November 2014

Posted November 1, 2014; updated on November 5 and 7. Please check back later for additions.


  • Arabian Sights Film Festival
  • Coming Attractions: Fall/Winter 2014 Trailer Program
  • The Cinema Lounge
  • Adam's Rib Takes On The Comic Book Movie Battles
  • Foxcatcher: Press Conference with Director Bennett Miller and Actor Steve Carell
  • Force Majeure: Q&A with Director Ruben Östlund
  • The Book of Life: Q&A with Director Jorge Gutierrez
  • The Toronto International Film Festival
  • We Need to Hear From You
  • Calendar of Events

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    Last 12 issues of the Storyboard.

    Coming Attractions: Fall 2014

    Entertaining film critics and DC Film Society's hosts Bill Henry and Tim Gordon will bring the buzz about the the most exciting upcoming winter & holiday releases - blockbusters, sequels, and prestige films vying for Oscar buzz. You, the audience, get to VOTE ON THE FILMS you want to see or escape from; we'll pass this valuable audience feedback on to the studios.

    Thirty trailers will be shown including:
    Into the Woods, Sondheim's musical featuring Meryl Streep
    The Imitation Game about codebreaker Alan Turing
    Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner
    Annie in a new updated version
    Carey & Daniels reunited in Dumb & Dumber To
    Ridley Scott's bible story Exodus: Gods & Kings
    Top Five from Chris Rock
    The next chapters of The Hunger Games, The Hobbit and Night at the Museum
    Unbroken from Angelina Jolie and Rosewater from John Stewart
    The Theory of Everything about Stephen Hawking
    Penquins of Madagascar
    Wild with Reese Witherspoon
    - and much much more!

    ADMISSION: $3 for BASIC members & Free for GOLD members. $5 for all non-members. Tickets sold at the door starting at 6pm (cash or check). Ticket includes: promotional giveaways & posters, raffles of movie tickets and DVDs!

    LOCATION: Landmark's E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street NW.

    DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, November 19 at 7:00pm.

    November 1-9

    The 19th Arabian Sights Film Festival

    The Washington, DC International Film Festival presents the 19th Arabian Sights 2014 Film Festival of contemporary Arab cinema November 1-9.

    A scene from the film Abd El-Kader

    The festival presents a diverse selection of the most captivating and vibrant films from today’s Arab world and features innovative films from numerous Arab countries including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia, plus European coproductions. All films in this series are Washington, DC premieres, including two North American premieres and two American premieres. All films have English subtitles.

    The Arabian Sights Film Festival showcases films that demonstrate the range and diversity of directors who invariably manage to tell moving stories while exploring the complex and various issues facing their region. The Arabian Sights Audience Award will be awarded to the film voted most popular by the audience. Highlights include the Closing Night event, featuring the Algerian film Certified Halal, from the director of Beur, Blanc, Rouge. In this entertaining comedy, two processions collide at the tomb of the local mystic. Amidst confusion, two brides are switched.

    The festival will include the North American premiere of the Lebanese film Ghadi with noted director, Amin Dora, in attendance on Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8. Also featured will be the American premiere of The Proof, a thriller from Algeria. Another North American premiere, Abd El Kader, is a documentary that tells the story of the legendary Emir Abd El Kader (1808-1883), Algeria’s national hero, who unified the resistance against French colonization. Widely known as a fighter for freedom, Abd El Kader was also recognized and admired for his tolerance and the need for coexistence of people of various faiths.

    Challat of Tunis is a mockumentary full of satire and irony. From Palestine, Giraffada is a family friendly film about Ziad, a ten-year-old boy living in the West Bank, who is so enamored with the two giraffes at the Qalqilya Zoo that he can communicate with them. Rock the Casbeh was featured in Filmfest DC 2014 and is back by popular demand. Set in a lavish villa in Tangier, the film is an engaging bittersweet comedy about a family gathered in the patriarch’s villa to mourn his death. Featuring Omar Sharif and some of the Arab world’s most acclaimed female actors. Winner of the Signis Award, Filmfest DC.

    Sotto Voce, an opera film, takes place in 1958 Algeria. Winner of the Best Film Award, Tangiers Film Festival. From Egypt, Villa 69 stars Khaled Abol Naga as Hussein, a stubborn bad tempered old man. Winner of the Special Jury Award, Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

    Scheduled guests include Amin Dora, Director of Ghadi; Mahmoud Zemmouri and Marie-Laurence Attias, Director and Producer of Certified Halal. Guests will participate in Q&As after the films.

    Tickets are $12.00 for each screening, unless otherwise noted. A Festival Pass is available, not including Closing Night. Order tickets through the
    Festival website or through Mission Tix until midnight of the day before the show. Tickets are also available at the theater starting one hour before the first show of the day.

    Locations include AMC Mazza Gallerie, Embassy of France, and Goethe Institut.

    For more information call 202-234-3456 or visit the website.

    Thanks to the sponsors: University of the District of Columbia; The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Georgetown University, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies; Embassy of France; Turkish Airlines; Georgetown Design Group; Sahouri Insurance & Financial; The Jerusalem Fund; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Modus Hotels, The Official Hotel of Filmfest DC.

    The Cinema Lounge

    The next meeting of the Cinema Lounge will be on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7:00pm. The topic is "Why Do We Love Superhero Movies? Or Have We Had Enough Already?"

    The Cinema Lounge, a film discussion group, meets the third Monday of every month (unless otherwise noted) at 7:00pm at
    Barnes and Noble, 555 12th St., NW in Washington, DC (near the Metro Center Metro stop). The meeting area is on the second floor, special events 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 Takes On The Comic Book Movie Battles

    By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member

    In the comic book movie fight for supremacy, Marvel clearly is in the lead with DC Comics running far behind. This distinction became clear when Warner Brothers/DC Comics announced its full slate of ten Justice League films running through 2020. Why did this happen? In part because Marvel had done the same thing weeks earlier. Has DC Comics leaned the wrong lessons? I
    explain in my new Adam's Rib column.

    Foxcatcher: Press Conference with Director Bennett Miller and Actor Steve Carell

    By James McCaskill, DC Film Society Member

    Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, 2014), based on true events, tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two championship wrestlers. John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to move to his family home, Foxcatcher, and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

    The London Film Festival catalogue said, "Featuring enthralling performances from its unexpected cast and directed with unswerving rigour, Bennett Miller's nerve jangling third feature not only confirms him as one of America's most significant contemporary filmmakers, it powerfully demonstrates the clarity of his vision: to get to the truth by creating fiction out of fact. Copious research into the real-life story of the ill fated relationship wrestling world champions Dave and Mark Shultz and their multi-millionaire benefactor John E. du Pont is refined into a perfectly formed, slow burn psychological thriller."

    This press conference took place at the London Film Festival. The panelists were David Griffen (moderator), Bennett Miller (director) and Steve Carell (actor).

    Contains spoilers!

    Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher.

    David Griffen: Bennett, you've made your name as a very direct, distinct director, dealing with rather complex characters: Truman Capote, Billy Bean in Moneyball and here, Mr. du Pont. How did you first come across this story? Most of us really don't know much about it. Did you?
    Bennett Miller: I had never heard about the story until a stranger approached me in a store and had an envelope with newspaper clippings in it and said, "I think you are going to want to make a film about this story." I think most people in America are unfamiliar with it or only vaguely familiar with it.

    David Griffen: It is a strange thing, isn't it. Multi-millionaire kills wrestling champ. To me that was tabloid heaven all around the world.
    Bennett Miller: It is a little mysterious that it wasn't a bigger story. It was a hot story for only a moment but there was not a lot of deep coverage of it. It went away pretty quickly.

    David Griffen: So you were intrigued by the story--you ran with it, you developed it. Obviously financing came along. So you spent how long before you began shooting the film?
    Bennett Miller: I learned about the story eight years ago and immediately committed to it. It was very attractive--the bizarreness of it and the themes that seemed to be running underneath it. I think I'm attracted to characters who are outsiders, people who end up in worlds where they don't really belong. I think all my films have that kind of theme. Bizarre ambitions by protagonists who believe that if they can accomplish something it will remedy the damages of their life. I researched it, flew around talking with everybody. It took a couple of years before it was practical to do it. At that point it began a two-year effort that would end in failure to find support for it. At the time I put it down and found something else to be passionate about which was Moneyball. When Moneyball was winding down I picked it up again and began searching for support. By that time Megan Anderson had begun producing films and I can pretty confidently say that had it not been for her, the film could not have been made.

    David Griffen: Steve, the world knows you have made your name in comic roles. Those familiar with Little Miss Sunshine know that there are many other strings to your bow. You've proved your acting skills. Where you surprised to be offered this role? On the face of it, it looks like a huge departure for you. Were you surprised to be offered this role?

    Steve Carell: I was surprised to be asked to meet with Bennett. Apparently it was my agent who threw my name into the hat. I was not actively pursuing this movie or any film like this. I was sent the script, I read it and Bennett and I met and then I was offered the part. Yes, I was surprised as I had not done anything like that.

    David Griffen: Bennett, why did you cast Steve in this part?
    Bennett Miller: What happens when a film is trying to get made is every agent in town knows that a film is casting and lots of names begin to accumulate on lists and get sent along. There were dozens of names and I think Steve's name was added to the list later. If the role is for a character who is between ages of 47 and 67 it's, "I've got a client like that." That's not to say that Steve's agent was not savvy about that. I considered lots of names and when Steve's name cropped up I was awfully familiar with what I did not want and he immediately passed through the original criteria. All the other names began to move away. What it was about Steve, I think he is a great actor, mesmerizing to watch and very particular about acting. Everything I learned about du Pont suggested that people underestimated what was inside of him. I think that opinions had formed about what to expect of Steve as an actor. As Steve put it when we began to talk, "I've only played guys with mush centers." Du Pont does not have a mushy center. In fact there is something very dangerous inside there. I like the idea that the casting would facilitate a similar feeling toward the character that people had toward du Pont. The situation was creepy but ultimately it was dangerous. It allowed you to justify what you were seeing and why people stayed on the farm when things ratcheted up. As Steve very eloquently put it last week, "When the murder happens it is shocking but ultimately not surprising."

    David Griffen: I don't know if video footage of the man shows something about the man. There is something very striking about his way of talking. Something very distant. His sentences seem to float away almost as though he was not in the room. Did he speak it that manner?
    Steve Carell: He did have a distinctive way of talking, manner and had a specific look as well. His physicality was very off putting to many people. There was footage of him--he had commissioned a documentary on himself, a couple, actually. What was interesting there was the raw footage that he did not want people to see because that was not his personal persona, it was something else. As Bennett says, there was a sharper edge to that guy--a less tolerant person, a more abrasive, more volatile person. You could just see little hints here and there. The way he spoke to the documentarian and the way he spoke to the camera crew; the way he went through in his head what he wanted to say and how he planned out what he wanted to say. He had a very specific way he wanted people to see him. There was footage of him, his talking and moving. He had a specific way of moving. That served to draw people in. He would force people to wait until he finished.

    Reporter Question: How important was it for you to accurately portray du Pont?
    Steve Carell: It was important. I didn't think of him as a villain. I think that is one of the first things you learn as an actor: You can't have contempt for your character because that filters how you see him. I thought of him first as just as guy who was the personification of his upbringing and his mental state. There were several element to who he was and the problems that he had. I think I had sympathy for him to a certain extent. In terms of bias, the goal was not to make a statement about any of these people but to portray them as honestly as we could.

    Reporter Question: Why do sports make a good statement about American life?
    Bennett Miller: It is a pure coincidence that I have made two films that had sports in them because I'm not a big sportsperson There is drama, so it is expressive. In a story like this there is so much that is repressed, so restrained and you can have these moments where you can physically explode. Wrestling is a hard sport to shoot. One is because it has bad angles (laughter). Another you can't fake it the way you can in other sports like boxing. You can throw a punch and just miss or just miss and the person reacts. In wrestling you have to be going all out.

    Reporter Question: Did you meet with the actual characers?
    Steve Carell: Mark [Schultz] was there for a few weeks of our actual shooting. So he was there and I think that was extremely helpful to Channing to have Mark there feeding hjim all sorts of input as to what was actually happening. The widow and her kids were there as well. They dropped by the set a couple of times. I spoke with people who worked with him, people who had been coached by him. I want to put coached in quotes, they all had various ideas as to who he was. They all said essentially the same thing about his demeanor and how unnerving it was to be around him. I did a lot of work that way.
    Bennett Miller: A lot of people were generous with their time.

    Reporter Question: How did the make-up help you form the character?
    Steve Carell: It influenced the performance more than I anticipated. Once all that make-up went on, people responded and reacted to me differently on set. I was not anticipating that but it did. People wanted to be separate from me. I was off-putting. Organically I just stayed in character. I did not really have any choice as no one wanted to talk to me. (laughter) In terms of just the technical aspect of it, I was just never aware of it. It just felt like who I was at that point.

    Reporter Question: How much did the character get under your skin and how difficult was it to shake off?
    Steve Carell: A lot and no. It is something I still think about. We as a group went to Pittsburgh to film. Without sounding too pretentious, I felt that we all disappeared for a while. Then a few months later we all emerged from this experience together. So much a matter of shaking it off. I still talk to Channing and Mark about the experience. It is very present in all of us. I think was a great responsibility to the people involved, to the story and to Bennett and to the world. I don't think it has left any of us. Not something I think about every hour but it is very present. I felt it was very immersive. We all took it very seriously.

    Reporter Question: The nose make-up was sort of the American falcon (sic: Eagle) personified. Does the film present how the American upper class tries to own certain aspects of the sports, especially in the Olympics where American is a top power? Was that an issue when writing the script?
    Bennett Miller: Part of what attracted me was that it was a true story but it had an allegorical quality to it. In a way that is almost too perfect, there are just too many things that one might have written had one approached this as a fictional story, including what you pointed out is almost close to fiction. As you pointed out he referred to himself as the Golden Eagle of America in speech, in his writing, on his jersey, on his trophies. It is comical, yet allegorical but many, many elements of the story, I thought, just naturally fulfilled that same kind of thing. That in the tiny story of these three men are big themes like wealth, class, exceptionalism. As a film I was attracted to that but then put that aside and tried not to make a statement or that kind of conclusion. You have a person doing what might be a trend in a society that has such disparity in classes and that sort of thing.

    Reporter Question: Steve, did you know that the character would be such a dark character or did it form during filming?
    Steve Carell: Did I always know? I guess I just think of myself as an actor, not necessarily as a comedic actor. Those are the parts I have been hired to do more often than not. You know I put my faith in Bennett, if he thought I was capable of doing it then I could. You never have doubts that you can do it, you have doubts as to how it will come out. You hope that you can. I committed to it. It was never any sort of master plan for this thing, no concern that a very dark role would be something I would try to undertake.

    Reporter Question: Presumably there are members of the du Pont family still around. Did they have any say in the making of the film? Did you have to tread very carefully with them? Any restrictions they placed upon you or did you just sort of have a free hand?
    Bennett Miller: The family is a large, extant and influential family. I only had brushes with them. At no point did they do anything to overstep the boundaries, to interfere with what we were doing at all. The couple of brushes I had was one with du Pont's lawyer who expressed his reservations about it. He was not pleased that this was happening. He was not about to cooperate but was not going to do anything that was inappropriate. I had a couple of brushes with other family members who were curious and actually helpful.

    Reporter Question: The film has had Oscar buzz about it for several months now particularly for Steve as Best Actor. How do you feel now about those speculations several months before the Oscars?
    Steve Carell: (laughs). The same I did three months ago. You can't put any stock in it. It's nice that people are talking the film in that way but you can't really put too much credence in it. I can't.

    David Griffen: There is as triangle between these three characters--two damaged people and one undamaged one who becomes the victim. I assume you deliberately changed the point of view of the film as you went along. We concentrate on Mark, then the du Ponts, then Dave [Schultz]. Three equal sides of a triangle if you like.

    (Spoiler alert! The final paragraph contains plot information)

    Bennett Miller: It never becomes broken. We don't break away from any of them completely. We leave Mark at the end for a few minutes. The film began with Mark, an athlete, an Olympic Gold Medal winner at a podium talking with elementary school children about America and the virtues required to attain the medal. It ended with him climbing into a cage with gladiator blood sport. The course of action is what it was in the real story. It came as a surprise to some in the wresting community and family that Mark Shultz is even featured in the film at all because Dave is the victim. To your point: it is a triangle with very damaged characters. It seemed to me that the fact that the healthier, more balanced character was the victim is especially significant. I don't think there would be a film if things had transpired differently. That the healthy one is the victim is what mattered at all. Naturally the film had to navigate the perspective a little bit. It still has a fundamental structure in that it begins and ends with Mark.

    Force Majeure: Q&A with Director Ruben Östlund

    By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member

    Force Majeure (Sweden/Norway/Denmark/France; 2014) is a daring film about the dynamics of family and marital relationships. As with Östlund’s earlier films (Involuntary and Play) it deals with codes of conduct we live or see daily and with ethical situations and how we act or react individually. On a family vacation in the French Alps, Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are having lunch outside at a ski resort with their two children when a booming noise and apparent avalanche happens. What transpires is a trial of both human and family survival. The director responded to questions at a screening in September 2014 at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

    A scene from Force Majeure.

    TIFF Moderator: We loved your last film Play which had ethical and moral questions about children, adults, and parenting. Some of the scenes from this film reminded me of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie with the people walking down the runway like the road and we have to wonder where the family is going from here.
    Ruben Östlund: Well yes, I can see that. I like some of the last phrases about where they are experiencing something together. Walking down the mountains together and soon it will be dark. I really like the last sentence of the film: "Do you smoke Dad?" And he says, "Yes, I do." So I am optimistic about their future and there is something beautifully simplistic in the question and how it is answered.

    Audience Question: Did you stage the rescue scene during the snow storm?
    Ruben Östlund: Yes, I wanted to create a ski therapy run, which I have never seen before. Yeah, I think was Ebba’s idea to create this run to bring Tomas back into the fold as the alpha or male leader of the group.

    Audience Question: How did you get the idea for this film?
    Ruben Östlund: I started out as a ski film maker, before I went to film school in Goteberg. I filmed in the Alps and North America in the winters and edited the film in the summers. I sold the film to ski enthusiasts. I wanted to use the ski environment for a story but admit it is a bit of a niche environment and tricky to do a film around. People are dressed in neon colors and have fancy Vogel glasses and many are the wealthy. But when we have this situation about the avalanche which is not that dangerous after all and we see Tomas’ actions, it really helped me question what I and others as fathers would do in this situation and what would be the rules of conduct in families. The actual avalanche slide was inspired by a youtube clip. Much like in the movie people are dining at a restaurant high in the French Alps and see the breaking up of snow and possible avalanche far away and are excited by it, but when it continues to grow and get nearer the excitement becomes nervous laughter. Three seconds later all are in panic mode. I was fascinated by those 5-6 seconds and the change from excitement to real fear. In the youtube clip everyone runs from the coming avalanche, which similarly becomes just snow smoke or mist that reaches the restaurant. So they all go back to their seats with an embarrassed laughter. I told this to an actor friend, who suggested what happens if just the father runs away? After thinking about it and the consequences, I thought yes we can build a feature film around this premise.

    Audience Question: What can you tell us about the chicken sticker episode? Does it mirror the action of the father and who placed the sticker on their door?
    Ruben Östlund: Well, I thought of the sticker as reminding Tomas, like he might be on Candid Camera. He has to look around to see if someone else is watching him in disguise or recording him?

    Audience Question: What was the choice to use the drone perspective shots?
    Ruben Östlund: I wanted to create a moment of silence and then break it in a quite surprising way. Also my brother’s kids had a drone flying around and I was just fascinated by it.

    Audience Question: What sparked the shirtless beer pouring and party scene with all the men?
    Ruben Östlund: It’s kind of this ice hockey, or Spring break culture which was a quite common male group behavior when I was skiing in the Alps. Actually I want to talk about shooting that scene. Before we shot it I spoke to all the extras and said we will be making a quite embarrassing scene but wanted lots of energy. The first take they gave too much energy and screaming. The next time it was better but one extra cut his arm on the glass it was bleeding very badly and we had to send him to the hospital. We shot this scene in a whole day, replacing the extras at the front of the camera regularly. We kept shooting and looking at the last take and adding more energy until we got a great one with extra energy and great male behavior.

    Audience Question: What was the function of the janitor?
    Ruben Östlund: I was interested in portraying a family on this trip being from a certain class or economical level. I wanted the cleaner to be someone observing or watching this kind of behavior from a distance. Also I’m thinking the whole premise of the avalanche and the family dynamics is somewhat a luxury of this family and to put so much emphasis on it. So he is looking at it from another social class and seeing it as strange or bizarre behavior.

    Force Majeure won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It has also been selected by Sweden as their Oscar nominee for best foreign language film for next year’s Academy Awards. Magnolia Pictures is distributing the film in the United States and it is expected to open here soon.

    The Book of Life: Q&A with Director Jorge Gutierrez

    By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member

    The Book of Life is a feature-length and family-friendly animated film. It was premiered at the AFI Silver Theater's Latin American Film Festival. Director Jorge Gutierrez attended the screening on October 5 and answered questions from the audience, many of which were children. Josh Gardner, associate programmer at the AFI hosted the discussion.

    Josh Gardner: How did the film come about?
    Jorge Gutierrez: You saw how Manolo proposes to Maria--that's how I proposed to my wife. The grandma is my grandma; she was supertough on me. Those little whiskers are actors... (audience laughs). Pretty much everything you saw are things I've heard that my grandparents did and my great grandparents did. Obviously this is a fantasy version of those things but they are very much coming from a real place.

    Josh Gardner: How did you appropriate the Day of the Dead celebration?
    Jorge Gutierrez: We didn't want the movie to be about the Day of the Dead, so we used it as a backdrop, sort of a canvas and we painted our story on that.

    Audience Question: What can you tell us about the music in the film?
    Jorge Gutierrez: I grew up on the border, in Tijuana, so I heard music from both sides at the same time. A big part of Mexico is that we borrow things from all over the world and we make them our own, give them our own flavor. As I was writing the script, my co-writer and I would put the songs into the script. I wanted to use songs that spoke for Manolo--as you can tell he has a hard time speaking, but when he sings he really communicates his feelings. When he sings his own songs, that's when things happen. I like the idea that in Mexico when you play for your beloved you use songs from the history of songwriting in Mexico. So in our film I wanted our characters to be able to use songs from any era and anyplace in the world and make them their own. The Elvis song is my grandparents my favorite song, the Rod Stewart is my dad's favorite song, Creep is one of my favorite songs. I had to put all those songs into the movie and couldn't wait for the lawyer to see if we could use the songs. But one by one each of the bands got what we were going for and let us use their songs.

    Audience Question: Educators worry about Disneyfying the narrative but you provide a rich oral tradition. What are we doing to get the message out educationally?

    Jorge Gutierrez: I grew up on border but live in the U.S. One of things growing up I never saw myself on the Silver Screen or TV. When is the Mexican princess going to show up? You saw Maria, who is my answer to that. The female characters are very strong because that's what my family is like. The females in my family held it together, the men were along for the ride. I really believe the way to teach these stories, this history is to make it really fun and accessible. I remember when my grandfather told me stories he made it sound so fun and so exciting that I could imagine a movie and that's how I got really into it. And that's what I hope this movie does.

    Audience Question: How long did it take to make the movie including thinking of it, writing, getting music together?
    Jorge Gutierrez: I've been working on this for 14 years. I had the story when I was a film student. When I graduated from school an agency signed me and I went around to all the big Hollywood studios and presented this exact movie you just saw and they said there's no audience for this. Many years went by and after a while the doors opened again and I brought the same exact story but the world had changed and the studios were now into the movie. 20th century Fox got behind the movie. So it's been a long journey making this thing and I still can't believe it. Fourteen years dreaming about it but it came true.

    Audience Question: What is the story based on?
    Jorge Gutierrez: All stories have already been told and all you can do is make stories your own. This is inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus. I love old stories. When I started researching, I found stories of someone going to the underworld and bringing something back. So I wanted to do a Mexican version of that story. It's inspired by a lot of stories.

    Audience Question: What can you tell us about the casting choices?
    Jorge Gutierrez: You might not know this but this is the largest Latino voice cast in the history of animation. (Audience claps). When we were making the movie, I wrote the movie for Diego Luna, fortunately he said yes. When we were casting the characters I always believed that the movie is set in Mexico with Mexican characters but I didn't want all the voices to be Mexican because it would then feel that the movie was only for Mexicans. And it's supposed to be a movie for everyone; the story is supposed to be very universal. So I started casting outside the traditional Mexican characters. I wanted to get other people involved for example Ice Cube. I love hip-hop. So when I pitched him the movie I said, "To me, you're a god of hiphop, so I want you to play a god in a movie." With Channing Tatum I said, "Joaquin is supposed to be like the high school quarterback of the town. He has the suaveness of Argentina, the machismo of Mexico the smoothness of Brazil." I told him, "You're going to be Captain Latin American." He was really into it and afterward he took me aside and said, "Jorge, you know I'm not Mexican right?" "You are not, but you are everything I just described," so he really got into it. So that's where the casting came from. You heard Placido Domingo sing. He's someone I never thought we would get. I wrote a part for him but he's someone who I never thought we would get, and when I talked to him I said, "You're an opera singer. Let's make your story someone who wanted to go against the family but couldn't do it and Manolo is going to liberate you to do this." I've always loved the idea that the younger generation could teach something to the older generation. The traditional story is always the other way around. This movie in a way does that. My favorite Greek myths are the ones where the humans teach the gods a lesson, which is a metaphor for kids teaching the parents.

    Josh Gardner: Did Diego Luna do his own singing?
    Jorge Gutierrez: Yes. He had never sung before. Gustavo Santaolalla, our composer said, "I'm going to do a test to see if he can sing." So I was like a worried father waiting for the baby to be born. Then I got a phone call and Diego says, "Jorge, I can sing!" I didn't want the singing to sound perfect like American Idol or a supersinger. I wanted it to sound like a real kid who's trying to win the love of his life. He's just playing his heart out and Diego really did that.

    Audience Question: What are the challenges in being director of voice actors?
    Jorge Gutierrez: The movie doesn't exist for the actors. We animate to their performances. They're going off a script and have to imagine everything. You as a director describe all these things. So imagine me saying to Diego, "You are fighting a bull made of a thousand bulls, and everything is on fire." And Diego goes, "Ole." (audience laughs). It's really fun and those guys get to create the characters. In animation the voice of the character is the soul of the character and the animators build and build from that. So the narrative is the animators and the voice actors.

    Audience Question: What would you recommend to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
    Jorge Gutierrez: I recommend watching as many movies as you can. As I told my dad when I would go to the video store and he would get the bills and say, "Jorge, what are you doing?" I said, "Father, you're investing in my future." (audience laughs). If you can go to film school you'll be around other people who love making movies and love making cartoons. Just like being a lawyer, doctor, or engineer, it's a career. People in animation are basically professional children.

    Audience Question: It is said that Manolo's outfit was inspired by the outfits of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.
    Jorge Gutierrez: Yes. Everyone's outfit in the movie has a story. For example, Maria's outfit is inspired by Frieda Kahlo. Frieda Kahlo was really proud of the folkloric dressing of Mexicans. Even though she came from money Maria does that. She can wear everything in fashion at the time. She chooses to do that. Also her skirt is red, Manolo is a bullfighter so already there is something going on there. Joaquim is wearing a blue suit, it is of the time but also because he's supposed to be a prince, a blue blood. He's supposed to be very royal. Manolo is a bullfighter, comes from a long line of bullfighters, but his outfit is black. The idea is that if you look at him from far away he looks like a mariachi, because mariachi's traditional suits are black. I love Johnny Cash, the man in black, so that was one of the inspirations for Manolo wearing black. Everything in the movie, every character, has a story behind it.

    Audience Question: What was your working relationship with Guillermo Del Toro?
    Jorge Gutierrez: Guillermo--what other filmmaker of his stature looks out for young up and coming directors like myself and takes them under his wing? He's the Mother Teresa of directors because he takes guys like me and gives them a shot. For me to work with Guillermo was incredible. He's someone I've admired my whole life. So I feel like a little kid who gets to work with Batman. He always said, "Whenever you need me I will be there." He was. It was amazing. I got to pitch him my craziest ideas. I got into arguments with him which was always the best. In the beginning he didn't like that I agreed with him on everything. He didn't like directors to agree with him on everything. I was the first one to disagree with him. That's when he started to like me. He would always joke, "Jorge, I'm tough on you because you remind me of me many pounds ago." (audience laughs).

    Audience Question: How many people worked on the movie?
    Jorge Gutierrez: 400 people. We had a full orchestra in London, 300 animators in Dallas, people in LA, people from all over the world which was one of the best things. We had a crew member from Japan. He asked me, "I went on Wikipedia and couldn't find our characters. Where are they?" I told him, "This is mythology. It's all made up. It's not a real religion." He thought all that stuff was real. It was really great to see things through their eyes. They kept saying "Mexicans are crazy."

    Audience Question: Did you make up the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten or is that based on a myth?
    Jorge Gutierrez: It's completely made up for the movie. When I grew up I was told by my parents that as long as you talk about someone who who has passed away, they are here with you. So I thought I'd go where they are all the other times. I wanted to build a place that was based on memories. You remember things in a certain way. That's what the Land of the Remembered was, a land made out of memories. And the Land of the Forgotten is the opposite. The Land of the Remembered is full of color, full of light, full of warm things. And the Land of the Forgotten is the opposite--all triangles, lack of color. The worst that can happen to anyone is to be forgotten.

    Audience Question: What was it like to work with the studio?
    Jorge Gutierrez: I'm very thankful that a big studio put up the money to make the movie. This is an indie. We were allowed to do things you can't do in a bigger movie. We have to make the movie a little different. And it's because the restrictions are less. I'll take that any time over a big budget.

    Audience Question: Why did you pick Dia de los Muertos rather than another Mexican tradition?
    Jorge Gutierrez: I became obsessed with Dia de los Muertos when I was a kid. When I was nine years old, my best friend passed away. I was really angry with the world. My mother sat me down and said, "He's with you, he's all around you. Talk about him, sing songs, tell stories, he'll be here. And he'll come visit you." And that's what I did as I grew up. He's here with me right now. When I got married he was my best man. I got married on Dia de los Muertos. He showed up that day. After that I said I want to pass this beautiful tradition to the whole world. There are horrible things in the news being reported about Mexico but there are also beautiful things and I want the world to have it.

    The Book of Life opened in DC on October 17 in both 2D and 3D.

    The 39th Toronto International Film Festival

    By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member

    The 39th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was held from September 4-14, 2014 showcasing 393 films (including shorts, features, documentaries, and retrospectives) and 143 world premieres from over 60 countries, chosen from over 3,000 submitted films. A few films from major studios or highly anticipated indie films this year did not see the need to spend advertising at festivals for films like Birdman, Unbroken, American Sniper, Into the Woods, and Inherent Vice. TIFF has a large economic impact on Canada, Ontario and Toronto since it brings in over $170 million Canadian dollars annually and currently employs more than 100 full time staff, 500 part time and seasonal staff and over 2,000 volunteers. The use of volunteers at TIFF really maintains the festival’s reputation as one of the best organized film festivals and one of, if not the largest festivals still geared somewhat to public screenings unlike the Cannes Festival. Adam Spector also was at this year’s festival. Check out his coverage and review in last month’s
    Adam’s Rib column. Although we have seen a few films in common, we saw many different selections from the over 300 choices.

    TIFF has sections or categories of films and also has some art installations. Sections this year were: Gala Presentations, Masters, Special Presentations, TIFF for free (some free films publicly screened outdoors and a free additional screening of the Audience Award winner on the last Sunday), Discovery (first and second time filmmakers), Real to Reel (documentaries), Vanguard, City to City (this year’s selection was several films about Seoul, South Korea), Mavericks (engaging, on-stage discussions with cutting edge and established filmmakers), Contemporary World Cinema, Canadian Programming, Canada Open Vault (retrospective films), Short Cuts Canada, Visions (filmmakers who challenge our notions of mainstream cinema), Wavelengths (avant garde cinema), Future Projections (cinema meets visual arts with moving image projects throughout the city of Toronto), and their famous Midnight Madness section (primarily horror and black comedy films screening at Midnight with usually an appreciative and rowdy crowd). The Wavelengths category described as: daring, visionary, and autonomous voices.

    With the opening of the Lightbox complex about 4 years ago and the press screenings now being shown there and at the Scotia Theaters, the festival has all but moved to the downtown Queen Street area of trendy restaurants, bars, and CityTv. The Cumberland Cinemas (now closed), Varsity theaters, and Royal Ontario Museum were not used as screening venues this year, leaving only Isabel Bader theater as screening centers in Yonge and Bloor Streets area and the somewhat nearby Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in the Spadina area used this year. The large multiplex AMC theatres were again not used as venue this year which also had restaurants on one level below the theatres and was centrally located between the Elgin and Ryerson venues.

    TIFF has become a major market and sales stop for films to North America. There is a small market at the Venice Festival but it is really Toronto where they are primarily sold. Over 5,000 industry delegates from over 80 countries came to Toronto this year. Over 45 film sales were announced in territories globally, which includes 24 major sales to U.S. distributors which were bought at or just after the festival last year. Some deals were still in the works. Chris Rock’s Top Five film reportedly sold for about $12.5 million.

    I thought the selections this year were all good to very good since I have attended the festival including top notch Hollywood or American indie films. I only saw a few films that could be described as mediocre of about 51 films seen. Although a few film goers reported some films they thought dreadful, I did not see any I would consider really bad.

    MUST SEE FILMS: (I did not include some excellent films at TIFF2014 already seen closely before or after TIFF in DC previews and a few have already opened now in DC such as Pride and Mary Kom. Some additional films not discussed here that reliable sources on the street or in reviews also said were very good or excellent are: St. Vincent, Still Alice, Foxcatcher, and Nightcrawler.

    99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani, United Statess, 2014). By the director of smaller independent films like Chop Shop and Man Push Cart, this time has a bigger budget film with actors Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern. Based on the real estate bubble crisis in Florida in 2010, a local crooked realtor Rick Carver (Shannon) buys and flips foreclosed properties. Dennis Nash (Garfield), a unemployed construction worker is caught in the economic collapse and loses his house and has to decide if he can work for Carver. How far will he go to reclaim his family home? Excellent acting all around including Laura Dern as Dennis’ mother.

    Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, France/United States, 2014). Juliette Binoche plays Maria, a middle-aged actress is asked to act again in a play about a young woman and her older lesbian lover, but this time she is to play the older woman and Chloe Grace Moretz plays the younger woman. Her assistant Valentine, is ably played by Kristin Stewart. Maria and Valentine go to the Swiss Alps for some downtime and to help Maria rehearse for the play. Binoche is excellent going through a variety of emotions including insecurities about playing the older woman’s role in the upcoming play.

    Force Majeure (Turist) (Ruben Ostlund; Sweden/Norway/Denmark/France, 2014). Chosen as Sweden’s nominee for best foreign language film, this is a moral judgment movie about a vacationing Swedish family in the French Alps. While eating at an outdoor restaurant, an avalanche of snow appears imminent and the actions of one of the family members creates a palpable tension for most of the film. See this issue of Storyboard also for a short Q&A held in Toronto with the director. This film opens soon in the DC metro area and will be a strong contender for the final 5 foreign language nominees.

    A Girl at My Door (July Jung; South Korea, 2014). A City to City presentation about a policewoman, Young-nam transplanted from Seoul to a small fishing town. She tries to help an abused teenage girl but is confronted by town hooligans and must face some personal demons of her own to carry out the law. As a feature debut film, Jung has created a mature and nuanced film that deals with ethics and morals on many levels.

    Girlhood (Celine Sciamma; France, 2014). From the director of earlier acclaimed films Water Lilies and Tomboy, Sciamma this time presents Marieme, a 16 year old from the Paris suburban housing projects and her small band of friends and her need to fit in with the popular girls. This also has repercussions with her family dynamics, the wrong side of the law, possible romances, and is encorporated with a great hip-hop soundtrack. Lead actress Karidja Toure gives a tour-de force performance.

    The Great Man (Le Grand Homme) (Sarah Leonor, France, 2014). A beautifully told story in 3 chapters of 2 men in the French Foreign Legion and their friendship and brotherhood. Jeremie Renier plays Hamilton who befriends fellow legionnaire Markov in Afghanistan. The plight of legionnaires once they are out of the service is presented and of immigrants in France. Markov also has a young son which he must now take responsibility for as well as himself. The son is played by Surho Sugipov’s real nephew, and the striking resemblance of the characters adds greatly to the story.

    The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, United States/United Kingdom, 2014). The director of the Norwegian film Headhunters has created another film about Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), the “father of the computer” who broke the Nazi German Enigma code during World War II. Keira Knightly plays Joan Clarke, a female decoder, and possible romantic interest. This is an excellent filmed presentation with Oscar worthy performances by Cumberbatch and Knightly and possible best film nominee for Tyldum. The film won TIFF’s Audience Award. This is also a political and socially important film documenting how a group of misfit scientific geniuses broke the code and how homosexuals were treated in the United Kingdom during this time.

    Labyrinth of Lies (Giuilio Ricciarelli; Germany, 2014). Ricciarelli’s debut film is a very polished story of postwar (World War II) Germany and how many secrets are still being kept about former Nazi leaders. Young journalist Johann Radmann (Alexander Radmann), uncovers a number of former Nazi criminals who now have successful positions in the current government, but he meets with resistance from high places when he refuses to stop his investigations. The ethics of war and a country’s social memory are addressed and what the true history was.

    Life in a Fishbowl (Baldvin Zophoniasson; Iceland/Findlan/Sweden/Czech Republic; 2014). A multi-layered film based on three stories: Eik, a single mother doing what she must to keep her daughter safe and financially stable; Mori, a famous novelist, who is now primarily a drunk; and Gusti, a former famous athlete, now working in the corporate world, who must learn to play with the business old boys to keep his job or move up the ladder. This is also Iceland’s submission for the best foreign language film.

    Mommy (Xavier Dolan; Canada, 2014). French Canadian wunderkind director Dolan presents the tale of Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), a troubled teenager and his relationship with his mother Diane (Anne Dorval). Can the mother control her son or should she take advantage of the new law that allows troubled children to become institutionalized by the State? This was the Jury Prize winner at Cannes.

    Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke; United States; 2014). Actor-director Hawke presents his documentary about the 85 year old New York City pianist Seymour Bernstein, who could not deal with performance anxiety and now does private piano lessons for another generation of talented pianists.

    The Tribe (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy; Ukraine, 2014). A controversial film with non-actors, in a deaf school, with no verbal language or subtititles, and only sign language. It is a very violent film at times and is in black and white. Young Sergey arrives at the deaf boarding school and is quickly oriented to bullies and way of life he must adapt to, to survive. This was the Grand Prix winner at this year’s Cannes Critic’s Week of three awards.

    Two Days, One Night (Luc and Lean-Pierre Dardennes, Belgium/France, 2013). Loosely based on some true stories in economically suffering Europe, a working class mother is given the time frame of the movie’s title to convince her co-workers to keep her in her position rather than their receiving a bonus. Marion Cotillard is brilliant as the conflicted mother and wife with self-doubts who is afraid to confront or convince her co-workers to keep her job. This film will be shown at the European Union Festival at the AFI Silver theatre in December.

    Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, United States, 2014). One of the best films of the year, Sundance Festival winner of both the Grand Jury prize and Audience Award recounts the tale of an aspiring drummer Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) in a conservatory who tries to get into the jazz band with its crazed perfectionist professor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). This is a thriller and rollercoaster ride of emotions well-acted by Teller and Simmons. Both actors and the film may be Oscar nominated.

    Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan; Turkey/France/Germany, 2014). Golden Palm winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Director of acclaimed films like Distant and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, this time is set in the barren landscape of an inn in Cappadocia and the family dynamics of the husband, his younger bored wife, and his divorced sister. Carefully layered in a 196 minute long film, it unfurls like the peeling of an onion on the characters and egos and self-esteem of the main characters. This is Turkey’s submission for the best foreign language film and may well be in the final selected films.


    The Dark Horse (James Napier Robertson; New Zealand, 2014). Cliff Curtis stars as Genesis Potini, a middle aged man recently released from a psychiatric facility and wondering the streets of a small town. He gets into trouble and is released into his brother Ariki’s reluctant care. Ariki has his own demons with his health; his son, who seems not to want to join his father’s gang, and monetary problems. Genesis, once a chess champion before he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic tries to find some purpose in his life and to be compliant in taking his medications. He finds the Eastern Knights kids chess club that he may be able to help but has to learn to deal with his anxiety attacks and his past history. The director consulted with the real Genesis before starting filming.

    Dearest (Peter Ho-sun Chan, Hong Kong /China, 2014). Another film based on stories torn from Chinese news dealing with child kidnapping. A divorced couple with joint custody of their young son must deal with his abduction. Police and support groups of parents of other missing children aid in the long search for their son. A moving family and social drama that include political elements and many layers of moral questions that linger on your mind long after the screening.

    Eden (Mia Hansen-Love; France, 2014). Director of Father of My Children and Goodbye First Love this time has a film about Paul, a teenager in the Paris underground music scene and the rise of DJs such as his friends, the duo known as Daft Punk. Over about a decade of time, Paul has a number of girlfriends and relationships including an American played by Greta Gerwig. The director co-wrote the screenplay with her brother Sven and some of the script is autobiographical for Sven. An interesting personal journey of those who do and do not progress over time and with a great soundtrack.

    The Farewell Party (Mita Tova) (Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit; Germany/Israel, 2014). A study of a group of 70-something year olds in a retirement community and how they deal with friends and others dying of debilitating illnesses who wish to die sooner. A dramatic black comedy about euthanasia, aging, and terminal illness that reminds us a little of Amour.

    Los Hongos (Oscar Ruiz Navia; Colombia/Argentina/France/Germany, 2014). Two young graffiti street artists deal with their families, girlfriends, art and depict the news of the global Arab Spring in their art on murals in the streets of Cali, Colombia. A beautiful blended film of color and music. Calvin cares for and interacts with his grandmother who is the one who understands his need for expression. Ras must deal with his religious mother trying to get him to services and to support dubious politicians.

    Madame Bovary (Sophie Barthes; United Kingdom/Belgium, 2014). Another version of the famous Flaubert novel, but this time in English. Mia Wasikowski does a fine job playing Emma married to the French country doctor, but wanting much more in life. This version does not include a child. The director also said she also built up the part of the shopkeeper played by Rhys Ifans to show Emma to be a modern consumer who has overspent her allowances. Gorgeous costumes, funishings, and artwork complement the action.

    The New Girlfriend (Une Nouvelle Amie) (Francois Ozon; France, 2014). Roman Duris stars as a new widower with a young baby. His wife’s best friend Clare volunteers to help with the baby but soon discovers David’s little secret of dressing in his dead wife’s clothes and calling himself Virginia. The story has many comic and dramatic turns including empathy and is reminiscent of Laurence, Anyways or any of the older films about women directed by George Cukor or Douglas Sirk, complete with bright colors and artistry.

    A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson; Sweden/Norway/Germany/France, 2014). Winner of this year’s Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the third part of a trilogy that included Songs from the Second Floor and You, the Living. He uses his usual deadpan humor and white faced dead-looking characters that includes a duo of hapless salemen trying to sell gag gifts, a re-enactment of Swedish King Charles XII and soldiers coming and going from defeated wars, and museum visitors staring at exhibits of dead birds. Andersson said his film pays homage to Luis Bunuel and his films also and can be seen as a provocative statement about current social and political times.

    Return to Ithaca (Laurent Cantet; France, 2014). A Spanish language film shot in Havana, Cuba that seems like a play with five middle-aged friends reminiscing about their earlier days and where their lives have gone. One member has just returned to live in Havana after disappearing years ago and living in Spain. His compatriots question why he would come back to Cuba now. The director said he surprisingly got script approval from the Cuban film and government authorities and all Cuban actors are used.

    A Second Chance (Susanne Bier; Denmark, 2014). Noted Danish director of Oscar winning In a Better World, she teams up again with Anders Thomas Jensen as the screenwriter for another powerful and ethical or moral tale. Veteran policeman Andreas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his wife Anne (Maria Bonneville) have recently had a baby and all seems well. In the line of work he finds a substance abusing husband and wife who also recently gave birth to a baby son and who neglectfully abuses the baby during their drunken or drug induced stupors. Issues arise that test our ideas of human rights, and of the good privileged and abusive poor classes in society.

    Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait (Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, Syria/France, 2014). Director Mohammed worked with freedom fighter Simav on this film which is a distillation of many posted camera footage on Facebook by Syrians of all backgrounds during shellings and composites of some of people in happier times and then their fates. This is a very sobering film, including the deaths or maiming of children and animals after trying to play or just traverse the dangerous streets in Homs and other Syrian cities or villages.

    Tales (Rakhshan Banietemad; Iran, 2014). Famed Iranian director Banietemad who usually covers womens’ rights issues this time interweaves several stories to highlight the continuing plight of women and others dealing with abuse, bureaucracy, trying to release loved ones imprisoned for political ideals, and others taking on additional jobs to try to economically stay above water.

    Timbuktu (Abderrahmame Sissako; France/Maritania/Mali, 2014). The first film to be nominated by Mauritania for Oscar best foreign film submission and won the Francois Chalais Award at Cannes this year. A herder and his family live in the dunes to avoid the city but fundamentalists take over Northern Mali making their own laws and holding their own kangaroo courts. It is not long before Kidane and his family are drawn into the quagmire but try to resist injustice.

    Who Am I? No System is Safe. (Baran bo Odar; Germany, 2014). Max is a 25 year old computer geek with no friends. He tries to hook up with world class hackers and soon finds himself the source of investigation by Europol, the German Secret Service. This is a suspenseful, roller coaster ride of a film with a soundtrack from Boys Noixze.


    Breathe (Melanie Laurent; France, 2014). Actress/director Laurent’s sophomore film deals with Charlie, a well-behaved, pretty, and somewhat popular 17 year old who is infatuated with the new girl in school Sarah, who is an extrovert, lives wildly and is not prone to telling the truth. Sarah seems charming but is an opportunist using anyone to increase her popularity and to cover the lies she tells about her mother and life. A very suspenseful film based on the somewhat autobiographical French novel "Respire" by Anne-Sophie Brasme.

    Coming Home (Zhang Yimou; China, 2014). Famed Chinese director Yimou reunites with actress Gong Li in a role as a teacher during the Cultural Revolution with a daughter in the Chinese ballet and a husband who has been forced to go to the re-education camps. After the Revolution she searches for her husband but dementia begins to set in and this is an empathetic tale of trying to restore a broken marriage and family. Yimou said he had to keep the storyline very simple to pass Chinese film censors and that Gong Li provided her wonderful nuanced expressions and talents that words cannot sometimes express.

    The Face of an Angel (Michael Winterbottom;United Kingdom, 2014). Daniel Bruhl is a filmmaker who wants to make a film based on a murder case in Italy. Although inspired by the Amanda Knox case this is a fictionalized account and Thomas is finding it increasingly difficult to find the truth. He is also dealing with his daughter and some other women he encounters to provide a collage of women’s faces and objectivity needed for the case.

    Frailer (Mijke de Jong; Netherlands, 2014). When Mouse, a middle-aged woman realizes her cancer has returned and is terminal, she gathers her best friends to plan how to best spend her last days. The women take short trips and drink and talk about many aspects of life and friendships.

    Gemma Bovery (Anne Fontaine; France; 2014). Another take on Madame Bovary but this time modernized and staring Gemma Arterton as an Englishwoman who moves with her husband to a small French countryside town. Gemma is faced with a number of choices where to take her life. Fabrice Luchini is wonderful as the attentive, but married baker and neighbor who knows the novel and is caught up in the literary similarities to comic effect.

    Maidan (Sergei Loznitsa; Ukraine/Netherlands, 2014). A documentary portrait of the urgency in the Ukrainian politics as people gather in the street to protest and find some solidarity and direction. I found it needed some editing but was still a snapshot of a land we read about but actually know little about.

    Pasolini (Abel Ferera; France/Italy.Belgium; 2014). Willem Defoe plays Pasolini the Italian director during his last days of life in 1975. We see him interacting with his family, arguing with censors about a movie he is working on, and his habit of cruising the backstreets of Rome. He also provides some imagery of the screenplay Pasolini was working on at the time of his death.

    Phoenix (Christian Petzold; Germany, 2014). The director of last year’s Barbara, he returns with excellent acting again from Nina Hoss as a refugee disfigured by a bullet wound and surgery and thought dead by her family and friends. The story revolves around her finding her husband and trying to ascertain if he betrayed her to the Nazis or not. The acting all around is good and the critics especially love this film, but I and a number of viewers had problems believing where the script was going.

    Revivre (Im Kwon-taek; South Korea; 2014). The master Korean filmmaker this time details the life of a middle-aged cosmetics executive and his wife who is dying of cancer. When an attractive new ad executive starts work at the agency, Oh Sang-mon must examine his feelings and where his personal and professional lives are going.

    Samba (Olivier Nakace and Eric Toledano; France, 2014). After their hit The Intouchables this film stars Omar Sy again as an immigrant from Mali. He desperately tries to find work and meets an empathetic immigration worker played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. He also has friends in other migrant workers including one played by Tahar Rahim who try to help him remain somehow in France.

    Other Reviews and Awards

    Indiewire’s criticWire survey of top film critics and bloggers selected their favorite films at TIFF2014 as:

    Best Narrative Features: (1) Phoenix; (2) Nightcrawler; (3) The Duke of Burgundy; (4) Force Majeure; (5) A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence; (6) Two Days, One Night; (7) The Imitation Game; (8) Whiplash; (9) The Tribe; and (10) Mommy.

    Best Documentaries: (1) The Look of Silence; (2) Seymour: an Introduction; (3) Tales of the Grim Sleeper; (4) National Diploma; (5) Merchants of Doubt; (6) The Yes Men are Revolting; (7) Sunshine Superman; (8) A Midsummer Night’s Dream; (9) Maidan; and (10) Roger Waters The Wall.

    Best Lead Performance: (1) Nina Hoss, Phoenix; (2) Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; (3) Benedict Cumberbatch;The Imitation Game; (4) Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything; (5) Julianne Moore, Still Alice; (6) Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night; (7) Anne Dorval, Mommy; (8) Juliette Binoche, Clouds of Sils Maria; (9) Ryan Reynolds, The Voices; and (10) Jessica Chastain, Miss Julie.

    Best Ensemble: (1) Foxcatcher; (2) The Imitation Game; (3) While We’re Young; (4) Force Majeure; (5) Clouds of Sils Maria; (6) Leviathan; (7) Mr. Turner; (8) Map to the Stars; (9) Mommy; (10) The Riot Club.

    See the Visit the TIFF website for more information about the festival.

    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


    American Film Institute Silver Theater
    "Silent Cinema Showcase" continues in November. Titles in November include The Lodger (1927) with music accompaniment by the Not So Silent Orchestra, Vampyr (1932) with music by Gary Lucas, Nosferatu (1922) with music by the Not So Silent Orchestra, Dracula (Spanish version, 1931) with music by Gary Lucas, Intolerance (1916) with music by Boister, Steamboat Bill Jr. with music by Dan Zanes, The Mark of Zorro (1920) with music by Hesperus, Robin Hood (1922) with music by Herperus, He Who Gets Slapped (1924) with music by Alloy Orchestra, The Son of the Sheik (1926) with music by Alloy Orchestra, The General (1926) with music by the Columbia Orchestra, The Iron Horse (1924) with music by Andrew Simpson, Crossways (1928) with music by Stephen Horne, The Epic of Everest (1924) with music by Stephen Horne, "The Mishaps of Musty Suffer," from a series of comedy shorts with music by Ben Model, and a program of short films with music by Ben Model.

    The Robert Wise Centennial continues in November with I Want to Live, The Andromeda Strain, The Haunting (1963), Star Trek The Motion Picture, West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

    "Norman Lloyd Centennial" looks at four films: Spellbound, Saboteur, Limelight, Rein of Terror plus a documentary Who Is Norman Lloyd?.

    "Vera Chytilova Remembered" looks at films from the Czech New Wave. Titles include Daisies, Fruit of Paradise, A Bag of Fleas, Panel Story, The Apple Game and The Very Long Afternoon of a Faun.

    "Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien" is a review of the Taiwanese director's films which will continue in December. Titles for November are A Time to Live a Time to Die, Cafe Lumiere and Flight of the Red Balloon. Other Hou Hsiao-hsien films at the Freer.

    "Morality and Beauty: Marco Bellocchio" is co-presented with the National Gallery of Art. Titles for November include Slap the Monsters on Page One, Devil in the Flesh, The Wedding Director, a Leap in the Dark, My Mother's Smile, The Nanny, Dormant Beauty, Vincere, and Good Morning Night. More at the Gallery.

    "Tim Burton: Melancholy, Mirth and Magic, Part I" begins with Sleepy Hollow (1999), Frankenweenie, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride and Ed Wood. Part II will be in 2015.

    Special events at the AFI include Baraka (1992), Band of Sisters (2012) with a Q&A and panel discussion after the film, I>2001 A Space Odyssey (1967) in 70mm, The Woman on the Beach (1947) with Victoria Wilson in person, the concert film Pulp: A Film About Life, Death, and Supermarkets (2014) and the documentary Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington DC (2014).

    Freer Gallery of Art
    Two films in the "2014 China Onscreen Biennial" are shown at the Freer this month. On November 7 at 7:00pm is Cut Out the Eyes (Xu Tong, 2014), a documentary of music in Mongolia and Black Coal, Thin Ice (Diao Yinan, 2014) on November 14 at 7:00pm, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlinale.

    "Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien" is a series of films by the Taiwanese director. On November 2 at 1:00pm is Dust in the Wind (1986), on November 2 at 3:30pm is The Green Green Grass of Home (1982), on November 9 at 1:00pm is The Boys from Fengkuei (1983), on November 9 at 3:30pm is A Summer at Grandpa's (1984), on November 10 at 2:00pm is Daughter of the Nile (2013), and on November 21 at 7:00pm is Three Times (2006). See the AFI Silver Theater for more films by Hou Hsiao-hsien.

    National Gallery of Art
    While the East Building is being renovated, films are shown in the West Building and in other locations. Please check the locations for each show.
    Jodie Mack is the focus of "American Originals Now." On November 1 at 2:30pm is "Fabriflicks," a program of short films and on November 2 at 4:00pm is "Let Your Light Shine," a program of five short films. Filmmaker Jodie Mack will be presen both days to introduce the films. Shown in the West Building.

    A series of films by Marco Bellochio starts in November and continues in December at the National Gallery of Art and the AFI Silver Theater. On November 1 at 4:30pm is Fists in the Pocket (1965); on November 22 at 2:00pm is China Is Near (1987) preceded by the short film Let's Discuss (1969); on November 22 at 5:00pm is The Conviction (1991); on November 29 at 2:30pm is Vacation in Val Trebbia (1980); and on November 29 at 4:00pm is Sorelle Mai (2011). All are shown at the National Portrait Gallery. More in December.

    "The Play's the Thing: Vaclav Havel, Art and Politics" is a series of films based on the life and times of the Czech dramatist and statesman. On November 7 at 7:00pm is The Uninvited Guest (Vlastimil Venclik, 1969) followed by Every Young Man (Pavel Juracek, 1966). On November 9 at 4:30pm is A Report on the Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec, 1966) shown with The Mist (Raduz Cincera, 1966). On November 14 at 7:00pm is Leaving (Vaclav Havel, 2011). On November 16 at 4:30pm is And the Beggar's Opera Again (Olga Sommerova, 1996) shown with The Heart Above the Castle (Jan Nemec, 2007). All are shown at American Univesity.

    "International Festival of Films on Art" shows award winners from the 2014 festival in Montreal. On November 14 at 12:30pm and November 15 at 2:00pm are two separate programs. Shown in the Gallery's West Building.

    On November 23 at 4:00pm is a "cine-concert" The Epic of Everest (John Noel, 1924). Stephen Horne provides music accompaniment.

    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
    On November 13 at 8:00pm is Absolute Wilson (Katharina Otto-Bernstein, 2006).

    National Museum of the American Indian
    On November 1 at 7:00pm is Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Jeff Barnaby) about a fictional reservation school. Director Jeff Barnaby will discuss the film after the screening.

    On November 15 at 7:00pm is This May Be the Last Time (2014), about a member of the Seminole community who went missing after a car crash. Filmmaker Sterlin Harjo will be present for discussion.

    Smithsonian American Art Museum
    On November 6 at 6:30pm is Service (2014), an episode from the series "Craft in America," focusing on the Army Arts and Crafts Program and the GI Bill. Discussion follows the screening.

    On November 13 at 6:30pm is Curious Worlds: The Art and Imagination of David Beck (2014), a documentary about the sculptor, carver, painter and craftsman David Beck. Filmmaker Olympia Stone and David Beck will participate in Q&A after the film.

    Washington Jewish Community Center
    On November 4 at 7:30pm is Footsteps in Jerusalem (2013), an anthology of ten short films offering a portrait of the city. The directors are David Perlov, Dan Geva, David Ofek, Nadav Lapid, Benjamin Freidenberg, Moran Ifergan, Yarden Karmin, Amichai Chasson, Elad Schwartz, Boaz Frankel Yair Agmon, Nayef Hammoud and Yotam Kislev.

    On November 19 at 7:30pm is Rue Mandar (Idit Cébula, 2013), a comedy-drama starring Emmanuelle Devos and Sandrine Kiberlain.

    Goethe Institute
    "The Wall in Our Heads" is a series of films about the Berlin Wall. On November 3 at 6:30pm is Here We Come, (Nico Raschick, 2006), a documentary about East German teenagers discovering hiphop. The film's director will be present for discussion. On November 4 at 6:30pm is Leipzig in the Fall (Gerd Kroske and Andreas Voigt, 1989) about the 1989 demonstrations in Leipzig. Andreas Voigt will attend and discuss the film. On November 10 at 6:30pm is a program of short films by artists Wolf Vostell and Lutz Dammbeck. The program will be introduced by art historian Eckhart Gillen. On November 12 at 6:30pm is The Red Orchestra (Stefan Roloff, 2003), a documentary about a German anti-Nazi resistance group. Filmmaker Stefan Roloff, son of one of the members of the group, will introduce the film. On November 17 at 6:30pm is TBA. On November 24 at 6:30pm is "Faces of Eastern Europe," 13 short films from 13 countries in the European Union.

    National Geographic Society
    A selection of films from the Mountainfilm Film Festival in Telluride are shown in two separate programs on November 7 at 7:00pm and November 8 at 7:00pm.

    French Embassy
    On November 11 at 6:00pm is the documentary Apocalypse, Episodes 1 and 2, covering 1914-1915 of WWI. The Ambassador of France, Gérard Araud, will introduce the film which is followed by a reception.

    The Japan Information and Culture Center
    On November 19 at 6:30pm is Robo-G (Shinobu Yaguchi, 2012). On November 21 at 6:30pm is the anime film The Time of EVE (Yasuhiro Yoshiura, 2010), a sci-fi allegory and winner of an animation award at the Japan Media Arts Festival.

    National Archives
    On November 4 at noon is Rebel (2014), a documentary about Loreta Velazquez, a Confederate soldier turned Union Spy. Filmmaker Maria Agui Carter will discuss the film afterwards.

    On November 5 at 2:00pm is Let There Be Light (John Huston, 1946), about emotionally traumatized GIs from WWII.

    On November 12 at 7:00pm is Heir to an Execution: A Granddaughter's Story (Ivy Meeropol, 2004), a documentary about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Discussion and Q&A with Michael and Ivy Meeropol follows.

    West End Cinema
    On November 7 at 6:30pm is The Great Invisible (2014), a documentary about the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Filmmaker Margaret Brown will take part in a panel discussion after the film, which won the Grand Jury Award for Documentary Feature at the SXSW Film Festival.

    National Museum of Natural History
    On November 2 at 3:00pm is Slingshot (Paul Lazarus, 2014), a documentary about Dean Kamen who invented an energy-efficient machine to purify water. Paul Lazarus will be present for Q&A.

    On November 20 at 6:00pm is The Lost Bird Project (2012) a documentary about birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain's work to commemorate them.

    The Avalon
    On November 5 at 8:00pm is the documentary Harmontown (Neil Berkeley).

    This month's "French Cinematheque" film is The Blue Room (Mathieu Amalric, 2014) on November 19 at 8:00pm.

    On November 26 at 8:00pm is Funeral at Noon (Adam Sanderson), part of the "Reel Israel" series.

    Italian Cultural Institute
    On November 4 at 7:00pm is Torneranno 1 Prati (Ermanno Olmi, 2014), about WWI.

    On November 20 at 6:30pm is Blame Freud (2014) filmmaker Paolo Genovese will participate in a Q&A after the film.

    On November 25 at 6:30pm is South Is Nothing (Fabio Mollo, 2013).

    Anacostia Community Museum
    On November 2 at 2:00pm is Moms Mabley (2014), a documentary about comedienne Jackie Mabley.

    On November 6 at 11:00am is Civil War 360 (2014), one of three episodes of a mini-series.

    On November 9 at 2:00pm is Miss Navajo (2007), a documentary about the role of women in the Navajo culture. Filmmaker Billy Luther will participate in a discussion and Q&A after the film.

    Hill Center
    On November 7 at 7:30pm is Evolution of a Criminal, a documentary about Darius Clark Monroe.

    On November 16 at 4:00pm is Mary Poppins, the first filming of Mary Poppins, made for TV and starring Mary Wickes as Poppins. Film critic Nell Minow and Steve Taravella, author of the new biography, “Mary Wickes: I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before” will host.

    On November 20 at 7:00pm is "Ed Wood Mondo-Bizarrothon (In Honor of National Absurdity Day)" with a showing of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Your hosts will be Margaret Talbot whose father appeared in Woods' films, film critic Nell Minow, Rebecca Sheir and actor Michael John Casey.

    Koshland Science Museum
    On November 6 at 6:30pm is Glacial Balance, a documentary about climate change. Filmmaker Ethan Steinman, film subject Lonnie G. Thompson and others will discuss the film.

    Alden Theater
    On November 19 at 1:00pm is Murder By Death starring Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, and Maggie Smith. On November 21 at 7:30pm is A Christmas Story.

    Reel Affirmations XTra
    On November 21 at 7:00pm and 9:15pm is 52 Tuesdays (Sophie Hyde).

    Alliance Francais
    On November 8 at 2:00pm is a program of short films including Mr. Hublot and The Flame and the Cotton Ball.

    George Mason University
    On November 13 at 4:30pm is Evolution of a Criminal, a documentary by and about Darius Clark Monroe.


    Arabian Sights
    The 19th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival takes place November 1-9. A diverse selection of new innovative and engaging films centered on today’s Arab world will be shown. See above.

    Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival
    This festival, begun in 1998, will be held November 5-9. American and international films will be shown, including features, documentaries and shorts. See the website for a schedule.

    Alexandria Film Festival
    The Alexandria Film Festival will be held November 7-9, presenting feature-length films, documentaries, animation and short films. See the website for films and locations.

    Kids Euro Festival
    The Kids Euro Festival takes place October 24-November 9. Films and performing arts events are part of the festival. Locations vary; see the website for more information.

    Brazil Film Week
    The Eighth Annual Brazilian Film Festival, sponsored by the Embassy of Brazil, runs from October 31-November 6. All films are shown at Landmark's E Street Theater. Titles include The Boy and the World (Alé Abreu, 2014), Faroeste Caboclo (René Sampaio, 2013), Teen's Confessions (Daniel Filho, 2014), The Days with Him (Maria Clara Escobar, 2014), Dominguinhos (Mariana Aydar, 2014), Bossa Nova (Bret Primack and Ken Avis, 2014), Children of the Amazon (Denise Zmerkhol, 2008) and Maria Bethania Music is Perfume (Georges Gachot, 2005).

    The Virginia Film Festival
    The 26th annual Virginia Film Festival takes place November 6-9 at the University of Virginia. See the website for film titles, schedule and locations.


    Exhibit: "Gabriel Figueroa, Cinematographer"
    This exhibit runs from September 9 through November 3 and features film clips, photographs, posters and documents, many of which are drawn from Figueroa's archive and The Televisa Foundation collections. In addition, the exhibition includes a vast inventory of distinctly Mexican imagery associated with Figueroa's cinematography.

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