The Newsletter for the DC Film Society

Last updated on December 1, 2017.

December 2017

Contents

  • Coming Attractions Trailer Night Winter 2017
  • The Cinema Lounge
  • Adam's Rib Delves Into Film Ensembles
  • Thelma: Q&A with Director and Actresses
  • Wonder: Q&A with Director and Novelist
  • The 61st BFI London Film Festival
  • We Need to Hear From You
  • Calendar of Events

    A printer-friendly version.

    Last 12 issues of the Storyboard.



    Coming Attractions: The Winter Edition 2017

    On Monday, November 6, 2017, in Landmark E Street’s theater #3, the DC Film Society hosted the winter edition of its biannual “Coming Attractions Trailer Night” program. The theater was near capacity and a buzz was in the air as Film Society Director Michael Kyrioglou started the show by giving the ground rules and introducing the evening hosts, the illustrious Tim Gordon and Travis Hopson. Gordon and Hopson, co-hosts of WETA’s Around Town, once again happily took center stage as they accepted their roles as officiants for the activities of the evening.

    The Coming Attractions Trailer Night had served as an opportunity for cinema lovers to get together and enjoy themselves while taking a look at some of the features coming to theaters in the next six months. Historically, the attendees had proven themselves as being a great predictor of quality trailers and that night was the same. But, the evening’s light hearted festivities and debates about trailer quality quickly turned into an eerily accurate foretelling of the future for three particular films, The Current War, All The Money In The World and I Love You, Daddy.

    The Current War, distributed by The Weinstein Group, is a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Nocturnal Animals) playing Thomas Edison, Samuel Insull and George Westinghouse respectively. The movie’s trailer teased an extremely interesting look at the race to be the one responsible for providing electricity to the nation.

    All The Money In The World stars Michelle Williams as the daughter-in-law of billionaire John Paul Getty. This movie is a biographical drama of the events surrounding the kidnapping of Williams’ son John Paul III and the senior Getty’s refusal to pay ransom. In the trailer, Getty Sr. is played by Kevin Spacey.

    As the lights rose after the playing of the segment of trailers containing these two movies, host Gordon remarked that we wouldn’t be seeing those movies any time soon because of the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein. As a result, War’s release date had already been postponed indefinitely. Many in the audience surmised that because of the recent allegations coming out regarding Spacey that All the Money, at the time scheduled for release on December 22, would suffer the same fate. *Note - In the days since the show, it has been announced that Christopher Plummer will replace Spacey in the film and the release date will not change.

    In the next segment of films, Louis CK’s I Love You, Daddy played. Daddy showed young Chloe Grace Moretz, CK’s daughter, being romantically involved with the much older Leslie Goodwin, acted by John Malkovich. While many in the audience thought the movie ranged somewhere between a bit distasteful and downright inappropriate, the prophetic feelings of the crowd was chalked up to unfortunate placement of the trailer following the ones that were mentioned previously. I Love You, Daddy has also been postponed.

    But the show must go on and the mood returned to its lightness following the serious discussions. Dark comedy Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri won best trailer of the night over the other category winners, Jumanji, Molly’s Game, Murder on the Orient Express, The Disaster Artist, the animated feature The Breadwinner and Black Panther (narrowly).

    Three Billboards was not the only winner as raffle winners in the audience were treated to theater and movie passes, DVDs of movies, e.g., The Revenant and Sausage Party. Everyone else got their choice of Thor and/or Hela masks and a variety of mounted and unmounted movie posters like Patti Cakes, Thank You For Your Service, Thor: Ragnarok and American Made to name a few.

    In summary, a great night was had by all. Thanks go out to The DC Film Society Coordinating Committee Members, Tim Gordon, Travis Hopson, Allied Integrated Marketing, Landmark Theaters, Filmfest DC and Women in Film & Video for making it all happen.



    The Cinema Lounge

    The Cinema Lounge meets Monday, December 18, 2017 at 7:00pm. Our topic is "Native Americans on Film."

    The Cinema Lounge, a film discussion group, meets the third Monday of every month (unless otherwise noted) at 7:00pm at
    Teaism in Penn Quarter, 400 8th St., NW in Washington, DC (closest Metro stop is Archives, also near Metro Center and Gallery Place). NOTE: We will meet in the downstairs area. You do not need to be a member of the Washington DC Film Society to attend. Cinema Lounge is moderated by Adam Spector, author of the DC Film Society's Adam's Rib column.



    Adam's Rib Delves into Film Ensembles

    By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member

    Over the summer my friend Orrin Konheim suggested that we write a blog about our all-time favorite film ensembles. Orrin and I each named our top 50, then commented on each other’s lists. For me the criteria were simple. How well did the cast work with each other? We have seen films with all-star casts where all of them seemed like they were in different movies. Orrin and I were looking for the ones that gelled, that became teams. The other question was: Who do I remember? Was it just the leads? Or did the supporting players, even those who may have only one or two scenes, also make an impact? I was looking for depth, top to bottom. Links to our picks
    are in my new Adam's Rib column.



    Thelma: Q&A with Director Joachim Trier and Actresses Ellie Harboe (Thelma) and Kaya Wilkins (Anja)

    By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member

    Thelma is a film by Norwegian director Joachim Trier (Louder than Bombs, Reprise, and Oslo, August 31st), a co-production of Norway, Sweden, France, and Denmark. Thelma is a young woman who lives in rural Norway sheltered by her parents and is now going to the city and university. You may be reminded somewhat of Carrie or similar films. Her family suppresses her with fundamentalist religious beliefs and tries to keep her calm. She is agitated at times by her environment and then strange things happen and she realizes she has some strange powers over events and Nature. Her father Trond seems to almost fear her. Thelma is Norway’s submission for best foreign language Oscar film. This Q&A is from the international premiere in September 2017 at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The film opens in the DC area on December 1.

    Audience Question: What happened to Trond, was it necessary for him to die and did he die?
    Joachim Trier: Making the film was somewhat myth-like and the whole idea of final will or revenge on the father was a theme. I come from a humanist feeling so this was a first time for me but I wanted it to also have heart. I can’t explain if it’s right or wrong.

    Audience Question: What is the meaning of all the animals, birds, and snakes?
    Joachim Trier: Part of the inspiration of the film was old Nordic or Norwegian story telling or folklore. The non-Christian Norway symbolized by the wind, snakes, birds and trees is shown. The serpent is symbolic also but it is a beautiful animal. I don’t make just symbols in films, but I admit it does have a bit of the realm of the witch in it. Do the actresses want to discuss the use of snakes? Some homage to George Romero films I think.
    Ellie Harboe and Kaya Wilkins: I liked the snakes but not so much the rats.

    TIFF Moderator: We had a George Romero film with snakes and we asked him if it was a Biblical reference to Satan or something evil. Romero said, "Oh it was just a snake that somehow crawled into the scene so we used it." (laughter)

    Audience Question: What did the actresses find rewarding about the film and what was hard to do?
    TIFF Moderator: This was your first films, right?
    Ellie Harboe: Yes, it was rewarding and I liked the very complex characters and the script. It showed lots of different emotional ranges. It was great to work with Joachim who is supportive and open-minded.

    Audience Question: Can you talk about the parents?
    Joachim Trier: I thought early on we were creating a father-daughter love story or parent-child and the double-bind. She doesn’t need his affirmation in this hard edged family. How does she externalize her feelings? The actor was great, in real life he had just had his second child so it was challenging for him to be the distant cold father.

    Audience Question: Do these kind of roles really create anxieties?
    Ellie Harboe: Yes. I had some nightmares and woke up with nosebleeds at times. It was challenging to sometimes shoot at night and other times in the morning.
    Joachim Trier: The actresses were very brave to externalize these extreme emotions. I also used some TRE therapy self-induced seizure like therapies used with soldiers to release the emotions after hard scenes.
    Ellie Harboe: I used natural approaches and researched seizures in patients to make it look real.

    Audience Question: Does Thelma’s revenge really liberate her or does she have additional powers to save, as well as, destroy things?
    Joachim Trier: He is in terrible shape to try and bring him back..Someone suggested that to be in a sequel.

    Audience Question: At the end is Anja really back or not?
    Joachim Trier: I don’t think I can answer that. Is there a transcendence or balance or anxiety to recreate her? I hope that something good has happened but you can interpret it yourself.

    Thelma opened in DC on December 1.



    Wonder: Q&A with Director Stephen Chbosky and Novelist Raquel J. Palacio

    By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member

    A screening of Wonder (Stephen Chbosky, 2017) was held Wednesday, October 8, 2017 at Landmark's E Street Cinema with the film's director Stephen Chbosky and novelist Raquel J. Palacio present for Q&A. "Movie Mom" Nell Minow was the moderator.

    August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) is a boy who has been home schooled by his mother, Isabel (Julia Roberts) but is encouraged to become a fifth-grader at his local prep school, Beecher Prep, in North River Heights in Manhattan, New York City. He was born with an extremely rare medical facial malformation, called mandibulofacial dysostosis and cleft palate which has required many surgeries. His fear of being bullied or ridiculed at school is quickly verified on his first school day. The sympathetic father Nate (Owen Wilson) keeps up Auggie’s spirits but they must convince Auggie to remove his Astronaut helmet when entering school. He also has an older sister Vida (Izabela Vidovic) who must bear her own weight of being supportive and at times neglect when most of the family’s energies are directed to Auggie. He does make some friends at school, Jack and Summer, but that involves some bumps along the road also, especially during Halloween.

    Nell Minow: Can you tell us where the idea came from?
    Rachel Palacio: About ten years ago I was with my two sons and we went into an ice cream store and were near a little child who had a very significant Craniofacial difference, and my three year old son started to cry. To shield his reaction away from the little girl, I whisked him away. In many ways I regretted doing that and it got me to thinking about how people or children react to a world that really doesn’t face you back. I started writing about that night and Natalie Merchant’s song Wonder came on the radio that night and something just clicked for me. The song is so optimistic and full of hopefulness and joy that it worked for me and I started writing that night.

    Nell Minow: I recommend that all of you read the book which is terrific. There is also a kind of sequel, Auggie and Me which really isn’t a sequel, more a side work that questions or instructs what you know about Julian and some of the other characters in the book and from their perspective also. Stephen I understand that Jacob Tremblay from Room did spend time with children with these craniofacial issues to prepare for the role.
    Stephen Chbosky: Yes. Our producers David and Todd and R.J. gave him time to work with My Face and other groups and Jacob wanted to make it as authentic as possible. Jacob went to an outing in Orlando for several days with groups and made some great friends. We had lots of families, kids and siblings there.

    Nell Minow: I know you have worked with teens before on movies. How did you work with so many kids and get comfortable with them?
    Stephen Chbosky: I have a couple of philosophies about making movies and let people know I hope they feel better than before their movie experience. It was kind of a Summer camp but I did want them to know their lines. So I fostered that trust, I looked for good actors but also good people. If a kid auditions well, meet the parents, and if the parents are a little crazy … that’s different. I wanted us to be one big family.
    Rachel Palacio: Also Steve is great with the kids, they just adored him. He was like a giant teddy bear.

    Nell Minow: What did the kids do when they weren’t on the set. Did they play, do homework?
    Stephen Chbosky: They bowled and played games. We shot some in New York but most of the Summer scenes were shot in Vancouver, British Columbia which was great. Games, sports and lots of pizza.

    Nell Minow: My Dad had a sibling with craniofacial issues, two generations ago and suffered from horrible treatment. I was so glad you addressed the role of the sibling who is often neglected in stories or in real life. How did you decide to include that part?
    Rachel Palacio: I had a friend who had a brother who was autistic among other issues, and he was always the front and center of everything due to his special needs. This young woman as an adult was always so self-sufficient and never wanted to be the center of attention. I guess when I started writing Auggie, the parents were going to revolve around him, but I also thought about the sister. She adores her little brother but is on her own. About 40 pages into the manuscript I thought I am going to leave Auggie’s story for a bit and tell Vida’s story. She seemed as important to me as Auggie. That’s when I started the chapters by different perspectives from the other characters.
    Nell Minow: I didn’t think that would be in the movie, so I was thrilled it was.
    Stephen Chbosky: My favorite part of the book was the switch to Vida. I knew then as an author that this was now a great book and telling her story raised the level of the book and I think this 2012 book will be around for a long time as an admired novel. R.J. also said just yesterday that she had sent the manuscript to seven publishers; four said no; three said yes, but two of them said you have to get rid of the perspective titles and switch of point of view. So she picked the right publisher.

    Nell Minow: We spend a lot of time telling our kids they are pretty or smart, but we don’t complement them much for being kind. I think that is a big take away from the book and film and what Mr. Brown says. Also after reading the book or seeing the movie, what conversations do you want them to have?
    Rachel Palacio: I started writing Wonder when my older son was in the sixth grade. So he was going to middle school and for me it was heart-breaking and be a somewhat tough time of transitioning friends in an out of your child’s life. It’s a very tender moment in their life. They are between being a toddler and being a teenager. They start making their own decisions. Before that the teachers tell them where to sit, etc. but in middle school it’s the first time on a daily basis they are confronted with making decisions about who sit with, who are my friends, what jokes do I laugh at. Am I the cool kid, the smart kid, the jock, or popular kid? So I remember watching my son enter fifth grade and experience these issues. At that age we spend time asking if their homework is done, are they going to join clubs or sports teams, etc. and we forget to remind them to be kind. So I wanted an inspiration of the book to want kids to be or try to be kinder. I want people to take away from this, can you be the Summer or Jack, or are you a Julian and try to find someone and be kinder. There are lots of Julians out there.
    Nell Minow: Even Julian has a back story we see a bit of also and we even have some sympathy for him.
    Stephen Chbosky: Yes, are you more like Jack or Julian or someone else? Most of the greatness of the movie is R.J.’s book. I always see kids first day, but rarely or ever see the Mom’s first school day at home in the empty house. I wanted to show that and Julia did it so well. Wouldn’t it be nice if the kids also ask the parents how their day went without them, and were they lonely?

    Nell Minow: Like in the ice cream store, what prevents us from being kind?
    Stephen Chbosky: I think we need to be present even when we are hungry and stressed with life.
    Rachel Palacio: I go to schools many times and we talk about kindness. The difference between Charlotte and Summer for example. Charlotte is not mean but she also doesn’t go out of her way to make friends with Auggie. She will say, "Hi Auggie," but never befriends him like Summer does. So active participation in kindness can be hard to do. People sometimes think kindness equates to weakness or vulnerability for some reason. It takes a lot of guts sometimes to be kind.

    Nell Minow: I love the part where Summer sits with Auggie. It also means she is leaving the other table where they are trashing him. Anyone who has been to middle school knows about popularity.

    Audience Question: Did you audition Julia Roberts?
    Stephen Chbosky: No, Julia had read the book years ago and contacted R.J. and said if you ever get this book off the ground as a film I want to be in it. Owen Wilson was my idea. My brother knew him and knew he was a great father. They are stars but down deep she’s a girl from Georgia and he’s a boy from Texas so the instincts were always there. So two Southerners together worked great and he kept Julia laughing the whole time. Owen’s part was small but wanted to do it. It was a dream cast.

    Audience Question: I use the book in my classes because I find it so inspirational.
    Rachel Palacio: I published the book in 2012 and I still had my day job in publishing, and the first year I was travelling a lot to schools and organizations with the book; but two or three years later when I was still doing public presentations a time came when my younger son was eight and said, "Enough. I want you home too." I am going again to some schools.
    Stephen Chbosky: She’s done a lot of educational things and workshops. I also talk to fifth graders sometimes.

    Audience Question: I had problems actually finishing the book because it reminded me of my days in middle school and was also somewhat scared to see the movie to remind of that bad time, but now I’m glad because it has made me realize others had the same problems, thank you.
    Rachel Palacio: I sat my kids down and said that this is the bottom when starting middle school and it only gets better. When I started writing I thought about the little girl in the ice cream store, but wrote about Auggie. I also thought he must have Treacher-Collins syndrome and some other issues.

    Audience Question: Did you ever see the girl or mother again?
    Rachel Palacio: No, I didn’t. My older son who was 12 at the time said, "Mom it happened so fast they may have not realized the situation." Probably those situations happen every day and sometimes don’t even register.

    Audience Question: Are you working on another book or project?
    Rachel Palacio: Yes it is kind of a graphic novel. Julian’s grandmother tells him in the book about her experience in World War II hiding as a young Jewish girl in occupied France. I know we are in Washington, but we have Nazis and others marching in the streets. I just remember that history repeats itself, I want to remind my readership a little about what happened only about 60 years ago. Again the act of kindness, tolerance, and getting along is here.

    Nell Minow: Your background is as an illustrator and designer, right?
    Rachel Palacio: Yes so I’ll be writing a graphic novel and illustrating at the same time.

    Wonder opened in DC November 17 and is still in area theaters.



    The BFI London Film Festival

    By Ron Gordner and Jim McCaskill, DC Film Society Members

    The 61st BFI London Film Festival was held October 4-15, 2017. There were 242 feature films and 125 shorts from 67 countries this year showing the global changes of the past year, and including films on immigration, the environment, action. Horror, women’s issues and many family and marital dramas. Festival director Clare Stewart said they had a very strong women’s presence this year, having 25% of the films with female directors. This was up from 20% last year representation of female directors’ films in the festival.

    Categories or Sections of films included: Headline and Strand Galas, Special Presentations, Competitions, Love, Debate, Laugh, Debate, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Family, Treasures, and Experimenta.

    Screen talk programs were held with actors: Annette Bening, Cate Blanchett, and Jake Gylenhaal; directors: Takashi Miike, Guillermo del Toro, Lucretia Martel and David Fincher; and writer: Ian McEwan.

    Usually conflicts are confined to action on the silver screen but not this year at the BFI London Film Festival. Days before the festival began the employees at Picturehouse Central asked for a pay raise. They were immediately fired which resulted in picket lines going up for the evening screenings. Several directors, including Ken Loach, refused to cross the picket line, in fact they joined the picketers.

    The other conflict, one that will have major impact on other film festivals and awards, concerns the status of films only screened on streaming services and not in cinemas considered equal. Some services, such as Netflix, are not only buying films at festivals but also commissioning their own films. Will these films be ineligible for awards? The general public will not see them. A vexing question. Should commissioned films be shown in film festivals? Should they be considered along with cinema screened movies for accolades. An interesting quandary for the Academy Awards and the other honors.


    MUST SEE FILMS:

  • Bobbi Jene (Elvira Lind, Denmark/Sweden). After spending 10 years doing Gaga dance movement with famed choreographer Ohad Naharin of the Israeli dance group Batsheva, American dancer Bobbi Jene must decide what and where to go next in her career and life. Winner of Best Documentary at both 2017 Philadelphia and Tribeca Film Festival.

  • Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, Italy/France, 2017). From the director of I Am Love; A Bigger Splash comes this lauded film from Sundance with a script by James Ivory. Attractive 24 year old doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer) joins an American family at their Italian vacation home for part of the summer. Elio (Timothee Chalamet), the family’s 17 year old son finds his attraction for Oliver and also his girlfriend puzzling against the beautiful golden Italian summer. Lauded as one of the big films for Oscar awards.

  • Downsizing (Alexander Payne, US). In the near future, to help with the population explosion, Norwegian scientists have perfected a way to shrink or downsize human to limit the human footprint. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of those paid to downsize? A very funny, creative, thought-provoking film starring Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig as a couple deciding whether to downsize or not. Excellent acting also from Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård as a Norwegian scientist; wheeler-dealer Christoph Waltz and illegal immigrant Hong Chau.

  • A Fantastic Woman (Sebastian Lelio, Chile, 2017). From the director of awarded film Gloria comes a film about Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender woman who finds herself in a difficult position after her older lover has an accident. This is Chile’s Oscar contender for best foreign language film.

  • Jane (Brett Morgan, US). A wonderful documentary using archival footage of 26 year old Jane Goodall who first went to Tanzania in 1964 to help study and wild chimpanzees. Her self-journey and the chimps parallel survival and family values. Much was filmed by her former husband and famous wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick. Musical score is provided by Philip Glass. One of the best documentaries this year and funded by the National Geographic Studios. Winner of the 2017 Critics’ Choice Documentary Award.

  • Journey’s End (Saul Dibb, United Kingdom, 2017). An updated version of James Whale’s 1930 film based on R.C. Sheriff’s play about World War I and the classes in British society. Asa Butterfield plays the very young Second Lieutenant Raleigh who thinks it would be neat to request to be in the same regiment as Captain Stanhope (Sam Clafin) but soon realizes the realities of war.

  • Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia/France/Belgium/Germany, 2017). Winner of the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival deals with another story of a loveless marriage and the effect it has on their young son Alyosha. This is a haunting tale that mirrors some of the problems of modern Moscow society and joins his earlier excellent films Elena and Leviathan. Despite its criticism of society it has been submitted by Russia to be its foreign language nominee.

  • Mudbound (Dee Rees, US). A Netflix feature about how two soldiers (one white, one African American) return from World War II in Europe, to rural Mississipi, and try to survive in a world that in many ways has not changed. Starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, and Jason Mitchell.

  • Nico, 1988 (Susanna Nicchiarelli, Italy/Belgium). Danish actress Trine Dyrholm becomes the famous underground, heroin-addicted, singer Nico during her last year of life and touring.

  • The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, US, 2017). One of the top films touted for Oscars from the director of Pan’s Labyrinth comes another visually stunning film made in Toronto and with shots from the Elgin Theatre where all of its screenings were shown at TIFF. Sally Hawkins as Elisa, a mute cleaner in a US government laboratory with co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) who witnesses the new acquisition being mistreated by federal agent (Michael Shannon).

  • Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, Australia). Director of Samson and Delilah (2009) has a new Outback Western thriller where an Aboriginal stockman is accused, and hunted down to be tried for murdering a white ranch owner. Thornton won the Special Jury prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival and also the Platform prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, UK/US). Irish director's (In Bruges) biting but also sometimes funny mission of mother Frances McDormand to find the rapist/murderer of her daughter and hold the police accountable to pursue the case. McDormand is touted by many for a Best Actress nomination and also Sam Rockwell probably for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. The film has won many awards including Audience or People’s Choice Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival and San Sebastian Film Festival and should be in the mix as Best Film and other awards.

  • You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, UK/US/France). Joe (Joaquin Phoenix in a Cannes winning best actor role) is a Gulf War veteran an also former FBI agent who decides to save a child from a high-level sex abuse ring. This is a very noir thriller with reminiscence of Taxi Driver.


    VERY GOOD FILMS:

  • Ana, Mon Amour (Calin Peter Netzer, Romania/Germany/France, 2017). The director of the critically appraised Child’s Pose. Toma and Ana meet as university students but the film moves forwards and backwards in their married life and Ana’s journey from anxiety to self-confidence. It will screen at the European Union Showcase at the AFI Silver theatre in December 2017.

  • BPM [Beats Per Minute] (Robin Campillo, France, 2017). The submission for France for best foreign language film recalls the Act Up and AIDS crisis in the early 1990s showing the struggle of the group and some of its individuals.

  • The Cakemaker (Ofir Raul Graizer,Israel). Oren, an Israeli businessman often travels to Germany and befriends a baker but also has a wife and child back in Israeli. When baker Thomas has not heard from Oren in months he travels to Israel to solve the mystery.

  • Custody (Xavier Legrand, France). A couple is separated but the father insists on more child custody time with the son. A family thriller that has won many awards at film festivals this year and can be seen at the European Union Showcase at the AFI Silver theatre in December 2017.

  • Ex Libris -The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, US). A documentary and testament to the New York Public Library system and its social importance in the communities. Many public programs are highlighted that help many patron categories and ages to learn and educate the individuals and groups, including immigrants and refugees. Board meetings on planning and budgeting are also interesting to show where the public funding is allocated. Clocking at nearly 200 minute, Wiseman again could have edited some bits out.

  • Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (Paul McGuigan, UK). Annette Benning stars as Gloria Grahame working in Lancaster, England and with her Liverpudlian actor lover and his family as her star is quickly fading. Benning may be nominated for Best Actress in an already crowded field this year.

  • Israfil (Ida Panahandeh, Iran). Behrooz has returned to Iran after many years to sell his land and meet his fiancée and also a reunion with his former lover. He is still not welcomed by many.

  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, UK/Ireland). Greek director of such creative films as Dogtooth and The Lobster again has leading actor Colin Farrell, this time as cardiac surgeon married to Nicole Kidman with two children. A strange youth is fascinated by the doctor and his family and invades the peaceful family with some ominous predictions and moral choices.

  • A Moment in the Reeds (Mikko Makela, Finland/UK). Young Leevi is visiting his father in Finland on a break from his Paris studies. He meets Syrian immigrant Tareq when he agrees to help his father restore the family lake house and to sell it. Sparks fly as the two men meet and the father is not happy with the results. This film is somewhat reminiscent of the current British film God’s Own Country about immigrants and the landed society.

  • On Chesil Beach (Dominic Cooke, UK). Saoirse Ronan stars as Florence who marries Edward and they go to Chesil Beach in the 1960s for their honeymoon but neither has a clue on physical intimacy or consummating the marriage.

  • The Party (Sally Potter, UK). Clocking in at a mere 71 minutes, this is a fast-paced thrilling and biting satire about the British elite starring a wonderful ensemble cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Cillian Murphy, Cherry Jones, Bruno Ganz, Emily Mortimer, and Patricia Clarkson.

  • Three Peaks (Jan Zabeil, Germany/Italy). A haunting story about Aaron and his girlfriend Lea (Berenice Bejo) going on a mountain hiking trip with her eight year old son, Tristan, from a former marriage. This is a chance for Aaron to gain the boy’s respect or friendship or not. The cinematography and the Italian Dolomite mountain range help create a ominous atmosphere and another perilous character.

  • Western (Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria). German workers in a small Bulgarian town treat the locals terribly but tall loner and German worker, Meinhardt seems to be cut from a different cloth. This film screened at the recent Film Neu.


    GOOD FILMS:

  • Apostasy (Dan Kokotajlo, UK). When a sister is forced to shun her sinning sister, she must question her faith and her mother’s continued faith as a Jehovah’s Witness in modern England.

  • Ava (Lea Mysius, France). On vacation at a French resort, 13 year old Ava finds out that she is losing her eyesight. She doesn’t want to babysit her baby sister and feels compelled to grab life while she can.

  • A Ciambra (Jonas Carpignano, Italy). Romani teen, Piois caught between playing with younger kids and joining the older teens. This sometimes requires him to choose between duty to his friends or family. The film is Italy’s submission for best foreign language film and can be seen at the European Union Showcase in December 2017 at the AFI Silver Theatre.

  • Dark River (Clio Barnard, UK). Director of award winning The Arbor this time has a personal dark family drama. Sister Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her Yorkshire sheep farm when her father dies and must deal with her angry brother, trying to get tenancy of the farm, and dealing with ghosts from her personal past.

  • Darling (Britgitte Staermose, Denmark/Sweden). A ballet drama and sometimes thriller about Darling who with her husband return to the Royal Danish Ballet company to dance Giselle. She must perform under pressure of her husband’s choreography and the many young ballerinas waiting in the wings.

  • David Stratton: A Cinematic Life (Sally Aitken, Australia). A documentary about British transplanted David Stratton who became one of the chief Australian film critics with interviews and testimonies from David and stars like Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Geoffrey Rush.

  • Felicite (France/Senegal/Belgium). Felicite is a singer in a Kinshasa bar. When her teenage son is injured in a motorcycle accident she must find a way to get him medical help and to pay for it. Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.

  • The Forgiven (Roland Joffe, South Africa/UK). The South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996 is headed by Archbishop Tutu (Forest Whitaker) trying to resolve many unsolved crimes. Piet Blomfeld (Eric Bana) is a convicted killer in prison who may know some of the answers about what happened to disappeared victims.

  • Good Manners (Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, Brazil/France). A dark fairy tale, drama, or horror or love story? Clara is a care worker hired to take care of a pregnant wealthy young woman, Ana, living in a high-rise building during her last days of pregnancy and to help in childcare.

  • I Am Not a Witch (France/Belgium/Zambia). A provocative, yet funny satire of a young quite girl with large eyes accused in her Zambian village of being a witch. She is trucked to an area with other witches and is abused and used by others in society for their own gains.

  • The Journey (Mohmed Jabarah Al-Daradji, UK/Iraq/France/Qatar/Netherlands). A young woman enters Baghdad Central Station with a bomb attached to her back. She slowly meets the people individually at the station from many social areas and backgrounds and has to decide hers and their fate.

  • Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater, US). Larry 'Doc' Shepard (Steve Carell) finds his two former Vietnam veteran pals, bar owner, Bryan Cranston and minster Laurence Fishburne) to help him bury his son who just died in a bomb blast in Iraq and is being returned to the US for burial.

  • The Meyerowitz Stories: New and Selected (Noah Baumbach, US). Patriarch sculptor Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman) meets with his chidren (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel) and grandchildren and his fourth wife (Emma Thompson) in this neurotic, dysfunctional family drama.

  • Redoubtable (Michel Hazanavicius, France). A portrayal of the early marriage of director Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel) and wife/actress/muse Anne Wiazermsky in this roller coaster parody based on her autobiographical novel Un an Apres.

  • Rift (Erlingur Thoroddsen, Iceland). A Nordic haunting, noir thriller about Gunnar and his former lover Einar when they go to his family home in remote rural Iceland.


    FILM TO AVOID:

  • Pickups (Jamie Thraves, U.K/Ireland.). Aidan Gillen plays an Irish actor doing some background research for his new role as a serial killer, dealing with his own life after divorce and trying to reconnect with this son.


    Award Winners

    Official Competition Winner, Best Film: Loveless directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia, France, Germany, Belgium).

    The First Feature Competition Winner, The Sutherland Award: John Trengove for The Wound (South Africa).

    Documentary Competition Winner, The Grierson Award: Kingdom of US directed by Lucy Cohen (United Kingdom).

    Short Film Competition Winner, Best Short Film Award: The Rabbit Hunt directed by Patrick Bresnan (USA).

    See the website for more information.



    We Need to Hear From YOU

    We are always looking for film-related material for the Storyboard. Our enthusiastic and well-traveled members have written about their trips to the Cannes Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, London Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Reykjavik Film Festival, the Munich Film Festival, and the Locarno Film Festival. We also heard about what it's like being an extra in the movies. Have you gone to an interesting film festival? Have a favorite place to see movies that we aren't covering in the Calendar of Events? Seen a movie that blew you away? Read a film-related book? Gone to a film seminar? Interviewed a director? Taken notes at a Q&A? Read an article about something that didn't make our local news media? Send your contributions to Storyboard and share your stories with the membership. And we sincerely thank all our contributors for this issue of Storyboard.



    Calendar of Events

    FILMS

    American Film Institute Silver Theater
    The 30th European Union Film Showcase (December 1-20) includes 44 films from countries in the European Union. More than 40 films are shown, many are award-winners from international film festivals, European box office hits, and official Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Many films will have special guests and Q&As. The Opening Night film is Borg vs. McEnroe (Janus Metz, 2017) from Sweden with a reception following the film. The Closing Night film is Wild Mouse (Josef Hader, 2017) from Austria. Festival passes are available, see the website.

    "Holiday Classics" returns in December with films such as Holiday Affair, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Shop Around the Corner, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop's Wife, Meet John Doe, The Preacher's Wife, The Muppet Christmas Carol, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Die Hard, Krampus, A Christmas Carol and of course, It's a Wonderful Life.

    Freer Gallery of Art
    A new series of Japanese classic films is beginning at the Freer. On December 1 at 2:00pm is the great Japanese classic Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953).

    The "Korean Film Festival DC 2017" concludes in December with the thriller Fabricated City (Park Kwang-hyun, 2017) on December 1 at 7:00pm. On December 3 at 1:00pm is The Day After (Hong Sang-soo, 2017) and on December 3 at 3:00pm and On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo, 2017).

    "Selected by Ai Weiwei" is the documentary We the Workers (Wen Hai, 2017) about workers' rights and labor organizers in China, shot over a six year period is shown December 17 at 1:00pm. The film's producer, human rights activist and scholar Zeng Jinyan will appear in person to discuss the film and her work on behalf of China's disenfranchised people.

    National Gallery of Art
    "Lateral Time: John Akomfrah and Smoking Dogs Films" (November 5-December 10) is a series of films and TV work by Ghanian-British filmmaker John Akomfrah. On December 2 at 12:30pm is Urban Soul (2004) followed by Oil Spill: The Exxon Valdez Disaster (2009). On December 2 at 2:30pm is Handsworth Songs (1986) followed by Twilight City (1988) with an introduction by Reece Auguiste, co-founder of the Black Audio Film Collective. On December 9 at 2:30pm is Testament (1988) followed by The Last Angel of History (1995). On December 10 at 4:00pm is The March (2013) followed by Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993).

    "The Warrior, the Reader, the Writer: Fantasy Figures in French Period Film" (November 25-December 1) is a three-film series complementing the Gallery's exhibition "Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures." December 1 at 2:30pm is Beaumarchais, l'insolent (Edouard Molinaro, 1996).

    Special events in December include the Rajiv Vaidya Memorial Lecture "Agnes Varda and the Art of the Documentary" by Kelley Conway on December 3 at 2:00pm, followed by a screening of Visages Villages (Agnes Varda, 2017) at 4:00pm. On December 16 at 12:00noon is the documentary Zuzana: Music is Life (2017) about the Czech harpsichordist. Filmmakers Peter and Harriet Getzele will be present for questions. On December 16 at 3:30pm is a Cine-Concert The Student Prince (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927) with organ music by Dennis James. On December 17 at 4:00pm and December 23 at 2:30pm is the documentary My Journey through French Cinema (Bertrand Tavernier, 2016). Vermeer, Beyond Time (Jean-Pierre Cottet and Guillaume Cottet, 2017) is shown in conjunction with the Vermeer exhibition on December 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, and 30 at noon and on December 31 at 2:00pm.

    Museum of American History
    On December 2 and 3 at 1:30pm is Polar Express (Robert Zemeckis, 2004) in 2D and on December 2 and 3 at 3:30pm is Polar Express in 3D. See the website for tickets.

    Smithsonian American Art Museum
    On December 2 at 4:30pm are two experimental films from the 1970s Cycles (Stephen Beck and Jordan Belson, 1974) and Union (Stephen Beck, 1975). The films are introduced by Gregory Zinman from Georgia Tech who will also lead a tour of the exhibition "Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light" at 3:00pm.

    Washington Jewish Community Center
    On December 5 at 7:30pm is Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Alexandra Dean, 2017), a documentary about the 1940s Hollywood glamour icon Hedy Lamarr and her electronic inventions. A reception is at 6:30pm and Professor Evelyn Torton Beck and filmmaker Alexandra Dean will discuss the film after the screening.

    On December 11 at 7:30pm is Keep the Change (Rachel Israel, 2017), a romantic comedy about people with autism.

    On December 12 at 7:30pm is Big Sonia (Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday, 2016), a documentary about Holocaust survivor Sonia Warshawski.

    On December 19 at 7:30pm is Bang: The Bert Berns Story (Brett Berns and Bob Sarles, 2016), a documentary about songwriter and producer Bert Berns.

    Goethe Institute
    On December 15 at 6:30pm is A Godsend (Oliver Haffner, 2016), a tragicomedy about an actress who teaches drama to unemployed people.

    French Embassy
    On December 12 at 7:00pm is School of Babel (Julie Bertuccelli, 2014), part of the "Films Across Borders: Stories of Migration" series. A Q&A and a reception follow the film.

    The Japan Information and Culture Center
    On December 8 at 6:30pm is the anime film Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995).

    On December 13 at 6:30pm is Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015).

    The Textile Museum at GWU
    On December 14 at noon is In Search of Lost Color: The Story of Natural Dyes (2008), a documentary about dye techniques and origins.

    National Archives
    On December 14 at noon is "From the Vaults: Remembering Vietnam," the first in a series of archival selections from the Archives' film holdings. Two films are shown: Hidden War in Vietnam (1963) and Why Vietnam? (1965).

    Bethesda Row
    "Cinema Arts Bethesda" is a monthly Sunday morning film discussion series. On December 17 at 10:00am is I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016), about a retired worker's horrid encounters with Britain's welfare bureaucracy. Breakfast is at 9:30am, the film is at 10:00am and discussion follows, moderated by Adam Spector, host of the DC Film Society's Cinema Lounge and author of the column "Adam's Rib." A season pass is available.

    The Avalon
    On December 6 at 8:00pm as part of "Avalon Docs" is Sacred Sperm (Ori Gruder, 2014), a documentary about the concept of sacred sperm in the Hasidic Jewish community.

    On December 13 8:00pm is Angel of the Lord 2 (Jiri Strach, 2016) for this month's "Lions of Czech Cinema."

    This month's "French Cinematheque" film is The Unknown Girl (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardennes, 2016) on December 20 at 8:00pm.

    On December 5 and 6 at 10:00am is The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (John Kent Harrison, 2009), about a social worker who rescued 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto, part of the Avalon's "Cinema Classroom."

    Library of Congress
    The Mary Pickford Theater at the Library of Congress starts a new series of films showcasing the Library's collection and including newly preserved films. On December 21 at 7:00pm is The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone, 1946) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas in his first film.

    Anacostia Community Museum
    On December 15 at 11:00am is The Guestworker (2006), a documentary about a Mexican seasonal farm worker. A discussion follows.

    "Capital Classics" at Landmark's West End Cinema
    Classic films are shown at the West End Cinema on Wednesdays at 1:30pm, 4:30pm and 7:30pm. On December 6 is Dark Passage (Delmer Daves, 1947); on December 13 is Meet Me in St. Louis (Vicente Minnelli, 1944); on December 20 is Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003); and on December 27 is Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943).

    Atlas Performing Arts Silent Film Series
    On December 2 and 3 at 3:00pm is Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon, 1924) with Andrew Simpson providing live piano accompaniment.

    Hill Center
    On December 12 at 7:00pm is Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story During the WPA (2009) about the Works Progress Administration's Writers Project (1935-1942). Filmmaker Andrea Kalin and others will participate in a discussion after the screening.

    Alden Theater
    On December 2 at 2:00pm is Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990). part of the audience-participation "Quote Along" series of films. Shown at the Old Firehouse, 1440 Chain Bridge Rd.

    Smithsonian Associates
    On December 7 at 6:45pm is a lecture "Indiana Jones, The Eternal Explorer: The Politics of Archaeology, Empires and Exploration." Justin Jacobs, professor of history at American University leads this expedition into real-life and Hollywood-style history. He is the author of a book and documentary series "Indiana Jones in History." This is the first of a five-part seris.

    Reel Affirmations XTra
    On December 1 at 7:00pm is After Louie (Vincent Gagliostro, 2017) starring Alan Cumming.

    The Jerusalem Fund
    On December 2 at 12:00 noon is the documentary Stitching Palestine (Carol Mansour), about women's art of embroidery.



    FILM FESTIVALS

    Gala Hispanic Theater Film Festival
    The 6th annual film festival "Reel Time at Gala" (November 29-December 3) is a series of films from Mexico, Dominican Republic and Chile. Titles are Refuge, The Salinas Project, Site of Sites, Tales of an Immoral Couple, Jeffrey, Family Life, The Mischievous Guys, and Jesús. Many films have discussions and receptions. A festival pass is available.

    AFI European Union Film Showcase
    The 30th European Union Film Showcase (December 1-20) includes films from countries in the European Union. More than 40 films are shown, many are award-winners from international film festivals, European box office hits, and official Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Many films will have special guests and Q&As. The Opening Night film is Borg vs. McEnroe (Janus Metz, 2017) from Sweden with a reception following the film. The Closing Night film is Wild Mouse (Josef Hader, 2017) from Austria. Festival passes are available, see the website.

    The International Shorts Film Festival
    The International Shorts Film Festival presents a program of international short films, comedies, dramas and animations, shown December 14 at 7:30pm. Location: Landmark's Bethesda Row Theater. Titles are #Selfie (David M. Lorenz) from Germany, A Whole World for a Little World (Fabrice Braq) from France, Jars (Bogna Okupska) from Poland, Valentin (Ingrid Hubscher) from Germany, Hatcat (Tom Gargonne) from France, Shelter Ysabel Fantou) from Germany, Brainstorm (Christophe Clin) from France, The State of Emergency (Tarek Roehlinger) from France, Stroke (Jiani Zhao) from China, My Grandfathe Was a Cherry Tree (Olga and Tatiana Poliektova) from Russia, My Bakery Blossom (Michel Vrinten) from Germany, My Bald Future (Paul Cabon) from France, Beauty Building (Benoit Bargeton) from France, I'll Quit Tomorrow (Jean-Pierre Michae) from France, It's Tough To Be ... Gorka Otxoa (Teresqa Bellon) from Spain, and Express Checkout (Ivan Sánchez Pangrazi) from Spain. The festival's director will be present for discussion.

    The Immigration Film Festival
    Immigrant-themed films are shown October through December at various area venues. Locations include the AFI Silver Theater, the National Gallery of Art, the Goethe-Institut Washington, American University and more. Titles include Havarie, Limpiadores, From the Land of Gandhi and Risking it All: Children at the Border. See the website for information about locations, passes and tickets.



    Previous Storyboards

    November 2017
    October 2017
    September 2017
    August 2017
    July 2017
    June 2017
    May 2017
    April 2017
    March 2017
    February 2017
    January 2017
    December 2016


    Contact us: Membership
    For members only: E-Mailing List Ushers Website Storyboard All Else