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Coming Attractions Trailer Night Summer 2011
The Cinema Lounge
Daniel Vovak 1972-2011
Adam's Rib Previews Silverdocs 2011 JUST ADDED June 13
Fire in Babylon at Silverdocs: Interview with Stevan Riley JUST ADDED June 9
Two Q&As with Mike Mills, Director of Beginners
Adam's Rib Examines Movie Father's Days
Empire of Silver: Q&A with Director Christina Yao
Oscar Party: Sellout Crowd Rocks the House
We Need to Hear From You
Calendar of Events
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Coming Attractions Trailer Night Summer 2011
By Charles Kirkland, Jr., DC Film Society Member
On Wednesday, May 25, 2011, a new champion was crowned. No. Not on American Idol. This winner returned to reclaim its winning ways after some time away. No, not the Dallas Mavericks either. This star has an unprecedented winning percentage of seventy-five percent! No. Not even Rafael Nadal at the French Open. The trailer for the eighth installment of the Harry Potter series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was voted the Grand Champion of all trailers at the Summer edition of the DC Film Society’s prestigious Coming Attractions Trailer Night. With this win, the Harry Potter franchise claimed the unofficial title of King of Trailers of All Time!
Once again, the renowned local film critics, Joe Barber and Bill Henry were the hosts for the evening. They introduced themselves and set the ground rules for the large number of first timers to the occasion, deftly guiding the vocal attendees through a trailer night unlike any before it. The trailers were grouped into six different categories. Mr. Barber made a point to indicate that Mr. Henry was responsible for the names of the categories this time. The names were: “Reboot the Audience in the Keester”, “Parental Cautionary Tales”, “Preview Now Available for Kindle”, “Unbelievably True Stories”, the comedy category “Men Behaving Badly, Women Behaving Worse” and “Fewer Sequels This Summer? – Movies With Numbers”. After viewing the group, the crowd votes on the best of that set. In the end the category winners face off in fierce battle to determine the king of the night.
The first category was the “Reboot” category. The group featured trailers from Conan the Barbarian, Green Lantern, Winnie the Pooh, and X-Men: First Class. After a rousing discussion over the pointlessness of a new Conan movie, the many different Lantern trailers and whys of retelling Winnie the Pooh, the winner of the category was…Winnie the Pooh! Surprised? There was more to come.
“Parental Cautionary Tales” was a grouping of four coming of age trailers. After a long discussion on the filmography of the “great” Terence Malik, Beginners, a movie that was previewed by the Film Society about three weeks ago, won the category. The Beginners trailer sweetly portrayed the interaction between a son, Ewan McGregor, and his ailing father, Christopher Plummer, who had recently announced that he was gay.
In the “Kindle” category, The Devil’s Double surprisingly edged out the trailer for the acclaimed, best-selling book The Help. Even before the vote, much of the discussion for the category was about the movie, book and trailer for Help starring Emma Stone and Viola Davis. There were even some laughs over Ace Ventura 3 better known as Mr. Popper’s Penguins starring Jim Carrey. Regardless, Double won the category. The Devil’s Double showed the plight of a man who was chosen to be the double of one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. The trailer reminded the watchers of the Pacino version of Scarface.
The documentary category, “Unbelievably True Stories”, only had three entries: Buck a true story about a horse whisperer, Page One: A Year Inside the NY Times; and Project Nim about an experiment with a family raising a chimpanzee and teaching it how to speak through sign language. Page One was number one in this category.
The comedy category was a big hit. The trailer of Horrible Bosses starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis received many laughs as three guys decide to get rid of their supervisors. Midnight in Paris starred Owen Wilson in the Woody Allen comeback movie. Monte Carlo starred Selena Gomez. But the winner was Crazy Stupid Love starring Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling (surprise!). Carrell is a separated father who turns to Gosling to help get his mojo back.
Finally, the Sequels category. Of all the sequels coming out this summer, we saw the trailers for Cars 2, Final Destination 5, Hangover Part 2 and Harry Potter 8. There was a good discussion about the lack of original thought in Hollywood facilitating the abnormally large load of sequels this year. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 won the category, it was remarked that all eight of the movies have won their category in the years past and five of them went on to win the overall title. The final vote was held and the number changed to six. Six of eight Grand Champion wins for Harry Potter were unprecedented for any franchise. Quite frankly, there have only been two franchises that have had as many movies, Star Trek and Star Wars. Before it was all over, the question was asked, “With the lack of originality in Hollywood at an all time high, how long would Warner Brothers wait until they decide to reboot the Potter franchise for the next generation?”
To close out the night, the director of the DC Film Society, Michael Kyrioglou, generously peppered the attendees with many freebies including movie and theater tickets and DVDs for Kick-Ass, The King’s Speech and others. He thanked the hosts and all the attendees for coming out and making it such an extraordinary evening.
Thanks to the DC Film Society coordinating committee for their time, energy and enthusiasm in pulling together this twice-annual event, especially Karrye Braxton, Cheryl Dixon, Larry Hart, Ky Nguyen, Annette Graham, Billy Coulter, Jim Shippey, Adam Spector and all of the volunteers.
Special thanks to Joe Barber and Bill Henry, Allied Advertising, Landmark’s E Street Cinema and staff, Terry Hines and Associates and all the participating film studios.
The Cinema Lounge
The next meeting of the Cinema Lounge will be on Monday, June 27 at 7:00pm. The topic will be "Workplaces in the Movies."
The Cinema Lounge, a film discussion group, meets the third Monday of every month (June's meeting is moved to the fourth Monday due to Silverdocs) 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 Adam Spector, author of the DC Film Society's Adam's Rib column.
Daniel Vovak, 1972-2011
By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member
Daniel Vovak, moderator of the DC Film Society’s Cinema Lounge, died on May 21 at the age of 39. He had been suffering from a severe, but unspecified, form of cancer for the past several months.
Most of the media accounts of his death focused on Daniel’s extensive work for the Maryland Republican Party. In 2006, he ran for the GOP Senate nomination against then Lt. Governor Michael Steele. Daniel appeared in public dressed in a full Revolutionary War-era outfit, including a powdered wig. From then on he was known in political circles as “The Wig Man.”
Those of us in the Cinema Lounge knew Daniel differently. The Cinema Lounge had floundered when its original organizer and moderator moved on to other pursuits. A few years ago Daniel, whom I had never met before, approached me about restarting the monthly film discussion group. Though I had no idea who this man was, his enthusiasm won me over.
Daniel was a passionate and committed leader of the Cinema Lounge. He was always trying to get new people involved. During the discussions, I was struck by Daniel’s fascination about how films worked (or didn’t work). He was particularly interested in how screenplays were constructed. Part of this interest resulted from his own attempts at screenwriting. It seemed that Daniel always had various projects going.
Of all his efforts, Daniel’s true labor of love was The Blue Dress, a screenplay he wrote about the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. My politics were very different from Daniel’s, and I had no real interest in seeing the Clinton/Lewinsky story rehashed yet again. But the look in Daniel’s eyes and the passion in his voice when he described the project made me wish he would succeed.
While I do not know the fate of The Blue Dress, I can promise that Daniel’s work with the Cinema Lounge will not have been in vain. This time there will be no lapse. I, and others who share Daniel’s commitment, will keep the Cinema Lounge going. We will look for new ways to grow and get people involved. That will be the best way to remember and honor Daniel, who will be deeply missed.
Please learn more about Daniel’s life.
(Special thanks to Andrew Haas for contributing to this article.)
Adam's Rib Examines Movie Father's Days
By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member
In The Road to Perdition, John Rooney (Paul Newman) declares that "Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers." Father-son relationships in films are often troubled, or at the very least complicated. As Father’s Day approaches, I reviewed some of my favorite cinematic father-son moments. Some left a smile on my face, some a lump in my throat, and some a bit of both. Check them out in my new Adam's Rib column.
Stay tuned for my interview with Silverdocs Festival Director Sky Sitney, as she previews this year's Silverdocs lineup. Silverdocs 2011 will run from June 20 to June 26 at the AFI Silver Theater.
Adam's Rib Previews Silverdocs 2011
By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member
This is Silverdocs' ninth year, but the festival seems as fresh and timely as ever. Not only is it a tentpole in the DC film community, but it’s long since become the world’s leading documentary film festival. The 2011 edition runs from June 20 to June 26. Tickets are available at the Silverdocs website or at the AFI Silver Theater (8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD). Once again Sky Sitney, the Silverdocs Festival Director, took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with me. Check out her thoughts in my new Adam's Rib column.
Fire in Babylon in Silverdocs: Interview with Stevan Riley
By James McCaskill, DC Film Society Member
If the mention of Cricket as a sport conjures up images of Miss Marple-esque villages with the lads in whites giving out a "Pip, pip" and "Cheerio" every now and then then, my friend, you don't know Cricket. Those days of a genteel Sunday afternoon dominated by the sound of the willow bat thwacking a ball and international games dominated by England, are long gone. The game comedian Robin Williams once described as baseball on Valium is over.
Today's internationals are dominated by national teams from South East Asia; Indian and Pakistan currently dominate this British past time exported to the colonies.
I interviewed director/writer Stevan Riley on his documentary Fire in Babylon (UK, 2010) on the rise of the greatest sports dynasty in history, the West Indies cricketers. "When West Indies came to town," Riley told me in London after the screening in the London Film Festival, "it was captivating. Exciting, full of peril. The West Indies teams were top form for twenty years. They were the most successful sports team in history."
"I knew I was going to make a Cricket documentary." Riley continue, "I interviewed the English players, but soon dumped them in favor of focusing on West Indies (WI) players. They had the young players. When I saw WI matches in the 70s and 80s I saw historical liberation, black diaspora. I approached it that way. WI players knew the game very well. I am not implanting their agenda on the story."
"Prior to the WI rise to prominence their game was not taken seriously. When you played them you knew you would win. It was not for a lack of good players, a lack of focus maybe. The WI team is made up of players from 15 island Caribbean countries that have no common grounds. When the WI Cricket team played a local team their stars were booed for taking the place of a hometown favorite. Few backed the international team so they have not little self confidence. There was no sense of unity. To top it off, one of the Caribbean countries is not an island. Guyana is part of South America."
"The film is 90% cricket, 10% politics. There is no voice over. The game footage tells the story. Not many WI ended up playing for England. The great WI player who led the miracle teams of the 70s, Viv Richards' son plays for England but many today come from India."
"Would I do another Cricket film? Don't know. You realize that a match can last 25 days."
"I have had screenings for Caribbean audiences in England, none in the Caribbean (this interview took place in October 2010, the film has since played in the Caribbean). I want it to be watched and for the audience to feel that a West Indian made it. These players were a big inspiration. They were held in extreme reverence."
A North American audience will likely know little about Cricket, so how do you feel it will go down here? "I hope it will appeal as an exciting story to those who know nothing about Cricket," Riley told me. "I have a character driven film. Stars such as Ian Bothan tell the story through archival material. There was a post-Colonial joy in defeating England, their colonial masters. Babylon, theatre of struggle." The 70s coming as they did shortly after national liberation from colonial powers was bringing radical change everywhere.
"You had overlap of political plays, A time of Black Power. The secret to WI dominance was their finely tuned athletic sides. Today it is all professional Cricket."
"I want to do a natural history piece," director Riley said in response to my What next? question. "And an environmental piece, not another historical film."
I wanted to know with all the archival footage, what was the most difficult part of the film for him to get? "Getting Reggae music was by far the most difficult but I had producers who made phone calls."
While Fire in Babylon looks at the sports dynasty it is about the rise of national pride as well. This was one of my top films in the London Film Festival and one I can recommend.
Fire in Babylon will be shown in the Silverdocs film festival at AFI's Silver Theater on June 24 and 25.
[NOTE: Two Q&As were held with Mike Mills, director of Beginners. The first is here and the second is here.]
Beginners: Q&A with Director Mike Mills
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
This screening of Beginners took place on May 4 at Landmark's E Street Cinema. Sarah Kellogg from One in Ten moderated.
Sarah Kellogg: I was pleased to learn that a good deal of the film is autobiographical. Tell us which parts are real and which are not real in the movie.
Mike Mills: I am dying to know that too.
Sarah Kellogg: Well, I am willing to test my knowledge and journalism skills of using the Internet and Wikipedia to find that information and if it is right or wrong. Mike's father was a successful art museum director.
Mike Mills: Yes, he was director of the Oakland Art Museum for something like 17 years from about 1954 and then director of the Santa Barbara Art Museum.
Sarah Kellogg: And his mother did pass away after they had been married for 45 years.
Mike Mills: Really 44 years, nearly 45. I just had to do fact checking on this and other things. The newspapers need all this information and fact finding so it helped me.
Sarah Kellogg: His father did come out at age 75 years old and did embrace being an out gay man for 5 years before dying.
Mike Mills: Yes.
Sarah Kellogg: Mike is a very successful album cover artist, having done the new Beastie Boys album cover.
Mike Mills: Yes it just came out and I am very proud of it. (Applause). Thank you. It was just in the New York Times the other day, I was reading it on the airplane, and I thought, Oh My God.
Sarah Kellogg: Which is the bigger thrill, the New York Times article on the album cover or your film coming out?
Mike Mills: The movie.
Sarah Kellogg: His father did have weekly movie nights with his gay friends.
Mike Mills: Yes.
Sarah Kellogg: Were you invited?
Mike Mills: Yes, but unfortunately I was more like the butler. He had movie night, play night, book night, rap club, and he was involved in a group called The Prime Timers, which I believe is a national group, not just in Santa Barbara. These events gave him a whole social world.
Sarah Kellogg: Sounds like he was a lot busier than you were.
Mike Mills: Yeah, he was. He was a party animal.
Sarah Kellogg: Mike has been known to paint graffiti on buildings.
Mike Mills: Only corporate buildings.
Sarah Kellogg: He did inherit his beloved Jack Russell terrier but in real life his name was Bowser.
Mike Mills: True.
Sarah Kellogg: Mike did not dress as Sigmund Freud at a costume party where he met a charming French actress.
Mike Mills: I did not.
Sarah Kellogg: Mike is happily married to filmmaker and artist Miranda July for the last two years. He also talks to his current dog, a border collie, but as of yet, has not been able to read his mind.
Mike Mills: Yeah, I think I'm pretty good though and can tell what she's thinking.
Sarah Kellogg: I want to ask you about working with an icon.
Mike Mills: Which one?
Sarah Kellogg: Someone who has been in many movies and thrilled audiences and dives into a part and disappears. Is Cosmo the terrier really telepathic?
Mike Mills: I have had two very intelligent dogs, and I talk to them constantly and I project what I think they are saying back, so it's really just two sides of a conversation. In the movie it was a way to let Oliver express what he was thinking and became a weird back door to his thoughts and where he was.
Sarah Kellogg: Yes, at some times in the movie, I thought that the dog was more profound than Oliver was.
Mike Mills: Well he is Oliver in a way. So that's a big compliment.
Sarah Kellogg: Seriously there are three questions many of us have of the movie. The icon obviously is really Christopher Plummer, and any of us who have seen The Sound of Music 25 times think it's fun to see him in this role. What was your experience with him yourself?
Mike Mills: I am not a fan of that film. I may have seen it once, so I don't have all that Von Trapp kind of stuff. I was thinking more, Oh my God he worked with John Houston and Elia Kazan and he's such a poised, articulate man. You don't want to mess with Christopher Plummer. He's a very funny man and really loves working. It's a beautiful thing to see him at 80 really dig right into his roles. He only a few times didn't treat me like I'm not John Houston, which is a great compliment. He's game, fun and a rascal who likes a good joke. So you don't think of him as this legend when you are around him.
Sarah Kellogg: The second question is, he must have just gone for it in the scene where he kisses Goran?
Mike Mills: Obviously they are two straight men but they did have concerns about it, not because they are straight. They really wanted to get it right and be convincing and pay honor to men kissing each other, so it was nice they took it seriously.
Sarah Kellogg: How did they practice then?
Mike Mills: They didn't practice, but you know when Goran kisses Hal in the hospital bed after putting down the flowers? That was not in the script, but Goran was just in the mode and gave him a couple smacks and I thought they did a good job. Their main goal was these are just two people in love and that's the story.
Sarah Kellogg: What's going on with Goran's hair? He's an incredibly handsome guy and I didn't get his hair.
Mike Mills: Kind of like the character in the Coen Brothers movie, yeah. Well what about his leg bandage and strange clothing also. We were trying to create a character that had his own strange ways.
Sarah Kellogg: Someone commented that with the strange hair and clothes that he seemed somewhat autistic.
Mike Mills: I think he would take offence to that. He is definitely boyish and walks to his own drummer.
Sarah Kellogg: I know some of the film is very personal, did you feel while filming it that you had enough distance from the subject, or did you have lapses about your own history and your father and mother's relationship?
Mike Mills: It's like communicating with them, but in writing the story I didn't want to make it intentionally narcissistic or self-pitying. I wanted to use the character that my Dad had as someone who was born in the 1920's generation that thinks big. When he came out he was very politically and socially active and his energy was very high. It was exciting to work with the actors who were all very sweet also. Ewan and Melanie were really excited to work with each other. I love directing and was not sure I could make the uphill climb to make this film. A few time it got sad, like the day that Hal died. We shot the film in chronological order and so it was Christopher's last day. Ewan and others really were sad to see Christopher leave, since he was so funny and charming with his hundreds of stories. So when Ewan goes in after the death, something clicked in Ewan and he is having a real event. So we didn't know when to cut Ewan's bawling. It made me and some on the set cry and when I looked into the camera there were wet spots on the camera. I thought, oh no water and electricity, but then realized it was the D.P.'s tears. So the emotions were not just because I lived through it, but because the actors are doing such a good job.
Sarah Kellogg: You touched on the chemistry of the actors and it seemed to be just electric between Ewan and Christopher and Ewan and Melanie. Did you realize there would be this chemistry or did it just show up on the first day of shooting?
Mike Mills: As a director you have to set up the right vibe and chemistry and have actors willing to risk and really go for it. I do try to create chemistry in an experience, but I got quite lucky. Christopher really is like an old tradesman and befriends everybody on the set. Even Reynaldo, the hospice worker, didn't really know the correct etiquette to use, etc. and I thought how is Christopher going to work with this actor. He helped in the scene and so I really have a great respect for him.
Sarah Kellogg: Mary Page Keller has a small but vital role as the mother in the film and I was curious if your real mother was like that--whimsical, melancholic about choices?
Mike Mills: You are reading my interpretation of my Mom, but my Mom was a rascal. A mischievous, impish, depressed rascal. She didn't quite do those things. I didn't drive the car to the museum, but it felt like it. I was not her little man. I remember being in New York City in college and her coming to a museum and seeing [Marcel] Duchamp's The Wheel, a seminal art work. She hated pretention and museums, and acted like she owned any museum she walked into. She cruised up to The Wheel and blew on it so it moved and she walked away. Of course the guard looked at me, as if I had done it, and my Mom was laughing in the corner. I think she would be very argumentative to describe herself as a "victim of her choices." They had a mysterious marriage, and you are looking at the byproduct of their recreational sex. They had me when they were in their forties. They already had my sisters, and I think I was a mistake and proof of how complicated they were.
Sarah Kellogg: Mike has two sisters but they did not show up in the movie. He explained some of the reasons to me.
Mike Mills: Well there are a bunch. I didn't want to invade their privacy, but I also wanted it from my perspective. It was easier not to have other characters, unless you really develop them or get into them. I didn't want them as slight characters when other characters had all their good and bad sides displayed. I couldn't do that to my sisters. We are all artists. My one sister is a film scholar at a university. They got what I am trying to do and this is just one version of my story. If you try to recreate an event in your life it is very fragmentary. The emotions are strong but the actual narrative is like a dream than reporting. Trying to remember my Dad, memories are like nothing, I can remember the same conversation eight different ways. So it tells me how deceptive and untrue memories can also be.
Sarah Kellogg: For you what is the most pivotal moment in the movie?
Mike Mills: I don't think of it that way. If there is one pivotal moment than it's too easy. The film is more like a shotgun of little moments impacting him and everybody.
Sarah Kellogg: I hope everyone felt the way I did that it was an amazing collage of work. I encourage you to Google Focus Features and Mike's blog which is fascinating.
Mike Mills: It has all the things that have influenced me and making movies, from Ginsberg, other films, and music.
Sarah Kellogg: There is a lot of poetry there. Also Mike is really a Renaissance man. Much of the artwork shown in the movie was done by Mike and contributed on the soundtrack.
Mike Mills: Not really, I did help pick the music: Josephine Baker, Jelly Roll Morton, and Bach suites, and I am friends of the guys doing the original score. I have been in many horrible bands, but I did not play any of the music in the film. I did not subject you to that.
Sarah Kellogg: Another fact that was apparently wrong on the Wikipedia. I want to open up questions to the rest of the audience.
Question from Audience: I heard this was your first film. What was your journey into making it and getting here?
Mike Mills: It is not my first film. I did a feature film Thumbsucker in 2005 and I have also done a documentary about people taking antidepressants in Tokyo. I've also done lots of short features and short documentaries, and started with music videos and advertisements. So I believe in practicing a lot. I went to art school and believe in trying things out. I love directing and feel comfortable being on the set. I feel lucky that I found what I should be doing.
Question from Audience: Your mother was very funny, did she see the film?
Mike Mills: No, she had passed away. My parents had known each other since junior high and had dated since 1939 when they went to see Gone With the Wind.
Question from Audience: Where did all the sadness came from? I also loved the way you brought in political snippets throughout the film. The flashing of the various presidents with the sadness mixed well.
Mike Mills: If I did that I am psyched. I do believe that even small events in our lives come from something political, social and historical. With my father, his sexual preferences are very formed by the social, political and historical times. Sadness, I think I have had in my life and with my parents it was a generation that really didn't talk about those things or their emotions. So I talk about sadness as a normal part of life, rather than putting it on a pedestal. Something that now you can reflect on without the shame and non discussion of that time and culture.
Question from Audience: Can your discuss the relationship with Oliver and Hal and also the relationship of Oliver and Anna?
Mike Mills: When my Dad was the straight sweet guy he didn't say much. After he came out at 75 he really got involved with me and my love life. I also then felt we could discuss and argue about his gay life and the years with my mother that we could never discuss before. His conversations about relationships and love stayed with me after his death. I had no problems with commitment or falling in love, it was with believing in love. My gay Dad really helped me with relationships that my straight Dad would have never discussed. It was like watching a performance that I could never see the man behind the curtain before that.
Sarah Kellogg: Did you consider having an argument or fight seen in the movie between Hal and Oliver about their failure in relationships?
Mike Mills: I guess not. I could make this movie over with different scripts or actors, but it is still their body and soul. I thought of that going into the movie, that this is a fragmentary sliver of my Dad, not a summation of his life. I could have made an 8 hour movie with lots of other things. It's funny because someone from HBO asked, "Do you want to make a show about it?" Like a series about my Dad dying that comes on every week? So the person didn't get the fact that the Dad died, and they had only seen the trailer.
Question from Audience: What was your reaction when your Dad told you he was gay and that your Mom knew that when she married him?
Mike Mills: I think there's a great long complicated silent shot of Ewan when Hal says, "Your mother proposed to me." My whole film is my reaction to Hal coming out to Oliver, not just that scene. In my real life, when I was 18 my oldest sister (you know how the oldest sibling knows everything about your parents?) said, "Well you know Pop was gay. WAS as a nice safe word. NO, I didn't know Pop was gay at one time, he wears suits, is Republican, voted for Reagan, and was born in 1924. He wasn't having sex with anybody ever. He was a very staid man in a normal family. Other than with my sisters, we never discussed it. We never discussed it with our parents. It was just something magically in his youth. So when he came out, it wasn't a huge surprise, but it was on the heels of my Mom passing away. So it was a devastating thing for me, since they knew each other since they were 14, it was a very sad, revolutionary thing in my family and my life. I am walking down the street and explaining to this 75 year old man how to defrost food and then the next thing he says to me, Michael, tomorrow I am going to throw you a ball and I hope you catch it. I thought, oh no, he wants to move in. I would have taken him in, he's my Pop, but I am also 33 and want to go do my life. And the next day, like in the movie, he said, I'm gay, and I don't want to be theoretical, I want to go do something about it. So I was really happy that he was alive and wanted to be hungry to be alive and had stuff still to be done. I began to see him as a man in decline and he did this turn around so I was very pleased with his gayness and new energy. The weirdness in my family had already been exploded and was so far gone, that I was ok.
Question from Audience: In this day of film marketing what does it mean to have a gay character?
Mike Mills: The film premiered at Toronto Film Festival and there was some fear, but Focus Features picked it up. They also had Brokeback Mountain, Milk, and The Kids Are Alright, so it was in good hands. They didn't request any changes. I really like the trailer that has Hal saying I'm gay, but also that he has cancer, which you rarely would see in a trailer, and I think that's special, since many times trailers are meant to deceive you.
Sarah Kellogg: Or the trailer is where all the good jokes go.
Beginners opens in DC on June 10.
Beginners: Q&A with Director Mike Mills
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
This Q&A took place at AMC's Georgetown Theater on May 5.
Question: You said you worked on the film for five years. What were some of the challenges that you encountered?
Mike Mills: Getting financing is incredibly difficult for a movie like this. Even after I had Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. That was in 2007-008 and with the economy where it was and the film economy where it was, pitching a story about your gay dad who dies of cancer and a love story with internal obstacles was very hard. I started writing it in 2005 and shot it in the fall of 2009.
Question: There was such an intimacy about everything about it. Could you speak to that from the writing and directing standpoint and the collaboration with the actors.
Mike Mills: I was just looking at the movie posters in the hallway outside. I didn't make Bridesmaids did I? I didn't make Pirates of the Caribbean either, did I? A lot of intimacy is really just-- I like that and I also try to encourage that as much as I can on set. Try to make it as playful and spontaneous feeling. Don't make anyone feel they have to follow the script or my rules and try to make it surprising, have musicians come and play in the morning Try to make the whole day feel off kilter and not a normal day. An actor will only go as far as the director will go, so you have to start off sharing as much of yourself as you want them to share with you. And then I was quite lucky. Ewan McGregor is a very open, willing to be vulnerable guy, which really doesn't happen a lot, especially with people as famous as him. And he was very willing to go there. And Christopher and him hit it off in an amazing way and him and Melanie [Laurent] really hit it off. They just loved playing with each other. It all begin because I was writing about my real father who came out of the closet when he was 75 and a lot of those observations are very first hand. I love the radio program This American Life. I love the openness and intimacy realness of that very much inspired me. Many other things too.
Question: The character of Anna's father comes into the picture a little and then drops out. What was you thinking of that, was it to show the difference in the way the two characters deal with the issues of their father?
Mike Mills: In the way I ended up making this movie I couldn't talk as much about Anna as I could talk about everyone else. So I had to come up with a short way to help you understand where she's coming from. I am interested in talking about a relationship or love story as how it is affected by the people's past, the people's primary relationships which is the parents. I think this movie is very much about how we are impacted by our parents' relationships.
Question: Is the relationship with Anna based on real life and if so what happened?
Mike Mills: People ask that a lot. It's not based on me and my now-wife, so I got married, but I think Anna and the love story benefitted from me being very much in love and really aware of how when you are in love or newly in love how vulnerable it makes you, how it brings out all the boogey men and women inside you and all the things you can't deal with. But it's not at all a portrait of my wife. Anna is a lot of me. I'm a beautiful blonde French women (everyone laughs); you may not know this. So much of it, even the parts of it that are me or my dad, it really isn't anymore. It's very much a story by the time you make it into a script, by the time it's in the body and soul of Christopher and Ewan. When I look at it I say "that's Christopher and Ewan." And it's really their tissue that is making it come to life. The intimacy is between them. Words can't get very intimate. They are unfortunately ... dead.
Question: Are there moments when you look at Christopher's performance and think, "That's my dad."
Mike Mills: Obviously I took from my dad's life so he's doing some things that happened to my dad. But I don't ever conflate him with my dad and I'm very happy about that because I love having my private dad even though I've done a crazy public thing with him. And I'm really happy with what Christopher did. But from the get-go of that first sentence to them of my first letters to them was that "you have to make it your own thing now." My worst nightmare of this was that it would be a self-pitying narcissistic memoir. This has to reach out of me like a public story. They got that beautifully. They understood that was their job.
Question: There are a lot of topics to make movies about. What were you trying to tell us about the relationship with your father that you wanted the whole world to know about.
Mike Mills: It doesn't even have to be my dad. But someone in that stage of life, willing to take that much risk, and be that hungry and express their hunger and go for it, go for love--I love that story. I don't care if I wrote it or someone else wrote it, I think that's great. I'm always going to be writing stories about families and relationships and they might seem like small stories that you shouldn't make movies about and that's exactly why I would love to make them, because they are smaller.
Question: So you admired your father for doing what he did and the way he lived the end of his life.
Mike Mills: Yes, tremendously. It's the most awesome thing he did. My dad was a very interesting man and his marriage was a very real interesting marriage. My parents knew each other since junior high. They lived in a very different time; they were born in 1924 and 1925. They were tweens during the depression, as soon as they turned 18 the draft for WWII started. They had very different conditions than what I had. But my dad's coming out was a marvelous thing and he came very alive and he got so much more engaged with on all levels. It was a great gift.
Question: When in the writing process did you decide to make the Jack Russell talk?
Mike Mills: I have dogs and I talk to them constantly. And it's a very real thing to me. It sounds silly... I had a border collie and I had my dad's Jack Russell and they're very tuned in to audio stimulation. So when I talk to them it helps us to be in touch. And of course I have the conversation back. The script I started about 6 months after my dad passed away. I was in a crisis of what's important to me, what's real, what do I like, how do I stay happy. And talking to my dogs was one of the best things that happens in my life. When I started writing the script it wasn't just for humorous reasons. It became a way to find out more about Oliver's thinking, about his emotional life, about his reactions to things. It was like a secret back door to what he was thinking.
Question: So there was a real life Arthur?
Mike Mills: There was.
Question: When you decided not to go into as much exposition about the other characters, like Anna and her father. Did you know that consciously when you started writing, or did you write that out or edit those scenes out. How taut did you want it from the beginning?
Mike Mills: Instinctively you just know that a film can only handle so many characters. Instinctively from the get-go I know that that's a character where it's going to be really tricky how much you can get in or keep in because you might shoot more than what ends up in the finished project. But for all characters, the way I write, I like to think of their whole life. I think of where they were born, how they grew up and that's the only way I can write, who they are now. So that's the whole movie: we are who we came from, or a generation back at least where we came from. I love digressing in people's backgrounds. I could do a six-hour film that's just about everyone's backgrounds. Maybe I'll do that next. So, I know all about her dad.
Question: Why did you never translate Melanie Laurent's French?
Mike Mills: Usually she's cussing really dirtily. I thought I'd just let it fly and just let it be itself. I thought it would be paying too much attention to it in a way if I subtitled it.
Question: How were some of the details chosen--things they own, posters that hang on walls, books they buy, music they listen to. Were they personal to you or your dad?
Mike Mills: It's a little bit of everything. But mostly it's partly a matter of money, because this wasn't made for much money. For example, I don't have Polish movie posters but I love them. And so this movie is a way to have that be a part of that world. All the books in his home are my books. That's just a money thing. It's cheaper for me to load up all my books and bring them to the set. A lot of the stuff in Hal's house is some of my parent's furniture that I inherited. That's partly because it was right for the character and also it was free. So the art department line for this movie was basically zero. That's all important stuff, all the things in LA that I know about. It's great for the story. When they're driving on Sunset [Boulevard], they're driving in the right direction. All the things are in the right neighborhood. It's cheaper; you don't have to hire a location scout to go look for things. The bookstore is here, here's the house, here's the hotel; let's just go get it. It made things cleaner and quicker. And content-wise it really helps.
Question: Who is the actress who plays Oliver's mother?
Mike Mills: Mary Page Keller and she's an amazing actress and very humble. I keep e-mailing her: Mary, people love you. I only saw her once. We were desperately searching for that character. It was getting really close to shooting; it's like a director's nightmare. I saw her on a Mad Men; she was on one Mad Men and said "who's that woman?" Luckily I live in LA and so does she.
Question: Why do you make films?
Mike Mills: I went to art school but I don't like the art world. I don't like galleries and museums it's just too much outside of real life. To me being in here is my dream, not being in the Museum of Modern Art. You are so much a diverse group of people than I would have as an artist. I just love films, I love filmmaking, I love directing, I love being on set, I love having a crew, and actors are so amazing to work with. I have the same job as Woody Allen, John Cassavetes, and Fellini as pretty amazing. I make films mostly to try to communicate with people. I love watching films. I want to be like my heroes.
Question: The music was touching. As a director, how involved were you with the music supervisor?
Mike Mills: I knew all that when I was writing it. I knew that I wanted music for each strand of the story because there's a lot going on. And my dad was always trying to get me into classical music. So I finally tried to study it. I got into Bach cello suites but I've always loved the French horn, so I had them done with the French horn. My mom used to play The Sting all the time, the soundtrack, with the Scott Joplin rag piano. So I got into studying that and found out about Jelly Roll Morton and Mary Smith and that led me to Hoagy Carmaichael and that side of music. The original piano score that you are hearing, to me is very George Delarue, the composer who did Godard and Truffaut's early films. So I was trying to be like that, be like my heroes. There's a soundtrack coming out. I feel very lucky to have that music in the film. Thanks so much for being here.
Beginners opens in DC on June 10.
Empire of Silver: Q&A with Director Christina Yao
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
This Q&A took place after a screening of Empire of Silver at the Freer Gallery of Art on March 11. The Freer's film curator Tom Vick moderated the discussion. The film begins around 1899 during the Qing Dynasty and follows a powerful family of Shanxi bankers.
Tom Vick: In your introduction, you said that Empire of Silver is a bank story, but also a love story and a story about China becoming modern. Could you elaborate on that?
Christina Yao: When we were working on the film, we were really learning about these money people. We consider that merchants are just for money. Their goal in life is for money. But this group of bankers and the merchants that they represent consider themselves Confucian merchants. In our minds, Confucianism and money don't really relate. How can the two become one phrase? They try very hard to adhere to the Confucian rules of life. In the story we made it clear that all these people subject themselves to the Confucian codes of behavior. They cannot have opium, they cannot have a second wife, they cannot have prostitution, they cannot bring their wives to their jobs. Basically, they live a very puritanical lifestyle. That was not just for the managers, it was also for the bank owners. At that time a concubine was common practice. Because they had those kind of rules for life, they were able to perpetuate their wealth and family fortune for more than 100 years. All the major families did.
Question: Did any of the banking families survive?
Christina Yao: Some of them survived. Not a whole lot. The last one was the Cho family. In 1951 they were ordered to close. They calculated all the interest they owed people, and returned all the interest and then they closed. That was the last one. In 1911 there was a big shakeup and a lot of them had to close. The grandfather of the whole banking industry, the old owners were put in prison in 1913 because the bank went bankrupt.
Question: How long did it take you to make this film?
Christina Yao: The idea started in 2003. The money came with it. It was the investor who wanted to make this movie. We started writing the script, it took about 2.5 years to write the script and do the research. The shooting took 4.5 months. We started on time and finished on time; we're very proud of that. Then after that 2 years of post production. Altogether about 6 years.
Question: Was it shot on 16mm or 35mm?
Christina Yao: 35mm.
Question: Was it filmed in studios?
Christina Yao: It was shot on real locations. That is the reason the film looked the way it did. When we were doing research realized that the map of these people was huge. They went to Korea, Japan and SE Asia. I knew I could not shoot it in studios. Otherwise it would be just another love story with a lot of family problems. We knew we had to cover the landscape. When I went to China, I talked to a few big-name line producers. They said to me, "Transfer 3 times and no more." In China you shoot with 200 trucks, then you go through treachous roads. It was a big big risk to do each transfer. I talked to this line producer, Mr. Li Congxi, from the army studio. He had done a lot of war movies. He said it's difficult but do-able. He allowed me to do the real location shooting. If we had to shoot it in studios, the movie would not look the way it looks. The movie is the way it is because of him, not me. When we were doing the shooting, all the interior scenes many of the props were real antiques. We were able to borrow from museums, from private collectors. They were so willing to loan them to us. It was just amazing for me to know that they were willing. On each shoot, we would have 4 or 5 groups of people there guarding their precious stuff. It was quite a touching experience, shooting with those antique pieces.
Question: What was your budget?
Christina Yao: 10 million dollars US.
Question: How did you keep Miss Tilley from gambling at poker games? [NOTE: She's known to be a gambler]
Christina Yao: She's such a joy to work with. It was funny. I liked her to begin with, but I never knew I could reach her. I ran into a report about her on Oscar night in Las Vegas. Someone asked her,"Why are you here, aren't you supposed to be in Los Angeles." And she said, "At least here, I can win something." So I thought, okay, she must not be too busy, so we went to her agent. Actually she's half Chinese. When we were shooting, her agent did not want us to talk about it, but now she allows us to say it. Her father was a medical doctor, Dr. Chin.
Question: Is the book that this movie is based on available in English?
Christina Yao: No. It's a very big book. We changed a lot from the book. In the book, the old master is well-drawn, but the third master practically didn't exist. When I got the book I knew there was no way I can do this in two hours. So I thought that since succession is a big issue in any power structure. For any power structure, succession is a crisis point--King Lear, the Godfather, if you look at the basic plot line, it's all about succession. So I thought, I'll take succession as main thread. That's how script came about. It's very different from original work.
Question: Where did you find your editors?
Christina Yao: We had three editors, one from China, then we went to Taiwan and then England.
Question: How do you think being a woman director had an influence in making this film?
Christina Yao: Meaning my focus? I think it does have an effect. I try to hide it but it's there. In my view, woman my focus in terms of change. In the last 20-30 years in Chinese movies, whether you have strong characters or not, all women were victims, they get changed by their environment, they become vicious, they are victimized by themselves or the environment. I didn't want to do it that way. I wanted this woman to have a strong self, and choose what she wants to do, she makes choices in her life. In terms of shooting, people would ask being a woman in China, wouldn't you have trouble. People protected me. My line producer was my first protector. The first party we had on the set, everyone came with Bai Jio, the hard Chinese liquor worse than vodka. Everyone came with that. I drank only one shot; after that it was just water. My line producer just kept pouring. Everyone else was worried, "She can't drink any more." But he said, "She's okay."
Question: What is your next project?
Christina Yao: My life is pretty much still with it. I'm looking for projects but right now my focus is to get this released and released well in the US market. We want to make sure there is an audience for it. The team put a lot into it. When you talk about the camera team, they always .. We put every cent of the budget on screen. They always... When Sid Ganis, the Oscar chair came to China, the film bureau liked the movie a lot and showed only this film to him. He asked me about the budget and I told him $10 million and he said, "We thought if it's in China, $24 million. We were very very frugal. We all felt, not just me, everyone that was part of the team, including the team thought that we were doing something important, we weren't just shooting a movie, we weren't just doing a job. We were doing something that has to do with our heritage, with who we are or where we come from. This is also one of the reason that I feel that I have this obligation to make sure it has a good release. Because everyone put so much into it.
Question: Was the story about one historical institution or a montage?
Christina Yao: Montage. The last segment, where he donated all his family wealth, that is from the Cho family. In the 1930s there was a civil war and the local war lord lost. Therefore all the money he issued became waste paper. At that point he gave all his family wealth to his depositors. The line, I quoted, "We are a big family and we will not go hungry if we go bankrupt. The choice is very obvious to me."
Question: Were you at any point thinking of a longer film?
Christina Yao: No. I didn't but my editors did. The editor who did the first draft had it at more than 2.5 hours. So I knew that I needed to cut it down.
Question: Where was the church?
Christina Yao: The church is a castle in the Ming dynasty. It's in the Shanxi province. During the Cultural Revolution it was used by the army as a storage place. That's why it was kept intact. It's a Catholic church. We had to talk to the priest who didn't want us to use it at first.
Question: Since you worked for a long time in theater, how did that influence your work and style on film. And how is working in film different?
Christina Yao: Actor's work is the same. I think a lot of it, is just the script work. I had the storyboard all drawn out and made sure I knew what each actor was going through in each scene. So that is all acting training. This is also why we shot so fast, because we didn't have to do many takes. The most we took was 13 takes. That was the benefit from theater. In terms of art design, that has some influence from theater. Mainly, It gives you the sense of freedom. You know you can make believe, you don't have to adhere to history. It gives you the sense that you are creating a reality. I moved the story from the south to the north and nobody even questioned it. When I was doing it I said, This is going to be a sticking point. Someone is going to ask "How did you make the middle of Shanxi so modernist. Nobody even asked. The sense of you can do what you want came from my theater work. You are always trying to create a reality on stage. In terms of camera work, that was my hardest part. I made sure I had all the shots, but then I also made sure I hired a very good chinematographer. So camera work was hardest. Especially for the screen, the main thing for actors is to ask them to relax. I just kept asking them to relax. Actually for some shots, especially for the father, we stole the shots, because he could not relax. Before he realized, we started shooting. We came in cold. We just glance at each other and go. On stage you always try to recreate it, on screen you just try to catch it once. So it's easier, actually.
Question: How were you able to get Aaron Kwok?
Christina Yao: He read the script and he wanted it. Actors are always looking for good roles. This was the very first time he acted in a period film, the very first time he did a film in Mandarin, the first time he shaved his head. He's a very diligent worker and after shooting a scene, he would ask me what it meant. And I said, Why didn't you ask me before you shoot?
Question: The scenes were very short. Was that planned?
Christina Yao: It was all planned. We went through 4 provinces. We went to Shanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, and Hibei. We transferred 9 times; we shot in 13 cities and we covered 46 sets. The odometer on my trailer was 5 times the difference between the east coast and west coast of this country. That's why I'm so grateful to the team. Without that team and line producer Li Congxi, this movie would be just one more melodrama.
Empire of Silver opens June 3 at Shirlington and Rio. Visit the website.
DC Film Society’s Oscar Party: Sell-out Crowd Rocks the House!
By Cheryl L. Dixon, DC Film Society Member
DC Film Society friends and family filled to capacity the Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse with alternating sighs, gasps, raucous laughter, shrieks of joy, and moans of disappointment on February 27, 2011 at the 19th annual Oscars Party, “And The Winner Is…” featuring the Academy Awards live broadcast. Over 250 attendees enjoyed a fun-filled evening with door prizes, raffle prizes, free movie posters, books, DVDs, Blu-rays, enticing Silent Auction items and all the bells and whistles attendees have grown to anticipate. The capacity crowd of discriminating movielovers expect and demand more and this year’s party delivered.
Attendees could bid on and win Silent Auction items including: Twilight: New Moon and Eclipse set of four t-shirts; Slumdog Millionaire Blu-Ray signed by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and 2011 screenplay nominee for 127 hours; courtesy passes to the AFI/Silver Theatre; Winter’s Bone poster signed by screenplay Oscar nominee/director Debra Granik; and tickets to The Shakespeare Theater Company’s The Merchant of Venice.
The Motion Picture Academy decided this year to appoint the youngest-ever actors as co-hosts, the dashing James Franco and lovely Anne Hathaway, in an effort to boost the broadcast’s ratings and embrace the “next” generation of potential viewers. Franco even tweeted his thoughts about the broadcast as part of the show, while attendees watched Ms. Hathaway show off her fashionable hosting wardrobe. Attendees were kinder than the TV critics in determining whether the Academy reached its expansion goal successfully. We were busy enjoying ourselves at the Party.
And why? Perhaps it was because we had our uber-hosts, the DC movie guys, Joe Barber and Bill Henry, as our co-hosts. Bill and Joe, this dynamic duo, continued to provide us with the insightful commentary we have grown to love. Whether we agree or disagree with one or the other or both, we were certainly enlightened as we pondered the mighty questions of the evening:
“The race for Oscar this year is tighter than ever. The King’s Speech or The Social Network? Annette Bening or Natalie Portman? Bridges, Eisenberg or Firth? Who’s going to win? Who knows? Ask a member of the DC Film Society!”
We also had special guest, Kyle Osborne, giving us the lowdown on what to see, what to do, and where to go, via his Entertainment or Die website. There also to catch the pulse of the evening, the former News Channel 8 Reporter enhanced the WOW factor for our event.
Attendees certainly agreed that viewing the live Oscar broadcast on the BIG screen is the next best thing to being there. The Oscars Party maintains the distinction of providing a unique viewing experience, that is until high-definition flat screen TVs reach those proportions, or the Oscars ceremonies are presented in 3-D!
Attendees wined and dined in the casual comfort of the Drafthouse’s Art Deco theatre and could choose from selections of affordable and tasty treats. Nachos and sangria, anyone? My perennial favorites….
For movie collectors, the bored (of the ceremony, not the Party!), or the restless, it’s always enticing to bid on Silent Auction items.
Finally, it’s always a pleasure to compete in the “Predict the Winners” contest. Personally, I’ve been trying to guess the winners of selected categories, such as Best Picture, Best Actress, etc. I’ve never won this contest for 20 years, but it’s still fun trying.
Thanks for coming out to support us on this FUN-raiser and thanks also to Joe Barber, Bill Henry, Co-hosts, Michael Kyrioglou, Director, DC Film Society, Jim Shippey, Associate Director, DC Film Society, DC Film Society Coordinating Committee: Sylvie Bello, Karrye Braxton, Billy Coulter, Cheryl Dixon, Cheryl Fine, Raiford Gaffney, Anita Glick, Annette Graham, Larry Hart, Geri Hirai, Bonnie Joranko, Charles Kirkland Jr., Laura Koschny, Stehen Marshall, Deborah Martin, Ky Nguyen, Eugenia Park, Ken Rosenberg, Adam Spector, Catherine Stanton, Linda Schwartz, Gene St. Hilaire, Wayson Lee, and Gloria White. Special thanks to all Silent Auction Donors, Allied Advertising, Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse, Entertainment Weekly, PR Collaborative, Terry Hines & Associates, Women in Film & Video, and everyone who helps spread the word about DC Film Society!
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, Karlovy Vary 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
The AFI's major event in June is Silverdocs June 20-27. See below.
The 11th Annual Caribbean Film Festival takes place June 3-6, See below.
An Alfred Hitchcock Retrospective in three parts which began in February continues in June with Rope, Aventure Malgache/Bon Voyage, I Confess, Stage Fright, Under Capricorn, and Dial M For Murder with an experimental documentary Double Take (Johan Grimonprez, 2009). More in June.
A series of films starring Morgan Freeman, this year's recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award began in April and concludes in June with Se7en (1995) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).
"A Season of Rohmer," films directed by Eric Rohmer and shown in three venues, concludes in June at the AFI with Pauline at the Beach, Full Moon in Paris, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, and Summer.
The series of films by Czech director Frantisek Vlácil's films concludes in June with Serpent's Poison, The Shadow of the Fern and Sentiment followed by two short films Glass Skies and Art Nouveau Prague.
The last film in the "Korean Film Festival DC 2011" is Actresses (E J-yong, 2009) which also had been featured at this year's Filmfest DC.
Special engagements in June include three great French classics: the 50th anniversary of Leon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961), Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962) and the 60th anniversary of Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951) all in new 35mm prints.
As part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Showcase is Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) shown with Heavy Metal Picnic (2010). Also an evening of short films from the Langley Punks.
Freer Gallery of Art
"Look Again: Japanese Cinema Classics" showcases four great Japanese classics from the 1950s and 1960s. On June 17 at 7:00pm is High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963); on June 19 at 2:00pm is The Life of Oharu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1952); on June 24 at 7:00pm is An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962) and on June 26 at 2:00pm is Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964).
On June 12 at 2:00pm is a film and tea ceremony. Director Scott Chamberlin Hoyt introduces his documentary on tea The Meaning of Tea.
National Gallery of Art
"In Praise of Independents: The Flaherty" is a selection of films from the Flaherty Seminar, an international forum for independent filmmakers, artists, academics, curators, critics, and students. On June 4 at 2:00pm are short films about work and on June 4 at 4:30pm is La Libertad (Lisandro Alonso, 2001) from Argentina.
"American Originals Now: Kevin Jerome Everson" is a two-day series of films with the director present. On June 5 at 4:30pm Kevin Jerome Everson will present Company Line along with some newly completed short films and on June 25 at 4:30pm is the Washington premiere of Half On, Half Off (2011) and Erie (2010).
"Color, 'Scope: Recent Restorations from the 1950s" is a series of five classic films. On June 12 at 4:30pm is Picnic (Joshua Logan, 1956); on June 18 at 2:30pm is House of Bamboo (Sam Fuller, 1955); on June 19 at 4:30pm is Jubal (Delmer Davies, 1945); on June 25 at 2:30pm is Violent Saturday (Richard Fleischer, 1955); and on June 26 at 2:00pm and 4:30pm is Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956).
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
"Sauceriferous" is a fun summer-time program of sci-fi films from the 1950s. On June 16 at 7:00pm is The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951), on June 23 at 7:00pm is The War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin, 1953), and on June 30 at 7:00pm is Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (Fred F. Sears, 1956). Each film will be introduced by Dave Wilt.
National Museum of African Art
On June 26 at 2:00pm is God's Gift, 1982) (Gaston Kaboré, 1982), a pre-colonial fable about a child discovered in the bush who is unable to explain who he is until witnessing a tragedy.
National Portrait Gallery
On June 18 at 1:00pm is a "Reel Portraits" double feature of American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973) and Splash! (Ron Howard, 1984).
Smithsonian American Art Museum
On June 23 at 6:30pm is Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945) starring Joan Crawford, complementing the exhibition "To Make a World: George Ault's 1940s America." More in July and August.
On June 9 at 7:00pm is the opening night film of the IV BrazilDocs Santiago (Joao Moreira Salles, 2006). See below for more on Brazildocs.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
On June 20 at 7:00pm is The Science of Healing with Dr. Esther Sternberg (Matt and Renard Cohen, 2010), an exploration about how the brain helps us heal emotionally and physically. Dr. Sternberg will be present to introduce the film and take part in a post-film discussion. This is the first in a series of documentaries about environment and healing to complement the exhibit "Susan Swartz: Seasons of the Soul."
Washington Jewish Community Center
Two Israeli TV films from the series "Culture Heroes" are included in the Jewish Music Festival. On June 19 at 7:00pm is Zubin Mehta and I (Ori Sivan) shown with Chava Alberstein, Singer (Sivan Arbel).
On June 5 at 3:00pm is Two Spirits (Lydia Nibley) with discussion to follow and special guests to be announced.
"Pushing the Boundaries" is a series of three sports films by Pepe Danquart. On June 27 at 6:30pm is To the Limit (2007) about Alexander and Thomas Huber, brothers and alpine climbers. The two remaining films in this series are in July.
The Goethe Institute takes part in "Euro Asia Shorts" on June 6 at 6:30pm. See below for more on the Euro Asia Shorts.
On June 21 at 7:00pm is Free Hands (Les mains libres, Brigitte Sy, 2010), about a filmmaker who interviews inmates in a prison.
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On June 15 at 6:30pm is The Chef of South Polar (Shuichi Okiti, 2009) a comedy based on the autobiographical essays by a chef at the Japanese research facility in Antarctica.
On June 24 at 6:30pm is an anime film to be announced.
The Japan Information and Culture Center takes part in the Euro Asia Shorts film festival. This year's theme is men, women and the challenge of relating to one another. On June 7 at 6:30pm is Summer Bookmobile (Lisa Takeba, 2009) shown with two shorter films Peeping Life (Ryouichi Mori, 2009) and The World's Most Beautiful Dictionary (Lisa Takeba, 2011). See below for more information on Euro Asian Shorts.
The National Theatre
"Dial H for Hitchcock" is this summer's theme at the National Theater. On June 20 at 6:30pm is North by Northwest (1959) starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. On June 27 at 6:30pm is Rebecca (1940) with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. More in July and August.
Cox Movies Under the Moon
On June 23 is The Wizard of Oz (1939), on June 24 is How to Train Your Dragon, on June 25 is Iron Man 2, and on June 26 is Real Women Have Curves. The location is Van Dyck Park, 3730 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax. All movies start at dusk.
To accompany the new exhibit "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam" is a film show on June 25 at noon with the animated film Ratatouille (2007) preceded by a short Disney film Johnny Appleseed (1948).
On June 30 at 7:00pm is the Student Academy Awards®, the Gold Medal winners of the 2011 Student Academy Awards®. Titles to be announced.
This month's "Greek Panorama" film, is Peppermint (Costas Kapakas, 1999) on June 1 at 8:00pm. The June "Czech Lions" film is Identity Card (Ondrej Trojan, 2010) on June 8 at 8:00pm, based on the book by Petr Sabach. The "French Cinematheque" film for June is The Princess of Montpensier (Bertrand Tavernier, 2010) on June 15 at 8:00pm. On June 22 at 8:00pm is this month's "Reel Israel DC" film Eli and Ben (Ori Ravid, 2008), winner of four Israeli Oscars.
Anacostia Community Museum
On June 2 at 10:30am is How the Leopard Got His Spots, a kids' film narrated by Danny Glover. On June 5 at 2:00pm is Family Across the Sea (Tim Carrier, 1991) tracing linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner's discovery of a connection between the Gullah people of South Carolina and the people of Sierra Leone. On June 10 at 10:30am is Kindred Spirits: Contemporary African American Artists about the works of contemporary African American artists. On June 26 at 2:00pm is The Language You Cry In (Angel Serrano and Alvaro Toepke, 1998).
Sixth and I Synagogue
On June 18 at 7:30pm is Troop Beverly Hills (Jeff Kanew, 1989), an interactive film screening with singalong and dancealong.
Reel Affirmations XTra
Reel Affirmations Xtra is a once-a-month screening held at Landmark's E Street Cinema. Tickets are $12. On June 9 at 7:00pm and 9:15pm is Leading Ladies (Daniel Beahm and Erika Randall Beahm, 2010) a comedy about two sisters and their gay best friend.
The Woodrow Wilson Center
On June 7 at 3:30pm is Three Stories of Galicia (Olha Onyshko and Sarah Farhat, 2010) about Jews, Ukrainians and Poles that live in Galicia in southern Poland and western Ukraine.
Silver Docs 2011
The Ninth Annual Silverdocs documentary film festival takes place June 20-27. AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs brings the best new documentaries to the Washington, DC, area. The Festival has built a reputation for presenting compelling and engaging films that connect with audiences in theaters, and beyond. The Festival will run from Monday, June 20 through Sunday June 26, with “Best of the Fest” screenings on Monday June 27 to provide pass holders and local audiences an additional opportunity to catch the award winners and most popular films.
Now in its ninth year, the festival serves as a launch pad for independent documentaries, and affords international filmmakers access to US audiences. Called the “Pre-eminent US Documentary Fest” by Screen International, and the “premier showcase for documentary films” by The Hollywood Reporter, the 2010 edition screened sold-out shows to more than 22,000 participants who viewed the world’s best new documentaries and experienced free outdoor screenings and performances, panel discussions and many special events.
Variety called the event “Non-fiction Nirvana” because it goes beyond screenings to provide business and creative connections at over forty panels, master classes and workshops with media professionals and industry leaders concerned with the future of non-fiction storytelling, production and distribution.
The EuroAsia Shorts Film Festival
EuroAsia Shorts presents a selection of short films from Europe, Asia, and the US June 6-10. Screenings take place at several locations including embassies and cultural centers. This year's theme is men, women, and the challenges of relating to one another. Discussion will follow the screenings, all of which begin at 6:30pm.
On June 6 at 6:30pm the location is the Goethe Institute. Films include Armadingen (Germany), Rummel (Germany), Turn of the Harvest (China), and Mochi (Taiwan). On June 7 at 6:30pm the location is the Japan Information and Culture Center. Films include Summer Bookmobile (Japan), Peeping Life (Japan), The World's Most Beautiful Dictionary (Japan), Help (Italy), Omero’s Grandmother’s Sweet Pie (Italy), The Briefcase (Italy), and Clown Heart (Italy). On July 8 at 6:30pm the location is the Korean Cultural Center. Films are The Rabbit (Korea), In Pursuit of the Moonlight (Korea), The Award (Spain), and Say Me (Spain).
On July 9 at 6:30pm the location is the Letelier Theater. Films are ¿Donde está Kim Basinger? (France), Paroles paroles (France), Always (Thailand), and Pre-attitude (Thailand). On July 10 at 6:30pm the location is the Italian Cultural Institute. Films are The Queen (USA), 12 Years (Germany), Googuri Googuri (Japan), Leo and Sandra (Italy), A Lonely Season (Korea), Planet of Women (France), Dream Line (Hong Kong), Rights and Responsibilities (Spain), Way (Thailand), and God of Love (USA).
The Eleventh Annual Caribbean Film Festival
The AFI hosts this festival of films from Caribbean countries. Eleven films, features, shorts and documentaries are shown from June 3-6. Titles are '70: Remembering a Revolution (Trinidad and Tobago), Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae (Jamaica), Frantz Fanon, His Life, His Struggle, His Work (Martinique) shown with Maestra (Cuba); The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee "Scratch" Perry (USA); The Other Side of the Water: The Journey of a Haitian Rara Band in Brooklyn (US/Haiti) shown with Mas Man (Trinidad and Tobago); Lift Up; Ava and Gabriel: A Love Story (Curacao); Riseup(Jamaica) and Almacita, Soul of Desolata (Curacao).
BuddhaFest is a four-day festival of films, talks and meditation, taking place June 16-19 at the Artisphere. Titles include I Am, Crazy Wisdom, Worlds of My Perfect Teacher, Cave in the Snow and Wheel of Time.
Crystal Screen Outdoor Films
On Mondays from June 6 to August 29, movies will be shown outdoors at 1851 S. Bell Street. This year's theme is "By the Numbers" and all films begin after sunset. On June 6 is Air Force One, on June 13 is Four Weddings and a Funeral, on June 20 is Sixteen Candles and on June 27 is District 9. More in July and August.
NoMa Summer Screen
Outdoor films are shown on L Street between 2nd and 3rd, NE. This year's series pays homage to classic and modern train films. On June 1 is Stand By Me, on June 8 is North by Northwest, on June 15 is Slumdog Millionaire, on June 22 is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and on June 29 is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Films are shown at 9:00pm; bring a blanket.
U Street Movie Series
Films are shown at sundown on the field at Harrison Recreation Center, 1330 V Street, NW between 13th and 14th Streets. On June 28 is Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian preceded by the short film The Poodle Trainer.
Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
This outdoor film festival is held at Gateway Park near Key Bridge. This year's theme is "SNL in the Movies" featuring films with SNL actors. Films in June include Anchorman with Will Ferrell on June 3, City Slickers with Billy Crystal on June 10, Trading Places with Eddie Murphy on June 17, Happy Gilmore with Adam Sandler on June 24. All films begin at dusk; bring a blanket.
The Embassy of Brazil presents its fourth annual documentary film festival June 10-16. Eight documentaries will be shown, highlighting Brazilian culture, history and diversity. On June 9 is the opening night film at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Santiago (João Moreira Salles) at 7:00pm. The other films are shown at Landmark's E Street Cinema and include A Night in 67 (Renato Terra & Ricardo Calil, 2010), Dear Francis (Nelson Hoineff, 2009), Citizen Boilesen (Chaim Litewski, 2009), Loki (Paulo Henrique Fontenelle, 2008), The World Twice Around (David Schürmann, 2007), Foreign Eye (Lúcia Murat, 2006), Herbert Up Close (Roberto Berliner and Pedro Bronz, 2006).
FILM-RELATED MUSIC CONCERT
National City Christian Church
On June 4 at 8:00pm is "Cinemagic," a concert of choral works from the silver screen. Music from 20 films will be sung by the Congressional Chorus and the American Youth Chorus including The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Henry V, Amadeus, The Mission, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Amistad, Harry Potter, Les Choristes and Empire of the Sun. Location: National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle, N.W. Washington, DC.
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