AFI Announces June Screenings

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 26, 2009

MEDIA ALERT/CALENDAR LISTINGS


AFI JUNE SCREENINGS FEATURE


RIAN JOHNSON PRESENTS BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI’S “THE CONFORMIST”

ON TUESDAY, JUNE 2ND


AND GEORGE STEVENS JR. PRESENTS “THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK”

CELEBRATING THE FILM’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 9th

FOR CINEMA’S LEGACY AT SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER

MONTH LONG SERIES INCLUDE
“MISFITS AND MYSTERIES” AT ARCLIGHT HOLLYWOOD
AFI “100 THRILLS” AT ARCLIGHT SHERMAN OAKS

WHAT:
AFI announces June series of screenings featuring the “AFI Cinema’s Legacy” presentations of Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST on Tuesday, June 2 at 7:30PM and George Stevens’ THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK on Tuesday, June 9 at 7:30PM at the Skirball Cultural Center.

AFI’s June roster of screenings include top films selected for a “Misfits and Mysteries” series at ArcLight Hollywood as well as an AFI “100 Thrills” selection to be screened at ArcLight Sherman Oaks.

The screenings are as follows:

CINEMA’S LEGACY – JUNE 2 (at 7:30PM)

Rian Johnson (THE BROTHERS BLOOM, BRICK) presents:

Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST

Rian Johnson presents Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST, adapted from the novel by Alberto Moravia, and featuring the cinematography of the great Vittorio Storaro, chronicles the desperate quest to belong by a bourgeois Italian during the fascism of the 1930s. Jean-Louis Trintignant slyly portrays ‘Marcello Clerici,’ a man fearful of his identity—both socially and sexually—whose maniacal obsession with normality leads him to fascist politics, an ill-fated marriage, a spectacularly dangerous  affair and the betrayal of a mentor.

A Q&A with Rian Johnson precedes the screening of the film.

CINEMA’S LEGACY – JUNE 9 (at 7:30PM)

George Stevens Jr. presents:

George Stevens’ THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

Originally released in 1959, nominated for eight Oscars® and winning three, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK remains one of    cinema’s most astounding and enduring treasures. Following the Nazi invasion of Amsterdam, 13-year-old Anne and her family go into hiding in the confines of an attic.  Anne’s remarkable account of their lives, their growing fear of discovery, their  deplorable living conditions and even the blooming of her first love are intimately portrayed in this extraordinary portrait of  humanity.

To mark the 50th Anniversary, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has worked closely with George Stevens, Jr., to    share the cinematic legacy of his father’s remarkable film.

A conversation and Q&A with George Stevens, Jr., Millie Perkins  and Diane Baker will precede the screening of the film.

WHERE: Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA, 90049
(Located off the 405 Freeway; Exit Skirball Center Drive)
310.440.4500
http://www.Skirball.org

PRICE: $10 General, $8 Members (AFI and Skirball), $6 Students.  Advance tickets: (866) 468-3399 or  http://www.ticketweb.com.

AFI CINEMA’S LEGACY BACKGROUND
Created from the answer to a simple question—‘What filmmaker has most inspired you?’— Cinema’s Legacy is an ongoing monthly series of conversations where contemporary filmmakers screen work they credit with encouraging and shaping their art.  Presented by AFI and the Skirball Cultural Center, this acclaimed series has featured numerous notable filmmakers including Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Randy Newman, Andy Garcia, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mira Nair, Rob Reiner, Jim Sheridan, Tom Tykwer and Wim Wenders.

Guests have screened a wide variety of influential films including BADLANDS, REPULSION, LA DOLCE VITA, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, CHINATOWN  and GROUNDHOG DAY.

Additional information is available at http://www.AFI.com

AFI ON SCREEN – AFI AT ARCLIGHT
Location:    ArcLight Hollywood

MISFITS AND MYSTERIES

WEDNESDAYS at 8:00 PM

June 3 – THE MUPPET MOVIE
June 10 – THE MISFITS
June 17 – BLUE VELVET
June 24 – CHINATOWN

Location: ArcLight Sherman Oaks

100 THRILLS

MONDAYS at 7:30 PM

June 1 – THE GREAT ESCAPE
June 8 – LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
June 15 – SPARTACUS
June 22 – RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
June 29 – DIE HARD

WHERE:

ArcLight Hollywood (in the Historic Cinerama Dome), 6360 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

ArcLight Sherman Oaks, 15301 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA

PRICE:
Tickets are $12, $11 for AFI and ArcLight members.  On-site parking is $2 for four hours with validation. To order advance tickets, go to http://www.arclightcinemas.com <http://www.arclightcinemas.com&gt; call 323.464.4226 or visit ArcLight Hollywood’s box office at 6360 W Sunset Blvd. (at Ivar).

AFI Announces Golin to receive 19th Annual Schaffner Alumni Medal

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 26, 2009

STEVE GOLIN TO RECEIVE THE 19TH ANNUAL
FRANKLIN J. SCHAFFNER ALUMNI MEDAL

Honor to be Presented at
37th AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Michael Douglas on June 11

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 26, 2009—American Film Institute (AFI) today announced that producer Steve Golin will receive the 2009 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal.  Golin will be presented with the medal as part of the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Michael Douglas on June 11, 2009, to be held at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.

Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO commented, “Steve Golin is not only a producer of the highest caliber and the guiding force behind some of the most daring films of modern day, but also one who inspires other artists to realize their dreams,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO.  “It is an honor to recognize him as a graduate of the AFI Conservatory, particularly on this night when we celebrate Michael Douglas, with whom he collaborated on THE GAME.”

Golin is the Founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, a development, production and management company. He is the producer of over 40 film and television projects, including BABEL, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, which was honored with multiple Golden Globe and Oscar nominations; and won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, and Best Director at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Other highlights include BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999) directed by Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry’s ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004).

Golin’s earlier producing credits include AFI alumnus David Lynch’s WILD AT HEART (1990), TRUTH OR DARE (1991) with Madonna, Jane Campion’s THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY (1996), David Fincher’s THE GAME (1997) which starred AFI Life Achievement honoree Douglas, and Neil LaBute’s YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS (1998) and NURSE BETTY (2000). He also produced such television series as BEVERLY HILLS 90210, THE L WORD and David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS.

Golin co-founded his first firm, Propaganda Films, with AFI alumnus Joni Sighvatsson in 1986. It became the largest music video and commercial production company in the world, earning more MTV Video and Palme d’Or awards than any other company. Golin helped launch the careers of David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Gore Verbinski, Alex Proyas, David Kellogg and Simon West among others.

Steve Golin is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America.

The 18 prior recipients of the Schaffner Alumni Medal are David Lynch (1991), Edward Zwick (1992), Randa Haines (1993), Martin Brest (1994), Jon Avnet (1995), Carl Franklin (1996), John McTiernan (1997), Amy Heckerling (1998), Mimi Leder (1999), Terrence Malick (2000), Darren Aronofsky (2001), Todd Field (2002), John Dahl (2003), Patty Jenkins (2004), Paul Schrader (2005), Marshall Herskovitz (2006), Gary Winick (2007) and Mark Waters (2008).

The Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal recognizes the extraordinary creative talents of a graduate of the AFI Conservatory or of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women who symbolizes the legacy of Franklin Schaffner. Over the course of a remarkable 40-year career, Schaffner earned a total of 28 Academy Award nominations and the directing Oscar for PATTON in 1970.  Schaffner’s association with AFI began in 1975, with his election to the AFI Board of Trustees, and lasted until his death in 1989.

The AFI Life Achievement Award will air on TV LAND on July 19. The event is sponsored by Hewlett Packard, Intel and Stella Artois.

AFI Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) Showcase preview

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 11, 2009

When I added the press and PR responsibilities for “big AFI” to the “joint custody” agreement I had previously with AFI FEST and AFI DALLAS, one of the programs I immediately looked forward to working with was the AFI Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) program.

Each year, the program gives a handful of women an opportunity to develop a short film script and then direct the film under the watchful eye and guidance of the American Film Institute, yet ensure that they take full responsibility for their own projects. Upon being informed of its existence, it struck me as a workshop that effectively could serve as that connective tissue for talented women that had a career or background in other areas of filmmaking or storytelling, but hadn’t found the way or the means to get themselves behind the camera in a true director capacity on one end of the spectrum or needed to round out their filmmaking experience so they could take the next logical career step at the other end.

And honestly, since I am still learning about the program – that’s simply the way it looks to me from the outside. But even if the truth falls a somewhat short of that potential, it still is giving a dedicated push or assist to female filmmakers. And that alone makes it a very cool, if not absolutely vital program and as far as I’m concerned, a small, but brilliant gem in the AFI crown of programs, film festivals and achievements.

Basically, following the dynamic and ambitious programming and presentation that both AFI FEST and AFI DALLAS have become known for the last couple of years, AFI DWW is one of those things that genuinely makes me proud to be at the American Film Institute. All three are forward looking and thinking celebrations of film and filmmaking artists not rooted in the past, yet taking a respectful lead from the artists that preceded them. Few things are more fun and exciting than a director coming back to AFI FEST or AFI DALLAS with their first feature after we gave them their first red carpet experience with one of their short films. It just gives you a sense that you’re helping somehow, shining the light on someone and giving encouragement to the filmmaker and in a small, but important way – validating the time, the creative energy, the dedication, even the money they had to put out to get their work made. And all of that applies here as well.

I’ll state it bluntly: AFI DWW is one of those programs that makes this place relevant.

So tonight at the DGA Theatre will be the unveiling of the films the seven participating women of the last workshop has created. And the combination of the films together will make for a great program. Perfect? No. Of course not. But across the board, they show great ambition for storytelling and exploring what can be done with film. And what I love the most – no short cuts, no cynical audience assumptions and certainly no laziness here.

Anyway, here are some brief thoughts on each film:

ABUELO
Mary Ann Kellogg’s ABUELO follows the relationship between a little girl and her grandfather following their first meeting. He has come to America from Argentina to watch over her so her father can work. There is a language barrier and she doesn’t make the situation easy on him from the outset. However, the old man has some tricks up his sleeve and watching what transpires is genuinely joyful. Kellogg began her career as a dancer with Twyla Tharp, is an Emmy nominated choreographer and she displays real grace with the film. She even incorporates dance into the story deftly, subtly, beautifully, in a way that reminds you how cool it can be onscreen after garish show-tinny (yeah, I meant “tinny”) things like High School Musical have long convinced you otherwise.

GOSIA’S WITCH
Dominika Waclawiak’s GOSIA’S WITCH also takes a child’s view of things. This time the little girl in question is dealing with a nasty headmistress at her Catholic school. And the way she does so, is through entering the world of a children’s story her mother has read to her. Waclawiak has worked as a visual effects artist on more than a few films and she translates that into delivering a magical little film with hints of Guillermo del Toro’s work. Films focusing on kids can be tough for me to hang with, but she stops well short of cloying with her little actress, telling me her talent isn’t completely tied up with production design and art direction.

VOID
Meredith Berg’s VOID is a supernatural thriller about a female FBI agent investigating a series of grisly murders in a small, desert town. What she finds through her investigation is the involvement of a little boy in a way she never could have imagined. Berg has a love for/background with editing comic books and graphic novels and this short film has the kind of darkly clever premise and twists within it that are borne directly from that world. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that it bears some DNA from the classic TWILIGHT ZONE episode “It’s a Good Life”. I will also add that Berg doesn’t shy away from the gore – and the horror genre could use a smart female storyteller not afraid or shy to dole out some scares from her perspective.

THE HONEYSTING
Alexa-Sascha Lewin’s THE HONEYSTING shows us some very clear parallels between hunting big game and operating within Chinatown’s black market underworld for the “spoils” of that hunting. What I initially liked about it was the way Lewin refused to show her hand as to the real connections between the two worlds until she absolutely had to. Then ultimately, I was impressed by the fact that she has made a movie with a cause that doesn’t broadcast to you what the cause is. Lewin has spent several years as a natural history filmmaker and I have to believe that it took some doing to show the restraint she does here to allow the narrative of her film deliver the punch, rather than doing so through some preachy exposition.

INK
Marianne Jean-Baptiste’s INK also manages not to preach – to the choir or otherwise – as it shows us the last days of a tattoo artist and single mother dying of AIDS and determined to do so with grace. It is simply told, but not in a way without giving some visual flourishes. There is also a very nice balance between the intensity and immediacy of the emotions (especially between the mother and her young son, struggling to deal with the encroaching reality ahead for the two of them), yet framed by a lyrical quality that is more than understandable knowing the nature of Jean-Baptiste’s acting work as well as her composing background. It also features a wonderfully nuanced performance by Theresa Randle in the lead role – clearly another beneficiary of being directed by Jean-Baptiste.

ROOMS
Joanna Jurewicz’s ROOMS also benefits from the talents of Jean-Baptiste – this time as the actress plays the lead character of an immigrant maid at an airport hotel who cleans up the rooms of the travelers in a solitary daily work routine. It is a subtle work that shows a deft touch in opening up the woman’s lonely world without ham handedly delivering a moment of pathos for the lowest common denominator viewing the film to understand. Instead, the film allows the cumulative effect to creep up on us as we watch the woman allow herself a touch of hope of real human connection with one of the hotel’s guests. And to Jurewicz’s credit, the ending is as expected and melancholy as scenarios like this all to often are.

18
Joy Gohring’s 18 is about a teenage girl facing the decision of whether or not to remove her mother from life support when she is given power of attorney on her eighteenth birthday. That’s the “gift” she receives. The gift Gohring gives the audience is doing everything she can to not address the dilemma directly, not to give us a textbook afterschool special speech from the cool and caring guidance counselor or mentor of your choice and veering as far away as she can from hitting any nails on their heads. Instead, she sends the protagonist off to a pool party in search of the boy she harbors a crush on and possibly a much needed immediate distraction from her situation. What I find special in films that deal with subjects like this are the moments where nothing is being said, because (at least in my experience) the interior monologues and conversations with myself are far more maddening than anything said out loud. Gohring is a comedienne by trade and that time onstage has obviously taught her the economy of words.

There you have it – seven short films by seven women – creating an impressive program that delivers exactly what something like this should: accomplishment and promise. I can easily see each of these films hitting the festival circuit and more importantly, I can just as easily see each of the women taking the next step into feature territory as well.

Looking forward to tonight!

AFI FEST 2009 Announces Dates & Free Screenings

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 7, 2009

AFI FEST 2009 presented by Audi
Rolls Out October 30 to November 7

“SEE A FILM ON US”
is the Theme of the 23rd Annual Film Festival
featuring Complimentary Screenings

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 7, 2009—AFI FEST 2009 presented by Audi will be held October 30 – November 7 in Hollywood, California, celebrating its 23rd year as Los Angeles’ premier film festival.  This year, in recognition of Audi’s 100 years of automotive innovation, AFI and Audi will offer complimentary tickets to all screenings, including a limited number of seats at the evening screenings and Galas, including Opening and Closing Night.

The festival will be headquartered at the historic Mann’s Chinese Theatre between October 30 and November 5th, and then move to the seaside for screenings in Santa Monica presented in association with the American Film Market (AFM). The Hollywood Roosevelt returns as the festival’s host hotel.

“AFI FEST presented by Audi brings the best of global cinema to the world capital of the art form,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO.  “Presenting the screenings compliments of AFI and Audi is our way of reaching out to film lovers in these challenging times and inviting them to see a movie on us.”

The festival will be programmed by Rose Kuo, AFI FEST Artistic Director, in partnership with longtime film writer Robert Koehler and AFI FEST programmer Lane Kneedler. “ It is a thrill to have Robert join the AFI FEST team,” said Kuo. “His critical eye has long been respected in the film community, and he has been an unwavering voice on behalf of the array of international filmmakers whom AFI FEST has championed from its very beginning.”

AFI FEST 2009 presented by Audi will feature domestic and international works from emerging filmmakers, global showcases of the latest offerings from established artists, and red-carpet gala premieres.  In addition to complimentary seating on a “first come” basis, patron passes for guaranteed seats at evening galas and tributes will be available for purchase and will allow priority access to all regular screenings.

AFI FEST presented by Audi is the only film festival in the United States to hold the prestigious FIAPF accreditation (www.FIAPF.org), assuring a high standard of quality and reliability for the international film community. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards.

The AFI FEST presented by Audi early film submission deadline is June 19, 2009. The final deadline for shorts (under 30 minutes) is July 17, 2009. The final deadline for features (over 30 minutes) is July 31, 2009.  Acceptance decisions will be announced no later than October 1, 2009. Submissions can be made at http://www.AFI.com/AFIFEST or by calling 1.866.AFI.FEST for more information.

The American Film Market (AFM), to be held November 4 -11, 2009, is the market partner of AFI FEST. Since its formation in 2004, this alliance has grown into the largest gathering of film professionals in North America. The association between the two events connects art and commerce, broadening the opportunities for all participants. A total of 30 films selected for last year’s AFI FEST were also represented at AFM 2008.

AFI FEST 2008 presented by Audi enjoyed record attendance, as audiences turned out in force to view films and special events. Programming highlights from AFI FEST 2008 presented by Audi included the World Premiere of DOUBT with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in attendance; a Tribute to Danny Boyle, which included the U.S. premiere of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE with the director and cast on the red carpet; the U.S. premiere of THE WRESTLER with Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Darren Aronofsky in attendance; red carpet appearances by Benicio Del Toro, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Joaquin Phoenix, Michelle Williams, Steven Soderbergh, Ed Zwick and Arnaud Desplechin; and access to the AFI Digital Content Lab’s 2-day DigiFest conference.

AFI DALLAS 2009 – The long belated wrap up (Part Two – The All-Volunteer PR Army)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 4, 2009

Let’s start this simply: Like every film festival, AFI DALLAS had to deal with serious money issues this year. Nothing unique, surprising or original there. Now what did that mean really?

Well, it meant a change in presenting sponsors – going from Target to NorthPark Center. To their credit, Target remained as the sponsor for the big $25K prizes the festival gives to the winner of its narrative and documentary competitions. And those are important. Really important. Because, while the hallowed laurel wreaths that frame an award title from any given film festival is great validation and oftentimes proof of smart purchase for potential theatergoers or DVD buyers, that tangible immediate return on the investment weighs big in an independent filmmaker’s mind as they decide where to take their film. And having NorthPark Center literally buy in to the festival was helpful in that they were obviously very much invested in the presentation and success of what we were doing far beyond what happened to be screening or taking place at their location.

It also meant that a core group of individuals had to come forward to provide the financial backbone to ensure AFI DALLAS’s third year would be every bit as impressive as the first two years. And that is something worth re-stating: AFI DALLAS 2009 owed a great, great deal to its Deep Ellum Film Festival roots because the people who had come together throughout that film festival’s life were the ones that stood tall when the economic crap gave sucker punches to the more recent arrivals that weren’t as solidly dedicated to this film festival.

Of course, it meant the festival had to contract: a couple fewer days and less films. And a lot has already been written how that actually highlighted the programming vision of Michael Cain, James Faust, and Sarah Harris. I had a conversation with Robert Koehler (the noted film critic that is joining programming forces with AFI FEST Artistic Director Rose Kuo for the 2009 edition) a few days ago where he compared the paring down of film fest selections with the NCAA Basketball Tourney after the first round when 64 teams suddenly become 32. The idea being that those 32 teams (or those fewer films) had to prove their mettle to stay in the game. They didn’t just make it in because they were the least worst option from their divison or part of the country, they had to literally beat another team to live for another day. In a similar manner, less films means less dubious choices because you simply don’t have the screening slots to waste – you have to make each one count.

And somehow, with less days and fewer films, we wound up with a larger audience. An audience that was frequently buying individual tickets -therefore they were making discerning choices on what they wanted to see. And still going to see nearly everything offered in droves. Which is one of the many great things about Dallas. If you haven’t been there and you’re painting it with a big secessionist red paint brush – you need to stop – at least if you’re a filmmaker, because the people there will turn out to see a wide, wild variety of films and give a movie its shot and its due.

But what about me and my needs? Or less meglo-maniacal – the press and public relations department? How did all of this contraction due to the economy affect what we do? Well, it meant an even greater dependence on volunteer staffing. Other that myself and the cheerfully dedicated force-of-nature Michael DeVous Jr., who served once again as my Publicity Coodinator – it was all about the volunteers. (To be clear, this does not including the Video Department, Photo Department and AFI DALLAS Daily News Department – which, while also staffed almost entirely by volunteers, did have a paid supervisor and in a couple cases coordinators that were given a token (and I do mean token) amount to tide them over somewhat.

None of which would be an issue if I didn’t insist on trying to do everything we could to get PR for every film of ours within our reach, so-to-speak. I began at AFI FEST in 2006 as the Filmmaker Press Liaison with a mandate to get PR for the “little” films, the indies, the foreign productions and the shorts. At that time the staff had a Director of PR, a PR Coordinator, a Special Events (Galas) Coordinator and myself.

Not here. Not now. No – two people were given the task of trying to accomplish what by this point has become ten times the work and output attempted by that team in 2006.

The smart money (meaning the money that wants to sleep eight hours each night) would say answer the phones, get screeners out to the major reviewers, direct some movie star foot traffic and call it a day.

Not so much. Instead, Michael and I organized our volunteer usual suspects and added some new recruits and more or less gave them titles and responsibilities that a lot of people getting their feet wet with stuff would kill for. It meant we had to train them to do things as if we were doing it personally and it meant we had to trust them in a big way to pull it all off. But we had no choice in the matter. Therefore, the following volunteers – again, let me really emphasize this: VOLUNTEERS. Working days and nights. For free. No money. Anyway, here is a sampling of the remarkable army that I have endless amounts of gratitude for:

Carolyn Hodge (Daily Filmmaker Interview Junkets Studio Producer)

Every day, each attending filmmaker had an opportunity to do sit down interviews with whatever outlets or journalists that had signed on that day. Set up with the same template that any film junket would be done for any studio (just somewhat smaller), schedules were created, massaged and then coordinated between both the filmmakers and journalists like clockwork. Sites like Indie Express, Real TV, Gordon & the Whale, publications like Envy Magazine, The Dallas Observer, even some local TV benefited by the professional, courteous and efficient way that Carolyn and her series of location producers and site escorts ran that show.

Theresa Pegues (Visiting Journalist Liaison)

Theresa, in many ways, had to replace the national PR agency that for the past two years had done the heavy lifting for the effort to bring in national journalists and coordinate their travel once in Dallas as well as the communication regarding screenings, panels, parties, events, etc. I think we were responsible for eight individuals and two complete crews’ travel to participate on the panels and to cover the film festival and almost all of it was on her personally. One person replaces one agency basically. Of course, that wasn’t nearly all that the agency had helped us with but I think you get the message of how much responsibility that was for one person. And those people could not have been in better hands.

Chessica Moon (Red Carpet Coordinator)

For the first time in all of the film festivals and all of the gala events I have done PR for or produced in the past three years, I had to be absent from my own red carpet for a portion of those entrances. Because we had some “high risk” celebrities and panel moderating duties that required my personal handling, timing just sucked. But fortunately for me and AFI DALLAS, this was Chessica’s third year at our little movie rodeo and she had the system down. Each day she was on top of the prep for that night’s show and when it came time for he deputy to fill in and keep things moving along in an orderly manner, she missed not a single beat. “Thank God,” I was saying to myself as I would walk up to the carpet and see it rolling along smoothly…

Tanya Wright (Press Events Liaison)

The worst part of this job, for me, are the parties. And I’ll tell you why. Because it’s all about guest lists and how much room there is and who I’m allowed to let in and deserves to get in (because they’re REALLY covering the films and the filmmakers) versus the pain-in-the-asses that just want to get in the door and party on the festival’s dime. To do what I think I need to do – which is talk up our filmmakers to anyone press-wise who will give me the time of day, and moderate Q&As and panels and basically be an in-person advocate for the films our programmers have chosen, I can’t be at a laptop 24/7 managing guest lists. Enter Tanya. Despite never having done something like this before, Michael and I through her into the deep end of the pool, occasionally gave her a life preserver of coaching and advice and she became the lifeline of info for each of those journalists for the parties and the gala film presentations as well. And she did it much more nicely and politely than I have ever managed.

Barton Peters (Social Networking Coordinator) and James Stanton (Archive and Impressions Data Coordinator)

These were the new guys. A SMU student (Barton) and a lawyer prepping for his final bar exams (James), these two went far beyond their titles (which were beyond vital for us to pull off in a dedicated, organized and efficient manner), but also bled into being the right hand office guys in terms of managing and organizing the incoming materials and supplies for the films as well as various of-the-moment tasks and jobs and questions that randomly rear their complicated little heads. And they were there – day-in, day-out. And what they did added to a shit-load of peace of mind for me. By this point, the Social Networking aspect of film festival PR encroaches on and threatens to usurp so much of the more traditional outreach efforts and as far as those sponsors that are so important to us are concerned – it really is all about that final impressions report. So, we can bust ass, make inroads to new journalistic avenues and outlets, but if we can’t prove the audience numbers, readership or online hits…no one with a corporate insignia cares. Bottom line.

And beyond that were additional volunteer rock stars (handling positions within our Ethnic & Special Interest Outreach Programs, “Adopt a Film” efforts, serving as junket and red carpet interviewers, press event check-in spots, and red carpet escorts) – including (in alphabetical order): Heather Amend, Stacy & Mike Archip, Kim Cicio, Richard Dodder, Todd Drake, Betsy Dyer, Marty Ezelle, Joyce Foy, Wendy Golman, Lauren Hadaway, Ashely Hall Bryant Hicks, Joe Hwang, Joy Ingram, Jackie Jones, Kevin & Linda Rush, Tricia Shissmacher, Jackie Smith, Robert Smith, Debi Spear, Kayla Svec, Claudia Taylor, Dawn Thomas, Natalie & Saji Thomas, Cristina Uranga, Jean Vaughn, Allen Warchal, Melissa Zales.

I hope to God I haven’t missed anyone or misspelled a name with these. And again, this doesn’t even get into the video, photo or news departments. And I don’t, for a second, think AFI DALLAS is unique in how much we lean on our volunteers to make this event work. I just want to underline the professional level they do the jobs (in this case) that we ask, and skill with which they handle the details of the job – which 90 percent of the time isn’t their career skill set. But we gave them ownership of those roles as well as the titles befitting those jobs and placed a lot of the PR effort this year in their hands.

And to a person – they came through for us. I retool and refine the Press and PR system not just once a year, but with each film festival I’m in charge of throughout the year (which currently stands at five with an advisor’s role for a sixth) and there is always A LOT to retool and refine and reconsider. But this year’s AFI DALLAS was a huge confirmation to me that people both work and volunteer for a film festival because they literally LOVE films and filmmakers. They either work for less, or work longer, or work for nothing at all and still work longer because it matters to them. It matters that they are a part of an effort to screen and celebrate films – all films. More often than not, the people working for studios can’t compete with that. They can’t even come close.

The bottom line is that is why AFI DALLAS was so successful this year. Because the people that didn’t have a stake in the game, the ones that were lukewarm with their support, each sponsoring company that didn’t return to the fold simply showed that it wasn’t that important to them. They exhibited the fact that they didn’t understand the worth of the film festival. They didn’t and don’t “get” it. And those people were far outnumbered by the ones that do get it – in Dallas, in Texas, nationally, internationally, critically, in filmmaking communities, and with the general populace.

All of those people are following the lead of the AFI DALLAS volunteer army and leaving everyone else behind.

Of course, we’re always happy to let them try to catch up with us.

AFI Announces May Screenings

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 1, 2009

AFI MAY SCREENINGS
FEATURE
RANDY NEWMAN WITH “HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY”

FOR CINEMA’S LEGACY AT SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER


MONTH LONG SERIES INCLUDE
“BIG SCREEN BROADWAY” AT ARCLIGHT HOLLYWOOD
AFI “ACTION REWIND” AT ARCLIGHT SHERMAN OAKS

WHAT:
AFI announces April series of screenings featuring the “AFI Cinema’s Legacy” presentation of John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY at the Skirball Cultural Center on Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30PM.

AFI’s May roster of screenings include top films selected for a “Big Screen Broadway” series at ArcLight Hollywood as well as an “Action Rewind” selection to be screened at ArcLight Sherman Oaks.

The screenings are as follows:

CINEMA’S LEGACY – MAY 19

Randy Newman, Academy Award-Winning Singer/ Songwriter/Composer presents:

John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY

Randy Newman presents HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, a haunting, tragic masterpiece about the end of the Morgan family’s way of life as seen through the eyes of the youngest son, ‘Huw Morgan’ (Roddy McDowall). Set in a beautiful lush valley in Wales, this poetic and visually rich film received five Oscars at the 1942 Academy Awards ceremonies—for picture, director and supporting actor (Donald Crisp), and for black-and-white cinematography and art direction.

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY features original music composed by Randy Newman’s uncle, Alfred Newman.
A Q&A with Randy Newman precedes the screening

WHEN: Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30 PM

WHERE: Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA, 90049
(Located off the 405 Freeway; Exit Skirball Center Drive)
310.440.4500
http://www.Skirball.org

PRICE: $10 General, $8 Members (AFI and Skirball), $6 Students.  Advance tickets: (866) 468-3399 or                http://www.ticketweb.com.

AFI CINEMA’S LEGACY BACKGROUND
Created from the answer to a simple question—‘What filmmaker has most inspired you?’— Cinema’s Legacy is an ongoing monthly series of conversations where contemporary filmmakers screen work they credit with encouraging and shaping their art.  Presented by AFI and the Skirball Cultural Center, this acclaimed series has featured numerous notable filmmakers including Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Andy Garcia, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mira Nair, Rob Reiner, Jim Sheridan, Tom Tykwer and Wim Wenders. Guests have     screened a wide variety of influential films including BADLANDS, REPULSION, LA DOLCE VITA, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, CHINATOWN and GROUNDHOG DAY.

Additional information is available at http://www.AFI.com

AFI ON SCREEN – AFI AT ARCLIGHT
Location:    ArcLight Hollywood
BIG SCREEN BROADWAY

WEDNESDAYS at 8:00 PM

May 6 – THE PRODUCERS (1968)
May 13 – GREASE (1978)
May 20 – FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971)
May 27 – CHICAGO (2002)

Location: ArcLight Sherman Oaks
ACTION REWIND

MONDAYS at 7:30 PM

May 4 – GOLDFINGER (1964)
May 11 – TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
May 18 – TOP GUN (1986)
May 25 – BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984)

WHERE:

ArcLight Hollywood, 6360 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA

ArcLight Sherman Oaks, 15301 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA

PRICE:
Tickets are $12, $11 for AFI and ArcLight members.  On-site parking is $2 for four hours with validation. To order advance tickets, go to http://www.arclightcinemas.com <http://www.arclightcinemas.com&gt; call 323.464.4226 or visit ArcLight Hollywood’s box office at 6360 W Sunset Blvd. (at Ivar).

CONTACT:
John Wildman, American Film Institute, 323.600.3165, jwildman@AFI.com

AFI DALLAS 2009 – The long belated wrap up (Part One – The Ladies of AFI DALLAS)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on May 1, 2009

No sooner did I get comfortably back home in L.A. than I was immediately in the thick of things with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and all of the AFI stuff (Life Achievement Award, AFI Conservatory Thesis screenings and the upcoming DWW showcase), oh AND The upcoming edition of The Vision Awards. So my apologies for the lack of “original content” in between the plethora of press releases, but I’m still figuring out how to do all of this stuff at once.

Anyway, I have had some time to think and think and think some more about this year’s AFI DALLAS Film Festival, and I feel there is so much to write about that I have decided to do it in three of four parts.

So in no particular, in fact very random order – here goes:

Part One – The Ladies of AFI DALLAS

One of the overriding themes for me this year was the influx of very cool women that came to Dallas for the festival. Some of these women I have known, known of, and in some cases been a fan of for a little while now. Yet most of these women I met for the very first time at AFI DALLAS and thrilled that I did. They are (in alphabetical order):

Alice Krige – We had Anthony Fabian’s thoughtful drama SKIN at AFI FEST last fall and we were fortunate enough to have it come to AFI DALLAS for an encore of sorts since it became part of AFI’s very cool Project 20/20 program. The program basically travels various filmmakers that have had their films play at the AFI film festivals around the world to literally and truly use film and filmmakers as a way to build a bridge between cultures. It’s a shining example of AFI taking an ambitious lead to do something outside of trotting out classics for another look and promote and utilize film for the next generations. It’s one of those things that make me proud to be here.

Anyway, we got a huge bonus at AFI DALLAS by having Alice Krige come to town to represent the film with the director, Fabian. She provided one of those high expectations payoffs by putting the “red” on my carpet to shame with a crimson gown that just stopped everyone in their tracks. Not only that, she exuded all kinds of ethereal grace and charm. Great moment.

Jordan Ladd – I almost have to include Jordan’s father, David with this shout out because I really spent time with them both while she was in Dallas. Let me begin by saying that if I was a cheerleader for any single film this year, it was for Paul Solet’s creepy instant classic GRACE. And Jordan gives the kind of performance in the film that transcends genre and should place her several rungs up the respect ladder if the right people are paying attention. So, I kinda almost willed both the film and her and Paul to be at AFI DALLAS (thank god that James Faust and Michael Cain will listen to me sometimes with recommendations for this festival). But beyond that, within moments of talking to her and her father, I wanted Jordan to move in to my condo so my wife and I would have the prototypical nicer-than-nice and coolest neighbor that anyone could conceive of. Unassuming is a word. And two words that trump that one are “Jordan Ladd”. And her father, David Ladd was great too. If you didn’t know your film history or (as I was) could be lulled into forgetting it, you would think you were just hanging out and talking to a proud dad just happy to be there and see the attention his daughter was getting for her new movie and not a guy who has forgotten more than a lot of us will ever know about film production and the business. Even if that movie involved her as a mom dealing with a newborn baby with a bloodlust for mommy. If we could have, we would have extended both of their visits for the duration of the festival.

Karina Longworth – I was looking forward to having Karina attend a film festival of mine for some time now. Tough, tough writer and critic and I was anxious to have her around not just to weigh in on the programming (in this case) that AFI DALLAS offers but frankly because I wanted an opportunity to hang out with her and get to know her a little. And the truth is, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with Karina as I had hoped. But watching her moderate a panel and then give MSN’s James Rocchi all he could handle at a lunch afterwards was more than worth the price of admission. Listening to the give and take between those two was fun. I have to think that if you were a movie blow hard then she would scare the shit out of you. But if you can hold your own, have something to say, and are willing to lay it out there with her then I have to think she gets the automatic invite to any party (movie-related or otherwise) you might want to throw.

Heather Matarazzo – I kid you not, AFI DALLAS scored Heather to be part of our jury this year because we are Facebook buddies. I had admired Heather not just due to her work in film but her outspokenness regarding her choices and career. And from the moment she arrived, I had everyone at AFI DALLAS thanking me for reaching out to her. Never for a moment do I believe I’m the only one that cares as deeply as I do about this stuff, but Heather combines that damn near uncompromising notion of what potential is out there for us too achieve through film, but goes about delivering her opinions – which are strong and direct to be sure – more gently and considerately than I could hope to. You hope for an “ambassador” when you ask someone to serve on a film festival jury – and she was the epitome of that.

Carri McClure – Here’s the thing about personal publicists: They can make the dealings with their clients a joy or a wanna-slit-your-wrists job – bottom line. I came from personal PR, and it kills me when the personal pub is simply a road block. Either out of a lack of imagination, laziness, or just because they happen to be a sour pain-in-the-ass, it is rare, rare, rare to find a personal publicist that both “gets it” and is genuine in their dealings with you. Carri does. In consecutive years, we have had her clients Ron Livingston (twice) and Robert Towne come to Dallas and the experience all three times has been near-flawless because Carri knows what she’s doing. And she also plays fair. And let me be clear – she is tough on the facts and the details on behalf of her clients. She is no push over by any means. BUT she also works toward the greater good of the event and her client to make sure that things will run smoothly and logically – as opposed to just standing in the way of everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. There are actors and actresses that I advise the people in charge of film festivals and events I do to cross off their lists because life is just way too short to deal with the person in charge of their PR.  Carri is at the other end of that spectrum. And that trust and working relationship make me want to give her first “dibs” with her clients whenever I do events.

Monique Parent – Another My Space and Facebook pal. My first year at AFI FEST, Monique allowed me to publish an article she had written about the intricacies and oftentimes awkwardness of shooting explicit love scenes for films. But we had never actually met until this year when we had an idea for a filmmakers’ panel for Women in Film Dallas. I wanted her presence and opinion on that panel and knew she would have the right personality to bring to town. And that thought was right on all counts. Monique is smart, beautiful and a straight talker. You could see a filmmaker wanting to write a part for her just for the excuse to have her on set – let alone raising the game of their film. She has done plenty of service in the land of soft core and really, really deserves someone giving her a Tarantino-type spotlight role in a cool indie thing somewhere.

Robin Wright Penn – Robin’s publicist Mara Buxbaum (who is a friend) more-or-less made it clear to me that the only way Robin would be coming to Dallas was if I could…let’s just say…uhm…take a personal interest in her well-being while she was here. No problem. Now Mara had been to Dallas with the Wilson brothers a year or so ago so she knew what to expect (and more importantly knew it was “safe”), but this was a specialized situation. And frankly, it’s important to have someone like Robin come to the festival – not just for this particular one but for the future well-being celebrity-wise. Because, AFI DALLAS only being in its third year is still in that process of forming a reputation as a destination for people of Robin’s ilk. And you know the “ilk” I’m speaking of, don’t even pretend. Therefore, even though I had Mara’s trust in this case, we still need to impress each and every big league actor and actress and send them away very happy and gushing with praise with how we run this particular film fest machine. Because they’ll tell two actors and then they’ll reassure two actors and they’ll convince two more actors and so on and so on…

Two, Robin was coming to town to support a documentary, HAZE, about teenage binge drinking – which I personally thought was an important one beyond just being a good film. And as the spokeswoman for The Gordie Foundation which was deeply involved, if not the outright inspiration for the film, it was important to Robin for her participation to be done properly. And that’s what impressed me. Because we get “demands” all of the time. And a lot of the time, those demands come from a place of personal comfort or convenience or sheer “testing” to see how much they can get away with (like the old lion film reviewer we flew into town – gruff but not lovable). And Robin’s specifications (I won’t even characterize them as demands because I want to make sure the context is precise here) were all in the service of what she thought was right for the film, for The Gordie Foundation and for her friends Leslie and Michael Lanahan, who began and lead that foundation in honor of Leslie’s son, Gordie. Robin has seen that documentary and the testimonials countless times by this point and I saw it still bring her to tears after all this time and all of those repeated viewings. Seeing that made me want to be just that much more careful to help navigate the tricky press and publicity waters for her and them. She was patient and dutiful on behalf of the film and the foundation and deserving of a lot of respect for making the trip.

Lisa Rosman – When Kim Voynar isn’t writing for Movie City News, I think she serves as Lisa Rosman’s (who works and writes for US Magazine and Flavorpill) publicist. She sold me on the fact that I needed to bring Lisa to Dallas to be a panelist and talk movies because in one bought plane ticket and hotel room we would be instantly upping the ante on the AFI DALLAS coolness quotient. And, as I have come to trust – Kim was right on the money. After moderating one panel with Lisa as a participant and one dinner rife with banter and provocative topics – film and otherwise – I became an instant fan. She has style, she’s got a knowing awareness spiced with just the right amount of acerbic – and all in a classic dame package. I became an instant fan – simple as that.

Tiffany Shepis – Again, thank you facebook. And, to be fair – thank you very much Loyd Cryer at Texas Frightmare Weekend because he teamed up with me to make Tiffany’s appearance possible. Some people were scratching their heads a bit on why I instantly jumped at the idea of bringing Tiffany to Dallas to be a panelist but I knew it would be great. And once again, she exceeded all expectations for the couple of days she was there. There are people who are game for whatever you’re gonna throw at them and then there are people like Tiffany. Instantly, you can see why she is an evergreen draw at the Fangoria-type conventions and why she is one of those actresses in the genre that is seemingly always working. If you are a fan or a filmmaker in horror I have to imagine that a crisis ridden internal debate would be “Watch Tiffany on screen or have Tiffany on my set – what’s more important to me at this very moment?!”

Kim Voynar (and her daughter Neve)
– Even though technically (by my own rules for this blog) I shouldn’t – I have to include Kim in this list. I’ve known her and had her attend my film festivals a few times now, but frankly, she kind of sets the tone (or should if I was choosing the person that got to) for how film festival behavior and “dialogue” between film fans and filmmakers and journalists should go as far as I’m concerned. I just flat out like Kim’s writing and her viewpoint on film and socio-politics. She is possibly the most effective devil’s advocate writer around right now. She’ll offer up a contrarian’s position from a balanced, inquisitive place that few people have either the guts or the talent to delve into. And her daughter, Neve (pronounced with a “long E” not like the Canadian SCREAM queen) is primed to follow right in those impressive footsteps. Smart, sweet and fun, Neve had the poor timing to get sick just after she arrived in Dallas after she had been looking forward all year to coming to the festival following her first visit with Kim a year ago. It sucked for her – obviously – but I was also genuinely disappointed. You see, Neve is not just a great, smart kid, but seriously, she has the beginnings of her mom’s writing talent. I was hoping to have her weigh in on our Family Friendly section as only she could. Instead, my goals for her were lowered to hoping I could help Kim get Neve well and feeling better before she had to go back home.

Last week, I was having a conversation with AFI FEST Artistic Director Rose Kuo about the fact that just screening movies does not a film festival make. It just doesn’t. If that’s what you think, then you’re fooling yourself. That’s film without the festival as far as I’m concerned. It’s the filmmakers, the actors, the jurors, and the journalists. It’s the people that are there doing Q&As, participating in panels, talking up movies in the lounges that make a film festival unique and special and a place you want to be or should want to be. And this group of women were a major reason that AFI DALLAS was something special this year as far as I’m concerned.