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Mitchell Block Direct: VI Issue II: The Invisible War, Revolution Reykjavik, Short Film Nomination

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by Mitchell Block
December 20, 2012 3:30 PM
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VI Issue II
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The Invisible War written and directed by Kirby Dick

Myla Haider
(Myla featured in "The Invisible War")


The Invisible War is a documentary about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem— the film claims that today a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The filmmakers’ state that the Department of Defense estimates there were 22,800 violent sex crimes in the military in 2011, that 20% of all active‐duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted and that female soldiers aged 18 to 21 account for more than half of the victims.

Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of rape victims, The Invisible War suggests a systemic cover-up of military sex crimes by the military. The film chronicles women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice within and outside the military and features interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long history, and suggests what can be done to bring about much-needed change.

Oscar and Emmy nominated director Kirby Dick (Outrage, This Film Is Not Yet Rated), found the inspiration for The Invisible War from a 2007 Salon.com article about women serving in Iraq entitled “The Private War of Women Soldiers,” by Columbia University journalism professor Helen Benedict. When Dick and Emmy-nominated producing partner Amy Ziering (Outrage) read Benedict's piece, they were astounded by the prevalence of sexual assault in the military.

This film is beautifully made, shot, directed and produced. It is one of the strongest films of the year. It shows that rape and other sexually based harassment seems to be wide spread in our military and that the military is unwilling to adjust its culture to effect the necessary change to provide a safe work environment for all of its members. The filmmakers make excellent choices in terms of who they interview, whose stories they tell. This is a strong advocacy film that can make a difference and start pushing the civilians who control our military to demand to make the necessary changes to protect the men and women who serve from each other. Frankly, it has to have a zero tolerance for any kind of harassment. With the striking of “don’t ask, don’t tell” the armed services are on their way to addressing this. The film was short listed for the documentary feature Academy Award.

Producer Amy Ziering and Director Kirby Dick
Credits:
Director/Writer: Kirby Dick
Producers: Amy Ziering, Tanner King Barklow
Cinematography: Thaddeus Wadleigh, Kirsten Johnson
Music Supervisor: Dondi Bastone, Gary Calamar/GO
Editor, Associate Producer: Doug Blush
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer Cinedigm and Docurama Films

Revolution Reykjavík a short film by Isold Uggadottir

As the Icelandic economy collapses, Gudfinna struggles to retain her dignity.

Gudfinna, a successful 58-year old mid-level employee of the Icelandic bank Landsbankinn, finds herself a victim of the economic failure, not only losing her job, but her lifesavings as well. Proud and independent, she struggles to shield her dire circumstances from her family members and friends. But as tensions in Icelandic society grow, so does her inner turmoil. She finds that she cannot deal with her increasingly desperate financial concerns and her ideas of self-worth. Slowly, Gudfinna, much like the Icelandic economy, finds herself metamorphosed into the utterly helpless being she never could have foreseen becoming.

Revolution Reykjavík is one of the outstanding short films of the 2011/12 year. One of the few works to screen at both New Directors and Telluride and dozens of other festivals, it is evident that Isold Uggadottir, while not yet a known name as a director, is tremendously talented. Watching Gudfinna fall apart is deeply moving. Her inner struggles are evident by the nuanced direction of a subtle performance. The film is nicely shot, edited and at 19 minutes it becomes a metaphor for the 2008 Icelandic banking disaster that wiped out tens of thousands of Icelanders and three of the major banks. It caused thousands of people to lose their jobs and created a political crisis for the country. Few portfolio works try for nuanced and subtle performances but are in-your-face testosterone fueled action works. This film is a keeper.

Director/ Writer’s Bio:
Isold Uggadottir is an Icelandic writer/director. Her four short films have been invited to over 120 international film festivals, including Telluride, Sundance and New Directors/New Films hosted by Lincoln Center & MoMA. Two of her films (Clean and Committed) have been honored with Icelandic Academy Awards for Best Short Film in 2010 and 2011, while Revolution Reykjavík and Family Reunion received nominations in 2012 and 2006. Additionally, Isold has received multiple international awards, most recently in Spain and Greece.

Isold holds an MFA in writing and directing from Columbia University in New York, where she was honored with the Adrienne Shelly Award for Best Female Director. Screen International named her “one of the rising stars of Icelandic film.”

Credits:
Written and Directed: Isold Uggadottir
Producers: Snorri Thórisson, Isold Uggadottir
Director of Photography: Óskar Thór Axelsson
Editor: Isold Uggadottir

Academy announces 11 short films shortlisted for the Short Film Nomination

Edoardo Ponti, Nastassja Kinski, Enrico Lo Verso The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars.

Because of a voting tie the Academy short listed 11 dramatic/fiction short films instead of 10. Culled from 125 submitted films, it is perhaps the best group of films entered in the last 30 years. These films range from a thesis work from Columbia’s University’s graduate film program to When You Find Me, directed by Bryce Howard, filmmaker Ron Howard’s 31 year old daughter, to the Danish 61 year old director Anders Walther with short film Oscar winner (and nominee) producer Tivi Magnusson for 9 Meter.

Following screenings in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in December, Branch members will select three to five nominees from among the 11 semi-finalists. It will be challenging for the committees to find the five best in this really impressive group of films. It is an embarrassment of solid filmmaking from a global group of filmmakers. Please note: I have not seen two of the short listed films and I am relying on others for their synopses to be accurate.

Below is an alphabetical listing of the short listed films, the key filmmakers, the country of production and a link to a clip. Take a look and make up your own mind:

  • A Fábrica (The Factory), Aly Muritiba, director (Grafo Audiovisual)
    “An inmate convinces his mother to take a risk smuggling a cell phone for him into the penitentiary.
    Length: 15 min.
    Language: Portuguese
    Country: Brazil


  • “Asad,” Bryan Buckley, director, and Mino Jarjoura, producer (Hungry Man)
    A Somali boy must choose either the life of a pirate or that of a fisherman
    Length: 17 min.
    Language: Somali with English subtitles.
    Country: USA


  • “Buzkashi Boys,” Sam French, director, and Ariel Nasr, producer (Afghan Film Project)
    Two young boys dream of a better life. One is without parents and the other the father wants him to follow into his blacksmithing.
    Length: 30 min.
    Language: Pashto
    Country: Afghanistan, USA Production


  • “Curfew,” Shawn Christensen, director (Fuzzy Logic Pictures)
    A suicidal New Yorker, Richie’s attempt to end his life is interrupted by a call from his estranged sister asking him to babysit his niece for the evening.
    Length: 20 min
    Language: English
    Country: USA


  • Death of a Shadow” (Dood van een Schaduw),” Tom Van Avermaet, director, and Ellen De Waele, producer(Serendipity Films)
    This highly produced sci-fi fantasy work is about a dead WWI soldier stuck in the limbo between life and death who has to collect shadows to regain a second chance at life.
    Length: 20 min.
    Language: German
    Country: Belgium


  • “Henry,” Yan England, director (Yan England) Henry, a concert pianist, has his life thrown into turmoil the day the love of his life mysteriously disappears. (Confession, I have not seen this film.)
    Length: 21 min.
    Language: English
    Country: Canadian


  • “Kiruna-Kigali,” Goran Kapetanovic, director (Hepp Film AB)
    This tour‐de‐force Swedish short begins in a mist of frost and snow. A woman is driving to the hospital in Kiruna, the northernmost city of Sweden. Under the scorching sunlight of Kigali, Rwanda,another woman is being carried to the hospital on a stretcher. The two single mothers‐to‐be are on the verge of giving birth to a baby are thousands of miles apart, but share the same fear of entering the unknown world of motherhood. I think this is the film to beat.
    Length: 15 min.
    Language: Swedish/ Kinyarwanda
    Country: Swedish/Rwanda


  • “The Night Shift Belongs to the Stars,” Silvia Bizio and Paola Porrini Bisson, producers (Oh! Pen LLC)
    The story of Matteo (Enrico Lo Verso), a passionate mountain climber, and Sonia (Nastassja Kinski), a married woman, also in love with mountain, as they set out to climb a peak on the Dolomites, in Trentino, Italy. (Confession, I have not seen this film.)
    Length: 24 min.
    Language: English
    Country: USA


  • “9 meter,” Anders Walther, director, and Tivi Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions A/S)
    A boy tries to set a new record in the long jump as his mother fights her illness. (Confession, I have not seen this film.)
    Length: 18 min.
    Language: Danish
    Country: Danish


  • “Salar,” Nicholas Greene, director, and Julie Buck, producer (Nicholas Greene)
    In an isolated Bolivian village, on the edge of the vast Uyuni salt flats, two lives collide. This powerful film is my favorite of the 11 short listed films.
    Length: 18 min.
    Language: English
    Country: USA


  • “When you find me,” Ron Howard, executive producer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, director (Freestyle Production Company)
    This Cannon sponsored film looks at the story of two sisters whose childhood bond is tested by a tragedy that they were too young to understand at the time.
    Length: 29 min.
    Language: English
    Country: USA

Mitchell Block specializes in conceiving, producing, marketing & distributing independent features & consulting. He is an expert in placing both completed works into distribution & working with producers to make projects fundable. He conducts regular workshops in film producing in Los Angeles and most recently in Maine, Russia and in Myanmar (Burma).

"Poster Girl," produced by Block was nominated for a Documentary Academy Award and selected by the IDA as the "Best" Doc Short 2011. It was also nominated for two Emmy Awards and aired on HBO. He is an executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series "Carrier,” a 10-hour series that he conceived & co-created. Block is a graduate of Tisch School and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. He is a member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Television Academy, a founding member of BAFTA-LA and has been teaching at USC School of Cinematic Arts since 1979. Currently Block teaches a required class in the USC Peter Stark Producing Program.
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