New Orleans French Film Festival

For eighteen years, the New Orleans Film Society has worked tirelessly to grace the public with French films. Film festivals, no matter the genre, are important tools to help bridge the gap between lesser known movies and the general public. Even when they are not screening lesser known films, film festivals allow everyone to perhaps consider and even watch movies they would not normally consider attending. This film festival is no different and I highly recommend it for both locals and those who are visiting this vibrant city during the actual French Film Festival!

My husband and I drove Uptown to the fabulous Prytania Theater. This independent neighborhood theater has been existence since 1914! We took our seats and listened to the wonderful live music that was being provided before the screening of a documentary about champagne. The husband is a popcorn fanatic and it’s a great thing that the Prtyania Theater offers free refills on large popcorn! Please keep in mind that the theater is smaller but this in no way makes it uncomfortable. In fact, I would dare to say that it adds to its charm.

The documentary itself, A Year in Champagne, was interesting and fun. There were many quotes that were memorable, mostly because of their witty nature. Although I can only attest and report my own experience, the documentary was rather enlightening. It made me somehow appreciate both the actual product of champagne, but also those that tirelessly produce it. I probably will not be going out to learn the ins and outs of how to produce this bubbly celebration in a bottle myself; however, I do have more of an idea of the overall process and the things that these producers have to worry and deal with year after year to make something we drink to celebrate many of life’s milestones.

After the film, the Pearl Wine Company served champagne from one of the families featured in the film. The power of film is so incredibly strong, we couldn’t help but stop at the Pearl on the way home and buy more champagne to celebrate that the New Orleans Film Society ad put on such a phenomenal time!

We had such a great time, that I will be attending another screening later this week with my father; the man that taught me the importance of film and whose love of French films in particular has always made me more open to experiencing foreign films.

A Good Story Transcends Film Production Costs

If you have a good story to tell there is no reason why you should not make it into an independent film. With the right film production techniques, the right script, the right people working with you and a relatively small amount of money you can make a low budget movie that can compete with the best of them on the festival circuit at places like Cannes, Toronto, Telluride and the Sundance Film Festival. If your story is compelling enough people will forget that the production value is a bit challenged.

There are people all over this world who never gave up on their dreams to make films, despite the difficulties that came with working outside of the mainstream film industry. They are passionate filmmakers who believe that anyone with a compelling story to tell has a right to make a movie. Through their struggles these diehard filmmakers have created cheaper ways to make movies. This revolution was born out of frustration due to decades of having their creative voices shunned by the big film studios who favored commercialism over creativity.

The commercialism associated with the films that are being released by the major Hollywood film studios these days is very frustrating for any filmmaker who considers their work to be art. Nowadays movies are tested extensively beforehand to ensure that the studio committing hundreds of millions of dollars to it will not lose money. This kind of testing tends to narrow the field down to only a few kinds of movies that they will invest in which means there is no room for new ideas. True artists can never be happy when there are constraints imposed on their methods and subject matter.

Although the film industry is a merging of story telling and commerce, the story telling part has always been the most important half of the equation for the audience. The big movie studio executives seem to have forgotten this fact as they continue to produce movies that have more style than substance. People would much rather see a good movie with a low production value than they would a bad movie with a high production value.

Talent and a good storyline are generally worth more to movie audiences than an expensive look. If you can just get a good story committed to film and submitted to film festivals, then people will take notice. If a buzz is created about your movie, it can lead to a distribution deal that is worth many times more than the money you invested.

After you have finished with all phases of the film production process you need to find places that will show your film to the public. There is a thing called the film festival circuit and it is the last bastion of hope for people who want to make independent films. Sure, the celebrities and big studios have recently invaded the larger events like Toronto, Cannes and the Sundance Film Festival, but they still make room for the little guys. Independent filmmakers are still the focus of film festivals no matter how much publicity they receive.

Films like The Blair Witch Project are a perfect example of how a film with a very small budget but a very clever story can make it to the big time. This very independent film was a big hit at The Sundance Film Festival in the late nineties and it was all because of the storyline. The Film was shot and edited on video and transferred to 16mm film only for the print that was needed for screenings at the festival. The independent filmmakers that made this film only spent about 40,000 dollars to make it and get it ready for Sundance. The production value was very poor but people could not stop talking about how the story ended. It received a lot of publicity and was subsequently sold to a major film studio for one and a half million dollars. The studio made 150 million dollars on the film when they blew it up to 35 millimeter and distributed it to theaters nationwide.

Film festivals are places where the playing field is leveled for all the players in the film industry. It is a strange nexus between people who are hungry to get into the film industry and people who have had too much of it and just want to be a little less full of it. They long for the days when filmmaking was more of an art form and less commercialized. The result is that they embrace independent filmmakers in their raw form. When this happens there is always a chance that one of the little guys could be suddenly held up to the spotlight by the big players and glorified. If this does occur it is always because the storyline of the film created a buzz, not the production value.

When In Rome Visit The Film Festival

While Rome, affectionately referred to as la Città Eterna (“the Eternal City”), is often visited due to its rich history, its stunning architecture or renowned cuisine, later this month from the 18th to the 27th of October, visitors can experience the Rome Film Festival. Although it is only in its second year, it has attracted a high number of private sponsors, and the City Council of Rome, in the name of the Mayor and film-buff Walter Veltroni, the Province of Rome and the Lazio Region all strongly support it both in terms of institutional communication and economic investment.

The actual title of the festival in Italian is Festa, which could be translated as feast, not festival, and is apt, since it is more a celebration of the joy of cinema than a regular film festival. Indeed, though the Rome Film Festival’s jury includes a renowned director as its president, last year Ettore Scola, the rest of the 50 jurors are not film professionals but are, in fact, regular moviegoers selected both in Italy and Europe.

Although it enjoys fierce rivalry with the Venice Film Festival, The Rome Film Festival has attracted its own audience and this year will host the world premiere of 11 new films. Among the most exciting is ‘Youth Without Youth’ – Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film in a decade. The film is about a timid Romanian professor who becomes young again after being hit by lightning. The five-time Oscar-winning director wrote the film based on a novella by Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade and has been described as his “third renaissance” after ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Godfather’.

Coppola’s film appears out of competition, along with a number of American films exploring the political climate post 9/11. These include Robert Redford’s ‘Lions for Lambs’ and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition’. ‘Lions for Lambs’ stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep and tells the story of two soldiers wounded behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and the repercussions back home. ‘Rendition’ is about an American woman trying to track down her Egyptian-born husband, who is held at a secret CIA detention centre. It also stars Meryl Streep, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

The 14 movies in competition for the top Marcus Aurelius award for Best Film include ‘El Pasado’ (The Past), with Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, ‘Li Chun’ (translated as ‘And the Spring Comes’) from China’s Chang Wei Gu, ‘Barcelona (un mapa)’ (translated as ‘Barcelona, a Map’) by Spain’s Ventura Pons and Alain Corneau’s ‘La Deuxieme Souffle’ (translated as ‘Second Wind’), starring Monica Bellucci and Daniel Auteuil. Separate awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, as well as a special jury prize, will also be handed out.

In addition to the more mainstream fare, the festival also boasts dedicated sections for alternative productions and documentaries, children films, first films by new directors and the craft of acting.

Visitors wishing to experience the Rome Film Festival can take advantage of cheap flights to Rome’s two main international airports, Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, more commonly known as “Fiumicino airport”, and Ciampino International Airport. From either airport travellers can catch a train or bus or arrange private transfer to get to their final destination with ease. Hotels in Rome can be booked online in advance, which is recommended, especially due to the popularity of the festival. Last year’s inaugural edition attracted half-a-million visitors and this year is looking to top that.

About The Hollywood Film Industry

The Hollywood film industry is an amalgamation of technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking. It generally consists of film production companies, film studios, cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, actors, directors, and film personnel.

Today the Hollywood film industry is positioned across the world. In this 21st century, the major business centers of filmmaking are concentrated in United States, India and China. Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, California that is situated in west- northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural individuality of movie studios and movie stars, the word Hollywood is often used as a connotation for the cinema of United States which is popularly known as the Hollywood film Industry.

The history of the Hollywood Film Industry probably started in the hands of D.W. Griffith when the Biograph Company sent him and his crew. They started filming on a vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles in early 1910. Soon the company decided to explore new territories to find that the region was quite friendly and enjoyable for shooting.

Therefore, Griffith filmed the first ever movie shot in Hollywood. The title of the film was “In Old California”. The movie company then stayed there for months to shoot several of their films and returned to New York.

Starting in 1913, this wonderful place came into the limelight when moviemakers started heading to the west. The first feature film made in Hollywood was called ‘The Squaw Man” This resulted in the birth of Hollywood Film Industry.

Nestor Studio, founded in 1911 was the first movie studio in Hollywood. Fifteen other small studios also settled in Hollywood. Gradually, Hollywood came to be so powerfully associated with the film industry that this term began to be used as a synonym for the entire industry.

During the time period of the first World War, Hollywood become the movie capital of the world. Previously mentioned, Nester studio became the Hollywood Digital Laboratory. By the year 1950, music recording studios and offices began moving to Hollywood, though much of the movie industry remained there.

The world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame was constructed in the year 1958 and the first star was placed in 1960. The Walk of Fame was placed as a tribute to the artists working in the entertainment industry. It is embedded with more than 2,000 five pointed stars featuring the names of celebrities, as well as fictional characters.

Self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust maintains this Walk of Fame. The first star to receive this honor was Joanne Woodward. The artist received a star based on career and lifetime achievements in motion pictures, live theatres, radio, television, and music.

The famous Hollywood symbol, originally read Hollywoodland, was constructed in the year 1923 as an advertisement of a new housing development. The sign was left to worsen until in 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce repaired and removed the last four letters.

The sign located at Mount Lee, is now a registered trademark hence cannot be used without the permission of the Chamber of Commerce.

The Hollywood Film Industry can be called the Mecca of film industries. Though geographically it is located in Hollywood, it resides in the hearts of millions of film lovers and film related personalities. Hollywood remains and will remain a king, without a scepter.

Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films

My husband and I began visiting Palm Springs in the late 1970’s. We rented a small condominium on Ramon Road near to downtown which we’ve kept for many years. Then we began to explore. From our first visit we knew we would return to the desert many times more and we have. It was then that we discovered the Palm Springs International Film Festival which has become famous around the world. In the words of the Festival’s Vision statement the “….. society strives for a world in which enlightenment, knowledge and tolerance prevail.” The best was yet to come.

In 1994 we happened upon the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films now in its seventeenth year and the largest short film festival in the United States. Now commonly known as The Shortfest, it attracts an incredibly eclectic group of industry people and films which now exceed over three hundred screenings each season from filmmakers from over 40 countries. Last year nearly 15,000 people, two of them being George and I, attended the festival which now includes twenty awards in six categories. First place winners are available to be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and those winners in the action and animation categories are automatically eligible for consideration. Three of the recent films to have been screened are Nine, Precious and the Hurt Locker.

It has been said that the Shortfest, which typically runs in June, is a spin off of the International Film Festival which is held in January of each year but to us it is so interesting and enjoyable that we feel it should and can stand on its own. In fact, almost 50 of the short films have gone on to be Academy Award nominees and each year $70,000 in prize money is awarded and awards are given in the category of the “Best of the Fest” and for us the “Future Filmmaker” category is our favorite.

In addition, we always make a point of attending seminars and for George the receptions where he likes to gab with others who enjoy not only the films but the wonderful festival itself. There are year ’round screenings and special events and a library of films totaling at least 2,200 short films, known as “The Short Film Market” which is available at the Festival’s viewing facilities and industry, filmmakers and the press are encouraged to take advantage of the amazing collection of films available.

Why You Should Attend a Film Festival

A film festival is an extended presentation of movies at a screening venue. It can be on a particular theme, or focus on a specific director’s work. You can often interact with the director, cast, and critics after the screening. It is a great way to meet others who share your interest in movies belonging to a particular genre. New York’s first Dominican Film Festival began this month. It touches on political issues, as well as concerns of the Dominican diaspora.

Some film festivals are free, so you can enjoy viewing movies which may not be available for viewing otherwise. Award winning films, which are international, can also be part of the event. These are usually annual events, organized by cultural organizations.

Look at details of previous year film festivals to understand the kind of movies which are screened by the organizing body. This will help you determine whether they are in sync with your taste. Even if you have watched a few of the films before, you are likely to appreciate the other movies being screened, because they will also belong to the same genre.

A body which is focused on justice can screen films on slavery, and lead a discussion on issues related to freedom. In case you are a law student, this will be of interest to you. If you are an amateur film maker, you can ask questions of professional film makers attending the festival. As you are unlikely to come in contact with these kinds of people in daily life, you should prepare any questions you have for them in advance.

Search online for organizations in your area which hold film festivals. Sign up for their email newsletters to stay informed about dates and venue details. You can go to these events with your friends, family, or colleagues, and expose them to new movies.

Some film festivals specialize in short films. Others focus on a different theme every year, such as Asian cinema, horror, or a famous director’s work. Often there is a competitive category, which celebrity judges from the field of cinema to evaluate them and award prizes.

Watching a film on the big screen is a different experience from watching it on television, or on your laptop. The atmosphere at events of this nature is often festive, and you can enjoy spotting celebrities watching movies too.

The Cannes Film Festival For Tourists

The Cannes Film Festival is the world’s most renowned film festival. It is an indulging event which celebrates the art of acting and films both new and old. It takes place annually in May in Cannes, once a small fishing village, Cannes is now a glamorous and expensive seaside town.

Celebrities attending the festival travel from all over the world, each bringing their own headlines for the celebrity thirsty press. In the last couple of years, top actors such as Eva Longoria, Ryan Phillippe and Hayden Panettiere have been seen there. The most notable celebrity event in 2008 was Angelina Jolie confirming she was carrying twins.

Although regular tourists aren’t permitted to attend the official film screening, which is reserved for filmmakers, actors and the media, it is still possible to get a taste and even watch some of the films in the selection. Following this, tourists can buy souvenir such as posters, t-shirts and other memorable goods in tents which are set up on the outskirts of the festival.

For celebrity-spotting, you can crowd the barricades near the red carpet in the evenings, however schedule watching is a must as only barely-known celebrities graze the red carpet on some nights. Come equipped with a camera and get there early for the best spot.

There are hotel suites named after movie stars, movie star cocktails, wall-filling movie-star murals and, recently placed all over town, life-sized hardboard cut-outs of movie stars with their faces missing. Don’t let this put you off. Alongside the extravagant hotels that accommodate the rich and famous, Cannes offers reasonably priced hotels and apartments. For example, the Appia Hotel is a basic two-star but relatively comfortable hotel that provides a base 200m from the beach and the grounding for Cannes Film Festival. To find out more about hotels in Cannes and to make sure you are in the right area for celeb-spotting, make sure you have a look at a travel guide of Cannes so you can plan ahead.