by Jennifer Nemo
In December 2005, Minnesota Film Arts will open the Bell Auditorium’s screen to the curatorial skills of three local nonfiction filmmakers: Melody Gilbert, Mark Wojan and Emily Goldberg. These filmmakers are as active on the festival circuit's viewing films all the times as any film programmer at MN Film Arts. Melody Gilbert ("A Life Without Pain", "Whole", "Married at the Mall") will be presenting "Learning to Swallow," directed by Danielle Beverly, on Sat., Dec. 10. The film follows the recovery process of a post-suicidal woman named Patsy who went from a successful white-collar lifestyle as a photographer to drinking drain cleaner. Several short films by Deborah Stratman will be the focus of Mark Wojan’s screening on Sat, Dec. 17. "In Order Not to Be Here" uses footage taken by police helicopters to examine how privacy, safety, convenience and surveillance determine the quality of our lives. Respectively, "Energy Country" and "The Blvd." look at the oil industry in the petro-cehmical and fundamentalist landscape of southern Texas, and drag racing culture and the American obsession with speed on Chicago's near West Side, respectively. Wojan's own work includes the film "What America Needs."
Independent filmmaker Emily Goldberg ("Venus of Mars", Emmy award
winner, "Afritrek", Jane Goodall: "A Reason for Hope")
will present her four absolutely favorite shorts from the past few years on
Sat., Dec. 3. First up is the animentary "Ryan," directed by Chris
Landreth, about a once well-known animator overwhelmed by his own demons. Next
up, "I Used to Be a Filmmaker," directed by Jay Rosenblatt, cleverly
juxtaposes filmmaker terminology with fatherhood. "Wet Dreams, False Images,"
directed by Jesse Epstein, confronts unrealistic societal standards within the
confined walls of a working-class Brooklyn barbershop, while "Foo Foo
Dust," directed by Gina Levy, provides a raw glimpse inside the harsh
life for Stephanie and Tony: a mother and son junkie-duo.
Directed by Chris Landreth
In the character of Ryan, we hear the voice of Ryan Larkin and people who have
known him. Yet, their voices speak through weird, distorted and ghost-like 3D-generated
characters whose appearances are bizarre, humorous and disturbing at the same
time. While the characters and action are very realistic and extremely detailed,
Landreth did not go the typical route of using live action footage, rotoscoping
or motion capture, but what he refers to as “a hand-animated, three-dimensional
world of psychological realism.
Goldberg writes: "This is by far my favorite film in years and
yet another reason that Canada rocks. It combines animation and documentary,
and in doing so adds an entirely new, rich dimension to storytelling."
"I Used to Be A Filmmaker"
Directed by Jay Rosenblatt
the birth of his daughter, Ella, Rosenblatt is inspired to teach her about his
career. In doing so, he discovers new meanings to his craft’s own terminology,
which his daughter absorbs with relish as he documents her first steps and his
own into fatherhood. This is a heartwarming and hilarious look at a filmmaker’s
own fatherhood that every father can relate to.
Goldberg writes: "Combine filmmaking terminology and a father's
love for his awfully cute baby and you've got me. I saw this at the International
Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and it was clear that it spoke a universal
"Wet Dreams, False Images"
Directed by Jesse Epstein
is the story of Dee-Dee, a Brooklyn-born barber and self-proclaimed "booty
expert" who covers his barber stall walls with magazine cut-outs of scantily
clad women. Throughout the film, he confesses to Epstein his desire for real
women to resemble the beautiful photographic images on his walls. Epstein documents
his astonishment when she exposes Dee-Dee to the world of professional photo-retouch,
which shatters Dee-Dee's fantasies by revealing the illusion of "he
perfect woman" to be a result of computer technology. This film uses humor
to challenge the standards of physical perfection that the commercial marketplace
places on society through the use of magazine advertisements.
Goldberg writes: "The beautiful narrative arc of this film, as
well as its well-tuned funny bone, knocked me out at the Ashland Independent
Film Festival [in Portland, Ore.]."
(37 min./2004 Sundance Festival feature)
Directed by Gina Levy
Levy takes us to the streets of San Francisco where we meet Stephanie and Tony,
a mother and son caught up in the cyclical world of drug addiction, unemployment
and homelessness. Stephanie, a middle-aged prostitute and crack-addict, displays
brief moments of clarity when she warns her heroin-addicted son of the doomed
life awaiting him if he continues his drug use.
Goldberg writes: "Warning: This film is very disturbing. To say
that it tells the story of two junkies' mother and sons doesn't
come close to conveying the intensity of the film. It's more like you’re
LIVING with them in their tenement apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin
district. This harrowing portrait does what a good documentary is supposed to
do; it gives us an intimate view inside a world most of us would never see.
It also raises thorny ethical questions about the relationship between documentary
filmmakers and their subjects."
Interviews with Emily Goldberg and Mark Wojan will be featured on Jennifer
Nemo's film program "Movie Talk" on Thu., Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.
on KFAI 90.3 FM Mpls. and 106.7 FM St.Paul. Archived for two weeks after broad
cast at KFAI.org.
MN Film Arts Annual "A Look Outside" Program takes place at
the Bell Auditorium on Sat., Dec. 3, 10, and 17 at 1 p.m. $8 general, $6.50
seniors/students, $5 for MN Film Arts members. 10 Church St., Mpls. 612-331-7563.
Visit their website at mnFilmArts.org