PUPPY LOVE – Review by Justina Walford

PUPPY LOVE – Review by Justina Walford

Puppy Love is a loving documentary about a healthy litter of Labrador puppies that suddenly become paralyzed. Their breeder, Cindy, is advised to put them down, but she resolves to make them better, taking back every dog that falls ill from their adopters to dedicate her time and resources to their health. In fact, her goal is not only to help them walk, it is to help them thrive as intelligent and active dogs. So she and a group of tenacious women use every possible solution to bring these dogs back to health despite vets and people in the dog community having different opinions. First and foremost, if you love dogs and you love the people who go out of their way to take care of them, this is a solid film.

Read More

BIRTH/REBIRTH – Review by Justina Walford

BIRTH/REBIRTH – Review by Justina Walford

My favorite horror films are symbolic shadow work, a protagonist who is quintessentially “the good one” and another living our darkest intrusive thoughts, with the darkness mentoring the light in a grim spiritual and moral journey. Birth/Rebirth is that film. Marin Ireland is delicious as the snarky, cruel morgue technician Dr. Caspar who, instead of taking on lovers, masturbates men in bathrooms for their sperm. Judy Reyes is devastating as Celie, a nurse who suddenly loses her daughter, Lila, and is plagued by guilt for how little she was present for her daughter in her last moments.

Read More

KLONDIKE – Review by Justina Walford

KLONDIKE – Review by Justina Walford

When we see expectant parents, we think of nurseries and colorful mobiles with the laughter of nervous parents emotionally in sync and awaiting their important day. But in the dark of Klondike’s opening scene, it doesn’t take long to realize that this typical expectant parents’ conversation is not what we expect. The couple has a hole in their house. The environment is bleak and brown. And their conversation is interrupted by a loud explosion. So now we expect a drama with action and blood. But no. Again, we are turned around by the dry, absurdist wit of writer and director Maryna Er Gorbach, and we see this couple struggle with the mundane as much as with the mind games of politics and war.

Read More

MILLIE LIES LOW – Review by Justina Walford

MILLIE LIES LOW – Review by Justina Walford

Millie Lies Low goes headlong into the mistakes people make. Millie is on her way to New York for a prestigious internship, but she has a panic attack and gets stuck in her hometown. Instead of telling her friends and family that she missed her flight and can’t afford another one, she decides to fake her trip to New York on social media. Her life devolves from there, with each secretive misstep leading to worse and worse consequences. Big mistakes leading to bigger mistakes.

Read More

BLUE JEAN – Review by Justina Walford

BLUE JEAN – Review by Justina Walford

Dramas set in the 80s walk a tightrope, often forcing us into a sense of nostalgia, romanticizing the decade even though it was far from inclusive. LGBTQ coming-out films also walk a tightrope, usually stuck in a world of early LGBTQ challenges without showing a character existing beyond the struggle of identity. Blue Jean is both of these genres. Yet, the combination defies the challenges and comes off beautifully as a sincere dialogue and, in some ways, a sincere amends and admiration among generations. Writer-director Georgia Oakley has crafted a narrative that is historically relevant and tragically resonant today. The story is interwoven with television and radio updates highlighting the conservative government’s efforts, led by Margaret Thatcher, to enact discriminatory legislation against the LGBT community.

Read More

CLOSE TO VERMEER – Review by Justina Walford

CLOSE TO VERMEER – Review by Justina Walford

Suzanne Raes’ documentary,”Closer to Vermeer, delves into the enigmatic world of Johannes Vermeer, the celebrated painter behind masterpieces like “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Little is truly known about the artist himself, and that mystery has been studied and debated by scholars as long as his art has been known. This documentary’s essential story is not about Vermeer as much as Vermeer is the framework to tell an even more riveting tale. As the camera pans so intimately close to Vermeer’s paint and canvas, we see the gloves and scopes of study, gently poring over every dab of paint.

Read More

ANNA NICOLE SMITH: YOU DON’T KNOW ME – Review by Justina Walford

ANNA NICOLE SMITH: YOU DON’T KNOW ME – Review by Justina Walford

Ursula Macfarlane’s documentary You Don’t Know Me about the glamorous life and tragic end of supermodel and early reality star Anna Nicole Smith is a poignant journey taking us through the upheavals and complexities of a woman who seemed to have it all. For those who watched Smith’s rise and fall in real-time, there is a temptation to assume we already know the whole story. A woman whose life was so exposed to the world hid so little, but we soon learn she also used that exposure to manipulate media and those around her. Macfarlane’s film offers a nuanced perspective on Smith’s story, and successfully tries to fit the many facets of such a layered life into just under two hours.

Read More

EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (L’employée du mois) – Review by Justina Walford

EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (L’employée du mois) – Review by Justina Walford

Véronique Jadin’s Employee Of The Month (L’employée du mois) is an office comedy with a bloody twist seen through the eyes of long-suffering EcoClean office manager Ines and the new intern Melody. The film starts with a pan of the EcoClean office: a generic set up of old desks, shelves of product perfectly lined up, and all the clues of an organized office manager keeping it spotless and character-less except for a fish – a solitary, silent fish.

Read More

Chinese TV: LOVE BETWEEN FAIRY AND DEVIL – Essay by Dana Ziyasheva

Chinese TV:  LOVE BETWEEN FAIRY AND DEVIL – Essay by Dana Ziyasheva

The Chinese show Love Between Fairy and Devil is such a carefully choreographed ballet of emotions and thoughts on the nature of love, power, and society — hammering home its points with an impossibly attractive cast and a highly addictive soundtrack — that I, a bone-weary middle-aged woman with grown-up kids, found myself pledging all my time (and the entirety of my soul) to it.

Read More

10 International Animated Films That Showcase World Cultures – Dana Ziyasheva reports

10 International Animated Films That Showcase World Cultures – Dana Ziyasheva reports

The United States has always been a culturally diverse country, and it will become even more so in the future. In 2019, more than half of Americans under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority for the first time – so not really a minority after all! Young audiences want to relate to what they’re watching, explore their heritage, and learn about their friends’ cultural background. And Hollywood has started to take notice: Moana, Mulan, Coco, and Encanto added ethnic diversity to Disney/Pixar’s time-tested formula, with action-packed, broad-stroke narratives centered on their title characters’ identity search.

Read More

Uniqueness in the Age of Global Aesthetics – Katia Shannon

Uniqueness in the Age of Global Aesthetics – Katia Shannon

Filmmakers are encouraged to develop a distinguishable aesthetic to pierce through the clutter. But it might be harder than ever to achieve. Where you are from and what your films should look like, are not interdependant anymore. That’s exciting, but the globalization of aesthetics is both a brilliant opportunity and a trap. The challenge lies in embracing the opportunity of a cross-cultural digital dialogue while recognizing what makes your world view unique and inimitable. The good news is, that it’s already around you, beckoning for attention.

Read More

QuARTSantine: OXFF and other FFs and the PandemONIUMic – Melanie Lynn Addington

QuARTSantine: OXFF and other FFs and the PandemONIUMic – Melanie Lynn Addington

It feels like March 12 was years ago now. That was the day the Governor of Mississippi limited any events that assembled 250 people or more. It was 6 days before our 2020 Oxford Film Festival was supposed to happen. And then it wasn’t happening anymore. That felt like the end of the world at the time.

Since then, instead, the film festival community has worked non stop to rally as over 150 film festivals scheduled for the spring and summer have had to cancel, postpone or go online.

Read More

Amber McGinnes on INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Obstacles and Opportunities

Amber McGinnes on INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Obstacles and Opportunities

Self-producing your first feature film takes a Herculean effort. I mean, just getting the darn thing financed and FILMED feels like a major accomplishment. But then getting it FINISHED, getting it OUT into the world is a whole other thing… that’s where I thought you left the art behind and just started to focus on […]

Read More

On THE PUSHBACK, Purpose and Pushing Back – Emily Barclay Ford

On THE PUSHBACK, Purpose and Pushing Back – Emily Barclay Ford

We raced to finish The Pushback in time for our SXSW delivery deadline and then the festival was canceled the same day. Although we are sad that we did not get to premiere at the festival and in Texas, where the documentary was shot, we feel like we have to make lemonade out of lemons and find the opportunity in this moment. Due to the shutdown of other productions, there will likely be more appetite for finished content in the coming months. And with social distancing, cancellation of group events, and potentially the inability to canvas, we’re thinking that a film like ours can be a useful tool to reach people through their living rooms at a safe distance.

Read More

A Filmmaker’s Musing: Passion vs Ambition – Katia Shannon

A Filmmaker’s Musing: Passion vs Ambition – Katia Shannon

Instead of asking myself, how do I find the ‘Right’ people/project/time, how about I ask, what does my current track record say about my passion and ambition? If I were a stranger looking at my work, would I be able to understand my unique and specific aspirations and the passion that fuels them?

Read More

Filmmaker Katia Shannon on “How I Watch Films as a Film Director”

Filmmaker Katia Shannon on “How I Watch Films as a Film Director”

A few years ago, during an undergraduate film studies class viewing of Michael Snow’s Wavelength, I was struggling to find anything positive about the 40-minute imperceptibly slow zoom we were watching unfold. After reconsidering the value of my student loan, and whether or not people would notice if I took a quick nap, something great happened. I dove into a contemplation of the nuances between entertainment, appreciation, and enjoyment.

Read More

KARUPPU DURAI ​- Review by Mythily Ramachandran

KARUPPU DURAI ​- Review by Mythily Ramachandran

Karuppu Durai celebrates life and it’s little joys. An old man who awakes from a coma escapes his family’s intention to go ahead with ‘thalaikoothal’ (a traditional practice of involuntary euthanasia of an elderly person that was prevalent in south India). He meets a young orphan and begins a great adventure. KD won director Madhumita ‘Best Director’ award at UK Asian Film Festival, London where it premiered and received the ‘Jury award’ at Singapore South Asian Film Festival.

Read More

Whistler Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Cate Smierciak on MUDPOTS

Whistler Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Cate Smierciak on MUDPOTS

Cate Smierxiak’s Mudpots is about two inseparable friends who are, due to forces beyond their control, about to be separated. The film is a coming of age tale about being a teenager who is old enough to be aware of changes in life but not able to control or even influence the most impactful events that form the future. Mudpots is among the short films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Here’s what Cate Smierciak has to say about the making and meaning of the film.

Read More

Whistler Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Katharine O’Brien on LOST TRANSMISSIONS

Whistler Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Katharine O’Brien on LOST TRANSMISSIONS

Lost Transmissions is about mental illness. It’s also about the mental wavelengths we’re on, trying to connect to with one another, and missing. On one hand the film is grounded in realism. It shows someone trying to help their friend with psychiatric care. On the other hand, the film looks at how bizarre the real world is if we take a moment to consider it in depth. Lost ransmissions is the opening film at Whistler Film Festival 2019, where it is among the films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award. Here’s what directior Katharine O’Briien has to say about making the film.

Read More

Nia Long Accepts Award at Critics Choice Association Celebration of Black Cinema

Nia Long Accepts Award at Critics Choice Association Celebration of Black Cinema

Marking the the 100th anniversary of the release of legendary black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux’s The Homesteader, the Critics Choice Association’s Celebration of Black Cinema Awards, held in LA on December 2, 2019, honored actress and activist Nia Long, along with Kasi Lemmons, Chewitel Eijofor and Eddie Murphy for their extraordinary career achievements. Introduced by Chaz Ebert, Long’s affecting acceptance speech acknowledged her sources of inspiration and some of the hardships she’s faced. was particularly affecting. Here it is:

Read More

Whistler Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Sonia K Hadad on EXAM

Whistler Film Festival Filmmaker Interview: Sonia K Hadad on EXAM

Iranian filmmaker Sonia K. Hadad’s short film, Exam, is a compact, well-crated truth-based crime drama that delves into how familial pressures impact the life of an Iranian teenage girl. On the days of an important exam that will determine her future at school, the girl reluctantly agrees to her father’s behest that she deliver a packet of cocaine. Exam is among the films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019.

Read More

Whistler Film Festival Interview: Katia Shannon on STANDSTILL

Whistler Film Festival Interview: Katia Shannon on STANDSTILL

Katia Shannon’s Standstill is about a young woman who arrives at an intersection in her life. On the way to starting a new life with her boyfriend, Amanda gets stuck in traffic. Her fight to get through the gridlock turns into a fight for survival as her body comes to a standstill. With panic mounting, Amanda must face her deepest vulnerabilities in order to survive. Standstill has been nominated for an EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Here’s what Shannon has to say about her deeply personal short film.

Read More

Whistler Film Festival interview: Lydia Dean Pilcher on LIBERTÉ: A CALL TO SPY

Whistler Film Festival interview: Lydia Dean Pilcher on LIBERTÉ: A CALL TO SPY

Financed and shot independently, filmmaker Lydia Dean Pilcher’s thrilling truth-based narrative is about female spies of the Allied resistance during WWII. Forced to consider new avenues for espionage after the Nazis invade France, Sir Winston Churchill resolved to create a covert brigade of female spies within his Special Operations Executive. Spy-mistress Vera Atkins (Stana Katic) was tasked with overseeing this unit, and the bulk of the narrative focuses on the efforts of two of her most effective recruits: American expatriate Virginia Hall (played by Sarah Megan Thomas, who also wrote the script and produced) and Muslim pacifist Noor Inayat Khan (Radhike Aote). Together, these women form a sisterhood while entangled in dangerous missions to build a new type of spy network and help stop Hitler. The film presents powerful female characters and reveals an aspect of women’s herstory that has too long been neglected. Liberte: A Call to Spy is among the female-directed films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Here are Lydia Dean Pilcher’s insightful comments about the making and meaning of the film.

Read More

Whistler Film Festival interview: Rebecca Snow on PANDORA’S BOX: LIFTING THE LID ON MEMSTRUATION

Whistler Film Festival interview: Rebecca Snow on PANDORA’S BOX: LIFTING THE LID ON MEMSTRUATION

In Pandora’s Box, filmmaker Rebecca Snow deals with a central issue in women’s struggle for gender equality by revealing how for generations women have been shamed, ostracized, and silenced, because they menstruate. Pandora’s Box unmasks the global pandemic of menstrual inequity and period poverty. The powerful stories that emerge raise public consciousness of #Menstrual Equity, a global movement that is going mainstream. Pandora’s Box is among the female-directed films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Her insightful comments on the making and meaning of Pandora’s Box are fascinating.

Read More

Whistler Film Festival Interview: Sarah Phillips on SUPPLEMENTS

Whistler Film Festival Interview: Sarah Phillips on SUPPLEMENTS

Sarah Phillip’s Supplements is set in the year 2289, When all that’s left on Planet Earth is the domed city Old Centauri, roaming sun flares that scorch the land, and the nomadic tribes that mitigate the two. Kiirke comes from one such tribe, and she must travel to Old Centauri, along with her stowaway younger brother, to seek a small fortune to save her family – But the only way to make money as a newcomer to the city is to enroll in Supplements Labs as what the locals call a “lab rat.” The short film has been nominated for an. AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019.

Read More