She's Beautiful When She's Angry: Q&A with Director Mary Dore and More
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
She's Beautiful When She's Angry, a documentary about the Women's Movement, opened at Landmark's E Street Cinema on February 13 and is currently still playing there. Director Mary Dore and various guests were at a number of screenings the first weekend. This Q&A is from the 2:00pm show on February 14. In addition to Mary Dore and producer Nancy Kennedy, film subject Marlene Sanders was present. The screening was presented by Women in Film & Video DC and moderated by Catherine Wyler. This Q&A has been condensed and edited.
Catherine Wyler: Wasn't that the perfect movie for Valentine's Day! I'm Catherine Wyler and I'm thrilled to be moderating this talk about this movie. I'm going to let these ladies introduce themselves.
Mary Dore: I never thought of this as a romantic film, but it's a love film to the women's movement. Go to our website. We are having screenings all over. We are opening in Boston, We are in Chicago. We are playing in four theaters in the Bay Area currently--we've been held over twice; we're playing in Portland. We count on people who like the film to spread the word via social media. I love that this audience is mixed age-wise but we need more young people to see it.
Nancy Kennedy: I was Mary's producing partner on the film. We've been working on it a very long time and Mary has been working on this film on her own the last couple of years. It was a great learning process. I was privileged to work on it.
Marlene Sanders: I wasn't too visible in this film but a lot of footage I shot for my own docs on ABC in the 70s in bits and pieces appear. The thing I did in the 70s was report on the women's movement. A lot of the events you see in this film I covered. I knew the people involved and they tipped me off and I covered it for ABC. I was the only women correspondent at the time which was pretty ridiculous then. The men who ran the business department were completely clueless about the women's movement. They said, "You go. What is this?" In 1965 I was covering the White House and Lady Bird Johnson had an inaugural event for the Headstart Program, part of the Great Society. We got to know each other; her book had created a revolution. She said to me, "I want to start a civil rights movement for women." Of course this became NOW. I was able to hear all the formation planning, meet the people involved. And at the same time at ABC in the next office was a young women who was a news writer, Susan Brownmiller, whom you saw a lot of. As NOW became more visible, she joined the radical feminists. She said NOW was too conservative; we need something else. She and I were friends. So I had tips from everyone. When they did the banner at the Statute of Liberty we were there. This was a great opportunity. I'm so glad this film has been made. Because okay, I did some good documentaries and all, but they were shown once and then they were gone. So the only record we are going to have in the future of this important wonderful movement is this film. I just feel so happy it's been made.
Catherine Wyler: It's so moving to see the women then and now. Can you talk about the overriding idea of the film?
Mary Dore: The overriding theme of the film is complicated but I knew that I only wanted to focus on the very early years. I knew I wanted to show how a movement starts and I felt that was the part of the story that had been the most neglected. Overall, the reason this film took decades is because the subject is neglected. There's a lot of great written history on this including "Personal Politics" by Sarah Evans that really impacted me, about how the civil rights movement birthed the women's movement. But I wanted to cover the early years and in terms of showing people from both periods, it's important for you to realize how young and how brave they were.when they started doing this. They didn't have secure careers. They really jumped off the bridge in so many ways. When we found footage of them when they were young, it was so fantastic to see them talking when they were young. I didn't even know who Karla Jay was. So much of Marlene's footage is one of a kind. Nobody covered the women's movement the way Marlene did. Karla Jay who did the ogle-in. I didn't know who she was. I just knew this adorable mouthy woman saying, "What a chapeau." It was so hilarious. Then I read her book called Tales of the Lavender Menace, because she was in the Lavender Menace action. And she's talking about some of the events she did and I had to interview her.
Marlene Sanders: I don't know how I knew she was going to do that, but I was informed by somebody that I knew and I knew where they were going to meet on Wall Street and I came with my crew and we couldn't find them. It was busy down there. Finally we spotted them and we were able to shoot that. The fact is that everybody loves that sequence. That is the favorite. I now teach television reporting at NYU and I always show it to my class, and they love it. I'm so happy it mde it into the film.
Audience Question: Why did you not focus on the Equal Rights Amendment? Also it was nice to see Judy Klemesrud mentioned. She was very instrumental in getting the women's movement written about in the New York Times.
Mary Dore: This film only covers 1966-1971 and we did not cover everything. We had to be very selective and we chose the themes we thought were the most important. The ERA is very important but it also would take at least an hour long documentary to do anything on it. It didn't get any momentum until much later, so that's why it wasn't included and believe me, a hundred other things aren't in it either. But I think most people will agree that there's a lot in the film that most people don't know. Who knew that Fran Beals started the SNCC Black Women's Liberation Movement in 1968? That's an amazing fact that most people do not know.
Marlene Sanders: Judy Klemesrud was a feminist at the New York Times. There was, as Betty Friedan used to say, a kind of underground feminist infiltration movement of a lot of the media. I did it at ABC. She helped a huge amount at the Times. As the 70s emerged, all of us in the media organized within our own shops, the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, all the magazines, all the networks. We all had our own groups. At ABC it was a pretty small group. We could hardly find any women. We had to put notices in the bathrooms to find women in the company because the news department had me and three or four other people in lower level jobs. But it spread and all of us remember the people who were instrumental in this.
Catherine Wyler: I was shocked to hear that 6% of the books published were by women.
Audience Question: Why did you choose that title for the film? It can also have a derogatory, condescending connotation.
Mary Dore: I don't see it that way. It comes from a 1969 documentary made by an early radical group named Newsreel. They filmed women's agitprop theater on the streets, where they wore big signs on their necks, saying "I'm a big oppressive capitalist," or "I'm a battered housewife." It was meant to be very funny. When Nancy and I found that footage we both just loved that title, the title of that short film. The reason we like it is because it works on so many levels--it's satirical, it's in your face. And we've had a lot of criticisms and that's fine. But most people get that it is an in your face title to represent an in your face movement. We didn't want to make a film that was sentimental; it was complicated and you can read it on many levels. Some older feminists did say to us, "We don't like having the word beautiful in it." I don't see beauty as just a physical thing. I see it as spiritual and mental and for me that movement was beautiful and it had nothing to do with how they looked.
Nancy Kennedy: Feminists have been denigrated as ugly. But you can see how beautiful these women were. When we started interviewing the women, they were gorgeous and it came across in the movie.
Audience Question: What was left out of the movie? Will there be a part 2?
Mary Dore: This could have been an eight part series. Susan Brownmiller was one of the organizers of taking over the Ladies Home Journal. They almost tied up the editor and kept him captive for a number of hours--a day, and demanded that the Ladies Homes Journal change and cover real women's issues. And we couldn't fit that it in. And no, there will be no part two, at least by me. What's been amazing about this, it was impossible, it took decades, I literally wrote grants 20 years ago for this. Nobody wanted to fund it, nobody thought it was important. But because the film is having amazing success, we're in theaters everywhere, we're getting seen everywhere we're getting rave reviews. I believe other people will take up the topic and come up with their own version. Because every filmmaker has their own biases and their own interests. This film doesn't represent everyone it was what I really thought was critical. The tricky thing about making documentaries is: do you only put in the events that have great footage or do you deal with serious content that you want to have but that is not necessarily visualized? For instance, I chose to do a re-creation of the Lavender Menace action because although there are a dozen wonderful photographs from that, you cannot tell a two or three minute story with six great photographs. I felt it was such an important event. We rented our high school and everybody got to be either a Lavender Menace or a scandalized NOW member for the day. They all had so much fun. The yelling was unbelievable--we had to cut a lot of the audio out. That's what's complicated when you make documentaries. Because it's so easy to go where the footage is but sometimes the story has to be told even when you don't have that.
Marlene Sanders: About the Lavender Menace business, Betty Friedan never got over it. (everyone laughs) Everybody tortured her over the years about that. She was called too conservative with NOW. She was no conservative. She was very radical. But her view was, "I want to reach Middle America. I want to attract the most people possible." She thought the lesbian issue would be too distracting. But she wasn't right about everything.
Audience Question: I like the ending with the two guys saying, "This is what a feminist looks like." How can we involve our male colleagues?
Mary Dore: You can do that by e-mailing all the men in your life and saying, "I'll go with you to see 'She's Beautiful When She's Angry'." A lot of men were involved in making the film. I insisted on having all women shooting all the interviews because there's still a lot of discrimination against women in the trades. There's still not enough women DPs. It's actually worse than in the 80s when we went up a little bit, now it's going down again. Certainly in Hollywood it's ghastly. But a lot of men did a lot of things in the film and cut their rates and helped me in a zillion ways and gave money to the project. So it was all very causative. Some of our rave reviews are from men. We count on word of mouth. We want to get the film out to a wide group and not just the inner circle of feminism/activism.
Marlene Sanders: I did six documentaries at ABC. The first one in 1970 I had a female researcher and a three man film crew. There were no women in the union. By the second one in 1972 there was a female camerawoman. So she was hired. The rest were still men. By about three to four years later when I did an hour on Women's Health I had a totally female crew. And that was because of pressure within the networks. Because the women organized.
Catherine Wyler: What about today in the networks?
Marlene Sanders: The ways the networks have changed the crews have practically disappeared. It's the "one-man band." You have the producer-reporter and maybe one cameraperson. But it's a whole different generation. When I started, all the camera and technical people were from the old theatrical unions, stagehands and so on. It was father-son, it was a family thing that was going on. Now the people interested in this are in film school and they are mostly college educated people and there are men and women, so that's changed a lot.
Catherine Wyler: How about buying the DVD?
Mary Dore: We just signed a contract for educational release. If you go to our website, colleges and universities can buy the DVD. We are still clearing our music rights. That cool music cost a bazillion dollars. It was one of those insane decisions that you make. I wanted the film to be accessible to a wide audience and the music is wonderful. But It does not come free. We're still literally raising money so we can sell DVDs online and that will be the next step.
Audience Question: Are you showing this at colleges?
Mary Dore: We are going to be selling to colleges, We are doing screenings at colleges. They are already requesting it. We get about a hundred e-mails a day from places around the world who want to show the film. That's why clearing the rights is a big problem that we are working on. We can't make money from air.
Audience Question: Where do we donate?
Mary Dore: We have a donation button on our website. I just came back from California. We were screening in three theaters and the most amazing thing happened. We opened on Friday night. On Saturday in the San Francisco Chronicle there was a letter to the editor. It said, "It's so great that Selma is getting free tickets for students; that's wonderful. Why can't the same thing happen for She's Beautiful When She's Angry?" And somebody brought it up at the screening Saturday night. I mentioned that I'd been asked to get tickets for low-income students in Oakland and a woman in the audience said "I'm taking care of this right now." So we had over $1,000 to buy tickets for low income students. It happened completely spontaneously. We need to find a way to do that. There has to be a way online "do you want to donate free tickets for students"?
Audience Question: How much money do you need to get the music rights?
Mary Dore: Each song to get the theatrical release is $5,000 and there are ten-major songs and that's just theatrical; educational release is $1,000 per song. I've gotten those cleared. We are legally in this theater. It's going to be worse for world wide rights. A lot of many people have offered to help me and I've already had a lot of help. It is a rash decision. So many people have said they loved the music, it brings them back to the period. It's really important. Historical documentaries are always treated as boring and others are so much cooler, it was important for this to be an accessible film and the music is really important.
Audience Question: How much?
Mary Dore: At least another $60,000 and probably more.
Audience Question: Could you tell us something about the longevity of some of the other groups?
Mary Dore: We focused on a few deliberately. My first women's group study was Our Bodies Our Selves. I still have my original copy. I didn't know until I was doing research that they were doing this amazing international program. The other group that lasted a long time was the Chicago Women's Union, about eight years, but like many things from the 60s and 70s, there were internal fights and political takeovers. It's hard for groups to last a long time. So congratulations to NOW because you lived and you exist. We've done partnerships with NOW chapters in lots of places. Most of these were shortlived. The DC based newspaper Off Our Backs lasted more than 40 years. So there are things we don't have in the film that lasted tremendously long times. Some of the women's presses lasted a long time. Others were more ephemeral. Those comics by Trina Robbins were totally groundbreaking. A lot of things did last a long time.
Audience Question: A lot of problems from 100 years ago are the smae today. Setbacks and roadblocks have occurred in the movement. What do you see as the cause of this and how can be overcome it?
Marlene Sanders: Someone in the film said, "No change is permanent" and you have to keep fighting for it. That's certainly true of abortion rights. That is the major setback that we are facing today. There are so many good things that have happened. If you look at the medical and law schools and engineering, they had no women and now more than half are women. Some of these things are permanent changes. I wish I knew the answer. It's discouraging to see the setbacks, but you have to keep at it and pick your goals, get a group together and figure out what you can do.
Audience Question: (Male) I'm grateful to the movement because it gave me the possibility of not working full time and having that time to stay home and be with my kids. I owe that to the women's movement.
Mary Dore: That's one of the things that Betty Friedan was aware of, that women's liberation would liberate men as well as women. When you see a young man walking down the street with a baby on his chest, you know that's because of the Women's Movement. People have this idea, partly because we don't teach history very well, that these changes are gradual and natural. There's nothing natural about it. It's because people said, "We want husbands to help with childcare." Then it It happened, and it was good for the men and good for the women.
Audience Question: What was most effective in getting actual change? What was less effective and what have we learned through trial and error?
Marlene Sanders: Muriel Fox [co-founder of NOW] says what you have to do now is political. You have to get the right people elected and you have to keep the pressure on. They will respond if there is enough pressure. I think maybe that's the next area that we have to do a better job.
Mary Dore: Voting really does matter, although it's so easy to be cynical. People died to get the vote, people of color died to get the vote. Suffragists died to get the vote (in England.) It's easy to be cynical because so many of our politicians are so utterly disappointing, or incompetent. But it does makes a huge difference who you vote for and whether you vote. Right wing forces are counting on you being disillusioned and not voting. They live for that. Not only do they want to disempower poor people and people of color from voting, and doing a genius job, but it's also true that the bad politics we have today do help make people feel like it's hopeless. If you decide this is the issue you want to work on you can do it. It doesn't take a famous name or tons of money. That's why the women who did all this are so inspirational to me. The women from Our Bodies Our Selves weren't medical students. The women who defied the Pill Hearing sent 5,000 papers to people to ask about symptoms They did their own research to find out what was wrong with the birth control pill. Anybody can make those choices but you have to do it with a group of like minded people and not expect to do everything at once. I don't think anybody at the time knew what would be the big ripple of change. You cannot really foresee what's the effective movement. But look what you've gained, look what they gained and that we all profit from. There's just have to be more campaigns. and work with more coalitions and realize that some of the big issues right now that are also women's issues. The minimum wage, immigrant politics--those are important women's issues too.
Audience Question: What can you tell us about the process of gathering archival material?
Mary Dore: I went to all the networks and found footage that hadn't been dug up in 40 years. One advantage of being poor and having to take a long time to make a movie is that you can be really thorough in your research. I found that footage of Eleanor Holmes Norton buried in the ABC archives and it just said "Black Feminist." With that title of course I coudn't look at it. How could someone like Elearnor Holmes Norton not be named in an archive? They're all underfunded. We also got a lot of help from statewide historical societies that I called blind and begged for help since I couldn't go there and that's where that amazing piece where that newscaster said "We gave them the vote." Thank you Iowa Historical Society! (everyone claps). I asked her to look around the date of the big march. I didn't know if the women's movement was doing things in Iowa but let's try. And she called me back two hours later, hysterical, "I've found the most amazing footage." You have to spend time--it's hard to do archival work but its totally worth it because what you get may never have been shown even once.
She's Beautiful When She's Angry opened in DC on February 14 at Landmark's E Street Cinema.
Penguins, George Butler, Cuba and Climate Change: The 23rd Environmental Film Festival
The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, March 17-29, is the largest and longest-running environmental film festival in the country and the largest film festival in Washington, D.C. The 23rd annual Festival presents over 160 films selected to provide fresh perspectives on a wide variety of environmental issues facing our planet. A special focus on “Climate Connections” explores the impact of climate change on our world. The 2015 Festival features cinematic work from 31 countries and 96 Washington,
D.C., U.S. and World premieres.
Most screenings include discussion with filmmakers, environmental experts and cultural leaders. In addition to over 60 filmmakers who will present their film at the 2015 Festival, speakers will include environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, climate scientist Joe Romm, actress Kristin Davis and Tommy Wells, the new Director of the District Department of the Environment.
The 2015 Festival inaugurates a new award: the William W. Warner Beautiful Swimmers Award, established in honor of William Warner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Beautiful Swimmers, a study of the crabs and watermen on the Chesapeake Bay. This prize was won by documentarian George Butler’s new film, Tiger Tiger, spotlighting the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
The Festival’s Documentary Award for Environmental Advocacy goes to Academy
Award-winner Louie Psihoyos’ latest film, Racing Extinction, an urgent call to action to stop the global mass extinction of animal species before it’s too late. Canadian filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon, exploring the vital importance of the annual rains that fall on India, is the winner of The Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film. The Eric Moe Sustainability Film Award is given to Silent River, about efforts to clean up Mexico’s polluted Santiago River by the investigative reporter-filmmaker team of Steve Fisher and Jason Jaacks. All award winners are Washington, D.C. premieres.
Oscar-winning French director Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins) will present a retrospective of his films, including a Work-in-Progress, Ice & Sky, about French glaciologist Claude Lorius’ 60-year study of climate change in the glaciers of Antarctic. The Washington, D.C. premiere of Penguin Counters by local filmmakers Harriet and Peter Getzels explores how penguins in the Antarctic are dealing with climate change and the implications for humans. The Washington, D.C. premiere of Project Ice by local filmmaker William Kleinert examines the impact of diminishing Great Lakes ice on the heartland.
Filmmaker James Redford will show clips from his forthcoming film, Happening, telling positive stories about renewable energy solutions across the country. Director Jon Bowermaster will show a rough cut of his Work-in-Progress, Dear President Obama, Americans Against Fracking in One Voice, an appeal to elected officials to re-consider the consequences of hydraulic fracturing. The Burden highlights how the military is leading the fight for clean energy.
Opening night features the Washington, D.C. premiere of Bikes Vs. Cars, a Swedish film documenting the struggle of bicyclists in a society dominated by cars. On a similar topic, the U.S. premiere of the Dutch film, Bye Bye Car, explores the future of transportation. A special Festival Spotlight program presents the Washington, D.C. premiere of Planetary, a stunning visual portrait of our planet, followed by a multi-media Planetary Experience and celebration of the “Earth Hour,” a global show of support for earth’s ecosystem and climate.
The groundbreaking documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, argues that animal agriculture is the most destructive industry on the planet. Seeds of Time explores efforts to protect the world’s food supply by saving the one resource we cannot live without: our seeds. Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story exposes the appalling waste in our food system.
Films about Latin America include Landfill Harmonic, the story of children from a Paraguayan slum who play instruments made from garbage in their “recycled orchestra”; Marmato, about the clash between globalized mining and a town in Colombia and the Washington, D.C. premiere of H20MX, examining the barriers between Mexico City’s 22 million people and a safe, reliable water supply; the U.S. premiere of Lago Enriquillo: A Prelude to Climate Change, evaluating the effects of climate change on the largest lake in the Antilles. A program on Cuba explores its vibrant coral reefs and considers the impact that lifting the U.S. embargo will have on the country’s pristine environment.
Wildlife films include Virunga, depicting efforts to protect critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Congo; Gardeners of Eden about one family’s attempt to save elephants in Kenya; The Messenger, highlighting the global decimation of songbirds and The Leopard in the Land, documenting an expedition across Mongolia’s Altai Mountains to support Snow Leopard conservation. Winners from the 2014 Wildscreen Film Festival will also be shown.
The role of religion in environmental protection is explored in the program, “Can Religion Save the Environment in China and Cambodia?,” which includes the screening of China: Searching for Sacred Mountain and Fight for Areng Valley, a New York Times Op-Doc. The Wisdom to Survive calls for humanity to confront climate change and protect earth’s life support system.
The Anacostia River: Making Connections about restoring D.C.’s Anacostia River and Green Roofs: Riversmart Rooftops are among short films telling local conservation stories, along with films about the Chesapeake Bay and farming in Virginia and Maryland. Short films on local topics will also be shown in collaboration with the inaugural Montgomery County GreenFest.
Impact films created to have a tangible effect at the personal and policy levels include Resistance, exposing the overuse of antibiotics, especially in farm animals, and the catastrophic implications for human health. RiverBlue serves as a rallying cry to the fashion industry to stop polluting rivers across the globe. Programs highlighting “Filmmakers as Catalysts for Change,” presented with The Climate Reality Project, and “Film as a Tool for Peace and Climate Change” include short films and discussion. The panel, “OK, I’ve Watched the Film, Now What?” further explores the topic of impact.
The Environmental Film Festival, now in its 23rd year, is the leading showcase for environmental film in the United States. Presented in collaboration with over 100 local, national and global organizations, the Festival is the largest film festival and one of the largest cooperative cultural events in Washington, D.C. Films are screened at over 55 venues throughout the Washington metropolitan area, including museums, embassies, libraries, universities and local theaters. Over 80 percent of programs are free.
For the complete schedule, visit the Festival website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The International Rotterdam Film Festival
By James McCaskill, DC Film Society Member
For 44 years the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has been a leader in regional film festivals drawing films from not only Hollywood's best to up-and-coming international directors. This year was not an exception as festival leaders Rutger Wolfsofn and Janneke Stasarink said about the many sections of the festival: This year's festival "reflects the different sides of 'Rotterdam." Young, upcoming talent in the Tiger Competition and the Bright Futures section, more senior voices in Spectrum, while short films and mid-length films (up to 65 minutes) are combined under the umbrella of "As Long As It Takes." They see IFFR as a "platform, catalyst and reflection on surrounding developments. Through films, we can show how the world around is changing."
Photo from the International Film Festival Rotterdam website.
At this year's festival I had the opportunity to talk with the Icelandic director of a dozen films, Olaf de Fleur Johanannesson, on what the Rotterdam festival meant to him. "Rotterdam is extremely dear to me. When I premiered my first feature Higher Force, it launched the film and my name in a pool of attention that was immensely valuable for my next steps as a filmmaker. I see it more clearly with every year, how important Rotterdam helped my career; it's a sign and a proof to myself that I'm doing quality work that IFFR recognizes."
Given the gritty realism of Brave Men's Blood and the collapse of Iceland's economy seven years ago, I had to ask if Olaf's film was based on reality. He replied, "How real is my film? There are two ways to answer that. One is that it's fiction based on actual possibilities in our society. The other answer is that it's extremely real to me. Whenever I work on a story it 'happens to me' inside me. It's hard to explain. I don't consider fiction very different from reality. Reality is much more crazy than fiction. Reality doesn't listen to story structure; beginning, middle and end; reality doesn't care. But we honor this same reality when we do films, they all come from the river of actuality, otherwise they wouldn't come."
In my decade covering Rotterdam and talking with directors from numerous small countries whose films rarely get international attention, IFFR is often the pinnacle of their film career.
Directors exploring Olaf's 'river of actuality', where fact and creativity mix, has become the hallmark of Rotterdam's top films. Most of the top films do not have distribution yet. Let's hope they are picked up.
Photo from the International Film Festival Rotterdam website.
Through the festival's CineMart arm young directors are given financial support with their upcoming films. This year helpful funds were given to three films: the Ukrainian/German production Luxembourgh, Carlos Lechuga's new production Santa y Delfin and the Dutch/French/Belgian film Toxic Immobility. The Cine/Mart funds ensure that these films will be released in the coming years.
On making the award to Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's Luxembourg, a film noir with touches of a Western, the awarding panel said, "This year one of the CineMart's awards goes to a talented, daring and radical director. He is preparing a film that explores a world unknown to most of us: today's Chernobyl. Far from being a disaster film, it is a story about living in the Chernobyl zone, a world with its own rules, an almost primitive community that the director knows from the inside."
In awarding 5,000 Euros to Carlos Lechuga for Santa y Delfin, a film about Cuba, homosexuality, censorship, working class and intellectuals, the panel said that this has the real potential for a hit project. "We encourage the work of talented young filmmakers, we encourage daring films, films that oppose social conventions.
Nathalie Teirlinck's Toxic Immobility tells the story of Alice, an escort who abandons her baby son Robin. Seven years later Alice is reunited with the boy and they must find a way to co-exist. The jury said, "The award is being given to a project from a multi-talented first-time feature director who will tell a very strong universal story."
The major prize, as usual, goes to the audience favorite and this year that was The Dark Horse. In making the 10,000 Euro award to director James Napier Robertson, Festival Director Rutger Wolfson said, "The audience who come from all over the Netherlands and around the world to participate in the Festival and explore our diverse thought provoking program are integral to IFFR."
At the Toronto International Film Festival, director James Napier Robertson talked about making The Dark Horse, a film that has been called "one of the greatest New Zealand films ever made." The following are extracts from his comments.
"Absolutely there are non-actors in the film. All the kids in the chess club have never acted in their lives. Also Wayne Hapi, who plays Ariki had never acted before either. I found Wayne in a Welfare Office where he was looking for work, any work. We had a sign up saying we were casting and looking for men, ages 25-40. 'Tattoos and criminal record welcome.' We had a queue right down the block. Wayne had a stoic presence. Later we learned that he had a three-hour bus ride."
"One young actor was really bored on the set and we had to bargain with him. He loved hugs so I gave him a hug for each take. The crew was standing around waiting and wondering what was going on."
"I saw a documentary about the real Genesis and how he took a group of students to the National Chess Championship and one student won."
"When Genesis passed away it was one of the hardest periods. He had stayed in touch with our filming and we had hoped that he could attend the premier. We did bring Gen's wife and son to Toronto. They shared watching the film with the audience. Which was beautiful."
"We are constantly being told what we are. You need to believe in yourself and you can be what you want to be."
An award is also given to the Hubert Bals Fund-supported film. This year that went to Oscar Ruiz Navia for Los Hongos, an autobiographically inspired drama based around two skater friends who are at the head of the colorful, noisy street and youth culture of Cali, Colombia. Navia's debut film, Crab Trap (2010) won the Fipresci Award at Berlinale.
This year's Fipresci Award from Rotterdam went to Isabelle Tollenaere's Battles. The jury said this film "is a unique visual essay that blends elements of fiction with a more traditionally structured documentary style. Each chapter builds upon the last without being prescriptive. The sound and cinematography bring a fresh perspective on the naturalization of the culture of war."
The audience top 10 films:
The Dark Horse (James Napier Robertson, New Zealand, 2014). This powerful drama relates the true and very turbulent life of bipolar Genesis Potini who died in 2011. Potini, played by Cliff Curtis who is well known in the US for Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors, Potini tried to help young people who had gone astray to get back on course through chess therapy. Also in the cast is James Rolleston who starred in Boy (2010). The Dark Horse leaves a lasting impression on audiences.
The Farewell Party (Mita Tova, Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit, Germany/Israel, 2014). Mixing drama and comedy, this sensitive film won the Audience Award in Venice last year. To help a terminally ill friend, a group of friends, played by some of Israeli's comic stars, construct a self-euthanasia machine in a Jerusalem old people's home. Directors Maymon and Granit never allow this somber topic become too heavy but it does raise the ethical question about the right to death with dignity. The opening sequence gives advance notice of their light touch with a joke about whether one can play God. One of the great moments in the film is a surreal musical number about the desire for a better place.
Far From Men (Loin des hommes, David Oelhoffen, France, 2014). Based on an Albert Camus short story (L'Hote, The Guest), director Oelhoffen's screenplay is about an Algerian teacher (Viggo Mortensen) forced to take the Algerian murderer, Mohamed (Reda Kateb) across the Atlas Mountains to a French colonial court. The film has elements from an American Western as the teacher is reluctant to leave his little school for the arduous journey. Just as in those Westerns the men grow close during their trek through the Algerian desert. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis provide the atmospheric music as the men face bad weather, battles between Algerian revolutionaries and colonial forces, and villagers who want blood revenge.
The Life of Jean-Marie (Le vie de Jean-Marie, Peter van Houton, Netherlands, 2015). Similar to Boyhood, this film follows one person over the years. For six years von Houten followed Pastor Jean-Marie through the 25 villages in the French Pyrenees served by this seventy year old pastor. This is a film to savor, not rush through, with von Houton's camera lingering over this captivating Man of God. Not surprisingly, director von Houton's films have often screened at IFFR. The Life of Jean-Marie held its World Premier here.
Alice Cares (Ik Ben Alice, Sander Burger, Netherlands, 2015). Another Dutch film holding its World Premier at IFFR. What's in the future for the elderly? If Alice is any indication it might well be Social Care Robots. The film opens with elderly Mrs. Remkes looking into the camera and talking with Alice, a 60-centimeter-tall robot. At first Mrs. Remkes is hesitant: "I'd prefer a real person." "Oh, that's a shame" is the robot's response. It doesn't take long for Remkes and two other Old Age Pensioners, Mrs. Schellekens-Blanke and Mrs. Van Wittmarschen to feel comfortable conversing with caredroids that are made in the US by Hanson Robotics. Is robot care in our future?
Matthaus Passion Stories (Erbarme dich--Matthaus Passion Stories, Ramon Gieling, Netherlands, 2015). And what does Bach's St. Matthew Passion mean to you? This popular work by Bach has been a concert mainstay for many years. While Pieter Jan Leusink directs his Bach Choir and Orchestra in a Passion rehearsal he is also a main character as this piece played a dominant role in his painful past. Stories of the importance of the Passion to others, Peter Sellers, Emio Greco and the painter Rinke Nijburg, is seamlessly woven into the film. The St. Matthew Passion has had a impact on the lives of men and women, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters. Before the film ends you will find a connection to the secret of Bach's music.
Melody (Bernard Bellefroid, Belgium, 2014). An elegant look at motherhood and childhood and what makes a good mother. A sensitive drama about a rich English woman who wants a baby and a homeless women who wants enough money to open a beauty parlor and who agrees to be a surrogate mother. Melody moves into Emily's estate on the English coast. In time a bond is formed so that Melody finds the mother she never had and Emily begins to see Melody as the daughter she wants. Beautifully acted by Rachael Blake and Lucie Debay who together were awarded Best Actress at the Montreal World Film Festival.
Toto and His Sisters (Alexander Nanau, Romania, 2014). A tough documentary on a Roma family of junkies and drug dealers. It was gutsy of the family to allow a camera in on their most intimate moments. Ten year old Toto is once again waiting for his mother to be released from prison. The eldest sister, 14 year old Andreea, tries to keep Ana and Toto from falling into the drug habit of the mother and her two brothers, all of whom shoot heroin in front of the children. An orphanage looks like a better option than the cramped, dirty drug den. A Romanian institution uses tolerance to teach the semi-illiterate Andreea and illiterate Toto. A hip-hop dance group reveals Toto's hidden talent.
Key House Mirror (Nagle hus spejl, Michael Noer, Denmark, 2015). Growing older is never easy as 76 year old Lily finds out. Toward the end of her life she finds herself in a care home as her husband's strokes have rendered him comatose. The title refers to a memory test used in Denmark. Life returns to Lily through the attention paid to her by an 80 year old Swedish neighbor. An unexpectedly gentle film after his first film, the violent prison film R (with Tobian Lindholm, 2010), Noer still insists on realism so part of the film was shot in a care home with residents playing themselves.
No Men Beyond This Point (Mark Sawers, Canada, 2015). Sawers' comic mockumentary held its World Premier at IFFR. Imagine a world where men have become obsolete and the male population has been reduced to a total of one, Andrew Myers, who works as a housekeeper for a family of women. Since men have disappeared so has sex and violence. This mockumentary films women going about their everyday business and asked about their future. The fact that men were once in charge is not easily accepted. "It's payback time!"
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
Two programs of films by Oscar Micheaux are shown with music accompaniment by William Hooker: The Wilderness Trail (1920) and Body and Soul (1925).
The "New African Film Festival" takes place March 12-19. The Opening Night film is Triangle-Going to America from Ethiopia, with a reception and filmmaker Q&A. Other titles include Stories of Our Lives from Kenya, Black November from Nigeria, National Diploma from Congo, Run from Ivory Coast, Beti and Amare from Ethiopia, Where the Road Runs Out from South Africa, Soleils from Burkina Faso, White Shadow from Tanzania, The Samaritans from Kenya, B'ella from Malawi, Veve from Kenya, and South Africa's Oscar pick Four Corners.
"Leading Ladies of Hollywood's Golden Age" (February 6-April 16) is a serieshowcasing Hollywood's most glamourous actresses. This month we will see Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca (1942) and Notorious (1946); Joan Crawford in Rain (1932) and Mildred Pierce (1945); Bette Davis in The Letter (1940) and All About Eve (1950); Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress (1949) and The Dark Mirror (1946); Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932) and Blonde Venus (1932); Irene Dunne in I Remember Mama (1948) and The Awful Truth (1937); Joan Fontaine in Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) and Rebecca (1940); Lillian Gish in The Wind (1928) and The Night of the Hunter (1955); Jean Harlow in Bombshell (1933) and Red Dust (1932); Carole Lombard in Twentieth Century (1934) and Nothing Sacred (1937); Norma Shearer in The Divorcee (1930) and The Women (1939); and Mae West in I'm No Angel (1933) and She Done Him Wrong (1933). More in April.
The AFI is one of the many venues for the Environmental Film Festival with screenings of Blade Runner in the Domestic Cut, the Director's Cut and The Final Cut, Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko, Sacro Gra, Costa de Morte, The New Wilderness and My Name is Salt.
The series "Hollywood Exiles in Europe" (February 15-April 15) is inspired by the new book Hollywood Exiles in Europe: The Blacklist and Cold War Film Culture by Rebecca Prime. The series continues in March with Time Without Pity (Joseph Losey, 1957); Escapade (Philip Leacock, 1955); Eve (Joseph Losey, 1962); Hell Drivers (Cy Enfield, 1957); These Are the Damned (Joseph Losey, 1963); Stranger on the Prowl (Joseph Losey, 1952); Intimate Stranger (Joseph Losey, 1956); Impulse (Cy Enfield, 1954); and Zulu (Cy Enfield, 1964). More in April.
"Frank Capra in the 1930s" (February 6-April 16) includes Lady for a Day (1932), Dirigible (1931); Broadway Bill (1934); Lost Horizon (1937); You Can't Take It With You (1938); Ladies of Leisure (1930); Forbidden (1932); The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) with Victoria Wilson, author of a biography of Barbara Stanwyck; and The Miracle Woman (1931) also with biographer Victoria Wilson. More in April.
Special events in March include The Curators and Tommy.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer takes part in the "Discovering Georgian Cinema." On March 13 at 7:00pm is The Way Home (Aleksandr Rekhviashvili, 1981); on March 15 at 2:00pm is The Legend of Suram Fortress (Gergie Paradjanov and Dodo Abashdze, 1985), followed by Ashik Kerib (Sergei Paradjanov, 1988) at 3:45pm; on March 20 at 7:00pm is Blind Dates (Levan Koguashvili, 2013); and on March 22 at 2:00pm is Tangerines (Zaza Urushadze, 2013), one of the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film.
On March 1 at 1:30pm is Seven Souls in the Skull Castle (Hidenori Inoue, 2013), a filmed theatrical piece set in 1590.
As part of the Cherry Blossom Celebration are two anime films: on March 28 at 11:00am is Harlock: Space Pirate (2013) in 3D with director Shinji Aramaki in attendance for Q&A after the film. On March 28 at 3:00pm is Appleseed: Alpha (2013) also with director Shinji Aramaki in person.
For the Environmental Film Festival on March 21 at 2:00pm is a program of three short films from Bhutan with filmmakers present for discussion.
National Gallery of Art
While the East Building is being renovated, films are shown in the West Building and in other locations. Please check the locations for each show.
"Discovering Georgian Cinema" (January 12-March 26) surveys a century of filmmaking from Georgia with films shown at the Goethe Institute, the American Film Institute, the Embassy of France and the Freer Gallery of Art. Films are 35mm from international archives. See above for five films at the Freer. On March 31 at 7:00pm is The Wishing Tree (Tenguiz Abuladze, 1977) shown at the French Embassy. More in April.
The National Gallery of Art shows three films as part of the Environmental Film Festival. On March 21 at 3:00pm is Winter Nomads (Manuel von Sturler, 2012), about shepherds in the Swiss mountains, shown in the West Building. On March 24 at 7:00pm is The Stone River (Giovanni Donfrancesco, 2013) about quarries in Vermont, shown at the National Archives. On March 28 at 3:00pm is Levitated Mass (Doug Pray and Jamie Patricot, 2013) about the journey of a big rock to a museum, shown at the Gallery's West Building.
Other special events include Dust (Yukihiro Yoshihara, 1999), an experimental opera shown in the West Building. On March 29 at 4:00pm and April 1 at 2:00pm is Chris Marker's Level Five (1996), shown in the West Building.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
On March 26 at 7:00pm is The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga (Jessica Oreck, 2014), part of the Environmental Film Festival.
National Museum of African Art
On March 21 at 2:00pm is Sand Fishers (Samouté Andrey Diarra, 2012) from Mali.
National Museum of the American Indian
On March 21 at 3:00pm is Yakona (Paul Collins and Anlo Sepulveda, 2014), about the San Marcos River in Texas. On March 28 at 3:30pm is The Chocolate Farmer (Rohan Fernando, 2010), both part of the Environmental Film Festival.
National Portrait Gallery
On March 26 at 6:30pm is Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power (2014), a portrait of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and his goal of a nuclear navy. Part of the Environmental Film Festival.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
On March 21 at 2:00pm is the silent classic Safety Last (1923) with Andrew Greene of the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra performing his original score.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On March 23 at 7:00pm is Dorothea Lang: Grab a Hunk of Lightning (2014) directed by Dyanna Taylor, Lang's granddaughter, who will present for discussion after the film. On March 24 at 7:00pm is A Life: The Story of Lady Bird Johnson (Charles Guggenheim, 1992). An afternoon of films and discussion commemorates World Water Day, beginning at 12:15pm on March 22. All are part of the Environmental Film Festival.
"Top Secret: An Interactive Film Experience" is a series of spy films from both sides of the Iron Curtain. On March 2 at 6:30pm is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Martin Ritt, 1965); on March 9 at 6:30pm is The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1960; and on March 16 at 6:30pm is The Prisoner (Don Chaffey, 1961), Episode 1 of a 17-episode TV series combining spy fiction with elements of science fiction.
On March 24 at 6:30pm is Gambling on Extinction (Jacob Kneser, 2014). On March 25 at 6:30pm is The E-Waste Tragedy (2014) with filmmaker Cosima Donnoritzer present to introduce the film. Both are part of the Environmental Film Festival.
"Film Neu Presents" is a year-round series of new German films. On March 30 at 6:30pm is Superegos (Benjamin Heisenberg, 2012). More in April.
National Geographic Society
On March 19 at 7:30pm is the winner of the Eric Moe Film Award, Silent River (Jason Jaacks and Steve Fisher, 2014) a short film about Mexico's Santiago River. It is shown with two other short films Seeding a Dream (Bridget Besaw, 2014) and Reaching Blue: Finding Hope beneath the Surface (Ian Hinkle, 2014). On March 28 at 5:30pm is Planetary (Guy Reid, 2015), also part of the EFF. Discussion with the filmmakers follows.
On March 10 at 7:00pm is the documentary School of Babel (Julie Bertuccelli, 2014), about teenaged immigrant students newly arrived in France.
As part of the Environmental Film Festival on March 24 at 7:00pm is See No Evil (Jos de Putter, 2014), on March 23 at 7:00pm is Thule Tuvalu (Matthias von Gunten, 2013) and on March 25 at 7:00pm is Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (Grant Baldwin, 2014).
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On March 13 at 6:30pm is an award-winning sci-fi anime film Patema Inverted (Yasuhiro Yoshiura, 2013).
On March 18 at 6:30pm is The Kiyosu Conference (Koki Mitani, 2013), based on the novel set in 1582.
For the Environmental Film Festival on March 27 at 6:30pm is Sunshine Ahead (Toshio Lee, 2010).
The National Building Museum
On March 19 at 6:30pm is The Absent House (2014), about sustainable architecture. On March 23 at 6:30pm is Building Green. Both are part of the Environmental Film Festival.
On March 14 at 2:00pm is The Public Enemy (William A. Wellman, 1931) starring James Cagney.
On March 24 at 7:00pm is The Stone River (2013) about stone workers in Vermont, part of the Environmental Film Festival.
West End Cinema
Films in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival for March are Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story (Mark Herzog & Sandrine Orabona) on March 4 at 7:00pm. Q&A with film subject Kristin Beck follows the screening. The Homestretch, about homeless teenagers is on March 11 at 7:00pm; filmmaker Anne de Mare will participate in a Q&A.
On March 10 at 7:00pm is the award-winning Left Foot, Right Foot (Germinal Roaux, 2013) presented as part of the Francophonie Festival.
On March 5 at 7:30pm is Love Hunter (Branislav Bala & Nemanja Bala).
The West End also takes part in the Environmental Film Festival. On March 21 at 11:00am is The Land (Erin Davis, 2015) and on March 22 at noon is The Fox and the Child (Luc Jaquet, 2007), with the filmmaker present for discussion.
Landmark's Bethesda Row Cinema
"Movie Rewind" is a new series of classic films on Wednesdays. On March 4 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm is My Fair Lady (1964); on March 11 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm is The Godfather (1972); on March 18 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm is Vertigo (1958) and on March 25 at 7:00pm and 9:30pm is Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
Landmark's E Street Cinema
Japanese anime films from the Studio Ghibli are shown March 7-April 12. Titles in March include Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, Porco Rosso and Spirited Away. More in April.
As part of the Environmental Film Festival on March 18 at 7:00pm is A Dangerous Game (Anthony Baxter, 2014); on March 19 at 7:00pm is Resistance (Michael Graziano, 2014); on March 25 at 6:00pm is Rara Avis: The Life and Art of John James Audubon (Al Reinert, 2015), all three with filmmakers present for discussion; and on March 25 at 8:15pm is The Messenger (Su Rynard, 2015).
Embassy of Canada
On March 17 at 5:30pm is Project Ice (William Kleinert, 2014), part of the Environmental Film Festival.
National Museum of Natural History
On March 27 at 7:15pm is Monsoon (Sturla Gunnarsson, 2014), part of the Environmental Film Festival. See the website for more programs.
Interamerican Development Bank
On March 19 at 6:30pm is H20MX (Jose Cohen, 2013), part of the Environmental Film Festival.
On March 4 at 8:00pm is Goodbye to All That (Angus McLaughlan, 2014) part of the "Programmer's Choice" series.
The "Films in Focus" pick for March is Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (Catherine Gund, 2014) on March 11 at 8:00pm. Director/producer Catherine Gund will be present for Q&A.
The "French Cinematheque" film for March is Two Days, One Night (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2014) on March 18 at 8:00pm.
On March 25 at 8:00pm is the comedy Hill Start (Oren Shtern, 2014), part of the "Reel Israel" film series.
The Avalon takes part in the Environmental Film Festival with March of the Penguins on March 21 at 10:30am with filmmaker Luc Jacquet present to introduce the film and take questions. On March 21 at 1:00pm is Once Upon a Forest with discussion afterwards.
Italian Cultural Institute
On March 4 at 6:30pm is the re-scheduled film The Best Day of My Life (Cristina Comencini, 2002), part of the "Verna Lisi" series.
On March 5 at 6:30pm is Salvatore Giuliano (Francesco Rosi, 1962), about a Mob chieftain; the film inspired a real-life investigation into Mob activities in Sicily.
Anacostia Community Museum
On March 10 at 11:00am is Rebel, Loretta Velazquez: Secret Soldier of the American Civil War (2013), a PBS documentary.
On March 25 at 1:00pm is Selma (2014) shown on the 50th anniversary of Selma to Montgomery march.
For the Environmental Film Festival on March 20 at 6:30pm is Divide in Concord (2014), about the world's largest landfill, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. On March 27 at 6:30pm is Who Owns Water? (2014) a documentary by brothers David Hanson and Michael Hanson about the rights to water from rivers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
Embassy of Austria
On March 25 at 7:30pm is Population Boom (Werner Boote), part of the Environmental Film Fesival.
The series of Hitchcock films continues with Spellbound (1945) on March 5 at 7:30pm and Touch of Evil (1958) on March 14 at 2:00pm. Discussion afterwards with Tom Zaniello.
On March 20 at 6:30pm is Food Patriots (Jeff Spitz), about people trying to change the way Americans eat and buy food. On March 21 at 12:00 noon is Project Wild Thing (David Bond), about the filmmaker's attempt to get his children away from their screens and outdoors. Both are part of the Environmental Film Festival.
On March 18 at 1:00pm is The Manchurian Candidate (1962), part of the "Midday Thrillers."
Angelika Film Center
The Angelika Mosaic is the main venue for the Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival. See below.
Reel Affirmations XTra
On March 20 is Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan, 2014) at 7:00pm and 9:15pm.
The Woodrow Wilson Center
For the Environmental Film Festival, on March 18 at noon is Cotton Road (Laura Kissel, 2014) and on March 24 at noon is a program of short films from India and Ethiopia.
Busboys and Poets
The Homestretch, about three homeless teenagers, is shown at two locations: on March 22 at 5:00pm at the 14th and V location and on March 8 at 5:00pm at the Brookland location.
The Jerusalem Fund
On March 6 at 6:30pm is Nightfall (Mohamed Soueid, 2000), a documentary about the director's time in the Palestinian Resistance Movement.
George Mason University
On March 16 at 4:30pm is Through a Lens Darkly, about the role of photography in Afican American history, part of the "Visiting Filmmakers Series. Director Thomas Allen Harris and producer Deborah Willis will be present for discussion. Open to the public.
The Phillips Collection
On March 21 at 2:00pm is Memories of Origin Hiroshi Sugimoto (Yuko Nakamura, 2012), part of the Environmental Film Festival.