There were films, fashion and public conversations with cinema celebrities. But beyond the red carpets, this year's Festa del cinema di Roma proved a meeting point for understanding the world around us, and sharing thoughts with like-minded people from faraway lands. Here is my personal diary of a wonderful event held in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.Read More
I believe wholeheartedly that we are what we watch. It’s been my mission to find works of art on the big screen — and on the little one now through Netflix and the likes — that will make life better. I mean, we can all remember that moment, as children, walking out of a theater having watched our favorite character or cartoon on the big screen and feeling an extra bounce in our step. I still experience that these days, whenever I watch something really special. I walk out of the darkened theater into the light of day — as a film writer most of my viewings are done during the day — feeling like anything is possible.
So when the Doha Film Institute kicked off their Ajyal Film Festival in 2014, I went to Qatar to experience the wonder first hand. It was everything I hoped it would be, children and young adults as juries, films that although made for all ages, could really infuse younger minds with a message of peace and hope. You know, an idealist film writer’s dream come true.Read More
I had a craving for ‘Judy’ ever since I heard the project announced. Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland on the big screen seemed extraordinary to me. And yet, I also wondered if it would satisfy my cravings. Would it focus on the camp, would it give me the fashionista angle I craved or feature tired old costumes that made La Zellweger seem like a caricature of the great, albeit lost diva?
Well, ‘Judy’, directed by Rupert Goold, with original music by Gabriel Yared, featuring Zellweger herself singing and wearing some beautifully modern costumes by Jany Temime and wigs plus makeup by Jeremy Woodhead was everything I wanted it to be — beautiful, glamorous, sad and poignantly modern.Read More
Alright, I’ll kick it off right away by saying that the opening film for this 14th edition of the Rome Film Festival is wonderful! ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ the second directorial venture by beloved actor Edward Norton is everything an opening film should be for a festival — full of star power, great performances and evoking an elegance that only that particular time and in that place can bring about. More on it later.Read More
“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” — Émile Zola
I watch films to understand the world. And it seems sometimes the biggest lessons are just behind the scenes.
What I’ve learned at this year’s Venice Film Festival is that it seems that if you’re a woman journalist, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. I’ve run the gamut from enemy of the people for publishing an interview with a man accused but never convicted of bad things, to being made to feel (by my women editors) that I don’t know how to write just so they can justify only having male writers in their roster. I also felt that a current article was unjust to the amount of women filmmakers that are actually in Venice — if the journalists who wrote it actually bothered to look at all the films, and not only the few titles in Competition — so I pointed out in another piece about a Critics’ Week title that the filmmaker was indeed a woman. And a man, I swear I can’t make this stuff up, added a comment to the FB post saying I made it sound like women filmmakers were creatures from another planet. I used the phrase “woman filmmaker” one time in the entire piece, to claim her as one of my own who makes me proud… But anyway.Read More
What a rollercoaster this has been.
The last couple of months feel like a dream to me. And not a good one. Anyway, cinema always puts me back together, at least films like these do. They somehow erase the cynic in me, and recharge the woman and lover who has been wronged by the world.Read More
Alright, I’m partial I’ll admit it, ever since securing this wondrous interview with the man back in 2017 in Cannes. But now on stage performing in the second half of ‘Sea Wall / A Life’ which premiered last summer at the Public Theater before moving to the Hudson for its Broadway run, the man does blow every other actor of his generation out of the water.
How, you ask?Read More
In March of 2020 a revolution will begin in Saudi Arabia. But the country’s royal family and even that now infamous bad boy MBS — as the crown prince is known for short — needn’t worry about getting ready with armies and bodyguards. They just need to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.Read More
In ‘Family Romance, Llc’ Werner Herzog finds a new way to work through the difficulties life throws our way — outsource them to an agency specializing in family connections. He does it with his usual flair for our human ridiculousness and making the impossible seem real. During the junket following the screening, I loved listening to my esteemed colleagues’ confused explanations of stories they thought they’d seen like this one in documentaries, or even completely convinced this was a reality film, instead of fiction. And Herzog himself quite perfectly, calmly and smoothly shooting down each and all of their perplexed ideas.
‘Family Romance, Llc’ was a Special Screening at this year’s Festival de Cannes.Read More
There has been a certain je ne sais quoi in the air here in Cannes, and I wasn’t able to quite put my finger on it. It bothered me, someone always good at defining a moment, person or place, that I couldn’t put that feeling into words. Then I attended the press conference for Luca Guadagnino’s ‘The Staggering Girl’ and I had a ‘EUREKA!” moment. So bear with me for a moment while I get to that…Read More
Yes, there was a flash taxi strike at the airport in Nice yesterday, just as my flight was getting in. No, they were not prepared for an action by all taxi drivers to block the roads accessing the airport, so no vehicle of any sort could get in or out of the airport. Yes, there is a tramway track recently built which reaches terminal 3 but no, there was no tram traveling on it. So everyone had to walk for miles, with luggage in tow, under the sweltering sun, to reach an overcrowded train, through overpasses and station underpasses (read: lots and lots of stairs) mimicking the zombies in Jim Jarmusch’s Cannes opening night film.
Welcome to the glamorous life of a journalist covering the Festival de Cannes! If I hear one more time what a wonderful opportunity it is for me to be doing what I do, I’ll strangle someone. Then, I might actually begin to get the attention I deserve.Read More
I know, most critics go to the Festival de Cannes looking forward to the Competition titles and maybe will grant themselves the joy of viewing the Un Certain Regard selection. But I’ll admit I’m more of a sidebar person, and while I will view a few great titles in the main lineups, my craves lay more in the Quinzaine (Directors’ Fortnight) and Semaine de la Critique.Read More
As a young girl, I remember watching anything that had Alain Delon in it. I had a super crush on him and, lucky me, no film of his was deemed inappropriate by my parents. So along with Luchino Visconti’s ‘The Leopard’ and ‘Rocco and his Brothers’, I also caught Delon in films like ‘The Swimming Pool’, ‘Zorro’ and yes, even ‘The Concorde… Airport ‘79’. In fact, from the latter I required that a friend of the family who knew how to knit make me a royal blue crew neck wool sweater that looked just like his. I would find you a photo but I would have to watch that entire film all over again and well, I’ve moved on from my pre-pubescent crush. And my taste in film has highly improved.
But Alain Delon remains the fascinating man, the sultry sex symbol that could even steal women away from Mick Jagger. And this year’s he’s the Festival de Cannes honorary Palme d’Or recipient. Kudos to the festival for finally getting the reclusive actor to accept their coveted lifetime award.Read More
As I learned at this year’s Qumra, held by the Doha Film Institute, the grand dame of French New Wave cinema Agnès Varda was all about finding the stories, the viewpoints that no one else would bother with. The Festival de Cannes, in its poster just unveiled for the 72nd edition of the festival, pays homage to La Varda but also to her indomitable spirit by showing the filmmaker on her first cinematic venture perched high up on a platform, atop the shoulders of a crew technician. She’s is looking to capture that image, that viewpoint which no one else would have even thought about. She is Varda, in all her perfectly humble and adventurous attitude. The same Varda who asked me, to my utter disbelief, if I’d liked her “little film” a few years ago in Cannes.Read More
I tweeted about this beauty a couple of weeks ago and stand by my word. I’m typically not a zombie kinda girl but utter Jim Jarmusch’s name and I can’t watch it fast enough. So the buzz was deafening around ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ from the time the first images of the film were released, building up to a cacophony of joy when the trailer was first shown. And don’t even get me started on Adam Driver. I mean, the man is taller than Bill Murray, which is saying a lot, and all the handsome of a young Keanu Reeves, plus acting talents to boot.
Then, this morning Cannes announced it will open its 72nd edition of the festival with the Jarmusch film, in Competition no less. On Tuesday May 14th, on the screen of the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the film by the American director and screenwriter will be this year’s first Palme d'Or competition screening.Read More
The yearly, five days long Qumra event in Qatar, held by the Doha Film Institute each March is that rare occasion for those of us who write about cinema to connect with the filmmakers, producers, film programmers, sales agents and festival directors who make the magic happen. Don’t misunderstand me now, I think film journalists and bloggers are equally to praise or blame for great movies being made. Our collective word, the reviews and interviews we manage to sell to publications or feature on our blogs, can create a movement that reverberates around the world. I know colleagues who pride themselves on making or breaking someone’s career. It’s not nice, but it is true. Take the case of Gianfranco Rosi’s ‘Below Sea Level’ and the infamous Variety review that ensured the film never made it to a cinema near you — a fact the filmmaker mentioned in his Masterclass at last year’s Qumra.
That said, in Doha there is a great energy created by the powers that be of the DFI, which allows journalists to relate to the film projects in such a personal way that it’s impossible thereafter to dislike it or even ignore it.Read More
On my last day in Doha, I spend the afternoon wandering around the Souq Waqif which I learned from a local filmmaker, literally translates as “the stand up souk.” In the olden days, before Qatar turned into the international, cosmopolitan country it is today, the sea would come straight into the alleys of the souk so the merchants had to stand up and pick up their wares during the tides. Thus the name, and actually while I wandered around checking out the shops, having a shawl sewn from a traditional flower fabric by a local tailor while drinking a karak chai (cardamon infused milky tea) and eating a chapatti flat bread filled with zaatar, I felt like I was transported back to those early days of the pearl divers and their haunting songs of the sea.
Doha is special place. I’ll never get tired of saying it. And their annual Qumra event, organized by the Doha Film Institute is sheer cinematic magic. Qumra is a meeting place, a five-days long networking session, a place to pitch, secure financing and ensure a screening chance for film projects. But it is also an occasion to recharge our collective passion for the movies. For journalists, producers and of course filmmakers, the atmosphere at Qumra offers an almost electric energy, a jolt of renewed hope in the future of the 7th art.Read More
When I look at the title of this piece, I feel overwhelmed myself. I mean, it would be pretty wonderful to just hear one of the these two men who are such Maestros in each of their professions give a Masterclass. But when you get them both, within 24 hours of each other, on a stage, talking to the equally wondrous Richard Peña, well, you have cinematic magic.
Or more precisely, what you have is the Doha Film Institute’s annual Qumra event.Read More
Most directors whose features you are watching in cinemas today started out making short films. It’s a fact that short narratives and documentaries are the stuff future filmmaker build their craft on and the Ca 'Foscari Short Film Festival recognizes that through and through. In their press release for the upcoming ninth edition of the event, which will run from March 20th to the 23rd, the following statement made me realize just how much they believe in the learning power of the ‘Short”.Read More
It is obvious from the moment one steps on a Qatar Airways aircraft that cinema is important in Doha. I mean, just going through the entertainment system on my particular flight, I found ‘Rebecca’ by Hitchcock, Barry Jenkins’ hauntingly touching and all too true ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, Paul Dano’s intimate portrayal of a family struggling to remain a single nucleus ‘Wildlife’ and even the 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner ‘Green Book’.
Qatar knows good cinema and nowhere is that better understood than in the welcoming arms of the Doha Film Institute.Read More