Film & TV

The NYC Independent Film Festival 2017: A Sea of Surprises

Sandra Bertrand

Sampling an independent film festival is a little like putting a toe in murky waters.  Every genre is here, from animation, documentary, narrative, experimental, virtual reality, short to super short—there’s nothing to do but dive in. As the flyer promises, it’s “never boring.” Dennis Cieri, the NYC Independent Film Festival executive director and founder says, “it’s the indie filmmakers who change the nature of cinematography, as an industry and an art.”  For this eighth year, Cierti’s crew assembled 85 judges to rate 1,278 films.  

Dear Oscars: Don’t Do to ‘Moonlight’ What You Did to These Black Films

Lawrence Ware

This is a historic year, but I’ve learned to temper my enthusiasm about black folks winning Academy Awards. While winning the coveted Oscar is often considered the high mark of one’s career, there are many examples of when the academy failed to recognize the best film made in a given year or even the best actor or actress nominated. I will never forgive the academy for failing to nominate Do the Right Thing for best picture. That year the Oscar went to Driving Miss Daisy.

Oscar-Nominated Doc Brings Back James Baldwin’s Voice for New Generation

Damaso Reyes

If you think the height of documentary filmmaking comes from the brain of Ken Burns, Peck’s taut exploration of the life of one of America’s literary geniuses will come as a welcome revelation. Yes, there is archival footage mixed in with contemporary imagery, but there are no talking heads. There are no historians or professors emeritus explaining what we have or are about to see on-screen. For the most part, we simply have Baldwin himself, alternating mostly between frustration and indignation and occasionally bemusement.

‘Fences’ Debuts on the Big Screen to Rave Reviews

Nsenga K. Burton

August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play ‘Fences’ has finally made it to the big screen, directed by Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington. Wilson’s masterful storytelling about a working-class family living in a historic Pittsburgh neighborhood and fighting for survival, personally and professionally, jumps off the screen under Washington’s brilliant direction. 

The Original ‘Roots’ Was Superb – Why Is There a Remake?

Martin Johnson

To tell this story was revolutionary in 1977. It presented African Americans through African-American eyes in a dramatic and historically significant context. At that time, black people on television were typically seen in the context of white society or setting up gag lines like Jimmy Walker’s “Dyn-o-mite” exclamations. The presentations of  slavery’s inhumane brutality flew in the face of my high school teachers in Dallas, who contended that slavery helped blacks and that more whites than Africans died during the slave trade. 

Exploring Cambodia’s Trauma of Silence

Andrew Lam

For "Daze of Justice," his first film, Siv says he was drawn to the idea that people of his mother’s generation, who had long kept silent, were now seeking justice. What they find, and what the audience discovers over the course of the film, is that for victims of war, justice is often illusive, like an exotic animal one hears of but rarely sees. In another scene from the film, Siv’s group of survivors sit under a veranda alongside Pheng and a crowd of others - presumably victims or their descendants - as they watch a screen depicting the court proceedings happening just inside. 

Lost and Found: The Life of Artist Edith Lake Wilkinson

Sandra Bertrand

Anderson and Tess busy themselves with painting the walls green at the Larkin Gallery for Edith’s first show in over 90 years and the reception is obviously a successful one.   Along with the exhibit preparations, Anderson finds out through a letter that one of the town’s history buffs shares, that before Edith’s incarceration, she was planning a trip to Paris. She had big plans for her future. Another rather humorous event is a visit Anderson pays to a local psychic who supposedly “channels” Edith, relating how the woman “loved to party and made a lethal rum punch.”

The Makings of a TV Show: How ‘Server Life’ Happened

Christopher Karr

Our endless conversations about these characters led us to creating a gallery around Christmas of 2013. We drew stick figures on pages from a sketch pad, wrote basic descriptors, and posted them on the wall above our TV. For months our living room looked like an eight-year-old was trying to solve a crime scene. We’d look at the stick figures and consider how they might interact with each other. We would come home from work every night, regroup, and share stories from the insane shifts we managed to make it through. 

Why Do the Oscars Ignore Actors of Color?

Jacqueline Keeler

Even films like “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” which were viewed as Oscar contenders only garnered nominations for Sylvester Stallone and white writers Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff. And, unsurprisingly, after 88 years there are still no Oscar nominations for Native American actors or filmmakers or writers. Indians have been a part of Hollywood at least as long as the cowboy. But the struggle to disentangle our modern selves from the old storylines set up at the dawn of the medium of cinema continues into the 21st century.

The Female Takeover of Hollywood? Soon, But Not Yet

Angelo Franco

The answer to that may lie with Sorkin’s incendiary comments. As was the case with Bridesmaids, women-centered films make, on average, more money than male-driven movies. In 2014, for example, the film The Other Woman, about three women who find out they are dating the same guy and form a bond amongst each other and a revenge plan against him, opened to an unexpected $24.7 million in weekend sales, taking the number-one spot on the box office to beat out juggernaut Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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