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.

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

‘The New Rijksmusuem’ Sheds Light on the Renovation of the Netherlands’ Most Famous Museum

Gabriella Tutino

While the designs and construction of the museum are being worked on, restoration and organization for the museum’s art collection—1 million objects ranging from sculptures to paintings to furniture—is also underway. The documentary sheds a light into some of the processes and behind-the-scenes of the work it takes to maintain art, as well as acquire pieces. For example, the film follows Curator of Asian Art Menno Fitski as he procures two Japanese temple guards for an exhibit, and it follows Curator of Furniture Reinier Baarsen as he oversees the reproduction of a 17th century room.

Has Prestige TV Set the Bar Too High?

Sam Skopp

Many critics and viewers alike believe that television is currently in a golden age, due to the unprecedentedly high level of quality and popularity of shows such as Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, two particularly high watermarks of prestige television. Looking forward, however, is high-quality TV just a trend, or the new standard? Game of Thrones continues to be a heavy hitter in the world of pop culture. Without giving anything away to those who may be sensitive to spoilers, news about a certain plot point expected to be addressed in the show’s upcoming season has regularly made headlines since June, when the previous season concluded.

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