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Of course, I'm in Copenhagen at CPH:DOX, where the festival's entire raison d'etre is to prompt such searching, perplexed questions. CPH:DOX has carved out a unique position in the fall's crowded array of non-fiction showcases by programming films that, in the words of festival director Tine Fischer, incorporate "the real" as opposed to those that merely follow documentary orthodoxies. (CPH:DOX is also known for doubling down its radical agenda by giving purposefully confounding awards, like its citation of Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers as Best Documentary two years ago.) For the director whose masterclass I moderated, Le Quattro Volte's Michelangelo Frammartino, "the real" consists of the animal and mineral subjects of his transfixing film practice, which often involves the gradual but persistent removal of human subjects from the frame. As for documentary vs. fiction, Frammartino said he was uninterested in the question. What was more interesting for him was talking about the image, and how his frequent wide shots and long-take, observational approach (inspired by Tati and Charlie Chaplin) allows the audience to choose what to focus on, and is a reaction to the "image culture" that has pervaded contemporary Italian life. Speaking on the day that Berlusconi announced his plans to step down, Frammartino said that he sees his filmmaking style as oppositional to a visual language linked to a conservative political regime headed by a media baron. Definitely a more interesting binary opposition than "doc vs. fiction"!
I'll have more from CPH:DOX in the coming days on the blog, including work on some of the new films here, including Charles Atlas's collaboration with Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, Turning. And if you haven't checked out our website recently, please visit. There is a lot of new content from quite a few new writers.
See you next week.
BEST FILM NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU SCREENING SERIES - NOVEMBER 18 - 21 The annual Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series, presented in partnership with The Museum of Modern Art, kicks off November 18th at MoMA. The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You award, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, is given annually as part of the Gotham Independent Film Awards to the most outstanding independent film of the year without theatrical distribution in place. The five nominated films - singled out from the 2011 festival circuit - will screen at MoMA from November 18 - 21. The nominated films are Codependent Lesbian Alien Seeks Same, directed by Madeleine Olnek; Green, directed by Sophia Takal; The Redemption of General Butt Naked, directed by Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion; Scenes of a Crime, directed by Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock; and Without, directed by Mark Jackson. All screenings will be followed by Q & A's with the directors. Nominees for the award were selected by the editorial staff and contributors to Filmmaker, and Josh Siegel, Associate Curator, MoMA Department of Film, from recommendations by critics, festival programmers and curators. More details here.
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IFP: Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series - November 18-21
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INTO THE ABYSS For his follow-up to this year's 3D cave painting expose The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, documentary stalwart Werner Herzog turns his attention towards a darker aspect of human nature with Into The Abyss. Through in-depth conversations with 28-year old inmate Michael Perry, a convicted murderer whose execution date is rapidly approaching, Herzog explores man's capacity for murder, both on an individual and an institutional level. Herzog is as probing, caring, and thorough as ever, carving a characteristically humanist portrait out of one of his darkest subjects yet. LETTERS FROM THE BIG MAN The first film in eight years from director Christopher Munch (Harry and Max, The Sleepy Time Gal) tells the emotionally compelling story of a government hydrologist (Lily Rab) who builds a relationship with a sasquach-like creature while surveying the Oregon wilderness. Letters From the Big Man is a sweet and empathetic look at an unlikely friendship, a return to form deeply imbued with Munch's signature emotional complexity. Read our interview with Munch here. MELANCHOLIA Ever since Lars von Trier's controversial theatrics at this year's Cannes, it's seemed as if the media is incapable of discussing Melancholia without veering into a conversation about von Trier himself. This is a shame, as the Dogme 95 founder's new film is a striking cinematic experience, made memorable by von Trier's ever-expanding visual palette, raw performances from Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a tone of apocalyptic gloom that somehow feels fresh amongst this year's other end-of-the-world indie fare. Von Trier's film is separated into two parts. The first follows a depressive woman, Justine (Dunst), through the dysfunctional evening of her wedding reception; the second centers around Justine and her sister (Gainsbourg) preparing for the worst as a newly discovered planet tracks a collision course towards Earth. Read our interview with von Trier (perhaps his last?) from the Fall issue of Filmmaker here. This week on the blog, Jason Guerrasio announces the co-hosts of this year's Gotham Awards and the nominees for the Gotham Audience Award, Ray Pride highlights the Greek financial crisis through the faces attending the Thessaloniki Doc Fest (pictured left), and Michael Murie rounds up reaction to the new Canon EOS C300 and RED Scarlet-X cameras.
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Oregon Independent Film Festival
Early Deadline: November 14
WAB Deadline: May 14, 2012
Festival Dates: August 25 - 31, 2012
deadCENTER Film Festival
Early Deadline: November 14
WAB Deadline: February 14, 2012
Festival Dates: June 6- 10, 2012
Palm Beach International Film Festival
Early Deadline: November 15
Late Deadline: January 10, 2012
Festival Dates: April 11 - 19