SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
January 21 - 31, 2010
"Friends of Film will be on hand for this event, the grand daddy of them all - at least on this side of the Pond. The "box of chocolates" of film fests, Sundance - often chided for showing all the big names in its "indie" pictures - recognizes that sponsors, indeed, pay the bills and stars bring in the crowds, but, on the flip-side, continues to take big chances in the majority of its programming."
- Bob Sharka, Executive Director, Friends Of Film
- Bob Sharka, Executive Director, Friends Of Film
Post festival report - 2007
GIRL 27 - David Stern's disturbing doc uncovers a long covered up black eye with this 70 year old story of Patricia's Douglas' alleged rape at an MGM sales convention. back in '37...a bold and, yet in some strange way, refreshing story, that finally gets told.
HEAR AND NOW - a doc that brings out all the emotions from belly-ache laughter to the box of tissues.....
NANKING - Oscar winning filmmakers Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturrman continue to impress
ADRIFT IN MANHATTAN - Alfredo de Villa captures the nuances of simple every-day life...Heather Graham rises to new heights....
GRACE IS GONE - Filmmaker's James Strouse's follow-up to LONESOME JIM. A subtle reflection of the cost of war - this time rearing its ugly head in the form of a now single father needing to comes to grips with informing the kids about their mother's death in Iraq.
HOUNDDOG - The biggest pre-screening controversy of the festival which seemed to fade as the crowds took in this masterpiece. Kudos to Dakota Fanning for taking on her most difficult role to date at such a young age, and in telling this troubling story.
THE POOL - An art house release should be in the cards for this small subtitled beaty.
ROCKET SCIENCE - A smart and savvy distributor should take achance of this little indie gem.
STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING - The ever steady Frank Langella in yet another tremendous performance sets the bar high for next year's best actor field..
2008 Palm Springs International Film Fest Wrap
By Bob Sharka/Deborah DePauk
Friends Of Film
Talk to most Hollywood types this time of year and the conversation lends itself to the Sundance Film Festival, which opens Jan 18th. But for the foreign film lover, the preceding festival held annually in Palm Springs a mere 100 miles east of downtown L.A. was THE festival to attend. Proudly screening over 230 films, PSIFF boasts of programming 55 of the 62 countries submissions for the foreign film Oscar category. In addition, a very impressive documentary program was also on tap. Top notch venues, obtainable tickets, plentiful parking, reasonable hotels, a strong party scene and, unlike Sundance, theres no need for the parkas, gloves and boots.
Add to this an Opening Weekend Awards Gala attended by 1800 dressed to the nines, big name celebs, and more intimate gatherings during the week and PSIFF has arrived in style.
Generally regarded as the top "foreign" film fest, PSIFF has matured over its 18 years each year improving this gem in the desert community. Topping the list were two films set for release by Sony Picture Classics; Germany's edge of your seat THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Feb 9, 07), a thought-provoking look at Berlin pre collapse of the Wall. The 137 minute thriller will give even the greatest advocate of the Patriot Act reason to second guess his party affiliation. Best surprise of the fest goes to the other; Jafar Panahi's OFFSIDE (April 6, 07) a character driven piece with sharp dialogue about a group of girls simply trying to see a soccer game in their native Iran where they are not allowed to. Guillermo Del Toros PANS LABYRINTH a sure Oscar nominee indeed was a crowd fave and has film critics licking their chops, showing up on tons of best lists but his other pic, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is the better film.
A rare cinematic treat was offered in one of the more obscure categories for Oscar consideration not seen since a one-night-only showing at Friends of Films annual event in Pacific Palisades back in November: the short listed short subject documentaries. Eight made it to the Academy short list; three to five will eventually get noms. Filmmakers Leslie Iwerks (RECYCLED LIFE), Marilyn Braverman (A REVOLVING DOOR) and Lori Benson (DEAR TALULA) should all start shopping for Oscar dresses.and flip a three-sided coin for the winner; its that close.
Other notable feature length docs stood out: Paul Mazurskys YIPPIE depicting the filmmakers rather impromptu trip to UMAN for the annual gathering of thousands of Jewish men visiting the burial site of Rabbi Nachman. A gifted storyteller, Mazursky plops himself and a small film crew into the middle of this event that he found out about from his optometrist, treating us all to a laugh a minute, proving again that its not the size of the budget that matters. Frank Poppers CAN MR SMITH GET TO WASHINGTON ANYMORE? ( released by newcomer AT RISK FILMS on Feb 9, 07) follows the proverbial little man Jeff Smiths quest to get elected to the U.S. Congress against the powerful machine. BEST PUNCH LANDED: Amy Bergs DELIVER US FROM EVIL picked up by Lions gate Films investigating the Roman Catholic Churchs cover-up of one its priests from Central California now living in Ireland. Close behind is Heidi Ewings and Rachel Grays JESUS CAMP a text book example of how to let the subjects tell the story of kids bypassing traditional summer camp to attend this Christian based camp.
Well surely miss Palm Springs, its glorious weather and the friendly city that welcomes all and were surely looking forward to the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival this summer, but it's time to dig out the parkas, gloves and the boots; were off to Park City!
"Can't get to Sundance? Consider the Santa Barbara International Film Festival - a much better bang for your buck."
www. sbiff.org -
Deborah DePauk, Friends Of Film
Friends of Film is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the sixth annual Pacific Palisades Film Fest which will be held in the Spring of 2009. They'll be running some films in High Def, too! There is no charge to submit for this festival.
SAN DIEGO FILM FEST
"I can't think of a festival that has moved forward any faster in five years than the SDFF. Great mix of new films, fantastic parties, honorees, all set in the GASLAMP District of beautiful downtown San Diego." - Deborah DePauk, Friends of Film
"Year after year, festival founder Carlos de Abreau brings out more stars than a planetarium but still saves days of programming for the newcomer filmmakers too. A true class act from top to bottom." - Bob Sharka, Friends Of Film
The festival partner of AFM, and the only FIAPF accredited film festival in the United States. Together, AFI FEST and AFM provide the film industry with the only concurrent festival-market event in North America.
"A great "marriage" - AFM and AFI - again team up to present a great market/festival." - Bob Sharka, Friends Of Film
DOCUWEEK Theatrical Documentary Showcase
Moondance is moving its festival to Hollywood!
Friends of Film supporters will recognize its new venue as Raleigh Studios, the home of The Back From the Dance Series, located at 5300 Melrose Ave. They'll be running three screens from the cozy 36 seat rooms to the recently renovated 160 seat Chaplin Theater!
"Sad news, indeed - Cinevegas takes a hiatus in 2010 due to the tough economy."
- Bob Sharka, Friends of Film.
Program info is available at www.SilverLakeFilmFestival.org
"Silver Lake is like the NCAA tournament basketball team that just squeaked into the field of 64, winning its first game and poising itself for a nice run against the big guys." - Bob Sharka, Friends Of Film
"Looks like the Method Fest has found a home in Calabasas after a great fifthh year in this location. Friends of Film is pleased to sponsor this festival with a projector and screen for its three nightly parties ." - Bob Sharka
MALIBU INTERNATIONAL FILM FEST
After running last year's screenings in Santa Monica, Malibu is back on its home turf for this event.
Our neighbors to the "North" - the Malibu Film Festival - Friends of Film will be sponsoring the Beta SP player for this event. Line-up is now available at www.malibufilmfestival.com
The Russian Film Festival
Russian films will be premiered with the directors and actors in attendance.
LAIFA FILM FEST
The Los Angeles Italian Film Awards & Festival (LAIFA)
The 2005 Artivist Awards announced its honorees for Charities of the Year:
ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL Los Angeles Edition 40 plus films will be screened at this event Santa Fe Film Fest " SANTA BARBARA FILM FESTIVAL Jan, 2009 "Talk about chops......SB now opens up during the second week of Sundance! ......one of my personal favorites on the film fest circuit. The SB Fest does things right, from the programming to the parties, to the way they add to the overall ambience of an already wonderful town with this yearly event...a must stop for all Angelinos, if only for the day." - Bob Sharka, Execuitve Director, Friends Of Film
ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL
Los Angeles Edition
40 plus films will be screened at this event
Santa Fe Film Fest
SANTA BARBARA FILM FESTIVAL
"Talk about chops......SB now opens up during the second week of Sundance! ......one of my personal favorites on the film fest circuit. The SB Fest does things right, from the programming to the parties, to the way they add to the overall ambience of an already wonderful town with this yearly event...a must stop for all Angelinos, if only for the day." - Bob Sharka, Execuitve Director, Friends Of Film
Warm weather -
Palm Springs International Film Fest.
A text-book model for how a local community supports its film festival and a foreign film-lover's heaven.
They screen more foreign language Oscar submissions than any other in one of the top notch cinema facilities around, the Camelot Theatres as well as at one of the fest's major sponsors, the Regal Theaters. Don't fret, too, if you can't catch the Opening Night Film - COACH CARTER - as it opens on January 14th.
Santa Barbara Film Festival - A must stop on the film festival circuit - if only for a day.
Tough to beat the overall ambience of this town: take a stroll down State Street, visit the beach, dine al fresco at the many bistros.
Santa Fe Film Fest (Dec, 08)A festival just waiting to break into the big time.
Forget the summer in Santa Fe (it's for beginners). Nice vibe in the off-season. Pack the skis and snowboards, too.
Congrats goes out to the Temecula International Film and Music Festival on its ten year anniversary! Friends of Film sponsored this event from Sept 8 - 12, 2004 loaning its Beta SP deck for this wonderful event. This year they honored Lou Rawls and Lou Gossett Jr. with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Wilson Creek Winery on closing night, Sunday, 9/12.
"Temecula continues to impress, honoring top notch stars at the fabulous closing night celebrations held at Temecula's wonderful vineyards." - Bob Sharka, Friends Of Film
"Big Bear Lake International Film Festival offers an exceptional weekend escape from the City of Angels. Breath the fresh air, take in a few flicks, and stroll the main village...............Big Bear in September is superb! Big Bear residents, too, should find solstice in the sweeping shots of Maine, so reminiscent of Big Bear's beauty in FINDING HOME, the Opening Night Film" - Bob Sharka
"It's tough to think of a nicer place to spend a weekend than in the Historic Gaslamp District of San Diego, watching top notch films, shopping, enjoying wonderful food......can't think of a better all-around value for the beginner to the seasoned film fest veteran than the San Diego Film Fest." - Bob Sharka, Friends of Film
"Home to many an industry type, Ojai has a certain feel, a genuine funkiness not often seen on the big city festival circuit......haven't used this word in ages, but it has a great vibe.
Industry folks, too, won't want to miss the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presentation to A.C. Lyles, one of the classiest guys in show-biz, a man with the shortest resume. (1928 to present - Paramount Pictures) Lyle started out as office boy and is now the Director of Publicity with numerous production credits in between.
This fest shines with its daily seminars and pitch sessions where you really get a chance to sell your idea to some real insiders...for the film viewer, this is HEAVEN with its numerous premieres!" From Oct 12 - 18th.
Bob Sharka had a chance to chat with Wendy Apple, director of the Opening Night Film of the Hollywood Film Festival, THE CUTTING EDGE: The Magic of Movie Editing, hours before the World Priemere at the HFF, "We were really excited to learn we were chosen for opening night," says Apple. Interestingly, her excitement wasn't in the typical terms of stardom, big releases, and multi-million dollar box office gates. "I'm really looking forward to people learning that the editor is not the best kept secret anymore," she said. CUTTING EDGE is a behind the scenes look at the history and evolution of film editing with the big names Spielberg, Lucas, Tarantino offering the insiders look into the working relationship directors have with their editors.
Co-produced by STARZ, Warner Brothers Home Video and the BBC, Cutting Edge will also screen at the Mill Valley Fest on Oct 15 and 16 and make its New York Premiere at the Museum of Radio and Television on Dec 9, 2004. It'll also screen at the Pacific Palisades Film Festival on Sunday, January 30, 2005.
A new festival on the circuit, Century City Film Festival runs from Oct 27 - Oct 30. Its first year theme is CAMP, CULTURE and CLASSICS. "We'll be screening at the Zanuck Theater and the Westwood Crest with numerous panels held at a yet-to-be determined site," said Patrice
Williams, Festival Director. Local L.A. filmmakers may want to attend the "Meet the Programmers" session - a free panel - where they'll offer inside info on what they look for. LIGHTNING BUG makes its West Coast Premiere, opening their fest.
Check out its website, www.CenturyCityFilmFestival.com
Better than the selection at a Vegas buffet, AFI 2004 (Nov 4-14) will be combining efforts with the American Film Market this year (Nov 3- 10) AFI will be screening a huge assortment of foreign entries as well as big pictures and World Premieres few other fests can get; Kevin Bacon's best performance of his life as a released-from-prison pedophile trying to get his life back on track in the hair-raising, controversial film, THE WOODSMAN, due for a Christmas release, places him as the only sure-fire nominee for this year's Oscars! It screens on Friday, Nov 5. Another top pick here is Ray McKinnon's CHRYSTAL, (screening Nov 12) starring Lisa Blount in another stunning performance as the wife of Joe (Billy Bob Thornton) who returns home after years in prison. There's no flies on McKinnon's performance as Snake, the redneck drug lord either. Don't delay in getting tix for these two.
The folks at MVFF provide the recipe for putting on a top-notch film festival.
Pan African Film Fest www.PAFF.org
CINEQUEST (SAN JOSE, CA) - continues to impress with it powerful line-up of advance screenings, world and regional premieres.........
San Diego Latino Fest - An excellent example of a festival that brings us films we ordinarily don't get to see. Now in its 12th year.....
Tiburon Film Fest
By Bob Sharka/Deborah DePauk
The PSIFSF just wrapped this weekend in what could be the finest collection of shorts shown in recent memory. Certainly no suprises in the audience favorite with CHICKEN PARTY, directed by Tate Taylor, a whimsical look at what happens when a few misfits hookup at a court appointed work program and share their stories.................Taylor, who also plays the male lead, and is clearly a director to watch, plans on shopping this concept for a TV series....I didn't get a chance to see his other scripts on this refreshing new idea, but put him on your A-list for new feature film director's talent.
On the documentary side, another award winner, Maciej Adamek's LIFE TO LIVE, stole the hearts and minds of the crowds at the sold-out screenings with this look at blind children who get to experience life with all their other senses. Adamek nails this verite film, with subtitles only adding to the audience's experience.
Short films, as most of us know, are the proverbial "square one" for filmmakers who want to make their first feature. As if competiton, too, isn't tough enough for these often first timers, some big names - those often seen on the other side of the camera - are getting in the act as seen in the fest's top shelf STAR POWER section. Vincent Spano's follow-up to the crowd favorite this past year, TONY AND BOBBY, was a daring look at a woman who takes horse track bets at the casinos in BETRUNNER. Spano continues to nurture his skills and storytelling talents, getting ready for his next gig. Ileana Douglas followed up her Sundance Film Fest short, DEVIL TALK - only seen by a few as she limited screenings of this hilarious short this last year (gotta wonder what her marketing strategy is??) - with SUPERMARKET an all-out balls-to-the-wall, poke-fun-at-herself and other actors we haven't seen recently where she takes a job at the local market but can't resist doing scenes with other actor shoppers......in the aisles, of course.
Hats off in particular to the staff of the PSIFSF for pulling off a gold medal performance in screening nearly all of the 300+ titles in all the categories on time and, perhaps more importantly, for its impeccable presentation in all the film/video formats at this year's fest.... Like a great umpire or referee, these performances often go unnoticed unless something goes wrong. Seen too at the RIVIERA party: Mitchell Rose, the king of the thinking man's short film - showing his CASE STUDIES FROM THE GROAT CENTER FOR SLEEP DISORDERS.......not sure if he was more excited about his newly announced fiance or the performance of his beloved Boston Red Sox lately..........Festival programmers may want to stick a note on the fridge for these filmmakers - Jason Reitman's CONSENT, a film about college kids talking to their lawyers before moving on in a relationship ....put this guy on a panel, any panel, and he'll tell some great stories........Rumor has it that Reitman was not seen in Palm Springs because he's honeymooning with the new bride, Michelle. Peter Daulton, of the best doc FLOWERS FROM THE HEARTLAND, about the folks from all over who sent flowers to the random same-sex couples who recently got married in San Francisco while it was still legal......and, finally, to the folks at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs who run the cleanest, tightest ship in the exhibition business where, by the way, you can buy a three-dollar beer and actually take it in to the screenings.............legally.
Cheers, and see next week in Temecula for their tenth fest!
Friends Of Film