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.
BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO is 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. Director Jessica Oreck joins us to talk about her debut documentary and her intriguing journey from entomologist to filmmaker.
“Oreck gives us some marvelous close-ups of scampering beetles and butterflies emerging from their pupae, but the focus here is primarily on people.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
“A scientist looking for a combination of childlike innocence and minimalist sophistication might not see it in Hello Kitty but can recognize it in a horned beetle.” – Mike Hale, New York Times
“Zen gardens, banzai trees, the art of haiku — indeed, the whole of Japanese minimalism becomes a setting for these multilegged scramblers, imbued with Shintoist wisdom for those who would look and listen.” – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
“An expansive take on the world in miniature, Jessica Oreck’s documentary debut pursues all angles on a novel subject — the Japanese obsession with insects — until it assumes a worldview.” – Eric Hynes, Village Voice
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.
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).