Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The 2nd Annual Main Line Student Film Festival Wows at BMFI

On Thursday night, over one hundred people gathered at BMFI for the second annual Main Line Student Film Festival to screen the twenty finalist films, created by high school filmmakers throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Over sixty shorts were submitted by students at fifteen different public and private schools. Entries ranged from comedy to documentary and experimental to stop motion animation.

(Left to right) Alex Ramsey and Joe Cilio, student organizers and Haverford School Film Club members, pose with Festival Director Brett Boham.

First, second, and third place winners were determined by a panel of film students, and received cash prizes and film books. Kevin Chou of Germantown Academy was awarded first place for his hilarious comedy, “Iced Tea,” about one young man’s obsession with iced tea and how it leads him to face his greatest fear. Second place went to the Haverford School’s Tyler Wood, Taylor Mansmann, Thomas Isen, and Martin O’Riordan for “In the Wrong Hands,” which wowed audiences and took home the Audience Award as well. Third place was given to the Shipley School’s Katherine Paige Picariello for her “Think Twice,” a drama/music video combination. Honorable Mentions went to “Tumaini” by Alex Takei of Germantown Academy, “Spork” by Corey Hughes of Malvern Prep, and “There was a Time when I thought I’d be Happy” by Craig Hacker and Kyle Boland of Owen J. Roberts High School.

The event was organized by The Haverford School Film Club, created in 2006 as a venue for student filmmakers to collaborate on productions. Over the past four years, the club has produced numerous short films and two features, as well as creating and organizing the annual Main Line Student Film Festival. Alumni of the club have gone on to such prestigious film schools as USC, Loyola Marymount, and Temple.

Check out the winning videos here. Find out more information about the Main Line Student Film Festival at mainlinestudentfilmfestival.ning.com.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Anna Adler's Adventures in Cannes: ICM, Flip Flops, and Films

University of Pennsylvania student Anna Adler has been diligently keeping us up to date on her trip to the Cannes Film Festival. This is her final post. Enjoy!

I can't believe it has come time for me to leave already! This was such a unique and truly outstanding experience. On Friday, we (the students) had a number of meetings with the program regarding our final paper, which we have a month to complete after the trip is over. Because of this, I did not see any movies that day because the screening times didn't correlate with these other commitments. Instead, Jeff Berg, who is the chairman and CEO of International Creative Management (ICM) (and also a Penn parent), invited us all to his suite at the Carlton Hotel to talk to us about his career path. In particular, he discussed the way in which he broke into the entertainment industry and moved up to his high position. I thought one great piece of advice he gave was to really try to see films of cultures with which you are unfamiliar. Cannes is the perfect opportunity to do this because it is where industry professionals come together from all over the world and display their respective creative works. I believe that I have really challenged myself as a "voyeur" throughout this program--I used to be a little bit intimidated and resistant to watching something so different from what I was used to. Now, I have seen so many amazing films that I know I would have never chosen to see had I not been here, and as a result, will be more open in the future.

Today (Sunday) started out very frustrating, and I thought I was going to have to leave this place on a slightly bad note. Since it was the last day of the festival, all of the main competition and films categorized as "of certain regard" were played again before the prizes were given out. On my way down to the Croisette, I found out that my pass could only serve as an entry ticket to the films that were being shown in the Salle Debussy theater, and only three films of the entire lineup were being shown here; I needed a better pass if I wanted to try to see anything else. I got to the 12 p.m. screening of Mike Leigh's Another Year about thirty minutes before the doors closed, and when I arrived, the line to get in was already around the block. Because of my past good luck with these situations, I thought I would persist and see if I could get in, but the theater filled up as I was approaching the front of the line. While I was slightly annoyed, I realized that Xavier Beauvois' Des Hommes et Des Dieux was going to be the next movie shown in this same theater in a few hours, so I made sure to get in line very early to prevent the screening filling up again. When I went to go show my badge to enter, however, the guard looked down to my feet and refused to let me in because I was wearing flip flops. What was even worse was that he let the next man in behind me who was wearing sandals "without backs," but he claimed that his "were nicer than mine." I was so angry at this point! After I went back to the College International to change my footwear, I was really upset because no other films were going to be played at the Debussy that day. Despite this, I didn't give up and made a paper sign to try to get into the only Lumiere premiere of the day, Julie Bertuccelli's The Tree. In the process of this, a friend of mine in the program with me messaged me that the guards were letting any badges pass to get into Im Sangsoo's The Housemaid, and I quickly jumped in on this opportunity.

Although this movie is very sad, its ambiguous ending (which is similar in this way to Poetry's) has kept me thinking about the film since I've left the theater. What particularly struck me about this film was Sangsoo's deliberate construction of the "mise-en-scene," using lots of imagery of closed and open doorways to represent what is "out in the open" for all to know, and "hidden inside" for the others to figure out.

While I missed getting into the Festival Closing while I was in The Housemaid, I was so happy to hear that Poetry won for best screenplay, and that I had the opportunity to see it while I was in Cannes. I definitely want to see the rest of the films that won a prize when they become available for viewing in the States. I learned so much in the past two weeks, and my love for cinema is now stronger than ever. Even with all of the new ways to view films--on laptops, iPods, premium television, etc.--there is nothing comparable to attending and viewing these types of movies in the magical environment of the Festival de Cannes!

We at Bryn Mawr Film Institute wish Anna many more adventures, cinematic and otherwise, and thank her for sharing her trip to Cannes with us. Au revoir!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Anna Reports from Cannes: Walking the Red Carpet and Antibes Adventures

This is the fifth post from BMFI's own Cannes Film Festival correspondant, University of Pennsylvania student Anna Adler. Enjoy!

Yesterday, the program I am on took us on a road trip to Antibes to meet with Lorraine Carrady Quinn, who is also a Penn alum. The bus took us on a beautiful ride along the shores of the south of France. Lorraine talked to us about what she does for her family-owned movie exhibition business, which manages many theaters in numerous countries throughout the Caribbean. While I have learned a lot about the production, distribution, and exhibition processes in my courses at Penn, Lorraine really went into detail about the challenges she faces as an exhibitor, specifically in this region of the world. In order for movie theaters to make a profit and also stay in business, Lorraine must choose a unique lineup of movies for each theater so that the audience of that particular area will want to come and see them. While a majority of these films come from Hollywood, Lorraine said that the ones that are the most successful are the highly "visual" films, such as action movies or 3D ones like Avatar.

Afterwards, I thought I would try my luck at getting into the premiere of Doug Liman's Fair Game. I waited outside the line to get in the Lumiere for over an hour, and my attempts were really starting to look hopeless. It was about five minutes before the doors opened, however, that someone handed me a type of ticket that allowed me to go in with someone with a "better" pass than my student one. The guard pointed to a line to the far left, and it turned out to be the line that goes through the entire red carpet. As I walked down the line, I realized that I was going to have to walk past all of the cameras and main actors/actresses posing for them. At this exact moment, I realized I was directly in front of Naomi Watts and the real Valerie Plame (whom Watts plays in the film). I successfully walked down the right side of the red carpet quickly (without tripping), and my friends who got in before me saw me on the big screen that shows this action before the movie begins. I will never forget these few seconds of "fame" for the rest of my life!

I wanted to see this movie because I had written a paper on the Plame affair for my Media Law & Ethics class, which I took abroad in London this past fall. While I liked the movie because I knew the historical context behind it, I feel that I wouldn't have had the same reaction without my previous understanding. At times in the film, I felt a little confused about what was happening, and I had to "Wikipedia" the Plame affair on my Blackberry in order to be able to follow the rest of the plot of the movie. Despite this, I felt that both Sean Penn and Naomi Watts did an outstanding job in their respective roles.

Later that night, a friend of mine from Penn (who is not participating in the program but happens to be here this week) called me at 1:30 a.m. to tell me that she had some extra tickets to the amfAR charity event after party at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes. I thought this opportunity would too be good to pass up, despite my visit to Antibes earlier that day. When we arrived, my friends and I saw that some of the guests who were exiting were wearing black tie and floor-length dresses, and we were casually dressed in jeans! While most of the encounters I have had with security during this trip have been stressful, the woman working the door last night instead laughed with us and let us go right inside. Overall, I can say that this was my favorite day of my Cannes experience thus far!

Tune in for more of Anna's adventures on the Riviera, coming soon!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anna Adler's Adventures in Cannes: HOWL, POETRY, and More

University of Pennsylvania student Anna Adler reports from the Cannes Film Festival for BMFI. This is her fourth post--be sure to check out her other adventures on the Riviera!

Today (Wednesday), I woke up to a million missed calls from my mom. She waited outside the Lumiere this morning, and scored a ticket to the "hors" competition film, Olivier Assayas' Carlos. How she managed to accomplish this, I will never know. I really thought she would leave Cannes without seeing a movie, but she proved me wrong! While she was in the movie, we had a speaker come to our program this morning named Rick Hess (of the CAA Investment Group and also a Penn undergraduate alum). He discussed with us the various ways of financing a film, such as bringing the overall package together of actors and talent with investors. While I generally knew about this side of the industry, I really learned a lot about the many, many (and difficult) steps of making an original idea become a visual reality. In particular, he said that his Wharton roommates used to make fun of him for studying English and Cinema while in college, and now today are asking to work for him!

Afterwards, my friends and I decided we would try to get into Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's film, Howl, and we turned out to be successful! It was playing at a smaller theater off the Croisette. James Franco stars in this film as the famous beat poet Allen Ginsburg, whose controversial book Howl and Other Poems made him end up in court in 1957. This became the landmark case that set the legal precedent guaranteeing First Amendment Rights for these type of works. I enjoyed the movie because I have studied this historical era throughout high school and college. We then made our way over to a similar theater on the same "rue" to see a short, documentary film called Modern Day Slaves, which focuses on the abuses of foreigners who come over to the States to find work. While the subject matter was definitely informative and important, I personally did not believe that this content was portrayed in a visually and captivating way. Specifically, I did not feel that the film really left a strong impact on me, as I did not think about it much after I exited the theater.

The most exciting part of the day came next. My mom and I decided we would hold our paper signs out again to try to get into the premiere of Lee Chang-dong's Poetry, which we felt would be impossible since it is a competition movie. My mom said that if I were able to get one ticket, she obviously would let me go first because I am the one who is actually supposed to be here. Fortunately, this never had to happen, because we both were able to get tickets! It was very exciting to enter the Lumiere Theater with my mom, as she truly had such a successful experience during her short time in Cannes. While the movie was very long, I loved this unique screenplay and the way it all tied together thematically and visually. I highly recommend it to all movie-lovers to see. When we walked out, one of the heads of my program said to us, "and that was really cinema!"

Check back for more of Anna's adventures, coming soon...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hot off the Press: BMFI’s Summer Programming

If you’re looking for something to do during the dog days of summer, Bryn Mawr Film Institute has got it. We have just gone to press with our Projections program guide, which includes information about summer film courses, series, seminars, and new releases. Keep reading to learn about the highlights, or click here for the full schedule and detailed descriptions. There's truly something for every film fan.

We asked for your suggestions and you selected three fantastic classics to be shown in our inaugural Audience Choice film series: On the Waterfront (1954), The Third Man (1949), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Enjoy Brando, Welles, and O’Toole on the big screen in these masterful cinematic achievements chosen by you.

For those that want to take a film course at BMFI but can’t commit to multiple sessions, the answer lies in this year’s Summer Classic Seminars. Each night is a stand-alone class built around one of the classics shown in the theater, featuring a lecture and a guided discussion of each. We’ll examine On the Waterfront on Wednesday, July 14, The Third Man on Wednesday, July 21, The Hidden Fortress (1958) on Tuesday, August 17, and The Lady Eve (1941) on Wednesday, August 25. Sessions go from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM with the film screenings at 7:00 PM.

BMFI celebrates song and dance on the big screen this summer. Fred Astaire straps on his dancing shoes in the Fred Astaire Frenzy film series, featuring two films. Daddy Long Legs (June 8, 7:00 PM) and You’ll Never Get Rich (June 9, 7:00 PM) showcase some of Astaire’s best musical romances, co-starring Leslie Caron and Rita Hayworth. For fans looking to belt out a few show tunes, the Singing in the Summer film series is here. Dress up and sing along with the unforgettable movie musicals Oklahoma! (June 2, 7:30 PM), The King and I (July 7, 7:00 PM), and Mary Poppins (August 4, 7:00 PM). You’ll be sure to leave these events “Chim Chim Cheree”-ing all the way home! If you care for a more academic approach, BMFI’s film course Singin’ on Screen: The Musical will certainly increase your appreciation for the movie musical genre.

Another film series all ages can look forward to is Teens on Screen. Enjoy the movies that define the teenage experience through the decades, with George Lucas’s American Graffiti (1973), teen film extraordinaire John Hughes’s Sixteen Candles (1984), and Richard Linklater’s insightful Dazed and Confused (1993) showing on 35mm on Tuesday nights in June.

Those with their eyes on the darlings of film lore can come see the charm and gravitas of Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Barbara Stanwyck on Wednesday nights in August. With the Leading Ladies of the Silver Screen film series, choose from the comedy of Sabrina (1954), the romance of A Place in the Sun (1951), and the hilarity of The Lady Eve (1941), or see all three!

Did the Master of Suspense have a political agenda? See for yourself when Hitchcock returns to BMFI. Enjoy two 35mm screenings of Sabotage (1936) and Lifeboat (1944), shown in conjunction with the four-week film course Alfred Hitchcock: The Political Films.

Another cinematic auteur, Akira Kurosawa put Japanese cinema on the map and influenced many great filmmakers. BMFI is celebrating the legend’s 100th birthday with a five-film series of screenings every Tuesday in August. The Akira Kurosawa Retrospective features his crowning achievement, Seven Samurai (1954), as well as Rashômon (1950), The Hidden Fortress (1958), Stray Dog (1949), and Yojimbo (1961).

Fans of these foreign treasures can also look forward to the wonderful Jacques Tati Festival film series, featuring M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Mon Oncle (1958), Playtime (1967), and Trafic (1971). The films, screening four consecutive Tuesdays in July, are shown in conjunction with the course Pantomimes and Proverbs: The Films of Tati and Rohmer, which contrasts the comedy of Jacques Tati (and his alter ego Monsieur Hulot) with the drama and romanticism of Eric Rohmer to reveal new aspects of French cinema.

And of course, you’ll be delighted in the summer’s repertoire of new releases, including the Sundance Film Festival hit The Kids Are All Right, starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, and Mark Ruffalo; the French romance Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky; and much, much more. Become a member and check out the newest issue of Projections or visit BrynMawrFilm.org to see what is currently showing on our screens.

The summer has a whole lot in store at BMFI, so relax, take a break from the heat, and enjoy the shows!

Anna Adler's Adventures in Cannes: Round Three

University of Pennsylvania film student Anna Adler reports from the Cannes Film Festival, exclusively for BMFInsights!

Yesterday (Monday), I started my day by attending a lecture that my program from Penn set up for the students here. The lecturer's name was Geoffrey Gilmore, who is the Creative Director of the Tribeca Film Festival. He was very honest and gave great advice to us, who are all interested in getting involved in the film or media industries professionally one day. A specific, interesting thing I've been thinking about that he discussed is that it is really hard to determine audience behavior today, in particular which exact platform viewers prefer to watch movies on now--such as on a computer, an iPod or iPhone, through premium channel television programming, etc. In addition, Gilmore also talked about how it is really rare for viewers today to agree on whether or not a movie is "good" or "bad." I thought this was "right-on" because every time I have walked out of a film since I've been here, my friends and I always have very different reactions, even to something like Wall Street 2 (see previous post).

After hearing Geoffrey Gilmore, I went to the Croisette to see three films: one by an independent production company called Brotherhood, which was about the dangers of fraternity pledging; a documentary on the President of the Cannes film festival titled Gilles Jacob, L'Arpenteur de la Croisette; and a horror movie called The Pack (La Meute). I enjoyed Brotherhood in the same way that I enjoyed The Perfect Host (see Thursday's post): it was disturbing, yet entertaining, and I was never bored. The documentary was really interesting, and I especially enjoyed the shots of Gilles Jacob interacting with some of the greatest directors, actors, and actresses throughout film history. Finally, I can say the horror movie was just definitely not for me!

Check back for more of Anna's stories from the Riviera!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Anna Adler Reports from Cannes: Saturday and Sunday

Here is the second installment of Anna Adler's adventures at the Cannes Film Festival, exclusive to Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

Saturday morning, my friends and I woke up early to try to test our luck in getting into the Woody Allen movie that's playing here, You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger. Only one of us was successful. It was a fun experience though standing outside the Lumiere Theater with our paper signs saying "un invitation pour Woody Allen S.V.P." One of the signs that someone wrote was funny; it said "I want to meet a tall, dark stranger...please give me an invitation!" When I couldn't get in, I decided to walk along the Croisette and explore. A few of my friends and I ate lunch along there--it was a beautiful day.

We then saw a documentary in the "marketplace," where a number of non-competition, smaller films are being shown. The documentary was called Gasland, directed by Josh Fox. It was about the dangers of natural oil on the environment. It wasn't my favorite, but it was educational and I learned something new here and there. After resting for a little bit, we then saw another non-competition movie called Jerry Cotton, which was a German film whose concept was very similar to Austin Powers.

Our Penn program gave us premiere passes to Greg Araki's film, Kaboom, which was an overall great experience, but the film was absolutely bizarre. I have never had a reaction to a movie like this before--the plot had so many twists and turns that I truly was left speechless at the end of the film. There really was no solution in the end of the film's plot at all--it was very avant garde-ish. My reaction to this movie is, I believe, very similar to people's when they first viewed Andalusion Dog back in the day (in fact, there was a reference made to this movie within Araki's film). It was very cool to do the whole red carpet thing in the evening and see everyone dressed up in black tie. The film was being shown at 12:30 am, so once it was over I was exhausted from this busy day!

Today (Sunday) my friends from the program and I decided to take a day trip to Monte Carlo, Monaco to see the Grand Prix. The train from Cannes to Monaco was only 16 euros round trip, and was only 1 hour and 5 minutes each way (the same time it takes on the Acela train from Philadelphia to New York City)! The Grand Prix was definitely an exciting day to visit. We were able to catch a quick glimpse of the racecars as they zipped by (and we definitely were able to hear them the whole time)! Many of the streets were closed off during the race, so afterwards we explored and got to know the city. We arrived back in Cannes late this evening, and I am looking forward to seeing what surprises tomorrow may bring!

Enjoy more of Anna's adventures in Cannes, coming soon! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Anna Adler Reports from Cannes: THE PERFECT HOST and WALL STREET 2

Bryn Mawr Film Institute is getting reports directly from the Cannes Film Festival, thanks to film student Anna Adler. She'll be checking in regularly from the French riviera, giving you the inside scoop on the festival and its films. Enjoy!

Yesterday (Thursday) I started the day in the "Croisette" with a few of my friends in the program by trying to get into any movie possible, and it seemed hopeless. Our student passes were not really getting us anywhere. As things were looking very poor, we were able somehow to sneak through the back of the "marketplace," where a bunch of independent production companies were screening a number of non-competition films and had little mini studio set-ups where they would be setting up deals with distributors. Once we were in the marketplace, we went up to all of these little mini-studios and were able to get free "invitations" to about twelve screenings throughout the festival. We felt very accomplished. We saw one of these films yesterday afternoon, called The Perfect Host (directed by Nick Tomnay of the Cinema Management Group LCC). While the plot had a number of twists (and was actually somewhat disturbing), I was never bored for one second and the film was very entertaining. The rest of my crew saw a few more movies yesterday, but I had to stay in and rest. Last night, we decided after dinner to go over to the Carlton Hotel and "people-watch," where we saw Josh Brolin, which was very exciting.

This morning, we had a few more of these type of screenings planned, but we decided to try to wait outside the Lumiere Theater with paper signs to see if we could get an invitation to the premiere of Oliver Stone's Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps (see the picture below).

The sign said, "Un invitation pour Wall Street S.V.P." (SVP = s'il vous plait). As we were all laughing with each other about this unlikely attempt to get in, someone walking out of the theater handed me a ticket. As I jumped in excitement and waited in line to get into the premiere, someone asked if they could trade tickets with me (mine was a balcony ticket) so that he could sit with his wife. The ticket he gave me ended up being in the orchestra, and I sat in the fifth row of the premiere this afternoon. The entire experience was so exciting--although I never saw the original Wall Street, I really enjoyed the sequel. I am sure the experience behind viewing this film biased my opinion of this movie, but I thought the plot was great and entertaining.

Check back for more to come from Anna at Cannes!