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Showing posts from March, 2013

Win free passes to see "Jurassic Park 3D" in Kennesaw!

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s game-changing adventure film “Jurassic Park,” Universal Studios is re-releasing the film in a converted 3D format. Despite the obvious cashgrab attempt, I can’t recall a film more worthy of a theatrical re-release. Do you really even need to be convinced to see “Jurassic Park” in theaters again? I’m certainly no fan of 3D, but you can count me in for this one. The film doesn’t hit cinemas until April 5th, but a few sneak previews are being lined up across the country this weekend. We have four passes to give away, but to spread the wealth around, we’re going to give away two sets of two. The screening takes place this coming Saturday, March 30th at 10:00 AM in Kennesaw at AMC Barrett Commons 24. How do you win? Pick and choose below. The more options you select, the more chances you have to win! The winner will be notified Friday afternoon.

A Conversation with James Ponsoldt, director of "The Spectacular Now"

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James Ponsoldt walks the red carpet at the Atlanta Film  Festival for his film, “The Spectacular Now” In the past two years, James Ponsoldt has not only seen two of his films show at Sundance, but both have competed for the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. The Athens native now lives in Los Angeles, but when it came time for his latest feature, Georgia beckoned him back. Proclaiming himself as a writer first and foremost, “The Spectacular Now” marks the first of Ponsoldt’s six films (three shorts and three features) where he doesn’t have a writing credit. Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter, the screenwriters behind hipster mega-hit “(500) Days of Summer,” adapted Tim Tharpe’s award-winning novel. Upon reading the script, Ponsoldt approached the two with both enthusiasm and his own plans in mind. “‘I want to set it in Athens, Georgia and I want to film it on anamorphic 35mm.’ And they said, ‘alright.'” Tharpe’s novel takes place in Oklahoma, a setting that the first version of the scre

Atlanta Film Festival: 2013 award winners

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Deragh Campbell stars in Best Narrative Feature award winner, “I Used To Be Darker” Though I’m a bit behind in my ATLFF coverage so far this year, hopefully you’ve at least been able to gather from Twitter , Facebook and the few reviews posted so far that this year has been an incredible, transformative experience for the 37-year-old circuit staple. The festival ‘closes out’ tonight with James Ponsoldt’s Georgia-produced “The Spectacular Now,” but tomorrow’s schedule features plenty of special presentations, encores and second chances to catch this year’s award winners. Matthew Porterfield’s “I Used To Be Darker” takes home the Best Narrative Feature award. Porterfield previously won the same award in 2010 for his film “Putty Hill.” Kalyanee Mam’s quietly powerful study of Cambodia’s surging cultural and economic change, “A River Changes Course,” won the Best Documentary Feature award. One of my personal favorites of the festival, “Congratulations!” by Mike Brune, takes home Best Geo

Medient & Pinewood to build movie studios in Metro Savannah, Atlanta

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Medient Studios Inc. has announced plans for a 1,500 acre movie studio near Savannah. The company is billing the project as the largest movie production facility in America, with various buildings and venues comprising the project. Only a quarter-of-a-million square feet of sound stage exists in preliminary plans, but video gaming space, a 9,000-seat auditorium and a glass-enclosed 25,000-capacity concert venue are included. Estimates for the cost of the studio range from $90-300 million, including the $10 million for the land acquisition over a 20-year lease. The lot is located along Interstate 16 near Old River Road in the extreme southern portion of Effingham County near Bloomingdale and Pooler, with easy access to both Savannah Hilton Head International Airport and Downtown Savannah. Construction is expected to begin by June and the studio is expected to create 1,000 jobs. Medient is a Los Angeles based, publicly listed company with strong ties to India. Plans are ambitious, but st

Win free passes to see "Submit the Documentary" at the Atlanta Film Festival!

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Georgia films "Congratulations!" and "A Band of Rogues" earn encore screenings at Atlanta Film Festival

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More of a showcase for Georgia cinema than ever before, this year’s Atlanta Film Festival is filled to the brim with strong examples of local film at its best. Encore screenings for two sell-out films from Georgian filmmakers have been booked for this coming Sunday, March 24th. “Congratulations!” from director Mike Brune was filmed locally in Johns Creek and “A Band of Rogues” from director T Jara Morgan was filmed in Argentina. Having caught both films Sunday, I’ll be reviewing them in the coming days. “Congratulations!” will be screening upstairs at the Plaza at 9:00 PM, “A Band of Rogues” will be on the main screen at the Plaza at 9:15 PM. It is unfortunate that both are screening at the same time and mark the last slots of programming in the 2013 festival, but here you have another good chance to support the local film industry.  Get your tickets here !

Georgia indie "The Mansion" to screen twice at the Atlanta Film Festival

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Writer-director Andrew Robertson’s feature narrative debut is “The Mansion,” a post-apocalyptic thriller in the same vein as “The Road.” Zombies or no zombies, fans of “The Walking Dead” (and we all know that there are a lot of us) will eat this up. The film’s first screening at the 7 Stages Theatre on Friday, March 22nd at 9:30 PM has had more tickets released after a quick sell-out and a second screening at the Plaza Theatre on Sunday, March 24th at 2:15 PM has been added to accommodate all the buzz. While a rash of dystopian films and television shows has popped up lately, “The Mansion” definitely looks to have its finger on the pulse of the movement. It’s a win-win– getting to support local cinema and getting to enjoy a stylish, well-crafted thriller at the same time. Gleb Osatinski’s short film “The House at the Edge of the Galaxy” will play before “The Mansion” at both screenings . Check out the nail-biter of a trailer after the jump.

Scott Waugh's "Need for Speed" to film in Macon, Rome

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The cast of “Need for Speed” clockwise from top left: Aaron Paul, Dakota Johnson, Ramon Rodriguez, Michael Keaton, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots Director Scott Waugh’s adaptation of the popular video game franchise “Need for Speed” will begin filming in Macon in mid-April. The project’s screenwriter, John Gatins, mentioned the possibility of the film shooting in Georgia last fall when he was in Savannah promoting another Georgia production, “Flight.” Gatins accepted the Savannah Film Festival Spotlight Award for his work on “Flight” and had great things to say about working in Georgia. Two hundred cast and crew members are expected to travel to Macon for the production. Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Dakota Johnson, Michael Keaton, Imogen Poots, Ramon Rodriguez, Kid Cudi and Rami Malek comprise the principal cast of the film. Location scouting has taken place throughout downtown Macon and it is expected that casting calls for extras will occur closer to production kickoff.  Recent projects

Atlanta review: "Mud" (****½)

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Tye Sheridan, Matthew McConaughey and Jacob Lofland star in “Mud” Filmmaker Jeff Nichols has made a name for himself crafting nuanced stories that capture the Southern experience in whatever form it may take. In 2011, Nichols and his stars, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, received a myriad of honors for “Take Shelter” ( including the coveted #10 spot on my year-end list ). His latest feature, “Mud,” debuted at Cannes to acclaim from critics and audiences alike– setting off on an impressive buzz ride leading up to its theatrical release next month. “Mud” showcases the best of Nichols’ ability while feeling abundantly more fleshed-out than his previous work. While something has to be said of Nichols’ quiet consistency and refreshing originality in his storytelling, “Mud” does bring to mind certain masterworks of American cinema. Structurally similar and overflowing with character, the film would fit right in alongside the works of Elia Kazan from the 1950’s and 60’s. The visual ele

Short Take: "The House at the Edge of the Galaxy" - Atlanta Film Festival review

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Grayson Sides stars in “The House at the Edge of the Galaxy” Although feature films garner most of the attention here, I appreciate a well-made short film equally as much. The Atlanta Film Festival always manages to impress audiences with its short film lineup each year and 2013 looks to be no exception. One early standout is Gleb Osatinski’s “The House at the Edge of the Galaxy,” which will have its world premiere here in Atlanta next week. Starting off cloaked in an eerie fog, a stylized elegance is instantly evident. Warm sienna tones and faded blues paint the picture through a subtle vignette. While ethereal lighting and a carefully coordinated color palette allow for a specific feel, the real winner here is the smooth dolly camerawork that adds so much to the dreamy atmosphere of the piece. Few short films I see along the festival circuit possess such a crisp and undisturbed cinematography. Saucer-eyed Grayson Sides puts forth a wonderment to rival the sense of loneliness and unso

Filmmakers and stars to walk the red carpet at the 2013 Atlanta FIlm Festival

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From left: Ray McKinnon, Abigail Spencer, James Ponsoldt and Joseph Morgan are all set to walk the red carpet at various ATLFF screenings. Kicking off with “Mud” tomorrow night, the Atlanta Film Festival couldn’t properly begin without rolling out the red carpet at the Plaza Theatre. Actor Ray McKinnon will be in town representing “Mud,” which also stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard and Tye Sheridan. The ATLFF red carpet has always been more of a filmmaker’s event than a showy A-lister ordeal, shining the proper light on the talent and passion behind the projects. Plenty of pretty faces and actors make their way down the press line, however, and this year is no different. McKinnon will appear again Saturday (March 16th) for “Rectify,” his new Georgia-lensed Sundance Channel original series. He is bringing along a few of his stars, too. Abigail Spencer (“Mad Men,” “Oz the Great and Powerful”), Clayne Crawford (“24,” “The Glades,” “Justified”), Kim Wall (“American

Atlanta review: "Submit the Documentary" (****½)

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Tina Meier is featured in “Submit the Documentary” As the world bemoans the death of originality– complaining that the entertainment industry only recycles old ideas, a new social crisis has emerged and is already beginning to evolve. Cyberbullying moves beyond traditional schoolyard bullying, providing an armory of digital weaponry and plenty of outlets in which to mask terror tactics. “The Internet has opened up our world to our children, but it’s also opened up our children to the world.” – Debbie Wasserman Schultz An arresting look at the short history and unpredictable future of cyberbullying, “Submit the Documentary” is a hair-trigger exploration of the limited laws, muddy circumstances, personal testimonies, tragic family experiences and expert opinions surrounding the social pathosis. Director Muta’Ali Muhammad and his producing team of Les Ottolenghi and Ashley Reid have crafted an absorbing feature that unsettles as much as it educates. From the first ardently pixelated mome

What to see at the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival

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At nearly 40 years old (37, to be exact), the Atlanta Film Festival has earned the distinction of Georgia’s foremost festival event. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is a more sprawling, ticket-selling extravaganza. The Savannah Film Festival hosts bigger stars and showcases ‘higher profile’ films. The Macon Film Festival and Rome International Film Festival are famously friendly and tremendously resourceful. But the years have been kind and the decades of extra experience have paid off for the ATLFF. For a long time, the festival floundered to find its niche– not knowing whether to focus on Southern film, independent film, LGBT film or to just pick up scraps from other, more established festivals. Last year, under the leadership of new executive director, Chris Escobar, and recently crowned festival director, Charles Judson, the festival made great strides towards a unique, truly Atlantan voice. This year, that voice rings out with an uninhibited clarity. Just as Georgia’s film indust

Macon Review: "Miss Dial" (***)

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Robinne Lee and Sam Jaeger star in “Miss Dial” “Miss Dial” had its world premiere at the Macon Film Festival leading up to a theatrical release this month. The feature directorial debut by writer David H. Steinberg hosts a slew of familiar faces only ever sharing the screen through a split frame. Gabrielle Union, Beth Grant, Dulé Hill, Jon Huertas, Sara Rue and Ahna O’Reilly feature in limited screen time, but the show truly belongs to stars Robinne Lee and Sam Jaeger. Good chemistry between the two leads emphasizes an equally good screenplay, laced with enough spirit and authenticity to overcome the obstacle of no physical interaction between any actors. Our two leads earn extra points for making the effort to act for the phone rather than the camera. Most supporting players seem to be conversing with the audience rather than whoever is on the other end of the line– something that might work fine in a sitcom, but not in a film that deserves to take itself seriously. Lee showcases her

Complete 2013 Atlanta Film Festival line-up

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The famed Plaza Theatre, home of this year’s Atlanta Film Festival. (Image from www.plazatlanta.com) Only nine more days until Georgia’s signature film festival kicks off it’s 37th season with “Mud” at the Plaza Theatre. We’ll be bringing you all sorts of coverage– reviews, photos, giveaways and more. Check back soon for our picks of what to see at the festival, with an emphasis on the Georgia-made films. But for now– check out the full slate of programming. Opening Night Mud Closing Night The Spectacular Now (GA) Special Presentations Rectify (GA) Scarred but Smarter: Life n Times of Drivin n Cryin (GA) Faces In The Mirror The Whitest Kids U’ Know WonderRoot Generally Local, Mostly Independent Documentary Feature Competition A River Changes Course Blood Brother Magic Camp Mohammed to Maya Rising From Ashes The Institute Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp Our Nixon Narrative Feature Competition Not Waving But Drowning Between Us Dead Man’s Burden (GA

Strong showing for docs at 2013 Macon Film Festival

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Clockwise from top left: “AKA Blondie,” “Six Million and One,” “Code of the West,” “Death of a Cemetery” For the first time at any fest since launching Reel Georgia, I screened more documentaries than narrative features at this year’s Macon Film Festival. You’ve already seen my reviews for Louisiana docs “ Tchoupitoulas ” and “ The Man Who Ate New Orleans ,” but four more docs in the lineup also impressed. The 2012 Atlanta Film Festival’s biggest hit was “AKA Blondie,” which was just as big of a success in Macon last month. Israeli Holocaust documentary “Six Million and One” and Montana marijuana documentary “Code of the West” each made their case and the Best Documentary Feature winner, “Death of a Cemetery,” presented a compelling look at the living residents of the Manila North Cemetery. “AKA Blondie”  is a film as colorful and creative as its subject, the iconic dancer-poet-author-activist-celebrity, Anita Rae Strange (also known as– Blondie). The unofficial empress of the infamous

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" teaser posters released

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“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” doesn’t come out until November 22nd, but the Georgia-filmed blockbuster-in-waiting is kicking its promotional campaign into high gear. Three new teaser posters have been released for the Francis Lawrence film. Two posters focus on Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) on the Victory Tour as winners of the 74th Hunger Games. The most recently released poster (above) showcases Elizabeth Banks as Effie. We expect the first trailer of the film to be attached to one of the big summer kick-off releases in May. Stay tuned for more “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” updates and check out more posters after the jump!

Review: "Welcome to Pine Hill" (****)

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Shannon Harper stars in “Welcome to Pine Hill” From the first moment we hear the crickets chirp in the overgrown shrubs of a Brooklyn neighborhood, to the last moment, as the camera fades out on the singing birds in the Catskill wilderness– “Welcome to Pine Hill” exhibits a simplistic, measured humility. Keith Miller’s debut feature is a focused portrayal of a man moving beyond his drug dealing past, caught off guard by an unexpected illness. Possessing an authenticity few films can boast, the project was born out of the real life stories of both Miller and star Shannon Harper, and the encounter between the two that created an unlikely friendship. “Welcome to Pine Hill” burned up the independent festival circuit last year, taking home top honors in Slamdance, Atlanta, Nashville, Sarasota and Seattle. A stirring contrast is represented, both visually and thematically. The first two scenes establish the two sides of Harper– the street and the professional, the old life and the new life.

Around town for the 2013 Macon Film Festival

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The Cox Capitol Theatre marquee. The 8th annual Macon Film Festival wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and while I have a few more reviews to go before I wrap up my coverage, I did manage to snap a few iPhone pics. As always, I need to state that I am no photographer, but I hope my photos give you a good sense of the festival and the town during the four-day event. A lot of great eateries and hangouts get pretty lively with the extra folks in town. Check out my pictures after the jump! The view from inside Roasted, a nearby coffee shop and lounge. The mezzanine at the Cox Capitol Theatre, a good workstation. Jonathan Hickman and Michael Dunaway at Q&A following a screening of “The Man Who Ate New Orleans.” Robinne Lee at a Q&A following a screening of “Miss Dial.” Inside the Douglass Theatre. Filmmakers and stars Jon Lindstrom & Jeff Barry at a Q&A following a screening of “How We Got Away With It.” Yours truly with filmmakers Jon & Brantly Watts following a screening