Archive for April, 2008
Betrayal (NERAKHOON) is a life’s work. Made over 23 years, this film transcends the many genres it employs - experimental, poetic, narrative, verite - into an epic story about loyalty, memory, pain and love.
I have seen nothing quite like it, and that’s probably because the subject of the film, Thavisouk Phrasavath, transformed into the film’s co-director and editor over the decades of production.
“After going through 5 editors who just couldn’t get us what we were looking for,” Thavisouk explained to the audience after a tearful and moving standing ovation, “I tried my hand at the editing machine while Ellen was off on a shoot. I asked someone how to use the buttons on the machine, and when Ellen came back I showed her what I had done. She told me it was great except for the jump cuts. I asked her ‘what’s a jump cut?’”
The first 30 minutes or so are a bit tough to get through, it’s the back story, using mostly voice-over narration, archival and poetic recreations. But once this story picks up where the verite shooting begins, circa 1985, this film flies off the screen.
The film traces the tragic journey of a mother and her 8 children from war-torn Laos to the slums of New York City over two decades. The narrative p.o.v. is situated from within the memory of the eldest son. This is juxtaposed with verite footage of his many, deeply moving kitchen table conversations with his mother as the two struggle to keep the family together, to keep the family alive. The camera is there at the most incredible moments of the family’s life, while the narrative shifts to bring you in and out in with the utmost respect, sophistication and humanity. A phenomenal story, and phenomenal storytelling.
The film repeats this Sunday, April 27 at 2 pm at the Al Greene Theatre.
April 25th, 2008
I’ll be giving a 3-day workshop on Interventionist and Participatory Media at the Summer Institute for Film and Television. May 27, 28 and 29. in Ottawa. More about it here. Registration is open. We’ll watch lots of stuff, discuss and brainstorm participant’s own projects. Maybe we’ll see you there.
April 23rd, 2008
With more films than ever, The 15th annual Hot Docs Film Festival is back in town.
First off, be sure to check out our STREET HEALTH STORIES exhibit as you catch a film at the ROM theatre, we’re in the lobby throughout the festival. Gerry Flahive, FIR producer is busy again this year, mentoring the DOC LAB, and I’m mentoring over at the DocAgora Convergence Lab.
So what films are on the Filmmaker-in-Residence radar?
10 years in the making, CITIZEN HAVEL, is about the poet-president of my other country, the Czech Republic. It’s an observational film made in the hands of Pavel Koutecky, a family friend, who died tragically before this film was completed. It’s been playing to packed out houses theatrically in Prague for weeks now.
BETRAYAL took over 20 years to make. It follows the refugee journeys of one family from Laos to New York City.
Kim Longinotto’s HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO is about kids with extreme behaviour, and the people who try to tame them. Its deeply disturbing, gripping and no, it won’t let you go.
More on the Eastern European front: CORRIDOR #8 is an absurdist look at a huge infrastructure project to link the Black Sea with the Adriatic. LETTER TO ANNA - THE STORY OF JOURNALIST POLITKOVSKAYA’S DEATH is a tribute to one of the most courageous female journalists of our time.
The human implications of technology: Heddy Honigmann, masterful Dutch documentarian, is in Toronto with EMOTICONS about troubled teenager girls’ lives online. MECHANICAL LOVE is about therapeutic robots being developed to keep children and seniors company.
A winner at Berlin, and produced by FIR friend Peter Wintoncik, BE LIKE OTHERS documents sex change operations in Iran (which are surprisingly, legal in that country).
Nettie Wild brings BEVEL UP, the story of outreach nurses working in the streets of Vancouver, a film at the cenre of an interactive DVD.
Okay, this one is a pure and superb detective thriller, produced by buddy Martin Rosenbaum: DANCE WITH A SERIAL KILLER. A riveting portrait of an extraordinary investigation. Don’t miss it.
April 19th, 2008
Filmmaker-in-Residence has been nominated for a 2008 “Rockie” out at the Banff Television Festival. It’s in the “Internet Only Production Program” and we’re up against two U.K. projects, one from the BBC called Big Art Mob and another called The Gap Year Bebo.
April 19th, 2008
We have just been nominated for the Webby’s, dubbed “the oscars of the internet” by The New York Times.
Our web documentary is one of five in the ‘documentary series’ category, up against PBS Frontline, MIT Media Lab, National Public Radio…and the Globe and Mail. Check out the nominees here.
This nomination makes us eligible for a People’s Choice Award. Please consider voting for us, by clicking on the webby logo above.
We’ve also been mentioned as an honoree in the Health category, and another NFB project, Citizenshift is an honoree in the activism category. Fun!
April 8th, 2008
Please join us at out new social network site at ning. If you were part of hand-held or if you are simply interested in participatory media, it’s a place to connect resources with projects, to discuss issues and to get ready for our follow-up meeting on May 7.
April 5th, 2008