filmschool, Nathan Callahan, Mike Kaspar, independent film news and interviews, KUCI, film school


September 25, 2007
STEPHEN DUNCOMBE: Taking Celebrity Seriously
An interview with Stephen Duncombe author of Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy. Duncombe will discuss his latest essay "Taking Celebrity Seriously" — a short exploration of how activists are using the banalities of celebrity culture strategically and an argument for why progressives need to fight on this new terrain instead of merely wishing it away with a sniff of disapproval. The Students for a Free Tibet video (right) is just one example of how progressives are rethinking celebrity. As Duncombe has said, "The topography on which we fight today is the ephemeral ground of fantasy and desire, celebrity and spectacle. To wish it were different is not an option; to learn how to use it is a political necessity."


September 18, 2007
An interview with Zach Niles the co-director and producer of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. One of the most celebrated documentaries of the past year, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars tells the remarkable story of an inspiring group of musicians who form a band while living in a West African refugee camp. Set against the backdrop of a brutal civil war, the film details the group's heroic stories of survival and their daily struggle to keep hope and music alive. The war sent hundreds of thousands of ordinary Sierra Leoneans fleeing to refugee camps in the neighboring West African nation of the Republic of Guinea. That’s where the remarkable documentary Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars begins. California-based filmmakers Niles and Banker White were chosen to receive the 2006 CDS Filmmaker Award for their feature-length documentary.


September 11, 2007
An interview with Charles Burnett the director of the classic film Killer of Sheep — an examination of the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse. The film was shot on location in Watts in a series of weekends on a budget of less than $10,000, most of which was grant money. Finished in 1977 and shown sporadically, its reputation grew and grew until it won a prize at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, the Library of Congress has declared it a national treasure as one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry and the National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time. Burnett is also the director of My Brother’s Wedding. Shot in 1983, but never released due to unfortunate circumstances, My Brother’s Wedding premiered this month at the IFC Center in New York.


August 28, 2007
An interview with Jason Kohn director of the documentary Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) — an examination of corruption and class warfare in Brazil as told through the stories of a wealthy businessman, a plastic surgeon who assists kidnapping victims and a politician whose income relies on a frog farm. Featuring interviews with kidnappers, victims of kidnapping, and the people who profit from both, the film portrays the "tragic domino effect that has reshaped the face of [Brazil] and created an entire industry built on corruption," according to Sundance.


August 21, 2007
An interview with Monty Lapica director of Self Medicated. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Lapica moved to Los Angeles after his high school graduation to pursue a lifelong goal of becoming a filmmaker. During his time at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television, Lapica began outlining what would later become his first feature film, Self Medicated, which he wrote, produced, directed and acted in. Based on true events, Self Medicated takes place on the edges of Las Vegas, where a 17-year-old's life is spiraling out of control, descending into a world of drugs and violence. It is the most award-winning independent film of the year, garnering 39 international film awards.


August 14, 2007
An interview with Joan Brooker-Marks director of Larry Flynt: The Right To Be Left Alone which will screen in Los Angeles at the International Documentary Association’s DocuWeek, August 17th - 23rd at the ArcLight Theater.
Both hero and villain, tireless civil rights advocate and purveyor of pornography, the always controversial Larry Flynt is the subject of Brooker-Marks' documentary Larry Flynt: The Right To Be Left Alone. Delving beyond Flynt's political career, the film offers an intimate glimpse into the publisher's personal life, including the assassination attempt that left him paralyzed, and his first wife's battle with AIDS. Ultimately, Brooker-Marks delivers the full, unvarnished story of one of America's most unlikely defenders of civil liberties. TV writer Brooker-Marks, who directed two docu shorts (We Got Us, The Loud Ladies of South Fork) and Flynt and will do a Q&A on Tuesday, August 21st following the 7:20 p.m. screening at the ArcLight Theater.


August 7, 2007

An interview with Bruce Broder director of Chops, the story of a group of kids, born with extraordinary musical ability, who learn to make the most of their gifts in an acclaimed public school jazz program in Jacksonville, Florida. From their early, squeaky scales to their soaring improvisational solos, we have a front-row seat for their fascinating transformation. The film culminates at the Essentially Ellington Festival, the annual competition of high school jazz bands from across the country hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic director Wynton Marsalis. Chops will screen at The International Documentary Association's DocuWeek in Los Angeles this month.

An interview with Chris Balaschak, Ph.D. student, UCI Visual Studies Program who programmed the UCI Summer film series, Déjà Vu. Featuring Blow-Up, Memento, La Jetée, Vertigo and Mulhulland Dr. the series screens Thursdays in August at 7:00 pm in HIB 100.


July 31, 2007

An interview with filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky director of the documentary Hear and Now. In this deeply personal memoir, filmmaker Brodsky documents her deaf parents' complex decision to leave their world of silence and undergo a dangerous surgery to get cochlear implants — the only one of its kind that can restore a sense. At the age of 65, Paul and Sally Taylor decided they wanted to hear their first symphonies, hear their children's' voices, and talk on the phone. How will this operation transform them, their relationship with each other, and the deaf world they might leave behind? This is a story of two people taking a journey from silence to sound. The question is, what will they make of it, and what might they gain — or lose


July 24, 2007
An interview with Charles Ferguson, writer, director and producer of No End In Sight — the first film of its kind to chronicle the reasons behind Iraq’s descent into guerilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy. Based on over 200 hours of footage, the documentary provides a candid retelling of the events following the fall of Baghdad in 2003 by high ranking officials such as former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine (in charge of Baghdad during the Spring of 2003), Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, and General Jay Garner (in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003) as well as Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, and prominent analysts.


July 17, 2007

An interview with Jennifer Baichwal director of Manufactured Landscapes. Edward Burtynsky is internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of nature transformed by industry. Manufactured Landscapes – a stunning documentary by award winning director Baichwal – follows Burtynsky to China, as he captures the effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution. This remarkable film leads us to meditate on human endeavour and its impact on the planet.


July 3, 2007
An interview with John Peterson, the subject of the documentary, The Real Dirt on Farmer John — a story that parallels the history of American farming. Against all odds, Peterson abandoned conventional chemical farming and fought local hysteria to build a thriving organic and progressive farm. But Peterson is no laconic, Grant Wood hayseed with a scowl and a pitchfork. Equal parts performance artist, writer and farmer, Farmer John has been known to switch out of his overalls into a leopard latex leotard with purple-feathered boa, hop on a tractor and plow.


June 26, 2007
An interview with irector / writer Mike Akel of the film Chalk. In the comedic style of The Office and the films of Christopher Guest, Chalk is a portrait of life in the trenches of that most honorable and frustrating profession... teaching. In a country where 50% of teachers quit within the first three years, Director Akel provides a rare and realistic teacher's perspective into their absurd, provocative and occasionally volatile world.








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