Reviews

On The Scene

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In the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown at the Radisson Miyako Hotel, a roomful of filmmakers and community activists celebrated the 25th anniversary of a not-for-profit organization that funds, exhibits, and distributes Asian Pacific American film. The National Asian American Telecommunications Association or NAATA has much to celebrate: It has literally changed the face of… Read more »

Is documentary the new memoir?

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I am a sociologist who conducts historical research on race and social policy, so my work has something in common with a documentary filmmaker’s attempt to uncover some version of “the truth” (however defined). Maybe this is just my sociological training leaking out, but when I watch a documentary—especially a highly personal, idiosyncratic one—I want… Read more »

Kara Walker at REDCAT

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At the opening reception for Kara Walker’s multimedia project “Song of the South” at downtown LA’s REDCAT Gallery, the artist adopted the eerily detached voice of a little girl playing with her dolls. “Help us! Help us!” she cried while perched behind a semitransparent screen maneuvering little shadow puppets that had been overcome by a… Read more »

Thinking Outside the Can

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For years, digital cameras and post-production equipment have been changing the way films are budgeted, shot, and edited. But no matter how films are made today, theatergoers still watch them on 35 millimeter celluloid prints. Even when a film is shot on high-definition video, the distributor has to copy the master onto celluloid before sending… Read more »

On The Scene

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New York cinephiles will endure a great deal of discomfort to see great independent films: the noise of the F train at the Angelika, cramped seating at the Film Forum, the schlep to Brooklyn to see a Wong Kar Wei series at BAM Rose Cinemas. Even the latest potential deterrent—the union picket lines outside the… Read more »

Netflix and the afterlife of indies

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For a documentary, Deadline (2004) was, by all accounts, a big success. The film, which profiled Illinois Governor George Ryan and his decision to condemn the death penalty in Illinois, toured the festival circuit to rave reviews and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004. Producers for NBC’s Dateline made the… Read more »

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

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As I start writing this, I’ve just ejected from my VCR the 349th entry for this year’s Revelation Perth International Film Festival and…well…it looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking. I love programming the event. It’s always fascinating to see how distance and borders melt under the influence of common themes. It’s… Read more »

Soul Tracks

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The image of the hip black detective played by Richard Roundtree in Gordon Parks’s unforgettable 1971 film, Shaft, precursor to the “blaxploitation” film explosion of the 70s, is inseparable from the brilliant musical soundtrack composed for that movie by Isaac Hayes (“…Shaft is a bad muther—Shut your mouth!”). The music and film go together like… Read more »

Filming Fahrenheit 9/11

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Whoever said you have to be based out of New York or Los Angeles to be associated with the Palm d’Or-winning film at the Cannes Film Festival? Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, I started a video production company fifteen years ago. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be the DP… Read more »

Sex, Cats and Rock & Roll

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If anyone captured the spirit of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, it was the codger who hoisted a placard that read: “The Toronto Film Festival is Satan’s Idea of Entertainment.” This middle-aged gentleman was part of a 150-person demonstration protesting the premiere screening of Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat. This ominous documentary… Read more »