Archive for the ‘Distribution & Screenings’ Category

Head Trauma Re-Mix in Philly

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Yo, Philly readers:

Here’s a screening that would make William Castle’s head spin: Lance Weiler’s Head Trauma will screen with a live soundtrack, featuring performances by Bardo Pond, members of Espers, Fern Knight and DJ Chief Wreck’em. Some theatrics are being thrown in for good measure and there will also be some interactivity. Bring your cell phone.

Details can be found at I-House (the venue) and on the Head Trauma website. Or check out the flyer here.

I’m not a connoisseur of horror and suspense films, but I enjoyed the film when I caught it on DVD last fall. I certainly I wish I could be there for the extravaganza on Saturday. Hopefully Lance will discuss the process of setting the show up, as well as the results, on his great Workbook Project site.

Killer of Sheep

Monday, March 26th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep in my rave of Eagle Pennell’s The Whole Shootin’ Match. Funny timing: Yesterday, Dave Kehr had an all-too-short article in the NYT about the process of bringing to home video this legendary film that, in Burnett’s words, “was never meant to be shown in public.”

I had known the film was going to be released to DVD at some point — it’s been rumoured for at least a few years (held up, as Kehr notes, by music licensing issues) — so it’s nice to know we won’t have to wait much longer.

What I didn’t know was that the film is getting a release at the IFC Center starting on Friday. It will also be playing in select cities throughout the summer. If you’re anywhere near a screening, this is something you’re not going to want to miss.

To learn more about the film, check out the new Killer of Sheep website that Milestone Films has launched. If you’re a Burnett fan, make sure you click on the “Buy the DVD” tab — it reveals some very exciting news.

SXSW: The Whole Shootin’ Match, indeed

Friday, March 16th, 2007

After a hellish 13 hour trip from Austin to Knoxville (don’t get me started about the airline industry) I’m in Knoxville scouting locations for a film. Before I get completely absorbed with that work, here are some final notes on my last day or so at SXSW.

Tuesday was my panel, Blogging about Film. Alison did a nice job moderating the conversation, and I really enjoyed sharing the microphone with Joel, Agnes, Mark, and Lance. All had very smart things to say, and we had different perspectives on the issues raised by Alison and the audience.

Many of the people in the audience — a crowd of about 75 — were bloggers themselves. At least some of them (Anthony Kaufman, Mike Tully, and AJ Schnack, to name just a few) could have just as easily been on the panel.

One of the more interesting discussions that arose concerned the question of whether bloggers are journalists or not. We also addressed some of the ethical issues that can arise when blogging about film, like whether you should review films by your friends.

After the panel, a few of the people mentioned above went to the Iron Works BBQ to continue talking film. I then caught 638 Ways to Kill Castro. I wasn’t planning on seeing it, but it was a good way to stay out of the torrential rain. Castro is a fairly typical leftist documentary (e.g., interviews and archival footage, romantic longing for the revolutionary spirit of the 60s, damning evidence of US government’s covert activities, etc.). It’s all very upsetting, but the film offers little in the way of suggestions about what the audience should do with its anger. Even more troubling is the fact that the film also asks very few questions about Casto’s own record on human rights. Of course, the question of whether such abuses make one worthy of assassination are never asked, in part, because the parties that want Castro dead don’t care about his human rights abuses — they simply want to exploit Cuba for their own ends. Still, in a film that takes as its subject the covert use of power and violence, it seems odd to neglect discussing Castro’s own abuses in this regard. Despite these misgivings, I was, in the moment, oddly entertained by the film — a combination of wry commentary and ironic archival footage give it a sense of humor (as well as a sense of the absurd), which is lacking in so many other earnest, liberal documentaries. My questions linger, though.

After the movie, I hung out with James Johnston and Amy McNutt. We talked politics, movies, and sugar substitutes over at a restaurant with some fine vegan deserts. Yum.

Finally, I made it over to Eagle Pennell’s The Whole Shootin’ Match. With all due respect to Frownland, Hannah Takes the Stairs, Quiet City, and the Zellner / Duplass shorts program, this was my favorite film of the festival. Shot in the late ’70s, the film has been credited with inspiring Robert Redford to start the Sundance Institute. The film follows two blue collar Texas guys that can’t seem to get their act together. One’s single and an inventor, of sorts; the other is a married man who has trouble staying faithful to his spunky wife. It’s more than just a very real, funny, sweet, and unsentimental masterpiece — it ranks alongside Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep as one of the most vivid pieces of celluloid Americana I’ve ever seen.

The Whole Shootin’ Match was a perfect last film to see, a reminder that the strong currents of do-it-yourself American independent filmmaking that were on display at SXSW flow from tributaries that go way back and have, for many of us, long since been lost or forgotten.

After I walked out of the theater, I ran back to the hotel in the rain, changed into dry clothes, and headed over to the closing night party, thanks to a ride from David Lowery.

I stayed for a while at the party, long enough to offer one more set of congratulations and compliments to the makers of all the films that I had liked, and long enough to talk face to face one more time with friends, many of whom I had met face to face for the first time in Austin.

The last conversation I had was with a very talented new friend in which we discussed collaborating on a project together. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can touch the promise and anticipation of making new work with people you respect. There are things that can’t be put into a swag bag, listed in a festival catalog, or even projected on a screen — and yet these intangibles of festival-going are why we attend in the first place.

As much as I was enjoying the party, it was time to call it a night. As if on cue, the rain had let up. So I walked back to my hotel in the dark with my mind buzzing, not with alcohol, but with something far better — ideas for a new film.

An Articulate Movement (of Inarticulateness) Articulated?

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Following up on Anthony Kaufman’s post of a couple days ago, Eugene Hernandez writes about what’s in the air in Austin this year — you can call them DIY, no-budget, or self-reliant filmmakers. This year, with Hannah Takes the Stairs, Quiet City, Frownland, Orphans these films are the toast of the town.

I’ve been traveling for the last 24 hours (in Knoxville to scout locations for a film I’m shooting), but I have more thoughts on this which I’ll try to articulate later.

Then again, I feel like I’ve been articulating thoughts about this stuff for the last year and a half. It’s nice to see indieWire discussing it, even if they do refer to these films as “mumblecore.” I believe it goes broader and deeper than that limiting name.

Anyway, here’s the article.

SXSW: Anthony Kaufman Gets It.

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

The article: “The SXSW All-Stars: A New Ultra-Indie Movement” Read it here.