Twelve years ago New Year’s Eve, I put out my first podcast program, Film Festival reViews, a tryst for indie film lovers around the film festival circuit worldwide. Since then, End-of-Year shows highlight the films, festivals, music comings and goings. This year, we focused on a few of the notable and personal preference for strong women roles in all platforms– The Novitiate (Sundance) with a current theatrical screening at the Village East Cinema in New York City through January 4th; Ice Mother (Tribeca Film Festival) an international film from the Czech Republic; Wonder Woman (Box Office sensation) and Gal Gadot’s next project; The Keepers (Netflix Docuseries); The Trouble With Angels (Director, Ida Lupino). Recording and audio engineer and long time musician, Yuri’s music choices reaches into the pocket and pulls out some gems that stays with us for a long time. Looking forward to the coming year’s film festival season. Thanks for listening– become a subscriber! Happy New Year…
Wanting more about movie icon, Bette Davis, Christina Kotlar and Yuri Turchyn, co hosts for Film Festival reViews 100th show, went on a 1930s/40s cinema-watching Bette Davis movies binge after witnessing Jessica Sherr’s one-woman show, Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies. It’s a firecracker of a show where “you fasten your seatbelts– it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Music and melodrama, professional rivalries, fighting the studio system and life imitating art are among the topics and conversation on some of the films chosen by Yuri– Dangerous, Jezebel, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Dark Victory, elusive to Bette Davis’ triple crown Oscar achievement.
So, the Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies show begins…
It’s early evening of the 1939 Academy Awards–young Miss Davis is nominated for Best Actress in Dark Victory, and the Los Angeles Times LEAKS the OSCAR winners EARLY!! “This year Vivian Leigh will take home the Oscar for Best Actress!”… With newspaper in hand the BOLD, DEFIANT and DISILLUSIONED Bette Davis decides to leave! Journey into the young starlet’s battle to win freedom from the grip and control of Hollywood’s studio moguls. Witness Bette’s most defining moments as a tenacious young actor fighting her way to the top!! See what happens when someone who always wins…loses.
Catch Jessica Sherr’s Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies on Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017 at the Episcopal Actor’s Guild NYC
While most films we’ve seen at Tribeca Film Festival depended upon programmer scheduling to fit with our own, there were several that fit perfectly with the women in film line up that I focus on. Yuri Turchyn found the most appropo music for this episode. Opening starts with Music for Hedy (unknown); You Stepped Out of a Dream (Johnny Mathis); For Ice Mother, a Czech film (Tribeca Award Winner for Screenwriting) surrounding an older women’s rebirth and renaissance following a chance meeting with ice swimmers, we hear opening from the Moldau (Smetana); Do not listen to other reviews or poorly written program descriptions otherwise almost didn’t go see November, an Estonian film (Tribeca Award Winner for Cinematography) that encompasses Slavic folk music, legendary and pagan rites that drives women in their seasonal lives and loves. Closing theme finds full circle in Music for Hedy.
Friday Night Opening Weekend at Tribeca Film Festival 2017 was a one of a kind cinematic experience under Special Screenings The Public Image is Rotten combining performance and after the film screening conversation with John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, original front man for the punk rock band, the Sex Pistols. After their break up in late 70s, he emerged as the lead singer of Public Image Ltd (PiL), continuing in an unconventional sight and sound style and structure. There are no copy bands of the Sex Pistols or PiL and there’s a reason why– each performance is unique and unto itself.
From the beginning, punk rock became the voice for artists breaking free from a mainstream format and the record companies’ stranglehold on their creative artistry and earnings. As Lydon recalls the many ups and downs of a live music performer’s lifestyle– from fellow band members comings and goings to the vastly changed music business landscape– his pondering becomes a poetic musing on survival and continuing performances as one artist with a decidedly different Bohemian lifestyle.
Tabbert Fiiller, former bassist for the band MaxSinger Z makes his directorial debut taking the audience on a remarkable free-from ride through the personal and professional POVs of Lydon and his band mates. I love the hair.
Women in Film History Month with Barbara Moss, founder of Women’s Film Preservation Fund, along with the amazing, committed women on this WFPF committee and New York Women in Film & Television (NYWiFT) as well as their partners –staunch and steadfast –in the quest to preserve the legacy of women who were the early cinema pioneers. This month is my crazy as a March Hare month as I recall falling into the rabbit hole a decade ago with Fort Lee Film Commission introducing me to Alice Guy Blache, first woman filmmaker and the godmother to all women in film.
Strad Style, winner of 2017 Slamdance Documentary Feature and Audience Award literally knocked us off our feet. Yuri’s choice of music introduction for our Strad Style experience is perfectly suited as it continues to inspire him, long after the crazy week in Park City was over. Very inspirational for me as well. This is my tenth year going to Sundance | Slamdance, while Yuri experienced it for the first time. I wanted him to really have the best film festival experience in all aspects from the film screenings, the filmmakers, the film festival community and the burgeoning economic development of the film business itself– he did.
On a recent perfect autumn weekend spent in the Catskills, at the fiercely independent Woodstock Film Festival 2016, Christina Kotlar and Yuri Turchyn recap in an absorbed art of conversation sorting through a carefully chosen weekend schedule of award winning films– picking out the sounds that underscored the visually beautifully made sights. Highlights include Two Trains Runnin’, a juxtaposition of the civil rights movement and the search for 1930s recording musicians, saving their music from extinction; the American Epic music project preserving an incredible treasure trove of American music history and music scores galore.
“Waking Ned Devine Meets Mr. Ed” is how I describe Director Louise Osmond’s superbly crafted documentary Dark Horse. Dream Alliance is the “talking” horse that became the talk of the town in the village of Cefn Fforest in one of the poorest Welsh mining valleys, Gwent, north of Newport. The local Workingmen’s Club is the setting for the real life characters specifically Jan Vokes, a barmaid in the club, who has a burning desire to breed a champion racehorse. Aside from this quirky cast, Dream becomes his own pivotal character, a handsome devil, a rich chestnut color with white blaze and a deep gaze, intensely thoughtful and curious. Dark Horse was a runaway hit at Sundance 2015 winning the Audience Award in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.
Across the Sea (Deniz Seviyesi), a Turkish story of life, loving and living, written and directed by Esra Saydam and Nisan Dag, became an audience favorite at Slamdance 2015 winning Audience Award for Narrative Feature.
Traitors represents the restless generation in Tangiers, Morocco, inspired by the Clash hit Rock the Casbah, is transposed by lead singer, punk rocker, Malika (Chaimae Ben Acha), with the refrain– ” I’m so bored with Morocco, but what can I do?” Sean Gullette, co writer with Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, creates a world with empathy and admiration for the exotic mystery and cultural beauty of his adopted city. Interview with Sean Gullette and Audrey Rosenberg.