Directed by Jennifer Trainer Narrated by Meryl Streep
Museum Town is the first feature documentary from award-winning journalist Jennifer Trainer. It chronicles the history of Mass MoCA, the world’s largest contemporary art museum in the world and North Adams, the struggling Massachusetts town it resides in. Trainer herself is one of the co-founders of Mass MoCA. Narrated by Meryl Streep, it mainly focuses on Missouri-born artist Nick Cave (not the of the Bad Seeds) and his epic installation titled Until which involved large scale pieces of found and recycled art and contemporary objects. There are also brief cameos from other artists/musicians like David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) and Laurie Anderson.
In the early 80s as well as decades before, North Adams was a thriving factory town most well-known for housing Sprague Electric who manufactured electronic components such as conductors, semi-conductors, resistors/capacitors and ICs (integrated circuits). The factory was mostly a women’s workforce because of what was perceived as delicate detail work fitting small hands.
With a sprawling campus that encompassed 2 or more football fields, Sprague was a city unto itself and helped sustain the city’s economic growth into the 1980s. However, as component manufacturing gradually moved overseas, Sprague decided to cut costs and eventually closed its North Adams facility which put thousands of locals out of work. The connecting highway was also built on the town’s outskirts further debilitating its economic recovery.
Then in the mid 80s, Thomas Krens, an experienced museum director from Williamstown convinced the city’s leadership to convert Sprague’s abandoned buildings into what would become the largest contemporary museum in the world. The vastness of it gave some established and upcoming installation artists the opportunity to exhibit their work in a unique space. Mass MoCA as it was christened, partly rejuvenated North Adams and helped establish itself as a “Museum Town”.
As the film unfolds, we see the progression of North Adams’ history as thriving factory town to depressed city and Mass MoCA’s rise from conception to existence. While the museum continues to tread water in pursuit of financing, the town continues to be conflicted of its identity among the locals. While some have adapted to the museum’s high-brow reputation in the art world (some locals work for the museum) many more struggle to find their place as poverty and homelessness to continue to be problematic.
Though the film is honest about Mass MoCA’s relationship with North Adams, it’s unfortunate that the chasm between the museum and the townsfolk remain deep and wide. Being an artist, I personally feel there should be a common ground between art and audience. But in Museum Town, that seems to be a road less travelled. It’s a reality and perhaps the challenge of Mass MoCA – to reach a common appreciation, understanding and reflection of the people and the town of North Adams.
Museum Town is pleasant to watch but mostly feels like it’s confined within museum walls. And I can’t help feeling a certain detachment from the people of North Adams as if they are still being left behind. They need their voices heard too.
So did you see MUSEUM TOWN? Let us know what you think!
To say social media is addictive is really putting it mildly. Even as someone who’s relatively new to social media (I’ve actually opened a personal Facebook account just three years ago when I made my first short film), it’s impossible to refute the impact of social networking. Gone are the days when we actually use our phone to make/receive a phone call… that’s hardly the reason why we can’t put our phones down.
Set in Silicon Valley, the documentary fuses investigative documentary with tech experts who helped build the social networking platforms, and narrative drama that present how a family is dealing with the social media addiction. The concept being presented here is hardly surprising, but it’s still pretty alarming to reflect that the obsessive appeal of social networking isn’t a bug, it’s a feature – that’s the exact logline on Netflix.
I personally don’t think the dramatic narrative are necessary to grasp the concepts director Jeff Orlowski and his subjects are presenting here, but they are quite entertaining and certainly makes the big ideas like social engineering, and surveillance capitalism more relatable on a human level. What I find most fascinating are the fact that the experts being interviewed had a hand in building the platforms they are exposing and calling disturbing, even malevolent.
Two of the experts in particular, Tristan Harris, a former Google Design Ethicist and Justin Rosenstein, former Google & Facebook Engineer (who’s one of the people who invented the LIKE button) have some particularly damning revelations about the Big Tech industry. While we think of them as innovative industry that create ‘tools’ to make our lives more connected are nothing more than profit-driven industry that gain their billions trillions from manipulating human behavior.
”There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.”
”If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re the product.”
”Social media is a marketplace that trades exclusively in human futures.”
Many of these tech experts admit that they too became addicted to their own products, even after spending hours building them, they too still fall prey to what those platforms are build for. One of the most intriguing part of the dramatization is when multiple AI (played by Vincent Kartheiser) are manipulating a teenage boy (Skyler Gisondo), complete with a digital dummy akin to a voodoo doll, to keep him engaged on screen as much as possible. It seems funny and hyperbolic, but the experts, especially Tristan Harris are saying the engineers behind these platforms are paid big bucks to ‘enslave’ us for their own gain. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are not a passive ‘tools’ like a bicycle waiting to be used, but on the other side of these platforms, there are engineers who work with acute, unscrupulous precision to ensure that their users are addicted to their products.
I’ve already limited my time on many social platform and disabled notifications even before I watch this film, and I’m not one of those people who check their phone first thing in the morning either. But I have to admit that on occasion I had been so distracted by social media that an hour or two have gone by without me realizing it! It’s really terrifying to take in just how dangerous social media has become as the AI and algorithm become increasingly smarter and adept at predicting what we want to see/hear/buy/vote, etc. Most people who weren’t born in the age of social media (I’m going to date myself here, but I still had to do my college research using a Microfiche machine at the library!), I realize that technology as powerful as social media is going to have an evil, dark side to it, but I doubt many young people are conscious of it. Even if they are, they probably are too pressured by their peers to limit their use of it.
My heart goes out to the parents of Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, as mobile phones have become available to them since they’re in middle school. It’s no wonder that there’s skyrocketing levels of depression among children and teens… it’s bad enough kids get bullied in person, but being bullied through social media that reach beyond their own school/community is another matter. The film also touched upon some of the dire social implications all over the world. For example, it talks about how Facebook is used to spread false information, including Covid misinformation, and how it’s used to incite violence by white supremacist, etc. It even has an influence in something as horrifying as the genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
The Social Dilemma might seem hyperbolic at times, and I feel that is on purpose for a cautionary tale such as this one. I certainly find if eye-opening and sobering, even downright terrifying at times. It potently illustrates just how important it is for people to connect on a human level outside of the digital ecosystem. It’s also a visually-arresting film with beautiful animation to illustrate various points. I think it’s important for documentary filmmakers to use creativity to deliver information in an entertaining way, and Orlowski certainly did that. If there is one documentary you should watch this year (well, of any year), I can’t recommend this one enough.
Have you seen The Social Dilemma? I’d love to hear what you think!
Ruth asked me to cover The Booksellers because she knew I was a bookworm, and she’s not wrong. I majored in English because I love reading; the most memorable part of my first date with my boyfriend was browsing Mager’s and Quinn’s discount corner; and my regular visits to Winona aren’t complete without visiting Chapter 2 Books and scouring their densely packed shelves. But my love of books doesn’t compare with the sellers and collectors featured in this beautiful documentary.
The Booksellers is a documentary exploring New York’s book world, from the history and importance of its independent bookstores to a collection of passionate book collectors. The film discusses the practice of book selling and collecting, the future of the printed word, and how the changing times has affected the bookselling industry, and how there is still progress to be made.
Much of the documentary focuses on how technology-specifically, the internet-has affected booksellers. One collector noted that in the 50’s, there were 378 bookstores in NYC; as of the time this was filmed, there were 79. Before the rise of the internet, sellers would scour estate sales and church basement sales to find rare books for their stores. Once it became easier to find rare books online with decreased prices, independent booksellers suffered. Dwindling bookstores are leading to fewer book collectors, as used bookstores are often the introduction to budding enthusiasts. The fact that the world of bookselling hasn’t been particularly welcoming to women or people of color doesn’t help either; even today, only about 15% of independent booksellers are women, and while the number of people of color in the industry has increased, the field still isn’t very diverse.
That’s not to say the world of book collecting isn’t still very active. This documentary is full of people who are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about rare books, and it’s not just about collecting for the sake of collection. One comment that particularly struck me was that “books are not trophies;” people who collect rare books differ from people who collect art because they usually have a deeply personal connection to the books they buy, whereas art collectors are often more in it as a display of wealth. To view a piece of expensive art someone has feels more like a statement that they have it and no one else does, whereas viewing a rare book in a collection feels like an invitation into the collector’s world.
The documentary itself is a little scattered and unstructured, especially for its over an hour and a half length, and it can feel a little dry in some parts, but it’s still clearly a labor of love. The Booksellers will make you want to run out to your nearest used bookstore (once it’s safe to go out again) and spend a few hours browsing the comfortable, dusty shelves to find something that speaks to you.
Have you seen THE BOOKSELLERS? Let us know what you think!
It’s the day before last of TCFF! Whew!! What an amazing 10 days it’s been celebrating Twin Cities Film Fest’s 10th Anniversary!! But as I mentioned in this post, we still have plenty of great films to watch tonight and tomorrow!
One of them is The Chunta, which premieres Saturday at 2:40 PM.
The Chunta is a colorful documentary following the lives of several men (and a couple women) leading up to the celebration of the Fiesta Grande in Chicapa de Corzo, a small town in Mexico. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fiesta Grande, but one of the long-standing traditions is for men dress up as women. Most men who participate are parts of “gangs” (although “club” would probably be the most accurate term for an American audience) that work on costumes and do their makeup together. In recent years, one gang has raised the hackles of more traditional gangs because of their LGBTQ inclusivity and their modern take on costumes and makeup.
This is the group that the documentary revolves around. They are led by the tough and somehow also adorable “Auntie They”. Auntie They is part chef, part costume designer, part cheerleader, part mom, part bodyguard, and all love. The audience is swept along on the journey of this little gang as they cut paper and fabric, try on pieces of their costumes, eat, go on interviews, talk about their identities and previous celebrations, and finally get ready for and attend the Fiesta Grande.
There were several points in this documentary when I really wanted a narrator (maybe Auntie They, maybe just a disembodied voice) to offer more context about the festival and the Chunta in general. In some ways, forcing the viewer to play catch up through context clues was great, as it solidified the movie’s message that as the times change, so too do our traditions. But it also leaves the audience struggling to figure out what the Fiesta Grande is, what the Chunta are, and how pervasive the intermingling of LGBTQ identities and the Chunta tradition is.
Ultimately, The Chunta is trying to create conversations about the intersection of cultural traditions and modern ideologies. One of my favorite moments in the film is when a man from the LGBTQ gang tries to explain the cognitive dissonance inherent in the groups who see the Chunta tradition as a paragon of masculinity. Their inability to call the tradition cross-dressing is so confusing that the man can’t help but stumble over his words as he tries to explain their stance.
The example in The Chunta is almost farcical, but a critical viewer will hopefully realize that this cognitive dissonance is present in our own cultures and traditions as well. What are our blind spots? At what moments in our own lives have we metaphorically been that man wearing a full face of makeup and a beautiful dress, complaining about the extra bling in new costumes and the “wrong” kind of people participating in our beloved traditions?
This documentary will leave you with a lot to discuss, but it is also a thing of beauty. The costumes are amazing and the footage of the festival is breathtaking. As the festivities of Fiesta Grade escalate, men and women become indiscernible as everyone whirls down the street and into the church dressed as the Chunta. It is a visual treat.
Check out the movie and then find me at the film festival or on the internet and let me know what you thought about the tradition, the culture, and the men and women represented in the film. Bonus points if the movie helps you come to any conclusions about the LGBTQ community and the traditions that you love.
PS:I do suggest a little primer before watching the movie. There is a helpful guide on the film’s website that provides some very helpful historical and cultural context.
– Review by Holly Peterson
TCFF screening of The Chunta Saturday, October 26th 2:40 PM
The Education of a Negro
The Education of a Negro is a must see. It is the first film from Ryan Culver who also wrote the story and served as produced. He was heavily inspired by the shooting of Pillando Castile and a 2006 study done by the FBI on the Klan’s infiltration into our police system. Culver doesn’t have a background in film and has said he felt called to create a film after the 2017 not guilty verdict in the Castile case.
This film focuses on Kenny, the head of a successful tech startup. He is living his best life in the Twin Cities with his beautiful, intelligent lawyer girlfriend J.J. All is well until one night, his brother Kirk is killed by the police under suspicious circumstances. 14 months later the cop responsible for Kirk’s death is acquitted. Kenny tries to move on, but when he learns the truth about the trial he is dragged into a world he knows nothing about and must confront his fear. Kenny and J.J. must go to great lengths in order to get justice for Kirk as his killer so go terrifying extremes to cover up the truth.
I liked this film for a handful of reasons. Firstly, it juxtaposes historical police violence against the events that take place in the film making it clear this although this is an interpretation, these events and experiences are true to life. It makes it clear this is not a new issue as some like to believe but rather, an ongoing issue rooted in racism and slavery. In between scenes of our narrative are short clips highlightingpeople who have been lost to police violence in the 60s. It shows individuals being shot by a mocking, masked figure making the viewer take a moment and acknowledge the horrible violence that persists in our country.
I also really liked the way they portray Kenny’s relationships. Too often in Hollywood, African Americans are portrayed as one sided stereotypes, such as a mystic, a thug, a token best friend, the brash woman and domestic. This film gives us two loving and successful individuals who support and elevate one another. Kenny and J.J. are played by emerging talents, Kendrix Lamaz Brown and Alisa Murray. Their chemistry is really good and brings a lovely, well-developed relationship to life. The depth they give each character while they are grieving is truly amazing. And after, when they team up in pursuit of the truth, it’s really powerful.
I also really like the relationship Kenny has with his brother. They have real conversations and are supportive of one another. The pictures and stories Kenny shares with J.J. makes it feel so real and believable. It shouldn’t be, but this often not seen in Hollywood.Too often brothers and families are pitted against one another and it was refreshing to see real people.
– Review by Jessie Zumeta
Up there is a charming indie drama co-directed by comedians Daniel Weingarten and Michael Blaustein. The lead actress Zoe Kanters also co-wrote the script and is inspired by real life events. This film focuses on ajournalist struggling to find fulfillment as he searches for “the story” that will launch his career.He is given an assignment in a small mining town.
Initially, I found the film difficult to watch . It’s a story we’ve seen so many times. A city slicker goes to a small town where they are unwelcome until they befriend an eccentric local. This was not helped by Weingarten’s acting which seemed a bit forced, keeling between overacting and flat delivery. Likewise, his character Jackhad a very unconvincing story arch which left the ending to be unbelievable. Jack never seems sincere enough to elicit the forgiveness we as the audience are supposed to want for him.
On the other hand, Zoe Kanters does truly wonderful job portraying Emma, a happy go lucky local with a haunted past. Emma’s exuberance is mirrored by Blaustein’s performance as Emma’s excessively protective and overbearing older brother Champ.
It is these two performances that carry the film. The dynamic they create of two siblings living in the aftermath of family trauma is strong enough to carry the film, past the tropes, slow pacing and minor tech issues.
In the end I thought this film was a really beautiful illumination of rural America and a deeply moving look at a person coping with trauma, loss and mental illness. If you like touching indie dramedies, this is the film for you!
We’ve past the halfway point of the film fest… but we still have three full days filled with GREAT films! S0 here are the Daily Schedule for the rest of the film fest, but before that, here’s a fun recap video from yesterday:
Thursday, October 24
12:15p.m.: Science Fair, Cristina Costantini & Darren Foster
Nine high school students from disparate corners of the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks, and hormones on their quest to win the international science fair. Only one can be named “Best in Fair.”
Our man receives a mis-delivered package that tears open old wounds sending him down a dark path that will change his life forever.
2:45p.m.: The Truth About Marriage, Roger Nygaard
Why is marriage so difficult? Filmmaker Roger Nygard (TREKKIES) seeks to answer that question as he follows three unusual couples, who were filmed at their weddings, then many years later to see what happened after the honeymoon stage.
“Leona” is an intimate, insightful, and moving film that tells the story of a young Jewish woman from Mexico City who finds herself torn between her family and her forbidden love. Ripe with all the drama and interpersonal conflicts of a Jane Austen novel, watching her negotiate the labyrinth of familial pressure, religious precedent, and her own burgeoning sentiment is both painful and beautiful there are no easy choices to be made and the viewer travels back and forth with her as she struggles with her heart to take the best path.
Ed Norton’s directing debut. Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, Motherless Brooklyn follows Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna.
Wide-eyed Midwest transplant Stan (Chace Crawford) agrees to play wingman to his calculating and privileged roommate Chad (Kevin Zegers) as they embark upon an exploration of glittering New York nightlife, whose darkest secrets are held captive by an elite band of millennials known as Nighthawks.
Amplify Her explores the rise of female artists against the backdrop of the global electronic music festival scene from Burning Man (Nevada) to Rainbow Serpent (Australia). Imagined and brought to life by more than 21 female creators across North America, this lush and visually dynamic world blurs the line between fiction and reality while demonstrating the power of letting women tell their own stories.
In suburban Phoenix, 40-year-old Ruth Kiesling is not exactly living the dream. She’s a donut shop employee with anger issues. Ever the opportunist and desperate for money, she “steals” the body of President James Buchanan hoping to ransom him for a nice windfall but she’s surprised to discover that no one seems particularly interested in getting him back.
In the highly exclusive Athlete Village at the Olympic Winter Games, Penelope (Alexi Pappas, “Tracktown”), a young cross-country skier, befriends Ezra (Nick Kroll, “The League,” “Kroll Show,” “I Love You, Man”), a volunteer dentist, after a disappointing finish in her competition. Penelope and Ezra share a special but limited time together.
Faye (Sarah French), a former actress that lost her vision due to botched laser eye, struggles to put her life back together while living alone in her dream house in the Hollywood Hills. Supported by her friend Sophia (Caroline Williams), she starts opening up to Luke (Tyler Gallant), a personal trainer who is mute and can only communicate through his cell phone. When a masked stranger named “Pretty Boy” (Jed Rowen) shows up, Faye will realize that she isn`t as alone as she thinks.
When groom-to-be Ben’s wild ex-girlfriend Jules bursts into his home to declare her love for him on the eve of his wedding to Lisa, Ben is suddenly faced with a decision he didn’t realize he had to make. What appears to be an easy choice on the surface is anything but, as Ben grapples with the fact that this night will determine the course of his life.
In 2016, June and Edward are in the midst of an argument when Edward suddenly falls into a wormhole created by David Bowie’s death. In 2040, June continues to mourn the loss of Edward while facing the dark reality of being locked away along with the rest of society’s senior citizens. Unwilling to disappear, June begins to plan her escape when Edward suddenly reappears in her life.
WELL GROOMED travels a year in the humorous and visually stunning world of competitive creative dog grooming alongside the women transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures. Check out our review.
In a small town in Mexico, once a year, men transform into women and become the Chuntá. Follow two gender-bending gangs of dancers as they face off in a struggle between queer identity and powerful traditions.
On a summer night in Harlem during her last months at home before starting college, 17-year-old poet Ayanna (Zora Howard) meets Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a charming music producer who has just moved to the city. It’s not long before these two artistic souls are drawn together in a passionate summer romance. But as the highs of young love give way to jealousy, suspicion, and all-too-real consequences, Ayanna must confront the complexities of the adult world whether she is ready or not. Emotionally raw, intimate, and honest, “Premature” is at once timeless and bracingly contemporary in its portrait of a young woman navigating the difficult choices that can shape a life.
Hunter (Haley Bennett) is a newly pregnant woman, living an idyllic, stay-at-home life with her picture-perfect husband (Austin Stowell). But when she finds herself compelled to eat a small marble, she is catapulted down the path of a new obsession for consuming dangerous objects that threatens her seemingly have-it-all life. Her husband and his mother (Elizabeth Marvel) notice the change, and begin to tighten their control over Hunter, forcing her to confront the dark secret behind her strange compulsion.
A unique and unpredictable journey from Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow” is a compelling blend of domestic thriller, medical mystery, and satire. It plays as a warped fairy tale that uses its style and tension to pose real questions about womens bodies, guilt, repression, and agency.
Saturday, October 26th, 3-4pm FROM THE TRENCHES – Minnesota Film Ecosystem from Below-the-Line
Our local crew members work tirelessly to make our films into reality. Come hear from our MN-based crew members as they discuss the current landscape of filmmaking in Minnesota and present a positive and constructive way forward towards industry growth.
It’s already Day 4 at TCFF! Well, time sure flies when you’re having fun! Here’s a video recap from Saturday, courtesy of TCFF’s awesome media producers Ellie Drews & Kirstie House:
Greywood’s Plot, directed by MN-based director Josh Stifter (whom Ruth interviewed for his film The Good Exorcist), is a fantastically fun and funky horror comedy. Shot in black and black and white, it’s a throwback to old late night comedy shows.
The movie follows two lifelong friends who receive a mysterious VHS tape containing some footage of a vampire-type animal. They decide to go on and adventure into the woods to investigate the validity of the tape and in the process hope to make a documentary about it. The journey becomes much more than they expected as the terrifying truth is uncovered.
This full-length horror-comedy film made almost entirely by Stifter and his friends. It also stars his longtime collaborator Daniel Degnan who was in The Good Exorcist. Josh along with directing, also served as the co-writer and producer, while Nathan Strauss was the assistant director, executive producer and special effects artist and Keith Radichel rounded out the team as the films antagonist. Shot in Detroit lakes in a friend’s family’s small hunting shack the film is 100% Minnesota made. Even the extras were residents of Detroit lakes, serving as tree zombies.
Josh has been in the movie business for years, working with both Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez. He has a background in special effects which I think adds to the really playful and imaginative kind of horror comedy he makes. I also really appreciate the way he incorporated the surrounding woods and fields of Detroit Lakes. It would have been easy enough to keep the film contained in the shack but by expanding the films location it creates a much more immersive environment.
– Review by Jessie Zumeta
The Truth About Marriage (Documentary)
This documentary by filmmaker Roger Nygard (“Trekkies”) follows three not-so-ordinary couples to see how things turned out several years after the honeymoon. The film presents challenging ideas about relationships, as it answers the question: Why is marriage so hard for people?
Engaging and entertaining examination by veteran documentary filmmaker, Roger Nygard, into the complicated subject of marriage. As the saying goes, everyone’s got an opinion! And they are insightful and, sometimes, humorous. I liked the fact that there was a mix of a vast variety of “experts,” along with a variety of real life couples—some that were in untraditional arrangements. It’s another great film by him that’s a fantastic conversation starter. The film examines the history of marriage, how it’s evolved, and what we expect from it now. In the end, it’s up to us to decide: what is it’s purpose?
– Review by Kelly Lamplear-Dash
A feature-length documentary about the city dump in Yellowknife, Canada. In Yellowknife, the remote capitol of the Northwest Territories, the town dump is the city’s most popular and notorious manmade attraction, mined by a colorful community of thrifty locals. But the new city administration is determined to see it tamed, and the battle for Yellowknife’s identity is on.
An “A” for effort. This film is a unique peek into the salvage subculture of a small town in Yellowknife, Canada, which has a history of mining. There was great use of historical footage and stills. I would have like to seen more. There was an interesting cast of characters; however, maybe too many.
I am interested in the themes of re-use, re-purpose, recycling, minimum waste, environmental impact, and dumpster diving for food. It also touched on the issues of community interest versus politics coupled with the ever-increasing issue of gentrification. This film was trying to do a lot, but could have been cut back a little. Maybe even been a short. I really did appreciate it.
It’s one of the most wonderful time of the year!! For film fans like me, for the past 10 years TCFF has brought so much joy and excitement since its inception in 2009! I still can’t believe it’s been ten years since it all began, I guess time flies when you’re having fun, and I’m so honored and privileged to have been a tiny part of it from the start.
There are many things to love about TCFF, as I have blogged about here, and one of them is that they champion issues important to me. TCFF 2019 marks its 10th anniversary with a special focus on both female filmmakers and films that advance this year’s social justice cause: environmental sustainability.
Celebrating Women at the 2019 TCFF!
About Women. For Women. By Women.
Check out the HER series category on TCFF website… more than 60 percent of 2019 program are driven by female filmmakers. There are documentaries exploring the world of plus size models (A Perfect 14) and the rise of female artists against the backdrop of the global electronic music festival scene (Amplify Her), a thriller about three women seek justice from the internet (Netizens), there’s something for everyone highlighting female storytelling.
Mary Janes: Women of Weed doc
Warrior Women doc
Perfect 14 doc
Amplify Her doc
Seeing is Believing: Women Direct doc
All of these are so intriguing to me … I love films that gives me new insights and take me to a place (physically and metaphorically) I’ve never been before.
AMPLIFY HER looks especially intriguing to me as it combines animation and film, and it explores real female musicians in a genre I’m not familiar with: electronic dance music. The film explores how these artists navigate the challenges of the music world and find their own unique voices.
Of course as a newbie filmmaker, I definitely want to see Seeing is Believing: Women Direct, where four diverse women share the story of how they became directors, what motivates them, how they lead, and how they overcome obstacles to create the most optimal working environment and work that makes a difference.
Speaking of female filmmakers, I’m happy to announce that the historical drama short I helped produce last year, MASTER SERVANT, will be part of the 2019 lineup!
Master Servant tells the story of an ambitious, young railroad executive comes face to face with his own moral decay in his blind pursuit of wealth and status among the Social Elite.
Thanks to my friend and colleague Julie Koehnen, the writer/director of Master Servant, for inviting me to be a part of the journey in bringing the short film to life. We shot the film at the historic James J. Hill house in St. Paul, which is fitting given the story was inspired by true events of the Gilded Age and the Industrial Revolution. It’s such an honor to have its premiere at TCFF once again, just like my previous short Hearts Want back in 2017. Check out a clip from the film:
One of TCFF 2019’s spotlight films is also by a female filmmaker, Alma Har’el, who’ll be attending the screening on Monday, Oct. 21st. From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue) brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health. Fictionalizing his ascent to stardom, and subsequent crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) and Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea) as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon.
And here are four more films by female directors to check out:
Go Back To China
We Are Gathered Here
Changemaker Films at the 2019 TCFF!
This year’s social justice cause is absolutely important and oh-so-timely: environmental sustainability. There’s a variety of films that promise to entertain and inspire us to care about the earth we live in… Food Coop tells the story of a historic coop supermarket that booms in the middle of an economic crisis, and Salvage explores a city dump in Yellowknife, Canada, while Juice: How Electricity Explains The World highlights how darkness kills human potential and electricity nourishes it.
Youth Unstoppable (Oct. 19)
Sustainable Nation (Oct. 23)
Current Revolution – short doc (Oct. 17)
Food Coop (Oct. 19)
Juice: How electricity explains the world (Oct. 18)
Salvage (Oct. 23)
There’s always something new to learn about our mother earth, and with climate change being one of the most important issue of our lifetime, these films will sure have some teachable moments in an entertaining way.
Youth Unstoppable certainly brings to mind 16-year-old Swedish climate change warrior Greta Thurnberg. It proves that one is never too young to fight for something one believes in. Its director, Slater Jewell-Kemker, can also be described as a climate change warrior herself. She was just 15 when she began documenting the untold stories of youth on the front lines of climate change.
Now, Sustainable Nation tells the story of three innovators who are taking valuable lessons learned from Israel’s water shortage to the rest of the world. Humans have lived without electricity before, but nobody in the world could ever live without water. We live in an increasingly thirsty planet where water is getting more and more scarce, so I’m definitely intrigued by this film.
Ticket prices are $13 for General Admission & $20 for Spotlight Films. Festival Passes can also be purchased as follows: Silver Pass – $55 (5 pack of non-Gala tickets); Gold Pass – $90 (10 pack of non-Gala tickets); Platinum Pass – $130 (12 pack of non-Gala tickets + 2 Gala tickets); Spotlight Pass – $100 (6 tickets to any Spotlight Film).
The passes are such an incredible deal!! Get it soon so you can order your tickets right away. Trust me, it’s SO worth it!!
PLUS… All tickets guarantee admission to that evening’s afterparty in the TCFF Lounge located onsite at The Shops at West End.
Stay tuned for an awesome list of studio and indie films playing at TCFF!