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Foreign Indie

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Foreign Indie

Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.

January 10, 2011
Filmmaker Reignites Cinema Verité With 'Alamar'


Pedro González-Rubio takes a unique approach to filmmaking with Alamar, on DVD Jan. 11 from Film Movement, at $24.95.

The film follows a boy (Natan Machado Palombini) and his father (Jorge Machado) playing alternate versions of themselves (as they are a real-life son and father) spending time together before being separated after a divorce. The father, of Mayan heritage, takes his half-Italian son to live simply, as fishermen, near Mexico’s Banco Chinchorro coral reef. Alamar creates a lush film world out of the real father-son bond as it exists in the film’s gorgeous natural setting.

I spoke with the Mexican-born director about his filmmaking process.

IndieFile: So tell me about the making of Alamar. I’ve read a bit about it, that you filmed this father and son doing tasks and so it was fiction based on reality. Was there a script guiding you?


Pedro González-Rubio
Pedro González-Rubio

González-Rubio: There was no conventional script. I was being guided by a story treatment based on the location, the main activities of the fishermen living there, the story of Jorge, Roberta and Natan, and, finally, my own anxieties regarding all of these. But all the dialogues and all the ways of resolving the scenes were decided on location, on the spot.

IndieFile: How much extra footage did you take? And will any of that make it onto the DVD or another release sometime?

González-Rubio: There are a couple of great scenes that didn't make the film in my final cut, but will be available on the DVD. In them you can see the electricity between the camera, the natural elements and the characters. One of the scenes starts with a full shot of a hermit crab’s shell. At the beginning, we just listen to the movement of a small eolic turbine, the body is motionless, and, after several seconds, the shell is lifted up by the fragile body of this beautiful hermit crab. What happens next is a ballet between nature and the protagonists of the film. This I am very excited to share it on the DVD.

IndieFile: You also did the making-of featurette for Babel. As a filmmaker, what you think of going behind-the-scenes of a narrative film and also what you bring to something like that as a documentarian?

González-Rubio: Babel was a big school for me. I was very close in the process of the director and every choice he had to make regarding the creative issues of the film. I was invited to do the making-of in Babel because of my personal documentary approach with my camera and the characters that I am photographing. I like them to feel comfortable with the presence of a lens aiming at them. Then for Alamar, I think I was able to try some mise en scene that fiction requires but maintaining the freshness of the spontaneity in doc genre.

IndieFile: Alamar’s creation seems to be unique. Do you hope to keep making films such as this, that are part narrative, part documentary? What other genres could you envision?

González-Rubio: I want to maintain my own personal exploration of the film language, but that doesn’t mean I will have a specific categorization for my films. I am guided by intuition rather than by formulas or preconceived styles. I film from my heart.

IndieFile: How did you meet Jorge and Natan? Is their real-life story anything like the movie?

González-Rubio: Even though it feels like Jorge comes from the area where the film is shot, it’s not true. He comes from a village in Chiapas and was working as a tour guide in the touristic spot of Tulum when I met him. They are not portraying a character as an actor would do, they are portraying themselves but the film gives them the opportunity to live a different situation from their daily lives.

IndieFile: Would you ever like to revisit this film and give a behind-the-scenes look at it?

González-Rubio: I think I’d like to do something else with different people. If you look at my first feature length (documentary Toro Negro, unreleased in the United States), it is very different from Alamar. I like to step away and discover something new for me. Kind of like children do, otherwise I would get bored very rapidly and would just be a cheap copy of my own self.

By: Billy Gil

September 07, 2010
New Indie Titles: 'Sex and Lucia,' 'Human Centipede'

human centipede

Title: Sex and Lucia
Genre: Foreign/Drama
Studio: Palm Pictures
Street Date: 10/12
Price/Format: $29.98 Blu-ray
Reserve for purchase

This highly erotic film won Paz Vega a Goya and international acclaim. I haven’t seen Sex and Lucia yet, but its description has always reminded me of that “Seinfeld” episode with the sexy foreign film Rochelle, Rochelle — “A young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” The Blu-ray includes behind-the-scenes footage, cast interviews, a photo gallery, a soundtrack excerpt and more.

Title: The Human Centipede
Genre: Horror
Studio: MPI/IFC
Street date: 10/5
Prebook: 8/30
Price/Format: $24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
Reserve for
Reserve on Netflix

Possibly the grossest movie ever is coming to DVD and Blu-ray — a mad surgeon creates a creature of sorts by attaching people to one another via their gastric systems. It’s nominated for a Reaper Award (check out the nominations here). Bonus features include deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage, an interview with Tom Six, a documentary with Six, a casting featurette and more.

By: Billy Gil

August 18, 2010
Film Movement Gets Award Winner ‘If I Want to Whistle’

film movement

Film Movement has acquired If I Want to Whistle, a Romanian-language thriller from newcomer Florin Serban. The film will hit theaters in New York City Jan. 5th, 2011, followed by a Cable VOD and DVD release later in 2011. The film follows a young man who is nearly out of a juvenile detention center when he is conflicted by the return of his long-absent mother, who returns to take away the brother he raised as a son, as well as by feeling for a beautiful social worker. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, among other accolades.

By: Billy Gil

July 06, 2010
Lionsgate Slates ‘Third Man,’ ‘Delicatessen’ on Blu-ray


Lionsgate will release from the StudioCanal Collection two acclaimed films on Blu-ray Disc: Academy Award-winner The Third Man and Delicatessen. Each film will be available Sept. 14 at $39.99.

The Third Man
, which won the best black-and-white cinematography Oscar in 1950, stars Orson Welles in a tale of a man who travels to Vienna and aims to discover what has really happened to his recently deceased friend. The film is widely considered one of the top 100 films of all time. The Blu-ray Disc includes a new commentary with assistant director Guy Hamilton, actor Simon Callow and crew member Angela Allen; a new interactive tour of Vienna; the featurette “The Third Man on the Radio”; audio interviews with actor Joseph Cotten and writer Graham Greene; and alternative opening (with voiceover by Cotten); an interview with and zither performance by Cornelia Mayer; a stills gallery; original trailers; and a 20-page collectible booklet.

Delicatessen features a post-apocalyptic society in which food is scarce and is used as currency. The Blu-ray comes with a documentary on the film; a commentary with co-director Jean-Pierre Jeunet; a making-of featurette; the featurette “The Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet”; and a 20-page collectible booklet.

Previously released Blu-ray Discs in the collection include Ran, The Ladykillers and Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt.

By: Billy Gil

June 29, 2010
Global Film Initiative to Distribute Global Lens DVDs

The Global Film Initiative will now distribute DVDs from the Global Lens Collection, which formerly was distributed by First Run Features.

The first two titles in the series released by Global Film Initiative on DVD will be Getting Home, by Chinese director Zhang Yang, and Song From the Southern Seas, by Kazakh director Marat Sarulu, both streeting July 27 at $24.95.

Global Lens is a traveling series of films that has opened at MoMA in New York every year since 2003 and screens at other museums, cultural centers, universities and film festivals, before being released on DVD. More than 30 nations participate in the series, including countries of Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and some are produced with financial support from the Global Film Initiative.

Now, not only will Global Film Initiative self-distribute the DVDs and handle all markets, including VOD licensing, educational sales, and theatrical and nontheatrical sales, it also has signed an exclusive pay-per-view release deal with Virgin America airlines as well as a multifilm television deal with Latin American channel Venevision.

“Global Lens is the only film series of its kind, and its popularity has increased exponentially in the last few years,” said Santhosh Daniel, director of programs for the Global Film Initiative, in a statement. “So naturally it makes sense to pull distribution in-house instead of using a third-party, to expand release channels and provide direct and more personalized service to our audience — the series is known from Alaska to Austin to New York and we’re responding to that awareness and demand.”

The Global Film Initiative also has announced its Educational Affiliates program to provide public and private libraries a 33% discount off of traditional educational pricing, in addition to access to new titles from the series before their commercial release. The effort extends to high school, college and university libraries as well. Additionally a complementary Cinema in the Schools initiative will help provide the films at a low cost to high schools.

The titles also will be available for rental through Netflix. No Blu-ray Disc or digital-download plans have been announced yet for the series.

“I think our upcoming DVD releases will surprise a lot people — both in and outside the industry,” Daniel said. “From a consumer standpoint, the encodes and menus are very visually appealing and really reflect the cinematic quality of each film. In terms of the industry, like everyone else, we’re looking at digital and other new ways to support a lucrative distribution model. But at the same time, we also know the market we’ve created for Global Lens and expect a 150% increase in home video revenue this next year.”

By: Billy Gil


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