The anticipation is always higher than what the Oscars can deliver. I think Jon Stewart's opening line says it all: "No Country for Old Men, Let There Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber?
Does Hollywood need a hug? Thank god for teenage pregnancy."
Maybe Hollywood does and maybe it doesn't. But the Oscars might need an audience, and the 80th edition had one of the lowest turnouts ever.
Word is out that at least in the USA viewing was low because not enough Americans were nominated! Looking at the actor categories its pretty awesome to note that the winners are all from outside the JUESSAY. Both Tilda and Marion gave kudos to the men that make them rock: Olivier Dahan and George Clooney and then Javier Bardem thanked his mother and Daniel Day Lewis his girfriend.
Joel Cohen revealed that what they do in No Country for Old Men is no different from their first film, Henry Kissinger on the Move, shot in Super 8. I hope that my Super 8 film on The Underwater Real Estate Twins and a human ashtray will catapult me to Oscar glory. It is really the same, yes it is. Time will tell.
The Oscars could be significantly shortened by taking out the music numbers and stop mentioning "Jack" all the time. As a role model it is unfortunate that he is the leading veteran in the house. Could we say his appearance with Boris Karloff in The Terror (1963) is actually no different from his appearance at the Oscars?
Indeed, Hollywood seems to really be a country for old men, and the men who make the women rock. And the men who decided to put them all in one arm dresses this year.
One refreshing addition to this Oscars was the thank you speech by Cynthia Wade, winner of the best short. She directed Freeheld, the true story of the terminally ill Lieutenant Laurel Hester who wanted to leave her pension benefits to her life partner - Stacie.
(PS 35,000 viewers from Sweden watched the ceremony on TV9- 45,000 average in the Red Carpet - acknowledged during the pre-event for sending email- and up from 20,000 viewers last year. Population of Sweden, 9 million.
When it comes to services, the bureaucrats of (Sweden) are fashionably late, albeit retro... not a politically incorrect statement; backwards, intentional refusal to update the world ; insistence in living in a cubicle of stubbornness. SO, I MADE the bureaucrats ADD TV9 before March 1! The "cable people". I wonder if they are really the "TV people" from Poltergeist living inside the set behind the war of the ants! Whew! This was hard, but persistence is rewarded, and this approach works! Disarm the bureaucrats before they can say no. Drive close up to their bumper and then ram! But the tailpipe may backfire: "we can't do it because everyone will want it then", or "that is not the way we do things". True customer (dis)service. Just a teenie little cultural idiosyncracy, enough to drive you to drink.
SEEING the Oscars is the name of the game! First hurdle every year, at least in Sweden. The media conglomerates keep channel switching the coverage to different hosts; only IF a Swedish film is nominated will the national channels pony up the money. OK the show is expensive, more expensive then Dallas reruns anyway. (According to Svenska Dagbladet 2008-02-27, 58% of the TV shows in Sweden are from USA, because they are cheaper). The condensed Reader's Digest version of the Oscars is broadcast two days later (subtitles included, and great to understand what Javier Bardem said about his mother!) With a speedy version of the technical and artistic achievement categories. This is really really sad.
I'll never forget the year I saw the Oscars in Paris on Canal + and the commentators talked on top of everyone the entire time, turned down the volume on the speakers so you couldn't even tune them out. Like a football game. But at least in Sweden they DON'T, and when they cut to commercials there is some pretty good analysis by some pretty good film critics. This year it was fashion expert Ellen Kling ( who left after 30 minutes into the show), program leader Pontus Gårdinger AND the popular film critic with the wirey hair, Hans Wiklund.
Best cinematography is a wonderful category at the Oscars that is awarded, the use of the camera and lighting in a film. I think the cinematography in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is excellent, bright light and soft focus, radiant outdoor shots and just incredible visual style. Hope it wins best cinematography. Director Julien Schnabel did Before Night Falls with Javier Bardem. (According to Maria Schneider, arthouse diva from Last Tango in Paris, Schnabel is one of the few arthouse directors out there). Its the six degrees of Javier this year! Javier Bardem for best supporting actor!--he is a real icon like Hannibal Lector as far as (serial ) murderers go in No Country for Old Men. How else could you describe him? That hairdo just is over the top! We will never forget him! Especially if he wins. I can bet you someone wears a Sugar Wig tonite!
I hope Atonement doesn't win anything! Actually I don't really care how a film compares to a book. It shouldn't even be considered. A film is a film, and a book is a book. Please just keep it separate. Usually book ideas don't make great films because film is not literary, its visual, so if people are SO disappointed go back and read the book. Film owes you nothing. Just your story for inspiration, that is all.
Haven't seen Juno, yet, or There Will be Blood, or Michael Clayton. But I would not be unhappy if No Country for Old Men won best picture, supporting actor and director. (and it did!)
Thought Viggo Mortensen was great in Eastern Promises, I loved that film! The great auteur David Cronenberg made it! What can that guy NOT do, and how versatile!
I am partial to Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd as best actor , a real ST fan I am! We have the advantage of the musical tradition in the USA which Sweden does not. Hard to sell this film perhaps because it is such a great musical, and well, then a musical is a musical, and a film is a film.
Torn between Julie Christie for Away From Her, a compassionate and moving film directed by Sarah Polley , a young director with such a sensitivity for the elderly, and Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf for La Môme - for best actress. Love them both. Olivier Dahan, the director of La Môme, was invited for the San Francisco International Film Festival, closing film 2007- and was a bit obnoxious, but I think he had stage fright. That is a real oxymoron.
TORN between Persepolis and Ratatouile for best animated film. Tight race! Both are brilliant. Ratatouille will probably win, its so Americano/Francophilo.
Have not seen I'm Not There yet oj oj oj but hear Cate Blanchett is good as Bob Dylan (she is currently in overuse syndrome), and Heath Ledger (really sorry to see you go) but NOT Richard Gere. Oh Please!
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor but like Cate is overused in almost everything. I loved him in Capote. He could have retired after that one.
I will attempt to be glued to the set tonite, but will probably fall asleep unfortunately and wake up when the credits roll and the war of the ants begins. Its on here at 2.30am. No way around that. "Aphrodite, crowned in gold, please let this piece of luck of mine".
After the writers strike everyone will be out in droves. Hair, makeup, and tacky American ball room dresses. (Red Carpet on TV9 at midnite) I can't wait till Cannes for some real designs. Have to look at the tuxes then, usually a lot better. Alas, not sure if its a great Oscar year. But then don't we say that every year?
And what about that writer's strike? Seems like missing the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes was a fate worse than death. What Solidaritet! Could have missed the Oscars actually. Still haven't wrapped my head around the issues that need to be clarified once and for all.
Happy Oscars to you! Drop me a line during the show if you can any of you cinephiles!
And just to prove that the attempt to dramatize the film on stage was approved, Aldmodóvar was on hand at the opening nite in London with Penelope Cruz and Cecilia Roth on September 4th, along with quite a few queer folks. Listen to upcoming review of play on October 24th for Movie Magazine International, San Francisco.
Jeanne Moreau was guest at the Swedish Film Institute on October 6th to honor Ingmar Bergman. She revealed a story about letters to Bergman sent after an unhappy love affair with Louis Malle. They planned on making a film called Monstrous Love, but when Bergman was arrested for a tax violation the film never came to be. Upcoming review of Long Live Bergman Weekend in Stockholm and interview with Jeanne Moreau on Movie Magazine International, San Francisco on October 17.
There is no one that I have met that so much embodies the North American spirit than you: fun-loving and compassionate, generous and hard-working, courageous and outrageous. You had all these wonderful qualities in spades. And your light never went out. You were a constant fountain of vitality giving to Sweden your gifts, and wherever you went in the world. As you became more and more Swedish, you gave the culture a polish and shine that we will all miss. A wonderful and enchanting light has gone out, but your radiance will always be here in this country.
I am so honored to have you as a friend since the 1980’s and to keep in touch with you through the years on our journeys. I know we missed our roots in the States but we both loved Sweden and Swedish women and that is pretty close to heaven, I think we both agreed. We made this wonderful journey to Stockholm at almost the same time and stuck together through the years. You made it a point to remember my birthday and were there for many of my important life rituals.
So sister countrywoman from Sweden, I salute you, and will always. Thanks for all your networking and brainstorming and support through the years. Thanks for promoting lesbian culture, bringing Holly Near to Sweden, and all your activism for immigrant women in Sweden and the LGBT world. Our film made ten years ago is a living testimony of your humor, your vitality, and your compassion for women. I have it waiting to show you, as you requested last time we met.
You will be deeply missed Rainy. I am so grateful for our time together and in light years, I am moments behind you.
Moira, San Francisco, CALIFORNIA
My thoughts and prayers to Rita’s family: Petra and family, Kicki and Mette and Yvonne.
Tribute to Rita "Rainy" Creighton, September 21, 2007 at Nalen, Stockholm, SWEDEN.
Erika Bain and her boyfriend Naveen Andrews played by David Kirmani --- take their dog for a walk in the park at night. What’s the harm? There are people sitting on park benches. Well, three street thugs decide to take their dog, brutally assaulting Erika and beating her boyfriend to death. As they assault the young couple the men film the attack. Erika wakes up in intensive care after spending weeks in a coma, thereby missing the funeral of her boyfriend. She works as a radio correspondent and she does a “different” kind of show—socially relevant programs. Her special reports bring her to the attention of Detective Mercer (Terence Howard) who remembers her assault and who is investigating a parallel murder. Erika suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and takes pills for her nerves. But one day she decides she can’t live in fear. And she decides she can’t wait 30 days to get a handgun. She needs it now and badly and in a serious of random crimes she personally observes, she is let into an existence as a vigilante.
The Brave One is a female revenge vehicle and no one is more qualified than Foster. She been pimped out in Taxi Driver, sexually assaulted in The Accused , set up to weasel out information from Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs and go mano e mano with a serial murderer. But after all that, it all gets kind of tame for Foster in pictures. She’s in a western with Richard Geer and a period piece in Siam, but starts up her own production company.
Then the engines seem to roar again with the kind of visceral raw toughness that Foster has in spades. One project is with Mathieu Kassovitz to present La Haine (Hatred) about gang violence in the Parisian suburbs with yet another reference to Travis Bickle and Taxi Driver; she’s locked in a safe house in Panic Room; her daughter is abducted in Flight Plan. The woman has had it all happen to her. It’s all about defending her integrity and her right to be safe. The message of this film comes from post 9/11 New York, and it’s a grim tale about payback and justice. Erika manages to elude the police and everything thinks she’s a guy, but soon the picture starts to flesh itself out.
Death comes unexpectedly and leaves a hole in her heart. Erika needs to reinvent herself she has become another person shaken by senseless violence. Her vengeance becomes a way out and the message is not pretty.
Neil Jordan has directed The Crying Game and Interview with a Vampire. He is fascinated with American violence, as many Europeans who live in relatively safe ethnically homogenous cultures with social welfare programs seem to be. It’s a fascinating subject for the movies, and New York violence is easy to sell. The style for The Brave One is over the top: Both the camerawork and editing convey the confusion and disorder of chaos. Sarah McLaughlin is not a good choice to deliver the film theme, but the song does make it into a love story and tempers the violence. Ironically the Dixie Chicks come up in the film as being too tame for this city. But certainly not Jodie Foster.Go to "Listening Room" started September 22, 2007 at Movie Magazine International for a broadcast based on this review.
Rita (Rainy) Chan Creighton, 1951- 2007
Dual national USA/SWEDEN, LGBT ACTIVIST, FRIEND
Thanks for the energy, the activism, the support, the friendship through so many years in Stockholm , Rainy. We were the few dual nationals in Stockholm since the 70's and it was always fun to meet you. Thanks for the Holly Near concert, and bringing women's culture to Sweden through the years. Thanks for your motorcycle - your travels in Japan and Europe were truly inspirational.
You touched so many people's lives. Thanks for being active with immigrant women's issues and the first Feminist Party in Sweden F! You caught the flowers at my wedding and were blessed in love many times over all over the world. You were humble and never held a grudge and stood by me all through the years. You will be sorely missed.
"Is That You Hortense?", our film from 1997, will forever immortalize your humor and joy for life.
Programmers from festivals all over the world such as Sweden (Göteborg), France (Cineffable and Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Brazil (Mix Brasil Fest), attend to bring the films to international communities. The festival features 250 films in 11 days with about 200 filmmakers in attendance.
Happy PRIDE DAY San Francisco!
See film review of "Born in Flames", by Moira Jean Sullivan
The protest to yank the film began by an online petition organized by New Left in San Francisco, a popular local internet forum. Prior to the screening about 130 signatures were collected. Only six of the protestors had actually seen the film. In Frameline's press release regarding the removal of The Gendercator they also revealed that they have partnered for screenings with Female to Male International, headed by president Rabi Levi Alter, the largest longest running organization serving the FTM community. There are about twenty films about transgenders featured at Frameline this year. The documentary Gender Redesigner (USA 2007) concerns the sexual reassignment surgery of "fAe", an FTM (female to male) transgender including interviews with the medical establishment that performs his double masectomy and a video journal during and after the procedure . Both the director Jonny Berggman and fAe, who has since relocated to San Francisco, were present at the Q&A. fAe , a transformer who also started a women's band called The Sex Combs spoke of the strong transcommunity in San Franciso.
Support for Crouch's film was visible outside the screening of the pre-empted film. Flyers (see above) were passed out to the perhaps 50 people attending the screening where The Gendercator was originally slated yet without any contact information for a specific action group.
The Gendercator was included in the "OUTer Limits" screening in a program of experimental and visionary filmmakers. The film is no longer searchable on the Frameline website and has disappeared from the radar. But in the program catalogue the film remains:
"In The Gendercator, a woman emerges from a pile of leaves to find her last memory is from 1978. Good acid, or is it 2048"? Four other films were part of the "OUTer Limits" program.
Frameline framed this venue as following. "Tripped-out futuristic lesbians! Sword-wielding S&M nuns! Cannibalism! Trannies in space! Welcome to the outer limits of queer filmmaking in this series of shorts by five visionary filmmakers clearly weaned on sci-fi and fantasy films". With emphasis on "queer filmmaking" and "outer limits", a case can be made that Frameline did know what it was programming.
When Frameline accepted Crouch's film, it was programmed together with: Agnieszka- a Dark Symphony of 2030, Martin Gauvreau 2007 Poland , The Incredible Dyke, Kurt Koehler & James Edward, 2007 USA ( how many dykes look like these dykes?--Frameline category: "Butch/Femme Issues") Transgender Express, Laure Schwarz 2007, Switzerland, Sister Satan, Viva Ruis 2007 USA and Transneptune or the Fall of Pandora, Drag Queen Cosmonaut, Matthew Long 2007. All of the films feature stereotypical iconography such as a huge green lesbian that beats up bad dykes in a bar or floating doped up transgenders.
Film and artistic expression are subjective experiences. Without the opportunity to view a film we are forced to go by the experience of what others "see" and "interpret". Newfest chose to screen The Gendercator despite controversy with this perspective in mind and that an LGBT festival should have room for the perspectives of filmmakers from the spectrum of this community. Because of "descriptions" of imagery and content on Crouch's website, The Gendercator has provoked the transgender community in San Francisco though a screening has yet to take place. Thus, the largest LGBT film festival in the world, Frameline, has made a controversial move.
Catherine Crouch's short The Gendercator (shot in Super 8 and miniDV) features lesbian "Sunshine Sally "(Emily Wood). After celebrating the 1973 victory of Billy Jean King over Bobby Riggs she passes out under a tree. She awakens in 2048 to an era where feminism has failed. Sex roles and gender expression are not only binary, they are enforced by law and convention. Butch women and sissy men are out and Sunshine Sally has to choose a strict gender role. Sexual reassignment surgery works in hand with the government to enforce binary gender choices.
Catherine Crouch describes the piece as a “satire about female body modification and gender.” According to the director, “more and more often, we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics". Crouch says that the films is about lesbians, not transexuals.
The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) believes that Crouch inaccurately portrays transgenders and was surprised that The Gendercator was screened at the recent New York Newfest. NYAGRA's mission " advocates freedom of gender identity and expression for all". The San Francisco transgender position is that one's artistic freedom in the LGBT context can not be at the expense of another group.
Pulling this invited film has had a negative impact on a productive low budget and independent lesbian filmmaker with nine films previously screened at Frameline. There is a divided feeling in San Francisco that the film should have been screened. According to Jennifer Morris, "there would be no point in a screening of the film with a discussion since it would so clearly offend half the audience". How is it possible to make a judgment like this without extending the public the opportunity to see the film? Art has historically generated discussion and it is within the nature of art to "offend" through the use of metaphor and personal expression. There are countless examples of artists that have "offended": Charlie Chaplin, Robert Mapelthorpe, Antonin Artaud, and Andres Serrano ("Piss Christ"). Morris pointed out that the film can still be screened and has been screened at other ("transphobic") venues. One of the venues for The Gendercator, she points out, is the "transphobic Michigan Womyn's Festival". Screening a film should not constitute a "transphobic" position or make a festival "transphobic". That is an important question for all future LGBT festivals.
The majority of the people who signed the New Left petition had not seen The Gendercator. Efforts are being made by Ondine Kilker to bring Catherine Crouch and The Gendercator to San Francisco in the fall. Catherine has made herself available to interviews and said she is open to discussion. (Listen to interview by Moira Sullivan with Catherine Crouch on Movie Magazine International, July 11, 9pm , or the national broadcast July 13-20.)
FIPRESCI Federation of International Film Critics
The third Queer Women of Color Film Festival kicked off June 8 in San Francisco for a three day run, a festival that amazingly is free of charge. The inaugural night featured a presentation of filmmakers with work on the subject of immigration. And yes we do have our "Dykeback Mountain", (Laurie Koh,"Where's Our Dykeback Mountain? LGBT media at the crossroads", The Magazine of Film Arts Foundation July/August 2006 ). This is it, the films that defy mainstream and are the deep tributaries, according to Jewel Gomez, Village Voice critic, author of The Gilda Stories and guest panelist of the festival.
Which is to say, shorts. But not short by any means. And the executive director of the festival Madeleine Lim and development and events manager T. Kebo Drew made us all feel at home, inviting us to meals in the foajé and a upstairs fundraiser with the filmmakers and sponsors before the evening program. Lim is a Bay Area filmmaker and trains queer women of color on how to make films in the "Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project" supported by grants. The candidates work out a film proposal close to home and the result is this rich and exceptional festival, which in part helps to pay for the education of these talented filmmakers. Lim believes that women have stories to tell, whether about their origins, or their relatives or those ex girlfriends. Letting Go of An Attachment by Joy Lam, 2006 turned out to be a therapeutic film about a relationship that didn't seem to amount to really anything of substance , but it took the filmmaker six years to find out it wasn't "love". It is the beauty of this sharp audience to reinforce that awareness who warmly scrutinized the dialogue between the two women--and were they relieved when the character that plays Lam walked out!
We don't all need to reinvent The L Word. This festival proves there is a vast terrain of subjects out there which are personal to the lives of queer women. That is Lim's aim. While Jamie Babbitt (Itty Bitty Titty Committee, 2007) and Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S. 2006) lead with their left, its just a matter of time till we have more features out there too, and much of the work indicates the potential. Details Magazine published a report, oh, about 14 years ago, that if a film appealed to a lesbian spectator, the box office revenue went up 10 %. That is what landed Rose Troche (Go Fish, 1995) a spot in Hollywood who has since then directed , well, she did make some L-Word segments - and a film selected to the San Sebastian Film Festival, The Safety of Objects ( 2001).
This particular festival of short films and docs is the work of women of color and this year there was a special focus on queer black women's films and filmmakers, over 40 films. Amazingly there was some criticism about that, the kind of logic that defies logic something like, if you only screen queer black women's work not as many will come.
A panel discussion on queer black women in film featured Watermelon Woman and Stranger Inside herself Cheryl Dunye, back from Amsterdam after three years to make some more films in the JUESSAY, the queer programmer for Sundance Shari Frilot and Tina Mabry - Brooklyn's Bridge to Jordan, and co-writer Itty Bitty Titty Committee.
Mel Chen presented a magnifiqué plan for the distribution of queer women's cinema, soon to be in the pipelines: "QTPI Media". If you make it, let's it distributed!
Interviews with some of the directors and a report of the festival is scheduled for Movie Magazine International , broadcast on KUSF San Francisco. June 27 and later on the internet. Stay tuned!
Some of the headliners for this year's arts festival are comedian Marga Gomez and graphic artist Alison Bechdel. Gomez will present her latest show on June 30th Marga Gomez & The Boys with special guests Kenny Yun (winner of Russian River Comedy Competition) and Ronn Vigh (a male Joan Rivers, seen on Last Comic Standing.) Gomez will also include a quick study of Pride 2007.
Alison Bechdel, cartoonist/writer of the beloved comic Dykes to Watch Out and Fun Home will do a public reading on June 6th together with other queer writers: Lenelle Moise (Haitian-American performance poet) and Cherry Muhanji (author of the novel Her) and Ariel Schrag (comic artist and L Word writer).
Also slated for June 6th is a dual channel video installation based on Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 Sci-Fi mystery, Solaris. Rudy Lemcke is behind the project which has been presented in venues such as Frameline, The Mix Festival (New York), & Festival Nemo (Paris). Lemcke presents a queer reading of this film classic, exploring the tension between technology’s endless quest for utopian dreams versus the frailty and limitations of human love.
The Queer Women of Color Film Festival will take place June 8-10 with 32 new films in 4 film programs in a tableau of queer women of color from queer Asian to Latino women.
Best of the Bay drag king troupe The Transformers have rounded up an eclectic mix of drag kings, queens, and burlesque artists from the Bay Area and beyond. With performances by Landa Lakes, Kentucky Fried Woman, The Citizen Kings, and Jay Walker. MC: Micia Mosely June 13th.
San Francisco Pride has slated a special comedy night hosted by Karen Ripley with Lisa Geduldig and other favorites on June 23, just in time to pre-operations for the 37th magnifiqué and legendary SF Gay Pride Parade, the mother of us all.