Saturday, June 25, 2016

LA FILM FESTIVAL 2016 DEALS WITH THE DIVERSITY DECK (AWARDS)

By Jose Alberto Hermosillo,
"Opening Night" premiere, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016
2016 will be considered the “Year of the Diversity” in LA Film Festival, regardless of the considerable reduction of foreign films selected.
"Dreamstates" Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

All the different communities were well represented: the Afro-American, Indian-American, Mexican-American, Asian-American, Middle Eastern, Latinos, Jewish, people with disabilities, the millenniums, the immigrants and the LGBT community too.

Women Filmmakers. Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

This year, 40 percent of the films selected by LA Film Festival were directed by women.

"Lights Out" premiere, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

LA Film Festival took good care of its filmmakers, sponsors, their programmers, and the members of Film Independent. The prestigious festival still needs to work on its relationship with the press in order to make more noise, reviews, and exposure of the films and the filmmakers, simply to tell the world that something is happening in LA.

"Girl Flu" cast, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

All the films were well deserved award winners, and those films still need to hit the movie theaters and digital distribution as soon as possible, those films are a very important and need to reach a wider audience.

"London Town" Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

"Heis (chronicles)" Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016
The World Fiction Award went to Anaïs Volpé for HEIS (cronicles), France.

"Lupe Under the Sun" cast, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

Special Mention: Lupe Under the Sun, directed by Rodrigo Reyes, Mexico-US.

The U.S. Fiction Award went to Remy Auberjonois for Blood Stripe.

The Documentary Award went to Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares for Political Animals.

The LA Muse Award was given to Heidi Saman for Namour.

The Nightfall Award went to Jackson Stewart for Beyond The Gates.

AUDIENCE AWARDS: 

The Audience Award for Fiction Feature Film went to GREEN / is / GOLD, directed by Ryon Baxter.

The Audience Award for Documentary Feature Film was given to Political Animals, directed by Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares.

The Award for Short Fiction went to The Beast (Zvjerka), directed by Daina Oniunas Pusic.

The Award for Short Documentary went to The Gatekeeper, directed by Yung Chang.

The Audience Award for Short Film went to Into Darkness directed by Rachida El Garani.

The Audience Award for Web Series went to Instababy, directed by Rosie Haber.




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  Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016


Friday, June 24, 2016

“Septembers of Shiraz” the Struggle of a Jewish Family in Times of the Persian Revolution

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
“Septembers of Shiraz” is a gripping, provocative, and a mighty cry for freedom.

The 1977 “Staying Alive” is heard as background music in a gathering of a wealthy, secular Jewish/Iranian family in Tehran - that was the time when the Iranian religious revolution overthrew the regime of the Shah of Iran.
Septembers of Shiraz poster
The Amin family is celebrating the farewell to one of their sons, who was sent to study abroad in Massachusetts.
Sama Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
At that time, the prosecution of a hard-working, wealthy, and educated families was an everyday norm. The State considered that people could the overthrown government.
Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
The Oscar® winning actor Adrien Brody is terrific as Issac Amin, his character’s arc starts as a businessman and father figure, then he becomes a prisoner and a victim of torture. 
Salam Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz review www.festivalinLA.com
His suffering makes him value life more than any material possessions. Soon after, he negotiates his freedom and his family’s safety.

Oscar® nominee Salma Hayek-Pinault plays his devoted wife Farnez, an Iranian Jewish woman, who has an opinion and a voice, and as a woman in Iran, those skills are against the revolution. 

She is an ideal housewife and a loving mother of two, who writes in different magazines about the lifestyles in foreign places, something that the fundamentalists consider indecent and subversive pieces of propaganda.
Salma Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz. Review www.festivalinLA.com
“Septembers of Shiraz” is Salma Hayek’s best performance since “Frida.”  

The Oscar® nominee Iranian actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo (“House of Sand and Fog”) is terrific as Habibeh. She is the woman who helps Farnez with the house labors and with some moral issues as well. 

Her son Mortesa (Navid Navid), soon becomes the “Judas,” of the story. He is the one who betrays everyone, including his mother and even the revolution.

The film, based on the best-seller novel by Iranian-born, N.Y. based, writer Dalia Sofer, was adapted for the screen by a Yale graduate Hanna Weg.

The Australian director Wayne Blair (“The Sapphires”) in “Septembers of Shiraz” keeps the actors’ performance in an under-tone to contrast with the dominant images of torture and repression.
Salma Hayek in "Septembers of Shiraz.
The music by Mark Isham is discreet and capable of accentuating the actors' emotions.

With only a few musical tones, the dramatic momentum gained in the beginning does not exceed the rest of the story.

The film reconstructed the 1970's period in Iran for precision, the production value of this film is exceptional. “Septembers of Shiraz” was shot in Bulgaria. Knowing their craft very well, they came out with a remarkable production.

In 2012, Hollywood tackled the Iranian conflict for CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), who helped rescue US diplomats out of Tehran in “Argo.” The best picture Oscar® winner created some controversy regarding the nationalities and the background.  

In an international production, it is almost impossible to have all talent from the same origin. Regardless of the nationalities, all the actors are genuine and respectful to the real people they portrayed.


“Septembers of Shiraz” has the feeling of authenticity, it may be visually predictable, but clearly illustrates the struggle of this family who helped many, by giving them jobs and a brighter future in Iran.

In the revolution, many were prosecuted and killed; in the film, we learned that people from different classes don't mesh well. They betrayed their people. We have to remember that there is a lot of ingratitude in this world. 

The fundamentalist Iranians like to call themselves “brothers” even though they torture and kill each other.

This film, dedicated to all the families who have endured prosecution in the world, is essential for the tight-knit family.

“Septembers of Shiraz” is a remarkable story whose intention is to restore human dignity in the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” Is the Funniest Manhunt Movie Ever

By Jose Alberto Hermosillo
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is the funniest manhunt movie of ever! A wild adventure. 

Taika Waititi ("Eagle vs. Shark," "Boy," "What We Do in the Shadows"), New Zealand
From the accomplished director Taika Waititi (“What we do in the Shadows,” “Boy,” “Eagle vs. Shark,” and the upcoming Marvel Superhero adventure: “Thor: Ragnarok”) comes this incredible adventure “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.”

The New Zeland's smatching hit starts with a beautiful landscaping scene that it looks out of “The Hobbit” movies, where the story begins.

Classified by the authorities as a menace to society, Ricky (Julian Dennison) is sent to a foster home in a farm. 

The film vividly shows, in a flashback, his criminal record: cursing, graffiti, and spitting among other felonies. 

The vehement social worker takes those offenses seriously. She will be an obsessive vigilante from beginning to end.
Ricky gets a new chance in life, to live in a very modes farm with Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and the crabby Uncle Hec played by Sam Neill. They don't have any children, neither any modern devices to entertain this young punk who likes hip-hop.
In a marvelously set up scene, they welcome Ricky with a birthday cake and a precious gift, a dog he names Tupac.

When he gets used the new lifestyle, something happens that freaks him out, propelling his scape into the wild. 
After a few days alone, uncle Hec joins him. As they share the road, the adventure turns amusing, and the manhunt goes viral because the odd couple becomes the famous outlaw and the most wanted.
“Hunting for the Wilderpeople” has some underlying questions hard to see in a Hollywood movie: What an ethnic child is doing with an older white male alone in the woods? Who are wilder, the runaways or the hunters? Who is always pushing Ricky to the side, the people, or the system?

Ricky is wonderfully played by a very young and talented Julian Dennison (“Chronesthesia,” “Paper Planes,” and “Shopping”). He is hilarious, his confidence and charisma go beyond expectations. Ricky's self-esteem never goes down because Ricky is a warrior and never gives up.
Julian Dennison, photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyright Festival in LA 2016
Contemplating the breathtaking landscape, Uncle Hec tells his little companion: “This place is “majestical,” the kid corrects him: “Majestic” is the right word.”
In every chapter, the film has an incredible new adventure, with clever references to “Rambo,” “The Terminator,” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Also, there is a spectacular car chase comparable to any of the “Mad Max” movies made in Australia.

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” remarkably shows children in everyday situations becoming extraordinary – as in the 2004 British film “Millions” by the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Trainspotting”) or “Whale Rider,” 2004. Also, it has similar humor as in the 2013 Eugenio Derbez Mexican hit “Instructions Not Included.”

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” correctly manages to dwell universal values of acceptance, tolerance, diversity, respect and above all... love one another.

Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"Heis (cronicles)" Wins Los Angeles Film Festival World Fiction Award - Is it a Movie or Is It Art?

By Kenny Hargrove, 

HEIS (chronicles) Copyright 2016

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL - MOVIE REVIEW.  Los Angeles, June 13, 2016 – “Heis (cronicles)”, the debut feature film from writer, director, cinematographer, and actress Anaïs Volpé, is a beautiful, poetic and contemplative collage of visual storytelling. It is as much a work of art as it is a very personal heartfelt family portrait.
Anaïs Volpé, “Heis (cronicles) Photo by Kenny Hargrove, Copyrights 2016

The impressive debut from the young French woman was awarded the coveted World Fiction prize when it premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last week. 

The multi-layered cross-media film tells the story of a young woman, forced to return home by a string of bad luck, who then makes a tortured decision to leave her family in France to move to China to pursue her art.  

“It’s all about the duty to stay versus the right to go”, said Volpé, who is also the star of the film.

For Volpe, who returned to France to pitch new projects before the awards were announced, it was a big surprise.   “I was already very happy to be in the selection but now, my joy is so big!  I didn't expect so much,” she said.

The very personal movie achieves its poetry from its unique history and masterful juxtaposition of images, which include fantasy characters, angels, monkeys and a video within the film about the protagonist’s mother.

What began as a Web series when Voplé visited Beijing and began to think about home, became a feature film that was crafted and re-crafted and then embellished with visual arts components that have been viewed in art galleries and at various exhibitions.   

HEIS (chronicles) Copyright 2016

“It is like a puzzle.” “During three years I did a lot of layers,” she explained.    

As a result, the final film is as much a work of art as it is a multilayered story. The textured work by the visual artist moves seamlessly between past and present, dreams and reality. While offering the innermost thoughts of the character through multi-layered visual images.  
  
“Heis” is a Greek word meaning to complete oneself but, like the works of veteran art-house auteurs Wim Wenders, Peter Greenaway, and Terrence Malick, Volpé’s film achieves a dream state that you won’t want to end.  

Volpé refers to her unique filmmaking style as “emergency cinema”, based on her urgent need to communicate this story of millennial malaise that affects an entire generation.  
    
She credits her close-knit team for the film’s success, including actor and co-cinematographer Alexandre Desane and actors Matthieu Longatte, Emilia Derou Bernal, Laura François, Malec Demiaro, and Akéla Sari (who died earlier this year). 
   
Volpé hopes that winning the Los Angeles Film Festival award will inspire other emerging independent filmmakers who are seeking to tell cinematic stories but struggling with very low budgets and little likelihood of other support.    
 
"With all the talk about diversifying Hollywood, the LA Film Festival provides proof that talented filmmakers with new voices are out there, they just need a platform and that's what we are providing," said LA Film Festival Director Stephanie Allain, herself the producer of the Oscar-winning "Hustle and Flow" and Sundance Film Festival favorite "Dear White People". 
   
“Heis” is an excellent example. “Winning this award means that everything could be possible”, said Volpe. “With a lot of work and patience, we can reach some of our goals”. However, instead of resting on her new laurels, Volpé is eager to create new work. 

 She recently pitched projects at the Cannes Film Festival market.  She is also hard at work writing two new screenplays, including a story about expatriates that she hopes to shoot in New York. 

                         Copyright © 2016 Festival in LA