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Between the Familiar and the Strange: TIFF Wavelengths 2014

Mary Helena Clark's The Dragon is the Frame Mary Helena Clark's The Dragon is the Frame

Amidst the overwhelming landscape of the Toronto International Film Festival, the Wavelengths program provides a more tightly focused forum for experimental and avant-garde cinema. Until 2012, Wavelengths was primarily a sidebar of sorts for experimental short film programs. Eventually, it absorbed the former Visions program, and, now in its 14th iteration, Wavelengths presents short film programs alongside (or at least in relative conjunction with) domestic and international titles which challenge audiences in unique ways. I had read about Wavelengths for years and knew of its reputation as one of the primary places to see new experimental work. As a first time attendee at TIFF, it became clear that those interested in Wavelengths shorts are also interested in Wavelengths features, and,…  Read more

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Laura Poitras’s CITIZENFOUR Will World Premiere at the New York Film Festival

Edward Snowden, from CITIZENFOUR Edward Snowden, from CITIZENFOUR

Laura Poitras’s long-anticipated third film in her trilogy dealing with post-9/11 foreign policies and the security state, CITIZENFOUR, will world premiere in the Main Selection of the 2014 New York Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced. Poitras had been working on the film following her Oscar-nominated The Oath when she was contacted by a mysterious whistleblower, who later revealed himself to be Edward Snowden. That encounter changed the course of her film, to say nothing of our national dialogue concerning the limits of our freedom in the internet age. From the Film Society of Lincoln Center: In January 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras was several years into the making of a film about abuses of national security…  Read more

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POV Launches Interactive Shorts Including Empire:Cradle

Empire:Cradle Empire:Cradle

POV, America’s longest running television showcase for non-fiction films, is wading into interactive waters. Yesterday, the doc powerhouse launched an online, short-form transmedia section, with six projects, four of which were created by Hackathon alumni, and three of which will be premiering at NYFF’s Convergence sidebar in the ensuing weeks. The works are driven by timelines, geography, and photography, but my hands down favorite, Empire:Cradle, is fueled by a transcendent moral code. One in a series of four shorts that probes the ramifications of Dutch colonialism, Cradle is shot on location at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. Pairing clusters of bystanders who watch the takeoffs and landings with undertakers in the airport’s mortuary, who ready the passed-on passengers inside a handful of those very flights, the film…  Read more

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Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut on Camera Tests and the Joy of Older Lenses

Shane Hurlbut (center) Shane Hurlbut (center)

I first saw cinematographer Shane Hurlbut speaking at a trade show held in New York City in 2010 hosted by Canon. Hurlbut had just finished shooting Act of Valor, shot predominately using the Canon 5D Mark II, and he burst on stage with enough energy to power the building. At the time I wrote that he was “loud, in your face, cracking jokes while dashing about the stage,” but it was also clear he had a passion both for the gear and for sharing information. Since then Hurlbut has lensed the pictures Deadfall, Need for Speed, and the currently in post-production Fathers and Daughters. He’s also become well known for a blog that’s full of tips and gear reviews. Continuing…  Read more

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Watch: Manakamana Mergings, A Video by Kevin B. Lee

manakamana

When I wrote about Manakamana last year, I noted that it’s a bit disorienting, more so than the “11 rides in a cable car” premise suggests: The car can go up or down and its passengers can sit facing the direction they’re going or with their back toward it, affecting the camera’s placement opposite. Even before considering the number onboard, that’s four variables that make orientation — knowing what to anticipate in the background, which posts will be passed with a clang at what time, whether a village mid-way through the journey will be visible on the left or right, or at all — a constant battle. Kevin B. Lee’s new video Manakamana Mergings offers some clarity. As he writes,…  Read more

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Euro-Pudding and Look Books: Takeaways from Day One at IFP’s Filmmaker Conference

Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre and moderator Dan Schoenbrun Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre and moderator Dan Schoenbrun

After sitting through the majority of the New Narratives presentations on day one of the Filmmaker Conference at IFP Film Week, my brain is almost too awash with content to compile anything but a listicle. From conversations with cinematographers like Reed Morano and producers like Mynette Louie to an Obvious Child case study and Kevin B. Lee’s mini-keynote, here is a handful of the major takeaways I gleaned from yesterday’s Conference. 1. For co-productions, don’t assume hiring local crew is the cheapest option. Arriving to the Icelandic set of Land Ho!, producers Mynette Louie and Sara Murphy realized they were sharing ground with a slightly larger production: Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Because the majority of films shot in Reykjavik and the surrounding countryside have a budget slightly upward of $1 million (see: Noah, Game…  Read more

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IBC 2014: A Big Show for Sony and Blackmagic

Sony PXW-FS7 Sony PXW-FS7

IBC is the European equivalent of NAB, and one of the few times lots of manufacturers are announcing and updating products. This show has seen some big news, particularly from Sony and Blackmagic. Sony PXW-FS7 Sony made a huge splash with the PXW-FS7. This camera slots in between their NEX-FS700 and the PMW-F5, and while it has the same E-mount as the NEX-FS700 it is a very different camera. Sony has almost completely rethought their design, intending this one for the documentary and news shooter, and focusing on making it shoulder useable without the addition of a rig. The key features for the camera are: on-board 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC recording, up to 14 stops latitude, S-Log3, and built-in…  Read more

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“I Am Here to Declare the Word ‘Documentarian’ Dead”: Michael Moore’s Documentary Commandments

From the Roger and Me trailer From the Roger and Me trailer

Michael Moore loves TIFF and this week he paid the festival back with a series of events and screenings, including the 25th anniversary presentation of Roger & Me and a keynote speech at the Doc Conference. The love affair began in 1989 when Roger & Me — about first-time filmmaker Moore chasing Ford Motors CEO Roger Smith to talk about layoffs that devastated his hometown of Flint, Michigan — captured the audience award and launched the film. Thom Powers, TIFF’s international documentary programmer, described the movie at the Monday night screening (to showcase the new digital restoration) as a “linchpin film in modern documentary-making.” The Sundance Now Doc Club feted Moore at a jam-packed luncheon where the line outside stretched around…  Read more

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Filmmaking

Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre and moderator Dan Schoenbrun Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre and moderator Dan Schoenbrun

Euro-Pudding and Look Books: Takeaways from Day One at IFP’s Filmmaker Conference

After sitting through the majority of the New Narratives presentations on day one of the Filmmaker Conference at IFP Film Week, my brain is almost too awash with content to compile anything but a listicle. From conversations with cinematographers like Reed Morano and producers like Mynette Louie to an Obvious Child…  Read more

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Sep 15, 2014

Festivals & Events

INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK

Previewing IFP’s Filmmaker Conference Series

Affiliation bias aside, it’s a bit tricky to offer a succinct preview of IFP’s Filmmaker Conference during the upcoming Film Week, as all five days of programming are chock-full of essentials. The annual event runs at Lincoln Center from September 14 – 18, with panels, keynotes, pitches,…  Read more

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on Sep 4, 2014

VOD Picks

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    God Help the Girl Musical
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    The Strange Little Cat Drama
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    8/1/2014 Fandor

Interviews

Hannah Murray, Olly Alexander and Emily Browning in God Help the Girl Hannah Murray, Olly Alexander and Emily Browning in God Help the Girl

“Making a Great Movie Music Moment”: Stuart Murdoch on God Help the Girl

There’s a certain rhetoric about the “perfect pop song” that feels like it peaked 25ish years ago somewhere on a bus in the UK, where earnest young people bonded over shared cultdom to pass the time, the guiding sensibility that (random example) led Orange Juice…  Read more

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on Sep 4, 2014

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