The Summer 2006 Coming Attractions Trailer Night
By Cheryl Dixon, DC Film Society Member
Much to my surprise and delight, Little Miss Sunshine, a small, touchy, feely movie won the audience’s favorite trailer applause at the Film Society’s Coming Attractions, Summer 2006 Trailer Night program held on May 9 at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Move over action blockbusters, and BIG CGI animated effects, this was the night for the indy film. Attendees enjoyed the cool comfort of the theatre and always witty and insightful comments on the trailers made by our fave co-hosts and film critics Joe Barber and Bill Henry. And the more vocal attendees got to actively participate in the no-holds-barred, opinion fest about 33 trailers for this summer’s sizzling hot releases as well. Plus, a bonus trailer.
Here are the rules: the audience rates each trailer on both its entertainment value and whether it more or less generates interest in seeing the movie. There’s an informal applause-meter to capture the enthusiasm and a formal ballot on which attendees can select from a 0-5 rating scale. Eight general film categories are chosen, from which the audience selects the best trailer within each category and finally votes for the “best of the best” trailer overall. Informal results indicated the finalists were: X-Men: The Last Stand, Sketches of Frank Gehry, Little Miss Sunshine, Monster House, A Prairie Home Companion, The Lake House, Art School Confidential, and The DaVinci Code, again with Little Miss Sunshine as the evening’s winner overall.
The free movie promotional items were plentiful and keep getting better and better: lots of free movie posters, t-shirts, CDs, DVDs, books; free soda and popcorn; and absolutely fabulous raffle prizes, including theatre and movie tickets were on hand.
Thanks to the DC Film Society Directors and Coordinating Committee for putting together this twice-annual event, especially Michael Kyrioglou, Jim Shippey, Karrye Braxton, Billy Coulter, Cheryl Dixon, Annette Graham, Larry Hart, Ky Nguyen, Adam Spector, and all volunteers. Special thanks to Joe Barber, Bill Henry, Allied Advertising, Landmark’s E Street Cinema & staff, Terry Hines & Assoc., Tom Grooms, and all participating film Studios.
Thanks also to our fearless audience. Remember, if you liked what you saw in the trailers, go see the movies. For those unable to attend our event, here’s what you missed. Hey, it’s almost summer, cool down and take a peek at what’s in store:
Bill and Joe’s opening remarks began with general comments about what will get you out of the house and into the theatres this summer and that no studio wants this year’s “The Postman” (read “clunker trailer”). So, enjoy the commentary, and remember Joe’s new definition for trailers: “Movies with all the dumb parts taken out … allegedly.”
Oops, They Did It Again I--The Further Adventures
The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Universal)
“The bigger the risk, the greater the rush,” so goes the tagline. This trailer features a grown-up Bow Wow (he’s not ‘Lil anymore) and lots of car action, but not much else. Responding to an audience query Bill and Joe said this is really Fast & the Furious 2 set in Tokyo, but without the thrill of the major stars. “No Tyrese, no Michael Ealy, etc.” Joe lamented, “Who cares about the Fast & Furious?” Well, many car-loving teens do and they also just might enjoy scenes of the Tokyo nightlife.
Mission: Impossible III (Paramount)
IMF leader Tom Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, returns withVing Rhames and Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Keri Russell, and Philip Seymour Hoffman are added to the mix. The trailer depicts a scene where Ethan is warned by Hoffman’s character that he will hurt Ethan’s girlfriend and then kill him while she watches. As always, trailer action abounds and also the shots are particularly tight on this round. The visuals in Shanghai and Rome and on a USA bridge all look terrific. Bill and Joe took a hands-up poll to determine whether Tom Cruise’s bizarre behavior would prevent attendees from seeing this movie. Hope not, though several hands were raised. The usual action/adventure/excitement/loyal Tom Cruise enthusiasts will not miss this one with the brilliance of Philip Seymour Hoffman as the arch enemy. Bill liked it, but Joe thought it was long on action and short on plot.
X-Men: The Last Stand (Fox)
Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and the other super pals return and align themselves under Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Xavier’s former friend, Magneto (Ian McKellen) when a cure is found to suppress the mutant X gene. This category-winning trailer looks terrific, the most clear-cut and comprehensive of the action flick trailers shown. Chock full of crisp dialogue, like “When you cage the beast, the beast gets angry” and “They wish to cure us” Marvel comics’ X-Men face-off and we want to be there when the battle begins.
Promising Movies During Siegal's Silly Season
Clean (Palm Pictures)
This trailer’s plot and theme weren’t entirely clear to the audience. Bill and Joe explained it’s about a woman who has lost everything due to drug abuse and must now find the courage to finally live the life she’s always wanted (including a reconciliation with her young son). “It’s about spiritual regeneration,” they said. Let’s hope that others can get this without explanation, after all the movie title is clear. Maggie Cheung won a Best Actress Award in Cannes in 2004 for her portrayal of the former drug addict. She’s joined by Nick Nolte as her son’s grandfather.
Down in the Valley (THINKFilm)
Cowboy Edward Norton and Rory Culkin (looking a lot like big brother Macaulay) are featured in what one witty audience referred to as “Brokeback Mountain for straight people.” Badboy Cowboy Norton’s character gets involved with Daddy’s girl, but Daddy doesn’t want him around, causing tensions between father and daughter. Bill observed that this sets up like Badlands for those of us who can remember Martin Sheen as the rebellious and murderous teenager in that 1973 movie.
House of Sand (Sony Classics)
This is a period piece wherein three generations of women “stranded by fate must survive by their spirits.” It features the talents of acclaimed actress Brazilian Fernanda Montenegro (Oscar nominee for Central Station) and her real-life daughter Fernanda Torres.
Mongolian Ping Pong (First Run). Mongolians eat eggs, watch TV, and live in isolated territory in this trailer. The movie focuses on a child’s imagination and outlook, no doubt influenced by the immediate environment.
Sketches of Frank Gehry (Sony Classics)
Director Sydney Pollack depicts, docu-style, the life and work of the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Commentators like Michael Eisner bear witness to the design genius and his creative process. Pollack comments that he didn’t really know much about architecture or this architect so he approaches his subject matter in that manner. The real treat is that we also get to discover Gehry at the same time.
Hoot (New Line)
Jimmy Buffett lends star power to the story of three kids who decide to “think big”, “take a stand,” and save the owls. Based on a popular book, this trailer explores the possibilities of the power of a few when daring to fight to protect an endangered species.
How to Eat Fried Worms (New Line)
This trailer about a pre-adolescent challenge to eat fried worms when challenged by the local bully received much applause. Maybe we could relate?
Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
This loudly-applauded winning category and overall most popular trailer in the program is a charming ensemble piece with Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, and Alissa Anderegg. The best of the best trailers included comical snippets about a young girl entering a beauty pageant and her dysfunctional family who decide to accompany her to the pageant.
Your Career in Cartooning Can Begin Today
The Ant Bully (WB)
Are you ready for Harry Potter-lookalike ants or rapping ants with gold teeth. You’ve been warned. A young boy who pesters ants gets his comeuppance.
“Under the cloak of darkness, the barnyard rises up and takes a stand. These farm animals literally stand up and dance. Watch the fun these original party animals have when the farmer turns his back.” Kevin James, Wanda Sykes, Sam Elliott, Andie MacDowell, Danny Glover, and Courteney Cox lend their voices.
Over the Hedge (Dreamworks)
Voiceover: “From the creators of Shrek and Madagsacar comes the story of a raccoon and a tortoise…” Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling lend their voices to these characters whose animal community is encouraged by the raccoon to seek out the world over the hedge wherein live the humans. The consequences of this new life for the animals over the hedge designd to keep them out, are explored. Nick Nolte, Steve Carell, Bruce Willis, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, Thomas Hayden Church, Eugene Levy, and Allison Janney also lend voice support.
Monster House (Columbia)
There’s something strange going on in a particular neighborhood house. This house is actually a living, breathing, terrifying creature that grabs and eats people. Three teenage kids must band together and save the neighborhood.
Funny People/Serious Business
The Break-Up (Universal)
Vince Vaughn’s and Jennifer Aniston’s characters fall out of love with each other, but not with the condo they both share. What to do? They decide to try to get the other to leave. Jennifer bares it all in this one.
Andy Sandler gets a special universal remote control every guy would want. It can fast forward and rewind everything that goes on in his life. What happens when the remote control goes out of whack?
Nacho Libre (Paramount)
Jack Black, portraying a priest turned pro-wrestler, scored high on giggles and applause.
A Prairie Home Companion (Picturehouse)
It’s the winding down stage of a live country radio show in a Robert Altman ensemble piece. With a terrific cast: Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, Matthew Modine, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Robin Williams, Tommy Lee Jones, Lily Tomlin. How could you miss?
Tallegeda Nights: Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Columbia)
It’s a Saturday Night Live mini-reunion. Molly Shannon and Will Ferrell are joined by Gary Cole, and Michael Clarke Duncan in a comedic tale about NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby fighting the competition.
Oops, They Did It Again II--The Remakes
The Omen (Fox)
A remake of the 1976 horror classic of the same name, the trailer is about an American official who learns that his young son may be the devil. Liev Schreiber, Julia Styles, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite star in a sequel designed to scare a whole new generation. Bill and Joe observe that those of us old enough to remember the original thrills and chills must not spoil the surprises for the young ‘uns.
This dark-toned trailer featured lots of fighting and an early Native American tribe. Attendees joked that this looked like a prequel to The New World. Jay Tavare, Russell Means, Wayne Baker, and Moon Bloodgood star.
There’s got to be a morning after. It’s New Year's Eve and the luxury ship, Poseidon, capsizes due to a giant tidal wave. Which of the survivors will make it to the top of the upside down and fast-sinking ship? Will it be Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Emily Rossum, Andre Braugher, and/or Kevin Dillon? Looks like some “Titanic”-like special effects have been added.
The Lake House (WB)
For the romantic in all of us comes the story of two characters in love, portrayed by Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, in a lakeside home, but not in the same time zone, but actually two years apart. Sort of reminds me of Somewhere in Time. This was my personal favorite.
Too Cool for the Summer
Art School Confidential (Sony Classics)
A humorous look at the art world as seen through the eyes of an art school student. Max Minghella, Matt Keeslar, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Anjelica Huston star. Genuinely funny trailer.
The King (THINKFilm)
A young man goes in search of his long-lost father. Gael Garcia Bernal and William Hurt star.
Look Both Ways (Kino)
Beautifully sprinkled with animation, this is a serious and well-acted Australian film, the story of dealing with the “deeper” things in life.
Fun look at The New York Times' crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and admirers, including Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and Ken Burns.
No Way They Are as Bad as They Look
Is this the Cotton Club down South? This musical about club manager Rooster (Big Boi) and piano player (Andre Benjamin) who must follow the direction of his father (Ben Vereen) or his lady (Paula Patton). Wonderful music provided by Andre Benjamin (a.k.a. OutKast’s Andre 3000). Patti LaBelle, Ving Rhames, Terrence Howard, Bill Nunn, Macy Gray, Cicely Tyson, Faizon Love round out the cast.
Trust the Man (Fox Searchlight)
Tagline: “Sometimes you have to be crazy to be committed.” Two couples strive to save their relationships, with David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Ellen Barkin, Billy Crudup, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Little Man (Columbia/Revolution)
From the talented Wayans family, a risqué comedy where a father (Shawn Wayans) is convinced a “mini-me” criminal (Marlon Wayons) is his son.
The DaVinci Code (Columbia)
Tagline: Seek the truth. Murder at the Louvre Museum + Da Vinci paintings clues = controversial religious mystery to be solved by Harvard man, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou). Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Jürgen Prochnow, Alfred Molina also star. Bill and Joe had great expectations for this film considering the huge audience that has already read the book and can’t wait to see the movie.
The story of the notorious “let them eat cake” French queen beheaded during the 18th century French Revolution. Release date scheduled for Fall 2006. International cast includes Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzmann, Rip Torn, Judy Davis, Marianne Faithfull, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Asia Argento, and Molly Shannon.
Silverdocs: A Film Festival Comes of Age
By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member
When Silverdocs began three years ago, it may have seemed like a noble but pointless idea. Who would be interested in a film festival with only documentaries? No one’s asking that question now, as the festival enters its fourth year. Documentaries are hotter than ever, with the success of Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, Murderball, March of the Penguins, and, most recently, An Inconvenient Truth. Silverdocs has emerged in a very short time as a major player, with sellout crowds and the attention of film distributors. Four out of the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary this year played at the 2005 Silverdocs.
The 2006 Silverdocs starts June 13, with a total of 100 films from 22 countries. As always, the films will play primarily at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. Tickets are available by phone at 1-877-DOCS-TIX, online at Silverdocs.com, or in person at the Silver Theater.
Recently I sat down with Sky Sitney, the new Silverdocs Programming Director, to discuss this year’s festival:
Adam Spector: Silverdocs has grown pretty fast, hasn’t it?
Sky Sitney: There has been unbelievable growth this year. We received more submissions, which was both a wonderful fact and a startling fact because we weren’t quite prepared for the extraordinary growth we had. We have doubled all of our premiere status films. It’s been incredible for four years to be at the place where we are.
AS: How many submissions did you have?
SS: There were 1,700.
AS: In addition to the submissions, will you travel around and look for films?
SS: Absolutely. I go to quite a lot of festivals. There are a number of reasons for doing that. Obviously it’s great to see the films there. It’s also really important to cultivate the relationship with distributors, with agents, with the filmmakers themselves. Have a presence, be able to represent the festival at other festivals where the kind of key constituencies are there. So it’s a combination. Wanting a film and selecting it for the festival you have to have a relationship with the filmmaker, the distributors. Assure them that this is the right place for their film.
AS: Is that a little easier now that you’re more established?
SS: Absolutely. It’s very rare that we’ve been in a position to be trimmed down as a venue for a film to go.
AS: There has been a tremendous surge in documentaries’ popularity and it seems like there are more being produced. Has Silverdocs contributed to that, benefitted from it, or a little of both?
SS: I think it’s a little bit of both. I think that there are many reasons for why this growth has happened. Some of it is the increasing economic opportunities, the equipment that’s available. To make a documentary film production-wise is much less expensive than a narrative film on 35mm.
AS: You mean with digital video?
SS: Exactly. Also, the way in which reality has become more mainstream. People with their webcams and their MySpace blogs and the way in which this kind of hybrid reality television is very pervasive. Almost every person has in some way or another made their own documentary with their own home video camera or even with their own cell phone. The mode of production is so pervasive and become so familiar. Also I think there’s a great demand for it, greater comfort with it and obviously in the past number of years the theatrical success of documentaries has made it more of an important genre that distributors are picking up.
AS: What are some of the new features in Silverdocs this year?
SS: There are certain kinds of structures that are in place from year to year. We have films in competition. We have an ongoing music documentary program. There was one last year and we realized it was so popular, that there are so many films in music that we wanted to continue it. We always have what we call strands, thematic programs. One is called “Docs Rx.” It’s on global health films. While documentaries can be very fun and be very entertaining they also have the power to create incredible change politically. In this arena, where we have the avian flu on the horizon, there are countries where the AIDS epidemic continues to persist, we felt that it was really important to dedicate some energy to a program in which we looked at documentary filmmakers who were using film as a way to articulate these issues and create change. Another program is called “Celebrate South Africa.” We have done a cultural exchange program where the members of Silverdocs brought some films from the previous years to South Africa, to Johannesburg and Cape Town. We would then bring the emerging filmmakers back from South Africa to show their work here. We’re very excited about the filmmakers that are coming.
I think there are a number of films on our program that our quite exquisite. One of them is called Jesus Camp by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady who won our audience award last year for Boys of Baraka. This film I think is a very balanced portrait of the newest generation of Christian evangelicals and the parents and the teachers and all the people who are involved in teaching them very specific beliefs. Depending on where you fall in that spectrum you’ll take no offense to anything in the film. But for those who feel that this is inappropriate, that religion shouldn’t mix with politics, I think you’ll find the film quite startling. So that’s an example of one of the films that deal with religion in the program.
AS: There are many political films this year, including ones that deal with Iraq, Guantanamo, Katrina. Is that more a reflection of the types of documentaries that are out there or is that consciously knowing that you have a DC audience?
SS: I very strongly feel that this is what was out there. It’s in many ways a part of the growth of documentaries and the political climate which we’re in. I think that people feel compelled to make works that are something alternative to the media that they see, when they don’t feel that certain positions are being articulated. I think that it’s no mistake that there is an enormous amount of work out there right now and has been for the past few years that is highly political in content because of the highly politically charged environment that we’re in.What is very exciting about being in DC is that when we bring the films here we have the opportunity to enhance the program by bringing really interesting moderators and special guests who engage in discussions that you won’t find anywhere else. A brief example: One of the films that we’re showing is called The Trials of Darryl Hunt about a man who was grotesquely, wrongly convicted for a crime. There was absolutely nothing that could suggest that he had done the crime, including DNA evidence to the contrary. Someone else had confessed to this crime.
AS: Kind of like a Thin Blue Line situation?
SS: Even more vulgar in how there was ample evidence to the contrary. What’s exciting about bringing the film here is that we’re also pairing up with The Justice Project and they’re bringing to the discussion Darryl Hunt and Kirk Bloodsworth, the first man in the US to be exonerated from death row with DNA evidence.
AS: You’re having Martin Scorsese and Al Gore this year. In other years you’ve had Barbara Kopple and Geraldine Chaplin. How important is it to get big names at Silverdocs?
SS: It’s a question of if a tree falls in the forest, you know what I mean (laughs). The truth of the matter is that we are utterly thrilled to be able to honor Scorsese in the most genuine of ways. If it weren’t for the incredible success of his narrative work he’d also be known as a tremendous contributor to the documentary form.
AS: You don’t think of him that way, but when you list his documentaries...
SS: The Last Waltz, Italian-American, A Personal Journey Through American Movies... So we’re kind of excavating it in a certain way and saying “Look at this body of work that’s been in the shadows of this other body of work that winds up with more attention.” I’m really excited that Jim Jarmusch is going to be moderating. It’s unexpected and it’s going to be really interesting.
AS: Let’s discuss some of Silverdocs outdoor events.
SS: We have a number of outdoor events. We’re continuing with the outdoor screenings. We have an outdoor screening this year for the restored print of The Last Waltz on the night that Scorsese will be there (Thursday, June 15). Then also, as part of our South Africa program, we’re showing the world premiere of a film called Soweto Blues on June 17, which happens to be the 30th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, which also happens to be one of the critical youth uprisings that spurred the beginning of the end of apartheid. So this film about the music during the time of apartheid was very political but became, in some ways, a backdrop to it. Prior to that screening we’re going to have a wonderful concert with South African musicians, including dancers.
We also have a number of things going on as part of our music program that are not outdoors but in our Cinema Lounge that are for our ticketholders. One of them is a film called Danielson, a family movie about a Christian rock band. It’s about how difficult it is for them to break into the indie rock scene with this kind of religious aspiration. They tend to dress in various costumes while they perform--they’re almost performance artists. So the film will be screening Saturday at 5:00pm followed by a performance by the Danielson family. We’re also having a world premiere of a film called Punk’s Not Dead, which is not just about the origins of the punk movement, but how it is today, how it’s been co-opted to some extent by the mainstream culture. True punk still exists. The film touches on many important DC bands. I’m going to have a party following that screening for the ticketholders as well with a number of punk bands performing. We try to create ways in which the films have a life outside the screening facility.
AS: Any thought to making the festival longer? I’ve noted that in previous years there would usually be two or three showings of a film, and this year it’s only one. Any thought to maybe expanding the length of the festival?
SS: Our thought is that we would either move from six days, where we are, to ten days, or, if we had access to other screening facilities, we could conceivably have more films being seen simultaneously. We absolutely see it as necessary and it just requires careful thinking and planning so we can make sure that we can maintain the integrity of the festival and the cohesiveness of it. But growing is definitely part of our future.
AS: Let’s talk about Jonestown: The Life of People’s Temple for a moment. Everyone knows about Jonestown. The phrase “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” has been around as long as I can remember. What’s new in this documentary?
SS: The footage is largely taken from actual survivors, footage that they themselves shot. I have never, ever before seen such intimate footage and have had such insight. And when I say the subject, I mean the subject broadly--not Jim Jones specifically although you see a great deal of footage from him. Director Stanley Nelson weaves in all this archival material, which has never before been seen, with interviews with everyone, including Jim Jones’s son. One thing that came as a surprise to me was actually how, in its earlier incarnation, how idyllic it was. I felt that I understood why and how people were enticed by this. It was a kind of utopic dream that turned dystopic. It turned into a nightmare.
AS: You earlier mentioned South African films. One of them is His Big White Self, which features the head of the African Nazi Party, Eugene Terreblanche. Is there any concern about giving someone like that a platform?
SS: You’d realize right away that it’s not the case whatsoever. People will say this is Nick Broomfield’s greatest film and Broomfield is a superstar of documentary. He did Kurt & Courtney and the Aileen Wuornos film. He’s one of the big ones on the scale of Barbara Kopple--working for decades and, like him or not, he is a very significant filmmaker. We have the US premiere of the film. It’s important to know that this is a follow-up to another film he did (The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife). What’s fascinating about this film is that politics have changed so much in South Africa since the original film and Nick is trying to have an interview with this guy. It’s largely a cat-and-mouse chase. Really what the film is about is the new face of South Africa post-apartheid. Also what you discover is how this Terreblanche’s own attitudes have changed significantly. It’s a little bit of a reconciliation.
AS: Has he mellowed some?
SS: Yes he has. What’s fascinating is that Broomfield tracks down a lot of the same characters who were involved at the time and sees how they’re doing in a post-apartheid South Africa. It’s kind of depressing because many of them deeply long for the days prior to it when--
AS: When they had power.
SS: Exactly. But I think the trip is important. The reality here is that Terreblanche is not given a platform here at all. However, even if he were, even if there were some room in the film where Nick Broomfield allowed him to articulate his views, I’m not afraid of it. I feel like an intelligent filmmaker is not afraid of presenting provocative points of view as long as it’s framed intelligently. As long as it’s not propaganda, I don’t think we should steer away from challenging material even if it’s offensive.
AS: Not all the documentaries are on such serious subjects. I couldn’t help notice one on the F-word. Is that going to be this year’s The Aristocrats?
SS: We really believe it will be. It’s an absolutely hysterical, engaging and thoughtful film that truly breaks down in every possible way the F-word and probes into it. But it’s also symbolic of questions of censorship, of the power or words and the superficiality of them. If you choose to, you can find something deeper under the surface, which is precisely the way in which certain things can take on power.
AS: Wordplay is another doc that has already gotten a lot of buzz. After that showing New York Times Crossword Editor Will Shortz will host a crossword challenge. Are you signing up for that?
SS: If I’m not introducing a million other films I will sign up for that. But I would highly recommend others do. I love Will Shortz and I’m delighted he’s going to be here. His persona in the film could not be more delightful. But it is more than just about Will Shortz. You get to know all these wonderful subjects where the crossword puzzle is an important part of their life. Some of the subjects include Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and Jon Stewart but also everyday folks who have a particular talent for this. The dramatic structure of the film is a crossword challenge that they do every year. I love this film in so many ways--I think that it’s a real crowd pleaser.
Another film that I’ll mention is Once in a Lifetime. It’s interesting that the World Cup is going to be happening simultaneously to Silverdocs. This is a film about an attempt in the 70s to create a soccer team, the Cosmos. This was a world class team.
AS: Was that the one with Pele?
SS: You got it. It’s a look at the rise of it, all the promise, looking like it was going to be a tremendous success. It just didn’t happen. I think that would be something for the family to come to see during the weekend.
AS: One other one that’s more on the lighter side is Air Guitar Nation. I didn’t know there was an air guitar contest. That might be the only music contest where I’d actually have a shot.
SS: There you go. You know what, we’re going to have an air guitar contest so if you really think you have a shot you should show your “aireoke” charms, but basically it’s wonderful. It both takes it seriously and irreverent all at the same time. There is a world championship in air guitar. Some of the characters you’re going to see on the screen have talent. This is an incredibly fun film. It’s the type of thing that anyone could walk out of and say, “I could do that.” We’re going to have a number of the air guitar champions here post-screening and see their whole journey. Essentially what the film follows is the fact that there is an international air guitar championship that the US has never participated in. The film follows a number of people in the US who decide that they want to bring the US to Sweden to participate.
AS: I know it’s hard choosing, but what are some of your other favorites?
SS: I’ll tell you about some films not because they have a closer place in my heart, but that they would be of particular interest to the community. One of them is Darkon, which is definitely also on the lighter side. This is basically about a number of people in Baltimore, our neighbors, who engage in real life fantasy role-playing, action-playing. They have this whole world, the world of Darkon.
AS: These aren’t people sitting around playing Dungeons and Dragons.
SS: No, it’s taking the idea of Dungeons and Dragons but, instead of playing it on a board game, they themselves become the characters, go out to the fields and stage battles and actually live entirely fabricated lives. What I love about this film is that at first you think, “This is gonna be great. I’m going to laugh with and at these people. How silly, how strange for them to take it this far.” Towards the end you begin to realize that it’s really a mirror for all of us. We all have so many roles. You realize with this film that this is just being much more blatant and obvious about the nature of the roles. And what I think is interesting here also is that a number of the subjects are trying to develop personalities and skills. Maybe be a little more assertive at work for example. It’s almost cognitive therapy. Be able to act out certain behaviors that they would actually like to have and take it back into their life.
Another that seems to have local significance would be American Blackout. Cynthia McKinney will be at Silverdocs after the screening. American Blackout is essentially an investigation into a belief and an argument that in the 2000 and 2004 elections there was significant disenfranchisement of black voters. Director Ian Inaba focuses on the types of things that have happened to sabotage this vote.
One of the highlights of our “Docs Rx” program is something called Breast Cancer Diaries, the world premiere. It follows a young mother of two who is diagnosed with breast cancer and you follow every meticulous detail of her road to recovery. Silverdocs, in conjunction with showing the world premiere of the film, will have a community diary. Throughout the week of Silverdocs people who want to can talk on camera about their experiences with breast cancer or someone close to them with breast cancer. It can even be practitioners involved in trying to eradicate breast cancer. We’re going to produce this and edit it and show it as a short prior to the world premiere of the film.
There’s a very controversial film that we have called The Bridge. It’s essentially about a site of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is in fact the site where the greatest number of suicides happen anywhere in the world. The filmmaker, Eric Steel, read an article in The New Yorker about the Golden Gate and how this has become such a pervasive site for suicides and why architecturally no one has changed the structure to make it more difficult for suicides to take place. Steel decided to stake a camera every single day for 365 days and just shoot the bridge and caught on camera 24 suicides. He then investigated the choice made by the people whose deaths he captured. He talks to family members and friends and looks into what led these people there. I know this sounds maybe revolting and unethical. I will also say Eric Steel prevented a number of suicides.
I think it brings up a lot of questions--about voyeurism, about audiences participating in it--I think that we should also be asking these questions. This is kind of film that stuck with me. For that reason I thought it was important to show and not run away from it. However, I don’t encourage anyone to see it if they think they will be deeply disturbed by it. We put a warning on the film as well. I just want to leave it up to the audience to make the decision for themselves.
I want to bring up one more film, What Remains. This is a film about Sally Mann, a tremendous but also very provocative photographer and her newest body of work. The Corcoran plays a very important role in the story because it directed a project that she worked on for quite some time that did not look like it was going to be fulfilled. We’re delighted that she will be coming to the festival; she’s from the area. That’s part of her motivation to come.
AS: What’s her project about?
SS: It’s essentially about death and decay but shot in a very beautiful way. There’s some kind of analysis in the film of her husband who, unfortunately, has a degenerative illness. One can’t help but make the leap logically that she became occupied with this type of project as a way to articulate the complexities about her husband’s illness.
AS: Anything else that you want people to know about Silverdocs that we haven’t covered?
SS: If a film is sold out, many tickets are released for a standby line, so don’t necessarily be frightened off by that. Many films seem sold out because we have to hold tickets for pass holders but we release many seats on the day of the show. Silverdocs is just an extraordinary opportunity for people to go see an incredible range of films that they may never have a chance to see again. Many of the documentaries will not necessarily get distribution. This is a rare opportunity. But even more than that, it’s an opportunity to see a beautiful theater and have the filmmakers there and really special guests there to talk about these films. I feel very strongly that these films are extraordinary, that they’re beautiful and diverse. Everyone will find something that will move them, make them laugh, make them think. That’s my push.
Olivier Assayas' New Film Clean
From the press notes
Clean, which was shown at the 2005 Filmfest DC, is finally getting a commercial release here, scheduled for June 9 at Landmark's E Street Cinema. Director Olivier Assayas made these comments:
Can there be life after living through the chaos and excess of youth, or can we expect only reason and order? Can we come to terms with ourselves, or are we condemned to a life of mere survival, as shadows of our former selves? Society tells us relentlessly to live for today, and offers instant gratification through the consumer goods that it puts at our disposal. Drugs are still the best way of achieving precisely that aim. They give us the peace that we ache for, and give satisfaction, just like medicines, which treat the symptoms and leave the disease untouched.
Yet, living in this eternal present day: that of youth, however extended, that of the unconscious, that of drugs, cannot last. One day, you wake up. Time comes calling. Time comes calling for Emily, who has lived this adventure to its very edge. She has created nothing, she has never done anything other than to destroy herself, taking self-destructive pleasure in doing so. She has dragged along with her all those who have been close to her. But one day, this flight: from the present that propels her forward must come to an end.
So then, what’s left? A devastated and desolate landscape; the ruins of past and forgotten dreams. That same self whom we tried to escape from during all these years, sometimes for a lifetime. But the moment always comes when we have to come face to face with ourselves. But afterwards? When one comes back? What then? An unreal life? Or, do we have a chance to reinvent ourselves? What if the only way forward is exactly this: our ability to draw on our own resources to choose between life and death, to be able to recognise and choose the tenuous path that links us to the living, and to ourselves, alive, constantly evolving.
Cinema is such a heavy machine. I try to have a lighter touch. It is something I’ve always been trying to find. I think that heaviness is the worst thing in the world and I try to take that weight out of my work. The lightness of touch is what Impressionist painters have and that’s really worth aiming at. The screenplay is one of the steps that takes you to wherever the film is leading you. I don’t believe in screenplays as some kind of literary work. The words are a starting point. I am more than happy when actors add whatever they feel. The ideas have to be simple and then they take life through the actors. The words become what they are because the actors lift them up. I rely on the actors and audiences do too. Audiences relate to a film through actors and when you make a film, you have to trust in the actors, believe in them. They are the flesh and blood and the life.
Clean started with writing a story and characters and then a screenplay. The story is fiction, but it goes back to the desire I’ve had to write something for Maggie Cheung. I wanted to construct a project around her where she is not a Chinese woman in a Western film or playing some archetype of a Chinese woman. In many ways, Maggie is more Western than Chinese and I wanted to create a character that any actress could play. I dropped the idea until a couple of elements clicked together that made sense in a story. It’s not something I can force; it comes very naturally. I had written quite a bit, but I wanted to cut it down to leave the essentials. This needed to be a very simple story focusing on the emotions that related the characters to each other. I wanted to simplify it.
Robert Altman's Prairie Home Companion: A Press Conference With Robert Altman and Meryl Streep
By Leslie Weisman, DC Film Society Member
At the packed press conference at the Berlin International Film Festival, director Robert Altman was asked why he thought the “Prairie Home Companion” radio show was so popular not just in America, but around the world. Altman attributed its success to its honesty and simplicity: “It’s a radio program; it doesn’t try to be anything else... It’s quintessentially American, yes.” Altman, who told the assemblage he wasn’t that familiar with “Prairie” before beginning the film, said he had “tried to capture the soul of American humor.”
Meryl Streep, who plays the role of singer Yolanda, confessed to being a longtime fan of the show despite being “a jaded, very sophisticated, seen-it-all” New Yorker, saying it was great to “locate something true about America, something that cuts across all levels of humanity and Americanism.” Besides, she added without a trace of false modesty or pretense, “I’ve waited all my life to work with Robert Altman, and had to wait till I was old and broken down for him to hire me.” (For Streep fans, be advised that she will be doing “Mother Courage” in Central Park, a venue she loves: “”Because it’s free, because it’s where people know you’re giving it to the night sky, they come because they want to see it” and not, went unspoken, to be seen. This will be her first stage performance: “I have so many children, I have to be at their plays. It’s something I chose, and I’m very happy about it.”
To the question of how she felt being in a “sentimental” film in a year that’s seen some penetrating political films that address critical issues, including the world’s perception of America, which is not always positive, Streep returned that “Prairie” was “properly subversive” because it “communicates what’s being lost... I know it’ll find an audience at home... we have high hopes for it.” (To this, one of the company irrepressibly interjected: “There’s always video.”) Adding that “films always reflect the times they’re a part of,” Altman asserted that “every film is political, overtly or not,” and that while George Clooney “deserves an enormous amount of attention and credit [for his films]... all films reflect their times.”
Asked how he manages to make “such true films, so true to each subject,” Altman allowed as it proved he didn’t have much to do with them: “I just shoot the cast and leave it to them.” (Somehow we suspect there’s more to it than that.) As to why he generally focuses on several characters rather than on one or two, like most directors, Altman said it’s a fail-safe mechanism: if you find that one doesn’t work, you have more to fall back on. As for the engagement of Paul Thomas Anderson as backup director in case the elderly though still vigorous Altman was unable to finish shooting the film, Altman said warmly that Anderson “couldn’t have been more helpful and less intrusive. A great deal of what this movie is, is owed to Paul.”
When queried whether the Honorary Academy Award he would receive on March 5 made up for not having received an Oscar for any of his films (though he was nominated five times), Altman said it was better and more gratifying to be recognized for all of one’s work, rather than just one or two things.
A Prairie Home Companion opens at the AFI on June 9.
The Proposition: Comments from the Filmmakers
From the press notes
The Proposition opened in the Washington area on May 26. Director John Hillcoat made these comments:
"I have always wanted to make an Australian Western. I became convinced that through both the mythic force of the rugged Australian landscape and the country’s brutal history, the legendary power of the Western genre could be reinvented in a specifically Australian context. There are the epic themes of conflict between the law and the outlaw, the oppressor and the oppressed, man and nature. The cruel reality of the Australian frontier is the story of violent conflict: white on white, white on black, black on white, and black on black. Our mission was to depict this Australia as never seen before.
Our key characters are inextricably locked into a destiny they cannot alter. The film is an elegy of violence that runs thematically through the narrative, the central characters, the climate, the visual style, the light, the colour, and the soundtrack. Violence is the core of the frontier, as nations are built upon carnage. However, the film deliberately focuses on the aftermath, upon the actual consequences of violent actions. The few incidents that do take place on screen are like in real life; abrupt, messy, and quick, yet can leave wounds that take centuries to heal. For the survivors, it is far from pain free and there are no real heroes.
There was an extreme natural beauty and harshness to both the remote locations and ferocious climate. The landscape was a central character full of innate awe and mystery as though belonging to another world as opposed to another country. Temperatures of 50 degrees Centigrade [over 100 degrees Fahrenheit] and up, dust storms, mud baths, swarms of flies (one even had to get used to swallowing them), premonitions, and for some, encounters with ghosts. These brutal conditions gave us all an apt taste for the times. It was only in post production that I myself discovered that both my grandfather and his father worked and lived upon the very same location as the one in which we filmed. The other great discovery was a deeply rewarding and genuine collaboration with the film's indigenous community and the key creative team--the writer, the entire cast, the cinematographer, the designer, the wardrobe supervisor, and the editor."
Hillcoat had collaborated for many years with singer/songwriter Nick Cave. They discussed that Cave would write the music for the film. However, Cave became frustrated at how long it was taking John to write the film: “So I suggested that Nick write it himself!” says Hillcoat. At first, Cave says he was terrified by such a prospect: “I didn’t feel I had much understanding of dialogue. I knew I could work out a story well enough - I’m basically a narrative kind of songwriter--telling stories is what I do. But I did think I’d have problems with the dialogue. Once I sat down and started though, it felt really good and I very much enjoyed the process of writing it and telling the story.”
Cave says he wanted “to write a cohesive but mythical story that moved forward and was simple and affecting, as well as highly emotionally charged. The fact that it was a western set in Australia was very much secondary. I was primarily interested in the interplay between characters in the most general sense.”
For Hillcoat, the film has violent undertones. “In this particular case we’re taking a historical moment in time--the foundation of Australia as a nation. Nation building frontiers are always founded on violence and that has always fascinated me. In our story there are three brothers. One, Arthur, represents the unacceptable face of violence. The middle brother, Charlie, is the more acceptable face of violence in that he’s struggling to do the right thing. Then there’s the youngest, Mikey, who is the innocent, the one who’s swept up in the violence and has no control over it. Finally there’s Stanley, who is society’s official arbitrator of violence. He sets up the proposition but as it all unravels he is morally compromised and morally challenged by all around him. We wanted to create a wide canvas--the three brothers, the proposition and the policemen. Then there’s more--the actual conflict with the alien environment, that a lot of these characters are caught up in, and the conflict with the indigenous people who have a totally different relationship with the land. So there are a lot of different layers.”
Capturing the power of this land on film was something director John Hillcoat was also keen to do: “Awhile back I took a camping trip across Australia with my production designer Chris Kennedy. It was the most incredible trip right across the outback. That’s when the mighty power of this land really hit me--it also drew me to the aboriginal presence in Australia. That’s really when I realized I had to try and make a film utilizing the landscape and involving the birth of the real Australia. Benoit and I were also keen to get a mythical ingredient in there with the harsh landscape.”
Cinematographer Benoit Delhomme says he was very prepared for the project because everyone had told him how dry and empty the Australian outback was going to be. Says Delhomme: “In many ways it’s very difficult to frame an empty landscape and to find good structure in the desert. So I began by taking a lot of stills when I first arrived, just to try and find the right contrast and the right energy in the light. Often people shoot the desert but you don’t feel the heat. I wanted to show something more sensual and I wanted to feel the texture as much as anything else. One of my other obsessions was to try and increase the violence of the landscape, to show how hard it really was to live and survive there. I trained the cinemascope ratio to show how one single character was lost there--to make everything including the horizon seem very far away.” Hillcoat says that working with Benoit Delhomme as his Director of Photography was an inspiring experience: “His connection with the landscape and with the light was quite amazing. It was a true collaboration and his work has enhanced the film entirely.”
Guy Pearce was cast early on to play Charlie Burns. It was of course the script that first sparked his interest: “Nick is a wonderful writer of literature and music. He is so delightfully specific and this script was no exception. I also got a really good sense from John, our director, on the style of the film he was looking to make and I found it all very appealing.” Guy plays the middle of three brothers Charlie Burns: “Charlie is a survivor, yet he's out of his depth in a way that most white inhabitants of that period were. Charlie's lived a life of violence and extreme criminal activity which to him is wrapped up in the notion of survival. He’s out of his depth in a way that most settlers of that period were out of their depth in a completely hostile environment. In the midst of this, he’s put into the impossible situation of having to choose one brother over another. It's a critical moment in his life.”
Overlord: Director Stuart Cooper's 1975 Film Gets Commercial Release
From the press notes
Director Stuart Cooper will attend opening night premiere of his 1975 film Overlord, along with Roger Smithers of Britain's Imperial War Museum who will show some actual combat footage and amateur film from D-Day. The film, which won the Silver Bear at Berlin, follows a British soldier as he leaves home and joins the British army's invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. What's most remarkable is the use of archival footage, about 27%, seamlessly integrated into the film, aided by the filmmakers' use of lenses from the 1930s and old-style lighting techniques. Stuart Cooper made these remarks about the making of the film:
Overlord was the second of three feature films that [cinematographer] John Alcott and I partnered on and the only black-and-white film that he photographed. During this same period, John photographed Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and The Shining for Stanley Kubrick, who paid me a great compliment saying “the only thing wrong with Overlord is it’s an hour and a half too short!”
My initial idea for Overlord was to produce a film incorporating archived footage as seamlessly as possible, and Alcott was a major contributor to that end. My other intention was to create a motif that conveyed to a modern audience what it might have really been like to be called up, trained and to see your first action on D-Day, the invasion of France.
Before writing the screenplay, I spent more than 3,000 hours viewing the archive at the imperial War Museum. This original footage came from the Army, Navy, Air Force, newsreels, compilation films and all the documentaries of the period from England, America and Germany. Goebbels ran a huge propaganda machine, and the German footage was extensive. The museum’s archive had more than 39 million feet of film on World War II alone, and another 14 million feet on World War I.
When I met the head of the archive for the first time, she asked what part of the collection I would like to research. I said, “I might as well screen the entire thing.” “Fine,” she said. “If you view, say, from 9 to 5, five days a week, you might just get through the collection in 9 years!” And it was true that the archival work alone was a big project. I also spent hundreds of hours in the museum’s documents department reading unpublished diaries of ordinary soldiers who saw action on D-Day.
With the cooperation of the Imperial War Museum, I was allowed access never before permitted to the original nitrate negatives. These weren’t the scratched dupes and fine-grains that we are all so familiar with. I compiled a number of example reels from the nitrate negatives, including the best day and night interiors and exteriors for us to match. Alcott and I scoured Europe and found two sets of 1936 and 1938 German Goetz and Schneider lenses which we made new mounts for. We used a lighting and camera style reminiscent of the 1940s and a variety of black-and-white stocks.
Through the War Museum, I was connected to the Ministry of Defense, which gave me access to the Royal Marines for my training and landing-craft sequences. They even flew the last operational Lancaster over the coast for us to film when setting up the bombing sequence. And I put my actors amongst the Marines’ new recruits for actual filming.
We made a feature film that, for all intents and purposes, could have been produced during the period or perhaps even discovered in the archive. I think there is a seamlessness between the archival footage and live action materials, and that the rhythms of each match wonderfully well. Alcott obviously thought so, too. He did not see a frame of the final film until it premiered in Berlin. During the screening he kept leaning over to me and whispering, “Did we shoot that, or is it archive?”
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
Films starring Sean Connery are featured in June, including The Name of the Rose, The Molly Maguires, The Man Who Would Be King, Zardoz, The Anderson Tapes, The Offence, Marnie, The Hill, and a rare archival print of Outland. The series ends in July. The retrospective of films by Robert Altman also continues in June with M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, California Split, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Short Cuts, Vincent and Theo and Nashville. Altman's new film A Prairie Home Companion will open June 9. For comments by Altman see above.
The documentary film festival Silver Docs runs from June 13-18 with conference programs and 100 films to be screened. Features include documentary films about global health issues and films from South Africa.
"Slow Food on Fast Film" is a three day event on June 2, 3 and 4 with documentary and short fiction films from all over the world about the culture of food.
Overlord, in a new 35mm print, opens on June 2 with director Stuart Cooper present to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. He will be accompanied by Roger Smithers of the Imperial War Museum who will show a selection of documentary and amateur films from the D-Day invasion. See above for comments by the director about the film.
Freer Gallery of Art
"Movies from the Resplendent Isle" is a series of four films from Sri Lanka. On June 2 at 7:00pm with Butterfly Wings (Somaratne Dissanayake, 2005); on June 4 at 2:00pm is Walls Within (Prasanna Vithanage, 1997); on June 9 at 7:00pm is Flying with One Wing (Asoka Handagama, 2002); and on June 11 at 2:00pm is Guerilla Marketing (Jayantha Chandrasiri, 2005). Animated films by Kihachiro Kawamoto are shown on June 23 at 7:00pm and June 25 at 2:00pm; the films span the director's career and include puppet animation and paper cut outs; most are short with one feature length The Book of the Dead (2005).
National Gallery of Art
A series of films by Greek director Theo Angelopoulos will be featured in June. On June 3 at 2:30pm is The Travelling Players (1975); on June 10 at 2:30pm is Alexander the Great (1980); on June 17 at 2:30pm is Voyage to Cythera (1983); on June 18 at 4:30pm is The Beekeeper (1986); on June 24 at 1:00pm is Landscale in the Mist (1988); on June 24 at 4:00pm is Eternity and a Day (1998); and on June 25 at 4:00pm is The Weeping Meadow (2004). Art films shown in June are Cleophas and His Own (Michael Maglatas, 2005) with the filmmaker present to discuss the film on June 4 at 2:00pm. On June 11 at 4:30pm is "Manhatta and Charles Sheeler" a program of early short experimental films on New York including Manhatta (Charles Sheeler, 1921), The Twenty-four Dollar Island (Robert Flaherty, 1927), Autumn Fire (Herman G. Weinberg, 1930), and A Bronx Morning (Jay Leyda, 1932). Pianist and composer Donald Sosin along with vocalist Joanna Seaton will accompany the films with original scores.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
A series of films "Pest Fest" begins on June 8 at 8:00pm with The Fly (1958); Them (1954) on June 15 at 8:00pm and Mothra (1961) on June 29 at 8:00pm. All are classic horror films, introduced by film scholar David Wilt. The series continues in July.
National Museum of the American Indian
On June 2 at 2:00pm is a documentary, Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai (Lisa Denker and Charlotte Lagarde, 2000) about the life of champion surfer Rell Kapolioka'ehukai Sunn, who carved the way for women in a sport dominated by men and a hero to Hawaii's Native community. On June 8, 22, and 29 at noon and 3:00pm are two short documentaries about Native American games, Snow Snake (2006) and Toka (1994).
Museum of American History
A documentary about the East Los Angeles high school walkouts protesting academic prejudice in 1968 will be shown on June 15 at 2:30pm, Walkout (Moctesuma Esparza, 2006) with the filmmaker present for post-screening discussion.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On June 18 at 3:00pm is a program of short films in conjunction with the Reel Affirmations Film Festival, including shorts from India, Canada, Switzerland and the US. As part of the "Sisters in Cinema" series, Leslie Harris' Just Another Girl on the IRT (1992), the first feature by an African American woman to be released by a major theatrical distributor, will be shown on June 21 at 7:00pm.
Films on the Hill
On June 14 at 7:00pm is Charlie Chan at the Circus (Harry Lachman, 1936) shown with a Laurel and Hardy four-reeler Beau Hunks (1931). On June 21 at 7:00pm is Peter Lorre in Hotel Berlin (Peter Godfrey, 1945), based on the novel by Vicki Baum, who also wrote the the well-known Grand Hotel. The filmmakers raced to complete the film before Berlin fell, releasing it just in time. On June 24 at 7:00pm is a technicolor print of Blood and Sand (Rouben Mamoulian, 1941) starring Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth, and Anthony Quinn, based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. This film catapulted Rita Hayworth to stardom; she got the role because of her dancing abilities.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On June 5 at 7:30pm is Only Human (Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri, 2004), a comedy about a dysfunctional Jewish family in Argentina. On June 26 at 7:30pm is Jesus is Magic (Liam Lynch, 2005), a video of Sarah Silverman's stand-up comedy from a live show in California and racy staged musical numbers.
A series "Bob Hope and the American Comedy Tradition" includes Road to Bali (Hal Walker, 1953) with Bob Hope in one of his seven "Road" movies, shown on June 6 at 7:00pm. On June 9 at 7:00pm is Safe (Todd Haynes, 1995). On June 23 at 7:00pm is a program of four television detectives including Ellery Queen, Martin Kane, Richard Diamond and Honey West. See the website for others.
On June 8 at 7:00pm and 9:15pm is Dreamship Surprise (Michael Herbig, 2004), a spoof of the sci-fi genre; a reception is included. On June 12 at 4:00pm and 6:30pm is Miracle of Bern (Sönke Wortmann, 2003), set in 1954 when the Soviet Union sent its German prisoners of war home. A series "Coming of Age in Asia and Europe: Conformity and Rebellion in Film" takes place on June 19, 21, 22, 26, 27 and 29. Locations vary; titles to be announced.
On June 7 at 7:00pm is When the Sea Rises (Yolande Moreau and Gilles Porte, 2004). Another film in the "Ciné-Club" of French films is at the Avalon.
The National Theatre
"Summer Cinema at the National Theater" features Billy Wilder whose centennial we are celebrating this year. On June 12 at 6:30pm is Sunset Boulevard (1950); on June 19 at 6:30pm is The Apartment (1960); on June 26 at 6:30pm is Double Indemnity (1944). More in July and August.
A program of documentary newsreels will be presented on June 9 at 7:00pm with a discussion including Raymond Fielding, author of The American Newsreel: 1911-1967, Les Waffen from the National Archives and Rich Foster from the Newseum. On June 21 at 7:00pm is Martin Scorsese's Lady by the Sea: The Statue of Liberty (2004) shown with Charles Guggenheim's The Making of Liberty (1986). On June 23 at noon is a program on the Combat Cameraman: With the Marines at Tarawa (1944) and To the Shores of Iwo Jima (1945), both color films shot by Norman Hatch who introduce and discuss the films. On June 24 at noon is Mark Twain Tonight!, Hal Holbrook's television portrayal of the great humorist.
National Museum of Natural History
On June 30 at noon is a documentary about the Boreal forest of Alberta, Spirit of the Forest by Albert Kavornen who has lived and worked in the wilderness for more than 30 years.
The Avalon takes part in the new "Ciné-Club" of French films with The Role of Her Life (François Favrat, 2004) on June 21 at 8:00pm. See the French Embassy for more. In the Asian "Cinevision" series is Lost in Wu Song (Liu Yi Tong, 2005) from Hong Kong, winner of the Fipresci Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
On June 11 at 1:00pm is Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity (Mina Shum, 2002), an award-winning Canadian film starring Sandra Oh.
The AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival (Silver Docs) takes place June 13-18 at the AFI Silver Theater. More than 100 films from 22 countries will be screened, with special events, discussions with filmmakers, conferences, and lots more. See feature films, music documentaries, short films, animated films; global health and South Africa are some of the topics.
Pioneering filmmaker Gordon Parks (1913-2006) is the subject of this lecture with Johanna Fiore and Deborah Willis on June 7 at 7:00pm.