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“The Terms ‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusion’ Inherently Center Power and Privilege….”: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers on Her Camden International Film Festival-Debuting Doc Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy

Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy (© Seen Through Women Prod and NFB)

Winner of both the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award and the Rogers Audience Award at this year’s Hot Docs, Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is the latest documentary from multifaceted artist Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, which was picked up by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY after its 2019 Berlinale premiere and is available to stream on Netflix). A writer, director, producer and actor - she currently stars in Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders, which just debuted at TIFF - Tailfeathers is also a member of the Kainai First Nation in Alberta. It’s a community that continues to be ravaged by the opioid epidemic, much like many across Canada and here in the US. But for the people on this Blackfoot…  Read more

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“We Had to Come Up with Whole New Protocols”: DP Jeremy Mackie on Making Zoom-Recorded Pandemic Film Language Lessons

Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales in Language Lessons

On a microbudget feature with a skeleton crew, you often end up wearing multiple hats. But a different metaphor is required to describe cinematographer Jeremy Mackie’s contribution to Language Lessons. It’s more like Mackie made the hats from scratch, then mailed them to the actors with instructions on how to wear them. The film stars Mark Duplass as a grieving Angeleno who platonically bonds with his Costa Rican tutor (Natalie Morales, who also directed) via Zoom during weekly Spanish immersion lessons. Though the movie—which debuted at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival before playing South by Southwest—never mentions Covid, it’s a production born of the pandemic. Shot over eight days last June, Language Lessons was made almost entirely remotely, recorded via…  Read more

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“I Don’t Think Black People Should be Expected to Carry All the Weight of Grappling with America’s History of Racism and White Supremacy”: Rachel Boynton on Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)

Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)(Photo: Nelson Walker III/Boynton Films/Peacock)

Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are), the latest doc from Rachel Boynton (Big Men, Our Brand Is Crisis) unfolds in a series of revelations. The project was sparked in the wake of the slaughter of Black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC during President Obama’s last year in office,and continued right through the domestic terrorism of the Trump administration. During that time Boynton took a historical journey, traversing the US from Massachusetts to Mississippi, with a singular question in mind: What’s the story of the Civil War? Or more precisely, What’s your story of the Civil War? Boynton began by approaching (all-white and all-Black) classrooms in Chattanooga and Lexington, and found that history is not so…  Read more

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“Someone Needs to Shed Light On This Issue”: Justin Chon on His Adoptee Deportation Melodrama, Blue Bayou

Justin Chon first came to the world’s attention playing Eric Yorkie, a supporting character in the Twilight movies. The global success of that young-vampires-in-love franchise helped Chon land lead roles in films such as 21 & Over, Revenge of the Green Dragons, and Seoul Searching, but all the while, the freshly minted movie star was honing his craft as a writer and director. First came 2015’s little-seen Man Up (“That was my film school”), then the breakthrough of Gook, which won the NEXT Audience Award at Sundance in 2017. A bracing look at the 1992 Rodney King riots from a Korean American perspective, Gook showed off Chon’s distinctive strengths as a filmmaker: energetic and emotionally charged storytelling, big-hearted humanism, and…  Read more

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SFFILM and Kenneth Rainin Foundation Announce 20 Narrative Films Winning SFFILM Rainin Grants

SFFILM, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, announced today the 20 projects that will receive SFILM Rainin Grants totaling $490,000. The grants will support the makers' screenwriting and development activities, with these grants remaining among the very few that fund narrative filmmakers in the development stage. Additionally, two projects have been awarded SFFILM Rainin Filmmakers with Disabilities Grants -- a new initiative supporting applicants whose films specifically address stories from the disability community. According to the press release, "SFFILM Rainin Grants are awarded annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films meaningfully explore pressing social issues and/or have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community." The next application period for SFFILM Rainin Grants opens Winter 2021; for…  Read more

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“How can you be sure that everybody who had a K-15 in their hands was someone truly evil?”: Gian Cassini on his TIFF-Premiering Doc Comala

Comala

A son’s search for a father he never knew is an emotional and complicated journey in even the best of circumstances. When that dad is a smalltime hitman murdered in Tijuana who left behind another family, including a son who likewise embraced criminality and his own father who supposedly fought for Castro (and also worked for the CIA), that investigation can become something infinitely more complex. And if that child is a brave and thoughtful filmmaker like Monterrey-based Gian Cassini it transforms into a journey much greater than the sum of its tabloid-sensational parts: a study of intergenerational violence, machismo culture, and the collective collateral damage experienced by an entire traumatized society. Filmmaker was fortunate enough to catch up with the…  Read more

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