Film Podcast: Oscar Season Opens with Birdman and Listen Up Philip

Categories: Film and TV

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Alison Rosa
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton put up their dukes in Birdman.
It's awards season and the hyped movies are starting to land in theaters. On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, we talk about Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, starring Michael Keaton, and Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Philip, and carve out some time to recommend Nothing Bad Can Happen and Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. All four of those films have received high praise and some have been hit with some pretty damning criticism, including the description that Iñárritu is a "pretentious fraud," leveled by film critic Scott Tobias of The Dissolve.

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Sundance Institute Brings Film Development Workshops to Miami

Categories: Film and TV, News

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A still from Yearbook, Bernardo Britto's Sundance award-winning short film.
Miami's film community is on fire. From big festivals to international screenings, local filmmakers are making waves, and indie heavyweight Sundance is taking notice.

The Sundance Institute announced this week that they will use $1 million in new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to bring artist development day labs to eight cities across the U.S. over the next three years, including Miami. Programming will target a wide range of filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and composers with workshops building on the experience of Sundance Institute's renowned residency labs.

See also: Sundance Hosting Public Art, Tech & Storytelling Panel in Miami

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Miami Jewish Film Festival Starts Community Cinema Series With Women in Hollywood

Categories: Film and TV

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Another month, another exciting announcement from the Miami Jewish Film Festival on a new project to benefit the community. In partnership with Independent Lens Television Service (ITVS), WPBT2, the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, and Temple Beth Sholom, MJFF is launching the Community Cinema series, which will feature six films over the span of six months. All screenings are free and open to the public.

The six films featured in Community Cinema come from the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, and each will premiere ahead of its broadcast date. Of the six features, the first will be Makers: Women in Hollywood, this Thursday, October 23, at 8 p.m. at Temple Beth Sholom.

See also: "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow" To Highlight Untold Civil Rights History

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Guillermo del Toro on The Book of Life: "This Film Is Unapologetically Latin and Mexican"

Categories: Film and TV

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For all the works that U.S. studios make that are set in foreign countries, it's tough to come up with American animated films that are genuinely linked to the country that they portray. You've got things like Madagascar and Ratatouille set elsewhere, but these and others don't engage with the culture of the location they're set in quite as much as they should. With Jorge R. Gutierrez's debut feature film, The Book of Life, hitting theaters this weekend, it's an appropriate time to discuss the way films reflect the culture of their location.

See also: The Book of Life review and showtimes

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MIFFecito: The Highs and Lows of Vara: A Blessing, Raiz, and Life is Good

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Courtesy of Miami Film Festival International
Vara: A Blessing
Vara: A Blessing
Khyentse Norbu's Vara: A Blessing begins strong, introducing audiences to Lila, a young woman who practices the art of bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance that evokes the art of temple dancers. In its first act, the film proposes a bit of a flip on the typical route for women that involves choosing men over religion, presenting a girl who genuinely has no interest in being married. The film soon leaves reality and indulges in fantasy sequences of Lila falling into romantic situations with God.

Its problems, however, come early in the second act, when Lila's narrative ditches all semblance of character development. This section's depiction of the male gaze is as impressive as it gets, with the leering eyes of the community's landlord resulting in constant quick cuts and closeups of hands, faces, shoulders, and feet. Yet Vara takes pains to present as much of a female perspective in its first act as possible, which makes the mid-film shift and everything that follows so much more disorienting.

See also: MIFFecito: Love Story Paradise Captures Weight Issues without the Clichés


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Nat Chediak on Returning To Miami Cinema: "You're Never Too Young or Old To Love Film"

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Photo by Pedro Portal
Nat Chediak at home.
In a unanimous vote, the Coral Gables Art Cinema's Board of Directors have appointed a pioneer of film exhibition in Miami as its director of programming.

Though in recent years he made name for himself as a Grammy-winning producer of Latin music, Miami's knows him as a legend in the art house scene. In the '70s and '80s, he ran The Cinematheque, not far from the current home of the Gables Art Cinema. ("Exactly three blocks south," he says. "Apparently, I move slowly.") He later co-founded the Miami International Film Festival with Steven Bowles, acting as its program director for its initial 18 years.

See also: Nat Chediak Appointed Coral Gables Art Cinema Director Amidst Board Turmoil

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South Florida Native Nolan Sotillo on His Latest Show, Red Band Society (Video)

Television is generally a happy medium, especially when it comes to broadcast. Sure, there's the occasional serious drama or that hospital show that's really about the doctor-on-doctor conflict and has little to do with medicine.

Rarely does a show come along that tackles a serious subject matter while maintaining a lighthearted edge. Put kids in the center and you might just have yourself some compelling TV.

South Florida native, Nolan Sotillo, visited the New Times offices to chat about FOX's new dramedy, Red Band Society. Check out our video above and our full interview.

See also: Young Stars of The Maze Runner Bring Dystopian Tale to Life

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MIFFecito: Love Story Paradise Captures Weight Issues Without the Clichés

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Andrés Almedia and Daniela Rincon in Paradise
Maybe it's a cultural thing. In Hollywood movies, fat people are often the butt of jokes and more often than not, obese actors embrace the stereotype that they're just funny-looking fools. So they take the parts and dive in with gusto to make careers exploiting themselves for ridicule. What makes Mexican director Mariana Chenillo's Paradise so refreshing is that it does not look down on the two large leads and balances humor with heart and an insight into relationships that transcends the looks of these characters.

Carmen (Daniela Rincon) and her husband Alfredo (Andrés Almedia) are two chubby people in love. They call each other "gorda" and "gordo" with nothing but affection. Chenillo opens the film with the two making love. The scene features many close-ups and sets up a sense of shameless comfort and confidence between the wife and husband.

See also: MIFFecito: Lake Los Angeles Builds With A Slow, Purposeful Power

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Nat Chediak Voted As New Programming Director at Coral Gables Art Cinema

Categories: Film and TV, News

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Coral Gables Art Cinema via Facebook
After about an hour and a half meeting today, board members of the Coral Gables Art Cinema confirmed via vote that Nat Chediak will become the organization's new director of programming.

Press were not permitted inside the meeting, but members exiting this morning said it was a positive outcome.

"Some of the events of the past are unfortunate, but we're moving forward," said Secretary Marlin Ebbert. She added that one of the items discussed was keeping internal issues exactly that -- internal.

Last week, an anonymous source told New Times that there was discontent among the board members and executive advisory committee regarding the abrupt resignation of longtime director, Robert Rosenberg.

See also: Local Cinema Icon Nat Chediak Returns to the Miami Film Scene

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MIFFecito: Lake Los Angeles Builds With a Slow, Purposeful Power

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Johanna Trujillo in 'Lake Los Angeles'

With Lake Los Angeles director/writer Mike Ott presents a heart-rending but placid portrait of the often solitary pain of the undocumented immigrant. Ott effectively uses a quiet, low-key cinematic delivery that creeps up on the viewer for a simple, devastating finale that raises small gestures to noble acts of kindness and may just redeem humanity in the face of a harsh, often lonely life.

Ott approaches the script, which he co-wrote with Atsuko Okatsuka, his collaborator on his two prior films, with a deliberate patience. Lake Los Angeles is the final installment in the loosely connected "Antelope Valley Trilogy." Atmosphere is key to the film. It's established early on as the camera rushes across a nocturnal desert landscape as billows of dust and smoke zoom past in the periphery. A child's voice whispers the Aztec myth about "The Rabbit in the Moon," as the humming drone of ambient music by María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir (of the Icelandic band Amiina and a collaborator of Sigur Ros and Spirtiualized) swells underneath the surreal imagery. It ends with the abstract image of that rabbit, who sacrifices itself to feed a hungry traveler, coming into focus on the surface of the actual moon. It makes for a sublime opening that reflects the film's simple style, which builds toward the film's powerfully rewarding yet subtle finale.

See also: Miami-Bred Actor Roberto Sanchez Returns to Little Havana for MIFFecito: "It's Surreal"

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