basis for a novel written by a wheelchair-bound author.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Mexico City Winners

The Mexico City Contemporary Film Festival names its top films, with Romania, Mexico, Hungary (photo above) and Portugal taking the top awards.
The Romanian comedy Bucharest won best film while Mexico’s Born Without won best documentary. Born Without, by director Eva Norvind, tells the story of a man born without arms who plays the harmonica for survival.
The feature film Turtle Family, by Mexican director Ruben Imaz, won the Audience Award and award for best first film.
And it was a tie for Best Director. Hungarian filmmaker Gyorgi Palfi won for Taxidermia, which was lauded across Europe as a top film, and Portugal's Hugo Vieira da Silva won for Body Rice. Taxidermia tells the story of three generations of men, including a soldier, a speed eater and a taxidermist. (photo above)

Deadline Approaches for Hungarian Artists in Residence/Film Festival

A.I.R. International Artists Residencies - FilmFest -2007- Hungary

The Hungarian Multicultural Center is currently accepting applications for the
Csopak/Balatonfured - Hungarian International Artist/Writer Residency Program 2007
Submission Deadline: March 15, 2007
Program Dates: May 21 - June 13; June 18 - July 11; July 16 - August 8, 2007
Submission Deadline: April 15, 2007
Program Dates: August 7-10, 2007
The HMC invites interested visual artists, experimental short film makers and writers
to submit application for its residency/FilmFest programs in Hungary .
Exhibition/FilmFest are arranged at Congress Center, Balatonfured Also, we are
organizing an exhibition/FilmFest for the 2006, 2007 participants at Vizivarosi
Gallery, Budapest in 2008.
For further information including the Guidelines for Submissions, Application Form
and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please visit HMC's website at
http://www.hungaria n-multicultural-
The program is open to international artists working in all disciplines who are
engaged in the research, development or creation of work.
For application form or questions regarding the International Artist Residency
please write to bszechy@yahoo. com

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Guggenheim Film Fund

Guggenheim Sets Up
Film Fund
Gregg Goldstein
Hollywood Reporter
March 5, 2007
NEW YORK -- Financial services firm Guggenheim Partners is launching its first film finance initiative, spearheaded by founding ThinkFilm executive Daniel Katz (pictured at left) .

The initiative is part of a Guggenheim division that manages $10 billion. Katz will lead funding for independent feature producers with slates of about four to 12 films budgeted in the $5 million-$12 million range. The money will be used for production financing, P&A and distribution financing for independent features, studio films and corporate financing as opportunities arise.

"We're trying to empower filmmakers that are businessmen," Katz said. "This initiative is primarily for a handful of first-class producers interested in putting together a library of films and expanding the scope of their abilities, giving them the power to sell these films on their own. Studios are focusing almost exclusively on tentpoles and franchises, and we'd love to be the financial engine to fill the void they've left behind."

The practice also will support existing production companies that want to increase their production capacity, own more of their content, beef up their libraries and maintain and control the way their films are distributed.

Katz said he began meeting with people in the entertainment financing arena during his trip last year to the Festival de Cannes, and he approached Guggenheim with the idea for the venture a few months ago while he was ThinkFilm's vp acquisitions. Guggenheim had been considering a similar enterprise.

While it's an unusual transition for someone on the creative side of the business to move into film financing, the executive said his background makes him well-suited for his new position.

"After more than eight years in production, distribution, acquisitions and international sales, I know what it's like to be on the ground and experience the same obstacles and challenges as independent producers," Katz said, "so I'm better equipped to empower and invest in them and know what they need to succeed."

Katz served as an executive producer on two ThinkFilm projects, the Beastie Boys concert film "Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That!" and the upcoming bestiality docu "Zoo." Since his start as ThinkFilm director of acquisitions when the indie distributor was launched in 2001, Katz was instrumental in finding such indie hits as the comedy docu "The Aristocrats," the Oscar-nominated drama "Half Nelson" and the Oscar-winning docu "Born Into Brothels."

Guggenheim Partners, founded in 1999 with backing from the Guggenheim family's more than century-old fortune, supervises more than $110 billion in assets and provides capital markets services and portfolio and risk management advice.

Here Comes Hollywood

With a win for Best Foreign Language Film, Hollywood filmakers have swooped in on Germany's The Lives of Others and plan a remake.
Former Miramax heads, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, have teamed with Anthony Minghella and Sidney Pollack to bring the story to a wider, global audience.
The film was written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in his first-time full-length feature.

"Lives of Others set for Hollywood remake Staff and agencies"
Thursday March 1, 2007
Guardian Unlimited
Fresh from its success at this week's Oscars, The Lives of Others is to be overhauled as a Hollywood thriller. The German-language production won the Academy award for best foreign film to add to the European film award it won last December. The American remake is being arranged by former Miramax bosses Bob and Harvey Weinstein in tandem with the Oscar-winning film-makers Anthony Minghella and Sidney Pollack. Since its opening on limited release in the U.S. three weeks ago, The Lives of Others has made a respectable $1.3m. But a big budget, English-language version would guarantee a wider audience. "We would just desperately love for that film to be something that reaches more people," Pollack told Variety magazine. "We haven't gotten locked into making it yet, but we're working hard at trying to get it made." Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others plays out in 1980s East Germany, at the tail end of the cold war. The plot charts the experiences of a Stasi agent who is ordered by the East German culture minister to wiretap the home of a local poet. Von Donnersmarck's film has been compared to Francis Ford Coppola's paranoid thriller The Conversation and has been seen as an antidote to the cold war "ostalgie" peddled by other recent German films such as Good Bye Lenin.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Fresh off of his Academy Award for cinematography for Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo Navarro has reportedly agreed to team with Bollywood.

Navarro has agreed to work with Bollywood director Vishal Bharadwaj for a short film on AIDS. The 11-minute film is being created via funding from the Bill Gates Foundation. The film is slated to begin filming March 10 and will be called Blood Brothers.

"It would be in the thriller format. We don't want to preach to the audience. We want to entertain them. The message shouldn't come out as boring. All of us directors – Mira Nair, Farhan Akhtar, Santosh Sivan - are making films on various aspects of the HIV problem,” Bharadwaj told Glamsham magazine.

Navarro has photographed major films like A Night At The Museum, Hellboy and Stuart Little and has been a favorite of Texan Robert Rodrigues, filming Spy Kids, Desperado (aka El Mariachi 2) and From Dusk Til Dawn. Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro used Navarro on Hellboy and their Hellboy II is set for release in 2008.

While shooting Pan, Navarro used Moviecam compacts outfitted with Ultra Prime size lenses and variable primes (stocks 5246 and 5217 tungsten stock for daylight; 5218 for nighttime) He shot in format 1:85.

Navarro was born in Mexico City in 1955. He studied sociology at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Color Me Kubrick

A new film co-starring Richard E. Grant arrives in the next few weeks. Grant, prolific Mbabane native, plays a character named Jasper opposite actor John Malkovich.
Malokvich (above) plays Alan Conway in this true story about a man who pretends to be legendary film director Stanley Kubrick during the filming of Eyes Wide Shut in London. Kubrick, although exceedingly famous, is not a known face -- like Steven Speilberg. And Conway impersonates Kubrick with almost no knowledge of the director's films or personal life. Color Me Kubrick is directed by Brian Cook.
Now for the unusual distribution plan. Color Me Kubrick will open in theaters across the country on March 23 and will be shown digitally in Landmark Theaters where available. On the same night, HDNet Moview will broadcast the television premiere of Color Me Kubrick twice, at 8:05 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. EST. Magnolia Home Entertainment will release the DVD thorugh retail outlets on Tuesday, March 27, immediately following the theatrical release.

Pan Africa Film and Television Festival Update

Listen to Voice of America's report on the festival's first documentary competition.