ReelPolitik

Will Iran Pull "The Paternal House" from Venice Film Fest?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 31, 2012 11:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Iranian filmmaker Kianush Ayyari's new film "The Paternal House" -- which is slated to have its premiere at the Venice Film Festival next month -- has been ensnared in political controversy that may prevent it from being screened. According to one report, Alireza Sajjadpur, from Iran's Culture Ministry of Supervision and Evaluation, said that Iranian films may be withdrawn from the festival.

Emergency Room Doc "The Waiting Room" Kick Starts Fall Release

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 30, 2012 9:13 AM
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  • 0 Comments
I'm happy to report that Peter Nicks' timely observational E.R. doc "The Waiting Room" survived through its Kickstarter campaign. Early on Friday, it looked as though the award-winning doc might not make it in its fight to raise $70,000 to aid in its theatrical rollout. But fans and funders came through in support of this important documentary: a deeply empathic view of America's dysfunctional medical system, where both the uninsured and their emergency healthcare providers are doing their best with the limited hand they've been dealt.

Acclaimed Ai Weiwei Doc Hits Theaters; China Braces Itself

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 26, 2012 1:54 PM
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  • 0 Comments
I wish I could read Chinese to understand Ai Weiwei's Twitter feed. He often updates it every few minutes. Through the help of Google Translator, I was able to approximate one recent post, "If there is no sewer, there would be no new China," which I like even though it's probably garbled. After watching "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," I became an unabashed fan. The guy is awesome: I can't gauge the quality of his art, but he's got to be one of the most effective political troublemakers in the world. And with the release of the documentary this Friday, Chinese authorities should be concerned. He's about to get more support.

In Wake of "Dark Knight" Aurora Killings, Michael Moore Trumpets "Bowling For Columbine" (free on YouTube)

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 25, 2012 10:51 AM
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  • 0 Comments
With the shooting spree that killed a dozen people in Colorado over the weekend, Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine"--which combines the filmmaker's best tendencies (a thrilling, disturbing gun violence montage) with his worst (the whole Charles Heston bit)--is being shown in a presumably pirated copy for free on YouTube in its entirety. On Twitter and the web, Moore has provided links to the video, which might piss off rights-holder United Artists. But for Moore, it's obviously about disseminating information, not about receiving residuals.

Time's Running Out for Teen Political Doc "Follow the Leader"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 25, 2012 9:31 AM
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  • 1 Comment
With only one full-day to go in its Kickstarter fundraising drive, "Follow the Leader," a worthy coming-of-age doc about three 16-year-old American boys with Presidential aspirations, looks like it will lose its crowdfunding--unless some big money steps in at the last minute. While the documentary has raised an impressive $19,500 so far, the filmmakers have set a goal of $27,000, which makes for a big gap to cover in the next 33 hours. The project shows the delicate, risky balance of Kickstarter campaigns--what goals should filmmakers set for themselves? And if they reach too far, are they setting themselves up for failure?

Where is Jafar Panahi's "The White Balloon"?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 24, 2012 8:13 PM
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  • 3 Comments
A classic of the Iranian New Wave, and in its day, the most successful and acclaimed Iranian film to be released in the U.S. ever, Jafar Panahi's masterpiece "The White Balloon" looks to be AWOL from American screens, big and small. Maybe someone out there knows the status of U.S. home video distribution rights for this important film, but according to my research, "The White Balloon" appears to have vanished into the ether, available for purchase only on obscure Iranian movie websites and in Spanish PAL versions.

From Angela Davis to Iranian Hostages, Highly Charged Political Films Galvanize Toronto's Galas

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 24, 2012 10:55 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Yesterday, I reported on the political thicket of Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," which is opening the Venice Film Festival. This morning, the Toronto International Film Festival, not to be out-publicized, has announced its own lineup of big-ticket highly political movies as part of its Special Presentations and Galas section, including Ben Affleck's Iranian hostage thriller "Argo," Robert Redford's tale of a former activist on the run "The Company You Keep," and "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners," Shola Lynch's documentary about legendary black radical Angela Davis.

Filmmaker Declares 25 New Faces, But Do They Have a Future?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 23, 2012 1:32 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Filmmaker Magazine has famously declared its 25 New Faces of Independent Film, an annual summer rite of passage for the indie industry, one that will be certainly be discussed and referenced as a signpost of up-and-coming talents. But what is the actual fate of Filmmaker Mag's 25 New Faces in today's ever-competitive, ever-changing film industry?

Will Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" Be Labeled Anti-American?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 23, 2012 9:17 AM
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  • 1 Comment
This fall's festival calendar--coinciding with the final months of the U.S. Presidential Election--just got an extra dose of politicized media with the announcement that Mira Nair's latest film, an adaptation of the bestseller "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," would open the Venice Film Festival, and will likely be spotted in Toronto for its North American premiere. (On Twitter over the weekend, Toronto's Noah Cowan championed the film.) But the "Fundamentalist" is a contentious choice to kick-start the fall festivals, sure to draw fire from American conservatives.

Did "Dark Knight Rises" Spark Mass Killings in Colorado?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 20, 2012 9:03 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Of course, the title above is a provocation, and "The Dark Knight Rises" itself had nothing to do with the masked gunman in Colorado who took the film's midnight screening as an opportunity for mass slaughter, reportedly leaving 12 people dead and 50 wounded, according to police and local media. But the incident will surely fuel further speculation about what underlines Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" phemonenon, and increase the cultural discourse that is already so heated around the film.

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