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Showing posts from February, 2013

The V.H.S. Athens Film Fest is March 6th!

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The “Videographer’s Hella-Big Show” puts on a quarterly film festival showcasing local, independent short films in Athens. The next event takes place Wednesday, March 6th at Ciné . If you are looking to submit your film, do so by Sunday at Midnight. The directors, screenwriters and actors showcasing their work will be there by 7:30 PM, screenings start at 8:00 PM. Get more information here and here .

"La Source" to screen at Atlanta Film Festival

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Last September, “La Source” struck a cord with me at the Rome International Film Festival. The impressive documentary, centered around Haitian janitor Josue Lajeunesse and his fight to make water accessible for the people of his hometown, has experienced a remarkable reception at festivals across the country. Continuing on its journey, filmmakers Patrick Shen and Brandon Vedder bring “La Source” back to Georgia next month for the Atlanta Film Festival.  Read my review and get your tickets to see “La Source” at the Plaza Theatre on Saturday, March 16th at 11:45 AM . Check out the poster (above) and trailer (after the jump)– both of which quote yours truly!

Macon Review: "The Suicide Kid" (****)

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Dean Tardioli stars in “The Suicide Kid” I haven’t embarked on my filmmaking journey yet, but I can imagine one of the brightest highlights will be news of acceptance into my first film festival. I’m sure there was much rejoicing to be had when the filmmaking trio of Adrian Murray, Marcus Sullivan and Dean Tardioli received news that their film, “The Suicide Kid,” had been accepted into the Macon Film Festival. A few weeks later, the film was selected by the Atlanta Film Festival. I’m thrilled that these Canadian film students have received such a warm welcome into the industry from Georgia’s festival circuit first. “The Suicide Kid” is an innovative, meticulously pieced-together feature that tells the story of an insecure college freshman entirely through his video blogs. A tough lesson in self-awareness that everyone must learn at some point (and usually in college), the film captures the emotional significance of the first year experience and winds up being more poignant than the fi

Macon Review: "How We Got Away With It" (****)

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McCaleb Burnett and Cassandra Freeman star in “How We Got Away With It” You never know what you are going to get at film festivals. Programmers try to put personal taste aside and schedule quality films that appeal to the variety of people attending. Oftentimes, a real stinker sneaks into the lineup and diminishes the impact of the entire festival. Sometimes, however, films find their way into the programming and you wonder why such a polished, beautiful film hasn’t already shored up national distribution. “How We Got Away With It” is certainly the latter– a sharp, visually striking thriller with abundant commercial appeal. The film marks Emmy-nominated soap opera star Jon Lindstrom’s feature debut as director, writer and producer. Set on the shores of Lake Ontario, a group of thirtysomethings are reunited for their annual summer weekend trip. As the host encounters an unexpected tragedy, his response and the involvement of the others weighs heavily on the group; each member struggling

My Oscar predictions, 2013 (Update: 16/24)

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Christopher Denham, Clea DuVall, Kerry Bishé, Rory Cochrane, Ben Affleck, Tate Donovan and Scoot McNairy star in “Argo” Here it comes! This year is harder to predict than most years– a good thing. I’m sure I’ll have more to say post-ceremony, but for now, here are my predictions. Update : Well, a record bad year for my predictions, but at least us Oscar watchers were kept on our toes. I don’t really feel that “Argo” belongs in the Best Picture cannon, despite being a good film. But plenty of Best Picture winners shouldn’t have been Best Picture winners and the world hasn’t stopped turning yet. The Sound Editing tie was a beautiful double-surprise. I’m thrilled Jennifer Lawrence has an Oscar, especially for “Silver Linings Playbook,” but my heart breaks for Emmanuelle Riva. I’m sure Ms. Riva is just fine, however. Not thrilled with either of the wins for “Django Unchained.” Tarantino has done a lot better without being rewarded and Christoph Waltz was likely the fourth best in his categ

My dream Oscar ballot, 2013

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The 85th Academy Awards are this Sunday and though you’ve already seen my top 20 films of 2012 , I also want to share what I would’ve nominated in other categories. While my ten Best Picture nominees are my top ten films; my other ‘nominees’ have shifted a lot in the past couple of months since I’ve been able to revisit certain films, catch some that I missed earlier and really get to see certain players make their case on the press circuit. This is probably similar to my personal  Georgia Film Critics Association ballot from early January, but I’m sure there have been some shifts and substitutions. It’s a fun time of year, but I’m looking forward to some resolution on Sunday. Best Picture “Amour” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” “Killing Them Softly” “Lincoln” “Moonrise Kingdom” “Restoration” “Rust and Bone” “Silver Linings Playbook” “Sound of My Voice” “Zero Dark Thirty” Best Director Jacques Audiard, “Rust and Bone” Michael Haneke, “Amour” David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” S

From the French Quarter to the SoChi District: "Tchoupitoulas" (****½) and "The Man Who Ate New Orleans" (***½)

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Contrasting portraits of the Big Easy; “Tchoupitoulas” ( top) and “The Man Who Ate New Orleans” (bottom) Aside from both being gritty, distinctly Southern cities full of life and history, Macon and New Orleans don’t have too much in common. That didn’t keep the Big Easy from having a formidable presence at this year’s Macon Film Festival. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was chosen to close out the 8th annual fest, providing Maconites with one last chance to see it on the big screen before it competes for four Academy Awards this weekend. But before Hushpuppy and her ancient aurochs ruled the screen last Sunday, two NOLA-set documentaries won audiences over. “Tchoupitoulas” and “The Man Who Ate New Orleans” helped inject some character into the already strong lineup; as if the Macon Film Festival wasn’t already bursting at the seams with atmosphere– with the Magatinis flowing and people from all walks of life making their way down Cherry Street in between theaters. “Tchoupitoulas”  was th

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival: 2013 Audience Prize winners

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The 13th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival came to an end last night as the documentary “No Place On Earth” closed out the programming. Continuing on its never-ending growth spurt, the 2013 AJFF boasted a record 31,530 attendees. I’ll have to double check the numbers to see if the AJFF has surpassed the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (a much older institution), but the most recent reporting shows the SFJFF at 30,000 attendees. The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to “Süskind,” The Netherlands’ official entry for the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Best Documentary Feature went to the star-studded tribute film, “Joe Papp in Five Acts.” Best Short Film went to the Georgia-produced “The Cake Lady.” Each of these winners will receive a special encore screening in late March or early April. The dates will be posted here or on Twitter once announced. We’ve posted a few reviews from the fest so far, but look forward to more reviews to come, including our ta

AJFF Review: "Lore" (****½)

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Saskia Rosendahl stars in “Lore” Nele Trebs, one of the young stars of “Lore,” was on hand for the film’s east coast premiere last week at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Visiting the United States for the first time, the young actress was as astute and well-spoken as I imagined she would be after watching her thoughtful performance in this beautiful film. When asked about the difference between working with male and female directors– such as “Lore” director Cate Shortland, Trebs’ delightful response rendered the question almost irrelevant. “Directors don’t differentiate themselves from one another based on their gender, but through their artistic vision.” And it is quite the artistic vision that Shortland showcases here. “Lore” is an undeniably beautiful film about an undeniably brutal piece of history. Nazis and Nazi sympathizers are seldom protagonists in World War II films. After losing hope of ever seeing her SS officer father and mother again, Lore hauls her four young siblings

2013 Macon Film Festival award winners

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Pamela Bowen stars in “Shoot the Moon,” a big winner in Macon There’s still one day to go here at the 2013 Macon Film Festival, but Jury Award winners were announced last night. “Shoot the Moon” was the big winner, taking home awards for Best Directing and Best Sound Design as well as the Melvyn Douglas Award for Best in Show. Having been a fan of “Shoot the Moon” since RIFF , I couldn’t be happier with its awards haul. “Sal,” having also screened at last year’s Atlanta Film Festival , took home the Best Narrative Feature prize. Other winners included “Address is Approximate,” “Child 31,” “A House, A Home,” “The Silk” and “The Sweatshop.” Filmmakers premiering their films at MaGa were also recognized. Audience Award winners will be announced tonight, as well as awards for Southern Documentary and Music Documentary. See the full list after the jump. Best Narrative Feature “Sal” Best Narrative Short “The Silk” Best Documentary “Child 31” Best Student Film “The Sweatshop” Best Animated Fi

James Ponsoldt's "The Spectacular Now" to close Atlanta Film Festival

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Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller star in “The Spectacular Now” The Atlanta Film Festival will officially announce its lineup any moment now. Earlier this week, news broke that on March 15th, Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” will kick off the festival. Now, it has been confirmed that Georgia-filmed “The Spectacular Now” will close out the fest on March 23rd. Director James Ponsoldt’s film was shot in Athens last summer and stars Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bob Odenkirk. The film was a huge success at Sundance last month, with Teller and Woodley taking home acting awards. Adapted from a Tim Tharp novel by Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter, A24 picked up distribution rights for the film at Sundance and aims to get “The Spectacular Now” in cinemas sometime this summer. Personally, I am thrilled to see this as an ATLFF selection, but not surprised ! In addition to “Mud” and “The Spectacular Now,” we do know a few othe

"The Internship" trailer

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Shot in Atlanta late last summer, “The Internship” stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as a couple of salesmen turned interns at Google. Georgia Tech doubles as Google’s San Francisco Bay Area campus. Vaughn co-wrote the screenplay with Jared Stern. Rose Byrne, John Goodman and Max Minghella round out the cast in director Shawn Levy’s latest. “The Internship” opens nationwide on June 7th.

Jeff Nichols' "Mud" to open Atlanta Film Festival

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The Atlanta Film Festival has been slowly releasing a few titles at a time, but won’t officially announce the lineup until later this week. On March 15th, Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” will kick off the festival. One of the film’s actors, Ray McKinnon, will be on hand during opening night festivities. I suspect that McKinnon might also be at the festival to promote “Rectify,” his new Sundance Channel original series. “Rectify” was shot in Griffin and centers around an exonerated Georgia death row inmate. Fresh off the success of 2011’s “Take Shelter,” writer-director Nichols looks to have another hit on his hands with “Mud.” After its premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, “Mud” rose to the top of the critical anticipation lists for 2013. The film stars Matthew McConaughey in the eponymous role as a fugitive who meets two teenagers that help him evade local authorities as he searches for his love in rural Arkansas. Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Ray McKinnon, Sam Shepard, Sa

AJFF Review: "Koch" (****)

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Ed Koch, the subject of Neil Barsky’s “Koch” I was born in the mid-1980s and only visited New York City for the first time in 1998, so Ed Koch was only ever a name to me. I definitely heard the name– perhaps on the news or in “Seinfeld” reruns, but never knew anything about the man. Neil Barsky’s strikingly well-timed documentary is not only a thorough portrait of the famed mayor and the changing forces at work in New York City through the 1970s and 80s, but also an inclusive educational work for those of us coming in with no background. This colorful character is so clearly presented, “Koch” almost feels like a narrative feature at times, despite never playing like one. Ed Koch passed away on February 2nd, coincidentally the same day this film opened in select cinemas. “Koch” also features as one of the most high-profile documentaries of this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Beginning with the obligatory Manhattan skyline shots, the film quickly establishes a fantastic sense of Ne

Georgia produced "Identity Thief" opens nationwide tomorrow

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I have yet to see Seth Gordon’s “Identity Thief,” so I can’t promise you that it is any good. However, it was filmed in Georgia last spring and features funny people Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy and Amanda Peet, as well as Georgia’s own T.I.. The film promises to be a pretty substantial box office hit, despite less-than-stellar reviews. Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Jon Favreau, Robert Patrick, Genesis Rodriguez and Eric Stonestreet round out the cast. “Identity Thief” was filmed in Atlanta and Hampton last April.

A few photos from the AJFF opening night

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The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival’s opening night gala took place last Wednesday at the Cobb Energy Centre in Vinings. The event started off with a swanky red carpet gathering catered by a handful of Atlanta’s top restaurants. I was on hand for the gala and the opening night film, “ Hava Nagila (The Movie) .” I’m no photographer and only had an iPhone on hand, but check out some photos after the jump. The AJFF opening night gala at the Cobb Energy Centre. Eleven of Atlanta’s top restaurants were showcased. The tasting menu. View from the balcony. An excellent turnout. Filmmaker Roberta Grossman and WABE’s Lois Reitzes at the post-screening Q&A.

AJFF Review: "The World is Funny" (***)

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Or Ben-Melech, Eli Finish, Asi Levi, Danny Steg, Naama Shitrit and Moshe Ashkenazi star in “The World is Funny” Tiberias is a gritty and beautiful city situated on the sun-drenched western shores of the Sea of Galilee. A hotspot for Christian pilgrims and global tourists, the relatively small city bustles with activity. “The World is Funny” is the first Israeli feature I’ve seen that takes place in Tiberias and it captures the town’s warmth while keeping the focus on the community, not the resort destination. It’s pretty easy to see why “The World is Funny” was huge box office hit in Israel. Featuring a large, goodlooking ensemble dealing with modern day, relatable problems– the commercial appeal is undeniable. Keeping a slew of different subplots bound at the center is a community storytelling workshop. This is where the film succeeds most. The stories are shown in gray-scale, each containing enough humor and levity to provide some balance to the somber realities of the workshop membe

AJFF Review: "Hava Nagila (The Movie)" (****)

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A scene from “Hava Nagila (The Movie)” The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is celebrating its bar/bat mitzvah this year! Thirteen years old, the festival is truly on the edge of adulthood. Still young, sure, but this year’s ticket sales have already exceeded 30,000 and will inch closer to 40,000 by the end of the 22-day event, making it the largest Jewish film festival on the planet. Long having been a well-oiled machine– known for its organization and hospitality, the AJFF is becoming a destination film festival for Israeli and European fare as well as world-class documentaries. Roberta Grossman’s “Hava Nagila (The Movie)” continues on an expansive festival run and was chosen to kick off this year’s festivities. Much more exciting than it sounds, the movie goes deeper than just the song itself– exploring not only the origins, evolution and decline of the cultural phenomenon, but also the diaspora and evolution of Jewish culture before and after Israeli statehood. Grossman incorporates a

Show off YOUR Atlanta in the ATL Short Cuts Film Contest!

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The Atlanta Film Festival is right around the corner (next month!) and this year, Creative Loafing  is partnering with ATLFF again to put on the ATL Short Cuts Film Contest. You have two weeks to make a 3-5 minute film that captures the essence of Atlanta in five vignettes (one of which has to be centered around Atlanta’s music scene). This is something anyone can do, but only those who display a little creativity will excel! The top 16 will be showcased at the Plaza Theatre on March 4th. An audience pick and a critics’ pick will both be selected and each awarded $250 as well as being featured at the ATLFF in March. Deadline for entries is Friday, February 15 at 5 PM. No exceptions! The fine print is posted after the jump. Filmmakers : Must be Georgia residents Subject : Must be identifiable as Atlanta (local neighborhood, business, street sign, etc.) Length : 3-5 minutes; made up of 5 skits/ sketches/ vignettes, one of which must include something about Atlanta’s music scene (or they

Georgia indie "euphonia" to premiere at SXSW

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There is a lot of intrigue surrounding the new Georgia indie film “euphonia.” A purposefully lowercase title… a tagline of “listen.” that also serves as an official synopsis… a mysterious and quick-cut trailer full of wild sounds… a 55-minute runtime that sits just inside the line of ‘feature’ classification. I have only now heard anything about the film– and I still don’t know much– but it is premiering as part of the Visions program at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival in March. Written and directed by Danny Madden and starring Madden’s younger brother Will along with a few other friends, “euphonia” was made on an astounding $700 budget. Shot it in and around Peachtree City and Atlanta, I have a hunch this will pop up at the Atlanta Film Festival as well (but we’ll know for sure soon enough). Check out the very exciting trailer after the jump.