Thursday, January 29, 2009

Maritime Preview

First Frownland. This film polarized audiences last weekend. Ugly closeups, difficult dialogue, and a cacophonous ending all contributed to a sometimes unenjoyable but unforgettable experience. For me, a college student graduating during an economic downturn, Frownland was a powerful expression of the anxiety of being over-educated with no apparently useful set of skills. I invite any readers who saw the film to chime in, as I heard many conflicting opinions coming out of the theater and during our discussion afterward.

This week brings an OFFscreen double feature, beginning with the short film "Glory at Sea." I don't want to write too much about it on the blog, because I think to demystify this film in writing would do it an injustice. Let's just call it a post-Katrina Orpheus and Eurydice. The film is available on YouTube, and I will post it here after our showing this weekend. That said, it won't be the same on the computer monitor, so come! "Glory at Sea" created a huge buzz at the South by Southwest film festival, with many touting it for the jury award. In the end it won the Wholphin Award for best short, and has done quite well on the American festival circuit.

Our feature presentation this weekend is Peter Hutton's At Sea, originally released in 2007. The film was included in the Museum of Modern Art's May 2008 retrospective on Hutton (scroll to the bottom for information on At Sea), and should provide some breathtaking images for OFFscreen viewers. The piece is a non-narrative story about the life and death of a container ship, combining horrific and sublime images of man's power to create and destroy. OFFscreen's last venture into similar visual waters was Our Daily Bread, Nikolaus Geyrhalter's unflinching vision of industrial food production. It should be of some interest that OFFscreen will present At Sea in 16mm format. Newcomb's theater is not equipped with a 16 mm projector, so we have found a portable projector to place inside the theater, allowing everyone to witness the physical, mechanical act of projection. As usual, "Glory at Sea" and At Sea will be shown at the Newcomb theater at 7 and 9:30 this Sunday, February 1.

For trailers and links please continue reading after the jump.

"Glory At Sea Trailer"

At Sea Links

Excellent article on Hutton from The Plugg.

Blogger reactions here, here, and here.

Venez nombreux!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frownland Preview

In her excellent review of Frownland, NYT critic Manhola Dargis calls the film "personal film-making at its most fierce." This being the case, it would be a good idea to know a little bit about writer and director Ronald Bronstein. On the film's website someone claims that "Ronald Bronstein has spent the last five years several floors below street level in projection booths all over nyc. There deprived of both sunlight and fresh circulating oxygen, he has screened and watched and average of 600 movies a year. This is his first time making one." Woah, sounds like an OFFscreen guy. The film follows main character Keith Sontag (Dore Mann)through a series of embarrassing, painful, and comic episodes to create a portrait that comes to life on film. Frownland has had succes, winning a Special Jury Award at SXSW in 2007 and a Gotham Award in 2007 for the Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You, although we like to think that we have solved that problem for UVA students and the Charlottesville community.

More links and info after the jump!

Frownland is not an easy film to watch. Roger Ebert, of all people, describes what we see in the film. He asks here "Now why would you want to see this film? Most readers of this review probably wouldn't. I'm writing for the rest of us. It is a rebirth of the need for expression that inspired the American independent movement in the first place, 50 years ago. It was written, directed and edited by Ronald Bronstein, who had a crew of one cameraman, one soundman and one grip. It has not been picked up for distribution; he is distributing it himself at shrines to outsider cinema." Like Paper Covers Rock, Frownland is a daring and engrossing film that simply cannot crack into larger distribution networks. OFFscreen is proud to present Frownland on Sunday, January 25 in the Newcomb theater at 7 and 9:30.

New Yorker Review
Trailer also available in last post.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

First showing thoughts and Frownland trailer

Thanks to everyone who came out for OFFscreen's first film of 2009. We hope you enjoyed the film and director Joe Maggio's talk as much as we did. If you have any thoughts about either the film or the director please feel free to post them below. Also, here is a trailer for next week's (Jan. 25) film Frownland. A more thorough preview to follow later in the week.

Pictures of the talk with director after the jump

Here is real-live indie director Joe Maggio at the Newcomb theater.

We are looking forward to hearing more about his latest project, Euphoria, soon. Filmed in one night, this is the second in his sequence of ten films each based on one of the ten commandments. A retake on Kieslowski's classic The Decalogue. Thanks to Bree for the pics.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spring 2009 and Paper Covers Rock

Greetings OFFscreen-ers,

The team put was hard at work over the holiday season and put together a mouth-watering lineup of films for the Spring semester. There are some big names (Rainer Fassbinder, Woody Allen, and David Lynch) as well as some up and comers in what looks to be a fantastic season.

It starts with a bang. This Sunday we are proud to present Joe Maggio's film
Paper Covers Rock featuring a question and answer session with the director after the screening. Not to be missed!

The film itself is what Mr. Maggio calls an incidental film. The concept comes with only one rule: "that no creative decision be made based on future commercial considerations, such as securing distribution or protecting the film's budget." Although a pretty straightforward idea, anyone with knowledge of the independent film industry should know how demanding this maxim is. For DIYers and fans of independent cinema it is a real breath of fresh air, especially in today's economic situation.

Paper Covers Rock premiered at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas last year. The film is a portrait of a young woman in turmoil. She loses custody of her daughter after attempting suicide and moves in with her older sister. Maggio explores their complex and often ambiguous relationship.

In an e-mail to OFFscreen Joe Maggio eloquently describes his work. "In the end, what I wanted to do was tell a simple story about someone who has fallen hard and is trying to find her way back to some kind of peace. I wanted to create characters who are complicated and unwittingly undermine themselves and those they love. I also wanted to explore a specific kind of redemption, not the typical movie kind where all of one's problems are solved and all of one's dreams come true, but the kind of redemption that, at best, delivers you all bruised and bloody to the next challenge, alive to fight another day." He continues "There are moments in Paper Covers Rock that for me, even after having watched the film thousands of times in the edit room, still rattle me, or make me really pissed off, or make me laugh. And I suppose that's what this film is to me, and what I hope it will be for the audience - a kind of intensification of life for 88 minutes." This has the makings of a great discussion, so if you are interested in what you heard make sure to stick around and continue this conversation with the director after the film.

Here is the review from Variety

So there you have it. We are looking forward to see both old and new faces at this screening, so round up the troops and come to the Newcomb Hall theater on Sunday, January 18 to get your life intensified. We at OFFscreen are convinced that this should be a fantastic first-showing and a great season.

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