Birmingham, tucked right in the middle of Alabama, is easily the biggest city in “the heart of Dixie”; its 1.1 million-person metropolitan area dwarfs the populations of Huntsville and Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. The central business district, like that of many American cities that haven’t gentrified after white flight, can feel eerily vacant on the weekends or at night. But during the Sidewalk Film Festival, whose 18th edition was held on the final weekend of August, the center of its modest downtown contains many wonders. Sidewalk knows how to throw a party; in front of the historic Alabama theater, the street is blocked off all weekend as bands play and food trucks dish out edibles amidst some of the thickest humidity America can conjure. The festival is quick and blunt, three nights and two days of movies in venues all over downtown, almost all of them in comfortable walking distance of each other despite the heat. It’s a southern … [Read more...] about On the Southern Circuit in the Time of October Surprises: Sidewalk, Third Horizon Caribbean and Hot Springs Film Festivals
Latin film festival
Sixteen films, including new works by Steve James, Raoul Peck, Fischer Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as a first-time feature by documentary director and producer Erin Heidenreich, were announced for the Toronto International Film Festival’s doc program today. Commented TIFF Docs Programmer Thom Powers in a press release, “Revelations abound in this year’s crop of documentaries. We gain fresh perspectives on high profile figures such as James Baldwin, Amanda Knox and The Beatles; and we meet compelling figures from the worlds of activism, music, sports and, not to be forgotten, classic burlesque.”Among the films listed above, Steve James, known for such modern classics as Hoop Dreams, Stevie and The Interruptors, tells the story of a small Chinatown bank that, inexplicably, was the only U.S. bank to be criminally charged following the financial crisis. Heidenreich’s picture is about an internationally competitive squash player hailing from a … [Read more...] about Documentary Selections Announced for the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival
Despite the complete lack of interest from much of the population — and assuredly the tax incentive and rebate-averse Idaho State Legislature, the same one chronicled by Frederick Wisemen a decade ago in one of his lengthy, late-career epics — film culture is thriving in the Gem State. There’s no more evidence of this than the fifth annual Sun Valley Film Festival, directed by Ted Grennan in a relaxed, welcoming style and inventively programmed by Laura Mehlhaff. And while the absence of incentives might hamper both Hollywood and indie productions from coming here — during the Q&A for a local shorts block, much talk rang out about a Tom Cruise production that had passed up the land of potatoes for pastures with greener state subsidies — there was still plenty of interesting local work by filmmakers such as Christian Lynbrook (Carbon), Cody Gittings and Stephen Heleker (Smoke), and Jaffe Zinn, who premiered his latest feature, Children, starring Kate … [Read more...] about Primary Colors: On the Sun Valley and Miami Film Festivals in the Hour of Republican Reckoning!
Bonjouring my way down the Champs-Élysées, I arrive at Ladurée, a Parisian bakery nearly as iconic as the Arc de Triomphe. I sit among film distributors and we are presented with food almost too pretty to eat. We are in Paris for U.S. in Progress, a joint program between Black Rabbit Film and the Champs-Élysées Film Festival. The purpose is to expose U.S. indie films in post-production to European buyers and distributors and introduce the American filmmakers to the European market. The three-day event is organized bi-annually, first during the Champs-Élysées Film Festival and again during the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland.The slate for this year’s Paris edition is an impressive array of seven films in various stages of post-production. After three days of screenings, meetings, and parties, a jury selects a winning project, announced by festival director Sophie Dulac at the final reception. This year’s prize is awarded to … [Read more...] about Finding Soul at U.S. in Progress at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival
MSNBC’s nightly programs are manna, a much-needed counterbalance to the agitprop spewing from Fox News. Reading Stephen Holden’s preview of the Tribeca Film Festival in the April 16th edition of the Times, I wondered if we need more than ever an alternative print organ covering culture, in New York anyway, with the clout of the Times. Holden parrots Tribeca’s moldy marketing theme, then jumps to a questionable conclusion. “Because the festival…was born in the ashes of the World Trade Center as a community development project to revive the devastated economy of Lower Manhattan, you might say My Trip to Al-Qaeda is woven into Tribeca’s DNA.” My Trip to Al-Qaeda is Alex Gibney’s film of Lawrence Wright’s one-man play, which Wright adapted from his best-selling book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.First of all, the idea for the festival began before 9/11. Few of the films at this point are even screened … [Read more...] about Tribeca Film Festival