“Here One Day” is an intensely personal first-person documentary by Kathy Leichter that tells the story of Leichter and her family coming to terms with the suicide of her mother, Nina. The film focuses on the effects this tragedy had on Nina’s family and friends, and the things Leichter discovered about her mother in years that followed.
To Freda Kelly, the Beatles were just a local band. Working in a secretarial pool around the corner from the famed Cavern Club, early in Good Ol’ Freda, Kelly estimates she saw maybe 190 of the Beatles 295 performances there. While her officemates were swooning over Pat Boone and Cliff Richard, Kelly was obsessed with John, Paul, George and Pete. (Ringo came later, and Kelly quickly became obsessed with him too.) To her, The Beatles were the band that would occasionally give her a lift back to her parents’ house after a gig because they lived in the same neighborhood. She was the one that would call Paul at home and make a request for the next show. [Read more...]
One thing you have to give Richard Williams- he’s a persistent guy. An award- winning animator, best known for his short films and credit title sequences for other films, in 1964, Williams undertook what was to be his life’s work- a feature-length animated film titled “The Thief and the Cobbler.” Well, that wasn’t the original title; Nasruddin was the title they started with, but that had to be changed after Williams’ business partner left after skimming a good amount of money and taking the title character with him.
One of the best parts of every years Independent Film Festival of Boston are its amazing shorts packages. This year, the shorts are split into 7 different “packages,” all offering a different selection of films. Below, I’ll be highlighting and featuring trailers from a few.
The Independent Film Festival of Boston announced today that Casey Affleck has been named Creative Advisor to the festival. Affleck’s role will include outreach to studios, filmmakers, and talent on behalf of the festival, offer programming input, connect the festival with local charities, and advise on the festival growth. He will also make an annual appearance at the festival, beginning at this year. This year marks the 11th year of Boston’s best film festival, taking place April 24-30 at the Somerville Theatre, Brattle Theatre, and Coolidge Corner Theatre.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a powerful documentary that stays with you. Living in a free, democratic society like the United States, seeing or hearing stories like that of Ai Weiwei burn deep inside you. It is hard for us to understand when someone can’t express themselves freely without the worry that at any given moment, someone can show up at your door and hit you so hard your brain swells.
This documentary tells the story of Ai Weiwei, one of China’s leading contemporary artists. Best known for his design of the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and his subsequent boycott of the games. Weiwei is an artist that loves his country, but is not afraid of criticizing what he sees as wrong.
The film is the debut documentary feature from Alison Klaymen. The film paints a detailed portrait of the artist, and how he uses social media to express his feelings, and organize/mobilize his followers.
The film also chronicles his amazing struggle against the Chinese police – and shows the response from the Government when someone speaks too loudly.
Klayman’s access to Ai Weiwei is amazing, she spent a considerable time following him around while living in China as a journalist. The film also uses archival footage, and footage from Weiwei’s own underground films to tell the powerful story.
Despite being her debut film, Klaymen tells the story like a veteran documentarian. We all know/hear about China’s oppression and censorship, but I have never seen it outlined with such detail.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and an official selection by many festivals across the world, I highly encourage all to seek out this important film. To find out more information about Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, visit their website.
Time Zero: The Last Year of Polaroid Film is a love letter to instant photography. What seems to have started as an extended eulogy to the medium, the film evolves from various Polaroid Photographers talking about their love for Polaroid, to a chronicle of the efforts to save it from fading away forever.
Interviewing Polaroid artists, and former employees of the company, we get a great sense of the passion these people had for Polaroid and their cameras. Rather than constantly cutting between various voices, director Grant Hamilton stays with each interviewee, giving every single person ample time to reflect on, when they started using it, why they love it, and how the medium disappearing effects them.
The drawback to telling the story this way, many of the speakers echo/repeat the thoughts of others. But it is clear that the film began as a collection of voices. But as Hamilton revealed during the IFFBoston Q&A, as the closing of the plants neared, the “Impossible Project,” began. He does an amazing job capturing the grass-root efforts to keep the format alive. People truly working against all odds, all to save their format of choice.
We learn quite a bit about Dr. Edwin Land, the inventor of Polaroid instant photography. I would have loved to learn more about the company and its corporate history, but again, the film is more about the enthusiasts and artists that love Polaroid photography.
I really enjoyed the film, it’s always amazing to see how passionate people are about the photo-chemical process. Polaroid being an even more unique part of that tangible, printed photo world.
If you’re a fan of Polaroid, or even someone who has a love of photography, and preservation of the photo-chemical way – you will definitely enjoy this love letter to an art that almost went away.
One of my favorite films in my younger years was Backdraft. I mean, what young person didn’t love a movie about firefighters. Firefighters are our local heroes, they ride the iconic red fire truck to save citizens and their homes. I had the opportunity as a High School student to ride along with firefighters for a few days, and one of the first things they told me was that Backdraft, wasn’t very realistic. While they appreciated the publicity, there was nothing real about the way fighting fires was portrayed in the film. What stood out to me so much about this documentary, Burn, was the incredible realism. I walked away feeling like I had spent a year with real firefighters, learning their stories, their struggles, and saw first hand, what its like to be inside a dangerous, frightening fire.
Detroit is infamous for its “rates.” Murder rate, unemployment rate, crime rate, povery rate. Once a vibrant, well-off, well populated city, now, its mostly vacant, and economically suffering. Vacant homes = fires. Some legitimate, but many of the fires are a result of arson. A frightening statistic is given by one of the firefighters in the film, informing us that most of the fires they fight are because of arson, ranging from trying to hurt someone, or trying to have some fun. “A gallon of gas is still cheaper than a movie ticket.” Scary.
We follow a few specific characters, a driver/operator, a young 10 year veteran who suffers a serious injury, and the newly inducted Fire Commissioner. We see the struggles, both at home, and at work, and hear their stories in their own voice.
We learn that the economy just hasn’t taken a toll on the city proper of Detroit, but it has gotten to the point that the firefighters meant to protect the city, don’t even have the equipment they need to do their job. Most trucks are aging, and “stuck together by duct tape and gum.”
For the new Commissioner, his battle is trying to bring his department within budget, and gain the loyalty of the frustrated firefighters within his department.
So how did the filmmaker Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez get such amazing footage from within the fires? Putnam said during the Q&A following the screening at IFFBoston, “Firefighters make great cameramen.” Using helmet cameras otherwise used in filmin extreme sports, they mounted cameras onto the firefighters helmets, to capture a point-of-view otherwise only seen by the folks on the frontlines of these fires. They did such an amazing job capturing this, all that was missing was the heat and smoke emptying out into the theater.
Burn: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit is an amazing documentary that tells an important story. About service, dedication, and the state of affairs within the Fire Department. What we learn about in this film is not just local to Detroit, but an issue that effects many other departments across the country. Executive Produced by Denis Leary and Jim Serpico, the film hopefully has the name attachment it needs to find wider distribution. It is an important film, and I urge you all to seek this one out.
Visit the film’s website to learn more about how you can help.
Directed by Azazel Jacobs, ‘Terri’ is the story of its titular character, played by Jacob Wysocki. 15 years old, overweight, dressed in pajamas, Terri feels like an outsider at his high school. Floating on through.
He lives with his Uncle James (The Office’s Breed Bratton), who is definitely suffering from an affliction that is never explained, his main caretaker being his nephew Terri.
Terri is taken under the wing of Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), the principal, who schedules a weekly “check-in” with Terri, a service he has for students he feel need more guidance than the rest. Terri quickly sees that other “special” kids, a troubled youth named Chad, have more glaring issues than himself, and he is upset to be considered among these kids.
An incident which I won’t spoil here pushes the otherwise “cool pretty girl” Heather to becoming friends with Terri. And we watch a crush/friendship blossom between this unlikely pair.
The film has a fairly sad tone, and contains great moments as we follow Terri in his day to day life. Whether its the curious situations Terri finds himself in, or the funny back and forths with the principal, Terri is a great character that is wonderfully embodied by Wysocki.
The film moves us through the story fairly quickly, and ends a bit abruptly before we have an opportunity to process that the characters have undergone a change. I definitely was left wanting a little more closure.
The film does a great job putting you back in the awkward world of high school. Everything about it reminded me of the strange and sometimes sad situations you find yourself in during this time in life, and all the characters portrayed in the film felt real.
‘Terri,’ is great indie cinema, a well photographed, melancholly film, filled with some worthwhile performances from its mostly young cast.