Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In Brief: Our Everyday Life (2016) BOSNIAN-HERZEGOVINIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2016


The Bosnia Herzegovinian submission to the Oscars OUR EVERYDAY LIFE is a look at a modern middle class family struggling to get by.

As the patriarch struggles to maintain control of his company, his wife struggles to get along. Their son is a slacker and their daughter, having left the country during the war only contacts them via Skype. Revelations are soon coming that will shake the family to it's core.

A typical modern family drama spiced up with the lingering shadows of a not long ago war and the effects of the country still being rocked from the change from Communism to Capitalism, OUR EVERYDAY LIFE over comes it's seeming run of the mill story thanks to stunning performances and a visual style that plunks us down in the middle of the action. Scenes play out in longish takes which allow the actors to really let go in their performances.

This is a super little film, that while may not be the best of the best, manages to take a the domestic drama genre and turn it into a something that is special and worth going out of your way to see.

OUR EVERYDAY LIFE plays Friday night at SVA. For tickets and more information go here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Speaking Dangerously: Patrick Meaney on his career and Dream Dangerously, his masterpiece on Neil Gaiman


I have been trying to write an introduction to this interview with Patrick Meaney for several days now and I’ve been failing miserably. It’s not that I have nothing to say — rather, it all sounds bogus and as if I’m trying to hype a man who needs no hype. Trust me: if you’ve seen Meaney’s earlier films (in particular GRANT MORRISON: TALKING WITH GODS and WARREN ELLIS: CAPTURED GHOSTS) you know he’s a man who makes films that are wonderful portraits of the people he chooses profile. His films reflect the artists in ways that most other documentaries would never consider.

And then he made NEIL GAIMAN: DREAM DANGEROUSLY and the universe changed.

With DREAM DANGEROUSLY, Meaney has made a film that transcends its subject to be about something greater. While specifically about Neil Gaiman and his final large scale book tour, the film is actually a film that explores why we need to create. Yes, the film is about the tour and Neil’s work, but it’s also about why he creates, and how and by extension how we all do. That's what’s really special about the film. Meaney frames it so that the specifics of how Neil creates echoes into the lives of everyone who has ever been driven to do anything.

Now, I came to this interview ass-backwards. It was not something that I really was planning on doing, nor was it something I wanted to do (I was a bit too busy). However an interview was suggested by Unseen’s chief researcher and social media director Randi Mason (who was interviewed for the film) and one thing lead to another.

To be honest, my plan was to simply ask couple of quick questions and be done with it… but then I saw DREAM DANGEROUSLY and my universe changed. I had to talk to him. (Actually, I wanted to give him a big hug, but that wasn’t possible since he was on the opposite side of the country)

I had the chance to do the interview with Meaney via telephone, but I opted to do it via email. I loved the film so much that I wanted to make sure that everything was right. I wanted to make sure all the questions and all of the answers were exactly as we both wanted them. I wanted to make sure that I asked everything I wanted to get answers to.

And I wanted to make sure that the interview stayed on point. Had I spoken with Patrick on the phone, I know I would have been very tempted to ask a number of questions that would have revealed too much about the film or been so specific that no one really would have cared except me. I wanted this to be an interview that would work before you see the film and not just after.

First, I want to thank Randi for getting me involved in all of this. Second and most important, I want to thank Patrick Meaney for not only doing the interview (and doing all the typing) but letting me be the first to see the wondrous treasure that he is shortly going to unleash on the world. NEIL GAIMAN: DREAM DANGEROUSLY rocks, and it's something that he should be thanked for repeatedly.

(All images in this interview are courtesy and copyright of Patrick Meaney)

Patrick Meaney (left) and friend take a break after a long shoot
STEVE: Thank you again for letting me see the DREAM DANGEROUSLY. I hope I didn't make too big a fool of myself gushing over it (note: the Unseen review is here). Trust me, my feelings for the film are genuine. I love the film, which was something the people I spoke after seeing the film are well aware of. (I'm going to take another pass or two at the film and do another piece.)

PATRICK: That’s awesome to hear. As I mentioned, you were literally the first person to see the film outside of the team, so it was great to hear some positive feedback. And it’s really nice to know that you got so much of what we were trying to convey with the movie.

STEVE: You’ve made a career out of profiling comic creators and comic related subjects. Where other filmmakers have profiled one writer or artist and were done, you’ve created almost a cottage industry. How did you come to do so many comic related films?

PATRICK: There’s a couple of reasons. On one level, I think it was a trust from the comics community, and other people felt like, well, if Grant Morrison trusted him to do a movie, I guess I will too. As we’ve gone on, it’s become easier to get interviewees, since we have a track record of projects to point to that give people confidence that this is going to be something professional and real, and not a take down or puff piece.

But, I think it’s also just a rich untapped field to tell stories about. It’s hard to make a new statement about The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, or Alfred Hitchcock or Scorsese, but in comics we have these people who are absolute masters of the medium whose stories have never been told. I had barely seen any video of Grant before we did the movie. Neil is out there a bit more, but there’s never been a feature length piece about him, and that’s kind of crazy.

And, the other biggest reason for doing these particular biographical subjects, is that they all developed public personas that are just as fascinating as the work, and in many ways integral to it. Reading The Invisibles almost requires knowledge of Grant’s own experiences at the time. And with Neil, his rapport with the fans has been key to his success since day one. You see as much fan art of Neil himself as you see of any of the characters. I think there was something about that era of comics in particular, in the late 80s and early 90s, when creators were rock stars, and it’s fun to explore that.

STEVE: Were you someone who was going to conventions and readings during the comic writer as rock star days?

PATRICK: No, I was a bit young during that time, and didn’t get into comics until the tail end of that. So, I wound up reading basically all the big Vertigo series quickly in succession, jumping from Watchmen to Sandman to Preacher to The Invisibles and then reading the end of Transmetropolitan was it was coming out. I read a bunch of interviews and got a sense of the personas of these creators, but I didn’t go to too many cons until later, and didn’t go to big cons like San Diego or New York until the mid 2000s, when it was a bit of a different scene. But, I definitely got a sense of it via the Warren Ellis Forum and other online places like that.

STEVE: Your most well-known films are on comic giants Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis and now Neil Gaiman. What brought you to them and what made them trust you?

PATRICK: Grant was the first project we did. I had written a whole series of blogs going through The Invisibles, issue by issue, just for fun. And I got approached to turn those into a book. So, I think it was checking that out that made Grant feel like I got his work, and saw where he was coming from. I had never done a documentary before, or a film project on that scale, so I’m really happy that he took a chance and entrusted us with his story. From there, I think knowing that Grant was cool with us made it easier for Neil and Warren to trust.

With Neil in particular, it was a bit of a different experience, since we filmed him on the road and out and about a lot more. So, I think being around us so much, and being filmed so much, made him let his guard down a bit and start to make jokes to the camera and get into it more.

STEVE: You came to Grant through your love of The Invisibles. What brought you to Warren?

PATRICK: I read Transmet early on when I was getting into comics. I actually got into comics seriously a bit later than some people, when I was around 14 or 15. I started reading Claremont X-Men, then jumped into Vertigo stuff. I always liked superhero stuff, but was even more into Phillip K. Dick style weird and mind bending sci-fi stories, and found those in comics.

At that time, I also started going on the Warren Ellis Forum. So, for me, Warren’s work was inseparable from his personality. I remember how cool it was to read the forum and see the culture that existed there. Now, lots of the regulars have gone on to be huge comics personalities, like Kelly Sue, Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Antony Johnston, etc. But, back then they were the ‘inner circle’ of the forum. I wasn’t a big poster, but I loved reading it, always found Warren very funny and cool, and got into comics through what they were doing there, and picked up a lot of books as a result of tips from people there.

So, for me, getting to do the film on Warren was exciting because of the work he had done, but even more so because it was a chance to be in a room with this legendary guy who had shaped my approach to comics and interest in creativity back then.

STEVE: I’ve heard you say that your films are structured around your subject's personality. How do you determine what that is, and how do you translate that to the screen?

PATRICK: With Grant and Warren, both films are centered around contrasting the ‘persona’ or ‘legend/mythology’ that they’ve built up around themselves. So, you might think of Grant Morrison as a drug tripping fifth dimensional shaman, but who is he really? Or Warren is a crank, whiskey drinking, foul mouthed cyber guru, but how much of that is a construction? So, I tried to start by introducing the public perception of them, then proceed to dig deep and discover what lies behind that, and how they were able to build that image. I’m basically taking the standpoint of the casual fan and the knowledge that they have of the person as the jumping off point to dig in deeper.

Neil is the same to some extent, in that you start on the outside, knowing his work, maybe having been to an event or heard him read, but then we go behind that and see how everything he does for the public both enhances and hinders his desire to be a writer.

STEVE: Do you go into a film and start shooting with the assumption its going to be one thing, or do you simply go in and just see what happens?

PATRICK: I always start with an outline, that goes over the major beats of what I have in mind for the story and arc. But, it usually changes quite a bit. Usually we’ll shoot with the main subject a few times, so I’ll go off and edit what we have in between those shoots and start to get a sense of what the story of the film is going to be, then we can ask the next round of questions to clarify.

With Grant at first, we interviewed him for three days with about 15 hours of footage, so I asked about all his works, all kinds of stuff that was fascinating. And I was thinking, we have to have some Seven Soldiers in the film or we have to have some New X-Men in the film, since I loved those works and wanted to feature them. But, ultimately we realized that the story was about Grant and the way his life and work mirror each other. So, it became less about the works themselves than how they reflected Grant’s experiences at the time of writing them.

Ultimately, the movie finds itself in the process of creating it, and the more you get to know the subjects, the more you understand what the story needs to be.

That’s the other big reason that you can’t stick to an outline. We’ll usually shoot around 40 hours for a project. With Neil, it was probably closer to 60. The biggest thing I realized early on was how to distinguish between a moment that is great on its own terms, and one that serves the story. I’ll sometimes allow a comedy bit that’s not super relevant to get into the movie, just because it helps keep people engaged with the movie and gives them a little breather. But generally, I try to be pretty ruthless about only putting in what enhances the story and is entertaining or insightful on its own merits.

So, with Neil, I love Miracleman. I would have really wanted to include it, but it’s not a key part of his overall story, so it didn’t make it into the cut.

STEVE: How do you prep for your films? Do you go in and reacquaint yourself with everything the subjects have done, or are you less concerned since your films aren’t literary retrospectives, but more portraits of the artists as human beings?

PATRICK: I try to read everything they’ve done, as best I can. With all three of these subjects, they’re so prolific, it’s hard to read absolutely everything, but I don’t want to be interviewing Warren and not know what Transmetropolitan is for example. And I like all their work a lot, so if there’s something I haven’t read, it’s a good opportunity to go out there and do it.

STEVE: Is there anything that you wanted to read but couldn't get your hands on? Did you read Neil's Penthouse pieces?

PATRICK: No, I didn’t read a lot of his journalism era stuff, like the Duran Duran book or the Penthouse pieces. I’d be curious to check it out, but I don’t think the subject matter was really essential to what we were doing. I know with Grant I’ve still never read ‘New Adventures of Hitler,’ and hadn’t read Zenith at the time we did the movie, so there was stuff that was hard to find. But with Neil, most of his work is in print and accessible, so it’s easier.

STEVE: When you shoot a film what is your target audience? Are you looking for a fan of the subject, of comics? Or are you hoping to cast a wider net? Or in your heart of heart you don’t care and you’re making the film for yourself because you wanted to do a film on Neil or Grant or Warren?

PATRICK: I always want to strike a balance of creating a film that will be accessible to someone who has no idea who these people are, but still feels totally fresh to people already familiar with the subject. So, if I’m talking about one of their works, I’ll try to reference it primarily through the lens of how it reflects the person or the ideas it presents, rather than the story.

So, with the Neil doc, we decided to talk about the origins and inspirations of the works, more than the content of the works themselves, since I think that’s more relatable to a wide audience than going into nitty-gritty plot details. I love to listen to Grant or Neil talk specifically about their works, but that can make the film’s appeal a bit too narrow, since it’s not that thrilling to hear someone talk about a comic book you’ve never heard of. But, you don’t want to shortchange the works either and not give anything substantive about them. That’s the challenge.

But my hope is always to reach people who can think about the ideas we’re talking about and enjoy those, even if they’ve never heard of the people before. And with Neil in particular, we were trying to create something that people who like to write or create could watch and enjoy, even if they’re not Gaiman fans.
Neil reads

STEVE: Do you think that you had an easier time going for the general audience with Neil because he has been a best selling novelist as opposed to being primarily a comics writer?

PATRICK: To some degree, particularly with Coraline having become a movie and an American Gods TV show coming down the line, people will be more familiar with that stuff. But, in some ways it’s actually harder. The cool thing about comics is you can show stuff on screen. So, even if you don’t know what Sandman is, you can see freaky pale godlike guy and get the idea. But depicting Neverwhere or The Graveyard Book is a little trickier.

But, I do think Neil’s higher profile does make it a bit easier to target a general audience, as well as the fact that, at least when we were filming him, he was mostly out in the world doing stuff. So, we can observe him more in action rather than just through his words and anecdotes.

STEVE: How did the Neil Gaiman film come about?

PATRICK: We actually first got in touch with Neil around the time we were wrapping up the Grant doc. We were already deep into Ellis at that point, and were talking about other potential subjects to tackle, and Neil was certainly one of the most iconic and fascinating writers of all time in comics, as well as one of my personal favorites. So, we got in touch and he said he was interested, but scheduling wasn’t quite right then. It took a little bit, but finally came together in earnest when his last tour was coming up. I pitched the idea of following him on that tour, he liked it and that was where the movie really kicked off. You’ll notice that some of the interviews in this movie, like Wil Wheaton and Lenny Henry, were the same sessions as what was in the Ellis documentary.

STEVE: Did you shoot the Neil questions knowing the material was going to be used, or as something to have in case the project came together?

PATRICK: We were already planning the movie at that point, but it was very early stages, so only some of what we filmed ultimately fit in the final film. But there’s some good additional stuff that will probably turn up on the DVD.

STEVE: I know the film was been a long time in the works. I heard it was promised for last year, but I know you were still shooting last year. What prompted the delay? I believe you had said at New York Comic Con that the focus was going to be on the relationship between Neil and his fans, and while that's in the film, the film is now firmly on Neil and his race to get back to creating. Was there a change in focus? How did you pick the focus?

PATRICK: It did take a long time, for a few reasons. We had some ups and downs working with a potential distributor, that delayed things a while, but ultimately definitely worked out for the best.

It took a while to figure out the best focus for the film. As I mentioned, the original idea was to do a year in the life, but after we went on the tour, it felt like that was such an in depth and cool thing, we should try to focus more around that, since the rest of the year is going to pale in comparison. But, there was a lot of back and forth with the producing team about how much should the movie be strictly tour centric or more biographical or some hybrid of the two.

We had a pretty solid cut of the movie, and went to interview him one more time. And that’s where we talked more in depth about the writing process and his life as a writer, and once we had that material it became clear that was the other spine of the movie. The story was about the conflict between Neil was a writer and Neil enjoying the opportunities created by his writing. It’s about Neil as public figure versus Neil as private creator. And that conflict sort of knit together everything we had and was a great spine for the movie, that I think is pretty relatable whether you’re as successful as him or not: the conflict between observing life and processing it into stories, or just living it.

STEVE: When you sat down with Neil did you do an extensive interview on all his life and work or did you pick and choose?

PATRICK: We sat down with Neil several times for interviews, we started with a more extensive look at everything, but as time went on, it became clearer what the film was about, and we decided to focus on the elements that were thematically or narratively relevant. We already had so much material from shooting about 15 events on the tour that we had a great base of stories to work from and could hone in on whatever was missing.

STEVE: How long did you actually shoot with Neil? Was it the entire tour? You seem to be with him the entire time in England. Forgive me, but wasn't the stuff you shot at the Brooklyn Synagogue after the tour? And why did you go back?

PATRICK: We filmed with Neil at a couple of US stops, through all of Comic-Con and through all of the UK stops. So, it was about three weeks worth of events total. Ultimately, the UK became the core of the movie, since that’s where we spent the most time with him. That said, the American fans are generally much more enthusiastic than the UK crowd.

And we had just shot with Neil a few days before that Brooklyn event. He invited us to come down and shoot it, so we picked up some additional footage there.

STEVE: Was anything off limits?

PATRICK: Not particularly. There’s a lot of stuff we talked with him about that didn’t wind up in the film because it didn’t fit, some of which we’ll release on a DVD or other bonus format.

STEVE: As to the DVD/Blu-Ray super-special edition — what extras can we look forward to?

PATRICK: We’re figuring out the details now, but there’s a whole lot of deleted material to choose from. I’m thinking about potentially putting an entire alternate earlier cut on the DVD, which includes a lengthy section set at San Diego Comic-Con, which includes some really funny moments with Neil, Jonathan Ross and John Barrowman. There’s also lots more interview stuff with Neil, where he gives insight into the writing process, and a look at how he’s working on the new Good Omens TV series.

STEVE: Good Omens TV? I hadn't heard that was so active.

PATRICK: It was just announced that it’s back on, as a six-part TV series that Neil will be writing. I believe it’s being produced by the BBC, but there’s an outlet here in the US who will be picking it up.

STEVE: While we're talking current Neil projects: any thoughts, or did you catch anything on the Black Mirror-esque project, American Gods TV show or How to Talk to Girls at Parties film?

PATRICK: I heard a few things, but am not sure what can be said or not, so I won’t comment on that front. American Gods is shooting now though, with an eye towards a 2017 premiere.

STEVE: You just mentioned a different version of the film to me. How different was the earlier cut of the film?

PATRICK: We had a quite different cut of the film a while back. Originally, we started the movie with some US tour stuff, then went to comic con, and got to the UK about 25 minutes in. With this chronology, we started with Neil’s success with Sandman and other comics related projects, then jumped back to delve into his childhood. The cool thing about this was we got to show a lot of great material that we shot at comic con, the problem was it made it difficult to keep the narrative feeling like a progression. So, I wound up shuffling stuff around and losing a whole bunch of material and basically structuring the whole movie around the UK tour.

In the gaps of stuff that we had cut, we shot another interview with Neil, where we delved in depth into his writing process and views on creativity, and that became the dual threads of the movie: the tour and Neil’s growth as a writer. I had always struggled with finding the right balance of tour/not tour stuff, and how to make it feel like more than just a guy signing books, and I think that honing in on this conflict between Neil’s desire to write and his enjoyment of being a successful writer gave us the internal conflict that we needed to make the movie a bit more substantive.

Some sections were basically the same. The signing in the church and pieces surrounding that, as well as most of the signing parts near the end stayed basically the same, but nearly everything else shuffled around and evolved quite a bit.

STEVE: I have to ask: is there any footage of Neil's punk band playing? Or are there any audio recordings?

PATRICK: There doesn’t seem to be. We worked pretty closely with Neil’s childhood friend Geoff Notkin, who got us a lot of photos and rare stuff, but he said that there were no surviving recordings of the band. Maybe something will turn up one day, but it seems to be lost to the ages.

STEVE: Do you have any footage of Neil actually transporting the audience from England to Moscow and back again, or have you been sworn to secrecy as to how it was done?

PATRICK: Officially, this never happened, so no cameras allowed. It’s like court proceedings, only an artist’s rendering could be used to commemorate the moment.

STEVE: You use comic panels to link up or illustrate some events in Neil's life. Was that simply because film or video doesn't exist, or simply because of Neil's connection to the comics?

PATRICK: It’s a mix of both. There’s some events he’s talking about that wouldn’t have a direct photographic correlation, so we wanted to evoke the feeling of his story, and used a more subjective illustration to do that. And in other cases, it’s just about giving a visual for something that isn’t there. I don’t want to hammer the audience over the head by illustrating everything, but I think that one of the cool things about doing a documentary as opposed to just watching a video of a Neil lecture is that we can bring some of his stories to life in a dynamic way. So, particularly for some of his funnier or more evocative anecdotes, I wanted to find a way to put those visuals on the screen.

STEVE: How did you choose who to talk to in relation to the film? I ask this because there are several collaborators the artists he worked with who aren't mentioned in the film. And while we see Amanda, Neil’s current wife, we only get a sense of his children through old photographs. Was there any plan to try and get them on camera or they just didn’t figure into what you were shooting?

PATRICK: With this movie, particularly compared to the Warren and Grant, there was so much more material shot out in the field and on the fly, that going back to interviews all the time felt a bit less essential. So, rather than try to shoot every single person who had any interaction with the person ever, as we had on previous films to some degree, we focused on a few select people, and only used small portions of their interviews. In some cases, scheduling didn’t work out, and we would have loved to get others in, but it was less interview-centric as a whole.

We shot some material with Neil and his daughter at one of the tour stops, but it ultimately didn’t feel that relevant to the story we were telling. No offense to his children as people, but in the context of the film, they’re mostly relevant to how they inspired his writing. So, we hear a lot about Holly in the context of Coraline, or how having kids early in life pushed him down the path of becoming a writer. It would have been cool to hear more from them about what it’s like having Neil Gaiman as a dad, but I don’t think that was ultimately the story we were telling.

STEVE: We see Neil's mom in the film, but I was curious if you made any effort to interview her? How about Neil's sisters?

PATRICK: We were going to interview her that night in Portsmouth, but she wound up being too tired and leaving the event early, so we didn’t get the chance. I would have loved to talk to her, or Neil’s sisters, and get some insight from them, but I think we got really good insight into Neil’s childhood from Geoff Notkin and from Neil himself. Neil’s memory is pretty remarkable, and as you can tell from the movie or reading Ocean at the End of the Lane, he remembers pretty much everything about how it felt to be a kid.

STEVE: When you're doing interviews with someone as well as Neil, there are conflicting stories about him. How do you sort out what the truth is?

PATRICK: To some degree, I view each of these movies as presenting the viewpoints of different people and letting the viewer make the decision. In editing the Grant movie originally, I had some parts about what his critics or ‘haters’ disliked about the works, and ultimately I realized, let the viewer make those calls. If you think it’s improbable that he had a vision of all time and space after watching the movie and he’s lying about it or was just on drugs, you can decide that, I don’t need to tell you what to think.

So, we had Neil watch the movie and let us know if anything seemed false to him, but ultimately I think it’s up to the viewer to decide what they think of the people and their ideas.

We had one funny experience where we screened the Warren Ellis doc at a festival and a lady raised her hand during the Q&A and said she was worried about Warren and thought he should really stop drinking and smoking. So, she might be thinking that while other people are taking whiskey shots alongside Warren.

STEVE: With someone who's been in the public eye for the last 35 years, and you're doing a film such as this — are you ever afraid that doing a film will unfairly or unjustly fix, say, Neil’s history as one thing?

PATRICK: To some degree, that is the responsibility of the project. We’re creating the most sustained visual legacy of these people as individuals. Their work is one thing, but the movies immortalize the person themselves. And that’s why I always try to let the person’s own words and feelings be the guide and try to force my own stamp on it where it doesn’t belong. I don’t want to editorialize, I want to present their point of view and attitude and life story in their own words.

But, I think there’s enough books about Neil, and his tweets and blogs, as well as his actual work, that people will have plenty of history to choose from.

STEVE: I've had interactions with Grant and Neil, and to my mind, you've gotten things right... but I have to ask, would your films have been different had they not relied on being essentially the artist telling his own story? Would you have even attempted the films without the authors' considerable participation? Since your films are very much about the authors in their own words, have you ever worried that you would be accused of not being as objective as you should be?

PATRICK: Editing together a bunch of documentaries has taught me that objectivity is very, very hard to convey. Even in just presenting someone’s words, you’re choosing what words to present, and what other people say to build that narrative. I have thought about whether or not to include more counterpoints, or, in the case of Grant, have people say, it’s improbable that you would experience perception outside of time, or something like that. But, ultimately, what interests me is not trying to make a comprehensive, objective look at the life and work of any of these subjects, but instead to get their worldview across and find a way to encapsulate it in a film.

So, I wouldn’t want to do a movie that’s just about Grant, without having his participation. It’s great to get additional insight from people talking about him, but that’s supplemental to the main experience, of the person talking about his own experiences. I do obviously play a big part in shaping which sides of the person are presented in the film, but I want to try to let their interests ands passions guide that as much as possible, and convey what really drives them in the film.

STEVE: Was there anything you wanted to cover in the interviews but didn’t? Was there anything that you really wanted to have in the film but couldn't find a way to include it?

PATRICK: I love his run on Miracleman, and think it’s a pretty crazy story of how there was a 25 year struggle to get the rights and return to writing the series. There’s a lot of drama and ups and downs there, but it ultimately didn’t quite fit into this story.

STEVE: Did you consider doing a film on Miracleman?

PATRICK: I would love to! I think it’s a great story with a lot of ups and downs. If there was something like ESPN’s 30 for 30 for comics, I think it would be a great piece. But right now, it’s probably a bit too niche, and inside to do. One day maybe...
Neil shows Patrick how to ice down his hand after a long day answering silly questions

NEIL GAIMAN: DREAM DANGEROUSLY is due for release this July.

High Sun (2015) BOSNIAN-HERZEGOVINIAN FILM FESTIVAL and HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL

Goran Markovic and Tihana Lazovic play three sets of perspective lovers in three love stories each set ten years after each other.

In the first set in 1991 an idyllic afternoon by a lake is interrupted by the arrival of armed soldiers and war.

In 2001 the war is done. A family returns to their devastated home and a young woman and a repair man from the other side dance around each other.

In 2011 a young man tries to fix things between himself and a young girl he wronged.

The course of the stories is the descent into darkness and the slow crawl out- maybe. Its all an examination of how or past shapes or future. The film gives us much to consider and seriously think about.

The look of the three stories are very similar. The lines blur between them. I know that it was intentional on the part of director Dalibor Matanić,since the characters could very well have been any of the characters if only there hadn't been warfare and distrust. (So just be careful if you leave the theater someone I saw this with picked the wrong time to go and was confused when the stories changed)

Beautifully acted performances help create the three moving tales. The characters are so well drawn that you have the sense that this was more than made up but drawn from life. The performances suck you in. You know that in some of the films things are not going to go well, but you go along because the characters are so well drawn that you kid yourself into thinking maybe some of what happen won't be be bad.

This is a must see film. And if you're in New York you have two shots at the film over the next two weeks and I suggest you make an effort to see it.

The film plays Saturday at the Bosnian Herzegovinian Film Festival on Saturday. For tickets go here.

It also plays as part of the Human Rights Watch FIlm Festival in New York on une 12th. For tickets go here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang (2015) opens Friday

I love this film.

This was one of the best films I saw last year, it was the best film at the New York Film Festival. It was so good that every film I saw at NYFF was compared to it- "Yea it was good but it's not GUY FROM FENYANG". 

I talked about this film endlessly. I desperately wanted it to show up at DOC NYC or somewhere so I could see it a second time.

This is one of the best films on film you'll ever see. Its a film that will make you reconsider Jia Zhangke's body of work. I know it made me do it.  I wanted to go back and rewatch all his films all over again because this film opens up what the films are about and how they came about. It's a film that is not only about a body of work but all all bodies of work. In listening to Zhangke talk about where his films came from I could see where my stories were coming from.  Some times the most specific of films speak to the larger world.

I love this film

And now it's getting a release from Kino Lorber starting Friday and if you love the movies you really must go. It will change the way you see movies.

And in honor of the release I'm reposting my NYFF review.

Walter Salles' documentary about filmmaker Jia Zhangke is fantastic film that works on so many different levels. This is one of those great documentaries that not only makes you appreciate a filmmmaker's body of work, but wants you to go out and track down all the films all over again.

First and foremost it is a wonderful portrait of the director and what makes him tick. Over the course of the films 100 minutes we get to know the director and what makes him tick. There is a very real sense of Zhangke is or at least how Walter Salles sees him.

Structured as a series of visits to the locations of Zhangke's films the film brings us into the world of the films and their director. Beginning with the Zhangke and one of his friends walking the streets of his home town we fall into this story as old friends and family appear and tell stories and reveal details of what it was like way back when. We get stories that spill out of everyone as the simple acto of walking down the street he grew p brings forth tales at every house. For example he says that his mother said he was raised by a hundred families since he would wander the streets and see who was serving what for dinner and then simply take a chair and join in if it was something he wanted. Listening to the stories you really get this wonderful sense of why we have the films we do. You also get a sense of the man himself, who seems like a really nice guy you'd want to hang out with and have a beer.

I love that how this is a wonderful overview of Zhangke's films. Looking at several of the directors films (PLATFORM, THE WORLD, STILL LIFE, DONG, A TOUCH OF SIN) via the locations you really begin to understand what certain sequences really mean. For example while standing on the ancient wall of one of the towns Zhangke tells about doing something similar with his father back in the 1970's. Being able to see a road off in the distance his father began to cry at the sight of a lone car traveling across the horizon. It was moment about connecting to a far off world he could only imagine that we see replayed in a similar fashion in his film PLATFORM when a bunch young people run to watch a train pass by their isolated town. There are to repeated moments like that all through out this film which make you understand the films even more deeply. (My respect for A TOUCH OF SIN grew greatly)



A GUY FROM FENYANG is an enlightening portrait of Chinese society from about the time that the director was born until now. We see how the politics and societal shifts affected not only Zhangke's films but also himself and the world he lives in. We also come to understand why his films have been banned over the years. The Chinese authorities really don't want the lives of the people to be revealed in such a way as to show the poverty, corruption and desire for something better. You understand where the frustration of some people that explodes across the screen in A TOUCH OF SIN comes from.

The banning or censoring of Zhangke's films takes the forefront several times in the film. We hear the story of his father seeing PLATFORM for the first time and not saying anything, only to tell his son the next day that in an earlier time he would have been hailed as counter revolutionary. There is a discussion on a train trip where Zhangke talks about how he ran into a guy who had a great bootleg film coming in. The film was PLATFORM and it was a moment of mixed emotions for the director who realized that his film was being seen by people. Lastly we watch as A TOUCH OF SIN 's release is canceled and Zhangke seriously considers hanging up making films because of all the trouble they are causing.

I'm sorry my words describing the film are not doing this film the justice it deserves. Blame it on the fact that I was so overwhelmed by this film that I couldn't take it all in. In all seriousness despite taking notes I still feel as though I need to see the film a couple more times before I can really talk about the film in it's entirety. As I said this film is revealing things on multiple levels and I know I missed stuff my one time through.

This is an absolute must see

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Nightcap 5/22/16 Thoughts on New York Comic Con's Changes, NCIS Blows the Season's Endings and Randi's Links


NY Comic Con announced new protocols to buy tickets. There are now no VIP tickets. There are no retail tickets. And you have to register to have the opportunity to buy the tickets.

The move is being done to stop scalping and brokers from buying up all of the tickets.

The reaction to the move has been mixed.

Many have applauded the move saying that perhaps now they will be able to get a ticket, while other people have bemoaned the need to make plans six months in advance for an event where you’ll have no idea what the programming will be. What will happen if there is nothing I want to see? Additionally people have said what if their plans change I the six months? What if they have to work? Once you buy a ticket you can’t transfer it. (Personally they should have a transfer method)

I have put in for a press pass but I haven’t heard back and I have registered to buy a ticket as a back-up. I fully am aware that what if Reed Pop reads this they may deny my press pass, but that’s their choice as is my need to speak my mind.

As that last statement infers I have questions about what Reed Pop is doing. I like what they are doing in theory but I’m not sure they are going about it the right way.

First in all the years of New York Comic Con I have only run across people who have dealt with brokers a handful of times. I say this as someone who has been to all but the first con. I’ve talked with thousands of people, and almost everyone either bought their ticket on line or at a store. Maybe four or five people said they had some dealing with a broker.

As for scalpers- yup- they are all around the Javitts Center. They are buying passes as people go home. Do they have them to start? Not that I know of. As for bootleg ones I haven’t see them since they put the chips into the passes.

I think this is going to eliminate resale.

Though if Reed Pop really wanted to stop scalping/brokers and resale that thy don't control all thy need do is put everyone's photo on the badge- problem solved.

My real question is with all the moves on line will the Reed Pop ticketing system be able handle it?

This is a serious question since last year I was hung up for hours and didn’t get a ticket. The system kept crashing and I kept getting kicked out and having to start over again. It was awful. By the time I could by tickets would have had to buy single days. Since I had the press pass I let it go. But I wanted to get passes for other Unseen Films people who missed the press deadlines.

With the increased volume will the system still work or will it all melt down?

I don't know but I hope its all sorted out

On the upside I do have applaud Reed Pop for making the Fan Registration easy and not, as many had feared, a means of data mining. All they asked for is name, email, cell phone number (to send you a code to log in) and what you were looking forward to.  If this is any indication os what buy tickets will be like I'll be thrilled

Of course this is New York Comic Con which means no matter what I think is going to happen- something completely different will happen

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And now to my little slice of TV hell and my time to bitch about the few shows I actually watch-

I have become hooked on all of the NCIS shows. I watch them new and the repeats with my dad. I think the plan now is to watch the repeats until we’re sure we’ve seen them all.

On Tuesdays we watch the new episodes- so of course the last three weeks we’ve been there watching the run up o the exit of Tony DiNozzo.

That was fine until the final episode.

What a disaster. Its so bad I’m still pissed.

Essentially what happened was they had all this sound and fury signifying nothing by chasing a terrorist, who wasn’t, but who was being used by CIA psycho Trent Cort, who was up to no good. I’m still not sure what- something to do with files from Israel and atomic something- it makes no sense. More so when Ziva who has been gone for a couple of seasons is killed-off screen- for purely emotional manipulation. Of course Tony is rocked- more so when he discovers Ziva and he had a daughter. Tony then leaves to raise his daughter.

Its not what happened that bothers me its how and why.

We have a plot that ultimately makes no sense and exists purely to give Tony a reason to leave. What is Trent Cort doing? I have no idea. Why did they kill off Ziva? Beats the shit out of me. It was out of left field and worse out it was out of character. No effort was made to explain what happened. Cort paid someone to burn down the house she was in…why? What happened? How could Ziva get caught unaware? Worse where was her daughter and how did she get out? No explanation that I saw. Or no good explanation-since everything was geared to simply moving tony out and the whole family taking revenge for the death of one of their own.

I have no problem with what happened but the lack of real plotting and the desire to thin the extended cast made this one of the least episodes of the series and made me want to give up the series.

It was crap.

Also crap was the arc on NCIS: New Orleans that ended the season.

How could Pride and group not have seen who the bad guy was? Worse- how could Homeland Security not have caught on.

It’s the plotting of a ten year old- super villain in the midst of the heroes who manipulates things so ultra-perfectly as to be unbelievable. His plots don’t make a lick of sense- even by way out TV standards.

It wasn’t as awful as the death of Ziva, largely because it was a mess for the last three weeks (trust me every episode had me going- well how is going to explain that?) but it was still a mess.

All I can say is thank god its all reruns so I don’t have to be annoyed until the fall
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And now Randi's Links

Film Hunt
Free documentaries
Movieo
Guns replaced with selfie sticks
A film not to be seen for 100 years
Secret Hotels


America Reframed:My Life in China plays 5/24

Thinking that he had failed at the American Dream director Kenneth Eng's father decides to go back to China from which he defected in 1966, to see if a return to his old home would be possible. Eng traveled with his father and recorded the bit sweet return home to a place full of family, memories and expectations.

Very moving film is not your typical America immigrant story. Here we have the story who came to America with great hope, but despite being highly educated could only find work in restaurants. Then when his wife became sick with paranoid schizophrenia and his business went bankrupt Eng's father began to wonder if it might be time to return home to China with it's seeming booming economy. The joy of seeing his family is tinged with the reality of the situation in China.

I was touched. Over the course of the film we really get to know the elder Eng both inside and out and by the time the ending came I was a bit misty at what happened. I was particularly touched by his teary talk about how his wife's illness effected him, a dropping of the stoic mask for a man who feigned strength through it all.

I am not going to say anything more other than this is one you'll want to seek out. This is a great film and one of those films where the cumulative effect of taking the journey is greater than my telling you the part. You need to take the trip for yourself so that you too can be properly moved.

MY LIFE IN CHINA, will have its national broadcast premiere Tuesday, May 24 at 8/7c (check local listings) as part of WORLD Channel's AMERICA REFRAMED series. The film will also stream nationally online on www.americareframed.com at no cost following the broadcast for 90 days

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pictures of the Times Square installation for PREACHER


These are pictures from the installation promoting PREACHER in Times Square earlier today

The Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival opens Wendsday


The Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival is one of the best kept secrets of the New York film year. It’s a festival many people ave not heard of, but is a festival that once you attend is going to be one you’ll always want to go back to.

Joe Bendel had been talking the festival up ever since I met him. I “yea, yeaed” him for a while and then two years ago I really looked at the festival and realized that they were showing some great films. I got a couple of screeners and wrote some stuff up. Then last year my schedule matched up to the festival and I actually attended the festival.

What a freaking good time I had.

Sitting in the bar next to the old Tribeca Cinemas waiting for the screening, I was joined by Joe and tried to shoot the breeze but people he had met at the festival over the years kept coming over to him to say hi. Then chaffing dishes were brought out and we were treated to a spread of food. I’m not saying this happens all the time, but as someone walking in for the first time it was something really nice.

Actually there wasn’t much time to sit around before we were shuttled into the theater for our movie. Yes there was introductions, speeches and Q&A’s but it was more like old home week with a friendly feeling that we were all one big family.

It’s a feeling that I’ve only get at the New York Asian Film Festival, which is why I keep going back to that festival, and why I will keep going back to this one.

The festival this year starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday. Yes I know Its memorial day weekend, but that’s no reason not to go. They are running a bunch of good films and you should go see them. Reviews will be coming of all the features except SOUL TRAIN because I can’t get to it. However everything else should be reviewed.

The opening night film NOBODY’S CHILD played earlier this year at Film Comment Selects and I thought it was a good little film (the full review is here)

As I said the festival starts Wednesday and you must go because it will become your new favorite festival.

For tickets and more information on the various programs go to the festival website.

The screenings are called programs because they don’t just run features, they run shorts with them, which is just an awesome thing to do.

Northern Patrol (195-)

One of the better films in the Kirby Grant and Chinook series is also one of the last ones. in the series.

The film begins with Grant heading heading home on vacation. Stopping at a cabin he finds what appears to be an apparent suicide. The troubling thing is the man killed himself in the middle of making breakfast. The suicide was obviously murder. Grant dives into the investigation and instantly realizes that something was up with the brother of the man's fiance. Things get worse from there.

Solid adventure film holds our attention thanks to a complicated plot involving a good number of characters. This isn't simply a small group of people circling each other, rather characters show up and add to what Kirby knows. Additionally there are a couple of unexpected twists. It keeps things moving and interesting in more than a by the numbers way.

One of my favorite films in the series.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oak Cliff Film Festival announces it's line up (June 16-19)

I just got the press release below and I had I not seen a good number of the films screening I'd consider making a dash to Texas. This is a good looking festival with some top shelf films. Below is the information I was sent with links dropped in of the films we'vealready reviewed.

The Oak Cliff Film Festival announces the full schedule for the 5th edition of the festival (June 16-19)

Dallas, TX (May 17, 2016) – The Oak Cliff Film Festival announced the full schedule for the 5th edition of the festival, taking place on June 16-19 this year. A fully restored version of Eagle Pennell’s 80s Texas classic, LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO will open OCFF on Thursday, June 16, with Taika Waititi’s previously announced adventure/comedy HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE set to close the film festival on Sunday, June 19 – both at the legendary Texas Theatre. The schedule is comprised of 27 feature-length films and 41 short film. Fourteen features will make their Texas premieres among the narrative and documentary competitions and spotlight sections, and additional special events include music performances that have become a hallmark of OCFF, including bands like Tearist, A Place to Bury Strangers, and True Widow, as well as the previously announced and highly anticipated screening of THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE at the Majestic Theater and “David Lowery Presents FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR” outdoors on Bishop Avenue.

“We could not be more proud and excited to roll out the festival we have put together for this year,” said OCFF Co-Founder and Technical Director Barak Epstein. “Several filmmakers will be coming to Dallas to represent their films, several of which are screening in Texas for the first time, we have added new screening venues and locations, placing us in downtown Dallas and the Bishop Arts District further solidifying OCFF as an event that incorporates this entire community, and the big events this year – like the PHANTOM screening and FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, and the live show by A Place to Bury Strangers, will be pretty awesome we think.”

The opening night presentation of Eagle Pennell’s LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO, will feature a fully restored print from the 16mm negative. First seen in 1983, the film stars Sonny Carl Davis and Lou Perryman as two men that, upon learning their favorite hangout, the Alamo, is due to be torn down, show up in an attempt to save the establishment – yet end up drinking the night away. SXSW Co-Founder Louis Black, who restored the film’s new print, will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A. The closing night presentation of Waititi’s Sundance hit, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is a family-friendly comedy/adventure about a national manhunt that is undertaken to search for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle (Sam Neil) who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush.

Jessica Harper has been confirmed to attend the previously announced screening of Brian DePalma’s 1974 cult-classic, THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE at the Majestic Theater, upping the ante for that highly anticipated event. Terrence Malick’s landmark film, BADLANDS will screen at the Texas Theatre, which is nearly as perfect match a match of film to venue. “David Lowery Presents: FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR” is a free-to-the-public screening of the beloved 80’s classic, that will be presented outdoors on Bishop Avenue and will include a special screening of the most recent trailer of Lowery’s upcoming PETE’S DRAGON for Disney, as well as an appearance by the OCFF alum and his co-writer and co-producer, Toby Halbrooks.

Films making their Texas premieres include; Irving Franco’s CHEERLEADER, an 80s-set film about a teenager who desperately want revenge on her ex-boyfriend-or to get him back; the Ross Brothers’s previously announced documentary CONTEMPORARY COLOR about a music event headed by the Talking Heads’s David Byrne; Robert Greene’s documentary/dramatic hybrid KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE featuring Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to portray Christine Chubbuck, a Florida-based television journalist who shot and killed herself while on the air; Deborah Stratman’s THE ILLINOIS PARABLES, an experimental documentary focused on the state via its physical landscapes and human politics; Harrison Atkins’s LACE CRATER, about what transpires after a woman makes the ill-fated decision to have sex with a ghost; Michael Curtis Johnson’s HUNKY DORY, about a dive bar drag queen forced to look after his 11-year-old son; Thom Andersen’s THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD, which is his personal history of cinema, partially inspired by philosopher Gilles Deleuze; and Angela Boatwright’s documentary LOS PUNKS: WE ARE ALL WE HAVE, about the punk rock scene in South Central and East L.A.

Additional Texas premieres include; Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s previously announced documentary DE PALMA, on the brilliant filmmaker; Gabrel Mascaro’s documentary NEON BULL, about Vaquejada, a traditional exhibition sport that involves pulling bulls to the ground by their tails; Aaron Brookner’s documentary UNCLE HOWARD, about the filmmaker’s quest to find the lost negative of BURROGHS: THE MOVIE, his uncle's critically-acclaimed portrait of legendary author William S. Burroughs; and three films that made their an impression at Sundance earlier this year - Jeff Feuerzeig’s AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY, about the woman behind the enigmatic literary avatar; Anna Rose Holmer’s THE FITS, about a girl obsessed with the dance team she just joined; and Penny Lane’s NUTS!, about Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire in Depression-era America with a goat testicle impotence cure and a million watt radio station.

Films in the Narrative Competition this year include; Andre Hyland’s THE 4TH, about a series of awkward and absurd situations a down-on-his-luck man goes through as he tries to have a 4th of July cookout; Adam Pinney’s THE ARBALEST, about the inventor of the world’s greatest toy who is obsessed with a woman that hates him; Atkins’s LACE CRATER; Franco’s CHEERLEADER; and Zach Clark’s LITTLE SISTER, about a former goth girl turned nun who returns to her childhood home in North Carolina. The winner of the Narrative Feature Award will receive a AJA CION 4K Digital Cinema Camera and Media card kit. Other prizes include: Davinci Resolve Software from Blackmagic Design, Professional Post Production storage from G-Technology and camera accessories from Oak Cliff's own Wooden Camera.

Competing in the Documentary Competition will be: the Ross Brothers’ CONTEMPORARY COLOR; Greene’s KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE; Josh Bishop’s THE DWARVENAUT, about Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed art prodigy Stefan Pokomy; Stratman’s THE ILLINOIS PARABLES; and GOODNIGHT BROOKLYN: THE STORY OF DEATH BY AUDIO, about the Brooklyn music venue’s decade-long existence as a theoretical and literal non-traditional home for underground music.

Live performances by bands and performance art installations will once again be a major part of the Oak Cliff Film Festival with Tearist, an American electronic/industrial duo from Los Angeles performing at the Texas Theatre on Friday, June 17. Spinster Records’ Podcast Party featuring Check Surroundings For Safety, and performances by New York City–based American noise rock band A Place To Bury Strangers, as well as Dallas-based rock band True Widow, are also set for performances on Saturday, June 18. In addition, OCFF will host several free educational events, including a free-to-students comprehensive filmmaking workshop sponsored by KD Conservatory and Indie Filmmaking Workshop headed by crowdfunding outlet, Seed & Spark.

OCFF takes place at the historic Texas Theatre, Kessler Theater, Bishop Arts Theater, the Majestic, the Basement Gallery, outdoors – literally on Bishop Avenue, and other venues in North Oak Cliff.

Festival VIP passes (which provide access to all screenings, events, and free drinks all weekend), ticket four-packs are on sale now, and individual screening tickets are on sale now at http://filmoakcliff.com via OCFF’s official ticketing sponsor, Prekindle.


The 2016 Oak Cliff Film Festival official selections:

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO (1983)
Director: Eagle Pennell
Country: USA, Running Time: 87min
When Cowboy (Sonny Carl Davis) and Claude (Lou Perryman) learn that their favorite dive, the Alamo, is on the verge of being torn down, they show up on the last night with hopes of saving the bar. Instead, the would-be saviors and their pals spend more time drinking the night away.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
Director: Taika Waititi
Country: New Zealand, Running Time: 101min
Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family.


NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

THE 4TH
Director: Andre Hyland
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
It's the 4th of July in LA and Jamie, a down on his luck illustrator who's behind on rent, tries to throw a cookout while his overbearing roommate Derek is out of town. When Jamie decides to borrow Derek's bike without asking for a quick trip to the liquor store for lighter fluid, his entire day and life quickly begin to go up in smoke. Sparked by an incident with a road-rager, Jamie quickly finds himself far from home; trapped in a series of awkward, absurd and frustrating situations with a variety of characters.

THE ARBALEST (76 mins)
Director: Adam Pinney
Country: USA, Running Time: 76min
Foster Kalt, a famous toy inventor in the 1970s, reflects on his lifelong obsession with Sylvia Frank. From his first meeting with Sylvia in a New York Hotel Room in 1968, to years later when he is stalking her from a cabin in the woods, the puzzle pieces of Kalt’s obsession come together to form of his latest, shocking invention.

LACE CRATER – Texas Premiere
Director: Harrison Atkins
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
All Ruth wanted was to get away for the weekend. Escaping to the Hamptons with friends after a bad breakup, she finds an unexpected connection with Michael, a stranger who shows up in her room one boozy night. They have great chemistry, and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. There’s only one problem: Michael’s a ghost, and a one night stand with him leaves Ruth with after effects that can only be described as supernatural. As she suffers through mucous-laden night sweats, glitchy hallucinations, and the occasional tar-black ooze, her friends become too disgusted to support her. Ruth must figure out for herself if she can reintegrate into society - or if she even wants to.

CHEERLEADER – Texas Premiere
Director: Irving Franco
Country: USA, Running Time: 70min
Bubblegum, side ponytails, and eighties-inspired hits blanket this witty satire centered around Mickey, a naive and promiscuous teenager who—reeling from her first heartbreak—seeks calculated revenge on her ex-boyfriend by turning her attention to an unlikely subject.

LITTLE SISTER
Director: Zack Clark
Country: USA, Running Time: 91min
October, 2008. Young nun Colleen is avoiding all contact from her family, until an email from her mother announces, “Your brother is home.” On returning to her childhood home in Asheville, NC, she finds her old room exactly how she left it: painted black and covered in goth/metal posters. Her parents are happy enough to see her, but unease and awkwardness abounds. Her brother is living as a recluse in the guesthouse since returning home from the Iraq war. During Colleen’s visit, tensions rise and fall with a little help from Halloween, pot cupcakes, and GWAR. Little Sister is a sad comedy about family – a schmaltz-free, pathos-drenched, feel good movie for the little goth girl inside us all.


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

CONTEMPORARY COLOR – Texas Premiere
Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
In the summer of 2015, legendary musician David Byrne staged an event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center to celebrate the art of Color Guard: synchronized dance routines involving flags, rifles, and sabers. Recruiting performers that include the likes of St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado, Ad-Rock, and Ira Glass to collaborate on original pieces with 10 color guard teams from across the US and Canada, CONTEMPORARY COLOR is a beautifully filmed snapshot of a one-of-a-kind live event.

THE DWARVENAUT
Director: Josh Bishop
Country: USA, Running Time: 84min
A dreamlike glimpse into the visionary mind of Brooklyn-based artist and entrepreneur Stefan Pokorny. An art prodigy obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons, who attempts to bring his most ambitious work to life through Kickstarter.

GOODNIGHT BROOKLYN: THE STORY OF DEATH BY AUDIO
Director: Matthew Conboy
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
From 2005 to 2014 Death By Audio served as a venue for underground music, art and a non-traditional living environment. Founders: Oliver Ackermann, Edan Wilber and Matt Conboy, endure the challenges of hosting hundreds of people a night with looming threats of building department or police raids. Under ironic circumstances, we follow them through the last days as they navigate a billion-dollar company moving into their building and the associated threats and intimidation to keep residents in fear of reprisals.

THE ILLINOIS PARABLES – Texas Premiere
Director: Deborah Stratman
Country: USA, Running Time: 60min
From dreamy aerial opening shots, we are sent on an expedition through the storied land of our fifth most populous state, Illinois, often called a miniature version of America. This experimental documentary explores how physical landscapes and human politics can each re-interpret historical events. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism, and resistance. Who gets to write history—physical monuments, official news accounts, or personal spoken-word memories?

KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE – Texas Premiere
Director: Robert Greene
Country: USA, Running Time: 112min
In 1974, television host Christine Chubbuck committed suicide on air at a Sarasota, Florida, news station. This is considered the first televised suicide in history, and though it was the inspiration for the 1976 Best Picture nominee Network, the story and facts behind the event remain mostly unknown. Now in the present, actress Kate Lyn Sheil is cast in a “stylized cheap ‘70s soap opera” version of Christine’s story, and to prepare for the role, Kate travels to Sarasota to investigate the mysteries and meanings behind her tragic demise.


SPOTLIGHT FEATURES

THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK
Director: Joel Potrykus
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
Young outcast Sean has isolated himself in a trailer in the woods, setting out on alchemic pursuits, with his cat Kaspar as his sole companion. Filled with disdain for authority, he’s fled the daily grind and holed up in the wilderness, escaping a society that has no place for him. But when he turns from chemistry to black magic to crack nature’s secret, things go awry and he awakens something far more sinister and dangerous.

AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY – Texas Premiere
Director: Jeff Feuerzeig
Country: USA, Running Time: 110min
New York magazine’s October 2005 issue sent shockwaves through the literary world when it unmasked “it boy” wunderkind JT LeRoy, whose tough prose about his sordid childhood had captivated icons and luminaries internationally. It turned out LeRoy didn’t actually exist. He was dreamed up by 40-year-old San Francisco punk rocker and phone sex operator, Laura Albert. AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY takes us down the infinitely fascinating rabbit hole of how Laura Albert—like a Cyrano de Bergerac on steroids—breathed not only words, but life, into her avatar for a decade. Albert’s epic and entertaining account plunges us into a glittery world of rock shows, fashion events, and the Cannes red carpet where LeRoy becomes a mysterious sensation. As she recounts this astonishing odyssey, Albert also reveals the intricate web spun by irrepressible creative forces within her. Her extended and layered JT LeRoy performance still infuriates many; but for Albert, channeling her brilliant fiction through another identity was the only possible path to self-expression.

DE PALMA
Directors: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
One of the most talented, influential, and iconoclastic filmmakers of all time, Brian De Palma’s career started in the 60s and has included such acclaimed and diverse films as CARRIE, DRESSED TO KILL, BLOW OUT, SCARFACE, THE UNTOUCHABLES, CARLITO’S WAY, and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. In this lively, illuminating and unexpectedly moving documentary, directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow engage in a personal and candid discussion with De Palma, exploring not only his life and work but also his singular approach to the craft of filmmaking and his remarkable experiences navigating the film business, from his early days as the bad boy of New Hollywood to his more recent years as a respected veteran of the field.

THE FITS – Texas Premiere
Director: Anna Rose Holmer
Country: USA, Running Time: 72min
11-year-old Toni, a tomboy assimilating to a tight-knit dance team in Cincinnati’s West End, becomes enamored by the power and confidence of this strong community of girls. Toni eagerly absorbs routines, masters drills, and even pierces her own ears to fit in. When a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team, Toni’s desire for acceptance plunges off the deep end.

HUNKY DORY – Texas Premiere
Director: Michael Curtis Johnson
Country: USA, Running Time: 88min
After his ex disappears, Sidney, a dive bar drag queen, is forced to look after his 11-year-old son in a tale of unconventional fatherhood, the fear of mediocrity, and the pulsing reality of dreams deferred.

LOS PUNKS: WE ARE ALL WE HAVE – Texas Premiere
Director: Angela Boatwright
Country: USA, Running Time: 79min
Punk rock is thriving in the backyards of South Central and East Los Angeles. A cobbled-together family of Hispanic teens and young adults comprise the scene: bands, fans, production, marketing, and security interwoven into a subculture of thrash and noise and pits. The sense of belonging is palpable; emotional bonds fostered among good families and those broken, poverty and wealth, adolescence and maturity, with the music emanating a magnetic chorus for all to sing together.

NEON BULL – Texas Premiere
Director: Gabriel Mascaro
Country: USA, Running Time: 101min
Iremar works as a cowboy who prepares oxen for Vaquejada, a traditional exhibition sport that involves pulling bulls to the ground by their tails. The truck carrying the oxen for the event serves as a makeshift home for him and his colleagues: Joe, your pen partner, and Galician - dancer, truck driver and mother of audacious Caca. Together they form an unlikely, improvised family.

NUTS! – Texas Premiere
Director: Penny Lane
Country: USA, Running Time: 79min
NUTS! is a feature length documentary about Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire in Depression-era America with a goat testicle impotence cure and a million-watt radio station. Tracing Brinkley’s rise from poverty and obscurity to the heights of celebrity, wealth and influence in Depression-era America.

SEX AND BROADCASTING
Director: Tim K. Smith
Country: USA, Running Time: 76min
SEX AND BROADCASTING is a feature length documentary about New Jersey's WFMU, the world's strangest and most unique radio station, and one man's attempt to keep it alive in the face of recession, the persistent threat of commercial media, and the challenges that come with keeping a rebellious group of outsiders together.

THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD
Director: Thom Andersen
Country: USA, Running Time: 114min
"To those who have nothing must be restored the cinema" decries legendary film theorist Thom Andersen, whose newest film covers the vast territory between Griffith and Godard. In this film Andersen takes us on his personal history of cinema, partially inspired by philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

TIKKUN
Director: Avishai Sivan
Country: USA, Running Time: 120min
Haim-Aaron is an ultra-Orthodox religious scholar from Jerusalem whose talent and devotion are envied by all. One evening, following a self-imposed fast, he collapses and loses consciousness. The paramedics announce his death, but his father, refusing to let him go, takes over resuscitation efforts and, beyond all expectations, Haim-Aaron comes back to life. After the accident he suddenly feels a strange awakening in his body and suspects that God is testing him. The film then takes a turn towards the surreal when talking toilet alligators, alley traveling horses and heavy highway smoke show up.

UNCLE HOWARD - Texas Premiere
Director: Aaron Brookner
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
When Howard Brookner lost his life to AIDS in 1989, the 35-year-old director had completed two feature documentaries and was in post-production on his narrative debut, Bloodhounds of Broadway. Twenty-five years later, his nephew, Aaron, sets out on a quest to find the lost negative of BURROUGHS, THE MOVIE, his uncle's critically-acclaimed portrait of legendary author William S. Burroughs. When Aaron uncovers Howard's extensive archive in Burroughs’ bunker, it not only revives the film for a new generation, but also opens a vibrant window on New York City’s creative culture from the 1970s and ‘80s, and inspires a wide-ranging exploration of his beloved uncle's legacy.


REPERTORY

BADLANDS (1973)
Director: Terrence Malick
Country: USA, Running Time: 94min
Inspired by real-life killers Charles Starkweather and Caril-Ann Fugate, this tale of crime and love begins in a dead-end town. Teenage girl Holly (Sissy Spacek) angers her father (Warren Oates) when she begins dating an older and rebellious boy (Martin Sheen). After a conflict between Holly and her father erupts in murder, the young lovers are forced to flee. In the ensuing crime spree, they journey through the Midwest to the Badlands of Montana, eluding authorities along the way.

FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR (1978)
Dir. Randal Kleiser
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
This 1978 Disney adventure tells the story of 12-year-old David who lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. When he awakens from being accidentally knocked out in the forest near his home, he finds that eight years have passed. His family is overjoyed to have him back, but just as perplexed as he is by the fact that he hasn't aged. When a NASA scientist discovers a UFO nearby, David gets the chance to unravel the mystery and recover the life he lost.

PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974)
Director: Brian De Palma
After record producer Swan (Paul Williams) steals the music of songwriter Winslow Leach (William Finley) and gives it to one of his bands, Leach sneaks into Swan's offices. Catching Leach, Swan frames him for dealing drugs, which lands him in prison. After Leach breaks out and again attempts to sabotage Swan's empire, an accident crushes his face. Leach then dons a costume and becomes the Phantom, intent on ruining Swan while saving singer Phoenix (Jessica Harper) from a terrible fate.


SHORT FILM PROGRAMS

NARRATIVE SHORTS
Running Time: 92min

1985
Director: Yen Tan
Country: USA, Running Time: 9 min
A dying man preparing to move in with his estranged mother makes an appointment with a beauty consultant to hide his symptoms.

DOG WALKER
Director: Kim Sherman
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min
A professional dog walker must cope with the death of her favorite client.

GIRL BAND
Directors: Cailin Lowry, Kerry Furrh, Olivia Mitchell
Country: USA, Running Time: 11min
Four best friends/bandmates are packed and ready to make their long-anticipated road-trip move to Los Angeles, but their hometown keeps getting in the way.

JINH
Director: Jeff Walker
Country: USA, Running Time: 11 min
A MMA fighter balances her life and career after a recent knockout goes viral.

PERSONAL EFFECTS
Director: Elena Megalos
Country: USA, Running Time: 8min
In an effort to move on, a heartbroken woman procures a goat to consume her ex-lover’s belongings.

PORZINGOD
Director: Conor Byrne
Country: USA, Running Time: 3min
A prayer for the New York Knicks.

PRONOUNS
Director: Michael Paulucci
Country: USA, Running Time: 9min
A teenager from Chicago decides to reveal their true identity during a spoken word performance.

SEMELE
Director: Myrsini Aristidou
Country: Greece, Running Time: 13min
Semele uses a school note as an excuse to visit her long absent father at his workplace, where her presence highlights their fragile relationship.

WORLD WIDE WOVEN BODIES
Director: Truls Krane Meby
Country: Norway, Running Time: 16min
The introduction of porn into young Mads’s life complicates his relationship to his parents as their house becomes a minefield filled with uncomfortable interactions.


DOCUMENTARY SHORTS
Running Time: 90min

THE BOATMAN
Director: Zack Godshall
Country: USA, Running Time: 13min
In Yscloskey Beach, Louisiana, with the support of his wife of 71 years, Joseph Gonzales navigates the onset of blindness and painful memories in hopes of finishing the boat he started building decades ago.

DEAD SITES
Director: Jason Outenreath
Country: USA, Running Time: 10min
A conceptual artist, Alvaro Enciso, travels to remote regions of the Sonora Desert to lay crosses at the exact coordinates where undocumented immigrants have died in pursuit of the American Dream.

THE DEAN SCREAM
Director: Bryan Storkel
Country: USA, Running Time: 11min
2004 U.S. presidential candidate Howard Dean and his fateful “I Have a Scream” speech becomes the first viral moment in American politics.

THE DOG
Directors: Drea Cooper, Zackary Canepari
Country: USA, Running Time: 8min
When Sony stopped manufacturing replacement parts for its Aibo pet robot, owners scrambled to save the robot-dogs that had become part of their families.

HI, HOW ARE YOU DANIEL JOHNSTON?
Director: Gabriel Sunday
Country: USA, Running Time: 18min
Iconic musician/artist Daniel Johnston stars in this psychedelic short film about an aging artist coming to terms with the dreams of yesteryear.

SECRET TRUTH OF THE UNIVERSE
Director: Sai Selvarajan
Country: USA, Running Time: 4min
A girl rides home at night in the dark.

STARRING AUSTIN PENDLETON
Director: Gene Gallerano
Country: USA, Running Time: 19min
Actor Austin Pendleton and his peers talk about his work, his life, and what it takes to define yourself and stand out in a world driven by celebrity, Twitter followers, and the A-list jawlines of People’s Sexiest Man Alive.

WHEN AIDS WAS FUNNY
Dir. Scott Calonico
Country: USA, Running Time: 7min
Recordings of press conferences at the Reagan White House reveal the shocking indifference, and sometimes outright derision, which the administration dealt with the growing AIDS epidemic.



LATE NIGHT SHORTS
Running Time: 90min

BLOODY BARBARA
Director: Shawn Bannon
Country: USA, Running Time: 6min
A 16-year old girl obsessed with horror films goes around town covered in fake blood and reenacts the craziest scenes from her favorites.

BONIATO
Directors: Eric Mainade, Andres Meza-Valdes
Country: USA, Running Time: 22min
An illegal migrant worker decides it's time to move on from picking crops and find her father. Little does she know, insidious supernatural forces have a different plan for her.

THE BULB
Director: Calvin Reeder
Country: USA, Running Time: 11min
An unsuspecting traveler encounters a stranger in a motel bathroom, together experiencing an alien phenomenon on public access.

DOOR ON THE LEFT
Directors: Kati Skelton, Harrison Atkins
Country: USA, Running Time: 6min
Five women are trapped on a purgatorial game show and there's only one way out.

GWILLIAM
Director: Brian Lonano
Country: USA, Running Time: 6min
A recently released criminal, looking for a good time, can forget his sins, but he can never forget his Gwilliam.

NATHALIE FUCKS YOU ALL
Director: Lenny Guit
Country: France, Running Time: 17min
Nathalie is a pretty babysitter looking for love in a sea of schmucks.

NIGHT STALKER
Directors: Mike Anderson, Ryan Dickie
Country: USA, Running Time: 10min
A tampered take-out container transports a couple to another dimension.

THE PARANORMAL IDIOT
Director: Tom Barndt
Country: USA, Running Time: 12min
Pilot episode for an animated comedy series centered around two paranormal investigators.


CINEMA 16 SHORTS
Running Time: 85min

THE GOLDEN HOUR
Director: Ross Meckfessel
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min
The stink of seaweed permeates the streets. I’ve heard there’s growing dissatisfaction among the youth. Do you feel content? How often do you dream? Are you better off alone?

I’M IN PITTSBURGH AND IT’S RAINING
Diector: Jesse McLean
Country: USA, Running Time: 14min
Through a purposeful masking of the differentiations between performance and acting, a famous Hollywood actress and her double, character, actual person, audience expectation, and cinema magic, this video offers a look behind the silver screen.

IN THE VICINITY
Director: Kelly Sears
Country: USA, Running Time: 9min
Official, covert, occult and limitless reconnaissance protocols are mirrored in this instructional guide.

MAD LADDERS
Director: Michael Robinson
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min
A modern prophet's visions of mythical destruction and transformation are recounted across a turbulent geometric ceremony of rising curtains, swirling set pieces, and unveiled idols from music television’s past. Together, these parallel cults of revelation unlock a pathway to the far side of the sun.

PLENA STELLARUM
Director: Matthew Wade
Country: USA, Running Time: 12min
Neon ghosts dreaming in dead landscapes.

SUBWAY STORY
Director: Eugene Kolb
Country: USA, Running Time: 5min
Two people recount their first meeting on the New York City subway.

TERRESTRIAL
Director: Callum Walter
Country: USA, Running Time: 11min
A mobile device captures the trajectories of objects liberated from and bound to land, against a backdrop of uniquely human dissonance.

WOLKENSCHATTEN
Directors: Juan David, Gonzales Monroy, Anja Dornieden
Countrry: Germany, Running Time: 17min
In 1984, for three weeks in May, what appeared to be a giant cloud shrouded the small town of Hüllen-Hüllen in darkness. Before the end of the month the cloud had dispersed and life seemed to return to normal. One month later, however, the town was hastily abandoned and its residents were nowhere to be found.


STUDENT SHORTS
Running Time: 80min

FLORENCE
Director: Caleb Kuntz
Country: USA, Running Time: 8min
Florence, a teenager enraptured by her unusual perception of the world, is misdiagnosed and prescribed psychotropic medication.

LOOK
Director: Mika Morikawa
Country: USA, Running Time: 5min
A young girl’s trip with her mother is interrupted by an unexpected presence.

MIDDLE WITCH
Director: Amanda Gotera
Country: USA, Running Time: 20min
When a giant bird snatches her little sister from the backyard, teen witch-in-training Tasha must race to the rescue across a vast, mystical wasteland.

PINATERIA RAMIREZ
Director: Nancy Harris
Country: USA, Running Time: 7min

THE SCAR
Director: Brittney Shepherd
Country: USA, Running Time: 6min
Confined by the oppressive summer heat, a single-minded mother, and the limits of girlhood, a young girl’s outing to the corner store stirs an unexpected self-realization.

SLOW CREEP
Director: Jim Hickcox
Country: USA, Running Time: 12min
Fifteen-year-old Otter brings home a horror film to watch with her brother and his friend, not realizing that she's doomed them to an encounter with the Slow Creep.

SMOKE
Director: Mary Huong Tran
Country: USA, Running Time: 2min

TROLLEY
Director: Cole Forson
Country: USA, Running Time: 5min
Hey, you ever heard of one of them thought experiments?


About the Oak Cliff Film Festival:
The Oak Cliff Film Festival was established in 2012 as a regional film festival in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. The festival has been received national acclaim from prominent sources including The New York Times, Filmmaker Magazine, and Moviemaker Magazine. Led by the Aviation Cinemas team, who took over operations at the Texas Theatre in December of 2010, and backed by the 501 3(c) Oak Cliff Foundation, the Oak Cliff Film Festival features the very best of Oak Cliff’s theater venues, highlights the popular restaurants and bars of the area, and seeks to showcase the best of independent and brave filmmaking of all stripes from Texas and beyond. Learn more at oakclifffilmfestival.com.

2016 OCFF SPONSORS:
A partial sponsor list includes GDD Interactive, Kendall Creative, Domingo Garcia, Methodist Health Systems, Prekindle, Lone Star, Stoli, Don Julio, Johnny Walker, St. Killian Importing Co., Full Clip Craft Brews, Martin House Brews, CineAlta, Sewell Subaru, Texas Film Commission, Dallas Film Commission, SAG Indie, Dallas Observer, Go Oak Cliff, and many more.