Film Festivals

Foreign Film Long List

In December this year, the Oscar Foreign Film Short List will come out, but for now, I’m so thrilled by the Long List.

Singapore’s “Pop Aye”, is directed by Kristen Tan. I remember sitting in my first year of NYU, watching the best silent films made the year before. And Kristen Tan’s short, Cold Noodles, was on the list. Even back then the woman had so much style. And what an accomplishment – to have her first feature be nominated to represent her country!

Italy’s “A Ciambra”, is directed by Jonas Carpignano. And I had the great pleasure of being a classmate of the irrepressible Jonas. So much energy! A project was never a project, it was a way to shine. I loved his work ethic and his storytelling. Jonas’ first film, “A Chjana” premiered at Cannes. So did “A Ciambra”. And now it has been chosen to represent Italy. Incredible.


I don’t care who the favorites are. I know these directors and I know their films. I’m rooting for them.

Paying Creators -

Paying Creators

A month ago, I got an email from a filmmaker, Kenneth Wajda.

He had seen my film “In That Moment” when our films screened together at the deadCenter Film Festival in 2011.

I am in the small town of Lyons Colorado, (20 min north of Boulder) which
got destroyed by flood waters last September. I am working to open a
screening room to show indie films in town, called the Lyons Cinema and
Photography Art Center. Just opening a new business has been a source of
inspiration for this town. Would it be possible to screen your film for our
audience? And/or other films of yours? I want to create a program that shows
quality films worth talking about, and yours certainly is.

I may be able to offer some pay. I am a believer that filmmakers should be
paid for screenings, so I will try to make some payment to you for your
work, depending on our turnout. (We only seat 30 or so, so it can’t be a
lot, but it may pay for a beer or two, anyway.)

As a filmmaker, I want my movies seen, so I sent Kenneth a vimeo link and got on with my life.

Two weeks later, I was surprised to receive a PayPal payment of $10 from Kenneth. Now, as he had said originally, $10 is not a lot of money, it may pay for a couple of beers or coffees. But here’s a filmmaker who’s starting a business in a town that’s been recently devastated, who is trying to spread the love of movies, and who is paying filmmakers to screen short films.

In a world where content is consumed for free, where creators have to give stuff away for years before getting paid, this was a very refreshing change.  The symbolism, and the intent behind it, matters. In fact, it is so unusual that it has forced me to write a rare post.

Good luck, Keith, in your efforts to bring short film to Lyons, Colorado.

Reprise screens in Australia and Colombia

Reprise is an official selection at the 23rd Melbourne Queer Film Festival and plays with a great set of short films.

It was also selected for the Cine en los barrios section of the 53rd Cartagena Film Festival, which seems like a cool, experimental section to take the films out to the people.

Now, it would be much cooler if I was actually able to go watch it being screened at either location, but I’m excited about the Australian and South American premiers and happy that more people will get to watch it.

Many thanks to the programming staff at the festivals.

TAR – red carpet and review

Very short two-day trip to Rome for the red carpet and the premiere.

While there were eight of the twelve directors in attendance, suffice it to say that the team that made TAR happen was a lot larger. The DPs, production designers, costumers, G&E team, line producers, sound, location managers and our amazing ADs and their teams, were all incredible. And the magicians who worked on the film in post, pulling 12 different shorts together – the editors, sound designers, composers. So much talent and dedication. My intense gratitude to each of them.

In terms of nerves, all of mine were reserved for the screening itself.

The Hollywood Reporter review can be read here.

Photo Credit/Source: Ernesto Ruscio, Venturelli/Getty Images Europe

TAR premieres at Rome Film Festival

In the fall of 2011, I was involved with a very unique, collaborative feature film. Twelve directors, twelve different poems from a collection, twelve short films, all coming together to make a feature, TAR.

The writer/directors from NYU Grad Film, guided by James Franco, adapted the poems from a wonderful collection called Tar, by C. K. Williams. I chose to combine two poems, “The Color of Time” and “Waking Jed“, to make my short film.

In “The Color of Time“, as C.K. Williams observes his son Jed, in the special moments just before waking, he remembers a phase of his childhood dominated by the sounds of the dark, a strange woman across the courtyard and his stern father.

In November 2011, we were in Detroit, shooting. As I said when I posted a few pictures of the city, it was an intense, stressful, magical and unforgettable experience. I had the pleasure of directing James (as C. K. Williams) and Jessica Chastain (CK’s mother). For the role of young CK, I was lucky to find and work with the wonderful and talented Zachary Unger.

And this November, TAR, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Henry Hopper, Zach Braff and Bruce Campbell will premiere in competition in the Cinema XXI programme at the Rome Film Festival.

TAR is based on Pulitzer prize-winning poet C.K. Williams’ collection of the same name. Written and directed by 12 filmmakers, the film blends together adaptations of numerous poems, creating a poetic road trip through C.K. William’s life. Waltzing through time over several decades, C.K. Williams goes through a certain sense of rejuvenation as well as feelings of loss, as he experiences a series of significant past and present encounters. His constant wonder at and desire to grasp his memories makes him struggle to be fully present with his wife, but he then realizes through his journey, that he is inexplicably bound to both.

“Maybe the right words were there all along. Complicity. Wonder.”

Our project began as a collaborative experiment rooted in the idea that the language and ambitions of poetry provide a fertile source from which to create a unique cinematic experience.

Our source was Tar, C.K. Williams’s 1983 poetry collection that is a narrative of a remembered life – personal stories of brief as well as long-lasting encounters with people, places and situations. It is an extraordinary poetic achievement.

TAR, the film, consists of contributions from 12 individual directors developed in a Graduate Film class at Tisch lead by James Franco, and comes from a shared belief that a truly collaborative experiment could yield something more powerful than we each could have achieved by ourselves.

Central to the collaborative nature of the film were the actor’s improvisations, allowing little accidents to happen, letting the actors’ inventions shape the moments, and in this way helping us explore and celebrate the wonders of one man’s recollections, seen through a glass cinematically.

It is our hope, that TAR will meet an audience open to watching and experiencing this kind of improvisational and experiential cinematic jam- session.

For more details on The Color of Time, view the film page.

REPRISE – updates

REPRISE, my second-year film, was an Official Selection at two Academy Qualifying festivals – the Palm Springs International Shortfest and the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

It also won the Best Student Short at the deadCenter Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the oldest LGBT festival in the world, the 36th San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, which is known as Frameline.

It was also at a clutch of other festivals and I am honored by the reception. I’ve been remiss in not updating the blog, and promise to be better in future.

Sundance interview

In January, I was in Park City – my first time at Sundance. Being there with a film I edited was a great experience.

Brooke did all the right things – she treated her team well, she was very inclusive and she did a great job with the PR for her film, OK Breathe Auralee.

As part of that, I got interviewed. And here it is ((I had lost my voice because I was sick. One day earlier I was squeaking)).

OK Breathe Auralee

OK Breathe Auralee is Brooke Swaney’s NYU Thesis film. Brooke and I met through our writing professor Mick Casale who put us in touch when Brooke was looking for an editor.

My editing experiences with directors have spanned the spectrum. Fortunately this one was all the way on the fun and interesting end of the scale.

Laid out to tape yesterday. Sent it off today. Sundance!