2010 CIFF Picks: Me, Too (Yo, Tambien)

Saturday, 2 October, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Me, Too (Yo, Tambien) (CIFF screening info: Globe, Saturday, Oct 2, 2:45pm) (film website).

This is a drama/romantic comedy with a twist. Here is the CIFF film synopsis (with emphasis added),

ME, TOO is the story of Daniel (Pablo Pineda), the first European with Down syndrome to graduate university. Raised in a highly academic home environment, the 34-year-old Daniel is constantly caught between two worlds, without quite fitting in on either side. He is more intellectual than the average person with Down syndrome, but not “normal” enough to fit in with much of “normal” society. Because of his loneliness, his relationships are the most important part of his life. When Daniel starts a new job, he soon forms a close friendship with one of his co-workers, Laura (Lola Dueñas). The friendship advances quickly into something more all consuming, and soon Daniel falls in love.

The intimate journey of Daniel, Laura and their friends and family captures the intense emotions each of them experiences. ME, TOO is a fascinating and emotional first feature film written and directed by the team of Álvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro.”

2010 CIFF Picks: Sweetgrass

Sunday, 26 September, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Sweetgrass (CIFF screening info: Globe, Sunday, Sept 26, 4:45pm) (film website).

I am going to sit back and enjoy the beauty of this documentary film, a film that the husband and wife filmmaking team spent 10 years in making.

Here is the film’s synopsis from CIFF (emphasis added),

An unsentimental elegy to the American West, SWEETGRASS follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s Absaroka Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. The colourful characters and beautiful mountain scenery will at once feel familiar to Albertans who are acquainted with “Big Sky Country” and the lives of “real” cowboys—individuals who are distinctly a breed apart from the ones usually seen on the big screen at a multiplex. The husband and wife team of Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor spent 10 years filming the 150-mile trek into the mountains; of the nine films composed from hundreds of hours of footage shot, SWEETGRASS is the only one intended for theatrical exhibition.

Here is the film’s trailer.

2010 CIFF Picks: Leave Them Laughing

Sunday, 26 September, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Leave Them Laughing (CIFF screening info: Eau Claire, Sunday, Sept 26, 12:30pm) (film website). Here is the film’s synopsis from CIFF (emphasis added),

“When comedians get huge laughs from an audience, it’s referred to as having “killed it;” when a comedian tanks, they “die” on stage. When Canadian comedian Carla Zilbersmith is diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease), she kills it while dying. Academy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker John Zaritsky (JUST ANOTHER MISSING KID) aims his lens directly into the abyss of death again, as he did in THE SUICIDE TOURIST, only this time it isn’t about the right to die—it’s about dying right. Films from her final tours abroad are intercut with interviews, confessionals and skits that form a portrait of a brave woman prepared to drink deep from the cup of life, savour every moment and, when the curtain falls, leave them laughing.”

Here is the film’s trailer. Warning: Coarse Language & Mature Subject Matter

*** Spoiler alert. *** Please skip the following if you want to watch the film without knowing how things turn out.

As part of the research I’ve done, I went to check out Carla’s blog and I was sad to find that she has passed on. Her final blog video is a funny must see and her her son Mac’s eulogy is loving and very touching.

A good documentary will touch us and sometimes change how we see the world and live our lives. I look forward to watching this film even though I expect the audio quality of the film might not be the best at places.

Jeff Chiba Stearns – shares his “Yellow Sticky Notes” animation magic at 2010 CIFF

Saturday, 25 September, 2010

Jeff Chiba Stearns rough animation demo – 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film FestivalJeff Chiba Stearns rough animation demo – 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film Festival

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.

2010 CIFF Picks: One Big Hapa Family

Friday, 24 September, 2010

2010 CIFF Picks: One Big Hapa Family

New 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: One Big Hapa Family by Jeff Chiba Stearns (CIFF screening info: Sunday, Sept 26, 2:45pm, Globe Theatre) (film website at Meditating Bunny). (Short film  “Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn” is also screening at the same time.)

Jeff‘s award winning “Yellow Sticky Notes“, viewed close to 1.5 million times, is a very charming animation short film and I love it. So I am very excited and looking forward to watching One Big Hapa Family on Sunday.

Check out this film trailer. (added on Oct 11th, 2010)

Here is “Yellow Sticky Notes“.

Check out Jeff’s interview on MTV LIVE , a creative and fun Post-It note ad, and Jeff’s 2010 Emily Carr Award acceptance speech. I will be interviewing Jeff later tonight, so stay tune for that.

Here is Meditating Bunny Studio Reel 2010

2010 CIFF Picks: In the wake of the flood

Thursday, 9 September, 2010

Another one of my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: In the wake of the flood (CIFF screening info) (film website) is a 2010 Calgary International Film Festival documentary and the trailer looks pretty interesting.

Here is an excerpt of the film synopsis.

“On the eve of her 70th birthday, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood set out on an international tour criss-crossing the British Isles and North America to celebrate the publication of her new dystopian novel, The Year of the Flood. Rather than mount a traditional tour to promote a book’s publication, Atwood conceived and executed something far more ambitious and revelatory—a theatrical version of her novel. Along the way she reinvented what a book tour could (and maybe should) be. But Atwood wasn’t selling books as much as advocating an idea: how humanity must respond to the consequences of an environmentally compromised planet before her work of speculative fiction transforms into prophesy.

Atwood’s odyssey is now captured in Ron Mann’s new film, In The Wake of the Flood. Rendered as a fly-on-the-wall cinéma vérité, In The Wake of the Flood mixes new footage, archival materials and evocative animation in featuring Atwood on the road and at home as an aging but buoyant literary rock star spreading a message of warning and hope as she staged and participated in the novel production.”

Here is an interview with Margaret Atwood on CBC Q TV.

2010 CIFF Picks: HIS & HERS

Friday, 3 September, 2010

Another one of my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: I am captivated by this 2010 Calgary Festival documentary: HIS & HERS (CIFF screening info) (film website)

Here is an excerpt from the film synopsis.

From kitchens, living rooms, and hallways across the Irish midlands, His & Hers delightfully combines observation and charm to tell a 90-year-old love story through the voices of 70 women. This intimate gender and cultural snapshot explores a woman’s relationships with the men in her life—father, boyfriend, husband, son. Following sequentially from little girl to old woman, each character portrait is woven with the others into one perfectly crafted cinematic quilt.

Check out the trailer.

P.S. The trailer looks better the second time as I managed to ignore the overpowering trailer music a little.

2010 CIFF Picks: Score: A Hockey Musical

Friday, 3 September, 2010

Another one of my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: The Festival Gala Score: A Hockey Musical (CIFF screening info) (film site) seems like a lot of fun. Check out its trailer here.

P.S. This film is also a TIFF gala.


Sept 13 update: See reviews in The Hollywood Reporter & The Montreal Gazette.

2010 CIFF Picks: A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (三槍拍案驚奇)

Sunday, 29 August, 2010

Another one of my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (三槍拍案驚奇) (CIFF screening time)

The film is acclaimed Chinese director’s Zhang Yimou‘s remake of Coen brothers’s “Blood Simple” (1985). It should be an interesting movie going experience.

From Reuters (emphasis added),

“The first time I saw ‘Blood Simple’ I liked it immediately,” Zhang said. “It was a very cool film.”

Zhang said he had never met the Coen brothers but was in touch with them about the remake. He said he was delighted they sent him an email after seeing a copy of his film.

I got an email from them. I was very, very touched. They’d seen the film and they said they loved the remake. They said it was very amusing. They took the trouble to write and say they loved the way I changed things. I was very pleased by that.


Trailer of “Blood Simple”

2010 CIFF Picks: Kings of Pastry

Saturday, 28 August, 2010

2010 CIFF Picks: Kings of Pastry

Another one of my 2010 CIFF Picks: Kings of Pastry (CIFF screening time)

Are you a food lover? Well, I not only love food, when it is great food, I also want to see and experience the exquisite preparation of food. Kings of Pastry is a film about sixteen French pastry in pursue of excellence.

Here is a trailer of the film.

Here is a clip from the film.

Here is some info about the film from the filmmakers’ site (emphasis and link added),

“Imagine a scene never before witnessed: Sixteen French pastry chefs gathered in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared by President Nicolas Sarkozy one of the best. This is the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France). The blue, white and red striped collar worn on the jackets of the winners is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef – it is a dream and an obsession.

Filmmakers D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus secured exclusive access to shoot this epic, never-before-filmed test of France’s finest artisans. The film follows chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, as he journeys back to his childhood home of Alsace to practice for the contest. Two other finalists are profiled in the film — chef Regis Lazard, who was competing for the second time (he dropped his sugar sculpture the first time), and chef Philippe Rigollot, from Maison Pic, France’s only three-star restaurant owned by a woman.

During the grueling final competition, chefs work under constant scrutiny by master judges and the critical palates of some of the world’s most renowned chefs evaluate their elaborate pastries. Finally, these pastry marathoners racing the clock must hand carry all their creations including their fragile sugar sculptures through a series of rooms to a final buffet area without shattering them. The film captures the high-stakes drama of the competition – passion, sacrifice, disappointment, and joy – in the quest to become one of the KINGS OF PASTRY.

This film is made by the same team (co-directors Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker) that made The War Room. Here is an insightful “Kings Of Pastry – Doc Talk” with the co-directors.

P.S. Incidentally, love Ang Lee’s classic “Eat Drink Man Woman” and it makes me want to eat or cook some good food after every viewing. If you love food and haven’t seen the film, check it out.

2010 CIFF Picks: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

Saturday, 28 August, 2010

2010 Calgary International Film Festival (Full Film Listing & Schedule)

Here is my first 2010 CIFF Picks.

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (CIFF screen time) is one cool movie at the 2010 CIFF and kicking off the 2010/2011 season of Doc Soup. Check out the 6 “Force of Nature” clips at NFB. As a sushi lover, watching clip 6 “Bluefin Tuna Auction” really made me think. (On a personal note, it was great seeing Suzuki in person for the second time at the 2010 Banff World TV Festival talking about another great documentary “The Cove”.)


Sept 24 update:

Here is an article and interview from Calgary Herald “Warning from an elder”.

2010 Calgary International Film Festival (Film Listing & Schedule announced)

Friday, 27 August, 2010

2010 Calgary International Film Festival (Full Film Listing & Schedule)

The Full Film Listing & Schedule for 2010 Calgary International Film Festival has been announced! Yeah! will be announced today (Aug 27). I will be posting my 2010 CIFF Picks as I find interesting films.

Here is my list of 2010 CIFF Picks.

(See article at examiner.com)

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