The 15th Annual Oscars Party
AND THE WINNER IS...
The Washington DC Film Society encourages you and your friends to attend the 15th annual "AND THE WINNER IS..." Oscars Party on Sunday, February 25.
Join us at the Arlington Cinema 'n' Drafthouse (2903 Arlington Pike) for the longest running Oscar-watching event in the area to cheer (and jeer) the stars with fellow film fans on Oscars Night! Catch the excitement of seeing which of your picks capture the top prizes with the Academy Awards show at 8:00pm or come early and watch the pre-show on the red carpet--all broadcast live on the big screen! It's the next best thing to being there!
Enjoy the casual comfort of an Art-Deco theatre with affordable food and drink, fun film promotional items, fabulous door prizes, a "Predict the Winners" contest, other trivia contests, and the best Silent Auction ever filled with posters autographed from Babel, The Fountain, Thank You for Smoking, Jesus Camp, Scary Movie 4, The Illusionist, Reno 911: Miami and DVDs signed by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Weitz, Guillermo Del Toro and MANY MORE!
Tickets are $15 for Film Society Basic members and FREE for Film Society GOLD members; $20 for non-members and guests. Tickets may be purchased at the door beginning at 6pm (cash/check only). All proceeds support the work of the Film Society and its parent organization, the Washington, DC International Film Festival, Filmfest DC.
Michael and Mark Polish talk about their new film Astronaut Farmer
A preview screening of Astronaut Farmer was held February 1 at the Regal Gallery Place theater. Actor Billy Bob Thornton made a short introduction before the film, remarking that when he was a kid, going to the movies was a special treat; now everyone is more cynical, fitting movies in with their other multi-tasking chores. He liked Astronaut Farmer because it recalled a more innocent Frank Capra-esque time. After the screening filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish answered questions. Desson Thomson moderated.
Q: How did this movie come about?
Michael Polish: We wanted to make an entertaining movie with a rocket. We were fascinated by the 1960s and modeled it after Mercury 7. We made a replica of that rocket with uncertified blueprints. Mark figured out the fuel and I figured out the visuals.
Q: There is a sense of comedy throughout the film. Is this to separate yourself from the audience?
A: Yes. We're shy. We liked tragedy and humor right next to each other.
Q: How did Bruce Willis get involved?
A: Billy Bob Thornton called him. It was a difficult role to cast. He was kind enough to do it for practically no money and understood how to play this pivotal role.
Q: The film could be seen as a parable of American individualism and the renegade spirit. The "federales" didn't look good.
A: The FBI is always in lots of movies and should be proud to be represented. They get to be in more movies than most people.
Q: The audience might not recognize some of the actors in the film although they will be more familiar to the indie crowd.
A: Most of our actors go from one of our films to another. We didn't realize there was such a wide net to cast--there were 72 speaking roles. The actors knew it was an independent film although it would be a Warner Brothers property afterwards. So it might seem like a studio picture, but we made it like an independent film.
Q: The other movies you made, Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, Jackpot, the budget was around $1 million for each picture.
A: Actually, the budget collectively for all three was about $2.5 million.
Q: That's quite a deal. What was the budget for Astronaut Farmer?
A: About $13 million--and 33 days.
Q: Where did the money go?
A: To being on location in New Mexico and keeping people there. Not much money went to effects--only about $1 million.
Q: There's also an American innocence to the film. A bigger studio would make you explain for instance how he got that second load of fuel under heavy surveillance and perhaps make you examine the shadow side of his dream.
A: We didn't have much interference on this film. We didn't have the time and money to go into explaining all the details. We just explained those areas we wanted to explain and stayed out of other areas. Speaking of the dark side, this is dark for them. They wanted to give it to Disney but Disney didn't want it.
Q: How do you two work together as a team?
A: I'm the director and Mark is the producer. He's always in the movies as an actor. Our roles are defined and that's why it works.
Q: How did the idea come about? It's unique and hard to compare.
A: I went to Mark while we were doing Northfork and said what if a guy builds a rocket in his barn? I just sort of handed it over to him. Some of the experiences parallel our own lives.
Q: Why the lucky charms?
A: Because I eat them!
Q: Did you think it was a job well done?
A: I haven't seen it yet but you always compromise a bit. We hope it communicates the message.
Q: How long did it take to write the screenplay?
A: We first took a shot at it in 2003 and spent three months. Then we got an idea about homeland security and spent another two months on it. For inspiration we looked at a lot of archival footage of the Mercury launches and talked to astronauts such as Dave Scott who drove the Rover on the moon.
Q: Where are you from?
A: California. But we live in Montana.
Q: Were those kids in the film yours? And had they ever acted before?
A: Yes the kids, four and six, are mine and Mark's. They had never acted before but in an independent film you always start with family and we needed two girls. They could have been a disaster; there's a lot of pressure because they are the directors' kids.
Q: Did you launch model rockets as kids?
A: Yes and once we started a fire in our garage.
Q: Did you always want to be filmmakers?
A: Yes were were influenced at young age. We wanted to be actor and director. But first we had to learn to write and then we had to learn to be financiers, producers and then distributors.
Astronaut Farmer is scheduled to open on February 23, 2007.
We Need to Hear From YOU
We are always looking for film-related material for the Storyboard. Our enthusiastic and well-traveled members have written about their trips to the Cannes Film Festival, London Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Munich Film Festival, and the Locarno Film Festival. We also heard about what it's like being an extra in the movies. Have you gone to an interesting film festival? Have a favorite place to see movies that we aren't covering in the Calendar of Events? Seen a movie that blew you away? Read a film-related book? Gone to a film seminar? Interviewed a director? Taken notes at a Q&A? Read an article about something that didn't make our local news media? Send your contributions to Storyboard and share your stories with the membership. And we sincerely thank all our contributors for this issue of Storyboard.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
Films in February include To the Left of the Father (Luiz Fernando Carvalho, 2002) from Brazil, part of the "Cinema Tropical." A video about Washington accordion legend Merv Conn is on February 18. Selected works from Stanley Kubrick include The Killing (1956), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Lolita (1962), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967), Barry Lyndon (1975) and A Clockwork Orange (1971). "Barbara Stanwyck: A Centennial Salute" concludes in February with Stella Dallas (1937), The Lady Eve (1941), Ball of Fire (1941), Meet John Doe (1941), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Remember the Night (1940), The Furies (1950) and Double Indemnity (1944). Check the website for dates and times.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer concludes its 11th Annual Iranian Film series with A Little Kiss (Bahman Farmanara, 2006) on February 2 at 7:00pm and February 4 at 2:00pm and Stray Dogs (2004).
National Gallery of Art
"Jacques Rivette on the Streets of Paris" concludes in February with Out One: Spectre (1972) on February 3 at 2:00pm; Duelle (1975) on February 4 at 4:00pm; Jacques Rivette, the Night Watchman (Claire Denis, 1990) shown with Jean Renoir, le patron (1967) on February 10 at 3:00pm; Wuthering Heights (1985) on February 11 at 4:00pm; The Gang of Four (1988); and The Story of Marie and Julien (2003). Special events in February include "How to Survive the 1940s" a series of British postwar public information films on February 9 at 12:30pm and February 10 at 1:00pm; The Open Road (Claude Friese-Greene, 1926); and The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Stephen and Timothy Quay, 2005) shown with Street of Crocodiles (1986) on February 25 at 4:00pm.
National Museum of African Art
On February 17 at 2:00pm is Afro@Digital (Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, 2003) about the impact of digital technologies on present-day African life.
National Portrait Gallery
On February 1 at 7:00pm is Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (Byron Hurt), a documentary on hip hop culture, followed by a panel discussion with Byron Hurt the filmmaker and Natalie Y. Moore and Natalie Hopkinson, authors of Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
To accompany the exhibit of art by Joseph Cornell is a short series of films "Cornell's Muses": on February 9 at 1:00pm is To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944); on February 16 at 1:00pm is The Gang's All Here (Busby Berkeley, 1943); and on February 22 at 1:00pm is Queen Christina (Rouben Mamoulian, 1933).
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On February 28 at 7:00pm is Hellbound Train(Eloyce Gist) a series of religious-based morality plays made around 1929. Film historian S. Torriano Berry will discuss the rediscovery of the film in the 1970s and efforts to reconstruct it, followed by a question and answer session.
Films on the Hill
On February 14 at 7:00pm is Annie Oakley (1935) starring Barbara Stanwyck for her centennial celebration; on February 21 at 7:00pm is The Great Jasper (1933) starring Richard Dix; and on February 28 at 7:00pm is Twelve Miles Out (1927), a silent film starring a young Joan Crawford and John Gilbert.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On February 12 at 7:30pm is When Angels Interfere (Crystel Amselem, 2006) a romantic comedy from France. On February 26 at 7:30pm is Love Hurts (Ram Nahar, 2004) an Israeli TV series.
A special show of The Lives of Others is on February 5 at 7:30pm with director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck present for questions and answers.
"A Deeper Look" explores some of the films by directors whose films were shown in last month's series of New German films. On February 8 at 6:30pm is Ghetto Kids (Christian Wagner, 2001); on February 12 at 6:30pm is The Policewoman (Andreas Dresen, 2000) and on February 26 at 6:30pm is Gigantic (Sebastian Schipper, 1999).
National Geographic Society
A selection of films from the "Banff Mountain Film Festival" will be shown on February 6 and February 7 at 7:00pm. Now in its 31st year, this festival offers short films on mountain sports and cultures.
Academy Award-nominated documentaries and short films be shown at the Archives from February 21-25. Documentary Features: on February 21 at 7:00pm is Iraq in Fragments (James Longley and John Sinno) introduced by Catherine Wyler; on February 22 at 7:00pm is Deliver Us From Evil (Amy Berg); on February 23 at 7:00pm is An Inconvenient Truth introduced by Flo Stone, founder of the Environmental Film Festival; on February 24 is My Country, My Country; and on February 25 at 4:00pm is Jesus Camp. Live Action Short Film Nominees are on February 24 at noon. Animated Short Film Nominees are on February 24 at 3:30pm. Documentary Short Subject Nominees are on February 25 at noon.
National Museum of Natural History
Two documentaries are shown on February 23 at noon: Orixas (2006) about African gods in Brazil and House of Life (1989) on the African-influenced religion Candomblé.
On February 21 at 8:00pm is Gamblers (Frédéric Balekdjian, 2005) as part of the "French Cinémathèque" series. As part of the "Lions of Czech Film" is Wild Bees (Bohdan Slama, 2002) on February 13 at 8:00pm. On Friday 15 at 8:00pm is Flock of Dodos (2006), a documentary about the Intelligent Design/Evolution clash. Director Dr. Randy Olson will be present for a post-screening discussion and Q&A. On February 18 at 7:30pm is an award-winning Turkish film Hejar (Handan Ipekçi) about the friendship between a Kurdish girl and a Turkish judge.
"Cinéma Quebécois" is a series of four recent films produced in Quebec. On February 6 at 7:00pm is Gas Bar Blues (Louis Belanger, 2003); on February 13 at 7:00pm is Memoires Affectives (Francis Leclerc, 2004); on February 20 at 7:00pm is Horloge Biologique (Ricardo Trogi, 2005); and on February 27 at 7:00pm is Dans les Villes (Catherine Martin, 2006). All are in French with English subtitles.
As part of the "Sunday Cinema" series is Republic of Love (Deepa Mehta, 2003) on February 11 at 1:00pm. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Carol Shields, this is a romantic comedy from the Toronto International Film Festival.