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Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email bgil@questex.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (rrosado@questex.com). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.


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20 Jul, 2010

MVD Gives Stooges Fans a Chance at Directing

Okay, this is pretty cool: MVD Entertainment Group is offering fans of Iggy and the Stooges the chance to film and interview the band as they perform proto-punk masterpiece (and one of IndieFile’s favorites) Raw Power at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival Sept. 3. The footage will end up as a series and eventual film called In the Hands of Fans, which will come to DVD, Blu-ray and VOD by early 2011.

Fans can submit short, high-definition videos asking questions of the band or demonstrating why they should win the contest, at www.InTheHandsOfTheFans.com. Six fans will be chosen to join director Joey Carey on location at the Stardust Theater at Kutchers' Country Club in Monticello, N.Y., where Iggy Pop, guitarist James Williamson and original Stooges drummer Scott Asheton will reunite, alongside fellow rock legend Mike Watt on bass and Steve Mackay on saxophone.
 
Raw Power is one of the greatest, most dangerous albums in the history of rock and roll,” says Ed Seaman, COO of MVD Entertainment Group. “We are honored to enable the fans this connection with the band; this will be a dream come true for the winners.”
 
MVD is in talks with other artists and is looking to have five more similar programs shot within the next six months, for a series.

As an added bonus, contestants will receive an offer to buy the film early, with exclusive bonus material.
 
Check out the contest on Facebook.

By: Billy Gil


19 Jul, 2010

Floria Sigismondi’s ‘The Runaways’ Takes Off on Disc

The Runaways Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart
The Runaways Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart

Floria Sigismondi has gone from directing some of the most striking (and disturbing) music videos of the ’90s (if you don’t suffer from nightmares, Marilyn Manson’s stop-motion “The Beautiful People” is a waking one) to directing two of the biggest young stars in the world — the “Twilight” saga’s Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning — in The Runaways.

The film, which hits DVD ($27.96) and Blu-ray Disc ($34.95) July 20 from Sony Pictures, is based on the story of the ’70s all-girl teenage punk band of the same name that in four short years together helped set an example for rockers of both genders to follow, in addition to launching successful solo careers for band members Joan Jett (played by Stewart) and Lita Ford. But their story is marred by the typical trappings that have crushed so many artists before and since — drug abuse, interband issues (Stewart and Fanning, who plays singer Cherie Currie, share a kiss in the film) and a domineering manager (Kim Fowley, played by Michael Shannon) who takes advantage of the girls’ youth and beauty.

The film’s DVD and Blu-ray include a commentary with Jett, Fanning and Stewart, as well as a making-of featurette. Sigismondi spoke to us about recreating the story of the Runaways.

HM: Coincidentally, I heard The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” in the car yesterday, and I was wondering what was more important to you in making this film, getting the details correct or the energy?

Sigismondi: I think both. We'd done some live performances (Stewart and Fanning perform in the film), and I really wanted to capture the energy they had onstage. For me it was more important to get the dynamics between Cherie and Joan, and their relationship with Kim.

HM: Can you talk a little bit about the special features on the DVD? How did the girls respond to having one of the real-life inspirations for the film, Joan Jett, around? (Jett was an executive producer of the film.)

Sigismondi: She was pretty quiet, she observed a lot. It really kind of helped Kristen. We didn't have a lot of tech time, so they didn't have a lot of time to spend together beforehand. All that time she spent on set, I think that Kristen gobbled it up, really became a sponge and got her mannerisms because of the time she spent on set. It was Joan Jett now and not Joan Jett when she was 15, but [Stewart got] her attitude. I think [Stewart] really did a great job in getting the swagger down, she holds her body in a very particular way. All that physicality really helps.

HM: Have you experienced a lot of interest for the DVD of this film as its being released around the same time as Eclipse?

Sigismondi: I don't think anybody knew it was in theaters, is the bigger problem. I think maybe, I think there's always the chance to talk about it. I hear it. I don't have a television, but I've heard they've been talking about The Runaways along with Eclipse, and I think that both girls are proud of what they did.

HM: Do you think young Twilighters who may be drawn to this film could learn something from it?

Sigismondi: It’s a different time. Hopefully what it does is inspire girls to follow their dreams. Joan's story is very much that she just keeps on doing what she's meant to do. It's a little bit different than what here initial dream was, to go forth with an all-girl band, and she's still rocking out today. I think that's quite a heroic thing to do, to keep on going. With any pioneer, there's always conflict, and the ones that win are the ones who keep on going. And for Cherie's side, she's really trying to find herself, kind of bouncing around, trying to figure that out.

HM: What were some of your filmic inspirations for this movie?

Sigismondi: I looked at Christiane F. (based on the true story of a teenage girl’s introduction into the drug-laced underworld of 1970s Berlin, released on DVD in 2001 by Image). That film just had a reality I wanted to inject into this, a texture and attention to details. Although it's a different film, I loved Sid and Nancy. I watched anything from Klute to Straw Dogs, the whole ’70s thing.

HM: One movie I was reminded of was Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains. Did you consider that an inspiration at all?

Sigismondi: I have such a bad copy of it. It's on VHS, and half of it is all smeared. But I did like it, and I guess the similarities are kind of girls rocking out and doing their thing and guys giving them a hard time, but it's not one of the films I was really drawn to — maybe just because of my bad VHS copy!

HM: What did you bring from your music video experience to making this film?

Sigismondi: Because I've worked with musicians most of my life, it was very important to have the girls look very authentic on stage and having the girls singe their own songs. For me it was getting the girls to feel like musicians.

HM: Being a music-oriented film, do you think The Runaways benefits from being on Blu-ray?

Sigismondi: Yes. I did a transfer for theaters and a separate transfer for the DVD [and Blu-ray Disc]. I really had the time to experiment when I got there, I knew what I wanted to do. Hopefully the Blu-ray will capture the quality I saw in that transfer.

By: Billy Gil


14 Jul, 2010

Pattinson Short Tops iTunes Sales Chart

Robert Pattinson in The Summer House
Robert Pattinson in The Summer House

Shorts International’s short film The Summer House, starring The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s Robert Pattinson, arrived July 13 on iTunes and now sits atop its sales chart.

Pattinson fans in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Germany can download the film set in Northern France during the 1960s against the backdrop of the moon landing to tell the story of a young woman coming of age. The short film stars British ingénue Talulah Riley (St Trinian’s, The Boat That Rocked) alongside everyone’s favorite vampire pinup.
 
“We are delighted that Talulah and Robert’s intoxicating on-screen chemistry can now be seen on iTunes,” said The Summer House producer Anna MacDonald. “We are looking forward to seeing how audiences react.”

You may say “la di da” to that, but how often does a short film top any sales chart? And how often do teenage girls seek out short films (I’m not making any promises about quality here)? Regardless of how you feel about “Twilight,” such an interest in a short film lacking major studio distribution is worth noting.

By: Billy Gil


14 Jul, 2010

DiCaprio, Gorbachev and Others Support ‘Crude’ Director

Joe Berlinger
Joe Berlinger

Some big names have come out against Chevron’s totally crappy effort to have the filmmakers of Crude, a documentary depicting the environmental damage done in Ecuador and the lawsuit between its indigenous people and Chevron, turn over more than 600 hours of footage to Chevron via subpoena.

The Cinema for Peace Foundation (CFPF) and some of its notable participants have come out in support of filmmaker Joe Berlinger and his attempt to overturn the court order to turn over the footage. Those participants include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev; actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Sarandon, Natassja Kinski and Bill Nighy; and filmmakers Woody Allen, Ken Burns and Michael Moore, among others.

In a press release, the CFPF call the subpoena “an attack on documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism, First Amendment rights,” and a threat to “the ability of journalists and filmmakers to guarantee confidentiality of their sources.”

Crude depicts how about 30,000 indigenous people of Ecuador are seeking $27 billion in damages and reparation from Chevron for contamination. The film received the International Green Film Award this year, presented to Berlinger by DiCaprio and Gorbachev.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan May 6 approved a subpoena requiring the filmmakers to present their raw footage and turn it over to Chevron. Berlinger appealed that decision, and June 8 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Berlinger will receive a full appellate hearing July 14.

Cinema for Peace has existed for nine years, asking members of the international film community to highlight films that promote peace and tolerance.

Crude is on DVD from First Run Features. Read Angelique Flores’ review and interview with Berlinger

By: Billy Gil


14 Jul, 2010

Magnolia Gets Rights to ‘I’m Still Here’

Magnolia Pictures has acquired the rights to Casey Affleck’s directorial debut, I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix.

The film depicts a year in the life of Oscar-nominated, beard-wearing, bizzaro actor Joaquin Phoenix as he announces his retirement from filmmaking in the fall of 2008 to focus on, oh God, rapping.

Whatever you think of his new guise as a homeless Eminem, Phoenix is one of the best actors around — check out his 2008 film Two Lovers, co-starring an also excellent Gwyneth Paltrow, on DVD or Blu-ray from Magnolia for another excellent performance from the (former?) actor.

The movie comes out in theaters Sept. 10, in what MTV.com says will be a limited release followed by a wider release a week later. There’s no word yet on a DVD release.

By: Billy Gil


13 Jul, 2010

Sundance Selects Gets ‘Colin Fitz Lives!’


Video-on-demand platform Sundance Selects has acquired the newly remastered Colin Fitz Lives! for distribution to more than 40 million homes Aug. 4. The acquisition includes previously unshown footage as well as newly discovered Colin Fitz musical recordings.

Directed by Robert Bella, the musical black comedy, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997, deals with rock star mythos and postmodern love as two eccentric men guard the grave of a dead rock star. The film features William H. Macy, Martha Plimpton, Matt McGrath, John C. McGinley and Mary McCormack.
 
Cable operators that carry Sundance Selects include Time Warner, Comcast, Cox and Cablevision. The remastered cut will premiere July 15 in San Francisco at the closing night of the 2010 LOL-SF Film Festival and will be shown by the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre in Los Angeles August 5.
 
“I am delighted that Colin Fitz Lives! is finally having a proper nationwide release, and that both fans and new audiences have an opportunity to discover the film in this newly remastered version,” Bella said. “I hope audiences across the country have as much fun watching it as we did making it. This movie is dedicated to all those who helped, to all those who dream and to all those who know that now and forever — Colin Fitz Lives!

The film has never been released on DVD, and there’s no word yet on a DVD/Blu-ray release of the remastered cut.

In other film festivalesque news, the 14th Annual L.A. Shorts Fest is coming up. It runs July 22-30 in Hollywood, Calif., at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Hollywood. The festival boasts 33 Academy Award nominations from participants from various years, with 11 of those filmmakers winning the Oscar for best short film. Tickets went on sale yesterday, grab them at www.LAshortsFest.com.

By: Billy Gil


13 Jul, 2010

Lynch Offers Self Portrait to Raise Funds for Doc

In yet more David Lynch news, a documentary about the auteur will be financed by online contributions from his fans, who will in return for a $50 contribution receive a limited edition artwork created by Lynch.

Donors to the work become “members” of the LYNCHthree project, as it is called. Members will receive ongoing newsletter updates about the film and will get the opportunity to access exclusive footage from the film once it has begun production. Donations can be made at www.lynchthree.com.

The film is the third part of a series of films about Lynch, director of such IndieFile favorites as Mulholland Dr. and Blue Velvet. LYNCH (one) came from 700 hours of footage compiled while Lynch was making his most recent movie, Inland Empire, and behind-the-scenes footage from that film made the second film in the series, LYNCH 2 (that sounds appropriately Lynchian). This third film comes from the same director as the previous two in the trilogy, who goes by the name ‘blackANDwhite’ (no relation to the Michael Jackson song, as far as I can ascertain). There’s no word yet on a DVD, Blu-ray or official digital release.

“This new form of financing allows filmmakers the opportunity to make the films they want to make without the constraints placed on them by the traditional system,” blackANDwhite said. “Having waited three years to begin the final segment in the LYNCH series, we hope that people are excited to be a part of our journey.”
 
Sounds a bit like Radiohead’s “pay what you like” program for the release of In Rainbows in 2007.

Speaking of David Lynch and music, after much legal wrangling today marks the official release of Dark Night of the Soul, the album produced by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse for which David Lynch sang on a couple of tracks as well as created a 100-plus page book of photographs to accompany the music. IndieFile is listening to Sparklehorse’s underloved It’s a Wonderful Life album today in remembrance of that band’s Mark Linkous, who died this year.

If you like, read a past interview I did with David Lynch here, when he released his Lime Green Set in 2008. I can tell you nothing is as surreal and wonderful as hearing David Lynch say your name.

By: Billy Gil


12 Jul, 2010

Lynch, Herzog Collaboration ‘My Son’ Heading to DVD

My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done Chloe Sevigny
My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done Chloe Sevigny

In what is surely a brilliant mind-bender from two of the best filmic minds of the past, well, ever, a collaboration between Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) and David Lynch (Inland Empire) is coming to DVD.

First Look Studios is releasing My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done on DVD Sept. 14 (prebook Aug. 10) at $24.98. The psychological thriller was co-written and directed by Herzog, produced by Lynch, and stars Academy Award nominees Michael Shannon, Chloë Sevigny, and Willem Dafoe, alongside cult favorites Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier and Brad Dourif. The plot is apparently based on a true crime and details a young theater actor obsessed with a Greek tragedy he’s rehearsing who slays his actual mother with a sword.
 
Special features include commentaries by Herzog, co-writer Herb Golder and producer Eric Bassett; interviews with Golder and Herzog; behind-the-scenes footage; and “Plastic Bag,” a short film by director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) that follows the journey of a plastic bag, voiced by Herzog.

By: Billy Gil


6 Jul, 2010

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

Delicatessen
Delicatessen

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


5 Jul, 2010

Don Bachardy Serves as Inspiration for ‘A Single Man’

A Single Man
A Single Man

Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, is based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood (perhaps mostly famously known for writing Goodbye to Berlin, which was then adapted into a play, that was then adapted into the musical Cabaret).

He and his partner, painter Don Bachardy, served as the inspiration for the book and its subsequent film, about a college professor (Colin Firth) who must endure life after his younger partner (Matthew Goode) dies tragically. Bachardy and Isherwood (who died in 1986) were going through a rough patch and Isherwood imagined what his life would be like without Bachardy, who was 30 years his junior. Bachardy spoke to us about the Oscar-nominated film, which comes to DVD ($27.96) and Blu-ray Disc ($34.95) July 6.

HM: What did you think of the film?

Bachardy: Each time I see it, I notice several details I hadn’t noticed before. In fact, the last time I saw it I saw one of my drawings I hadn’t seen before (some of Bachardy’s drawings appear in the film).

HM: Do you think this is a movie that would benefit from being seen in high-definition?

Bachardy: Oh yes because it’s so visual. I think the visual quality of the movie is one of its strongest elements.

HM: Were there any scenes that you felt mirrored scenes in your life?

Bachardy: I’m so familiar with the book, I can’t tell the difference anymore between life and art. It’s a bit like life copying art and vice versa.

HM: Did you think Matthew Goode’s portrayal of Jim reflected you in any way?

Bachardy: I’d be flattering myself to say so. I think of him in really in terms of the movie and his relationship with Colin Firth. I think he’s wonderful casting and the combination between those two actors, there’s really some heat being generated. I think it’s one of the strengths of the film, the casting of it. All the parts, major and minor, are wonderfully cast. To me that’s an indication of the shrewdness of the director.

HM: Were you called in at all to consult for the film?

Bachardy: When [Ford] was very near beginning shooting, I think he was rewriting the script, I told him what Isherwood told writers who were adapting screenplays from novels. Chris always told them to make it their own because novels are so different from the medium of film that they should really make a movie out of what the novel means to them rather than being slavishly faithful to the novel itself. I think that’s exactly what Tom Ford did.

HM: Were there any scenes of the film that were particularly hard to watch and why?

Bachardy: I’ve been so very familiar with the book, I was around when it was being written. It’s so deeply embedded in my experience that I can’t really say that I’m reminded of even the actual incidents that were depicted in the novel. I know where they came from, many of them, and I remember those incidences in life, but once the novel was written, those versions of it became independent. The movie and life are as different as the book is from life and the movie is from the book. They’re all separate version of the same material. They no longer particularly remind me of the events that actually inspired them.

HM: As someone who’s been seen now quite a bit in films such as this one and the documentary about you and Isherwood, Chris & Don: A Love Story (on DVD from Zeitgeist), and as somewhat of an icon of modern gay relationships, why do you think a film like A Single Man is important?

Bachardy: Oh I think it has a lot of relevance. Any movie about human relationships I think has relevance as long as humans are watching the movie and reading the book, yes, of course it has relevance. I think it has extra meaning because the gay material in the novel has become almost historical. It’s decades ago, and that’s always of interest. An accurate, sensitive recreation of that long ago time, of course it’s of interest and relevance to an audience today, especially when it’s done as sensitively as Tom Ford has done it.

HM: In the DVD commentary, Ford talks about a moment that happened while filming the movie (around the time in which you make a cameo, sitting on the couch in the professors lounge) that was both uplifting for the election of President Obama and also very sad because of the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Do you think a film such as this that depicts a gay relationship in a very real and sensitive way has the potential to change people’s minds and their politics?

Bachardy: Yes, very basically. What else is politics about other than the expression of human feelings and emotions? That’s the source of politics, expressing a particular point of view, for instance, of a minority. If it’s sensitively done, it touches people maybe who might have been against that particular minority and maybe even changes their minds. It’s very important politically.

I’ve seen it with audiences that were not at all restricted to gay audiences. Heterosexuals respond. I’ve had many calls from heterosexual men and women saying how totally affected they were by the movie, how moved they were. Of course that’s of great value to the gay cause.

That’s what makes it so effective. My heterosexual friends were, I would say, in a way more moved than even my gay friends because it was a revelation to several of them.

If you can move people as well as inform them, then that’s really doubly powerful.

By: Billy Gil