Apr 22, 2015

My Tribeca Film Festival Coverage

A still from Erik Shirai's "The Birth of  Saké" shows brewery workers preparing the rice that is the basis of Japan's national beverage. (Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival)

My interview with filmmaker Erik Shirai and two of his subjects in The Birth of Saké appears on Film Journal's website: http://www.filmjournal.com/harmonious-brew-tribeca-film-festival-educates-birth-sak%C3%A9.

Paul Mangwana, the leader of Mugabe’s political party, Zimbabwe African National Union, and Douglas Mwonzora, a member of the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change. (photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival)

My interview with Camilla Nielsson for Democrats, about the two men who drafted Zimbabwe's first constitution, appears here: http://www.filmjournal.com/camilla-nielsson%E2%80%99s-tribeca-doc-%E2%80%98democrats%E2%80%99-follows-creation-zimbabwe%E2%80%99s-first-constitution.

Flonja Kodheli (L) and Alba Rohrwacher in Laura Bispuri's Sworn Virgin, one of the films discussed in my article on Italian films premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of TFF.)

"Tribeca Film Festival Spotlights Italian Filmmaking" includes interviews with four filmmakers: http://www.filmjournal.com/tribeca-film-festival-spotlights-italian-filmmaking.

Sarah (Dianna Agron) and Pepper (Paz de la Huerta) in a still from Natalia Leite's Bare. (Photo courtesy of TFF.)

"Assessing Gender Balance at the Tribeca Film Festival," my coverage of women directors and women-centered films screening at the festival, appears on Film Journal International's website: http://www.filmjournal.com/assessing-gender-balance-2015-tribeca-film-festival.

Check back in a few days for an interview with cinematographer (Frozen River) turned director Reed Morano for Meadowland.

Apr 20, 2015

Alexander Nanau's "Toto and His Sisters"

Andreea and Toto in Toto and His Sisters (Image courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival)
The Tribeca Film Festival always screens a broad range of documentaries, and this year is no exception. I saw as many as time allowed, and interviewed two documentary filmmakers (see Film Journal International’s “Screener” blog) whose work may or may not get released in theaters. A third, Alexander Nanau, is a filmmaker I did not have time to speak with, but his documentary, Toto and His Sisters, about a Roma family, is a documentary I wanted to write about. It will screen at the festival on April 24th.

One art house distributor I spoke with at Tribeca complained that Toto and His Sisters had a  “downward trajectory.” Another declared that “everyone” knew about Romania’s discriminatory polices against the Roma. Neither statement is true. There have been other excellent documentaries and narrative films on the subject, but Nanau’s is both a skillfully rendered piece of journalism, and a documentary in which we see the world through the eyes of children. As in print journalism, documentary is shaped by the views of the journalist, although the subject matter surfaces through interviews—and, as it does in every cinematic genre, through the filmmaker’s close attention to what may be articulated through camera placement and editing.