Film Festival Reports

Film & Script Submissions Now Being Accepted for HBFF!

SAGindie — Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Film & Script Submissions Now Being Accepted for 13th Edition of the Hollywood Black Film Festival; New FILM DIASPORA Sidebar Added

The Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) ­­ recognized as one of the leading black film festivals in the world ­­ is now accepting submissions for the 2013 festival, to be held October 2­6, 2013 in Hollywood, CA. Regular feature, short, student and documentary film submissions, Project Stargazer submissions, and scripts for the Storyteller Competition will be accepted through June 16. The late deadline is July 8.

HBFF welcomes narrative features, shorts, student and documentary films for its competitive program. Animation films and music videos submitted are accepted for the non­competitive program only. All films submitted must have been completed after September 1, 2012.

HBFF will introduce a new competitive sidebar this year, FILM DIASPORA, to showcase independent films and filmmakers from the African Diaspora. Feature, short and documentary films submitted to compete in FILM DIASPORA must have been produced by filmmakers residing outside the U.S. ­­ in Africa, the Caribbean, Central or Latin America.

HBFF has a history of screening films from throughout the Diaspora. In addition to opening the 2011 festival with “A Million Colours,” a South African film, HBFF has screened films from Nigeria, Ghana, Central African Republic, Burundi, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Niger, Haiti, Bahamas, Jamaica, Brazil, Cuba, and Trinidad and Tobago. Submissions for the FILM DIASPORA category must have been completed after September 1, 2011.

HBFF accepts film submissions from all filmmakers, however to be eligible for the festival’s competitive program, one of the film’s creative principals, i.e. the writer, director or producer must be Black or of African heritage. All other films will be considered for our invitational program. Please notify the festival in your application if your submission does not meet the requirements for the competitive program and you wish to be considered for the invitational program.

Films that have screened at HBFF include director John Singleton’s box office blockbuster, “2 Fast 2 Furious,” the critically­acclaimed “The Hurricane” (starring Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington), director Kasi Lemmons’ “The Caveman’s Valentine” (starring Samuel L. Jackson), and director Reggie Rock Bythewood’s “Dancing in September.”

Submissions for the 2013 HBFF Storyteller Competition are sought from black screenwriters who are serious about a career as a screenwriter. Submissions of screenplays of 90­120 pages, on any topic and genre, will be accepted.

Project Stargazer, a new partnership with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, is accepting story ideas that clearly feature one or more NASA technologies as a plot element in the story. Submissions must include a logline, synopsis, treatment and an artistic statement describing your creative vision for the project.

All films, scripts and story ideas must be submitted through Withoutabox (WAB) at https://www.withoutabox.com/login/1175. Submission fees for all categories are detailed on WAB. $15 discount available for student submissions.

Festival Dates: October 2 ­- 6, 2013
Call for Entries: April 1 – July 1, 2013
Earlybird Deadline: May 5, 2013
Regular Deadline: June 16, 2013
Late Deadline: July 1, 2013
WAB Extended Deadline: July 8, 2013

Add HBFF to your watch list on withoutabox.com to receive e­mails about call for entries and deadlines.

For more information:

FILM COMPETITIONhttp://www.hbff.org/submit­to­the­hbff­2013­film­competition/
(FILM COMPETITION FAQ’s – ­ http://www.hbff.org/filmmaker­faqs­2013/ )

STORYTELLER COMPETITION ­- http://www.hbff.org/submit­to­the­huff­2013­storyteller­competition/
(STORYTELLER FAQ’S -­ http://www.hbff.org/filmmaker­faqs­2013/ )

PROJECT STARGAZER ­ – http://www.hbff.org/submit­to­hbff­2013­project­stargazer/
(PROJECT STARGAZER FAQ’S – ­ http://www.hbff.org/hbff­2013­project­stargazer­faqs/ )

Like HBFF on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/hollywoodblackfilmfestival.
Follow HBFF on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HBFF.

For more info: http://www.hbff.org, email info@hbff.org.

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About the Hollywood Black Film Festival
Founded in 1998, the Hollywood Black Film Festival aims to enhance the careers of emerging and established Black filmmakers through a public exhibition, competition program and industry panels. Known amongst the entertainment industry’s powerbrokers as, “The Black Sundance,” the festival brings independent works of accomplished and aspiring black filmmakers to an environment encompassing the mainstream Hollywood community and Southern California film­going audiences. The festival’s goal is to play an integral role in discovering and launching independent films and filmmakers by bringing them to the attention of the industry, press and public. For more information on the Hollywood Black Film Festival, visit: http://www.hbff.org, email info@hbff.org

SAGindie is a proud sponsor of the Hollywood Black Film Festival.

More Sundance 2013 films we’re looking forward to!

Ellen Tremiti — Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

It’s time! Sundance 2013 is just around the corner. The festival kicks off tomorrow, Thursday the 17th and runs until Sunday the 27th. The Sundance Film Festival creates an opportunity for independent film to make its mark on the entertainment industry at large. Last year, I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I remember the electric energy and excitement that surged through the crowd after the screening. It was the type of energy that made me think, this movie is something special.

Which films will stand out this year? Only time will tell…

Below is an overview of some of the films from the 2013 lineup. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see all of them. One film that I do not have a ticket to right now, but that has sparked my interest is C.O.G., the first book by David Sedaris to be adapted into a film.

*Follow Ellen while she’s at Sundance on Twitter and Instagram at @ETphoneh.

*All excerpts taken from Sundance.org. For complete information on any of the films visit Sundance.org/festival.

Austenland
Jane’s life-size paper doll of Mr. Darcy and her “I Love Darcy” tote may be tattered, but even in her thirties, she hasn’t grown out of her obsession with all things Jane Austen. Careworn by love, she saves enough to fulfill her dream of stepping into Austen’s world and heads to Austenland for an “immersive” vacation to eschew all things modern. And it couldn’t be more perfect. There’s an imposing manor with verdant grounds for afternoon promenades, rosy-faced servants, trusty steeds for hunting expeditions, gilded drawing rooms for evenings spent in polite conversation, and, yes, gallant young suitors. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, she’s relegated to lesser quarters and drearier costumes than fellow bachelorette guests, but her cares melt away as she catches the eye of a young footman, and she’s swept into a romantic adventure she could never have imagined.
Director: Jerusha Hess
Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale
Principal Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis

Ass Backwards
Kate and Chloe have been best friends since childhood, when they both tied for dead last in their hometown beauty pageant. Now they are all grown up and living in New York City, where Chloe works as a “girl in a box” at a nightclub and Kate is a CEO…of her own one-woman egg-donor “corporation.” Their past humiliation remains long forgotten until they receive an invitation to the pageant’s milestone anniversary celebration. The unpleasant memories come flooding back, but Kate and Chloe decide to redeem themselves by winning the elusive crown.
Director: Chris Nelson
Screenwriters: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson
Principal Cast: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty

Kill Your Darlings
While he is attending Columbia University in 1944, the young Allen Ginsberg’s life is turned upside down when he sets eyes on Lucien Carr, an impossibly cool and boyishly handsome classmate. Carr opens Ginsberg up to a bohemian world and introduces him to William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Repelled by rules and conformity in both life and literature, the four agree to tear down tradition and make something new, ultimately formulating the tenets of and giving birth to what became the Beat movement. On the outside, looking in, is David Kammerer, a man in his thirties desperately in love with Carr. When Kammerer is found dead, and Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr are arrested in conjunction with the murder, the nascent artists’ lives change forever.
Director: John Krokidas
Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas
Principal Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen

Lifeguard
Leigh, a whip-smart former valedictorian on the verge of 30, is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. When her work aspirations and love life suddenly come crashing down, she hightails it back to the cocoon of the Connecticut suburb where she grew up. Picking up right where her teen halcyon days left off, she moves into her old room with her parents, reunites with her bosom buddies who never left town, and steps back into her high school job as a condo-complex lifeguard. As she takes a transgressive journey back to adolescence, including entering into a forbidden affair, Leigh’s bold flirtation with disaster triggers a ripple effect all around her.
Director: Liz W. Garcia
Screenwriter: Liz W. Garcia
Principal Cast: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr, Alex Shaffer, Amy Madigan, Joshua Harto, David Lambert

Afternoon Delight
Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirtysomething steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Plagued by purposelessness, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and ends up meeting McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. It becomes clear that Rachel is feverishly, desperately trying to save her own sense of who she is.
Director: Jill Soloway
Screenwriter: Jill Soloway
Principal Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch

Don Jon’s Addiction
Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography.Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Screenwriter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Principal Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown

The East
Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

After the warm reception he received for 2011’s Sound of My Voice, director Zal Batmanglij returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this stunning sophomore effort, which marks his second collaboration with the irresistibly alluring, multitalented Brit Marling.

Upstream Color
Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.

Shane Carruth’s sensuously directed and much anticipated sophomore effort (his feature debut, Primer, won the Sundance Film Festival 2004 Grand Jury Prize) is a truly remarkable film that lies beyond the power of language to communicate while it delivers a cohesive sensory experience.
Director: Shane Carruth
Screenwriter: Shane Carruth
Principal Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins

Mud
Direct from the Cannes Film Festival, consummate storyteller Jeff Nichols, whose Take Shelter premiered to great acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, returns to Park City with this homespun fable set on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.

Ellis and Neckbone are best friends approaching the twilight of their youth. While exploring, they stumble upon the hiding place of charismatic outlaw Mud (played with controlled charm by a well-cast Matthew McConaughey), who takes a quick liking to the boys and recruits them to his cause: the search for true love and a clean getaway.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Principal Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard

Lovelace
In 1972—long before the Internet porn explosion of today—Deep Throat became a cultural phenomenon. As the first pornographic feature film to be embraced by mainstream audiences, Deep Throat took a multitude of risks: it boasted a plot, humor, and an unknown and unlikely star named Linda Lovelace.

Lovelace tells the story behind the phenomenon. Fleeing her strict religious family, Linda Boreman falls for charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor, who launches her pornography career. Reborn as “Linda Lovelace,” the charming girl next door skyrockets to international sensation with her uncanny capacity for fellatio. Fully inhabiting this new identity, Linda becomes a spokesperson for sexual freedom and hedonism. But six years later, she reveals a far more sinister narrative—the dark secrets of her own life story.
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Screenwriter: Andy Bellin
Principal Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Sharon Stone

Ain’t Them bodies Saints
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills. Although Ruth wounds a local officer, Bob takes the blame. But four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

The barren landscapes of David Lowery’s poetic feature evoke the mythology of westerns and saturate the dramatic space with fatalism and an aching sense of loss. Aided by powerfully restrained performances by Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster, Lowery incorporates an unnerving tension into the film, teetering it at the edge of violence.
Director: David Lowery
Screenwriter: David Lowery
Principal Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine

Crystal Fairy
Jamie is a boorish, insensitive American twentysomething traveling in Chile, who somehow manages to create chaos at every turn. He and his friends are planning on taking a road trip north to experience a legendary shamanistic hallucinogen called the San Pedro cactus. In a fit of drunkenness at a wild party, Jamie invites an eccentric woman—a radical spirit named Crystal Fairy—to come along. What is meant to be a devil-may-care journey becomes a battle of wills as Jamie finds himself locking horns with his new traveling companion. But on a remote, pristine beach at the edge of the desert, the magic brew is finally imbibed, and the true adventure begins. Preconceived notions and judgments fall away, and the ragtag group breaks through to an authentic moment of truth.
Director: Sebastián Silva
Screenwriter: Sebastián Silva
Principal Cast: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva

The Way, Way Back
The Way, Way Back tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan’s awkward, funny, and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Although Duncan has a tough time fitting in and finding his place, he does find an unlikely ally and mentor in Owen, a carefree employee at the local waterpark where Duncan gets a job. Over the course of the summer, as his mother drifts further away, Duncan—with encouragement from Owen—begins to open up and come into his own.

Mining the caverns of human vulnerability for the humor necessary to make life bearable, first-time directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have transformed their terrific screenplay into a bittersweet comedy that is both charming and insightful.
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Screenwriters: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Principal Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James

Stoker
After India’s father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother, Evelyn. Soon after his arrival, India begins to suspect this mysterious, charming man has disturbing ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, the friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Visionary filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, whose Old Boy and Three…Extremes both played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, returns with another macabre story, one that marks his first venture into English-language cinema.
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Screenwriter: Wentworth Miller
Principal Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman

SUNDANCE 2013 is upon us!

Will Prescott — Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Super excited to head back to SUNDANCE this week! Below are only a few of the films I’m looking forward to. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @williamprescott as I update from the festival.

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS written/directed by David Lowery
Starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster.

HELL BABY written/directed by Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Starring Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel.

IN A WORLD… written/directed by Lake Bell
Starring Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino.

TOY’S HOUSE directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub.

DON JON’S ADDICTION written/directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson.

THIS IS MARTIN BONNER written/directed by Chad Hartigan
Starring Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette, Sam Buchanan, Robert Longstreet, Demetrius Grosse.

THE WAY, WAY BACK written/directed by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT written/directed by Jill Soloway
Starring Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.

MUD written/directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon.

C.O.G. written/directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (based on the story by David Sedaris!)
Starring Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson.

STOKER directed by Park Chan-Wook
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman

AFI FEST 2011 RECAP: The Dish and the Spoon

SAGindie — Friday, December 2nd, 2011

SAGIndie was very pleased to sponsor a screening of the indie film, THE DISH & THE SPOON at the 2011 AFI Fest. After the screening, writer/director Alison Bagnall participated in a Q&A.

INDIE MEMPHIS: Super Happy Crazy Sparkle Fun Time! (now with more xanadu)

Eliza Hajek — Friday, November 18th, 2011

You guys! Because I know a good time when I see one, I spent the beginning of the month in Tennessee at Indie Memphis. Also because someone finally recognized my genius and put me on a jury with Adam Donaghey and Chris Parnell.

On the flight to Memphis, I sat next to another festival juror, the criminally underrated Daniel Waters (and I’m not just calling him that because I happen to know that he googles “Daniel Waters, underrated”). Let me say that again: I sat next to the man who wrote Heathers. I was close enough to touch him! (I didn’t though, cause I wasn’t reared that way. Don’t worry, you guys, I played it cool.)

Upon my arrival I realized how much Indie Memphis does for the filmmakers (they let the jury tag along). My days there were a blur of movies and receptions and tours and panels and southern food and more movies and parties. It was like summer camp! And all with a free shuttle! (You’d be surprised to know how many festivals have expected attendees to figure out how to get back and forth from screenings that are 10-20 miles from the festival host hotel without going broke.)  This fest is really great to the filmmakers that attend, and that must be the word on the street, because the city was crawling with them. And because I am trying to be a person of use to society, I had a chance to do a SAGIndie workshop with quite a few of said filmmakers. It was really heartening to have the turn out I did. (Are you guys, like, “I can’t figure out which part of this story is supposed to be interesting”(?) OK! Enough sincerity!)

How about this: Indie Memphis was insane! Seriously, you have one white wine spritzer* and the next thing you know you’re wearing a horse mask sitting in a converted airstream trailer sitting in between two men you just went with to what may or may not have been a rave (?), one of whom wrote Heathers, and listen, the night is not even close to being over.**

On the final night, after our last deliberation, Adam and I walked back to the Playhouse on the Square with Chris to go watch his panel, which was super entertaining as I’m sure you can imagine. During the Q&A, I raised my hand and asked “Out of the two others serving on the Hometowner Jury with you, which one is your favorite?” That drew a  gasp from the crowd and a polite politician-y answer from Chris, who claimed he liked me and Adam equally, which we all know can’t be true. I have so much going for me, like awesome hair and a million pictures of my dog dressed up like Dracula! Adam? All he has is his own movie theater and a million producing credits.

After the panel was the awards ceremony, where the Hometowner Jury was pleased to award best Hometowner Feature to Morgan Jon Fox’s documentary This is What Love In Action Looks Like and Best Hometowner Short to Ryan Parker and G.B. Shannon’s Fresh Skweezed (which also won the Hometowner Audience Award). After the awards ceremony was the after party***, and after the party was the hotel lobby. And after that? Well, I guess I had to come home some time.

THE END

*Alright, it wasn’t a spritzer I was drinking!
**Actually, this sounds a lot like my Tuesday nights.
***At Ernestine and Hazels.

Jolly Olde SAGIndie!

Darrien Gipson — Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Every once in a while, an opportunity arises that you cannot resist. Riding camels in Egypt, giant wave surfing in Australia, nude sunbathing during Thailand’s monsoon season. Well, I’ve done none of these things, but I still got to do something pretty cool.

This year at the 20th annual Raindance Film Festival in London, UK, SAGIndie was invited to share our knowledge on independent filmmaking and new media content.  I assumed it was the Queen herself, asking for me. I’m sure she went through “channels”.

Actually, our introduction came to Raindance in the best possible way; through filmmakers who liked our message.  Back in March we were at SXSW Film/Interactive/Music Festival.  There, SXSW had a section called SX-UK where they had a group of UK filmmakers doing business, meeting people, and generally trying to convince us that we don’t pronounce aluminum or centrifugal correctly.  Well, we quickly set them straight on that.  But it turns out that the folks from “across the pond” are also interested in filmmaking.  Too bad they do it so poorly… (Wait, what? They don’t do it poorly? Long history of filmmaking? What the heck is the King’s Speech?!)

Despite their obvious shortcomings (why can’t they speak English?) we met quite a few filmmakers who seemed cool. Several of them mentioned this great festival for indie filmmaking that takes place in October in London. Turns out, they were more than just talk, they actually mentioned me to the festival director, Elliot Grove and we met each other while in Cannes. One thing led to another and off I went to London.

The festival was very cool. Over the course of 12 days, Raindance showed movies, (opening with the much talked about ANOTHER EARTH), held panels, and threw some groovy parties (suddenly, I feel all Austin Powers). I was on s panel about creating a web series. While the internet is worldwide, it seems that the US of A is leading the pack in creating stories for it. Raindance wanted us to share the wisdom we’ve acquired over the years.

You all should know that, as a rule, I try not to acquire anything– not wisdom or anything else that might make my luggage heavier and harder to get through customs. But, as it turned out, I was able to share a bit about how web series are getting better, more prolific, and attracting really talented people to be a part of them. It seemed like a good time was had by all.

I also made a jump and visited a group of filmmakers in Dublin, Ireland. I had padded the trip by two days so I could roam around a little. Just as I was deciding between visiting Oxford or Canterbury for a little educational ME time, I got an email asking me if I’d come to Dublin and talk with a group of filmmakers, actors and even guild members (producer’s guild and directors). How could I pass that up?  Plus, their offices were mere blocks from the Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery – if you like that kind of thing – which I do NOT (unless you have photographic evidence). So, I met a great group of professionals and students in filmmaking.

Clearly, I’m not the shyest person on the planet and I try to make friends wherever I go (except YOU Minnesota. Haven’t forgotten how you snowed on me in SEPTEMBER!!). But I can happily say that I met the nicest, warmest people on my trip. We had dinner, we talked film, we talked politics, we talked Princes (Will AND Harry), and I just generally felt welcomed in by our counterparts “over there”.  I would happily go back tomorrow, IF the dollar were just a little bit stronger.

Now, could someone please tell me how many pounds a STONE is? WHY CAN’T THEY JUST TALK AMERICAN?!

SAGINDIE on Plum Daily

SAGindie — Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Guinivere Cramer and Damon Burke sit down with SAGIndie’s Darrien Gipson to talk about the circuit of film festivals she has been involved in, including her favorite, Sundance. They also discuss the African American Film Festival on Martha’s Vineyard as well as her involvement in the Screen Actors Guild.

Film Review: THE CONVINCER

Ellen Tremiti — Friday, August 5th, 2011

Why scheme, lie, cheat, and steal? Because an honest day’s work is so darn hard, and the payoff is usually higher; at least that’s what Mickey Prohaska would have you believe in the 2011 Sundance film The Convincer. Mickey (Greg Kinnear, As Good as It Gets, Little Miss Sunshine) enters every scene with one objective in mind: how can I get more out of this situation? His vile, unapologetic persona is always on the lookout for another scam, and he’s about to unearth his easiest con yet. Once his plot is put into motion, nothing, and no one, can stand in his way. Or, so he thinks.

It all begins at an insurance convention where Mickey convinces a fresh, eager salesman, Bob Egan (David Harbour, War of the Worlds, The Quantum of Solace), to accept a position with Mickey’s insurance company, instead of a high-paying offer with a larger firm. Mickey exaggerates his office space, his staff, his clients, his income, everything really, so he can hook Bob. Bob joins his team, and Mickey assigns him to the clients who are the farthest drive away from their office. This little bit of employee abuse backfires when Bob comes across an old man, Grovy Hauer (Alan Arkin, Catch-22, Little Miss Sunshine), on a farm estate with a rare and valuable violin in his attic.

Mickey jumps on the chance to steal this client and handle Mr. Hauer’s insurance needs himself. He has the violin appraised by a persnickety violin shop owner (Bob Balaban, Gosford Park, The Majestic), who tells him the artifact is worth 30,000 dollars. This is the exact amount Mickey needs to patch things up with his wife. Prior to the start of the film, he had emptied their joint bank account without her knowledge, leading to their current separation. He sets his plan in motion to lift the violin from spacey Old Man Hauer, but neighbor BG (James Stordahl), as well as security installer Randy Kinney (Billy Crudup, Big Fish, Watchmen), foil his plans.

Have no fear; Mickey is a smart, conniving man, and he continually adjusts his plans; as one door closes, five more open. The Convincer is a maze of plot twists. The story unfolds with Mickey starring as stage director, the man behind-the-scenes, pulling the strings on his many puppets, but, really, Mickey may not be the show runner he’s convinced himself he is. Self-absorbed, Mickey sees the world with blinders on. He is so untrustworthy, it is undoubtedly his own fault that he doesn’t recognize dishonesty in others. His world and the cast of characters around him, truly, are not as they seem.

Kinnear, Harbour, Arkin, and Balaban feed off of each other’s energy. Their dynamics are entertaining to watch and each accomplished actor shines in their assigned role. The Convincer is an unexpected film. Writers Jill and Karen Sprecher have woven quite a yarn, and Jill’s steadfast direction completes this wry and guileful picture. Much like the film, I have waited until the last act to tell you what it’s really all about; The Convincer is fairly smart, dark, and oddly humorous in a toned-down kind of way. Mixed into this fun, mysterious farce is a splash of The Usual Suspects, a touch of Fargo, and just a hint of The Red Violin.  Ultimately, though, this movie stands up on its own with a unique, dark-humored tone and unraveling plot. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this film!—

If you can ever find it. I saw The Convincer when it premiered in January 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, in Eccles Theater, in Park City, Utah. Since then, I have read that it has undergone many changes, and it is not the film I saw at Sundance. We will have to wait and see what its final version will be like. I have not seen this new version, so I cannot comment on it in any way. I can only hope that it somehow remains the film I enjoyed at Sundance. For information on the changes, check out this Indiewire article as a starting point.

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In addition to her duties at SAGIndie, Ellen Tremiti is also a Contributor for Fanboy Comics, an independent comic book publishing company based in Los Angeles, CA. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Ellen and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at FanboyComics.net or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing subscribe@fanboycomics.net.

Film Review: THE TROLL HUNTER

SAGindie — Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Check out a review of THE TROLL HUNTER that SAGIndie’s Ellen Tremiti did for FANBOY COMICS.

Review of THE TROLL HUNTER

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL | June 16-26, 2011

SAGindie — Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011