Here are two of my 2013 CIFF interviews with Alberta Spirit award nominated short film directors of “Computer Potato” and “The Hunt”.
The 2013 Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF), running September 19-29, just announced the moving documentary Bending Steel is having its Alberta premiere on Sept 20th & 21st (CIFF info & tickets purchase), a film that world-premiered at Tribeca, selected by Hotdocs and has received praises from The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire, and Toronto Standard. Bending Steel‘s trailer is quite moving . It is a documentary “about an introverted man who decides he wants to become an old-time strongman.” Director Dave Carroll said, “The conflict in the film is when he tries to get out and perform in front of people, he is really up against some of his greatest fears, interactions with people and judgement, and it becomes quite a problem, something he has to overcome.“
Bending Steel is Carroll’s documentary directorial debut funded out of his and award-winning producing partner Ryan Scafuro‘s own pockets with friends’ help and money from a $25,000 Kickstarter project. Carroll first met the documentary introverted subject Chris “Wonder” Schoeck when he and his dog heard a noise while doing laundry in the basement of the building he and Schoeck lived in and that “startling” chance encounter lead to an idea for a short documentary which turned into a feature-length documentary project that spanned 2.5 years and generated 200+ hours of footage.
Have a watch of my interview with Bending Steel director Dave Carroll, which has made me want to watch Bending Steel even more. Carroll told me that Schoeck and producer Scafuro plan to attend CIFF so you may get to meet them.
I love the spirit contains this excerpt from Schoeck‘s “Why Bend?” blog entry (with emphasis added), “Always remember constant progress. Grab a tougher bar and push with everything you got. The bar may not go at first, but remember if it flexes it can be bent. Through time you will bend it. The struggle forces you to reach deep into your mind. Remember its all about the journey. Soon you pity those that have early success. They miss out on that journey.” Have a watch of Schoeck doing some cool steel scrolling! Love it!
“Introverted, middle-aged Chris Schoeck has lived in the New York City borough of Queens his entire life. He feels no sense of home or belonging—until he starts bending steel, transforming himself into an old-time strongman. Suddenly, his life changes.
Bending Steel follows Chris as he prepares for a major performance at Coney Island. As he trains Read the rest of this entry »
I had a Skype video interview with Eric Bricker, director/producer of Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman before I got a chance to watch the film and I thought I would love it. After my skype video, I signed out four books by or about Julis Shulman from the library! So after watching Visual Acoustics yesterday on big screen, I can now positively say I LOVE the film and highly recommend it. Check out Visual Acoustics’ trailer if you haven’t seen it. If you can’t see the film in a theatre on a big screen, Visual Acoustics is available in DVD and also in HD via Netflix.
Here is my interview with Eric at 2011 CIFF.
Here is some of Eric’s Q&A at 2011 CIFF. (note: I edited out some questions as some are already covered in my one-on-one interviews with Eric).
Wiebo’s War is one of the best documentaries I have seen this year at 2011 CIFF, I highly recommend it as it tells a great story. The film is especially relevant to Albertans as we thought we know a lot about Wiebo Ludwig from TV news but David York’s Wiebo’s War, with intimate access to Wiebo and his family over two years, will show you a lot more.
“This feature documentary focuses on Wiebo Ludwig, a suspect in a recent string of pipeline bombings. The bombings echo a campaign of sabotage he waged against the oil and gas industry in the 90s – barricading roads and blowing up wells. And when a 16-year-old girl was fatally shot on the family farm in 1999, Wiebo’s fight with the industry was thrust further into the media spotlight.
The Ludwig family are part of a Christian community that lives in close adherence to their religious values. The community is comprised of 5 married couples, 7 unmarried adult children and 38 grandchildren. They are self-sufficient in food and energy, but live in isolation and believe that those that don’t share their religious beliefs, like filmmaker David York, are living in terrible darkness.“
My 2011 Calgary International Film Festival starts tonight. Here is a list of my recommendation. Have a great festival. As I said on FM94.7 this morning, CIFF is a great way to check out new films from around the world. Enjoy and have fun.
Friday, Sept 23rd
07:00pm Below Zero (World Premiere with filmmakers in attendance, Plaza, also on Sat Sept 24, 2pm)
09:15pm Happy Happy
Sat, Sept 24th
11:45am, Piano in a Factory
12:15pm Wiebo’s War (filmmaker in attendance)
2:15pm, Flowers of Evil
4:15pm, Visual Acoustics (with filmmaker in attendance)
Sun, Sept 25
07:00pm Starbuck (Eau Claire)
09:00pm Restless (Eau Claire)
Mon, Sept 26
07:15pm A Legend of Whitey (The Plaza)
09:30pm Old Goats (The Plaza)
Wed, Sept 28
07:00pm Late Bloomers (Eau Claire)
10:00pm Sleeping Beauty (Eau Claire)
Thu, Sept 29
5:15pm The Chocolate Farmer (with filmmaker in attendance)
Fri, Sept 30
7:00pm El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
09:45pm Karen Cries on a Bus (Karen llora en un bus) (Globe Downstairs)
Sat, Oct 1
4:30pm King of Devil’s Island (Kongen av Bastøy) (Globe)
7:00pm Take This Waltz
9:15pm Moon Point (Globe Downstairs)
Sun, Oct 2nd
12:00pm Becoming Santa (Eau Claire) (with filmmaker in attendance)
2:30pm, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
4:30pm Almanya – Welcome to Germany (Eau Claire)
7:00pm The Salt of Life (Eau Claire)
Have you wondered how does one become Santa in a shopping mall? Well, you will in the case of Jack Sanderson how did he “Becoming Santa” at the Calgary International film festival screening at Plaza Thu Sept 29, 7pm & Eau Claire Sun Oct 2, 12noon.
“Director Jeff Meyers follows Jack Sanderson, an aspiring Santa trying to recapture the Christmas spirit after his parents’ passing. As Sanderson goes through his journey to becoming a mall Santa for a season, from bleaching his beard and hair to shopping for a custom suit, attending Santa school, and learning the tricks of the trade …“
Here is my “Becoming Santa” interview with Jack Sanderson & Jeff Myers. I am very much looking forward to watching the film and meeting Jack Sanderson with reindeer and other Santas in the Calgary screening!
“Jack Sanderson in Attendance!
It’s not quite the Red Mile, but you may just see a different type of red jersey scattered throughout the theatre for BECOMING SANTA. Winner of the audience award at this year’s SXSW film festival, this Yuletide doc will get everyone in the holiday spirit a little early this year.
Director Jeff Meyers follows Jack Sanderson, an aspiring Santa trying to recapture the Christmas spirit after his parents’ passing. As Sanderson goes through his journey to becoming a mall Santa for a season, from bleaching his beard and hair to shopping for a custom suit, attending Santa school, and learning the tricks of the trade, Meyers discovers that the task is harder than anyone would expect, and involves a personal, physical and emotional transformation that few of us are aware of. BECOMING SANTA features a number of interviews with professional Santas and Santa aficionados (including Calgary’s very own instructor and Santa agent Jennifer Andrews from the Victor Nevada Santa School), along with historians who provide a fascinating history of Santa Claus in America.
Warning: This documentary may contain some unwelcome surprises for young children.“
I had a wonderful and insightful 30 minutes Skype video interview with Eric Bricker, director of Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman (CIFF info: screening at Globe Sat, Sep 24, 4:15pm and Sun, Sept 25, 12:15pm). The following is my edited interview with Eric. Enjoy.
update: CIFF screening Q&A
Here are some stunning photos by Julius and film stills.
Here is the film synopsis from CIFF,
“Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Eric Bricker’s multiple award-winning VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman. Long considered to be the world’s greatest architectural photographer, Schulman’s iconic, instantly recognizable images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream.
Shulman captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry. His images epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California’s Modernist movement, bringing its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. This unique film is both a testament to the evolution of modern architecture and a joyful portrait of the magnetic, whip-smart gentleman who chronicled it with his unforgettable images.
Shulman developed a close association with the modernist architects, principally those active in Southern California, and his images played a major role in crafting the image of the Southern California lifestyle to the rest of the world during the 1950s and 1960s. A prolific author, consultant, lecturer, exhibitor and editor of his own vast archive, Shulman remained active up until his passing in July of 2009.”
Here is an excerpt from Huffington Post’s detailed and insightful review of the film,
In Out of Infamy, Sharon and Nancy, using archival film footage and stills, tell the story of the camps by focusing on one particular detainee, Michi Nishiura Weglyn, who spent an impressionable part of her youth during World War II in the Gila River War Relocation Center near Phoenix, Arizona. Her story is especially interesting because she later became a successful fashion designer, probably best known for doing the costumes for The Perry Como Show on network TV during the 1960s. Several years after leaving the Como show, Weglyn took a bold turn in life and did extensive research on the concentration camps and wrote a definitive history called Years of Infamy that exposed this shameful stain on America’s recent past. The book’s road to publication was fraught with resistance from American publishers who didn’t want to touch the story. Weglyn should be known as a hero to all Americans for her tireless struggle to reveal such an unpopular truth.
Watching Michi in Out of Infamy reminded me of Audrey Hepburn as I think both ladies shared the same sense of grace and beauty and both did wonderful work for the greater good. If you have a chance, go watch Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn.
In the following interview/demo, Jeff Chiba Stearns, filmmaker of “One Big Hapa Family“, shows us how he use the “Yellow Sticky Notes” (viewed over 1.4 million times) style of animation to draw and create his magic. Also check out my video interview with Jeff.
P.S. I really appreciate Jeff openly sharing his creative work-in-progress here. It reminds me of my 2008 interview with painter Christine Cheung where she chatted with me about her abstract painting and let me interviewed her and filmed her painting.
I had a great time interviewing Jeff Chiba Stearns, filmmaker of “One Big Hapa Family“, last night and I am looking forward to watching his feature-length documentary One Big Hapa Family on Sunday, Sept 26, 2:45pm.
In the interview Jeff and I chatted about what inspired him to make the documentary, why he thinks may explain the stats of 95% of Japanese-Canadian marries inter=racially or Japanese of non-Japanese decent (South Asian is 13%), why can we learn from this difference. Jeff and I also talk about the animation techniques he used, what inspired him to draw some of the scenes in his over 1.4 million views “Yellow Sticky Notes“, his recommended animation book “The Illusion of Life“, and other animation/filmmaking ideas. Enjoy.
Calgary screened documentary lead to Canada bail law reform (2nd reading of Bill C-464 unanimously supported by House of Commons)Friday, 4 December, 2009
Have a look of my first Examiner.com news story, “Calgary screened documentary lead to Canada bail law reform“.
On November 5, 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered in a parking lot in western Pennsylvania; the prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, promptly fled the United States for St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she announced that she was pregnant with Andrew’s child. She named the little boy Zachary.
I first saw Dear Zachary by filmmaker Kurt Kuenne (Andrew’s childhood friend) at the Calgary International Film Festival.
Just got an email from Kurt where he mentioned this important news. I hope the bill get some serious considerations by the parliament of Canada.
Bill C-464. Introduction and first reading
Mr. Scott Andrews (Avalon, Lib.): moved for leave to introduce Bill C-464, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (justification for detention in custody).
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here today to introduce my first private member’s bill for the protection of minor children of persons who are accused of a serious crime. This has been an issue in my area for a long time. There was an inquiry on this on Zachary Bagby Turner. This Sunday, there will be a documentary on CBC at 10 p.m. eastern time that outlines the story and the history behind this bill.
It is a pleasure to introduce this bill, and I look forward to having it debated here in the House of Commons.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Note: Here is Scott Andrews’s parliamentary contact information (phone numbers and emails) if you want to send him your words of support and encouragement.
Congrats to May Charters & Mark Hug! I am really happy to report Lovers in a Dangerous Time, May & Mark’s lovely Canadian film set and shot in the beautiful Creston BC., has won the People’s Choice Award at the 2009 Calgary International Film Festival. Check out Lovers’ Facebook group and Twitter.
Here is a trailer of the film.
Here is my interview with the filmmakers May Charters & Mark Hug.
Here is the film synopsis from CIFF,
LOVERS IN A DANGEROUS TIME is romantic Canadiana, centering around two former childhood friends – Todd, a small town could-have-been, and Allison, an overly nostalgic children’s book illustrator – who are reunited at their ten-year high school reunion and embark on a childish yet romantic adventure recapturing the life they use to live.
The film’s characters eventually spiral into delinquent behavior, where scorching campfire antics, teenage bush parties, and childhood memories only delay their impending return to adulthood. Directors Mark Hug and May Charters build a story that shows what occurs when we try and revisit the folly of youth, and the results of trying to hold on to the past.
Here is my Skype interview with Eric after the screening where we talked about some of the issues related to how children are affected by war (child solider, effects and harm of girls).
Here is my first Skype video interview with Eric before the screening.
Sept 30 Update: Here is a link to my post-screening video interview with Eric.
I had a great time chatting with Eric Howell, writer-director of the wonderfully made and heart-gripping short film Ana’s Playground: “an allegory about the moment when a child is forced to choose between ideology and humanity while living and playing in a dangerous war environment.”
Here is a trailer,
The following are videos of my interview with Eric. Here is a link to Right To Play.
I first saw and was deeply touched by Chris Landreth’s Oscar-winning animated documentary Ryan and the documentary Alter Egos (a film about Ryan and Chris) in the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival. And I wrote a blog entry in 2007 in memory of Ryan‘s passing.
- How did Chris conceive a story about the seemingly strange relationship between the couple Dan and Mary?
- Explaining what does the term “psycho-realism” mean to him? And how did he apply “psycho-realism” in “The Spine”?
- Three big questions that seem closely related to each others,
- How does “The Spine” avoid “Uncanny Valley” (the “creepy” effect of making CGI characters too realistic) ?
- Animators using a Method-acting approach ?
- Balancing realism and stylization ?
- All of the animations in “The Spine” were key framed (no motion capture). So “motion capture” seems to be quick and easy. Why don’t Chris like it? What are the trade-offs in Chris’ mind?
- Chris talking about Polar Express, Final Fantasy, and Beowulf.
- The Spine (2009) uses Maya V8.5 for modeling, animation, visual effects and some rendering and Bingo (1998) used Maya V1.0. Chris talks about how he feels about some of the changes over the years.
- Chris’ experience working with Senaca students in “The Spine”. And how he shared his insights and experiences with these students.
- “The Spine” will have its US premiere on Aug 6th at the 2009 SIGGRAPH. What does screening “The Spine” at SIGGRAPH mean to Chris?
- Chris talks very briefly about his full-length feature film “Lovecraft” based on Hans Rodionoff’s graphic novel “Lovecraft”.
- What insights can Chris share with up & coming animators and filmmakers?
I found this YouTube of Bingo. Enjoy.
Sept 23, 2009 Update: The Spine is going to be screened at the 2009 Calgary International Film Festival.
Nov 17, 2009 Update: The Spine wins in Portugal, “The Festival Internacional de Cinema de Animação, also known as Cinanima, has just awarded its Grand Prize to The Spine!!” Congrats Chris!
It was good watching “Touching Home”, a film made by the Miller brothers (Noah & Logan) in 2008 CIFF. (See my interview with Noah & logan.) So when I heard the brothers have now published a book (and “a National Bestseller and was #1 on the SF Chronicle Bestseller list two weeks ago”), I am so happy for them.
Here is the book description of “Either You’re in or You’re in the Way” from HarperCollins,
The hilarious, implausible, and touching story of twin brothers accomplishing the impossible—making a feature film (with a cast and crew with 11 Academy Awards and 26 nominations) with no experience, no money and no contacts.
When identical twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller’s homeless father died alone in a jail cell, they vowed, come hell or high water, that their film, Touching Home, would be made as a dedication to their love for him. Either You’re in or You’re in the Way is the amazing story of how—without a dime to their names nor a single meaningful contact in Hollywood—they managed to write, produce, direct, and act in a feature film alongside four-time Academy Award-nominated actor Ed Harris and fellow nominees Brad Dourif and Robert Forster.
Either You’re in or You’re in the Way tells of the desperate struggle of two sons fighting to keep a vow to their father, and in so doing, creating a better life for themselves. A modern-day Horatio Alger on steroids, this fast-paced thrill ride of heartbreak and redemption will both captivate and inspire.
Letters is made by the insightful documentarian Matt Palmer. I think Matt said it best in his Facebook status today (notice the “special tonight [April 28, 2009] $9.99 admission includes popcorn and drink [at the Globe Cinema]!!” Please keep the word of mouth going).
Matt Palmer officially sad the Flames are done. Officially stoked that Letters From Litein is HELD OVER for another week [until May 7th]. Special tonight $9.99 admission includes popcorn and drink [at the Globe Cinema]!! Please support Canadian film!
Here is a trailer of the film,
Here is a link to my video interview with my friend and documentary director Matt Palmer.
Here is a link to a brief chat (video) with the young Samantha & Daren (who went to Kenya) after I watched the film at the Calgary International Film Festival.
Have a listen or watch my interviews with,
- Dear Zachary – chat with Kurt Kuenne, writer, director, producer (audio interview)
- Dear Zachary – David & Kate Bagby’s path to justice for the death in their family (video interview)
The above interviews were the toughest ones for me to conduct because I was deeply touched by the documentary and what David & Kate had to go through. And the Canadian justice system failed the Bagbys in this case.