ASAD, director Bryan Buckley

OSCAR WEEK on Film School!!

 

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Set in a war-torn fishing village in Somalia, an all Somali, refugee cast brings to life this coming of age fable of a Somali boy who is faced with falling into the pirate life, or rising above to choose the path of an honest fishing man. Director Bryan Buckley, a veteran commercial director and co-owner of Hungry Man Productions, has been directing since the mid-90s. Over the last decade he has directed more than 40 commercials for the Super Bowl and was dubbed “King of the Super Bowl” by the New York Times. Many pieces of Buckley’s work have been inducted into the Museum Of Modern Art’s permanent collection and he is an esteemed recipient of the DGA award, Emmy’s and many Cannes Lions. Bryan talks about his Oscar nominated Live-Action Short film and his journey from commercials to narrative filmmaking.

Carter Pilcher – Chief Executive of Shorts International

It’s time to start talking Oscars.  This week on Film School we’ll be talking about the Academy Award nominated films in the short form categories, Live-Action, Animated and Documentaries.  Joining us will be Carter Pilcher. Carter founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars.

Oscar Nominated Short Doc – Open Heart, director Keif Davidson

 

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OSCAR WEEK on Film School!!

Their hearts ravaged by common strep throat turned deadly, eight Rwandan children leave their families behind to embark on a life-or-death journey to Sudan for high-risk surgery. Resilient cardiologist Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza fights to save their lives, alongside larger-than-life Dr. Gino Strada who also must fight to save his hospital. Director Kief Davidson has had international success from the award-winning feature-length documentaries, KASSIM THE DREAM and THE DEVIL’S MINER. KASSIM THE DREAM, about a former child soldier turned boxing champion of the World, premiered at the Tribeca film festival and won over 10 international film festivals, including AFI, IDFA and Silver Docs. Keif joins us to talk about his Academy Award nominated Short Documentary film.

2013 Sundance Film Festival Review with Filmmaker Magazine founder and editor, Scott Macaulay

 

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Filmmaker Magazine (filmmakermagazine.com) is a quarterly publication magazine covering issues relating to independent, documentary and foreign films. Founded in 1992 by Scott Macaulay, Karol Martesko-Fenster and Holly Willis, Filmmaker Magazine includes interviews, case studies, financing and distribution information, festival reports, technical and production updates, legal pointers, and filmmakers on filmmaking in their own words. Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay‘s experience as a working independent producer informs coverage of behind-the-scene aspects of the creative, technical and business realities facing today’s filmmakers. Scott Macaulay calls in to talk about the best and brightest films coming out of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

John Dies at the End – director Don Coscarelli

 

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It’s all about the Soy Sauce—a new street drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John (Rob Mayes) and David (Chase Williamson), a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can’t. Director Don Coscarelli joins us for a lively conversation about comedy, horror and sci-fi film making in a rousing follow-up to his cult classic, Bubba Ho-Tep.

“What may be the most freewheeling and imaginative film of Coscarelli’s checkered career, loaded with tripped-out mood and nicely balanced between humor, horror and an underlay of genuine sweetness.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

“John Dies at the End is joyously heterodox in its method, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mélange of sci-fi, black comedy, and action, with disquieting body-horror sight gags that at times recall David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch.” – Dana Stevens, Slate.com

DIRTY ENERGY, director Bryan Hopkins

 

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On April 20th, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and spewing 200 million barrels of oil into the ocean. DIRTY ENERGY gets the inside story from Louisiana residents themselves—people whose jobs and health are directly impacted by one of history’s worst environmental disasters—and whose voice quickly faded from American television screens. The film explores the human cost of having millions of gallons of oil and toxic dispersant in the ecosystem, and exposes the management failure of BP and the U.S. Government in the clean up, which will affect the world’s oceans and rivers for generations. Director Bryan Hopkins will join us to talk about the aftermath and consequences of a slow-motion disaster that continues to this day.

Film School Picks for the Best Films of 2012

Film School picks for the best films of 2012.

Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson

How to Survive a Plague – David France

Silver Lining Playbook – David O. Russell

Holy Motors – Leos Carax

The Law in These Parts – Ra’anan Alexandrowizc

Middle of Nowhere – Ava DuVernay

Rust and Bone – Jacques Audiard

Lincoln – Steven Speilberg

The House I Live In – Eugene Jarecki

The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson

Beasts of the Southern Wild – Benh Zeitlan

In The Family – Patrick Wang

Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino

Beauty is Embarrassing – Neil Berkeley

Brooklyn Castle – Katie Dellamaggiore

The Ambassador – Hans Brugger

The Loneliest Planet – Julia Loktev

The Invisible War – Kirby Dick

Hello I Must Be Going – Todd Louiso

Searching For Sugar Man – Malik Bendjeloul

5 Broken Cameras – Emad Burnat

The Waiting Room – Peter Nicks

The Gatekeepers – Dror Moreh

Island President – Jon Schenk

The Imposter – Bart Layton

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – Alison Klayman

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best – Ryan O’Nan

Central Park Five – David McMahon, Ken Burns and Sarah Burns

Portrait of Wally – Andrew Shea

Safety Not Guaranteed – Colin Trevorrow

Only The Young – Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippett

Tchoupitoulas – Bill Ross and Turner Ross

King Kelly -Andrew Neel

The Flat – Arnon Goldfinger

The Kite – Prashant Bhargava

This list is subject to periodic updates because, to my undying shame, I have not yet seen; Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Footnote, Take This Waltz, The Deep Blue Sea, The Comedy, Oslo, August 31st, Sister, Queen of Versailles, The Sessions, This Is Not a Film, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Not Present, Sleepwalk With Me, Barbara or Mea Maxima Culpa.

ONLY THE YOUNG, director Elizabeth Mims

 

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ONLY THE YOUNG follows the story of three teenagers that live in a small desert town in Southern California – a town dominated by foreclosed homes and underpasses, unfilled swimming pools and skate parks. These kids must find things to do in a place that offers nothing – yet in the course of observing their day-to-day lives, we see them discover friendship, first love, heartbreak, and what it means to be young. Co-directors Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims’ delicate, ethereal filmmaking and ONLY THE YOUNG’s innocent yet rebellious subjects collectively embody the very essence of adolescence. Elizabeth Mims will join us for a conversation on the challenges of capturing youth in bloom.

“A sketchbook of a documentary filled with adolescent bodies groping, lurching and skateboarding toward burgeoning adulthood.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Only the Young captures the lyricism of late childhood and the bewilderment of the road ahead. (It) is a lush beauty of a documentary whose youth face the danger of un-coolness.”  – Sarah Fisch, Village Voice

 “Directors Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet let their subjects meander, and instead unify their movie through tight control of tone, winding up with an elegiac portrait of teen America. “ – Farran Smith Nehme, New York Post

TCHOUPITOULAS, director Bill Ross

 

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“Tchoupitoulas” is a story of the New Orleans night. It is a visually exhilarating and aurally immersive record of one night in the many lives of a thriving nocturnal populace. Three young boys act as our wide-eyed conduits to a parade of entertainers and revelers as they dance through the lamp lit streets and doorways of the Crescent City. From dusk to dawn, from Rampart to the river, we explore the lives and locales of one of the world’s most unique cities. In moments, vignettes, performances, and exchanges, “Tchoupitoulas” is a kaleidoscopic odyssey into another side of New Orleans. Bill and Turner Ross (45365) join us for a conversation on the joys of childhood, filmmaking and New Orleans nightlife.

“It is alive with the risk and curiosity of youth, and unapologetic in insisting that the pursuit of fun can be a profound and transformative experience.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

 “Without offering much context or addressing obvious social issues, it’s an evocative tribute to its setting and to childhood innocence.” – Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue

HITCHCOCK, director Sacha Gervasi

Lurking behind Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s “master of suspense” — the extraordinary film icon known for orchestrating some of the most intense experiences of menace and intrigue audiences have ever seen, was a hidden side: his creatively explosive romance with his steadfast wife and filmmaking collaborator, Alma Reville.
 HITCHCOCK lays bare their captivating and complex love story. It does so through the sly, shadowy lens of their most daring filmmaking adventure: the making of the spine-tingling 1960 thriller, PSYCHO, which would become the director’s most controversial and legendary film. When the tumultuous, against-the-odds production was over, nothing about movies would ever be the same – but few realized that it took two to pull it off. Director Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil) joins us for a conversation on the challenges and rewards of making a film about this iconic filmmaker.

“Hugely entertaining.  Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are acting giants in stellar form.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

 “One for the Ages.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

CHASING ICE, director Jeff Orlowski

 

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In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.

 Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. Chasing Ice director Jeff Orlowski joins us to talk about his film’s siren call to meet the greatest challenge facing the planet.

 “Chasing Ice” aims to accomplish, with pictures, what all the hot air that has been generated on the subject of global warming hasn’t been able to do: make a difference.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

 “As much as one may intellectually believe in climate change, to see it actually happening has the power to stun a viewer into wordlessness.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

 “But let’s say you already accept the reality of climate change. Or that you don’t. Either way, “Chasing Ice” by Jeff Orlowski is heart-stopping in its coverage of the brave and risky attempt by a scientist named James Balog and his team of researchers on the Extreme Ice Survey, where “extreme” refers to their efforts almost more than to the ice.”– Roger Ebert

LIFE OF PI – writer, David Magee

 

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Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper. Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival. Writer David Magee talks about the challenges and rewards of adapting a sprawling, best seller into a powerful three-dimensional drama.

That Ang Lee has managed to turn the limitations of the material into his adaptation’s greatest strength make “Life of Pi” into a significant achievement for the filmmaker in spite of blatant problems with structure, dialogue and other surface issues. – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Melds a harrowing high-seas adventure with a dreamy meditation on the very nature of storytelling. – Justin Chang, Variety

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, director Eugene Jarecki

 

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As America remains embroiled in conflict overseas, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage upon future generations of Americans. In forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for more than 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before.

Filmed in more than twenty states, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s longest war—a definitive portrait revealing its profound human rights implications.

Beyond simple misguided policy, the film examines how political and economic corruption have fueled the war for 40 years, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures. Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki joins us to talk about his remarkable documentary and the future of drug policy in America.

“A masterpiece filled with hope and the potential to effect change.” – Sundance Film Festival

“I’d hate to imply that it’s your civic duty to see The House I Live In, but guess what – it is.” – Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“The House I Live In will blow your mind.” – Anne Thompson, Indiewire

SMASHED, director James Ponsoldt

 

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Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking…especially the drinking. When Kate’s drinking leads her to dangerous places and her job as a school teacher is put into jeopardy, she decides to join AA and get sober.

With the help of her friend and sponsor Jenny, and the vice principal at her school, the awkward, but well intentioned, Mr. Davies, Kate takes steps toward improving her health and life. Sobriety isn’t as easy as Kate had anticipated. Her new lifestyle brings to the surface a troubling relationship with her mother, facing the lies she’s told her employer and calls into question whether or not her relationship with Charlie is built on love or is just boozy diversion from adulthood. Director James Ponsoldt will stop by to talk about the story behind his award winning film.

“Ponsoldt, Paul and Winstead make a remarkably effective team for this film’s points and purposes, and Smashed burns long after it goes down smoothly.”James Rocchi, The Playlist

“Movies about drugs and alcohol might be a dime (bag) a dozen, but James Ponsoldt’s Smashed is so beautifully shot and well acted as to transcend the genre.” – Michael Nordine, Village Voice

ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, director Matthew Heineman

 

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ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: how can we save our badly broken healthcare system?

American healthcare costs are rising so rapidly that they could reach $4.2 trillion annually, roughly 20% of our gross domestic product, within ten years. We spend $300 billion a year on pharmaceutical drugs – almost as much as the rest of the world combined. We pay more, yet our health outcomes are worse. About 65% of Americans are overweight and almost 75% of healthcare spending goes to preventable diseases that are the major causes of disability and death in our society.

The current battle over cost and access does not ultimately address the root of the problem: we have a disease-care system, not a healthcare system. The film examines the powerful forces maintaining the status quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. Director Matthew Heineman will stop by to talk about the powerful forces impacting real reform for our health care system on this week’s Film School.

“Like a doctor’s carefully structured analysis of a patient’s condition, the film breaks down its massive subject into manageable, clear, but not simplified parts.” – Robert Koelher, Variety

“I saw an extraordinary documentary a few days ago, “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.” There’s more money to be made in healing sick people than in keeping them well in the first place.” – Roger Ebert, At the Movies

TEARS OF GAZA, director Vibeke Lokkeberg

 

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Disturbing, powerful and emotionally devastating, TEARS OF GAZA is less a conventional documentary than a record–presented with minimal gloss – of the 2008 to 2009 bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military. Photographed by several Palestinian cameramen both during and after the offensive, this powerful film by director Vibeke Løkkeberg focuses on the impact of the attacks on the civilian population. Vibeke stops by to explain her own story on the making of this powerful film and the impact the Israeli attack continues to have the people of Gaza.

“Few antiwar films register with the disturbing immediacy and visceral terror of “Tears of Gaza,” Vibeke Lokkeberg’s extraordinary docu set amid the 2008-09. What’s shown is a revelation.” – John Andersen, Variety

 “Perhaps the ultimate anti-war film. A compelling film about war.” – Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, director David France

 

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HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and ’90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making. David joins us to talk about his fly-on-the-wall documentary.

“Served powerfully, with minimal adornment… A moving and meticulous documentary about AIDS activism in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.” – 
A.O. Scott, The New York Times

 “…An epic celebration of heroism and tenacity, and less directly, a useful template for any fledgling activist movement, demonstrating the effectiveness of inside/outside strategy.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

MADS BRUGGER, director of THE AMBASSADOR

 

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A strange, enigmatic and decadent white European, who looks like a mixture of Henry Stanley and Karl Lagerfeld, arrives in the former French colony the Central African Republic (CAR) with diplomatic credentials to spearhead a diplomatic mission representing Liberia. Working hand in hand with his charge d’affaires, a local man named Paul, our diplomat fights his way up the social ladder of this desperate and crumbling African country equipped only with a diplomatic passport and ‘envelopes of happiness’.

The Ambassador is a genre-breaking, tragic comedy about the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin-tonics flow on a daily basis and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free. It conveys revealing insights into how the elite of an archetypical corrupt and devastated African country really works and functions. It deals with racial tensions in a refreshing new way and it will cause a shift in the vast reserve of diamonds.

Director Mads Brugger has been called the most dangerous filmmaker in the world. This Danish journalist, TV host, author and filmmaker will joins us to talk about his distinctive methods and this amazing undertaking on this Friday’s Film School.

RON FRICKE, director and Mark Magidson, producer of SAMSARA

 

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Expanding on the themes they developed in Baraka (1992) and Chronos (1985), Samsara explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Shot in spectacular 70 mm film, Samsara is neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, it takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation. Samsara was shot in about 100 locations in 25 countries, and took four years to make. Director Ron Fricke will be joining us to talk about the motivation and challenges that went into the making of this powerful film.