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We landed in Newark three hours later and were rushed onto another waiting plane. We had to hurry, they said, because if it didn't close its doors by 3:00AM it couldn't take off, and after Sandy there were no hotel rooms within 50 miles. I was handed a "Customer Care Packet." Inside was a coupon for 10% off my next United flight and a voucher for a free beverage.
I did make it to CPH, just over 24 hours after I left. My late arrival meant my first evening plans were scuttled. As I mentioned, CPH:DOX prides itself on its iconoclasm. A few years ago Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers won Best Feature. The year after, it was Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte. This doc festival has a habit of giving its top prize to films the directors don't even consider documentaries.
Anyway, my plans were to, on election night (don't worry, I absentee voted), catch one of the top U.S.-grossing docs of the year, a film I forgot to catch in New York: Dinesh D'Souza's 2016: Obama's America. I thought I'd watch it with a Danish audience, take notes during the Q&A, and then head to an election night party at a bar run by one of the city's newspapers. (How cool is that?) It would make a good blog post. Instead, I got in late and just watched CNN all night.
I don't know about you, but I'm glad this election is over. In fact, my post-electoral resolution is to detox myself from political porn by cutting out cable TV news. Despite my antipathy for all the dueling strategists who have clogged prime time for the last year, though, I have to admit that watching folks like John King with his Magic Wall do their thing on election night is impressive. You can tell they live for this one night. It's like their Olympics.
Yesterday I caught up with the festival's director, Tine Fischer. How did 2016: Obama's America get chosen for CPH:DOX, I asked? Fischer said she's often heard from folks wondering why so many documentaries are from the left. Aren't there any conservative ones? For other audience members here, Fischer told me, the documentary was almost anthropological, providing them a look at the mindset of the American right.
But at this documentary festival exploring the blurring of fact and fiction, perhaps the most startling footage I can expect to see has been online, the next day, as I watched the clip of Megyn Kelly striding through the halls of Fox News at Karl Rove's request to confront the network's own statisticians after Fox called Ohio for Obama. Here was a real face-off, between the Nate Silver/Moneyball number-crunching approach to politics and the gauzy punditry of people like Rove and Peggy Noonan, who opined last week that Romney would win because she saw more lawn signs for him in Florida. The possible (meaning, I'm not sure) positive effects of the Moneyball win, whatever your political orientation, are argued for by a reader on Andrew Sullivan's blog, who wrote, "Statistical analysis of human behavior has achieved a new level of legitimacy. We have here a shining empirical example that we can measure people's thoughts and intentions and actually use that to make accurate and forceful predictions about their behavior. This makes society more democratic. Instead of elites and experts trying to guess what crowds want or what they will do, decision makers can simply ask and take action based on that."
See you next week.
BEST FILM NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU SCREENING SERIES (NOVEMBER 16-19) 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 16th 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 2012 festival circuit - will each screen twice at MoMA from November 16 - 21. Most screenings will be followed by Q & A's with the directors: Alex Karpovsky (Red Flag), Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), Frank V. Ross (Tiger Tail in Blue), Amy Seimetz (Sun Don't Shine) and David Zellner (Kid-Thing). 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.
RZA on The Man with the Iron Fists
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Screening Series (November 16-19)
STARLET Sean Baker's Starlet focuses on Jane (Dree Hemingway), a 21-year old stoner who uncovers a stash of money belonging to an 85-year old woman named Sadie (Besedka Johnson). Jane befriends Sadie only to set her ulterior motives aside as the two of them strike an unlikely bond. Praised for its understated performances and crisp direction, Starlet promises to be a hit with discerning indie audiences. Check out Scott Macaulay's extensive conversation with Baker in the current issue of Filmmaker, now on newsstands. THE COMEDY Rick Alverson's The Comedy follows Swanson (Tim Heidecker), an aging Brooklyn hipster who wiles away the days committing idle acts of mischief with his friends. Growing bored of his sheltered existence, Swanson begins pushing the limits of his behavior even further. A critical hit at this year's Sundance, The Comedy reveals a more dramatic side to comedian Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Good Job!. The cast also includes Heidecker's regular comic cohort Eric Wareheim, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy and comedian Gregg Turkington aka Neil Hamburger. Pick up the latest issue of Filmmaker to read Dan Schoenbrun's interview with Alverson and Heidecker. CITADEL In Ciaran Foy's Citadel, Tommy (Aneurin Barnard), a working class twentysomething man develops a crippling case of agoraphobia after his wife is brutally murdered in their housing project by a group of feral children. Tommy is then left with an infant daughter to protect from the same evil that took his wife. Citadel has been described as a skillfully crafted genre film that combines gritty social realism with suspenseful horror. Read Damon Smith's interview with Ciaran Foy here. This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay shares "25 New Face" Phillip Van's amazing photos of post-Sandy NYC, Michael Nordine files reports from AFI Fest, and Kevin Canfield interviews directors Brenna Sanchez and Tom Putnam about their film Burn (pictured left).
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RZA ON THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS By R. Kurt Osenlund
What do you get when you hand RZA the keys to his own film project? As fans of the multi-tasking Wu-Tang Clan leader will be thrilled to know, you get a balls-out, rap-infused martial arts spectacle, filled with the mad love of a lifelong kung fu fan. A project nine years in the making, RZA's directorial debut, The Man with the Iron Fists, sees the 43-year-old artist star alongside Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe, bringing to life a mashed-up actioner that blends Chinese mysticism with the U.S. slave trade and more. The impetus for the film's production came when RZA was scoring Kill Bill: Vol. 1, and witnessed firsthand the craft of Quentin Tarantino. The partnership led the composer to Eli Roth, who'd become his co-screenwriter, and instilled in him the kind of on-set practices that would help him make the leap from tireless MC to full-fledged filmmaker. Tarantino comparisons will surely abound, and one wonders if RZA could have thought better than to cast Lucy Liu and Gordon Liu in roles nearly xeroxed from the ones they played in the Kill Bill saga. But the diverting entertainment of Iron Fists feels pure, and the whole production, which is sweepingly, impressively realized, seems to have sprung straight from this musician-turned-maestro's mind.
UO 21st Annual Queer Film Festival
Earlybird Deadline: November 14
Regular Deadline: December 14
Late Deadline: December 20
Festival Dates: February 8 - 10
On Location: Memphis International Film and Music Festival
Regular Deadline: November 10
Late Deadline: December 10
WAB Deadline: December 20
Festival Dates: April 25 - 27
Omaha Film Festival
Late Deadline: November 12
WAB Deadline: November 19
Festival Dates: March 6 - 10