filmschool, Nathan Callahan, Mike Kaspar, independent film news and interviews, KUCI
Winter 2010


MARCH 23, 2010
An interview with Academy Award-nominated screenwriter/director NOAH BAUMBACH about his latest feature GREENBERG the funny, touching and poignant story of two souls adrift in Los Angeles, trying to forge a connection. Baumbach’s films as a writer and director include Kicking and Screaming, The Squid and the Whale, and Margot at the Wedding. Baumbach received an Academy Award nomination for his original screenplay The Squid and the Whale. The film was on over 150 Top Ten lists, including AFI’s 10 Best of the Year. The Squid and the Whale received three Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Picture (Musical/Comedy); and six Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and for actors Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, and Jesse Eisenberg. Baumbach co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr. Fox (the latter adapted from the novel by Roald Dahl).

MARCH 16, 2010
An interview with NIELS ARDEN OPLEV the director of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO — a mystery thriller based on Stieg Larsson’s international best selling novel about a disgraced journalist and a troubled young female computer hacker who investigate the mysterious disappearance of an industrialist’s niece. Oplev graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 1989. His first feature film Portland (1996) was selected for the main competition in Berlin and his second feature Chop Chop (2001) received both National Danish Film Awards Bodil and Robert. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the Winner of the Guldbagge Award (Sweden’s Oscar Equivalent) for Best Film.

MARCH 9, 2010
prodigal sons
An interview with KIMBERLY REED the director of PRODIGAL SONS.  Returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, filmmaker Kimberly Reed hopes for reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother, Marc. But along the way she uncovers stunning revelations, including a surprise relationship to Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, intense sibling rivalries and unforeseeable twists of plot and gender that force them to face challenges no one could imagine. Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Best Documentary Jury Prize at NewFest, and Special Jury Prizes for Fearless Filmmaking at the Florida Film Festival and Bravery in Storytelling at the Nashville Film Festival, Prodigal Sons is a raw and provocative examination of one family’s struggle to come to terms with its past and present.

MARCH 2, 2010
An interview with DON ARGOTT the director of THE ART OF THE STEAL, a documentary that chronicles the long and dramatic struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art valued at more than $25 billion. In 1922, Dr. Albert C. Barnes formed a remarkable educational institution around his priceless collection of art, located just five miles outside of Philadelphia. Now, more than 50 years after Barnes' death, a powerful group of moneyed interests have gone to court for control of the art, and intend to bring it to a new museum in Philadelphia. Standing in their way is a group of Barnes' former students and his will, which contains strict instructions stating the Foundation should always be an educational institution, and that the paintings may never be removed.

FEBRUARY 23, 2010
An interview with HENRIK RUBEN GENZ director of TERRIBLY HAPPY, a narrative that focuses on Robert, a Copenhagen police officer who, following a nervous breakdown, is transferred to a small provincial town to take on the mysteriously vacated Marshall position and is subsequently entangled with a married femme fatale. Robert’s big city temperament makes it impossible for him to fit in, or understand the uncivilized, bizarre behavior displayed by the townspeople. Quickly spiraling downward into an intense fable reminiscent of the Coen Brothers’ BLOOD SIMPLE and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, TERRIBLY HAPPY displays a unique, often macabre vision of the darkest depths to which people will go to achieve a sense of security and belonging. Genz’s short fiction film TEIS & NICO (1998), was a festival hit worldwide and received the Crystal Bear in Berlin and an Academy Award® nomination. His feature film debut, SOMEONE LIKE HODDER (2003) received awards in Buenos Aires, Chicago, London, and Zlin, among others.

FEBRUARY 16, 2010
acaDEmy short films
An interview with CARTER PILCHER Chief Executive of SHORTS INTERNATIONAL.  Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures will once again bring the wildly popular Oscar® nominated short film programme (Live-Action and Animated) to theatres in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom beginning February 19th. The theatrical release of the Academy Award® nominated short films has met with enthusiastic audiences ever since their launch 5 years ago, giving people around the world an opportunity to see the nominated films prior to the 82nd Academy Awards® ceremony on March 7th.  The Oscar® Shorts program will open in theaters from February 19th, expanding to 100 cities in the following weeks. Together with the theatrical run, the nominated short films will also be available on iTunes in the US, UK and Canada beginning February 23rd. The trailer above is the Oscar® nominated animated short, Logorama.

FEBRUARY 9, 2010
An interview with PHILIPP STOLZL the director of NORTH FACE. Based on a true story, North Face is a suspenseful adventure film about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. Set in 1936, as Nazi propaganda urges the nation’s Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif — the Eiger — two reluctant German climbers begin their daring ascent. With NORTH FACE, director and scriptwriter Philipp Stölzl—a multi-talented and sought after opera, music video, commercial and feature-film director—has succeeded in redefining pre-WW II German Berg (mountain) Film and transposing it to the 21st century.

FEBRUARY 2, 2010
An interview with DENNIS DOROS of MILESTONE FILMS and ROSS LIPMAN film preservationist at the UCLA FILM AND TELEVISION ARCHIVE. Milestone Films is an independent company, founded in 1990 in the United States by Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, dedicated to researching and distributing quality cinematographic material from around the world, including silent movies, films of the postwar foreign film renaissance, to contemporary American independent features, documentaries and foreign films. Some of the films that Milestone has distributed are by Alfred Hitchcock, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Luchino Visconti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, F.W. Murnau, Orson Welles, Mikhail Kalatozov and Luis Bunuel. Among the modern day films are works by Takeshi Kitano, Jane Campion, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Alan Berliner and Philip Haas. Lipman has restored and preserved some landmark works of independent cinema including The Times of Harvey Milk, some of Kenneth Anger’s most prominent titles, and Milestone’s Killer of Sheep and The Exiles. He is the winner of the National Society of Film Critics Special Film Heritage Award.

JANUARY 26, 2010
An interview with cinematographer ERIC DAARSTAD of THE EXILES – the groundbreaking film made between 1958 - 1961 that chronicles one night in the lives of young Native American men and women living in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles. Based entirely on interviews with the participants and their friends, the film follows a group of exiles - transplants from Southwest reservations - as they flirt, drink, party, fight, and dance. Filmmaker Kent Mackenzie first conceived of The Exiles during the making of his short film Bunker Hill - 1956 while a student at the University of Southern California. The Exiles was photographed by Daarstad and a group of young filmmakers - Mackenzie's college mates, fellow employees, and friends holding down a variety of day-to-day jobs in the motion picture industry. Much of the picture was shot on "short ends," the leftovers of 1,000 - foot rolls (varying from 100 to 300 feet of stock) discarded by major film producers. Milestone, in cooperation with USC's film archivist Valarie Schwan, brought the film to preservationist Ross Lipman and the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

JANUARY 19, 2010
An interview with JESSICA ORECK the director of BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO — a documentary that delves into the ineffable mystery of Japan's age-old love affair with insects. A labyrinthine meditation on nature, beauty, philosophy and Japanese culture that might just make you question if your 'instinctive' repulsion to bugs is merely a trick of western conditioning.  Sold live in vending machines and department stores, plastic replicas included as prizes in the equivalent of a McDonald's Happy Meal and the subject of the No. 1 videogame, MushiKing, from the smallest backyard to the top of Mt. Fuji, insects inspire an enthusiasm in Japan seen nowhere else in this world. Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo discovers why Japan developed this rich and enriching social relationship with insects.  Like a detective story, the film untangles the web of influences behind Japan's captivation with insects. It opens in modern-day Tokyo where a single beetle recently sold for $90,000 then slips back to the early 1800s, to the first cricket-selling business and the development of haiku and other forms of insect literature and art. Through history and adventure, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo travels all the way back in time to stories of the fabled first emperor who named Japan the "Isle of the Dragonflies." Along the way the film takes side trips to Zen temples and Buddhist Shrines, nature preserves and art museums in its quest for the inspirations that moved Japan into this fascination while other cultures hurtled off towards an almost universal and profound fear of insects. Interspersed with the philosophies of one of Japan's best-selling authors and anatomists, Dr. Takeshi Yoro, and laced with poetry and art from Japan's history, this film becomes about much more than insects. Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo is set to the rhythm of traditional Japanese values in its attention to detail, harmony, and the appreciation of the seemingly mundane. It quietly challenges the viewer to observe the world from an uncommon perspective that will shift the familiar to the fantastic and just might change not only the way we think about bugs, but the way we think about life.

JANUARY 12, 2010
An interview with MICHAEL PALMIERI the co-director of OCTOBER COUNTRY — a beautifully rendered portrait of an American family struggling for stability while haunted by the ghosts of war, teen pregnancy, foster care and child abuse. A collaboration between filmmaker Michael Palmieri and photographer and family member Donal Mosher, this vibrant and penetrating documentary examines the forces that unsettle the working poor and the violence that lurks beneath the surface of American life.  Combining the access only available to a family member with an intimate visual style of a filmmaker encountering the family's dynamics for the first time, the film gives a deeply personal voice to the national issues of economic instability, domestic abuse, war trauma, and sexual molestation. As the Moshers do their best to confront their ghosts, we confront the broader issues that haunt us all in the continued struggle for the American Dream.  October Country is the Winner of the Sterling Grand Jury Prize at 2009 SILVERDOCS, 2009 Starz/Denver Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary, an Independent Spirit Awards Nomination for Best Documentary and five Cinema Eye Honors nominations, including Best Documentary.  Palmieri's previous work includes his music video collaborations with artists such as Beck, The Strokes, Belle and Sebastian and the New Pornographers. 

JANUARY 4, 2010
An interview with JOSH GOLDIN the director of WONDERFUL WORLD — a bittersweet comedy about families, friends and a frivolous fight against corporate institutions. It stars Matthew Broderick, Michael Kenneth Williams, Sanaa Lathan, Jodelle Ferland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ally Walker, and Philip Baker Hall and features original music, with a cameo performance, by acclaimed musician Dan Zanes, the noted father of the modern independent kids' music movement.Wonderful World is the story of Ben Singer, a failed children's folk singer, and an every-other-weekend dad to his young daughter (Jodelle Ferland) who is struggling with all aspects of his life. Ben's finds comforts in smoking marijuana alone and regular chess games with his smart and opinionated Senegalese roommate Ibou (Michael Kenneth Williams, "The Wire," THE ROAD). After Ibou is suddenly struck ill, Ben's life takes a turn with the arrival of Ibou's beautiful and sexy sister Khadi (Sanaa Lathan, The Family That Preys).





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