Friday, 17 August 2007

IO, ISABELLA's DIRECTORS CONQUER THE WORLD: Lauren Greenfield's THIN nominated for Emmy Award!

It's Awards' time in the USA and, as custumary, the EMMYs will open the season. Reaching their 59th edition, the prestigious awards of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences often are, like in the case of Documentary films, a safety-net for the Oscar's flaws. Documentaries often exist in that strange world between the big screen and the small screen. Challenging nonfiction films often require funding from TV networks like PBS or HBO to be produced - though they might later earn theatrical runs or tour the film festivals' circuit –. Such films are ineligible for the limited documentary Oscar nomination. Thankfully, the Emmys make up for the Academy Awards' shortcomings. This was true last year for Martin Scorsese's Bob Dylan: No Direction Home and it's even more so looking at this year's nominations listing Spike Lee's Hurricane Katrina opus When The Leaves Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts and IO, ISABELLA's 2007 Competition title Thin by Lauren Greenfield.

Produced by broadcasters' helmer HBO, Thin is a poignant account on anorexia in pure Vérité style. Lauren Greenfield's passage from the Olympus of Photography to her first steps in Filmmaking could not be better assesed and rewarded. Greenfield and her DOP Amanda Micheli tip-toe their way in Florida's Renfrew Centre for eating disorders and into the inner lives of 4 patients – Brittany, Shelly, Alisa and Polly – struggling with the disease. The filmmakers built such an incredible bond of trust with their characters that they are able to access the most intimate moments in the lives of these women, who's eating disorder is exposed down to the crudest details; not for the sake of chasing the spectacular, but to offer – and successfully so – "an experiential and emotional journey through the world of eating disorders to, ultimately, provide a greater understanding of their complexity". Greenfield manages what only the gretest non-fiction filmmakers managed before her: she materialises emotions by empathising with the subjects and by mean of skillful filmaking gramar.

Thin might not be half as spectacular as a one-sided Michael Moore's multi-billion growsing film, but its simple fly-on-the-wall approach delivers both a stunning and unprecedented portrayal of eating disorders, not forgetting a few more major corollaries; this alone makes this incredible debut film a well picked candidate for the Emmy and a must-buy for any good international commisioning editor.

The 59th Emmys Cerimony will be televised by the FOX Television Network from the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, September 16 at 8:00 pm (ET/PT).

THIN by Lauren Greenfield (trailer)

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Monday, 13 August 2007


Very few are aware of the fact or even imagine that Michelangelo Antonioni was a fine and original Non-Fiction filmmaker, in fact throughtout his long carreer he shot 17 documentaries. Chung kuo - Cina, his best known non-fiction film, is a work of incredible value, not only because just to be admitted with a film crew in 1972 China was already an exceptional achievement (rumors has it that the Italian Communist Party had to negotiate a political deal with the Peoples' Republic to allow Antonioni and his crew to enter the country), but especially because of its superbe quality in cinematic terms and the unique nature of the footage. An extraordinary film for which Antonioni leaves behind the metaphisical enchantments of his fiction works and adopts an intimate gaze, on a more human/e scale, to enter the daily life of a Nation known for its absolute closure towards the strangers' eyes and its political adversion for any outside world's intrusion. The same careful and intimate look marks all of Antonioni's documentaries, first of all L'amorosa menzogna (1949), an original film on the popular phenomenon of "picture stories", a theme that Federico Fellini will develop later on in his film Lo Sceicco Bianco (1952).

In a time when most media commemorates the italian Master for his "major" works, common heritage without shade of dubt, we like not to neglect his sublime Non-Fiction production, which is little represented and celebrated, but not less worthwhile and important.

Thus, we like to point out the screening of
Sette Canne e un Vestito (1949) on August 14 at the Lagunamovies in Grado (Italy); the film, of which Antonioni is also writer and editor, follows the renewal of the activities of Snia Viscosa, a factory in the North-East of Italy, after the WWII bombings of 1944 and 1945.

We further like to remind that Chung kuo - Cina has been recently released on DVD by Feltrinelli

And, least but not last, we like to publish the list of Antonioni's documentaries. We know they are very hard to find, but just in case someone might get the chance to see any of them we like to hear everything about it:

* Gente del Po, finished in 1947 (1943)
* N. U. - Nettezza urbana (1948)
* Oltre l'oblio (1948)
* Roma-Montevideo (1948)
* L'amorosa menzogna (1949)
* Sette canne e un vestito, restaured by Cineteca del Friuli in 1995 (1949)
* Bomarzo (1949)
* Ragazze in bianco (1949)
* Superstizione (1949)
* La villa dei mostri (1950)
* La funivia del Faloria (1950)
* Chung-Kuo, Cina (1972)
* Ritorno a Lisca Bianca (1983)
* Fotoromanza, music video for Gianna Nannini (1984)
* 12 registi per 12 città: Roma (promotional video for "Italia '90" World Cup) (1990)
* Noto, Mandorli, Vulcano, Stromboli, Carnevale (1992)
* Lo sguardo di Michelangelo (2004)

Here is the beginning of Chung Kuo - Cina by Michelangelo Antonioni

LINKS: Eco and Sontag comment on the Chung Kuo - Cina case

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What ever happend to Lisa Nova?

With the introduction of every "new" Medium there are a miriad of old and new formats shaping and adapting to it, to create new classics and re-invent the past, like in the remarkable case reported today by The Guardian which we like to bring to our readers attention

we report from the guardian film blog:

Introducing LisaNova was a YouTube hit less than a year after it first appeared

LisaNova is dead. This, at least, is the buzz on the net. Assuming that rumours of her demise have not been exaggerated, then LisaNova is truly worth mourning. She was the creation of comedian, actor and all round trouble-maker Lisa Donovan, whose short films mercilessly satirised the lives of American teenage girls and soon became the most-watched and subscribed-to videos on YouTube.

Her first video, Introducing LisaNova, appeared 14 months ago. Less than a year later, she was the medium's biggest star. Why Donovan might choose to kill her creation off is hard to ascertain. Possibly the Hollywood roles she has so long coveted have finally come her way? More likely, though, this is just another of her always amusing, highly elaborate scams. Remember just a few months ago she faked, quite deliberately badly, the kidnapping of several of her male subscribers.

However, scam or not, one thing's for sure: we have not heard the last of Donovan or her alter ego.

LisaNova's first post:

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Saturday, 11 August 2007

DIGRESSIONS: Venice Film Festival from Griffith to Anderson

Venezia .64 is getting closer. The Venice Film Festival reaching its 75th anniversary is trying to put a firm on its organisation after the earthquake caused by the birth of Festa del Cinema di Roma (we wonder if all of these "big" Festivals are not too much for one country alone). Still trying to come to terms with the shock of the Carreer Golden Lion assigned to Tim Burton – not that he won't deserve it in a decade or so, but it does feel like a subtile scheme to attract stars, press, consensus, audience in the best populistic way –, we cast a first gaze on this year's programme and the first few things catching our attention are the following:

1) ZERO WOMEN IN THE MAIN COMPETITION! (is it coceivable that among all the good films by women about to flod the market there is none worth the Venetian Lions? Mystery on the lagoon...). The only traces of women in the director's chair are to be found in the "fuori concorso" and the "orizzonti" selections. Shari Springer Berman (together with Robert Pulcini, authors together of the beautiful American Splendor never distributed in Italy.) is the sole woman in the "fuori concorso" section with The Nanny Diaries, a light comedy, following the best of Hollywood's traditions, and another title likely to attract stars and populistic acclaim. In the "Orizzonti" section an "impressive" 4 women compete for one of the minor awards: Laura Amelia Guzman with Cochochi, Barbara Cupisti with Madri, Paloma Rocha with Anabazys and Penny Woolcock with Exodus. A total of 5 women! Anything left to say?

2) For the "Special Events" Venezia .64 features the screening of the freshly restaured version of Intolerance (1916) by Cinema's pioneer David Wark Griffith. Not to miss!

3) Wes Anderson – the guy who gave us The Royal Tenebaums and The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou – is running for the Golden Lion with his new poetic, surreal, beautiful family saga titled The Darjeeling Limited. For this new film Anderson has teamed up with the usual Owen Wilson and nonetheless than the Coppolas' clan; in fact Roman (son of Francis Ford) is producer and writer together with his cousin Jason Schwartzman, who is in turn also one of the protagonists of the film; costumes are by Milena Canonero, who scored the 2007 Oscar for Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola.

As fans of Anderson's work since the word start –he's the American Gondry and, besides the undeniable technical and formal skills, he is also one of the very few who seem to remember the negligible detail that makes Cinema synonimous of pure and simple entertainment, not a medium for critics' lucubrations, nor a blatant mirror of reality...just Cinema: a dreams' factory that, from dream to dream manages also, between a tears and a smile, to make people think – we have definetively found our darling for this year's Golden Lion: all united for Wes!

Trailer The Darjeeling Limited (2007) by Wes Anderson

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