Chicago Feminist Film Festival – An Interview

February 27th, 2017 by Patrick

Chicago Feminist Film Festival – An Interview with Susan Kerns and Michelle Yates

By Kian Bergstrom


I spoke by email with Susan Kerns and Michelle Yates, both professors at Columbia College Chicago and the co-directors of the Chicago Feminist Film Festival, which runs this week, March 1 to March 3, in the Film Row Cinema at 1104 S. Wabash.


KB: This is the second year of the Feminist Film Festival. When it started in 2016, Donald Trump was a scary candidate for the Republican party with a lot of momentum but by no means had clinched the nomination.  Less than a week after the 2016 festival, he swept five states and had effectively won the nominating contest.  This year, the festival is running a week after Trump’s administration has announced new attacks on transgender rights.  How have the changes in the political climate changed your plans for the festival, the selection of movies to include within it, and how you see the festival’s place in Chicago’s alternative cinema community?

SK: One way in which the political climate changed the festival is that we were supposed to have a visiting filmmaker from Iran, but they had to cancel their travel plans.

I also became very committed to screening DYAB, a documentary about kids in a refugee camp. The main character wants to be a filmmaker when he grows up, and the only stories he knows to tell are those of Isis kidnappings. I found it chilling to watch children divvy up which girls would be abducted, because that’s what he has been exposed to, and I don’t understand how a person can watch a short like this and not want to do everything possible to help these children and their families.

That said, we’re actually showing a film, FLORA, about a transgender woman’s experience using a women’s bathroom. We’re also screening THE ORANGE STORY, made by Chicago filmmaker Erika Street Hopman, which is about Japanese internment camps and seems increasingly relevant. Suddenly awareness of the past became an urgent “head’s up” about where our country seems to be heading.

The Orange Story

KB: Like last year, this year’s festival strongly favors short-form works.  Is this a reflection of how difficult it is for women to get the funding necessary to complete features.  A way for you to include a wider variety of voices and talents?

SK: It is a way for us to include a wider variety of stories, genres, and filmmakers from all over the world and also to help people see shorts they wouldn’t normally hear about. For as easy as it is to access short films on the internet, it’s also incredibly difficult to know where to start because there is such a glut of content. We’re hoping festivalgoers will start to trust our curatorial choices for films that expose them to new stories and/or expand what kinds of films they enjoy.

I personally would love to include more features in the future, but pragmatically, that’s a different challenge since it takes much longer to pre-screen hundreds of features than it does hundreds of shorts.

KB: What kind of selection process did you use to build this year’s program?

SK: All of the short films were screened by at least two people from our pre-screening committee, and from there we narrowed choices based primarily on film content and, frankly, the amount of time we have to screen. We had to turn away a number of terrific 20- and 30-minute films, simply because of how much screen time we have available to the festival. We are also mindful of how we balance programs to reflect the perspectives of international and regional filmmakers, as we want this festival to be a place where those perspectives inform each other.

KB: Some people would say that feminist films tell different kinds of stories than the ones that dominate the mainstream, stories centered around women’s lives and struggles and relationships, the kinds of stories that Hollywood narratives so often either neglect or omit entirely.  Others might insist that feminist cinema needs to offer an alternative not just to the stories films tell but HOW they are put together, that traditional ways of building cinematic narratives are inherently objectifying to women.  Still others might stress that a feminism that seeks only to address how women and women’s narratives are made and that neglects other oppressed groups — people of color, queer people, trans folk, and so on, does little good.  There are, of course, many other ideas of what a feminist cinema might be.  In your opinions, what does it mean for a movie to be feminist?

SK: I’ll say upfront that I’m not all that interested in rigidly defining “feminist” film, because all of these definitions have their merits, and I also don’t want feminist film limited to one thing or construct. In our submissions process, filmmakers kind of self-select whether or not they deem their film feminist, which allows for a broad range of stories and storytelling styles. We don’t always agree that every film we see is feminist (e.g. not all rape-revenge films are inherent feminist – trust me on this, because we see a lot of them), but that submission process certainly broadens our own spectrum.

The other thing that makes the films in our festival “feminist” is context. For example, a rape-revenge film can read very differently depending on the kinds of shorts that screen with it. If all of the other shorts in a horror program are about mutilating women, that rape-revenge film may feel more like a fetishistic male fantasy than female empowerment. However, within a program of short films made primarily by and about women characters in horrific situations, it’s hard to mistake those films as anything but a source of inspiration for fighting back.

MY: I agree with Susan that I’m less interested in rigid definitions of feminist film. In part, for me, that might be because I’m less interested in thinking about ‘a feminist movie,’ but rather think a lot about about what it means to participate in the creation and support of a feminist cinema, or feminist filmmaking as a collective practice. Film as a creative, artistic medium is powerful, because it has the ability to so powerfully influence and shape popular perception about the social world in which we live. And, that’s not just any individual film, but the way different individual films together produce and reproduce particular tropes, motifs, narratives – ways of seeing and talking about any given aspect of our social life – that we recognize as ’ normal,’ as a kind of cultural commonsense. This is what I teach in my cultural studies and media studies classes as ideology. Film is ideological in the ways that it teaches us normal ways of thinking and behaving. And, the mainstream film industry is so centered around white masculinity as what constitutes ’normal’. According to a recent study by the University of Southern California – Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 96% of the top 100 highest grossing films between 2007 and 2016 were directed by men, and the overwhelming majority of those male directors were white. As a result of that, most of the representations that we see on screen also focus on white masculinity. And, even when we see representations of women and people of color, so often those characters are represented through the perspective of white masculinity. Because the mainstream film industry is so centered around white masculinity, there is an implicit ideological bias that normalizes and privileges white masculinity at the expense of anyone else. Narratives by and about women and people of color as well as queer and transgender folks are egregiously excluded. So the creation of a feminist cinema, for me, is about giving space to films made by and about people who are underrepresented in mainstream film – that includes women, but also fundamentally people of color, queer, and transgender folks. Feminists have to recognize that the category ‘woman’ fundamentally includes women of color, queer women, transwomen – folks who are most egregiously under-represented in film from production to representation – but also that feminism means supporting gender equality inclusive of women as well as transgender and gender non-conforming folks. And, that collectively feminist cinema can de-stabilize what constitutes ‘normal’ ways of seeing the world and re-create ways of seeing the world that aren’t so limited, or rote, or exclusive. So, yeah, feminist cinema tells different stories from mainstream cinema, breaks from traditional cinematic narratives, and is representative of a lot of diversity in terms of gender, sexuality, and race. But, most importantly, doing this – participating in the creation of a feminist cinema is meaningful, and providing space for feminist cinema via feminist film festivals is valuable, because it has an ideological impact, the ability to change and re-shape conversations in more equitable ways that hopefully then hold the possibility of transforming the social world we live in in more equitable ways.

The Chicago Feminist Film Festival runs March 1-3 at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema. Full schedule and additional information at


Interview with Peter Bogdanovich

October 25th, 2016 by Patrick


John Dickson: Your latest film, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY seems to contain threads from a lot of your previous work, especially THEY ALL LAUGHED; was it conceived that way or did its shape take form organically?

Peter Bogdanovich:  No, it wasn’t really a summation. The version that was released was not my favorite cut. There were problems with that film in post-production. It was more appreciated in Europe, which often happens. I wasn’t totally happy with it. I see what you mean though; it’s a little bit like a lot of my other pictures, but it has its own thing.

JD: THEY ALL LAUGHED is almost like an “open air” film. Along with SAINT JACK it seems to break formally with your previous work. It’s always reminded me of late 70s, early 80’s Eric Rohmer.

PB: I like Rohmer, but I wasn’t thinking of him when I made it. I know what you mean though; I can’t quite define it myself. But I think it and SAINT JACK do have a kind of openness to them. They’re both island movies; Singapore is an island, Manhattan is an island. I had made a few films before SAINT JACK that Iwasn’t happy with. I wasn’t happy with NICKELODEON or AT LONG LAST LOVE, in terms of final-cut. NICKELODEON should have been in black-and-white, which it now is, and AT LONG LAST LOVE was badly cut. So I didn’t make pictures for a couple of years and I decided to go back to the basics and do it my way or the highway. So I made SAINT JACK that way, with Roger Corman, going back to my roots and THEY ALL LAUGHED was the next picture and it was made exactly the way I wanted it to be.

JD:  THEY ALL LAUGHED is very interesting for many reasons, but its always fascinated me how the film presents adulterous relationships and sexual relationships in a very carefree manner, that I find very unique. Was this arrived at through your appreciation of the films of Ernst Lubitsch?

PB: Well…(pause) that’s an interesting question. Maybe? I didn’t think of it that way but I love Lubitsch. He’s one of my top 5 favorite directors. So it’s possible. The kind of “university” of great directors that I studied with, so to speak, I’d look at their films and ask them a lot of questions, like John Ford, Howard Hawks, Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, or Orson Welles – there were a lot of directors that I got to know. I learned a lot from those people.

JD: Your early career as a film journalist I think really brought a renewed interest especially in someone like Ford. Cahiers du Cinema in France, in the late 50’s and 60’s, brought renewed interested in directors like Alfred Hitchcock, and I think you certainly did with Ford, Raoul Walsh, Welles; and for me, and certainly a lot of film lovers, Ford is on some “higher plane” of cinema. So I’m curious what Ford’s work has meant to you after all these years?

PB:  I think the easiest answer would be, like all first generation Americans, he had a fascination with Americana and was dedicated to that Americana. I’m a first-generation American, so I feel the same kind of sentiment that he had about the country. He’s certainly one of the principle influences in my life.

JD: Do you have any future projects in the works? Anything planned for your new film-blog, “Blogdanovich”?

PB: I did the blog for a couple years. I’m not doing much with that right now. I’m finishing up a book that’s kind of a memoir about a particular period in my life, from 1965 to 1971. I kept a daily journal and I’m sort of publishing those entries and commenting on them from a current prospective and including quotes from my card files on films that I’ve kept from 1952 to 1970. It should be an interesting book, its almost done. I’m also preparing a film I wrote, called WAIT FOR ME, which Brett Ratner is producing.  It’s a kind of comedy-drama-fantasy, with ghosts; friendly ghosts I hasten to add, as we approach Halloween. As a side point, Halloween is a completely misunderstood holiday. It began as All Hallows Eve, which was a celebration of dead heroes. They were thought to walk amongst us in Pagan times, but these days its just scary stuff, which is just bullshit.

JD: That sort of reminds me of that Orson Welles quote, when you were in conversation with him, where he felt that movies would eventually, “brutalize audiences, turning them into something you’d see at the Roman Coliseum.”

PB: He was right! They’re worse.

JD: I’m very excited you’re working on another film.

PB: Oh, me too. I’ve been working on the script for about 30 years and I’m not even exaggerating.  I’ve finally gotten the script pretty much right.  We’re trying to find an actor to play the lead. It’s a very big cast with a lot of characters, because the leading character has been married 6 times and has 6 daughters. Then there are about 6 ghosts that come into the story.

JD: I know you said you started writing this about 30 years ago, but around what period exactly did you start writing this script?

PB: Towards the end of 1980.

JD: How far along is that coming? Is that something we might see sooner than later?

PB: Yeah we have plans to shoot it in the spring of the upcoming year. I guess it would be out at the end of next year, or the early part of 2018, depending on how long it takes to cut.

JD: Where does this story take place? What will be your shooting locations?

PB: The entire story plays out in Europe. 5 cities and 4 countries: Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and Salzburg. It’s going to be a good picture. We’re shooting most of the interiors in Spain; they have a very good tax deal. So that’s the plan.

JD: Speaking of upcoming things, and I know we talked about Welles earlier, do you know when we’ll finally get to see his final film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND?

PB:  Well for 30 years I’ve been saying we’re almost there (laughs). But we’re not. The deal is supposed to be close to being closed, but I’ve been saying that 30 years too, so I really don’t know to be honest with you John. I think we’re close but I just don’t know. The problem has been to get the rights cleared and that’s been a struggle. But that’s not my job. The producers are doing that, Frank Marshall is spearheading that so I’m hoping in the next year it’ll be out.

JD: That’s also exciting to hear. To go back to some of your films, AT LONG LAST LOVE is a film I happen to like a lot. I know it was a box-office flop, but in a modern context, it seems to be like a sort of “experimental musical” in the vein of something like Jacques Rivette’s UP DOWN FRAGILE. Do you think audience’s today might be more appreciative of a film like that?

PB: I don’t know. That picture was rushed into release, we had two previews that were not helpful and it was not cut in a way I was happy with, but we had to because it had to be released. Years later, I discovered that someone at Fox had done a different cut a few months after we released it. I didn’t see that cut until it was on Netflix and I thought it was the best cut of the picture I’d ever seen! So I called the head of Fox, Jim Gianopulos, and he said, “let me get this straight: there’s a cut of the picture that you had nothing to do with, and you like it?!” and I said, “yes I do” and he said, “well that’s one for the history books.” So Fox released it on DVD and that was the cut I liked.

JD: Jumping forward through your filmography, the film TEXASVILLE, what provoked you to re-visit the terrain of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW? It’s the only sequel you’ve done to a film of your own.

PB:  That’s true. Well Larry Murphy wrote the novel, and I thought it would make a good picture so we all got together and did it. The version that was released, unfortunately, was not the final cut I approved.  The version released on laserdisc is the one I much prefer. But that medium, laserdisc, doesn’t exist anymore. So I’m trying to get Criterion, or someone, to release that version, which is 25 minutes longer; which is quite a bit longer you see. So we’re hoping to do that soon.

JD: Throughout your long career you’ve had lots of trouble getting the cuts you’d prefer. Are there any of your other films you’re hoping to get restored to your original vision?

PB:  Well my cut of MASK came out without the Springsteen music at the end, and that was 20 years after it’s release, so we finally got that one right. NICKELODEON was always intended to be released in black-and-white, but we fixed that so now, I don’t think any of the others need additional work, except for the last one, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY. As I said, I wasn’t thrilled with that cut, but I’m not sure I can re-do that one, but I wish I could.

JD: I know that with NICKELODEON, you had mentioned in an interview that there were some scenes that were cut out, that you felt added a lot of needed emotional weight to that film.

PB: Yeah I put it back. It’s now the black-and-white version. Quentin Tarantino saw it and said it was a different movie. In fact The New York Times did a piece, I think it was Dave Kehr, about NICKELODEON saying that usually a director’s cut doesn’t add much expect a few additional minutes, but with NICKELODEON, its like a completely different movie. He was astounded at how different the movie played, and felt, because it was in black-and-white. Of course it makes a huge difference.

JD: Throughout your career, I know many critics have compared your pacing of dialogue to that of Howard Hawks. Personally I’ve felt that it may have started that way, but that over time, it transcended that comparison and became uniquely your own. I feel it greatly influenced a friend and colleague of yours, Wes Anderson, in the way he paces out the dialogue in his own films. Is this something you were aware of?

PB:  Not particularly; I like Wes, we get along very well. He calls me “Pop” and I call him my “Son”.  He says in the documentary (ONE DAY SINCE YESTERDAY) that I influenced his film BOTTLE ROCKET.  Noah Baumbach says that he thinks often of THEY ALL LAUGHED.  I call him “My Son” also. I have “two sons” that have both made movies I’m pleased to go see, which isn’t that common these days.

JD: Are there any other movies made recently that you’ve liked?

PB: I liked GRAVITY. I thought that was well directed. I saw THE REVENANT, I also thought that was well directed. I haven’t seen much else that I’ve liked.


ONE DAY SINCE YESTERDAY has just been released on DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


Interview with Steve James

October 25th, 2016 by Patrick

Steve James needs little introduction, having directed a raft of celebrated documentaries for Chicago’s own Kartemquin Films, which turns 50 this year. The roll call includes great films like HOOP DREAMS, STEVIE, THE INTERRUPTERS, THE NEW AMERICANS, and my personal favorite, the Roger Ebert documentary LIFE ITSELF. I had a chance to chat with the filmmaker when he appeared on the red carpet at the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival for his latest film, ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL.

Photo: Chicago Reader

Scott Pfeiffer: This film generates more suspense than a lot of thrillers. You are a storyteller, first and foremost, not just a recorder of reality. How do you navigate the balance between following reality, on the one hand, and crafting reality into a film, on the other?

Steve James: Well, that’s a very good question. I think that’s the art, if you will, of documentary, is that you have to find ways to make real life and real stories, told truthfully, play dramatically, if you can. There’s always a balancing act, I think, with that. But I think that true stories present unique dramatic challenges that oftentimes you don’t find in fiction, because we have certain kind of rules about fiction and about the way we tell stories a lot of times in fiction. So documentaries force you to come up with, I think, sometimes more innovative ways to dramatize a story.

SP: Waiting for the verdict is extremely suspenseful for the audience.

SJ: That’s great.

SP: Was that a stressful 10-day period for you filmmakers as well, because you’d become connected with the Sungs?

SJ: Absolutely. You know, we were pulling for them. We wanted this to turn out well for them. And so, yeah, I think that there was this hope, maybe even expectation that the verdict would come back more quickly, because there was this feeling that they had resoundingly, during the trial, answered the charges. And their lawyers felt that way, and they felt that way, and so it was very tense and surprising when it took as long. That was one of the reasons why we had to come to understand that, through interviews with the jurors afterwards.

SP: You parallel and contrast the treatment and consequences for the Sungs to that of the big banks, whose subprime mortgage fraud had actual worldwide catastrophic consequences in 2008 and after. Again, though, you are interested in the story, primarily. Do you hope that by connecting viewers with the people in your films and getting them involved in their lives, you can lead them to draw their own political conclusions?

SJ: About the big banks?

SP: Yeah, and also just generally, that the political point is there for them to come to.

SJ: I’m not a polemical filmmaker. I think in other filmmakers’ hands this would be told differently. Michael Moore, you could imagine a different way he might tell it, which would probably be great. The film clearly has a point of view, but I want the viewer to have some agency in evaluating and deciding where they stand, and so I think that’s important.


SP: This is a bit off subject, maybe, but I wanted to ask you, as one of our pre-eminent documentarians, what you make of Werner Herzog’s famous Minnesota Declaration of 1999, in which he declared that deeper strata of truth in cinema, the “poetic, ecstatic truth”…

SJ: Right, versus “accountants’ truth.”

SP: …can only be reached through “fabrication and imagination and stylization?”

SJ: Yeah, well I think, look: he’s an amazing filmmaker, and he makes films that embody that philosophy. And he makes brilliant films. But there are all kinds of films, there are all kinds of ways to make documentaries. I don’t think there’s one way to go about it, and I certainly don’t think any documentary sets out to make what he would call “accountants’ truth.” So, you know, I think that…look: it works for him, but I think that he may be trying to present the choices creatively in very black and white terms, and I don’t see it that way.

SP: Thank you so much. I’m a great admirer, so thank you for your time.

SJ: Oh, thank you, thank you.


Interview with Fabio Frizzi

October 25th, 2016 by Patrick

Frizzi was interviewed on the occasion of his performance of his new score for THE BEYOND at the Music Box Theatre.

Kyle Cubr: Can you please tell me about your relationship with Lucio Fulci?

Fabio Frizzi: Lucio Fulci was one of the first directors I ever worked with. I had a few years work experience and then I met him. Our first occasion was the soundtrack of FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE. From that day and for many years to come, Lucio was one of my the directors I frequently collaborated with. He was definitely a good friend and a great reference point for my professional and artistic growth.

KC: What got you into music?

FF: My family’s love of music, a music teacher at my elementary school, and picking up the guitar at age 14. These were the basics of me falling in love with music. The passion for Bach, a deep appreciation for the Beatles plus many pop and rock groups of the time, and, the discovery of the magic of a film soundtrack all did the rest for me. It’s difficult to reconstruct in retrospect why things go in a certain direction, but surely there was a predisposition and it was nice to live through its development.

KC: Who are some composers whose work have influenced you?

FF: Artistic influences are an important aspect of any career. Aside from the usual passions that I have just mentioned, I think my inspiration has always come from many musical interests— the more different and varied, the better. Among other things, my paternal grandparents were passionate about opera and perhaps from there came a bit of added passion.

KC: You’ve been composing for a long time now. What’s the secret to your success and longevity?

FF: I think my little secret is passion. I’ve always loved this activity and viewed it as something beautiful, a gift that I had made. Surely it also takes a bit of luck and the ability to be in the right place at the right time, but I think my passion and a bit of humility were a great mixture.

KC: Where did the idea to do a Composer’s Cut of THE BEYOND come from?

FF: Like many of my colleagues, I always wanted to do a live version of one of my soundtracks. Unfortunately, the existing music in the original version of THE BEYOND was a little lacking in some areas. My idea of extending the original score to tell the beautiful story with a new musical complicity seemed like a good idea. Then, when I started, it opened up new horizons for the film.

KC: What makes your version different from the original?

FF: The original recording included 52 tracks, of which only a part were edited on film. I started from there, then I created a very simple sub-theme that has become the punctuation on this new soundtrack.

KC: Is there a director, living or dead, that you wish you could work with?

FF: There were so many in the past and there are even more now. But beyond big names and directorial skill, I have always tried, and will always continue to try, is working with a category of directors who love music and consider it to be an irreplaceable ally to the film’s overall presentation.

KC: What film score are you most proud of and why?

FF: For the ones who wrote them, soundtracks are like composer’s children, and among the children you do not choose. But, there are many themes that i have played back after a long time since making them that make me feel proud to be their author.

KC: What are your 3 favorite films?

FF: Three titles? It’s very difficult. BLADE RUNNER is the film of my life, a great parable of human existence. I’ve seen it many times, in all its various versions, and there is always something new to discover. Not to mention how much the soundtrack by Vangelis was important to me. Two more titles on the fly… Two other titles on the fly: PLAY IT AGAIN SAME and FORREST GUMP.

KC: What new projects are you working on?

FF: There are many. First, FULCIANA. The adventure has just begun really. Then I am engaged in two high profile theater projects, then a very beautiful musical comedy, continuing this film run of my Composer’s Cut, which will be released in a large theater in Rome on March 15, 2017.


Interview with A MAN CALLED OVE’s Hannes Holm

September 29th, 2016 by Patrick

Interview with A MAN CALLED OVE’s Hannes Holm

By Kyle Cubr


Kyle Cubr: What drew you to Ove’s story and to make the film?

Hannes Holm: I had heard of the book but never read it. I got an offer to do this film from the producer, Annica Bellander, and she told me it’s a story about a grumpy old man (Ove) who meets this immigrant woman. After meeting, he becomes decent. It was this very politically correct story and also a best-seller. Haha, obviously I turned it down, and said, “thank you, but no thanks.” However, I’m not that rich and I ended up getting a free copy of the book. That same evening, I went home and started to read the book while in bed. I found myself, when the sun rose in the morning, crying. In this story, I was surprised to find some pieces that weren’t about the grumpy old man meeting the immigrant woman. It was pieces about the grumpy old man’s earlier life. This was interesting to me, so I changed my mind and said yes. I’m used to writing my own material. I’m not used to telling other people’s stories because it would be so embarrassing to ruin them. I met Freddy Backman, the author. He said that he didn’t know anything about filmmaking so please write the script. He was… how old are you?

KC: I’m 26.

HH: He’s like 34 or 35; I’m 53. I wrote the script in two months. I’ve never written a script that fast. As a screenwriter, it usually takes me about a year. I mailed him the script. He answered me the next day. I was a bit concerned about what he’d have to say, but it was just one word. Yes. I loved it in a kind of way. Thinking about all the failures of best selling novels being adapted into films, I was worried how easy it is to go the wrong direction, so I started to reflect upon that. My reflections aren’t done yet, but I think I have some answers. I think, in many ways, the directors and producers are taking the popular novel too far into the the production and treating them like they are The Bible. Sometimes a stupid priest reads The Bible and misinterprets it. I didn’t want to do that. I reread the book a few dozen times and then gave the novel to my mommy. I said, “I don’t want to see it again while I’m writing the screenplay.”  You can compare it to… Have you ever read a book?

KC: Of course.

HH: You have?!?! Kyle, you’re a kind of intellectual.

KC: It’s just the glasses.

HH: Fantastic. If you’re saying to your best friend that you just read a great novel and they ask what it was about, you tell your friend the story of the novel because he will probably never read it. But really, you don’t tell the story. You tell your version of it. When I realized that at 53 years old, I’m not going to tell Freddy Backman’s story. I’m going to tell Hannes Holm’s story. Then it was very easy to start to write the screenplay. It felt more like my own story at that point.

KC: Where there any elements from the novel that you wanted to include but were unable to?

HH: There’s a famous scene, in the first Chapter of the book. Ove is buying an iPad. That was the moment were the author, Freddy Backman, got the idea to write the book after he was standing in a queue with this grumpy old man in front of him buying an iPad. That scene is spectacular in the book and everyone who has read the book talks to me about it. That was the first scene from the novel that I didn’t include in the film because if I’m going to have a scene where a person is buying an iPad or other electronic device, they become outdated within two or three years. I didn’t want it to look dated. A few years down the line, I would dread having someone watch my film, and during the first scene, spot the old iPad and think to themselves that this is very dated. So, I changed that scene into one where Ove goes to a flower shop instead to buy flowers for his wife’s tombstone and argues over whether or not he’s entitled to the bargain of buying one item at the same rate as it would be discounted to if he were to buy two. In a way, it’s kind of funny to see vintage scenes with older equipment. When I do films, I try to avoid those because I don’t want people to think incorrectly that it is a period piece when it is not. The ending of the film is not the same as the novel. I took my ending a bit further because as a mature director, if Ove wants to be with Sonja (his wife) for the whole movie, he must really meet her. I really wanted him to succeed in that meeting.

KC: Tragedy is a central theme and it is often revisited through flashback. Would you say that Ove is a hopeful man despite all the tragedies he’s had to face?

HH: Good question. OVE is a tragedy; therefore, it’s important to let the audience know that somewhere he (Ove) is not a tragedy. That’s where the cat he gets comes into play. The production company didn’t want the cat in the film because if you have animals or children on set, it costs money. The production company didn’t really believe in the film. They just thought that it was a light comedy so they said, “Let’s skip the cat.” I told them that there are already so many aggressive book lovers who will crucify us if we remove him. I struggled for the cat. When a man or woman on film is being nice to an animal, the audience connects more. When John Cleese during A FISH CALLED WANDA is killing the dogs, he’s doing the opposite of what we wanted to do.

KC: What would you say is the film’s message about intergenerational relationships?

HH: In a way, it’s like seeing your father doing things that you’ve been seeing all your life. You’re so bored and think it’s ineffective. It’s a film that makes you realize maybe your father is not wrong about how to do these things. On the other hand, if your father sees you with your new ideas about everything and you connect on that, I think the film can be a bit more liberal towards the old patterns. It asks old people to be more open to the young people. The funny thing is that the immigrant woman in this film, Parvaneh, lives in these semi-attached houses we have in Sweden. They’re a very common Swedish house. Second-generation immigrants in Sweden are moving into these kinds of neighborhoods because they’re starting to earn so much money that they can afford it. Parvaneh is taking food to this stubborn, old, grumpy man (Ove) and offering it to him. He’s like, “What are you doing?” because in Sweden you just don’t do that now. We did it in the 50’s and 60’s, maybe even the 70’s, but not in this current century. She’s a second-generation immigrant and does this. In the film, this shows that the food tastes good and that Ove has nobody to cook for him. It allows him to connect in a small way. It felt warm to be able to show that.

KC: Were there any pieces from your own life that you incorporated into the film?

HH: Any pieces from my own life? Good question. Hmmm, yes. One of the best scenes of course. It’s only one shot when Ove and Parvaneh connect and they’re happy. It’s right after the middle of the film. Everything is going well, and they’re laughing to each other. She says she can take care of Sonja’s things and Ove becomes a bit angry. “Don’t go there,” he says. She asks again and he asks her not to say that to him. That scene ends in a quarrel. It’s a scene which I love and I think it has a bit of my own life in it. I like to laugh, but sometimes you say things that can upset people. It’s something I’ve done in my life many times. Then their are many mental pictures that came to mind like when I was a child that influenced me. Going back to that scene, it was a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ kind of thing to me.

KC: So Ove is very affected after her passing, what did Sonja truly mean to him?

HH: Too much. Because much like the Beatles would sing about “Love, love, love”, love is often mentioned with a positive connotation. For Ove, love is a destructor. He’s addicted to love. He gets sucked very deeply into it. Therefore, Parvaneh learns from him how you have to balance love because Ove says at the beginning of the film that there wasn’t anything before Sonja and it’s nothing after Sonja. That’s a very stupid thing to say. The love between Ove and Sonja was very destructive when he was forced to go without it.

KC: Rolf Lassgård’s performance really stands out in your film. Was he always your first choice to play the lead character?

HH: He was. He’s one of Sweden’s most celebrated actors. He would be one of the 5 best actors you could count on one hand. He doesn’t really come from a comedic background though. It was very important to me not to use a comedian. When I called him and asked him to play Ove, he said, “But Hannes, I am not a comedian” because I am a comedian back in Sweden. We helped each other; me as a comedian and he as a dramatist. He was afraid of the comedic relief scenes in the film and I would help him with those. I was afraid of the more dramatic scenes and he helped me.

KC: One of my favorite running gags in the whole movie is Ove’s feud with Rune about their car brand preferences. So I have to ask you, Saab or Volvo?

HH: My family is a Saab family. It was so funny to do those scenes. From the late 60’s to near this time, there was a divide between Saab families and Volvo families. Saab families were considered sporty and adventurous. Volvo families were a bit richer because Volvo was always the more expensive car to have. When we did this film, they stopped producing Saab’s. The magic thing was the town we decided to shoot the film in was exactly one of the town’s were they used to produce Saab cars. Everyday we went to the Saab museum. Today we own a brown Saab from 1978.

KC: Last question, Hannes. Any new projects that you are currently working on?

HH: I’m working on a very, very Swedish film about a Swedish pop artist who became schizophrenic. His name was Ted Gärdestad. When he was 14 or 15, he came up against Björn Borg in the regional finals for tennis. He was a very skilled tennis player, but when he turned 16, he quit tennis to focus on music. He wrote some songs, and Sweden News liked them. Ben Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, of ABBA before there was ABBA, was some of his collaborators amongst . He was able to release his first album and it was a huge success in Sweden. On the next album, Björn said he and Ben could not help because they had started a new group— ABBA. Ted inspired ABBA to be ABBA. He was very talented but became schizophrenic. That’s my next Swedish project. I’m still waiting, but Hollywood hasn’t called yet…

Interview with THE GOAT’s Andrew Neel

September 24th, 2016 by Patrick

Interview with THE GOAT’s Andrew Neel

by Kyle Cubr


Kyle Cubr: Where did the idea to make Goat come from?

Andrew Neel: The memoir (Goat) was written in the early 2000’s and then David Gordon Green wrote the first draft of the script. Christine Vachon and David Hinojosa actually brought me the script in the summer of 2014. I read it, and it felt like an opportunity to me to make a version of Lord of the Flies in a frat house. It seemed very interesting to me.

KC: What filmmakers have influenced your work?

AN: Werner Herzog, Lars Von Trier, Fritz Lang. I’m drawing a blank right now but there are many.

KC: Were you in a fraternity in college?

AN: No, I wasn’t. I went to boarding school though. I was in a house with forty men, well, forty teenagers which is even worse. I’d seen hazing before. I don’t think there’s a man alive in the world that grew up around other men that hasn’t seen some kind of hazing of one sort or another. I also played hockey and lacrosse. Organized athletics have a lot of the same kind of behavior that goes on.

KC: How do you feel about hazing in college fraternities?

AN: I think it’s horrible. I don’t think that people should be tortured. I think that’s what’s portaryed in the film is a very extreme version of the process, but it’s not one that I would say is uncommon, if I had to guess. I think when people are regularly breaking the Geneva Convention on college campuses, someone should do something about it. Some people may be able to just brush that experience off and move on with their life. There’s some people, like the main character (Brad) in our film, that can be really damaged by hazing. If people are dying, it goes without saying that it shouldn’t be happening.

KC: Brotherhood is a strong theme in GOAT, both literally and figuratively, what makes Brad and Brett’s relationship so central to the overall movie?

AN: I think there’s literal brotherhood and then there’s constructed brotherhood which is the frat. Eventually their relationship as brothers allows both of them to understand that what they’re going through is destructive and unhealthy.

KC: What was it like working with Chewie (the actual goat) on set?

AN: He was a really easy going goat. He was pretty chill when all the stuff was going on around him. He didn’t really react. He didn’t seem to get freaked out that easily even when there was a lot of noise and commotion going on around him. He took it pretty well.

KC: Did he have a stand in?

AN: No. It was just Chewie by himself. Basically all he wanted to do was eat the grain that his animal wrangler had. They put him in a harness that you see in the movie to move him around. He was just easy to work with.

KC: If you were trapped on a desert island and could only watch three movies for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

AN: Whoa, that’s tough. I guess I would need a variety of experiences to watch. Okay, I would go with THE GRAND ILLUSION, FITZCARRALDO, and AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD. Wait, I don’t want to do Herzog’s. Let’s say ALIEN. No, fuck it, BLADE RUNNER. So, THE GRAND ILLUSION, FITZCARRALDO, and BLADE RUNNER. One’s uplifting, one’s insane, and one’s a cool sci-fi.

KC: What’s next for you, Andrew?

AN: I’m working on a couple things. I got a pilot with FX based on a previous film I made called KING KELLY. I’m developing a fictional remake of a documentary I made called DARKON which is the first film I ever made and was what I was known for before I made GOAT. I also have a couple other TV shows that I’m pitching in addition to writing a script called ZOLA for James Franco to direct too.

Interview with DON’T THINK TWICE Director Mike Birbiglia

July 29th, 2016 by Patrick

Interview with DON’T THINK TWICE Director Mike Birbiglia

By Cine-File’s Kyle Cubr and‘s Pat McDonald

Pat McDonald: You showed the spectrum of show business ambition within the comedy group dynamic in the film. From where you stand now, which level of ambition intrigues you the most?

Mike Birbiglia: When I watch the film I’m most drawn to Sam’s character, who wants to have integrity and wants it to be about the group. But I also clearly have the ambition of Jack, because making a feature film is a pretty ambitious undertaking. [laughs] I will say what I aspire to is a consistency in making films, to direct something every couple of years.

PM: Would you then say that each of the improv group characters contain a bit of your personality at different levels?

MB: Yes. I always think in terms of I write about my experiences or what I’ve observed or heard about. Not all of it is me, but there are definite parts in all of the characters.

Kyle Cubr: Given the nature of your stand-up act, how do your prioritize drama over comedy in your film?

MB: I was a screenwriting major in college, and really wanted to do that after I graduated, but there are no job listings for that, as we all know. I had many classmates that made it in the business, but stand-up comedy was my way in, and my first film ‘Sleepwalk with Me’ was based on those autobiographical experiences. I thought if I could do stand-up comedy well enough, I could parlay it back into films – like Charlie Chaplin and Woody Allen did. They merged principles of comedy and drama together, and that’s what my first film really was, a stab at that kind of comedy. When I made ‘Sleepwalk with Me,’ many people asked me if was a novelty thing, a one-off. But this is the goal, I’m just hitting it 12 years after I thought I would.

PM: Creating the alternate universe ‘Saturday Night Live’ seemed like a lot of fun. What did you want to say about this 40 year old dynamic that had been percolating for a lot of years?

MB: Interesting that you ask that question. I actually love ‘Saturday Night Live,’ like a sports fan watches their favorite team to see how they’re doing. I know the players and the writers, I’ve known several people on that show for a number of years. In the film, the fictional ‘SNL’ is the brass ring for the comedy group. It symbolizes a singular sort of success. In our culture right now, I want to take on this notion of what a singular success means. We think success is one thing, but it’s actually a spectrum of where our life takes us. I’ve experienced that in my life. In my twenties, I thought it was getting a sitcom. Then I got a sitcom pilot in my early thirties, and realized I didn’t want it. It was a rude awakening. When it wasn’t picked up, I was crushed, but then in retrospect I’ve made two films and produced three one-man shows since then. It’s the luckiest thing that happened in my life.

KC: What do you think the film has to say about getting what you want, success-wise, or just making it?

MB: Similar to my previous answer, I think our culture views success as visibility, being seen as being successful. Whereas I’ve learned that success is rooted in helping and connecting to other people, and knowing where you can contribute. I’ve kind of spent my thirties doing that, because in my twenties I was seeking any kind of success. I figured out in my thirties it was about ‘what can I contribute’? And what I figured out about that is creating something from scratch, and connecting it to people. What I write is emotionally honest and truthful as the human experience can be, to make people feel less alone, or at least that’s the hope. At a certain point I realized that all I have to give is myself, and it took me awhile to realize that.

PM: What do you believe was the funniest moment that came out of improvisation in the final result of the picture?

MB: When Gillian Jacobs said the ‘last drop of blood is the sweetest nectar,’ which was just one of the weirdest and most perverse moment in context, and it was completely improvised. I thought, she hadn’t even trained in improvisation and she was as good as anyone. Gillian is brilliant, and it was Lena Dunham that recommended her. I didn’t see her in the part, but Lena told me that Gillian can do anything. It turned out to be true. With this film, I believe we’re going to witness the beginnings of movie stardom for Gillian.

KC: One of the major themes of the film is the comedy “team” versus the individual. Do you have to be selfish to be successful in such a dynamic?

MB: You got me! [laughs] Sure. I wrote on my desk wall when I was writing the film…’Art is socialism, but life is capitalism.’ That’s the hard thing in all of it if you expect to make a living. Where art and business intersect is a challenging hurdle for a lot of people, reconciling the fact that not everyone is going to make it in the same way. Yeah, you have to be a little selfish, probably. I’ve been selfish over the years, and other people who have made it have too, but I can only speak for myself.

PM: When you were stuck on something having to do with this film, and thinking like having a ‘What would Jesus do’? type bracelet, what would be your go-to, as in ‘What would _______ do?’

MB: Elia Kazan. He wrote my favorite book about filmmaking, ‘Elia Kazan: On Directing.’ There is a thing in the book that I do every time, it’s part of my production structure. He said when you’re hiring an actor, ask them what draws them to the project, and don’t lead them to the answer. I have this habit of asking ‘why do you want to do it?’ and then interrupting them to say, ‘here’s why you want to do it.’ [laughs] Because it’s in the ‘yes…and’ spirit [rule of improvisation]. You want them to want to do it for the reasons you want them to do it. But you can’t lead them to it. It goes for everyone on the set…cinematographers up to editors.

KC: You showcased the improvisation method of stage comedy in the film. What do you think of that type of work versus writing sketch comedy?

MB: All techniques of comedy are valid and interesting to me. When I was in college my improvisation troupe and I did a road trip to Chicago, and went to The Second City to see the classic ‘Paradigm Lost’ revue – with Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Scott Adsit and Kevin Dorff. It blew my mind, and proved to me you can do sketch comedy like you’re doing ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night.’ We could treat it like theater. I also saw Steven Wright do stand-up comedy when I was 16 years old. It flipped my brain upside down. With improv, Uptight Citizen’s Brigade in New York City is doing amazing things. It’s so hard for me to answer your question without saying, all of these things are great…when they are great. Inversely, they are terrible when they’re terrible. [laughs]

PM: What do you think the disconnect is between what is funny to you, and what is funny to the audience, and how does a working comedian close that gap?

MB: I struggled with that notion early in my career. ‘I know this is funny but nobody is laughing.’ This thought occurred for years. [laughs] I have a bit in my show ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’ about the amusement park ride called The Scrambler. It was when I was in seventh grade, and I was at the fair with a girl, I thought maybe I would have my first kiss while on that ride. We were ‘scrambling’ but I knew I was going to throw up. I kept saying ‘please stop the ride,’ and we went around again, ‘please stop the ride.’ I told a friend that story when I was 24 years old. He told me I had to tell it on stage. At that time, I wasn’t the comedian that I became. I couldn’t pull it off on stage at the time, but it became the centerpiece theme of ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’ nine years later. I think sometimes you don’t understand how to convey an idea, depending on the moment you’re living in.

KC: You told a Q&A audience that there is a difference in being clever, versus speaking from heart. How much of ‘Don’t Think Twice’ do you think is both clever and speaking from the heart?

MB: I think it’s all heart, and I think the cleverness is inadvertent. It is six clever people who I booked, that have opened up their hearts. You get the cleverness by default, I think.

PM: You are having a dinner party with four other comedians or even comic actor/directors, living or dead. Who are they and why do you want to have dinner with them?

MB: Okay, first would be [stand-up comedian] Maria Bamford, because she is entirely unique, hilarious and creative, empathetic and sweet. Mitch Hedberg, because I think he is one of the great comedians of the past 20 years. Also Lenny Bruce, so he could explain to me what happened. [laughs] And finally Richard Pryor, for similar reasons, to explain what he spawned.

KC: What do you hope the film says to aspiring filmmakers and comedians?

MB: Stop. You can’t do any better. [laughs] Seriously, it is similar to what I said in the Q&A last night, which was it’s all you have to give of yourself. It takes so long to figure that out, and you can’t teach it, because it’s something that everyone has to learn individually. There are so many people who are clever. There are 8000 people at Princeton who are more clever than the three of us at this table. BUT, we have the ability to give something that they don’t have…which is us.

PM: You mentioned ‘yes…and’ as one of the famous rules of improvisation. What are some of the other rules?

MB: Why I still do it, even though I’ve never made a dime doing it, [laughs] is that I get out of my head. You get out of your head. I love that.

[Charna Halpern, co-founder of iO Chicago, walks into the interview]

MB: Charna, what do you think is the most important thing about improvisation other than ‘yes…and’?

Charna Halpern: The way it makes better people.

Birbiglia: YES!

CH: We get people to take care of each other. Del [Close, co-founder] and I created ‘theater of the hurt,’ where we get people to take care of each other on stage. When you do that, it comes off the stage, you’re just better to everyone in the community.

MB: That’s exactly right, Charna. I’m stealing that answer.


Interview with TICKLED Co-Director David Farrier

June 24th, 2016 by Patrick

Interview with TICKLED Co-Director David Farrier

by Kyle Cubr


Kyle Cubr – Last Saturday, you guys had a screening out in LA. [Co-director] Dylan Reeve was accosted out in the lobby and one of the film’s subjects showed up during the Q&A. What did you think about all of that?

David Farrier – We wondered whether something like this would happen but not to this scale. We had a situation were two of the central characters in the film turned up to our screening very publicly in the middle of the audience. They confronted us. At the very end of the Q&A session, one of the central figures in the story essentially said that the legal action wasn’t over and to expect more. It was full on. I was in New York and watching the live stream of the whole thing. I was talking with Dylan on the phone as the film was on because he knew that they were there. We discussed how to approach it, what was going to happen, and what to expect. I was very far removed but also there.

KC – You guys use some guerrilla filmmaking techniques to try to make it not so obvious that you’re recording people. Did these cause any other unforeseen consequences?

DF – No, not really. We’re being super careful about what we put in this film. Obviously this company is incredibly litigious. So as far as what we release to the public, we’re going to be incredibly careful that everything is legal and fine. I’m incredibly satisfied with what’s in the film and that we went about things in the correct way. I was very paranoid about this whole thing because the last thing I want to do is slip up. I’m happy, but they’re not very happy about being in the film at all. We kind of expected some pushback there.

KC – How did you stumble upon the competitive tickling videos in the first place?

DF – I was a light entertainment reporter and I’ve been doing that for years. Friends of mine would often just try to out-weird me with things they’d find when they’d send me story ideas. My friend a link to Jane O’Brien Media and I opened it. It was this tickling competition. It sounded wild because there was a lot of money behind it and it was happening in L.A. New Zealanders were being flown to take part in these tickling contests. It’s a twelve hour flight; it’s expensive. They were all being paid for, $1500 cash minimum for tickling. I thought it was crazy, so in the film, I reached out to them for an interview. Immediately I got this homophobic response which is weird because the videos were homoerotic. I think anyone watching them would agree. My mum would watch them and say, “Oh, yeah. That is a bit gay.” All of that was very weird to me, so I started publishing a blog for my news organization with all these emails that were coming back and forth just showing I said this then this happened, etc… Then I heard from this attorney in New York saying to stop or face the consequences. That’s were I thought there’s more going on than just tickling. This happened very quickly from finding it to shooting it was less than a month. It was pretty uncanny.

KC – How long was the whole filming process?

DF – From finding it to finishing the film and then having it at Sundance was around two years. We funded it with a Kickstarter and that let us go to America to get a lot of our research and initial shooting done. We came back to New Zealand and we got some more money from the New Zealand government. We went back to the U.S. and shot a lot more.

KC – What was your relationship with Dylan like prior to the project?

DF – It was pretty loose. We weren’t good friends. We knew each other but had only met one time before. We were just friends on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t know if it’s like that in America. In New Zealand, you’ll meet someone once then friend them online and then get to know them from a distance. I had taken a screen grab of that first strange reply from Jane O’Brien Media and put it on my Facebook. He thought this is weird. He has a great curious brain. Immediately he started asking, “Who is Jane O’Brien? What is this website?” Pretty quickly he found out that there was this link between Jane O’Brien and a shitload of other websites that all had to do with tickling. Obviously, they were a tickle obsessed company. He got legal letters as well, so we bonded over that attack on us. I invited him out for pizza at my house and said that we should do a Kickstarter to make a film about this thing because it seems to be a bigger story. People have enjoyed reading our blogs and we’re curious about it, so why not try to make a documentary about it?

KC – How many legal notices were sent to you during the process?

DF – I don’t have a number and I’m not going to even guess because there’s ongoing legal action. There were enough to make us concerned at the time. They were coming from lots of different parties. For instance, it’s not in the film, but we we dealt with a DCMA claim when we posted a video for the Kickstarter. We countered that saying that it was fine. Once you do that, it’s a legal contract that they can take against you, and that was a threat. It wasn’t like it was one   source. We were getting letters, e-mails, and YouTube stuff. There were a lot of notices.

KC – How do you think your journalism background prepared you to make TICKLED?

DF – I think it was helpful. I had a plan going, and Dylan did too, on we could achieve the results we got. Back in New Zealand, I work with the current affairs journalists, and we get along really well. From a distance, I’ll be doing my silly story about Justin Bieber and they’d be doing a story on trying to get someone freed from prison or doing secret filming of a meeting. I was really inspired by all that. I had a good idea in my head of what to achieve and how I could achieve it.

KC – I noticed during the credits that you selected a lot of songs by Shane Carruth for the score. Why did you decide to go with that aesthetic?

DF – I’m a huge fan of his films. I saw PRIMER and got obsessed with it like anyone that knows Shane. UPSTREAM COLOR is one of my favorite films, and I have loved the soundtrack which is his music. When Simon Coldrick was cutting this thing, he selected some music that he liked, and I selected some music that I liked. I thought, tonally, that it was bang on because it was slightly playful but also very sinister which fitted in with certain bits of the film. We used that music and then we approached Shane when it came to that time to license music. We showed him the film and he said you can use it.

KC – I found there to be a little bit of a parallel with UPSTREAM COLOR were everyone has their identity stripped from them and then thrust back into reality.

DF – It’s funny you say that because I’m probably like you. I’m obsessed with that film. I don’t know why but I get very emotional watching it. I find it deeply resonating. It’s like watching a bit of art. You can’t explain why it’s doing the things to you that it is. It’s about taking over power and control which is exactly what TICKLED is about. I think I naturally associated the two. Maybe Shane saw some of those parallels as well. I’m really proud of that music being in there. It makes me happy. If these leads people to UPSTREAM COLOR then that’s great.

KC – What do you think TICKLED has to say about online anonymity and even bullying to a larger extent?

DF – I think it has a lot to say. It’s called TICKLED, but it’s not about tickling. Tickling becomes very secondary to the whole thing, but it could be about any fetish. It is about someone who has a lot of money, power, and control. Tickling as a visual metaphor is great because you have someone who has complete power over someone else; you physically have someone tied down without power and someone tickling them. That theme built right out into the online bullying aspect and the area that this film ends up going to. I hope that people will walk away being more cautious about the internet because some people act like they’ve seen it all and that they’re not going to be tricked by anything. I think that it’s still very possible to be tricked by the internet. Hopefully people will think about the larger power structure as it is in the Western world and especially in America. If you’re Donald Trump and you have a lot of money, you can just sue people and it will shut them up.

KC – Building from that topic, how does the film sound off about economic disparity?

DF – Dylan and I saw something that we thought was not right. A film seemed to be a way that we could put it right or at least expose something that was happening. The way that people without a lot of resources were being treated by a company that had seemingly endless resources was really disturbing to us. I’m glad you bring that up because if we don’t highlight this stuff, then it’s just going to keep happening. I’m not saying our film is going to change the world, but it’s another example of how messed up things are at the moment.

KC – Did you learn anything about yourself during filming that surprised you?

DF – I never imagined that I would make a documentary that seems to resonate with people. I think that everyone identifies with certain aspects of it: we’re all on the internet, we’re all part of that world now. I think that this is a story that’s such an extreme version of what can go wrong that everyone takes it to heart. I’m really proud of that. You learn more about yourself everyday. Dylan and I are pleased that we both proceeded with it because there were times where we both wanted to walk away from it. I’m glad we didn’t. I learned that it does really help, when you’re making a film and you’re under threat of any kind, if you’ve got someone that you’re in it with. Solidarity is so important. It was valuable to have Dylan with me.

KC – Do you think the owner of Jane O’Brien Media (and his previous company) will face any kind of ramifications for his involvement in these groups besides the two previous misdemeanor charges?

DF – I don’t know, and I can’t talk on it too much. Dylan and I saw a situation that didn’t seem right and we just wanted to put that out there. Where that goes from there is up to the world to sort out.

KC – Is there anything you’d like to say to him if you saw him again, or can you not really comment on it at this time?

DF – I can’t comment. There are things I’d like to say, but I cannot given the current situation.

KC – Have there been any other legal actions taken since the film’s completion?

DF – There were two lawsuits filed, one in Utah and one in Missouri, for defamation. Those have been dismissed and the owner of Jane O’Brien talks about them in the video during what happened in L.A. last Saturday. If you watch the last ten minutes it’s interesting because he talks on that stuff a bit.

KC – Are you ticklish?

DF – I am. I got tickled by Richard (the good tickler) in that tickling chair from the film. Richard’s awesome. He’s been with us in New York, and he turns up to Q&A’s. People like seeing Dylan and I because they want to talk about the film, but then Richard will come in, people lose it. I was tickled just to experience it and as a bit of a joke on his behalf. He said if it’s going to be in our film then he would have to tickle me first. I agreed. Ten minutes and it’s full on. I’m very ticklish and it was awful. I would not rush back. It’s bad man. When you can’t get away from it, it’s nightmarish.

KC – Kinda like when police officers have to be maced or tazed themselves before they’re allowed to carry mace or a taser?

DF – They do don’t they. That gives me the creeps especially the idea of being tazed as well. I’m just a massive wimp basically.

KC – What’s next for you?

DF – I don’t know. I thought that this story was over, but after last Saturday, it seems like it’s going to keep going. We’ll be hearing from Jane O’Brien Media in the future. I’m working on some other documentary ideas that are in the early stages. In my spare time when I’m not thinking about tickling, i’m working on these other ideas. I like to think that my life isn’t going to be completely consumed by tickling until I die. I’m just happy the film is out there. The whole intent of the film was to expose something and now it’s been exposed.

KC – Anything else to add?

DF – I’m pretty happy. I never thought this film would reach as far as the United States. New Zealand is a very small country. We’ve got just over 4 million people and then you get to American cities and there’s one’s that are well over that number. I’m excited to have this reach such a large audience. I would encourage people to see the film before googling about it. After they’ve seen it, try to do their own deep dive, especially into everything that’s happened since because I think that it makes it an interactive, fun experience.


THE INVITATION: Interview with Karyn Kusama and Phil Hay

April 16th, 2016 by Patrick

THE INVITATION: Interview with Karyn Kusama and Phil Hay

By Kyle Cubr

The Invitation is currently playing at the Music Box Theatre. Below is our interview with Director Karyn Kusama and Co-writer Phil Hay.



Kyle Cubr – So you guys worked together about a decade ago on AEON FLUX. How has your previous collaboration contributed to this film?

Karyn Kusama –  Wow that’s a great question. We haven’t been asked that. I think we always clicked creatively. It was always very clear that we listened to one another. Phil has a writing partner who can’t be here with us right now, Matt Manfredi. We all as a team really worked really cohesively together, and I think, if anything, that just reminded us, year after year, when we weren’t working together that we had to get back to that. And so, I feel like it’s a return for us.

Phil Hay – Yeah. I think in that experience too built a lot of trust between the three of us, and felt a real strong sense of artistic connection and then also personal connection. It really did lay a groundwork for a lot of other stuff.

KC – Where did the idea for THE INVITATION come from?

PH – My partner Matt and I were spending a lot of time talking, and this is many years ago. This script, at least the ideas, are at least ten years in the making. We started talking about just the idea of being alienated from someone you love and know deeply and the idea that kind of came from, the first idea we had about it was the idea what if you were married to someone or you loved that person and they disappeared kind of out of nowhere and when they came back, they were a completely different person. How horrifying that would be on an emotional level so we always approached this movie as an emotional thriller, emotional horror story and then we started talking a lot about our own experiences with grief and about what a potent emotion that is and how anyone that comes at you with a supposed answer for that is perhaps suspect because it’s so personal and individual. So we started then developing this idea of a group that was about trying to erase people’s pain and how that might sound great on the surface and how that would be really destructive below it. It was more ideas and then later story came, the vehicle to tell that.

KC – In the opening scene, Will hits a coyote with his car and he puts it out of its misery with a tire iron. The theme of showing mercy to those in pain persists throughout. What would you say the film’s message on mercy and letting go is?

KK – I think mercy and its definition sort of differs from person to person obviously and in the world of the film. But the notion of letting go is a really interesting, thorny issue in the film. Because I think everyone too has different definitions of what letting go means. For some of us, when we’re grieving and in pain, letting go means letting go of the pushing back against that pain. It means integrating that pain into our daily life and accepting that it’s part of daily life. For other people, letting go of the pain might mean imagining a world where you don’t have anymore pain. I have opinions about what’s possible there and which one is the more realistic, workable solution or definition, but that’s sort of the conflict that the movie is exploring. Cause people have very different ideas about what letting go really means.

PH – I think that it’s a good question because though both of those concepts are very gray, very difficult to tell where on the spectrum of letting go or on the spectrum of mercy, different actions are. So that was part of our discussion in making this movie or this story is about, the one thing we can say, that we hope the movie says is that when you start letting other people define those things for you, not yourself, that’s when real bad things can start to happen.

KC – During the first half, Will is constantly framed in soft focus and shot in many closeups. This created a sense of isolation. Was the isolation intentional?

KK – Oh yes, absolutely. I had always imagined a visual scheme that made us feel very close to Will, but also expressed the limitations of his point of view and the sense that perhaps over time as we’re watching him perceive the evening we might wonder if he’s a very reliable interpreter of the night.

KC – Following up on that, there’s scenes were they’re all together and everyone is shot in hard focus. Do you feel that contributes to the paranoia he’s feeling at first as an outsider to some of the new people he’s never met?

KK – What you bring up is something we had to deal with in the making of the film. When do we see the group in a big group shot, all in focus for the most part? When do we see a more neutral depiction of the evening and where is Will in that? We often put Will at the edges of frame as a way to hint to the audience, even on an unconscious level, maybe what’s really happening is he’s just at the edge of this night, not really ever allowing himself to engage, and that’s why his particular point of view feels so limited and maybe paranoid.

PH – In story terms, to add to that, he’s constantly trying to get away, not out of the house but just in the corner where he can be by himself and people are always coming to try to pull him back in wherever he goes. That was also part of both the filmmaking and the storytelling. It was very important.

KC – Will walks around the house constantly. He wants to revisit old rooms and he’s reminded of his son and other incidents that happened. Would you view the house as an analogy for his mind? Where he’s walking from room to room and flooded with the memories of the horrible things that happened in a stream of conscious kind of way.

KK – That’s an interesting idea that the house is like this brainscape for the main character. I like that. I think we also imagined that it’s almost a haunted house. Haunted with a lot bad memories  and paradoxically, haunted with a lot of good memories. Part of the story is watching this character attempt to make peace with both of those things.

PH – The house is such an important entity in the movie, and indeed, I like thinking of it as part of Will’s mind because it is the conduit for him. That’s where he lives. Will is a very interior character. He’s trapped in his own mind and he’s trapped in his own way of seeing things. The house and his mind are both traps for him.

KC – Some parallels can be drawn between the Manson Family and Heaven’s Gate when examining The Invitation group within the film. Were there any other cult’s that you referenced or drew inspiration from when you designed The Invitation?

KK – Sadly there’s so many to choose from. Ultimately, The Invitation stands as its own spiritual system. It’s a combination of legitimate Eastern thought, legitimate New-Age thought, and far more nefarious belief systems out there.

PH – We tried to create something that wasn’t really a reference to any one specific thing, but that kind of pulls different ways that groups pull stuff from a lot of other groups to found exactly there own thing. It’s a lot of different things.

KC – The color red plays predominately at times and often reminded me of SUSPIRIA and THE SHINING, THE SIXTH SENSE more towards the end. What would you say is the most significant factor of red in this movie?

KK – Red is danger, red is alarm, red is bodily harm, red is passion. All of those things figure in to it. I knew, in thinking about the film, that I wanted it to have a pretty distinct color palette so that when and if red makes an appearance, we really feel its impact. It’s interesting that you bring up SUSPIRIA because a lot of the more traditional horror framing that I was interested in came from Dario Argento. That was a real inspiration to me, that artful approach to genre techniques.

KC – What did the freedom control shooting this film as an indie allow for you guys to do?

KK – I think the film speaks for itself. It is what it is. It’s sort of not everyone’s cup of tea, but it exists on its own terms. I embrace its successes, I embrace its failures, but I feel like it belongs to us. I don’t know if I could claim that of certainly every movie. I know I can’t claim that of every movie I’ve made, and I’m certain you agree, Phil. It’s a special privilege and one worth fighting for to keep making movies on your own terms.

PH – That’s been the experience for me too. To have the ability to do what we think is right as a collective and stand behind that no matter what. That’s been fun. The fact that it seems to be reaching people and communicating with people is very gratifying because we consider this a direct communication between us and any one person sitting there watching the movie. This whole thing feels very personal. That’s been really exciting to feel that when you go to a screening and when you talk to people afterwards, I feel so connected with everyone that’s talking to me about this movie which is a great experience.

KC – What’s next for you guys?

PH – Together, Matt and I are writing a script for Karyn right now that we’re almost done with that we want to make together. It’s another independent on a larger scale, but very resolutely an independent. It’s a cop thriller with a twist and female protagonist. We’re really excited about it. We’re trying to get that done soon and look forward to getting that made as soon as we can.

 – Friday, April 8 – Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 8th, 2016 by Patrick


Friday, April 8 - Thursday, April 14, 2016



Deborah Stratman’s THE ILLINOIS PARABLES (New Documentary)
Conversations at the Edge Series at the Gene Siskel Film Center – Thursday, 6pm

When I was in the second semester of my senior year of high school, drenched with that special hyperactive glee that can only come from being a teenager about to change the world through the power of having read very serious books by very dead people, I came across an unhinged and hyperbolic profile in the New York Times of a young writer of prodigious passion, voluminous productivity, and dangerous proclivities. He had embarked, the author of the article said, on a multi-novel project that set out to do nothing less than reconstitute the history of the European conquests in the North American continent, from the Viking settlements to the present day, through myth, autobiographical recreation, vividly poetic deconstruction, and obsessive archival research. The man being discussed was William T. Vollmann, arguably the greatest novelist in America today, and his cycle of books about America, ‘Seven Dreams,’ had its fifth volume published just last summer. As I was watching, and obsessively rewatching, Deborah Stratman’s beautiful new film, THE ILLINOIS PARABLES, I was unavoidably reminded of the gargantuan ambition and microhistorical approach that Vollmann has taken in his series. Stratman’s lyrical documentary takes the form, not of dreams, but of parables, eleven of them, each a loving, sometimes poignant and often terrible, frozen moment from Illinois’ past. A parable, in contrast to a dream, is a tale that encapsulates a spiritual truth, a way through story to teach a difficult lesson about a higher, better way of life, a grander, more virtuous kind of world, and how we might find a way to deserve those. THE ILLINOIS PARABLES is about the land of Illinois as much as it’s about the people who live here. Stratman shows it as a grand, expansive place, a landscape of fecundity and cruelty and catastrophe. Each of the parable-sections of the film offers a miniature meditation on an event from Illinois history, lushly photographed in gorgeous, complex shots combined in mesmerizing patterns. We see a wilderness, a pre-Columbian ruin, a snow-drowned dirt road, a crime scene recreation, a close-up of a painting, of a monument. The lives that once inhabited and once brought life to these images have been expelled: by the force of nature, by the force of racism, by the force of religious bigotry, by the force of greed, by the force of police assassination. Over the dense soundtrack, the sounds of nature form a peculiar and funereal music, punctuated only by the recitations, in voice-over, of unforgiving and blunt first-person narratives culled from our state’s past. The heart of the film for me is parable 9, an exploration of the Macomb Poltergeist, one of the most notorious poltergeist hauntings in American history. In the film, a young girl sits alone in a room. Slowly, a small spot appears on the wallpaper opposite her. It darkens, spreads, begins to glow hot. Small tongues of flame start to lick up out of the growing hole. Stratman cuts to found footage of a house mid-conflagration, moments away from collapsing entirely. The incomprehensible has become the palpable. The ineffable has descended to flesh. But the mystery has only deepened, and the state of emergency, the state of Illinois, is always just about to burst into fire. Stratman, like Vollmann, gives us each moment as a vision of how a place, how a person might have been, and what that possibility can mean to us now as we glacially awaken from our long nightmares into an incandescent present. Stratman in person. (2016, 60 min, 16mm) KB

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Yasujiro Ozu’s THERE WAS A FATHER (Japanese Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Wednesday, 7 and 9pm

“The film is uncompromisingly didactic in its fidelity to Japan’s wartime ethos,” writes Tony Rayns for the Criterion Collection about THERE WAS A FATHER, one of just two films that Yasujiro Ozu directed during WWII. “Besides promoting the cardinal virtues of loyalty and obedience, it teaches that every man should be content with his role in society, however modest, and should find fulfillment in doing his best.” FATHER tells the story of a humble widower (Chishu Ryu at his most heart-rending) who denies his son the affection he longs for in the process of working to the bone to put him through school. There is much speechifying about the importance of hard work and self-sacrifice, but because Ozu presents them with such sincerity and restraint (and because the film makes no overt reference to the war), the calls to duty feel less like propaganda and more like (very moving) proclamations of spiritual fortitude. And then there are the scenes concerning one of Ozu’s perennial themes, the sense of disappointment that’s integral to coming of age and to adult life in general. Shuhei, Ryu’s character, puts his son Ryohei in boarding school in small-town Ueda, paying for it by working in Tokyo. The film is as observant of Ryohei’s disappointment at living away from his father as it is of Shuhei’s nobility, resulting in an emotional complexity that’s typical of the director’s work. Rayns writes: “Ozu’s possible ambivalence [about FATHER’s overt messages] is felt most keenly in the way he dramatizes Ryohei’s emotional longings for his father, expressed not only in the protracted scene of the boy’s tears when he first learns that they are to live apart, but also in one of Ozu’s highly characteristic pieces of dramatic patterning. There are two scenes in which father and son go fishing together, the first when Ryohei is a boy, the second when he is a young man. On both occasions, they cast their lines in perfect sync with each other, a ‘replicated motion’ shot of the kind Ozu found so amusing and used in many of his films. But the boyhood version of the scene shows first father and son casting their lines in unison and then the boy standing stock-still as his father casts again. The effect of that momentary refusal to act in sync is indescribably poignant, and it reflects Ozu’s mastery of the poetic film language he had developed.” (1942, 87 min, 35mm) BS

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Jean Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes

One of the most widely known fairy tales thanks to its plethora of adaptations, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a timeless story about inner beauty. Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film version is visually lustrous and richly marked by stunning costumes, elaborate set design, and imaginative use of practical effects. Jean Marais’ duel roles as the unsightly Beast and the blonde, pretty boy Avenant, both of whom are determined to win Belle’s (Josette Day) hand in marriage, are juxtaposed against one another to represent France versus Germany during World War II. Cocteau possesses a fascination for eyes in this film with the implication that they are the windows to the soul. Repeated images of doors, windows, and mirrors all lend themselves to a metaphorical sense of discovery about the inner workings of a person’s mind. When mirrors are present, a self-reflection occurs, the introspection frequently taking on negative connotations. When an observer peers through a window or an enchanted door magically opens, extrospection is often employed, leading to a hidden trait being revealed about a character. The film’s romantic yet semi-tragic tone draws influence from the works of Shakespeare and Greek tragedies: Romeo and Juliet and hubris leading to a downfall serve as signifiers. For a film about surface appearance, two production asides seem appropriate: various film stocks used due to a post-war shortage produces textures in the image can be noticeably different from one scene to another, and a debilitating skin disease that Cocteau developed during the shoot is an ironic mimicking of the repulsiveness of the Beast. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, showing in a newly restored 35mm print, is ultimately one of the most haunting and dreamlike films ever to grace the silver screen. (1946, 94 min, 35mm; New Restoration) KC

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Chantal Akerman’s NO HOME MOVIE (New Belgian/Documentary)

Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes

Chantal Akerman’s NO HOME MOVIE—her last before her untimely death this past October—is a synthesis of the Belgian artist’s most personal work, more specifically the seminal JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAY DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES and the less ambitious but more intimate NEWS FROM HOME. It’s a quasi-documentary about Akerman’s mother in the months leading up to her death—they talk, they laugh, they suppress. It’s formally reminiscent of JEANNE DIELMAN, which Akerman said was “a love film for [her] mother,” as it “gives recognition to that kind of woman.” The likeness is perhaps most obvious in the scenes that take place in the green-tiled kitchen, bringing to mind Delphine Seyrig as she cooked, cleaned, and silently contemplated. At one point, Akerman’s mother says to her other daughter, “She’s never really talked to me,” referring to the filmmaker and recalling her gently pleading letters in NEWS FROM HOME. And finally, near the end, Akerman explains to a housekeeper how her mother fled Poland only to be captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. Examining topics from the mundane to the meaningful, Akerman uses her avant-garde sensibility to meditate on both a relationship and a lifetime in less than two hours. Much of her work imitated life in all its glorious banality, but NO HOME MOVIE considers life at its most honest and sublime. (2015, 115 min, DCP Digital) KS

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Michael Curtiz’s THE UNDESIRABLE (Silent Hungarian)

Music Box Theatre – Thursday, 7:30pm

Hollywood stalwart Michael Curtiz (whose career there stretched from the mid-1920s to the early 60s) is something of a minor conflict in cinephile circles: some (a minority, but still…) claim him as a clear auteur; others find him a solid, creative director whose films exhibit stylistic flair but not a consistent signature style that would push him into the auteurist camp. (I’m in the second group, though I like Curtiz immensely). Either way, it’s hard to argue against DOCTOR X, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, CASABLANCA, MILDRED PIERCE, and WHITE CHRISTMAS (among others). This screening, though, moves back, past his prolific U.S. career, to the near-beginnings of his also prolific Hungarian, and then more general European, career. Curtiz’s first film dates from 1912; THE UNDESIRABLE [A TOLONC] was shot just two years later, and released in 1915. Long thought lost, a complete print was found in the basement of the Hungarian House in New York City in 2008 and was repatriated to Hungary, where it underwent recently-completed restoration. Based on a folk play by Ede Tóth, and featuring Mari Jászai, one of the leading Hungarian stage actresses of the day, as the protagonist’s mother, the film is an important record of these two celebrated national figures. The narrative is a bittersweet drama of a young woman who ventures to the city for work after her country uncle (whom she was raised believing was her father) dies. Parallel are scenes of the girl’s mother, who has just been released from prison for killing her abusive husband. There’s romance, sentimentality, a bit of comedy, wrongful accusations, a converging of the two storylines, discovery, tragedy, redemption, more romance, and resolution (all in an hour!). It’s a fine film, sensitive in its subject, mostly restrained and naturalistic in its performances, but it does not exhibit the flair of Curtiz’s later work; rather than the considered use of lighting, camera angles, and camera movement he’d be known for, Curtiz relies on mostly static long-shots that prioritize the photogenic rural landscape and small village settings and the regionally-authentic costuming. Mise-en-scene wins out here. THE UNDESIRABLE is not a rediscovered masterpiece, but, still, it is a fascinating and important document in Hungarian cinema history, in Curtiz’s career, and as an effective and emotionally engaging example of early feature filmmaking outside of Hollywood and Western Europe. Live musical accompaniment by Dennis Scott. (1915, 66 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration) PF

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John M. Stahl’s BACK STREET (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Sunday, 7pm
Between 1932 and 1935, director John M. Stahl filmed three enormously prestigious melodramas that would later be eclipsed in film history by their remakes: BACK STREET, IMITATION OF LIFE, and MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION. Stahl’s current reputation as a Douglas Sirk prototype is primarily the result of their each filming versions of the latter two films, although as storytellers the two had quite different preoccupations. Sirk’s narratives were driven by the heft of accumulated words and gestures, whereas Stahl’s characters often pass through their narratives episodically, obsessed with rebuilding instead of preserving an emotional momentum. BACK STREET involves a three decades long love affair in which the romance is rarely seen as pleasurable, but instead as a series of false starts and small heartbreaks. Irene Dunne plays the kept woman (or “back street” woman) of John Boles, whose obsession with the man keeps her from pursuing her passions elsewhere. John Flaus’ article on the film for Sight & Sound argued that the film marked a retreat from expressionism, but it is actually among the most attractive and expressionistic of pre-Code melodramas. Shot by Karl Freund with Charles D. Hall serving as art director, it bridges the gap between the early-1930s Universal horror films and melodramas, encouraging high contrast visuals, deep stagings, and an evocative use of off screen space. For a melodrama, very few close-ups are used, and tellingly the most memorable of which is a still image of a telephone as pained voices inform the drama off screen. Stahl and Freund occasionally indulge camera movements not motivated by the action—a memorable establishing shot introduces a turn-of-the-century Cincinnati beer garden—and, in one of the stronger scenes, Stahl makes the wistful choice of filming a highly charged reunion with the lovers facing away from the camera. If Stahl’s method of dramatizing this masochistic affair does not offer the visceral pleasures expected of its genre, it sustains an indelibly melancholic atmosphere. (1932, 93 min, DCP Digital) EF

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Abbas Kiarostami’s REPORT (Iranian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, 7pm (Free Admission)
One of the rarest films in Doc’s Abbas Kiarostami series is the early, pre-Revolution feature REPORT, about which little has been written in English. In the 2003 book-length study of the director she wrote with Jonathan Rosenbaum, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa describes it as “a stark, realistic film that reflects the bleak, mundane life of a government employee alienated from his job, from the social life around him, and from his wife. Mr. Firuzkhui, the main character of the film, gets fired from his job, and following a few domestic disputes with his wife that culminate in her suicide attempt, leaves her behind in the hospital.” Rosenbaum describes it as Kiarostami’s “most unpleasant film as well as the only one in which his project of ethical self-inquiry comes up short: it’s a provocative yet unsuccessful work informed and no doubt confused by its autobiographical elements. Specifically, its depiction of a disintegrating marriage—made around the same time that Kiarostami’s marriage was disintegrating and after both of his sons were born—seems to be a mainly unconvincing effort to make this rift register as a reflection of contemporary society.” Even if REPORT is a failure (which would make it one of very few in Kiarostami’s filmography), the insights it may provide into the director’s life and work make it a must-see for fans of this master filmmaker. (1977, 112 min, DVD Projection) BS

Note: This film replaces the previously scheduled EXPERIENCE, also by Kiarostami.

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Composites: Short Films by Gina Telaroli (New Experimental)

Beguiled Cinema and Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) – Wednesday, 8pm (Free Admission)

Gina Telaroli’s work falls into two distinct groupings: found footage videos that appropriate material from, primarily, Golden Age Hollywood films (1930s-60s) and live-shot loose “narratives” that rely heavily on improvisation. Two feature films and the 2015 short COMPOSITES (which shows in this program) fall into the later category. The majority of the works in this show are found footage videos, and two stand out. AMUSE-GUEULE #2: MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD (2012) is structurally very simple: Telaroli plays the same excerpted sequence from King Vidor’s 1940 film NORTHWEST PASSAGE forward and backward, superimposed on top of each other. Our ability to make sense of the narrative is disrupted, until about half way through when the bulk of the forward-running dialogue comes in. Lacking an initial narrative anchor, we’re forced to focus on the rich visual and aural textures that are created, which become increasingly mesmerizing as the fourteen-minute running time rolls on. 4’8 1/2” (2011) takes a completely different approach to its appropriated footage. Here, Telaroli combines clips of train scenes from dozens of films, creating if not a meta-narrative at least a video with a definite narrative propulsion. Various similar content is grouped together—sleeping, passing landscape shots, dining car scenes, fight scenes—creating a catalog of “train movie tropes” and allowing for a progression of tonal and emotional registers. Also showing are STARTING SKETCHES #1-12 (2013-14), a series of short (ranging from fifteen seconds to four minutes) run-throughs of composited film images made for the 2015 video SILK TATTERS but not included in the final work. As stand-alone pieces showing separate from the finished film, they’re perhaps too fleeting and insubstantial (they would play better immediate before or after SILK TATTERS, which was likely omitted from the show as it played in the Onion City festival last month; unfortunate, as it is also my favorite of Telaroli’s work that I’ve seen). PHYSICAL INSTINCTS: DEAD RINGERS (2012) includes, among other material, footage from the David Cronenberg film referenced in the title. I found it too scattered, lacking the focus of the two above videos. And, though I quite liked Telaroli’s semi-improvised, quasi-narrative/documentary/essay train feature film TRAVELING LIGHT (2011), I really couldn’t make any headway with COMPOSITES (2015), which riffs on themes and narrative strategies in Jacques Rivette. Despite these closing reservations, the first two works are more than worth attending for. (2011-15, approx. 63 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) PF

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Roots & Culture (1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents 10th Anniversary Film/Video Screening Celebration with screenings at 5:30 and 8pm on Sunday, and a reception in between. The two approximately one-hour screenings will feature work screened at R&C from the past ten years. Some of the artists included are: Steve Reinke, Paul Nudd, Jim Trainor, Gwyneth Anderson, Jared Larson, Scott Wolniak, Deborah Stratman, Melika Bass, Lilli Carré, Robert Chase Heishman, Chris Sullivan, Soheila Azadi, Andy Roche, Pizza Dog, Latham Zearfoss, Lyra Hill, Eric Patrick, Mike Lopez, and Kent Lambert.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago continues performances of Teatrocinema: Historia de amor (Love Story), a live theater event incorporating 2D and 3D video projection, Friday-Sunday. 

The Chicago Latino Film Festival opens on Friday and runs through April 21. Complete schedule at

The Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMFest) opens on Wednesday and continues through Sunday, April 17. Complete schedule at

The Sci-Fi Spectacular takes place on Saturday at the Patio Theater (6008 W. Irving Park Rd.). Screening are: A TRIP TO JUPITER (Segundo de Chomón, 1909; Noon), THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (Eugène Lourié, 1953; 12:10pm), GALAXY QUEST (Dean Parisot, 1999; 1:45pm), WEST WORLD (Michael Crichton, 1973; 3:45pm), short film block and 1-minute fake ’50s Trailer Competition (5:30pm), FOOD OF THE GODS (Bert I. Gordon, 1976; 6:20pm, with Gordon in person), BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, 1982; 8:20pm), BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (John Carpenter, 1986; 10:30pm), THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (Nicolas Roeg, 1976; 12:15am). All Digital Projection.

Black Cinema House (7200 S. Kimbark Ave.) screens John M. Stahl’s 1934 film IMITATION OF LIFE (116 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 7pm; and Self + Otherness: Student Screenings, a program of works from the BCH’s film production workshop, is on Sunday at 4pm. Both events free admission.

Block Cinema (Northwestern University) screens Jonas Carpignano’s 2015 film MEDITERRANEA (107 min, DCP Digital) on Wednesday at 6pm. Free admission.

Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) screens Benoît Jacquot’s 2012 French film FAREWELL, MY QUEEN (100 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 8pm as part of the monthly Dyke Delicious series. Social hour at 7pm. The program repeats on Tuesday at 6:30pm (no social hour) at Columbia College (Hokin Hall, 623 S. Wabash).

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Naomi Kawasi’s 2015 Japanese film SWEET BEAN (113 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week; Marianne Lambert’s 2015 documentary I DON’T BELONG ANYWHERE: THE CINEMA OF CHANTAL AKERMAN (67 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Monday at 8:15pm, Saturday at 5:15pm, and Wednesday at 6:30pm;

Robert Mulligan’s 1972 film THE OTHER (98 min, 35mm Archival Print) is on Saturday at 5:15pm and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Pamela Robertson Wojcik at the Tuesday screening; and screening in the Asian American Showcase are SONS OF HALAWA (with the short MELE MURALS), PEOPLE ARE THE SKY, CHANGING SEASON: ON THE MASUMOTO FAMILY FARM, and GOOD OL’ BOY. Check the Siskel’s website for details and showtimes.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Jared Hess’ 2004 film NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (96 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 7 and 9pm and Sunday at 1:30pm; Adam McKay’s 2015 fllm THE BIG SHORT (130 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday at 3:30pm; Fernando de Fuentes’ 1936 film VÁMONOS CON PANCHO VILLA (92 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Philippe Garrel’s 2013 film JEALOUSY (77 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 7pm; and Danny Boyle’s 1996 film TRAINSPOTTING (94 min, Blu-Ray Projection) is on Thursday at 9pm

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Atom Egoyan’s 2015 film REMEMBER (94 min, DCP Digital) opens; Ciro Guerra’s 2015 film EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (125 min) continues; Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival (Digital Projection) is on Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm; The Juggernaut Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Film Festival (Digital Projection) is on Saturday at Noon; Matthew Barney’s 2014 film RIVER OF FUNDAMENT (350 min—showing in 3 parts, DCP Digital) screens Sunday-Thursday; Ron Underwood’s 1990 film TREMORS (96 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at Noon, with an introduction by University of Chicago/Field Museum PhD student Tim Sosa; and John Landis’ 1978 film NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (109 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm, as par of the “Is It Still Funny?” series, with critic Mark Caro.

Facets Cinémathèque plays Guillaume Nicloux’s 2015 French/Belgian film VALLEY OF LOVE (92 min, Unconfirmed Format) and Tim K. Smith’s 2014 documentary SEX AND BROADCASTING: A FILM ABOUT WFMU (78 min, Unconfirmed Format) for week-long runs; and Travis Mills’ 2016 film DURANT’S NEVER CLOSES (80 min, Unconfirmed Format) screens once on Monday at 7:30pm, with Mills in person.

The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2015 film THE REVENANT (156 min, DCP Digital) on Saturday at 2 and 7:30pm. Introduced by local filmmaker Reid Schultz; Jazz Forum is on Tuesday at 1 and 7:30pm, with short films featuring the Modern Jazz Quartet, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and the Paul Bryant Quintet; and Henry King’s 1956 musical CAROUSEL (128 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Free admission for all screenings.

The Park Ridge Classic Film Series at the Park Ridge Public Library (20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Hal Roach and Charles Barton’s 1947 Abbott and Costello comedy BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (77 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission.

The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 200) screens Yasemin Samdereli’s 2011 film ALMANYA – WELCOME TO GERMANY (95 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm. Free admission, but RSVP required: (312) 263-0472 or




Deadly Prey Gallery (1433 W. Chicago Ave.) continues Lady Deadly: Women of the Ghanian Mobile Cinema, a show of Ghanaian movie posters that “portray ‘strong’ female characters,” through April 14.

The Art Institute of Chicago presents Dennis Oppenheim: Projections through May 30. On view are three slide-projection works: 2000’ SHADOW PROJECTION (1972), GROUND GEL #2 (1972), and POLARITIES (1972).




Chicago Public Library screenings: Due to the frequency of late-additions (past our deadlines) and to their frequent inability (due to licensing restrictions) of publicly listing the titles of films they are screening, we will no longer be listing specific CPL screenings. Check their website for any films that may be showing.

The Patio Theater and the Portage Theater calendars have been confusing and constantly shifting—adding and removing events with little notice—and reportedly have been unexpectedly closed for scheduled events. We will no longer attempt to list any screenings there.



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CINE-LIST: April 8 - April 14, 2016


CONTRIBUTORS / Kian Bergstrom, Kyle Cubr, Max Frank, Patrick Friel, Eric Fuerst, Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Darnell Witt