March 2009

Last updated on March 1, 2009. Please check back later for additions.


The 17th Annual Oscar Party "AND THE WINNER IS..."
The Cinema Lounge
Echelon Conspiracy: Q&A with Director Greg Marcks
The Environmental Film Festival
Of Time and the City
The Santa Barbara Film Festival
The 20th Palm Springs International Film Festival
The International Film Festival Rotterdam
We Need to Hear From You
Calendar of Events

A printer-friendly version.

Last 12 issues of the Storyboard.

The 17th Annual Oscar Party

More Gifts Than One Store!

By Karrye Y. Braxton, DC Film Society Member

Recession? What recession? Attendees at the 17th Washington, D.C. Film Society Party to watch the Oscars, “And the Winner Is…,” bid up the prices at the Silent Auction. The items under greatest demand were anything by Danny Boyle, director of the Best Picture award-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. After several rounds of competing bids, the film’s autographed poster was snatched up for $100; the X-Filessigned poster vanished for $90; the Trainspotting DVD chugged along at $80; The Wrestler signed posted knocked out at $85; The Visitor poster signed by the full cast checked out at $65; and the My Cousin Vinny DVD, signed by Oscar-winning actress and 2009 nominee Marisa Tomei, united with its new owner at $60.

Arlington Cinema 'n' Drafthouse hosted nearly 200 guests who enjoyed the cheers and jeers of our double-microphoned ultimate hosts, Joe Barber and Bill Henry. New menus highlighted the newly upscale foods and wine at the Drafthouse. The crowd thrilled to Hugh Jackman’s opening song and dance number, made entirely special on the big screen at the Drafthouse. That big screen helped us to see the hidden silver tooth of Hollywood’s latest comeback kid, Mickey Rourke, the eternal beauty of Sophia Loren and the sultry vigor of the new Bond, Daniel Craig. Surprises for attendees included Le Maison en Petits Cubes for those who saw the Animated Shorts as well as Penelope Cruz for Best Supporting Actress in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, whom Joe Barber foreshadowed was a “dark horse” for the award. Reviews were mixed among the attendees on having two presenters across three awards, but everyone loved Seth Rogan and James Franco’s filmed segment reprising their roles as the lovable stoners in Pineapple Express, which not surprisingly, was one of the films that at least one attendee said was ripped off by the Academy, having not been nominated for ANY award that year.

Bill Henry continued his specialty of running throughout the theatre, giving out free DVDs to attendees who could name a movie that was sadly passed over by the Academy, including The Miracle at St. Anna, one of the movies that the Film Society enjoyed during the year. Speaking of movies not to miss, both Barber and Henry recommended Smile Pinki and Trouble the Water, among the nominated documentaries.

Barber and Henry ran a new contest to make up a new suggested Oscar award. “Best Nude Scene” won among the six participants, amid wild cheers, both male and female. The crowd was split over our hosts’ comment that Baz Luhrman should hand back his Oscar for Moulin Rouge after watching the tribute “The Musical is Back!” during the show. Although the musical was a theme during the show, several attendees murmured their disappointment with the lack of comedy on hand. However, having multiple past award winners introduce the “Best Actor, Actress, Director and Supporting” awards was welcomed and enjoyed by the Film Society crowd, as several attendees remembered fondly these past honorees as well as the fact that several of them had not worked at such a high level since. The crowd also loved that when Best Actress award winner, Kate Winslet, asked her dad: “I don’t know where you are, whistle or something.” We hooted as her dad let out a father-worthy yelp.

The crowd cracked up when Eddie Murphy reminded us that Jerry Lewis said that he gets paid to do what kids get punished for. When the commercials dragged on, a lone voice cried out, “Give us more prizes,” Bill Henry obliged by offering a T shirt for Slumdog Millionaire and then gave the recipient an opportunity to “trade up.” This is a new tradition where Bill gives the prospective winner a nominee’s name and then asks, “former nominee, newbie or former winner?” This new contest definitely went over big with the Drafthouse crowd. The crowd reacted audibly when Departures won over Waltz with Bashir for Best Foreign Film. However, the crowd saved its biggest applause during “In Memoriam” for Paul Newman, among others.

Our special thanks goes out to Allied Advertising, Arlington Cinema 'n' Drafthouse, Terry Hines & Associates, Women in Film & Video and to everyone who helps spread the word about DC Film Society. To the Silent Auction Donors, a big THANK YOU: Allied Advertising (on behalf of the studios), Avalon Theatre, Corcoran Gallery, District Chophouse, Filmfest DC, Folger Theatre, The Front Page, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Hanaro Restaurant & Lounge, Landmark Theatres & E Street Cinema, Madame Tussauds, Metro Stage, National Museum of Crime & Punishment, The Newseum, Peking Gourmet Inn, The Phillips Collection, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre company, Signature Theatre, Sixth & I Synagogue, Terry Hines & Associates (on behalf of the studios), Theater J, Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Finally, thanks to the DC Film Society volunteers and to Gene St. Hilaire and Kathryn Wichmann for their assistance. See you next year!

Director Greg Marcks Talks about Echelon Conspiracy

By Michael Kyrioglou, DC Film Society Director

Echelon Conspiracy opened this week in the Washington area. This interview was conducted by e-mail.

Michael Kyrioglou: What got you interested in being a filmmaker? Is there a particular film or the work of certain writers or directors that influenced you? Were you interested in both writing and directing or did one interest you more?
Greg Marcks: I began making short videos with a camcorder at age 13. My high school had a public access television studio housed in the building, and by 16 I had created a sketch comedy program that aired locally. In college I began to focus strictly on screenwriting and filmmaking. Writing and directing always went hand-in-hand for me; in fact, Echelon Conspiracy is the first film I have directed that I did not also write. I am inspired by the work of Hitchcock and the Coen Brothers for the sense of humor they bring to dark material. My favorite film last year was In Bruges.

MK: I am not familiar with the student Academy Awards, but they sound like a terrific way to encourage the next wave of young filmmakers. How did winning that affect your career? Did it help you get your foot in the door?
GM: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has run the
Student Academy Awards for 36 years, and it is a great opportunity for emerging filmmakers because the organization lends its name and credibility to spotlighting a new talent who may become a future professional in the industry. Past winners include Spike Lee, Ken Kwapis, Todd Holland, John Lasseter, Trey Parker, and Robert Zemeckis. Winning the award brought me to the attention of managers and agents, and I was subsequently able to obtain representation.

MK: You worked with Hilary Swank on your previous film 11:14, and have a great cast for Echelon Conspiracy. Was it difficult to attract actors like Swank, Martin Sheen, Edward Burns and Shane West to these projects since you're an emerging filmmaker? How did their involvement help in getting the films made?
GM: A great cast is essential not only for making a good film but also for marketing that film to an audience and sometimes, in the case of Hilary Swank and 11:14, for attracting the initial financing for the project. I think great talent will work with emerging filmmakers so long as they can meet and discuss the project in advance to reach a comfort level in the director/actor relationship. Since they are placing their careers in each other's hands, finding mutual trust is essential. It also helps to have previous work that highlights your abilities.

MK: Where did the initial idea for Echelon Conspiracy come from?
GM: Echelon Conspiracy began as a script by Russian screenwriter Michael Nitsberg, who wanted to highlight the threats to civil liberties caused by the real world NSA signals intelligence program Echelon. The script was developed by Dark Castle Entertainment and American screenwriter Kevin Elders, who shaped it into a man-on-the-run thriller.

MK: The general public doesn't know how long it takes to make a film or how long the journey from finished project to release takes. When was the film shot and completed and how long was the shoot?
GM: The film was shot in the fall of 2007 for a total of 46 days and again in the spring of 2008 for 7 days of additional photography. Visual effects, editing, sound mix, and color timing lasted until late 2008.

MK: How do you think Echelon Conspiracy addresses issues of security and privacy (or lack thereof) for us as citizens?
GM: Benjamin Franklin said in 1775, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." The film takes the stance that too much security in the form of omnipresent Orwellian surveillance results in an unacceptable loss of personal privacy. The debate as to where to acceptably draw the line between security and freedom is something that Americans will continue to discuss for the forseeable future.

The 17th Annual Environmental Film Festival

Oceans, Sharks, Honeybees and Hedrick Smith

The 17th annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, March 11 through 22, will present 136 documentary, feature, animated, archival, experimental and children’s films selected to provide fresh perspectives on environmental issues facing our planet. The health and sustainability of earth’s oceans and sea life is a major theme of the 2009 Festival, which features cinematic work from 34 countries and 56 Washington, D.C., United States and world premieres. Fifty-four filmmakers and 69 special guests will discuss their work at the Festival.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith will speak about toxins in our waters and show clips from his upcoming film, Poisoned Waters, examining the condition of the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. The D.C. premiere of the documentary, Earth Days, recounts the history of the modern environmental movement. A sneak preview of a work-in-progress Return of the Honeybee considers the mysterious and potentially disastrous worldwide disappearance of bees.

The world premiere of The State of the Planet’s Oceans investigates the condition of marine preserves and fisheries around the world. A Sea Change warns of the potential calamity of ocean acidification. Sharkwater, to be shown at a pre-Festival event on March 10, exposes the alarming decimation and demonization of sharks worldwide. Who Killed Crassostrea Virginica: The Fall and Rise of the Chesapeake Oyster, identifies new reasons for the decline of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

The 2009 Festival also presents a retrospective of 11 environmentally oriented films by renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog, including his most recent, Oscar-nominated Encounters at the End of the World. Ken Burns’ upcoming TV series on “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” is previewed. Two acclaimed films chronicling a changing sense of place: Of Time and the City about Liverpool, England
(see below), and 24 City set in Chengdu, China, are among Festival highlights.

Oscar-nominated D.C. filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine will screen their new film, Built for the People: The Story of TVA about the Tennessee Valley Authority. D.C. filmmakers Pamela Peabody and Carl Colby will show their film, Invisible: Abbott Thayer and the Art of Camouflage, about how camouflage was developed. The world premiere of the film, Nora! profiles Washington restaurateur Nora Pouillon, founder of the nation’s first certified organic restaurant. D.C. filmmaker Ginny Durrin shows clips from her film-in-progress, Bombs in Our Backyard about the toxic dumping site under the northwest D.C. neighborhood of Spring Valley. RiverSmart, produced by the District Department of the Environment, offers solutions to the problem of sewage overflow in our local rivers.

The Environmental Film Festival has become the leading showcase for environmental films in the United States. Presented in collaboration with 101 local, national and global organizations, the Festival is one of the largest cooperative cultural events in the nation’s capital. Films are screened at 52 venues throughout the city, including museums, embassies, libraries, universities and local theaters. Many screenings are free.

For a complete schedule, visit the Festival Web site.

Of Time and the City

By James McCaskill, DC Film Society Member

The following is adapted from the press notes. Of Time and the City has gotten rave reviews from the Cannes, Edinburgh, London and Rotterdam International Film Festivals. It will screen during the Environmental Film Festival on March 14 at 2:30pm at the National Gallery of Art.

Of Time and the City (Terence Davies/UK/2008) is both a love song and a eulogy to the director's birthplace of Liverpool, drawing on the first 28 years of the director's life until he left in 1973. It is also a response to memory, reflection and the experience of losing a sense of place as the skyline changes and time takes its toll.

"Cut it as if it were fiction," Davies says, "with images which speak" and a layered sound track of popular and classical music, voices, radio clips and a powerful, poignant voice over by the auteur. Of Time and the City is a very personal portrait of Liverpool, beyond its Beatles and its football clubs, the home of the writer's birth, where youth and inspiration weave his own story into the recent history of the city with fascinating footage and counterpointed sound.

Going back to Liverpool was difficult. Lots of places he knew have gone. And the memories were painful: "it reminds you of people who are no longer there and it gives you a window on death."

Davies himself and the people in this footage are the core of this visual poem which is set between 1945 and the present day and played out against a backdrop of dark urban images - densely packed urban living and back-breaking domestic labor. But Davies never leaves his audience within remitting gloom, he counterpoints the slums with beautiful, soaring music and as in Distant Voices, Still Lives he lifts us into the world of fantasy and collective emotion which makes the misery of life bearable - the cinema where it is "always Christmas and perfect."

Davies also tells his story of yesterday in the wider city and beyond that in a country - Britain after the Second World War, as it struggles to retain its last grasp on the Empire in Africa, India, and the Far East. And the story moves beyond that period to Britain's transition from post-was austerity to a new prosperity which ultimately swept away back-to-back houses with outside toilets and replaced them with barren high-rise blocks of concrete.

All this is exquisitely captured in images of demolishing buildings and children walking through urban wastelands, always observed with Davies' poignant and sensitive eye and sometimes with a forthright anger at how forgotten these voices were, how unheard and often unexpressed. But the auteur is the survivor who lived determined to tell their tale and his own personal tale. And that is a tale told with honesty and courage - the story of an unforgiving Catholic Church where, desperate for grace, Davies finds himself unable to deny but unable to confess his homosexuality. So he lives through all the subtle and continuing violence of his environment - physical, sexual, spiritual, economic and domestic. This is violence for those around him too, but for him there is also the loneliness of the outsider who will never find the girl, however much he wishes he wanted to.

The film is structured as memories, fractured and bubbling up from beneath the surface, visiting and revisiting the places of the narrator's childhood, moving from past to present and back again with a gentle forward push to the end of what is now gone and always grasping the fragments which remain locked within. And always in the hands of a masterful voice which guides the audience with strength, poetry, candor and anger.

Asked what he most wants to achieve with this film, Davies says, "Even though I'm a very pessimistic person, I believe that it's worth striving to be a better person. Better - not better off - that's just vanity. I want to say that is worth going on."

For lovers of Davies' previous work, many of the themes from his earlier narrative pieces thread throughout the film - Catholicism, homosexuality, violence, death, loss, the glory of the cinema, outsiderness and childhood. But Of Time and the City also documents the memories, the city and the country which shaped those themes in the growing artist, and weaves beyond them a complete web of the artist's vision. A vision which is woven with his own characteristic magic. There are beautifully paced rhythms of poetry (some from T.S. Eliot) and prose with silence to make space for the images which need no words and music to counterpoint other footage with additional layers of emotion.

The Cinema Lounge

The next meeting of the Cinema Lounge will be on Monday, March 9 at 7:00pm. The topic to be discussed is "Movies that surprised: What was I supposed to think?"

The Cinema Lounge, a film discussion group, meets the second Monday of every month at 7:00pm at
Barnes and Noble, 555 12th St., NW in Washington, DC (near the Metro Center Metro stop). You do not need to be a member of the Washington DC Film Society to attend. Cinema Lounge is moderated by Daniel R. Vovak, ghostwriter with Greenwich Creations.

Last month at Cinema Lounge
On February 9, 2009, we discussed the first films of popular directors. Our first discovery was that tomorrow's great directors will have different qualifiers for what is considered their "first" films. For instance, shorts and YouTube will be considered, versus a clear-cut description of past qualifiers, like first commercial release or a feature-length film. Regardless, a problem with studying a director's first film is that it cannot easily be viewed objectively, due to the reputation gained through (usually) later works.

Roger Corman, known as "King of the Bs," has directed hundreds of independent movies, in addition to giving several notable directors or actors their break, including Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, and Martin Scorsese.

There was a feeling within the group that the luster of Sundance is fading. It no longer seems like its goal is promoting Indie films, but films from Los Angeles pretending to be Indie films.

Someone attributed to Gregg Araki the following statement, "There's just as many bad studio films as bad Indie films. There's just an explosion every now and then in the studio films to keep you awake." Our discussion group concluded that "anyone can make a movie, but not everyone should."

First Films of Notable Directors:
Orson Welles: Citizen Kane (1941)
Mike Nichols: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Stephen Spielberg: Duel (1971)
Alfred Hitchcock: The Pleasure Garden (1925)
Martin Scorsese: Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967)
John Cassavetes: Shadows (1959)
Clint Eastwood: Play Misty for Me (1971)
Peter Jackson: Bad Taste (1987)
Sam Raimi: The Evil Dead (1981)
George A. Romero: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Coen Brothers: Blood Simple (1984)
Kevin Smith: Clerks (1994)
John Frankenheimer: The Young Stranger (1957)
Norman Jewison: 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962).
Mike Leigh: Bleak Moments (1971)
Barry Levinson: Diner (1982)
Oliver Stone: Seizure (1974) or The Hand (1981)
Neil Jordan: Angel (1982)
Anthony Minghella: A Little Like Drowning (1977) or Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)
Mira Nair: Salaam Bombay! (1988)
Sydney Pollock: The Slender Thread (1965)
Baz Luhrmann: Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Terrence Malick: Badlands (1973)
Werner Herzog: Lebenszeichen (1968) or Fata Morgana (1971)
Woody Allen: What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)
Robert Altman: The Delinquents (1957)
Ang Lee: Pushing Hands (1992)
Spike Lee: Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (1983)
David Lynch: Eraserhead (1977).

Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle, Kristin Scott-Thomas Discuss Films

The Santa Barbara Film Festival
Makes My Day and Everyone Else’s

By Ronn Levine, DC Film Society Member

As regal and pretty as all the socialites she plays, Kristin Scott Thomas sits on stage, as clips of her first big film role in Under the Cherry Moon–in all its black-and-white, Princian splendor–flash on screen.

"Prince gave me my first role," she says. "My agent asked me to come to this rehearsal; halfway through they gave me the lead. I was in love with Prince. I’m still in love with him." But watching the clip brings a funny face and she’s asked what’s wrong. "You don’t want to really go back [in time]; but you do want to step in and tell [yourself] how to do it better."

It’s late January 2009 at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and we’re inside the historic Lobero Theatre–built in 1873, restored in 1924 and a 1940s haven for stars like Ingrid Bergman, Clark Gable, Igor Stravinsky and Tyrone Power. Hollywood beckons an hour south, the Pacific Ocean sits down the trolley-carred street, the mountains loom behind us, and I’m having an English Patient moment because Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes are in the room.

Photo from the Santa Barbara Film Festival website

Santa Barbara has to be one of the best and most accessible film festivals for any east-coast cinephile to attend. Reasonably priced tickets–even for the star-studded tributes–plenty of star power, pretty beaches, sunshine and 70 degrees await. And it’s in the proverbial dead of winter! As Clint Eastwood says later in the week at his tribute, "I came here to present last year, had a good time and am glad to be back."

While the new films and excited directors power the festival–including a spirited interview with director Danny Boyle following a Slumdog Millionaire showing (see below)–the tributes light it up. Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet were feted on the first weekend, quite the coup considering the Oscar results to follow. Kristin Scott Thomas and Clint Eastwood get their due mid-week, and David Fincher and Mickey Rourke soak up the applause on the final nights. The tributes are handled Inside the Actors Studio-like, with one questioner–either eccentric and impressive SBFF Executive Director Roger Durling, or in Eastwood’s case, a film auteur like Leonard Maltin.

At Scott Thomas’s tribute, Bitter Moon follows Under the Cherry Moon on the clips parade. "I always wanted to work with Polanski," she says. Four Weddings and a Funeral shows up with that wonderful scene of Scott Thomas at a wedding being questioned by an older woman. ("Are you a lesbian?" "Good Lord, what makes you ask that?") "It was a clever script by Richard Curtis," she says. "All those great actors [in the ensemble cast] gave me the [credentials] to do comedies."

But still, she laments and jokes about being typecast as an upper crustian, such as in Gosford Park. "Here I was so excited to be asked to do a [Robert] Altman [film] and I open up the letter and the part is Lady Sylvia McCordle!" Still, she treasured the experience. "With Altman, you had to create your own dialogue in the background. Then switch to the script when you moved front. During one scene he got real upset. ‘One of you is the weakest link.’ he said. Everyone was giggling, but it was much better after that. In another scene, Ryan Phillippe had to seduce me with warm milk and we couldn’t stop laughing. [Altman] then got very serious. ‘Stop that!’ he said. ‘Just do this.’ It was loose but you had to behave.

"I’ve been fortunate to work with the most amazing co-stars. Kevin Kline (Life as a House), Ralph Fiennes, Woody Harrelson (The Walker)–they surprise you, never the expected."

Interestingly, Scott Thomas probably would not have qualified for this honor save for two recent hit French films, Tell No One and especially last year’s I’ve Loved You So Long, for which she won many awards. "I’m allowed to do other things in France," she says about the country where she has lived most of her adult life. For I’ve Love You So Long, where she plays a woman who has just left jail after 15 years, she says, "the first thing the director said to me was, ‘We’ll have to make you ugly.’ I looked at him, paused and said, "Okay.’ I just wanted to play it honestly. I didn’t want to give anything away with my face. I wanted it to come out naturally."

At the end, Fiennes walks onstage to present her with the festival’s Cinema Vanguard award. He recalls his first meeting with English Patient director Anthony Minghella and Scott Thomas. "You could see right away that she was talented, beautiful and [bleepin’] brilliant," he says. "I guess she had looked at my stuff, which included Hamlet and other classical work. ‘Oh, so you’ve done some real acting,’ she said. She is always completely present and can reveal and hide at the same time. In this business, one doesn’t always keep up with their co-stars, but with Kristin and I there is genuine affection.


It’s Wednesday night and the red carpet has returned to the Lobero Theatre for the Virtuoso Awards, honoring actors who have worked under the radar for many years before finally getting their due.

This time we are treated to shorter one-on-one discussions with Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel in Rachel Getting Married), Richard Jenkins (Oscar nomination for The Visitor), Melissa Leo (Oscar nomination for Frozen River), Michael Shannon (Oscar nomination for Revolutionary Road) and Viola Davis (Oscar nomination for Doubt).

These actors are likeably humble and have put in the blood, sweat and tears to deserve the plaudits they’re finally getting. DeWitt showed some of those tears and a lot of gusto in Rachel Getting Married. She says that off the set, because of the intensity of the story, she and Anne Hathaway generally avoided each other. Although one particularly hard day, she did ask her, "Can you please stop yelling at me?" She was also a little intimidated by the actress playing her mother, Debra Winger. "She is so damn good. It’s like Terms of Endearment every day." She says that one memorable scene in the movie, where it was raining hard and the band still played, was supposed to be filmed in sunshine, but director Jonathan Demme decided to change it.

Richard Jenkins, tall and average-looking, is next up. His role in The Visitor emerged from a lunch two years before with writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent). McCarthy called him 1½ years later to say that he had written a role for him. "I was amazed," Jenkins says. What about the drumming, he’s asked referring to the element in the movie that seems to change his character the most. "I played when I was young, but I still wasn’t very good. I just said to myself, ‘Don’t think, just play’." And about the immigration issues that the film covers, Jenkins says, "the world would be better if we all had coffee with each other." His most memorable scene may have been when he loses it in the immigration office. "That wasn’t a real office," he says, "but we did design it just like the real one. It’s a cold place."

I knew Melissa Leo’s work from her 77 episodes of Homicide: Life on the Streets (1993-97). In Frozen River, she too was made to look worn out. "I did my own makeup," she says with a smile, adding that they shot the film in just 24 days and that at first it was a short before writer/director Courtney Hunt got more funding.

Michael Shannon, who looks much better in person than he did in Revolutionary Road, says that life on the set was fun with Kate [Winslet] and Leo [DiCaprio] around. Coincidentally, he got the book it was based on from his girlfriend a year before he won the role. He says he always went on lots of auditions, but finally won a lead role in a play in Los Angeles called Killer Joe. A chorus of "I saw you in that" goes up from the other honorees. "Every decision we made in the movie felt right," he says.

And Viola Davis, so pretty and almost hard to recognize from her roles in Doubt and Antwone Fisher, is probably the most personable of these virtuosos. She says that what the audience has heard tonight–the struggles, the auditions, the small roles–"this is the fate of most of the actors out there. Depressing, isn’t it," she says smiling, appreciating her success all the more.


It’s Thursday night, and you pretty much know that this is THE night. "Make My Day" tee-shirts dominate the throngs lining the red carpet in front of the Arlington Theatre, a massive also historic building with hacienda-style boxes on the sides, and a roof that looks like the sky. Clint Eastwood, tall and relaxed in a button-down shirt, emerges from a limo with his stunning wife. A minute later, Sean Penn strides in looking fit and happy.

Just before showing a mega-Clint series of clips and bringing him onstage, Leonard Maltin says that you might not be seeing your favorite film on the screen. Sure enough, I don’t see Where Eagles Dare, the great WWII movie he made with Richard Burton.

When the applause dies down, Eastwood says of seeing himself on screen, "I’m used to it now." He says he started working at Universal, making $75 a week. "Rent was only about $90 a month, so that left money for a couple beers." The stars then were Tony Curtis, Jeff Chandler, Cornel Wilde and director Douglas Sirk. Wilde told him to save so "you’re not in the sink like me."

He then went over to Italy to make three spaghetti westerns for Sergio Leone. But it took a while for them to get released, very frustrating at the time. He says he learned a lot about directing from Leone, commenting after an odd gunfight scene from A Fistful of Dollars: "You could see by that clip what the tone was like. They were good movies." When they were finally released, he became a leading man.

He says that when he read Unforgiven around 1980, "I said, ‘Okay, this will be the last Western I make.’ But you never know." That started his partnership with Morgan Freeman, who had liked The Outlaw Josey Wales and wanted to do something with Eastwood. Interestingly, he said that Unforgiven also had a powerful scene in the rain that wasn’t supposed to be. And in a memorable scene in Mystic River, "we woke up and there was snow, but we did it and it worked well."

He says he did In The Line of Fire because of the director, Wolfgang Petersen, who had directed Das Boot. "I respected him and didn’t mind that someone else was directing." At this point, the focus shifts to directing; Play Misty for Me in 1971 was his first time in the chair. "As a director, you want to create a relaxed place, allow for spontaneity," Eastwood says. "Throw inhibitions aside. I respect actors; I want to see what they bring and then you can decide what you think. Angelina Jolie [who he directed last year in The Changeling] knew what she was doing. We talked a little bit maybe. The key is don’t be afraid to jump in the water."

He says that place matters a great deal. "Mystic River, with my good friend Sean Penn over there, had to be in Boston. They wanted to create a lot or do it in Canada, but no. Gran Torino had to be in Detroit and Highland Park, Michigan." About that movie, he says, "I saw this great script about family things that really touched on good stuff. How families just want to put you away and get your inheritance. It touched on America. The car was a symbol; it was a nice car. You’d think someone could make one like that now as electric or hybrid.

The next film he’s directing will take place in South Africa this month. It will be about Nelson Mandela, when he got out of jail and was elected president. And it involves a sports team. Freeman, who Eastwood says was born for this role, will play Mandela.

Sean Penn is introduced and comes on stage to present Eastwood with the Festival’s Modern Master award. "Clint, you do it well," Penn says. "We have our political differences, but you believe in human dignity. You say your statement with clarity and purpose. You make us proud of aging."

He has a running joke about all the grunting in Gran Torino. And then Penn talks about some of the takes on Mystic River, to which Eastwood replies with a slight grin, "I’m going to have to watch it again."


I KNOW that guy. I’m sure of it. You know how when you think you know someone, you let them get a glimpse of you so that maybe they’ll solve the puzzle. I tried that and it wasn’t happening.

We’re at Victoria Hall, yet another historic building in downtown Santa Barbara, for a screening of the documentary The Music Lesson. It’s a beautiful movie. Students from the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra are chosen to travel to Laikipia, Kenya, to meet students whose musical traditions have been passed down from tribal elders. The interaction between the students, the lessons they impart and their admiration for each other’s music form the basis of the film.

Afterwards, the director Ginny Galloway and her crew, all Washington-based, head onto the stage, including the guy that I think I know. WHO IS HE?

"It’s amazing how changed the kids were," says Galloway. "They really let their guards down–let go of their fears and got back to rhythm and the pulse of music."

She speaks of visiting the family of one of the young Kenyan musicians, and "even though it was a straw house with dirt floors, they took the same pride we do when someone visits. The only difference was they were moving the chickens and trying to dust the dirt floors," Galloway says.

Then someone asked the producer, Orlando Jones, if the musical theme drew him to the project, because of his role in Drumline.

THAT’S IT! "DRUMLINE!" I shouted at an embarrassing decibel. "That’s Dr. Lee!" Indeed, Jones played the steadfast band director in that movie which I have enjoyed many times. He said the music did draw him to the project, as well as Galloway’s desire to form an exchange program such as this for a regular part of many school systems. Galloway says that many of the Boston kids still have Kenyan friends on Facebook, a true 2009 testament to friendship. Look for this film on National Geographic Channel, she adds.

The tributes ended each night around 10 pm. About nine hours later, some of us are walking to our first film of the new day. Impressively, Roger Durling, the festival director, is on hand each morning to welcome us to these 8am screenings.

"Hello, you film addicts," he yells with a smile. "Welcome to your fix." That’s where I saw two of the best dramas of the festival.

The best is a Japanese film called Nobody to Watch Over Me, directed by Ryoichi Kimizuka. Apparently, when a murder is committed in Japan, the family of the guilty party becomes a target for violence and harassment. So when a teenage boy is accused of killing two girls, his teenage sister and parents are immediately besieged by the media and hordes of people. The police take charge of protecting the family, so the film relates the story of the sister and the police detective who must protect her. She’s only 15 so this is not a romance. It becomes a heart-wrenching tale of her growing up and his trying to make things right with his family and some past mistakes. The scenery is breathtaking, first showing the streets and size of Tokyo and then moving to a seaside bed-and-breakfast where they try to hide out.

Another well-done movie is Dim Sum Funeral, directed by Anna Chi. It was refreshing to see a Chinese-American family star in a movie, although there were plenty of familiar faces like the exotic Bai Ling, Kelly Hu, and Talia Shire of Rocky and Godfather fame playing the family friend. In the film, a mother’s death in the Pacific Northwest brings four siblings together from across the world. It’s a little contrived but the ensemble cast play off each other very well. And again it’s just good to see some fresh faces on the screen without any stereotypes attached. I hope the film gets a release.

Most of the documentaries in the festival were part of a separate grouping called the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film. One of those is Rescuing Emmanuel. Len and Georgia Morris started this project in 1998 and filmed more than 500 hours. The idea was supposed to be about street kids and how they fall through the cracks in third-world countries. But then in Kenya, a young boy named Emmanuel "highjacked the film," Len Morris says. The film goes on to show how the Morrises just can’t get Emmanuel out of their heads after encountering him several times. So they set out to find him and take him to a special school/camp run by an amazing woman (funded, we learn, by a megachurch in Arizona). It’s an engrossing story that doesn’t quite follow the path you’d expect.

The craziest movie I saw is called Tandoori Love. What happens when a Bollywood film cast and crew come to the Swiss Alps to film a movie? Unfortunately, it’s fiction and not a documentary because the scenarios they set up are not as funny as what would really probably happen in such an instance. The clashing of cultures does bring some funny moments, like when the townspeople start enjoying the Indian food, but the film gets too lost on a crazy tangent to soak up its potential. It’s a shame.

Everest: A Climb for Peace is yet another film showing a treacherous climb up a famous mountain. The bind that ties here is that the climbers are from different countries, including Israel and Palestine. Of course, the heavenly scenery and life-and-death situations make it extremely watchable. I’ll never get over how average people choose to risk their lives climbing a mountain like this. The number of climbers who get killed is not insignificant. But as in those other films, some climbers do make it to the top and tug at your heart a bit.

Amar a Morir got a lot of publicity here. A Mexican film directed by Fernando Lebrija, it should tell the makers of the James Bond movies that they have found their next director. Unfortunately, that is not the movie Lebrija set out to make. The handsome son of a rich Mexican businessman runs away from a badly formed arranged marriage and encounters one of the baddest bad guys this side of Goldfinger and Blofeld, with a henchman as mean as Oddjob or Jaws–and, of course the bad guy’s gorgeous girlfriend, The only problem is that our hero can never fight back. He’s brave but a wimp. Man, what Sean Connery could have done with this role!

Sweet Thing is the story of two teenage girls outside Seattle and the friendship that they form as they encounter the early decisions of adulthood. I liked the freshness of it, but four women in front of me all said that they just couldn’t buy the girls as real characters, so I will take their word for it. Surfing was a big topic for the films, not a coincidence given our locale. I saw a film called Wave Riders–apparently one of the men who invented surfing was half-Irish. So we see amazing footage of surfing in Ireland, including off the Cliffs of Moher. Another surfing movie I saw was locally made and celebrated the first women who became great surfers. A Spanish documentary called Titon, From Havana to Guantanamera, paid tribute to the life of Cuban best-known director, Tomas Gutierrez Alea, aka Titon. Well-done and interesting in scope, the best parts for me were the real footage of Che Guevera, coming just after I had seen Che and Benicio del Toro in a Washington screening. Che advised Titon during his making of his film about Castro’s Cuban revolution. And The Watercolorist, about an artist in a crazy-neighbor-filled apartment building, was one that you can safely avoid.

Films that I did not get to see that got strong buzz include: Automorphosis, about a group of enthusiasts who change their cars into art; Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh - this got a showing at last year’s Jewish Film Festival; Empty Nest, an Argentinian film about a couple whose kids have left home; Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times, about the family that owned the LA Times for many years; It’s Not Me, I Swear, a French film about a 10-year-old boy abandoned by his mother; Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, a documentary about that now-legendary concert and recently shown at the AFI Silver; Milking the Rhino, which The National Geographic will be showing here on March 16; Skin, based on a true story about a black girl born to white parents in Apartheid South Africa; Speed and Angels, about young naval aviators; Sugar, about a Dominican baseball player; and Yes Madam Sir, about the first woman to join the Indian Police Service.


We’re back inside the Lobero Theatre where a full-house showing of Slumdog Millionaire is concluding, Jae Ho-ing into oblivion at the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai.

Danny Boyle, who in three weeks will win the Best Director Oscar, hops on stage to tremendous applause and starts telling stories.

"I always wanted to be a train robber when I was a kid," he says. "The scenes at the train station, that was where people were attacked by terrorists with machine guns last November. One or two million people use that station every day. It’s like the heart of the city, completely romantic. I had the great experience to watch the movie with all the Indian people after what they had been through."

The movie almost didn’t happen, he says. "When I got the script, my agent said this is about someone who wants to be a millionaire. He literally said that. The only reason I read it was it had Simon [Beaufoy’s]’s name on it. I didn’t know him personally, but I knew he had written The Full Monty, a wonderful, warm and generous film. So I’ll read the script so at least I can say to Simon, ‘I read the script.’ But after 10-15 pages–and this is no lie–I knew I was going to make it. The only previous feeling I had like that was with Trainspotting.

Boyle is happy and enthusiastic. You quickly get a feeling that if someone were to ask him about socks in India, he would connect it to some amazing story in the movie. He’s asked about the decision to use some subtitles.

"The movie was written in English, plus I had to promise the distributors that it wouldn’t be accented either," Boyle says. "They were terrified that people wouldn’t be able to understand what anyone was saying. So we got to India and started auditioning the little kids and it was obvious that they didn’t speak English well enough. So the casting director said that you should do it in Hindi and you’ll be amazed. We all laughed, but it was extraordinary the difference it made. It meant we can cast much more widely and now the words just bounced off the pages."

Boyle paused. "Then I had to make the phone call to the producers to tell them that a third of the film would be in Hindi. I’m so glad that Los Angeles is such a long way from Mumbai because they would have been here. There was this terrible silence on the phone. You can tell that they thought I lost my mind, gone completely native, that I was going to bring back a five-hour film on meditation. So I said it will be even more exciting with the subtitles. And weirdly enough, I think it is, because those subtitles give you access to those kids. So you don’t come out saying that the subtitles are great; no, it’s wow the kids are great.

"We tried to find kids that had resemblances to the older actors. Their confidence was amazing. The difference of Bollywood, from Hollywood is that all the actors are employed all the time. Everyone’s always busy. They have three or four projects constantly. So it’s a nightmare to schedule. But all the TV, movies and personal appearances give them confidence. So what happens even with the 7-year-old kids is that acting is very natural.

"We told the adult actors to try to take off of the mannerisms of their younger selves, the way they walked and things like that. Little Jemal didn’t have those protruding ears that Dev has, so we put little things behind his ears to make them stick out."

At times, Boyle sounds like one of us, just admiring the film. The fact that he can do this without seeming pompous is a credit to the earnestness he gives off.

"The film is really just a series of flashbacks," he says. "The only real-time scene is the one at the station at the end. Everything else is five flashbacks. It’s amazing how Simon has written the script. We don’t use any light flashes or sound effects or shwshhhhhhhes; it’s fluid. I think The Usual Suspects was a bit like that, where you’re completely fluid with time. So if necessary you can just pop back.

"I loved the scene where the phone is ringing from the show and finally she answers and says hello, and the host says what’s your name, and it goes back to Latika in the rain and she’s 7 years old and she says, ‘My name is Latika.’ I love that you can go back like that for just a short moment. I’d never done anything like that before. The adversity that Dev overcomes as a character, the challenges he had to go through to get there, it’s brilliant that out of the adversity comes these answers."

Boyle talks about the difference in marketing strategies. "[In America,] they released it slowly. In Britain they opened it wide. So they sold it as a feel-good movie with a very bright, happy vibrant poster. I was terrified of that because I had these scenes of people going to that thinking, ‘Oh this is going to be Mamma Mia.’ That was one of the things I was very concerned about, but it has been a big success. Whereas in America, it’s very interesting the way you sell things. Dark image, dark poster, suggests that there are complexities and mood in the film. But it gathered momentum."

Boyle gets one of his biggest laughs when he compares the love story at the heart of the movie to the one in Rocky. He says that naivete worked to his advantage, that "if I knew more [about India], I wouldn’t have done it. There’s something wonderful about trying to start at the beginning again - the naivete that you have that first time."

My last images of Santa Barbara are Jake Gyllenhaal being gently mobbed while walking into the David Fincher tribute (I went to the new Brian Wilson documentary instead; unfortunately, he did not show up as planned); a final Happy Hour talking to the interesting tall Texan who made Automorphosis ("Have you seen the car yet?"); and waiting outside my hostel to catch a 4:30am Saturday cab back to the airport and seeing all the young people coming home from the night’s activities. I bet they weren’t going to catch Roger and the 8am screening. Their loss.

To learn more about the
Santa Barbara Film Festival visit the website.

The 20th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival

By Anita Glick, DC Film Society Member

Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) screened 208 films from 73 countries, including 50 of the 67 foreign entries for this year’s Academy Awards. Palm Springs’ increasingly popular Festival continues to expand its diverse programming of quality independent and foreign films. Founded in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, the 2009 revenue record demonstrates the festival’s quality and reputation.

Photo from the Palm Springs Film Festival website


Ticketing options:

  • General Admission — $11 each
  • Six pack — $50
  • Gala Screenings and Party/Reception — $25 each
  • Opening and Closing Film Screenings and Receptions — $50 each
  • Houston Gala —General Admission $350 / Reserved Seating $500

    Festival Passes:
  • Silver ‘A’ & ‘B’: Five day (1/2 festival) pass for all regular film screenings — $275 each
  • Platinum: Eleven day (entire festival) pass for all regular film screenings — $400
  • Concierge: Reserved seating for Opening and Closing Night, all regular film screenings and Gala film screenings $1500
  • Benefactor: All-inclusive pass, reserved seating up until show time, including Houston Gala — $2,500.


    Departures - Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
    Revanche - FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Language Film
    Captain Abu Raed - John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature
    Waltz with Bashir - Bridging the Borders Award
    Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman - Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
    Natar Ungalaaq (The Necessities of Life) - FIPRESCI Award for Best Actor
    Martina Gusman (Lion’s Den)- FIPRESCI Award for Best Actress
    Hooked - New Voices/New Visions Award
    Rain - Special Jury Mention


    Departures (Yojiro Takita, Japan) Departures is the story of a cellist in a Tokyo orchestra, who loses his job when the orchestra is dissolved. After giving up as a professional cellist, he sells his cello, then moves back to his old hometown along with his wife to find a new job. One day, he found a classified ad of NK Agency entitled "Assisting departures", then had a job interview thinking it is a travel agency. But at the interview, he discovered that it is an acronym standing for encoffinment assisting "departed". The rituals are meticulously performed with dignity. Moving! DON’T MISS THIS ONE.

    Revanche (Gotz Spielmann, Austria) A suspenseful story of a heist whose unexpected repercussions radiate out with satisfying moral complexity. It centers on the ill-fated love story between an ex-con and a prostitute who get involved in a bank robbery. This film is filled with elements of guilt, revenge, faith and redemption. Stillness and sounds of nature play a key role in creating the film's intense atmosphere. The two hours go by in a flash as the story is always marching forward and quite often taking you to places you didn’t think you were going.

    Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel) Waltz with Bashir is about memory and responsibility that uses powerful animation to recreate the hallucinogenic qualities of recollection. The film documents the attempts of Folman, to recover his lost memories of the events revolving around the first Lebanon war. Years later he meets with a friend from his army service period, who tells him of the nightmares connected to his experiences. Folman is surprised to find out that he does not remember a thing from the same period. The film follows Folman in his conversations with friends, a psychologist and a reporter.

    Captain Abu Raed (Amin Matalqa, Jordan/USA) Captain Abu Raed is the first feature film produced in Jordan in more than 50 years. The film tells the story of an elderly airport janitor and the twist of fate that sees him become a hero to a group of children. Donning an airline captain’s hat, he wows the kids with his made-up tales of world travel, fueling their hopes and dreams for a better life. When his cover is blown, reality sets in. However, Abu Raed continues his hero role, by making an attempt to bring a stop to the domestic violence raging in a boy’s home. (This film was shown at last year's Arabian Sights Film Festival).

    The Class (Laurent Cantet, France) The teacher in The Class lives his job and the film is “in your face” with both the students and other faculty. The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Francois Begaudeau , who also plays the lead role. As the teacher of a multiracial inner city school, he is quietly trying to enhance the lives of his students. The classroom is filled with actual Parisian students. (This film is currently playing in the Washington area).

    The Necessities of Life (Benoit Pilon, Canada) The film uses the 1950s-era tuberculosis epidemic in the Far North as its starting point. The spread of the disease forced many Inuit to go to sanatoriums in Quebec City. Uprooted, far from his loved ones and faced with a completely alien world, Tivii is unable to communicate with anyone. A young orphan, also sick, is transferred to the institution. The boy speaks both languages. By sharing his culture with the boy and opening it up to others, Tivii rediscovers his pride and energy.

    The Little Traitor (Lynn Roth, Israel/USA) Based on the novel "Panther in the Basement" by the world-renowned author, Amos Oz, the movie takes place in Palestine in 1947, just a few months before Israel becomes a state. The Little Traitor is the story of an implausible friendship between a British officer and a sensitive 11-year-old Israeli militant. Their meetings must be kept secret from the boys’ friends and family. When his friends follow him one day and see that he has been visiting the detested enemy, they report him to the town officials and he is brought to "trial" for being a traitor. He is eventually found innocent but these experiences shape him for life.

    Tear This Heart Out (Robert Sneider, Mexico/Spain) Tear This Heart Out is a sensual sweeping epic with lavish settings, intricate costumes, and rich cinematography. The most expensive movie ever made in Mexico tells the story of a woman’s growth during 15 years love, politics, power, corruption, infidelity and murder.

    Marcello Marcello (Denis Rabaglia, Switzerland) The acting, camera-work, music, and the funny story make this a winner. In 1956, a unique custom keeps the young men of an island in Italy busy. When a girl turns eighteen, every boy is invited to bring a gift for her first date. However the gift is not for the girl, but for the father. A fisherman's son comes up with the perfect gift for the Mayor. But getting that gift isn't easy, he is forced to barter with the entire village. The following pursuit for the perfect present is fast paced and very entertaining to watch.

    Like Dandelion Dust (Jon Gunn, USA) Based on the novel by Karen Kingsbury, a heart-wrenching suspenseful story of the sacrifices biological and adoptive parents make because of the love of their children. The film, starring Mira Sorvino, confronts legal, and moral areas and confronts power and social class.

    Jolene (Dan Ireland, USA) Based on Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow stars brilliant beautiful, newcomer, Jessica Chastain, who I predict will be a major star. Jolene is the tale of a young woman’s 10-year odyssey traveling cross-country in search of love and independence.

    Skin (Anthony Fabian, South Africa/UK) Debut performance by director, Anthony Fabian, tells the real-life story set in Apartheid-era South Africa. Due to a genetic quirk, a girl is born with black skin to white parents. A complex and riveting emotional drama illuminates and recreates both the family and country’s the 30 year for struggles until Apartheid ended in 1994.

    Films I wish I had seen include: We Can Do That, Everlasting Moments, Every Child Is Special, Visual Acoustic, Mommy is at the Hairdresser and Cherry Blossoms


    Patrik 1.5 (Ella Lemhagen, Sweden) A married gay couple expect to adopt a one and one-half year old baby, however, someone in social services drops the decimal and they end up with a delinquent, homophobic 15 year old. The film is a sensitive, yet funny, study of problems in contemporary gay life.

    Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong/China) In this quiet, engaging drama, the breadwinner of a family with two sons loses his job. He is too ashamed to tell his family. One day his wife spots him in a soup line and discovers the truth, though she doesn’t dare confront him. As his sons drift away from their (former average) parents, one son starts spending his lunch money, against his stern father’s wishes) on piano lessons in hopes of a career as a pianist.

    The Black Balloon (Elissa Down, Australia/UK) The Black Balloon is an uplifting and compelling story of growing up, fitting in and discovering love. When Thomas and his family move to a new home and he has to start at a new school, all he wants is to fit in. When his pregnant mother has to take it easy, he is put in charge of his autistic older brother, Charlie whose unusual antics take Thomas on an emotional journey.

    Pandora’s Box (Pandoranin Kutusu, Yesim Ustaoglu, Turkey/France/Germany) Like a Pandora’s box spilled open in this film, all the unresolved disputes about their mother when she is has gone missing. 90 year old French actress Tsilla Chelton plays the part beautifully. She even learned Turkish for the part.

    This Dust of Words (Bill Rose, USA) Titled after Elizabeth Wiltsee’s Stanford senior honor’s thesis on Samuel Beckett, this moving documentary tells the story of a troubled soul and the community that embraced her. The film is both an elegy on a life lost and a celebration of the charitable nature of humanity.

    Hunger (Steve McQueen, UK) In its understated way, this debut from former artist turned director Steve McQueen is epic, bold, brutal and beautiful. Telling the story of the last six weeks in the life of Bobby Sands the Irish republican hunger striker the film pulls no punches in showing life inside the maze prison and what the prisoners did to try and win political status. McQueen utilized his artistic eye to bring the best out of the very cold prison environment, his attention to detail is stunning. Every frame is watchable despite the gruesome subject matter.

    Rain (Maria Govan, Bahamas) A debut film and one of the Bahamas’ first produced films, Rain shows “the graveyard” an area few tourists ever see. We see how generations of women both support and destroy each other.

    Public Enemy #1 (Jean-Francois Richet, France/Canada) A two-part biopic of one of Europe’s most daring gangsters. The life of a criminal mastermind who had a career spanning decades is based directly on his autobiography. This is a portrait of a bank robber, smuggler, kidnapper and murderer.

    Living In Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders (Mark Hopkins, USA) This candid and often shocking documentary follows two recruits and two veteran aid workers. They are pushed to their limits to make a difference in at field hospitals in Liberia and the Congo.

    Jerusalema (Ralph Ziman, South Africa) Story about a poor but bright South African boy who lead a world of crime during high school. Years later he becomes a self proclaimed Robin Hood in the metropolitan area of Johannesburg.


    Cloud 9 (Andreas Dresden, Germany) The emotional and ethical dimensions of a complicated September romance is handled with great discretion and insight. The strong sex scenes are frank and matter of fact.

    Bedford, Virginia: The Town They Left Behind (Joe Fab, Elliot Berlin, USA) The local director/producer team that made Paperclips in 2004. This documentary tells the story of how, on June 6, 1942, Bedford lost more men per capita than any other city in America.

    Em (Tony Barbieri, USA) This film is a portrait of human frailty and an emotional subtle portrait of human frailty and emotional yearning.

    Sugar (Anna Boden, Ryan Flick, USA) An emotionally true sports drama concerning a talented Dominican baseball player who longs to break into the America big league and earn the money to support his impoverished family. When he arrives in a small town in Iowa, in despite the kindness he is shown, he struggles with language and the cultural barriers.

    Green Dumpster Mystery (Tal Haim Yoffe, Israel) This tightly paced tour de force of detection vividly evokes the now-extinguished lives of an extended family seared by the Holocaust and modern Israeli tragedies.

    The Kautokeino Rebellion (Nils Gaup, Norway) This historical saga, is based on the true story of the Kautokeino riots in Norway in 1852 in response to the Norwegian exploitation of the Sami community at that time.

    Sunshine Cleaning (Christine Jeffs, USA) Sunshine Cleaning is an edgy comedy about two underachieving sisters. The sister’s go into the crime scene clean-up business. As they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, they find a true respect for one another and the closeness they have always craved blossoms.


    American Primitive (Gwen Wynne, USA) Set in 1972, this debut film tells the story of teenager, who wants nothing more than to fit in after moving to a new town. That turns out to be more difficult than she thinks when she discovers her father's got a boyfriend. An issue shrouded in silence and shame (at the time).

    Captive (Aleksei Uchitel, Bulgaria/Russia) In this psychological drama, Russian soldiers are trapped in the Chechen landscape, stifling in the heat, lost in hostile, alien surrounds. The commander and the sniper need a guide to lead their convoy to safety. They seize a wounded local boy who becomes their passport to safety, but must pay a terrible price.

    Burning Plain (Guillermo Arriaga, USA) In his directorial debut the screenwriter of Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel films a story with multipart story strands woven together like in his previous screenplays. The film is a story about guilt and the sins of an earlier generation.

    The Song of Sparrows (Majidi Majidi, Iran) An ostrich farm worker leads a simple and contented life with his family. When an ostrich escapes because of his mistake, he is fired. He finds a job in Tehran, but he faces new problems in his personal life when he is mistaken for a motorcycle taxi driver. His generous and honest nature, much to the distress of his wife and daughters are changed to greed and materialism.

    The Witch of the West is Dead (Shunichi Nagaski, Japan) This film is based on an award winning best seller by Nashiki Kaho, starring Sachi Parker (daughter of Shirley McLain). A young woman, Parker transforms herself into a sixty five year old, dowdy matron. The pace is unnecessarily slow.

    Ploning (Dante Nica Garcia, Philippines) Ploning is a nickname inspired by a folksong that originated in the island of Palawan. The plot of the story is very simple — a man is looking for something or someone with the name Ploning. He has from sunrise to sundown to look for this "Ploning."

    Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner (Murray Grigor, USA) A documentary feature film, traces Lautner's lifelong quest to create "architecture that has no beginning and no end". It is the story of a complicated life - and the most sensual architecture of the 20th century.


    Four Nights with Anna (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/France) too bizarre for me
    Il Divo (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France) too confusing for me
    Cat City (Brent Huff/USA) A film noir ‘want to be’
    Adopt a Sailor (Charles Evered, USA) Good cast but did not save this film
    Giving It Up (Frank Ruy, USA) Exploring the paparazzi; way too long

    I plan to attend the 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival tentatively set for January 7 – 18, 2010 and hope to see you there!

    The 38th International Film Festival Rotterdam

    By James McCaskill, DC Film Society Member

    Photo from the IFFR website

    "Aren't you the German producer I was talking to last night?" French filmmaker Enrico Giordano asked me ten minutes after I picked up my press credentials. "I am looking for money to finish my film," he continued. "I have only two days left before the producers start leaving for Berlin. What happened in New York City eight years ago has greatly affected film funds everywhere. I have the impression that French producers are afraid after 9-11. What can we do so people are not afraid? Maybe now we will have a burst of creativity similar to 1900. It can be a period of creativity for the arts."

    So began the
    38th Intentional Film Festival Rotterdam. Everyone was running around looking for funding for their next film. "I have funds for this film but where can I find funds for my next," an Austrian director said to me one evening. You had the feeling that within a few years the film stream will dry up and the Opening Film and the Closing Film will be shown on the same day.

    The international economic crises had its impact on the festival attendance. Last year there were 355,000 paying film goers and this year there was a slight dip: 341,000. The number of attending filmmakers, visual and performing artists was also down, 295 from last year's 350. Attending journalists was down significantly: 357 this year down from the 458 last year.

    The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) rightly prides itself on its selection of primarily independent films from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and parts of the world whose film rarely make the international film festival spotlight along with a healthy dose of Hollywood, Great Britain and Europe.

    The main Signals section of the IFFR, with its theme programs and retrospectives, includes a tribute to Swiss filmmaker Peter Liechti. That retrospective is highlighted with the world premiere of his astounding new film, The Sound of Insects - Record of a Mummy. One of the thematic programs focused on Young Turkish Cinema included the Istanbul-set drama Black Dogs Barking by Mehmet Bahadir Er & Maryna Gorbach that saw its world premiere. Also in this category was Autumn (Sonbahar, Ozcan Alper), Wrong Rosary (Uzak Ihtimal, Mahmut Fazil Coskun), Two Lines (Iki Cizgi, Selim Evcl), The Storm (Kazim Oz) and Pandora's Box (Yesim Ustaoglu, Turkey/France/Germany, 2008). This new generation of Turkish filmmakers builds upon the previous generation's established auteurs of Turkish Cinema: Zeki Demirkubuz, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yesim Ustaoglu, and Dervis Zaim. The featured Young Turkish directors are not afraid to look at social and cultural subjects that have been rarely filmed, such a Kazim Oz whose Kurdish background is clearly present in his film.

    The Hungry Ghosts section of the festival featured 30 Asian ghost movies, including the world premieres of works by filmmakers Riri Riza (Indonesia), Nguyen Vinh Son (Vietnam), Amir Muhammad (Malaysia), Wisit Sasanatieng (Thailand), Garin Nugroho (Indonesia) and Lav Diaz (Philippines).

    As is usual with film festival some films screened at Rotterdam had been seen at other festivals and their previous high rating still stands.

    MY FAVORITE FILMS (listed in order of preference)

    Wrong Rosary (Nagnyt Fazil Coskun/Turkey/2008)
    Teza (Haile Gerima/Ethiopia/2008)
    Snow (Snijeg, Aida Begic, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Germany/France/Iran, 2008)
    No puedo vivir Sinti (Leon Dei/Taiwan/2008)
    Troubled Water (Erik Poppe/Norway/2008)
    Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandei (Ian Olds/USA/2008)
    Pranzodi Ferragosto (Gianni Di Gregorio/Italy/2008)
    April Showers (Ivo Ferreira/Portugal/2009)
    Strength of Water (Armagan Ballantyne/New Zealand, Germany/2009)
    West of Pluto (A l'ouest de Pluto/Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault/Canada, 2009)
    Mama is at the Hairdresser (Maman est chezle coiffeur/Lea Pool/Canada/2008)
    The Karamozovs (Petr Zelenlca/Czech Republic, Poland/2008)

    AUDIENCE FAVORITES (votes by 341,000 film fans)

    Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tsnden/UK/2008)
    Troubled Water (Erik Poppe/Norway/2008)
    Maman est chezle coiffeur (Mama is at the Hairdresser/Lea Pool/Canada/2008)
    The Karamozovs (Petr Zelenka/Czech Republic, Poland/2008)
    Frozen River (Courtney Hunt/USA/2008)
    Pranzo di Ferragosto (Gianni Di Groporio/Italy/2008)
    Room and a Half (Andrey Khrzhanorsky/Russia/2009)
    Teza (Haile Gerima/Ethopia, Germany, France/2009)
    Pandora's Box (Yesim Ustaglu/France, Germany, Belgium/2008)
    Strength of Water (Armagan Ballantyne/New Zealand, Germany/2009)
    Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme/USA/2008)
    La Nana (The Maid, Sebastian Silva/Chile/2009)
    Tokyo Sonata (Kurosawa Kiyoshi/Japan, Netherlands, Hong Kong, 2008


    Danny Boyle and co-director Loveleen Tsnden's Slumdog Millionaire was the top vote getter for the Audience Award at this year's festival narrowly beating out the Norwegian drama, Troubled Water. Teza by Haile Gerima was given the Dioraphte Award of 10,000 Euros from the Hubert Bals Fund. The three winners out of the 14 films nominated for the Tiger Awards were: Breathless, Be Calm and Count to Seven and Wrong Rosary. In making their selection for the Tiger Award the jury had this say about the films:

    Be Calm and Count to Seven (Aram bash va ta haft beshmar) by Ramtin Lavafipour (Iran/2008) ‘We were extremely impressed by the artistry and vigor of the first film – the level of craft and cinematic intelligence on the one hand, the dedication to rendering the reality of a particular way of life on the other. For us, this film did what all films strive to do: it represented and dramatized a way of life in terms that were at once specific and universal, not to mention unfailingly vivid.’

    Breathless (Ddongpari) by Yang Ik-June (South Korea/2008) ‘A powerfully rendered and acted film with a keen sense of reality in its portrayal of a situation that has been seldom seen in cinema. We were also surprised to see an extremely troubling subject matter treated with a welcome sense of warmth and humor.’

    Wrong Rosary (Uzak ihtimal) by Mahmut Fazil Coskun (Turkey/2008) ‘A uniquely creative film of the most eloquent simplicity, a film built from a feeling of immediacy, moment by moment, breath by breath; a film that builds an absolutely unique form of suspense; a film that stays true to itself from beginning to end.’

    The FIPRESCI award of the International Critics went to Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly (Babi buta yang ingin terbang) by Edwin (Indonesia/2008), which was selected for the the Tiger Awards Competition of the 2009 International Film Festival Rotterdam.

    The Jury statement: "A brave film, fragmented in a way that each bit is very sharp as an edgy, personal and political statement. As critics, we were most challenged on many levels by this work which kept coming back again and again in our discussions as the song "I Just Called to Say I love You" did infectiously in the film".


    Wrong Rosary (Nagnyt Fazil Coskun/Turkey/2008). This was the first film from Turkey to be in competition at Rotterdam. It is a wonderful love story that brings together Clara, who is soon to be a nun, and Musa, a muezzin at a nearby mosque. The story is complicated when Musa meets Yakop, an antique book dealer, who has a connection with Clara. When I interviewed the director I asked how he developed the screenplay. Coskun said, "About two years ago I was with a friend who is a novelist. This was his first novel and the theme was Hopeless Love. We went through more sets of opposite lovers and different religions was one of the ones we came up with. We actually came up with three possibilities; I liked this one best. We brought in four writers that included a poet, the novelist, a scriptwriter, an actress and myself and began to write. We changed the script so many times. At the end I knew what kind of film and format I wanted. Even knew the music. Just did not have a shooting script." Coskun spent four years in Los Angeles at UCLA.

    Teza (Haile Gerima/Ethiopia/2008). Sweltering Ethiopia with its landscapes from the beginning of time. A poor and hard land that is burdened by modern and basically cruel ideology. A young man went to study in Germany returns to a country he no longer recognizes. Gerima tells a forgotten story in detail and with commitment.

    Snow (Snijeg/Aida Begic/Bosnia and Herzegovina/Germany/France/Iran, 2008). Another beautifully photographed and realized story by a first time director in the "discovery" program at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 1997 a small town populated mostly by widows and orphaned children from the Bosnian war try to survive; the inter generational emotions of the women creating a kind of new family is dramatically portrayed. This is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 2008 nominee for best foreign language film. Begic did not film the war directly but by focusing on the impact of the war on the widows and children makes a strong statement. The women do not know if their husbands and sons are alive or dead. They decide to carry on with life.

    No puedo vivir sin ti (Leon Dei/Taiwan/2008). Father lives like a tramp by the harbor while doing dangerous nautical jobs to keep body and soul together for himself and his beloved young daughter. The authorities think this is no place for a child to live. But all has worked out well until the bureaucrats find out and then he is forced to take drastic actions to get his daughter back. When I interviewed the director, Leon Dei, he said, "About 70 to 80% is a real story. It actually happened about five years ago in Taiwan. I only had a photograph of them hanging on a bridge to work with. It got lots of television coverage. We used the location where he had been for the film. The television audience just saw him as a bad man, they did not realize he was her father." Everyone wanted to know what was a Taiwanese film doing with a Spanish title so I asked the director. He said, "We looked at a lot of expressions in a number of languages and this one worked. I heard a Latin American friend say it, 'I can't live without you'. I thought this phased expressed the spirit of the film best. Taiwanese men are more conservative and would never express their feelings that explicitly. So I thought this phrase was powerful."

    Troubled Water (Erik Poppe/Norway/2008). Intensely constructed and detailed psychological drama by the maker of Hawaii, Oslo. Outstanding performance by Trine Dyrholm as the mother of a little boy who disappeared eight years ago and who now has to face the nerve wracking confrontation with the man who has been sentenced for the crime.

    Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandei (Ian Olds/USA/2008). The nightmare of a documentary maker in Afghanistan. During the shooting of a documentary the Taliban decapitates your protagonists. Ian Olds wanted to show how reporters are helped by fixers - an interpreter, driver and scout all in one. A sobering look at television reporting and Afghanistan. What began as an intimate portrait of two colleagues at work turns darker when the Taliban fighters in Southern Afghanistan kidnap Ajmal and an Italian journalist during a dangerous trip to interview a high commander. The Afghan government's confused response, competing pressures from foreign nations, and Ajmal's murder all unravel into the tragic story of one man forgotten in the crossfire that illuminatres the mechanisms of a failing state slowly losing the faith of its people. Daniele Mastrogiacomo (the Italian journalist) was released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners while Ajmal was left behind. At the festival Olds said, "This is not lost on the people of Afghanistan who have begun to ask, 'Is the life of a foreigner worth more than the life of an Afghan'?"

    Pranzo di Ferragosto (Gianni Di Gregorio/Italy/2008). On a sweltering holiday in Rome, fifty-something Giovanni faces the unenviable task of housing several elderly ladies - ladies with a will of their own. This heart warming portrait of Italian etiquette was a surprise hit at Venice, made by the co-writer of Gomorra. A fall down-laughing comedy.

    April Showers (Ivo Ferreira/Portugal/2009). Ghosts from the time of the Portugese Carnation Revolution come back to life when theater maker Pedro, after making a discovery in his grandmother's old things, goes looking for the facts. What was his revolutionary father doing in Spain? As members of the most radical left-wing faction, they find themselves involved in the assassination of a businessman which, in turn, led to the murder/escape/suicide of Pedro's father. Silence descended over the family which lead Pedro to search for the truth.

    Strength of Water (Armagan Ballantyne/New Zealand, Germany/2009). What is that fat Maori kid doing walking around with a chicken? And does he really have contact with his dead sister? These are questions that no everyone has time for in this charming, authentic film that was shot on a windy stretch of land on the Northern Coast of New Zealand. The film was written by acclaimed New Zealand playwright Briar Grace-Smith and workshopped with Ballantyne at the Sundance Directors' and Screenwriters' Lab in Utah in 2006. While Ballantyne is not of Maori heritage, Grace Smith is of Nga Puhi and Ngati Wai iwi descent. In Strength of Water Maoris play the Maoris. At the festival the director said, "We sent it to the Maori chiefs in the area and they read the script and loved it, and were really keen for us to shoot it. If they had not embraced it, I don't know if I would have felt comfortable making it."

    West of Pluto (A l'ouest de Pluto/Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault/Canada, 2009). Using a documentary style, this film looks at 24 hours in the lives of 12 teenagers in the suburbs of Quebec, Canada. The language, tone and attitude of the young people, who are experiencing everything for the first time, is perfectly caught.

    Mama is at the Hairdresser (Lea Pool/Canada/2008). Sketch of a family experiencing several turbulent developments in the summer holiday of 1966. While the problems within the family are significant, its members - especially the teenage Elise - and the situations are portrayed with great feeling scent, color and all kinds of historic details.

    The Karamozovs (Petr Zelenka/Czech Republic, Poland/2008). A unique experience by the Czech director Petr Zelenka, who has transformed the stage adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamozov by Czechoslovak Nouvelle Vague's leading figure Evald Schorm into a film. With excellent performances by Prague's Dejvicke Theatre. This will be shown at the National Gallery of Art on March 1.

    Pandora’s Box (Pandoranin Kutusu/Yesim Ustaoglu/Turkey, France, Germany/2008). This is a story of how modernity and dysfunctional middle-class families can easily alienate or isolate those not in the urban setting or the forgotten older generation, still living in the rural homelands. The director could not find a Turkish actress of the age needed to play the elderly mother Nusret. She is powerfully, yet almost silently played by French actress Tsilla Chelton, who was the lead in the 1990 film Tatie Danielle. “At 90 years of age, she was a marvel, learning Turkish and climbing the mountains,” said the director Yesim Ustaoglu. This is a special film that you should see like her earlier award winning films Waiting for the Clouds and Journey to the Sun.

    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, Austin Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Reykjavik 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
    "Paul Newman Remembered" is a two-month celebration of a 50-year range of Newman's films. Titles in March include Nobody's Fool, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Hombre, Harper, The Long Hot Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with more in April.

    "The Films of Max Ophuls" concludes with two rare European films: the Italian La Signora di Tutti (1934) and the Dutch Comedy of Money (1936).

    Three locations (AFI, Freer, and National Gallery of Art) take part in "In the Realm of Oshima," a festival of Nagisa Oshima films. At the AFI is The Pleasures of the Flesh, Band of Ninja, Violence at Noon, Japanese Summer: Double Suicide with the rest in April.

    The "New African Films" festival includes a selection of new and classic African films. Titles are 13 Months of Sunshine, Divizionz, Transes, Touki Bouki, Shoot the Messenger, Wrestling Grounds, Harvest 3000 Years, Kinshasa Palace, Paris or Nothing, The Cathedral, Cape Verde My Love, Awaiting For Men and Hyenas.

    The AFI takes part in the Environmental Film Festival with They killed Sister Dorothy and Before Tomorrow plus a series of films by Werner Herzog including The White Diamond, Grizzly Man, La Soufriere, Lessons of Darkness, Fitzcarraldo, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Aguirre The Wrath of God, Fata Morgana, Scream of Stone and The Wild Blue Yonder.

    Silverdocs presents Crips and Bloods: Made in America and Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and the Tangerine. See the website for more details.

    For World Water Day on March 26 at 6:00pm is the documentary Running the Sahara.

    Freer Gallery of Art
    The Freer takes part in "In the Realm of Oshima" along with the AFI and the National Gallery of Art. On March 6 at 7:00pm is Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968); on March 8 at 2:00pm is Sing a Song of Sex (1967); on March 15 at 2:00pm is Boy (1969); on March 22 at 2:00pm is The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970); on March 27 at 7:00pm is Dear Summer Sister (1972); on March 29 at 2:00pm is Kyoto, My Mother's Place (1991); and on March 29 at 3:00pm is a documentary 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1994). The series continues in April.

    The Freer takes part in the Environmental Film Festival with 24 City (Jia Zhang-ke, 2008) on March 20 at 7:00pm.

    National Gallery of Art
    The Gallery takes part in "In the Realm of Oshima," a retrospective of Nagisa Oshima's films also being shown at the Freer Gallery of Art and the AFI Silver Theater. On March 7 at 2:00pm is A Town of Love and Hope (1959) shown with Diary of Yunbogi (1965); on March 7 at 4:00pm and March 8 at 4:30pm is Cruel Story of Youth (1960); on March 14 at 4:30pm is Night and Fog in Japan (1960); on March 15 at 4:30pm is The Sun's Burial (1960); on March 28 at 2:00pm is The Catch (1961); on March 28 at 4:00pm is Shiro Amakusa, the Christian Rebel (1962); and on March 29 at 4:30pm is The Ceremony (1971).

    Taking part in the Environmental Film Festival, the Gallery shows Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008) on March 14 at 2:30pm and Dust (Hartmut Bitomsky, 2007) on March 19 at 12:30pm and March 22 at 4:30pm.

    "New Masters of European Cinema" is a quarterly screening of a new film from Europe. On March 1 at 4:30pm is the Czech film The Brothers Karamazov (Petr Zelenka, 2008) with the director present to discuss the film.
    On March 14 at 1:00pm is a "Cine-Concert" Cajus Julius Caesar (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914) with Burnett Thompson accompanying the film on piano and an introduction by Martin Winkler.

    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
    On March 8 at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm is the documentary Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress, and the Tangerine (Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach, 2008) in conjunction with the exhibit of Louise Bourgeois' art works. (This is also shown at at the AFI Silver Theater on March 26 and 29).

    National Museum of the American Indian
    On March 15 at 2:00pm is Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai, a documentary about the pioneer of women's professional surfing, native Hawaiian Rell Kapolioka'ehukai Sunn, presented as part of the Environmental Film Festival and Women's History Month. On March 20 at 7:00pm as part of the Environmental Film Festival is Children of the Amazon, with filmmaker Denise Zmekhol searching for the indigenous Surui and Negarote children she had photographed 15 years earlier. The filmmaker will introduce the film and answer questions.

    National Portrait Gallery
    On March 18 at 7:00pm as part of "Reel Portraits" and the Environmental Film Festival is A Sense of Wonder (Christopher Monger, 2008), about Rachel Carson and based on Kaiulani Lee's one-woman play. Actress Kaiulani Lee will be present for discussion.

    Other Environmental Film Festival programs include two short films on March 18 at 2:00pm: Don't Fence Me In (Bonnie Kreps, 2008) and Arctic Dance (Bonnie Kreps, 2001). On March 19 at 12:30pm is a series of four short nature films.

    Smithsonian American Art Museum
    A series of four film lectures about artists working with film, video and media art are held throughout March. On March 5 at 7:00pm Cory Arcangel discusses his projects and shows a selection of works; on March 12 at 7:00pm Leslie Thornton screens selections of her work and discusses how Orientalism relates to her work; on March 20 at 7:00pm for Women's History Month Louise Nevelson's work will be discussed by artist Jessica Stockholder and the short documentary The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson will be screened; on March 26 at 7:00pm Raphael M. Ortiz presents an overview of his works of film and video art.

    National Museum of Women in the Arts
    As part of the Environmental Film Festival is Katrina's Children (Laura Belsey, 2008) on March 18 at 7:00pm, a documentary about the effect of the hurricane on 19 children from different neighborhoods in New Orleans, told from the chldren's point of view. The filmmaker will be present for discussion.

    Films on the Hill
    On March 4 at 7:00pm is a Lon Chaney double feature: Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929) and Flesh and Blood (Irving Cummings, 1922) with the "Man of a Thousand Faces" starring as a big-animal trapper in the first film and as a prison escapee who disguises himself with crippled legs in the second.

    For the Environmental Film Festival are two films about the ocean, both starring Lionel Barrymore as the skipper of a ship. On March 13 at 7:00pm is Mysterious Island (Lucien Hubbard, 1929), based on the novel by Jules Verne, with Barrymore as the designer and builder of a submarine. On March 14 at 7:00pm is Down to the Sea in Ships (Henry Hathaway, 1949) with Barrymore as the captain of a 19th century whaling ship. Richard Widmark got his first non-evil role in this film and twelve year old Dean Stockwell also stars.

    Washington Jewish Community Center
    On May 3 at 7:30pm is Arab Labor (Ron Ninio, 2007) a popular TV comedy show from Israel; four 30 minute episodes. On March 15 at 3:00pm is Taking Root (Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, 2008), a documentary about Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement. On March 31 at 7:30pm is Lady Kul El Arab (Ibtisam Mara'ana, 2008), a documentary about an Arab woman whose dream is to enter the world of Israeli fashion.

    Pickford Theater
    Film programs for the Lincoln Bicentennial include Are We Civilized (Edwin Carewe, 1934) shown with The Perfect Tribute (Edward Sloman, 1935) on March 5 at 7:00pm. On March 11 at 6:30pm is "Omnibus Mr. Lincoln" a 1950s TV program (Norman Lloyd). Films for the Environmental Film Festival include Le Monde du Silence (Jacques-Yves Couteau, 1956) on March 12 at 7:00pm and Moby Dick (Lloyd Bacon, 1930) on March 20 at 7:00pm.

    Goethe Institute
    "A Deeper Look" features earlier films by some of the directors whose work was shown in January's "Film Neu" festival. On March 2 at 6:30pm is Napola (Dennis Gansel, 2004), about a young boxer who is offered training at an elitist Nazi school. On March 9 at 6:30pm is Men (Doris Dorrie, 1985).

    The second in a series of film seminars about basic emotions in European cinema is "Laughter" on March 14 starting at 2:00pm. Film critic Desson Thomson moderates the seminar beginning at 2:00pm, followed by a champagne reception at 5:00pm and at 5:30pm the short film Dinner for One (Heinz Dunkhase, 1963) and the German feature Manitou's Shoe (Michael Herbig, 2001). The seminar series continues in April with "Fear."

    For the Environmental Film Festival is the Oscar nominated documentary Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2008) on March 16 at 6:30pm.

    "Globalization - Threat or Opportunity?" is a series of award-winning documentaries from Germany and Austria. On March 23 at 6:30pm is The Big Sellout (Florian Opitz, 2007), an award-winning documentary about the reality of the privatized and globalized world. On March 30 at 6:30pm is We Feed the World (Erwin Wagenhofer, another award-winning documentary about food production and globalization.

    Burnett Thompson will provide piano accompaniment for Othello (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1922) on March 11 at 6:30pm, part of the Silent Shakespeare series.

    The Shakespeare Theater
    As part of the "Silent Shakespeare" series (see also above at the Goethe Institute and the National Gallery of Art), Burnett Thompson will accompany Romeo and Juliet (Geralmo Lo Savio, 1911) and Bromo and Juliet (1926) as part of "Happenings at the Harman."

    National Geographic Society
    For Women's History Month, the All Roads Film Festival presents Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, 2008) on March 5 at 7:00pm.

    The National Geographic Society takes part in the Environmental Film Festival with The Great White Odyssey on March 11 at 7:30pm; Marina of the Zabbaleen on March 13 at 7:00pm; and Milking the Rhino on March 16 at 7:30pm.

    On March 21 at noon is Spirit of the Forest (2008), an animated film from Spain followed by a discussion with filmmaker Lucas Mackey. On March 21 at 2:00pm is a screening of Wall-e (2008) followed by a discussion with Bert Berry, Shading Art Director for Wall-E with Pixar Animation Studios.

    French Embassy
    On March 11 at 7:00pm is Seuls Two (Eric Judor, 2008) as part of the "Francophonie" films. On March 21 at 3:00pm is an animated film for kids Mia et le Migoo (Jacques-Remy Gererd, 2008). For the Environmental Film Festival is the documentary Modern Life (Raymond Depardon, 2008) on March 15 at 3:00pm. Reservations are required.

    The Japan Information and Culture Center
    On March 18 at 6:30pm is Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood starring Toshiro Mifune.

    As part of the Environmental Film Festival is River Webs on March 16 at 6:30pm, a documentary about Dr. Shigeru Nakano, a pioneer in the field of river ecology. Film director Jeremy Monroe will discuss the film after the screening. Reservations are required, visit the website for instructions.

    National Archives
    For the Environmental Film Festival is Built for the People: The Story of TVA (2008) on March 17 at 7:00pm. Filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine will discuss the film and answer questions.

    As part of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial is The Prisoner of Shark Island (John Ford, 1936) on March 14 at noon.

    On March 28 at noon is King Kong (1933).

    National Museum of Natural History
    For the Environmental Film Festival on March 13 at noon is The State of the Planet's Oceans (2008). On March 14 starting at noon is Part I of a program of short films about the ocean; on March 15 starting at noon is Part II of the short ocean films; on March 20 at noon is Who Killed Crassostrea Virginica: The Chesapeake Oyster (2009) followed by discussion with filmmaker Michael Fincham. On March 22 starting at 11:00am is a program of seven film winners from the 2008 Wildscreen Festival in Bristol, England.

    The IMAX theater at the museum also presents Environmental films: on March 17 at 7:00pm is Van Gogh: Brush with Genius; and on March 19 at 7:00pm is Wild Ocean 3-D (2008) both IMAX films.

    The Avalon
    "Lions of Czech Film" presents the documentary Gyumri about the survivors of the 1988 earthquake in the Armenian town of Gyumri on March 25 at 8:00pm.

    As part of the "French Cinémathèque" series and the "Francophonie 2009 Cultural Festival" is The Other Half (Rolando Colla, 2008) on March 18 at 8:00pm.

    As part of the Environmental Film Festival is Duma (Carroll Ballard, 2005) on March 21 at 10:00am; and the Academy Award nominated The Garden (2008) on March 22 at 1:00pm with director Scott Hamilton Kennedy present for discussion.

    The Corcoran
    The Corcoran's contribution to the Environmental Film Festival is Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (Frieda Lee Mock, 1984), the story behind the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, on March 16 at 6:30pm.

    Italian Cultural Institute
    On March 11 at 6:30pm is the Environmental Film Festival offering The River Tiber (Catia Ott), a documentary about Rome's history and monuments as seen from the Tiber River. RSVPs are required, see the website for instructions.

    Anacostia Community Museum
    On March 7 at 2:00pm is Stomp the Yard (Sylvain White, 2007), about an underground street dancer.

    Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
    Several films are shown as part of "Arabesque" at the Kennedy Center: on March 11 at 7:30pm is A Summer in La Goulette (Ferid Boughedir, 1996); on March 12 at 7:30pm is The One Man Village (Simon El Habre, 2008); on March 13 at 7:30pm is Pomegranates and Myrrh (Najwa Najjar, 2008); on March 14 at 7:30pm is Adhen (Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche); on March 15 at 4:00pm is Le Grand Voyage (Ismael Ferroukhi, 2004); and on March 15 at 7:30pm is Wedding in Galilee (Michael Khleifi, 1987).

    The Rumi Forum
    On March 2 at 6:30pm is the documentary Prince Among Slaves (Andrea Kalin) followed by a discussion with producer Alex Kronemer. Registration is required, see the website.

    The Phillips Collection
    To accompany the exhibit "Morandi: Master of Modern Still Life" is a series of Italian films: on March 7 at 1:00pm is La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960); on March 21 at 1:00pm is La Dolce Vita (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961); and on March 28 at 1:00pm is Accattone (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961).

    The Phillips Collection takes part in the Environmental Film Festival on March 14 at 1:00pm with selections from "Slow Food on Film."

    Embassy of Venezuela
    On March 5 at 6:30pm is La Clase (José Antonio Varela, 2007); and on March 26 at 6:30pm is Miranda Regresa (Luis Alberto Lamata, 2007), both feature films. See the website for reservation instructions.


    The DC Independent Film Festival
    More than 100 independent films will be shown from March 4-18 at the Phoenix Union Station Theater. Shorts and features, documentaries and fiction, animation and live action--films from around the world. This year's twelve themes include environment, Middle East, music, religion, women's issues, food, Black experience, Latinos, and more. Check the website for titles and ticket details.

    Francophonie: Washington, DC
    Francophonie DC is a varied program celebrating the music, food, seminars and films from the French-speaking world. On March 4 at 7:00pm is Caramel (Nadine Labaki, 2007) from Lebanon, which was Opening Night film at Arabian Sights two years ago. On March 11 at 7:00pm is Seuls Two (Eric Judor and Ranzy Bedia, 2007) from France, starring Kristin Scott-Thomas. On March 15 at 2:00pm is Eldorado (Bouli Lanners, 2008) from Belgium. On March 18 at 8:00pm is L'autre Moitie (Roland Colla, 2007) from France. On March 25 at 7:00pm is Histoire de Famille (Michel Poulette, 2006) from Quebec, Canada. On March 29 at 2:00pm is A No-Hit, No-Run Summer (Francis Leclerc, 2008) also from Quebec. For kids' Francophonie is Mia et le Migou (Jacques-Remy Gired, 2008), an animated film from France on March 21 at 3:00pm. Locations are the French Embassy, the Avalon Theater and the Smithsonian; please check the website for details.


    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
    On March 26 at 8:00pm is "An Evening with David Polonsky." The award-winning Israeli illustrator and animator will discuss his work as art director and lead artist on Ari Folman's film Waltz With Bashir (2008), one of the five Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Film.

    Previous Storyboards

    February, 2009
    January, 2009
    December, 2008
    November, 2008
    October, 2008
    September, 2008
    August, 2008
    July, 2008
    June, 2008
    May, 2008
    April, 2008

    Contact us: Membership
    For members only: E-Mailing List Ushers Website Storyboard All Else