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Archive for the 'Festival' Category

2010 Sundance Film Festival Underway

The not-so underground film festival in Park City, Utah kicked off earlier this week. It will run through the 31st. This year, some of the films popping up on buzz lists are:

3 Backyards: “In a complacent suburban neighborhood, an emotionally troubled businessman wanders around his hometown while waiting for a delayed flight, a starstruck housewife embarks on an peculiar trip when she gives her famous neighbor a ride to the local ferry, and an eight-year-old girl takes a wrong turn on the way to school and finds herself in an unexpected adult realm.”

Cyrus: “Alone and acutely depressed, having just learned of his ex-wife’s wedding plans, John can’t believe his luck when he encounters beautiful, charming Molly at a party. The two get along famously and launch a passionate affair—until Molly’s 21-year-old son, Cyrus, enters the scene.”

Blue Valentine: “On the far side of a once-passionate romance, Cindy and Dean are married with a young daughter. Hoping to save their marriage, they steal away to a theme hotel. We then encounter them years earlier, when they met and fell in love—full of life and hope.”

Howl: “It’s San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. HOWL, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society’s reaction (the obscenity trial), and mind-expanding animation that echoes the startling originality of the poem itself.”

Nowhere Boy: “Growing up in Liverpool in 1955, and raised by his aunt and late uncle, John is a smart, spirited, but directionless, teen who skips school, steals records, and is told he’s going nowhere. Having brought rock music into the “house of Tchaikovsky,” John widens the rift with Aunt Mimi when he seeks out his estranged mother, to whom he forms an immediate attachment.”

Any other premieres you’re excited to learn more about? Sundance has released an iPhone App, with which you can keep up to date on the news out of the festival, and watch some award-winning shorts from years past. Pretty cool.

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Valencia’s Film Festival: Cinema Jove

Cinema Jove is a summer film festival in Valencia — the 3rd biggest city in Spain and, incidentally, the current home of Criticker. It’s focused on European cinema and, though it isn’t as well-known as other Spanish festivals, it’s a big deal in Valencia.

A couple of the movies making up the official selection look great, particularly Norway’s Nord and Sweden’s Involuntary Discretions.

In addition to the films in competition, Cinema Jove invites a director to pick his or her favorite movies for an open-air screening in Valencia’s wonderful Viveros Gardens. This year’s director is Enrique Urbizu and the films he’s selected are awesome– tonight, Juergen and I are going to see Touch of Evil in the park.

Laurent Cantet

Laurent Cantet is another one of the main protagonists of this year’s festival. The French director is best known for his Palme d’Or winning masterpiece The Class. Cantet will be on hand in Valencia during the festival to receive an achievement award, and definitely helps augment the profile of Cinema Jove.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Valencia this week, make sure to check out some of the films — many of which are being screened free of charge to the public. And if you’re interested in the city, keep an eye on our city blog, holavalencia.net, where we write about all things Valencia. It’s a hidden treasure on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, which is fairly unknown to tourists despite its size.

Cinema Jove’s Official Website

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Film Festival Watch: Savannah, Pusan, Sao Paolo

Today, we’re taking a look at winning films at three recently closed festivals from all around the world, starting in the historic jewel of the US South: Savannah, Georgia.

Savannah Film Festival
The Savannah College of Art and Design runs this annual week-long festival, highlighting movies from around the world. The small festival closed on November 1st, giving its top honors to War Eagle, Arkansas — a moving drama about a gifted baseball player and the special friendship he shares with a kid in a wheelchair.

Pusan International Film Festival
Now in its 13th year, Pusan has grown into the largest festival in Asia. Over 300 films are screened in this city at the southern tip of South Korea, with a major focus on films from emerging and Third World markets. This year’s edition featured, for instance, a large number of films from Kazakhstan, but the main award went to the Korean film Land of Scarecrows — a strange, slow drama about a transgendered woman and the relationships she has in a small Korean town. The award was actually shared between this film and Japan’s “Naked of Defenses”.

São Paolo Mostra Internacional de Cinema
The 32nd annual Mostra closed at the end of October in São Paolo. This popular festival prides itself on featuring a lot of Brazilian movies, but gave its top honor this year to a German film from Emily Atef: The Stranger in Me. This wrenching drama focuses on a seemingly perfect young couple, who’ve just witnessed the birth of their first son. The mother, however, falls into a deep depression and feels no emotional connection to the child she just bore. Sounds like a real laugher!

Film Festival Watch: San Sebastian, Bangkok, Boston

Our trip around the recently-closed film festivals of the world this week brings us to Thailand, Spain’s Basque Country, and Boston, Massachusetts. Let’s take a look at some of the films which have recently been making big impressions.

San Sebastian International Film Festival
In Northern Spain’s Basque Country, the picturesque seaside city of San Sebastian (or Donostia in Euskara) plays host to one of the world’s premiere film festivals. Last week, the 56th annual festival closed, having presented lifetime achievement awards to Meryl Streep & Antonio Banderas, and its Golden Shell (Grand Prize) to Pandora’s Box out of Turkey. Pandora’s Box is a drama about 3 siblings from Istanbul who are forced to work together in order to find their recently disappeared mother.

Boston Film Festival
The 24th Annual Boston Film Festival closed on September 18th, awarding its Grand Prize to Appaloosa, which Ed Harris wrote, directed and stars in. Appaloosa is set in the old west, and depicts two friends’ attempts to liberate a small town from the rule of a wicked rancher. Boston’s is a somewhat smaller festival, but is one of the first in the fall season, and has boasted its share of world premieres over the years.

Bangkok International Film Festival
Now in just its 6th year, the Bangkok festival features over 100 films with a special focus on the Thai and Southeast Asian film industry. This focus didn’t prevent the jury from awarding its Grand Prize (the “กรังปรีซ์โกล์ดเดนท์กินนรีอวอร์ด” if you’re taking notes) to PVC-1 — an intense film from Greece’s Spiros Stathoulopoulos. PVC-1 is set in Columbia and is a real-time recreation of the true story about a woman’s struggle for survival after terrorists attach a collar bomb to her neck. A gripping, terrifying drama, this film has also been honored at other festivals.

Apple iTunes

Fantastic Film Fest Online

Thanks to forum user whatismyname for alerting everyone to the fact that the Fantastic Film Festival is streaming 10 films for free on their website. There will be 5 feature-length and 5 short films available for viewing, from September 14th – 20th, via BSide Network. You have to register for a free account with BSide.

French Short Cam2Cam

The Fantastic Fest is staged in Austin, Texas, and:

is an eight day festival of the best new Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy and genre films, as well as choice classic and obscure cult titles from all over the world.

It looks like there are some great films which will be available online, so make sure to get an account and let us know which ones you like the best!

Fantastic Film Fest Online

Festival Award Winners

We always find it interesting to discover the movies which are making waves in film festivals around the world — not just the major festivals like Cannes & San Sebastien, but lesser known ones as well.

Today we’ll highlight a few films which have triumphed in a few recently-closed festivals, from Norway, Bosnia & Herzegovina and the good ole USA.

Norwegian International Film Festival
This festival is based in Haugesund, Norway and features films from over 35 nations. It closed on August 23rd, giving its Film Critics Award to a highly-acclaimed movie from France, The Class (Entre les murs), an autobiographical account of a teacher’s travails in a Parisian suburb. You might have heard of The Class already, as it had picked up Cannes’ prestigious Palme d’Or,

Sarajevo Film Festival
Sarajevo’s film festival was established 14 years ago, during the war which both saw the birth of the modern Bosnian state, and ripped it asunder. The festival’s goal was to promote culture within Bosnia, opening the isolated land to the outside world … and letting the world in. It’s grown into one of the most important cultural events in the Balkans.

This year’s winner of the Heart of Sarajevo was Buick Riviera, a Croatian road movie about two men who fought on opposite sides of the Bosnian war, and happen to meet in the middle of America.

Rhode Island International Film Festival
The biggest festival in the nation’s tiniest state has been steadily gaining in influence since its inception 11 years ago. It’s now among the USA’s most important, drawing tens of thousands of moviegoers and screening hundreds of films, many of them world & US premieres. This year’s Grand Prize for Best Feature went to The Full Picture, a low-budget film from debut director/screenwriter Jon Bowden, about a man who hails from a messed-up family and struggles with commitment.


Did you like this post? Let us know, and we’ll try to make it a recurring feature at Criticker’s blog!

Oscars 2008: Best Foreign Language Film

Being based in Europe, Best Foreign Language Film always turns out to be our favorite category. To be honest, we find the nominees this year to be a little weak. Only one of them has more than 10 rankings at Criticker, the Counterfeiters, and its reviews have been lukewarm at best.

Beaufort (Israel) – Avg Tier at Criticker 8.0 (6 scores)
In the days leading up to Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the soldiers stationed at the mountaintop outpost of Beaufort live under a barrage of constant attacks. Frustrated by the knowledge that they are risking–and often losing–their lives in defense of a fortress that will soon be abandoned, the men struggle to do their duty while grieving for their dead comrades and preparing for the evacuation. (oscar.com)
The Counterfeiters (Germany) – Avg Tier at Criticker 5.67 (12 scores)
In the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a group of prisoners with skills ranging from finance to forgery are put to work under the direction of a master counterfeiter manufacturing perfect replicas of foreign bank notes. As the Nazis plot to cause the collapse of the U.S. and British economies by flooding their markets with false bills, some of the prisoners use delaying tactics to forestall the plan. (oscar.com)
Katyn (Poland) Avg Tier at Criticker ??? (0 scores)
This account of the events surrounding the 1940 massacre of captured Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest focuses on the story of a captain and his wife, who refuses to believe he is dead. A gesture of friendship within the harsh confines of the prison camp where Andrzej and his fellow officers are held will result in the mistaken identification that helps keep his wife’s hopes alive. (oscar.com)
Mongol (Kazakhstan) Avg Tier at Criticker 4.0 (2 scores)
In twelfth-century Mongolia, nine-year-old Temudgin, who will grow up to become the warrior known as Genghis Khan, must flee his home shortly after choosing the spirited Borte as his bride when his father is murdered and a rival seizes power. With the help of his blood brother, tribal prince Jamukha, the adult Temudgin battles his rivals and works to unite the region’s warring clans under his authority. (oscar.com)
12 (Russia) Avg Tier at Criticker ??? (0 scores)
Twelve Russian jurors deciding the fate of a young Chechen accused of murdering his adoptive Russian father go over the details of the case in the school gymnasium that is serving as their jury room. As they argue with each other while struggling to reach a verdict, illustrating their views with stories from their own lives, the case itself becomes a metaphor for the problems plaguing modern Russian society. (oscar.com)

So which film do you tip to win the Oscar? Right now, we have to assume Beaufort is the favorite!

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