The Epistemology of Moonlight (2016). Reviewed by Sarah Foulkes

Little (Alex R. Hibbert) and Juan (Mahershala Ali) in Moonlight

If mainstream cinema is upheld to the task of democratically representing its viewers then it often fails. So when a film comes out that depicts marginalized figures it’s passed under the kind of scrutiny that a lot of other films evade. As if clinging to a lifeboat of fair representation, critics and audiences look for holes in the raft – sometimes discarding it entirely, or patching it up with forgiving praise. But Barry Jenkins’s film Moonlight​ (2016) has proven to be an indestructible raft (but not by any means “tear”-proof). As we are prone to do when talking about films depicting minorities, we compare it to those that came before them. Indeed, two of the most notable queer films from this century are Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Carol (2015).​ They both take place in pre-Stonewall America. But Moonlight​ is set in the present and the twenty-odd years leading up to it. Though Moonlight​ couldn’t be more different from those two aforementioned films, all three share a significant similarity: none of these films stages a coming out scene. In the films set before the 1969 Stonewall riots, coming out is an unwise, if not unthinkable, decision. With characters forced out of the closet and their secret used against them. Indeed, a lot of queer narratives play out like detective stories. Who will find out the secret and what will they do with that knowledge? Continue reading

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Capturing the Artist in Time: The Joyful Energy of Agnes Varda: Agnes Varda: From Here to There. Reviewed by Mina Radovic

Agnes Varda: From Here to There (Cinema Guild, 2014)

The five-part documentary series Agnes Varda: From Here to There, directed by the resolute Agnes Varda and released by Cinema Guild, follows the filmmaker as she traverses the globe, meeting with friends, filmmakers (including Chris Marker and Manoel de Oliveira), artists, and locals, and visiting various art exhibits and film premieres. Her travelogue reveals a personal observational insight into the contemporary art scene, highlighting the importance of valuing the most underrepresented and seemingly absurd of innovations in today’s globalized world. Continue reading

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Call for Undergraduate Reviewers

Film Matters is seeking current undergraduate students to review a few Criterion releases and recent academic titles for us.  The available items are listed below:

Criterions (if a title has TAKEN by it, it has already been claimed):

  • TAKEN 45 Years Blu-ray (Haigh, 2015)
  • TAKEN Canoa: A Shameful Memory Blu-ray (Cazals, 1976)
  • TAKEN Fox and His Friends DVD (Fassbinder, 1975)
  • TAKEN Multiple Maniacs Blu-ray (Waters, 1970)
  • TAKEN Something Wild DVD (Garfein, 1961)
  • TAKEN Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Blu-ray (Almodovar, 1988)

Books (if a title has TAKEN by it, it has already been claimed):

  • TAKEN Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America, by Michael Z. Newman (MIT)
  • TAKEN On the Eve of the Future: Selected Writings on Film, by Annette Michelson (MIT)
  • TAKEN Sweet and Lowdown: Woody Allen’s Cinema of Regret, by Lloyd Michaels (Wallflower)

Students interested in this opportunity should email a brief statement of interest to Liza (futurefilmscholars AT gmail.com), indicating your preferred selection, as well as your name, affiliation, and any relevant qualifications for reviewing a specific title (like past course work, etc.).

Priority will be given to emails received before March 17, 2017.

Students who are selected for this opportunity will receive a review copy of the item in exchange for the completed review.

Deadlines for reviews to be submitted to Liza will be September 1, 2017.

This is an excellent way to build experience and CVs and we look forward to hearing from you!

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CPH:DOX Announces Nominees for Festival Competitions

CPH:DOX, one of the world’s largest documentary film festivals, announces the nominees in the four festival competitions and introduces a fifth addition for the first time.

NEXT:WAVE is the title of the new competition, launched by CPH:DOX together with their main sponsor Normann Copenhagen. NEXT:WAVE is dedicated to international emerging talents,  young up-and-coming filmmakers who have the courage to take chances and stand out on the international film scene. The competition includes feature-length and short films, including eight world premieres.

In collaboration with Normann Copenhagen CPH:DOX launches a new competition for international emerging talents, the NEXT:WAVE Award. Here you will find nine nominated films, including five world premieres, such as the playful Argentinian debut 1996 Lucy and the Corpses in the Pool and an exploration of fables, folklore and Persian mythology in the hybrid fairytale Janbal. The winner of the NEXT:WAVE Award will receive 2,000€.

More information about the nominees for NEXT:WAVE Award: https://cphdox.dk/en/cphdox-and-normann-copenhag

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHLJdOwBHxc

See all the nominees in CPH:DOX’s competitions at: https://cphdox.dk/program/program-2017/

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Interview with Jeremy Borum. By Ty Johnson

Jeremy Borum is a film composer and well-established artist in Hollywood. Not only has he composed for dozens of major projects, he teaches seminars, performs for enormous audiences, has built multiple studios, and even co-owns ZMX Music, a digital sheet music publisher. Most recently, his accomplishments include becoming a published author. After reading his end result, Guerrilla Film Scoring, I called him to talk about his inspirations for the book, and why he saw such an inherent need for a work such as this.

Ty Johnson: Tell me a bit about you and Guerrilla Film Scoring.

Jeremy Borum: I’m a pretty busy film composer and orchestrator in Hollywood. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve always focused on large ensembles. So my expertise is with large orchestras and big bands; conducting, managing the sheet music, all of these sort of live elements, which are increasingly and unfortunately rare in this industry. People don’t get big orchestras all that often. So there’s an increasing need to, with a smaller budget and with a smaller time frame, still chart out something that sounds equally good as the live orchestra you wish you had. That was kind of the feed for the idea for the book. You know, the standards are not dropping, the expectations remain the same, but budgets and schedules are shrinking constantly, and so there needed to be some sort of a guide for how to actually do that without sacrificing your art, and that didn’t exist until I made it. Continue reading

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Announcing Open Call for Papers 9.3

Film Matters is officially announcing our open call for papers for consideration in issue 9.3 (2018) — the deadline is September 1, 2017.  Undergraduates and recent graduates, please submit your film-related research papers today!

For more information, please download the official document (PDF):

Submissions and questions should be directed to:

  • futurefilmscholars AT gmail.com

Please note that Film Matters does not accept submissions that are currently under review by other journals or magazines.

We look forward to receiving your papers!

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Americana Film Studies: Interview with Stephen Lee Naish. By Lydia Plantamura

Stephen Lee Naish

Get your IMDb app ready, because Stephen Lee Naish loves to reference both mainstream and independent films in this interview with Film Matters intern, Lydia Plantamura. Writing on a range of subjects in American films from digital manipulation in film editing, to the Mumblecore subgenre of the Obama era, to the quirky career of Dennis Hopper, Naish has authored two books: U.ESS.AY: Politics and Humanity in American Film and Create or Die: Essays on the Artistry of Dennis Hopper. His anticipated third work, Deconstructing Dirty Dancing is set for release in April of 2017.

Lydia Plantamura: You introduce your first book, U.ESS.AY, as the result of your “dissatisfaction with contemporary American cinema.” Many film viewers would agree with you that the digital age has produced films that offer visual spectacle, but ultimately ring hollow. What are current American films missing?

Stephen Lee Naish: From a mainstream perspective, there is an obvious lack of originality in modern mainstream cinema that I feel every time I visit a multiplex. There is far too much reliance on reboots, sequels, comic book adaptations, and remakes. There is still a sense of creativity at play, but Hollywood is just a machine of extreme commerce. That being said, it’s like being a casual drug user. I take a hit of spectacle of cinema and feel utterly elated for a few hours. Then the effects wear off and I’m left feeling completely hollow. But, I’ll do it again the next week just to feel that same high again. Independent films are still providing complexity and engaging narratives, but they have no chance to compete among these bigger films. That I find disappointing. Continue reading

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Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival Announces Opening Night Gala and 2017 Program Line-Up, March 23–26, 2017

LogoThe 13th annual Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival will open on Thursday, March 23 at 8pm at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles with a Gala and Benefit Screening. The four-day festival continues through Sunday, February 26 with features, documentaries and shorts, as well as a series of panel discussions. Continue reading

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From Produce to Production: Interview with Paten Hughes. By Lydia Plantamura

Paten Hughes

When her acting career grew unsatisfying, Paten Hughes found escape in the tomato garden. But her hiatus from the industry produced more than delicious produce. Hughes’s experience inspired her to create the new hit web series, Heirloom (streaming now on Vimeo). Hughes worked with writer Bekah Brunstetter (This Is Us, Switched-at-Birth) to develop a story arc following the character of Emily, a New York City-based actress who ventures across the country to Northern California after she inherits a small patch of farmland from her uncle. Emily is played by Hughes herself, supported by an outstanding cast of co-stars including Ryan Cooper, Luis Vega, Margaret Colin (Gossip Girl), and Tom Wopat (Dukes of Hazard).

Lydia Plantamura: Heirloom is based on actual experiences. Can you share more of the true events that inspired the web series?

Paten Hughes: Heirloom basically started after some friends suggested I turn my adventures in tomato farming into a story for the screen. I had stumbled into tomato farming after a film project fell apart (story of many actors’ lives). At that point in my career, I had been watching my friends get married and have children and get promotions and buy houses. And I was waking up to a hustle, to a grind that is addicting but also exhausting and somewhat intangible. There are moments when being an actor feels a bit like building a sandcastle. You don’t know when a wave is going to come and wash it away; you don’t know when a bigger kid will accidentally step on it. But for brief moments here and there, you look at this mansion you’ve proudly and delicately carved. And then you start over again when a play ends, when the TV show is over, when a part gets given to someone else.

Paten Hughes

I was simultaneously frustrated with the roles I was being offered or some of the shitty things you go through auditioning. Feeling like I needed to reconnect to my creativity and what I was passionate about, I sort of found that by planting tomatoes. (To each their own!) I didn’t know anything about cooking or gardening or food or how to make invoices. The “real” Raul was a rock and constantly laughing at my farming ignorance. Without giving away too much of the story, I also ended up dealing with what you start to see in episode nine: one of the prices you pay for creating a successful business!

Continue reading

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Introducing NANG Magazine

NANG is an English-language print magazine that covers cinema and cinema cultures in the Asian world with passion and insight.  Published twice a year over a period of five years, NANG’s ambition is to build a wonderfully rich and profound collection of words and images on cinema, for knowledge, inspiration, and enjoyment. Continue reading

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