Category Archives: Film Festivals

Film Fest: A Movie About Making Movies

As you can probably tell from the title, Film Fest is one of those meta exercises, an indie film destined for film festivals about an indie film premiering at a film festival. The main difference is that Film Fest actually premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2020, whereas the fictional film is premiering at an obscure film festival in an unnamed (though scenic) location in the mountains.

Directed by Marshall Cook, Film Fest follows the struggles of indie director Logan Clark (Matt Cook). In the first scene, he is desperately pitching his finished movie, appropriately named Unknown Unknowns at a party where he’s working as a server. He’s not so gently rebuffed by an agent while his boss threatens to fire him.

The film’s producer, Alex Davis (Diona Reasonover) reveals that there’s a film festival that actually wants to premier Unknown Unknowns. The catch (the first of many, as it turns out) is that it’s an obscure festival called Hollywylde that no one has heard of. Though at first ready to refuse and wait for something better, Logan reluctantly goes along for the ride. He, Alex, their cinematographer (Laird Macintosh) who affects a fake Swedish accent, and PA make the journey to try their luck. Logan quickly goes from feeling the whole thing is beneath him to desperately wanting to come away a winner.

Film Fest is a spoof and insider’s look at the pretensions and often petty competitiveness of film festivals, where unknown directors desperately want to break through and outshine their peers. The fictional Hollywylde Festival, of course, is shadier and sketchier than even your average obscure film festival. It turns out that every entrant in the festival has been nominated for all the top awards. The festival’s creator is a bombastic character in a cowboy hat named Montgomery Nash (Will Sasso) who privately tells every participant that their film is his favorite.

Logan is portrayed as just as opportunistic and prone to compromising his values as anyone else. There’s a scene where Logan and Alex pitch their movie to agents and are immediately shot down because they lack a clear pigeonhole or star that will make it a predictable hit. Film Fest is an interesting and funny look at the world of independent filmmaking and how only the most dedicated will persevere in the face of such long odds.

Film Fest is currently streaming on Amazon Prime as well as YouTube.

15th Annual Woodstock Film Festival

The 15th Annual Woodstock Film Festival ran from October 15-19, 2014. The festival has grown quite a bit since its beginnings. While still centered in the town of Woodstock, NY, there are now film showings and other events in many other nearby towns, including Rhinebeck and Rosendale, effectively making it a regional Hudson Valley film festival.

In addition to showcasing a large number of narrative films, documentaries and shorts, this year’s WFF featured interviews and panels with director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For a Dream, Black Swan), Courtney Cox, Bruce Greenwood, and Ron Nyswanner.

52nd New York Film Festival

2014 New York Film Festival Starts This Weekend

The New York Film Festival is one of the world’s longest running film festivals. This year marks the 52nd festival, held from 9/26 to 10/12 in several venues around the city.

Some of the notable films that will be shown include:

Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher
Inherent Vice, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, directed by Alejandro G. Irritu
Maps to the Stars, directed by David Cronenberg

The festival will feature a variety of new and previously released films, along with special events, such as a special 30th anniversary screening of This is Spinal Tap and An Evening With Ethan Hawke, An Evening With Richard Gere and a talk by Henry Jenkins on A Brief History of Transmedia Worlds.

Wet Behind the Ears

Wet Behind the Ears (2013)
Director: Sloan Copeland

Wet Behind the Ears is a film I found on Hulu without having any prior knowledge of it. I always watch unknown indie movies with fairly low expectations (the same for most Hollywood movies, truth be told). This one, however, was a welcome surprise. It wasn’t only good for a low budget indie film, it contains some of the best acting and writing that I’ve seen in a while.

The movie starts off in fairly familiar territory, with recent college graduate Samantha (Margaret Keane Williams, who also co-wrote the script along with director Copeland) having trouble finding a job. After being turned down rather condescendingly by a friend of her father’s for a job in the advertising industry, she ends up working behind the counter in an ice cream shop and moving back in with her parents.

We follow Samantha’s low key but funny adventures as she searches for a better job. She runs into an old friend from college and he tells her about a promising job lead. Instead, she is lured into a meeting with a network marketing rep. Anyone who has any familiarity with this type of business will find this scene hilarious, as the man recites his pitch about getting rich via an endlessly expanding pyramid of distributors.

Samantha’s friend Vicky (Jessica Piervicenti) also plays a key role. The two friends were going to be roommates until Samantha’s lack of employment made this arrangement impossible. Vicky is then forced to find a new roommate. After turning down a couple of obviously (and hilariously) unsuitable prospects, she ends up sharing the apartment with an apparent nymphomaniac who brings over a new man every night and keeps Vicky awake.

A typical Hollywood rom-com might have put in a montage scene of awful roommates, but Wet Behind the Ears handles this in a much funnier way without using the montage cliche. Furthermore, the wacky roommates and would-be roommates are weird yet believable. One of the interviewees snobbishly critiques Vicky’s taste in art and demands a reduction in rent.

Samantha, desperate to escape her day job (where she is even harassed by a gang of obnoxious kids she went to high school with), she is tempted when her friend Dean (Doug Roland) tells her about his lucrative video piracy business. She lures Vicky into helping with a scheme that could net all three of them with a nice chunk of cash.

The genius of Wet Behind the Ears isn’t in the plot, but in the humor of the scenes, witty dialogue and nuances of the characters. The movie manages to perfectly capture a variety of very funny and well conceived character types. Arrogant New York City (the film takes place in Manhattan and Long Island) hipsters, such as Vicky’s boss are mercilessly skewed here.

I hope this film, which apparently enjoyed some success at film festivals, attracts a wider audience. It’s so much wittier than the average Hollywood film dealing with similar subjects.
Hulu, unfortunately, tends to bury little known films amidst hundreds of mediocre titles (including Lifetime and other basic cable offerings). Unless you go out of your way to unearth obscure indie films (as I do), you are likely to miss them. I’ve found a few gems this way, with Wet Behind the Ears being one of the best of them.

The film does have a Facebook page, where you can find out the latest news about it.

Tribeca Film Festival 2013

The Tribeca Film Festival, which began in 2002, is running from April 17-28 in 2013. This year, as usual, there is a wide assortment of offerings, including a few fascinating documentaries.

There are now so many film festivals that it’s hard to keep up with them all, but Tribeca films a definite need. While most film festivals are in small towns that come alive strictly during the film festival, this one is right in the heart of New York City.

So what’s on the agenda this year? Here are just a few of the selections:

The Motivation, a documentary by Adam Bhala Lough on the world of street skating.

Lenny Cooke, directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, is a documentary about a young basketball player who doesn’t make it into the NBA.

Adult World -directed by Scott Coffey, is about a poet who works in a sex shop.

The Acrobat, directed by Gerardo Herrero, is a Spanish documentary that looks at the phenomenon of suicide.

AB, directed by Daniel Klein, is about a man who has an accident in a remote area in the middle of winter.

Lil Bub & Friendz, directed by Juliette Eisner and Andy Capper, is a documentary that focuses on celebrity cats on the internet.

Mistaken For Strangers -directed by Tom Berninger, follows the rock group The National on a big tour.

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    Woodstock Film Festival

    There are so many film festivals around these days, and one that’s already ten years old is the Woodstock Film Festival, that takes place in the famous upstate New York town every fall. As Indiewire points out, this is a film festival that has become a showcase for some high quality and well received independent films.

    This year’s festival will be running from September 21 to 25. Aside from running a variety of feature films, documentaries and short films, the festival also has panel discussions, concerts and other special events. It’s not a long trip from anywhere on the East Coast, and often boasts some innovative and ultimately important films.

    For more information, check out the website for the Woodstock Film Festival.

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      Napa Valley Film Festival

      We can add the Napa Valley Film Festival to the growing number of popular and influential showcases for the latest independent films. We can only see it as a healthy trend that more festivals are getting publicity and the indie film world is getting more decentralized and, well, indie. If there’s anything to complain about with this trend, it’s that the vast majority of these film festivals are in scenic or glamorous locations. This makes perfect sense, of course –why not give people a chance to see some innovative films while they’re vacationing in California wine country or the South of France? But now maybe it’s time for some film festivals to appear in places no one would want to go otherwise, somewhere like…well, we wouldn’t want to insult anyone’s home town, but insert your stereotype middle-of-nowhere location.

      “Celebrating the best new independent films from around the world, along with the food, wine, hospitality and natural beauty of the legendary Napa Valley, the world’s top wine country destination. Inaugural festival Nov 9 – 13, 2011”

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        Toronto Film Festival

        The Toronto Film Festival has been gaining in popularity in recent years -the lineup for the 2011 festival, which starts next month, has been announced:

        Toronto International Film Festival Announces Lineup | Palm Beach

        The Toronto International Film Festival, which has become an important platform for awards-seeking films in recent years, has announced its 2011 lineup. The.

        Publish Date: 07/27/2011 17:44

        …and The Venice Film Festival is also coming up soon:

        US movies headline Venice Film Festival | Palm Beach Entertainment

        Roman Polanski, David Cronenberg and 5 American directors, including George Clooney and Abel Ferrara, will compete at this year's Venice Film.

        Publish Date: 07/28/2011 11:16

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