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March 27, 2007

An interview with Rachel Lyon and Jim Lopes. Lyon’s documentary Race to Execution explores the deep and disturbing link between race and the death penalty in America. Following the stories of two Death Row inmates — Madison Hobley of Chicago, Illinois and Robert Tarver of Russell County, Alabama — that reveals that once a victim's body is discovered, the race-of-the-victim and the accused deeply influence the legal process: from how a crime scene is investigated, to the deployment of police resources, to the interrogation and arrest of major suspects, to how media portrays the crime, and ultimately, jury selection and sentencing. Lyon is against the death penalty. Lopes is the film’s pro-death penalty co-producer. He is an entertainment and media attorney. The film will air on PBS’s Independent Lens Series on KCET Los Angeles Tuesday, March 27, 10:00pm.

An interview with director and screenwriter So Yong Kim and screenwriter Bradley Rust Gray directors of In Between Days. Winner of Los Angeles Film Critics Association Independent / Experimental Film and Video Award and Independent Spirit Someone to Watch Award, In Between Days follows a Korean immigrant as she falls in love with her best friend while navigating her way through the challenges of living in a new country.


March 20, 2007

An interview with writer / director / editor Phil Mucci and production designer / special effects supervisor Michael Houk of the silent horror flick The Listening Dead. “In this gothic fable, an obsessed composer named Nigel, and his seamstress wife Karen, are haunted by the spirit of a mysterious young woman. One night, feeling ignored and rejected by her husband, Karen unknowingly inflicts him with a horrible curse. By doing so, she invokes the wrath of the unseen ghost, who takes matters into her own hands.” The film won the Grand Jury Prize
at the 2006 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.


March 13, 2007

An interview with Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro directors of American Cannibal: The Road to Reality — a documentary about the train-wreck production and sudden shutdown of American Cannibal, the reality TV show produced by the promoter behind the Paris Hilton sex tape. The filmmakers began American Cannibal in 2004 as a social experiment with reality TV and found that, along the way, wherever they pointed their camera reality changed.


An interview with Julie Lynn, the producer of 10 Items or Less. Starring Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega, 10 Items or Less follows a Hollywood icon who was once the center of attention. Now, he's forced to consider a role in a small independent movie. While researching for the role, he stumbles into Scarlet, a spitfire check out clerk at a Latino community market. The world famous actor must rely on Scarlet to lead him back to his side of the tracks. This trek through Los Angeles features richly unexpected situations, chance encounters, and personal revelation that neither character could ever have anticipated. Lynn was nominated for an Independent Spirit Axium Producers Award.


March 6, 2007

An interview with Adele Horne director of The Tailenders — a profile of Global Recordings Network, an organization that has recorded Bible stories in over 5,500 of the world's 8,000-plus languages and dialects, and made those recordings available in the most remote regions through inventive, ultra-low technology. The film raises questions about how people who receive the recordings understand them. Gospel Recording’s project is premised on a belief in the transparency of language to transmit a divinely inspired message. But because the missionaries don't speak the languages, they must enlist bilingual native speakers as translators. There is ample opportunity for mistakes, selectivity, and resistance in the translation. The film explores how meaning changes as it crosses language and culture.


February 27, 2007

An interview with Keven McAlester director of You're Gonna Miss Me. Crumb meets Whatever Happened to Baby Jane in You're Gonna Miss Me, which tells the story of counter-culture icon Roky Erickson, whose struggles with LSD, schizophrenia, and the Texas police have made him one of music's legendary tragic figures. He now collects junk mail by the stack and is kept under lock and key by his mother, Evelyn, who refuses him any treatment beyond love, prayer, and a view of psychiatry gleaned from the television show Frasier. In You're Gonna Miss Me, Erickson becomes the centerpiece of a surreal family struggle and the blank screen onto which those around him project their hopeful futures.


February 20, 2007

An Interview with screenwriter / director Ryan Fleck and screenwriter / editor Anna Boden of the film Half Nelson — the story of an inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit who forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret. Relative newcomers, Fleck and Boden have received high praise along the festival circuit for Half Nelson, including a screenwriting award at the Nantucket Film Festival, Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson’s star, has been nominated for a Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award.

An interview with Greg MacGillivray, director of the film Hurricane on the Bayou which was in production when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Told mostly through teenage Cajun Fiddle Artist Amanda Shaw and Cajun guitarist Tab Benoit, this IMAX film tells the story of the environmental damage to the area created by the Mississippi river as it empties into the gulf. Greg MacGillivray began his film career by shooting 8mm black-and-white movies on the campus of Newport Harbor High School. That led to self-employment as the creator of some of the best surfing films of the 60s, includng Five Summer Stories.


February 13, 2007

An interview with Academy Award nominated screenwriter Michael Arendt of Little Miss Sunshine. After 10 years in the film business as an assistant and script reader, with $25,000 in savings, Arendt decided to take a chance at writing his first professional screenplay in 1999. He quit his job and Little Miss Sunshine was born — the story of a family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant who take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

An interview with Director Laura Poitras about her latest documentary, My Country, My Country — a film centered around Sunni political candidate, Dr. Riyadh, a medical doctor and father of six. Described by its distributor, Zeitgeist Films as "unfolding like a narrative drama," My Country, My Country follows the agonizing predicament of one man caught in the tragic contradictions of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and its effort to spread democracy in the Middle East. The film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category.


February 6, 2007

Directors Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan discuss their documentary, An Unreasonable Man — the story of Ralph Nader, from wannabe presidential candidate to public pariah. In 1966, General Motors, the most powerful corporation in the world, sent private investigators to dig up dirt on an obscure thirty-two year old public interest lawyer named Ralph Nader, who had written a book critical of one of their cars, the Corvair. The scandal that ensued after the smear campaign was revealed launched Ralph Nader into national prominence and established him as one of the most admired Americans and the leader of the modern Consumer Movement. Over the next thirty years and without ever holding public office, Nader built a legislative record that is the rival of any contemporary president.


January 30, 2007
Composer Philip Glass discusses his Academy Award-nominated score to Notes on a Scandal. Glass is considered one of the most influential composers of the late-20th century. In 1976, his landmark opera Einstein on the Beach was staged by Robert Wilson to a baffling variety of reviews. At the time, his compositions were so avant-garde that he had to form the Philip Glass Ensemble to give them a venue for performance. Although called a minimalist by the Western classical mainstream, he denies this categorization. His major works include opera, theater pieces, dance, and song. Notes on a Scandal is his latest of over 80 film scores.

Filmmaker Magazine Managing Editor Jason Guerrasio discusses the surprises at last week's Sundance Film Festival. Sundance ranks alongside the Cannes, Moscow, Venice, Berlin, and Toronto festivals as one of the most prestigious in the world. Held annually in Park City, Utah, it is the largest independent cinema festival in the U.S. and the premiere showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers. The festival comprises competitive sections for American and independent dramatic and documentary films, and a group of non-competitive showcase sections, including the Sundance Online Film Festival. Controversially so, the festival has also become the premiere showcase for sponsors and "swag giveaways".   


January 23, 2007
Mad Dash director Morgan Swift discusses this yearly campus film competition where, from concept to print, teams of 1-8 have 24-hours to make a short movie. The UCI Computerstore has the equipment donated by Apple, Canon, and the School of the Arts, and YOU have the talent. Bigger teams, MONSTROUS prizes, and a great opportunity to show your stuff.


January 16, 2007
Filmmakers in the indie, experimental, foreign, avant-garde or, until very recently, documentary fields desperately need critics. Lacking money for a promotional campaign and forced to rely on word-of-mouth, these filmmakers have found no better friend over the past 40-plus years than Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times. For his second series of favorites films in conjunction with the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre, Thomas has chosen the theme of films by friends, which encompasses pictures made by people he knew well over many years — Budd Boetticher, George Cukor, Fritz Lang and Mae West — and those with whom he had warm acquaintances over the decades — Akira Kurosawa, Vincent Sherman, Billy Wilder. On Wednesday, January 17 at 7:30 pm Thomas will introduce the screening of The Life of Oharu directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Based on one of Japan’s first novels, the 17th century The Woman Who Loved Love by Saikaku Ihara.

Maria Maggenti discusses her new film Puccini for Beginners. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, Puccini for Beginners with Justin Kirk, Gretchen Mol and Julianne Nicholson is a screwball comedy romance set in New York City. Maggenti is best known for her 1995 indie hit The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love, starring Laurel Holloman and Nicole Ari Parker. She also wrote the screenplay for 1999 movie The Love Letter (co-starring Ellen Degeneres) and writes for the CBS drama Without a Trace.