January 19, 2008

Spirit Award Nominee

I just watched the documentary CRAZY LOVE. Crazy is right. Misogynistic, racist, and insane people; and of course, a lawyer. What a fabulous film. Usually talking head interviews, photos, news clips, newsreel and some home video footage can be really boring to watch for an hour plus but, this is beautifully made. The opening - with sounds of screaming, sirens and an out of focus image under the title credits was sharp. It was disconcerting and confusing, then you meet Burt and Linda. The way that stills were produced - with lots of photo shop and motion was perfect. The big budget was revealed with the soundtrack - oldies. I couldn't help but sing along; my mom loved the oldies, I grew up listening to tape after tape.

NOMINATED FOR: Best Documentary

Director: Dan Klores
Writer: Dan Klores
Producer: Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens

January 10, 2008

Spirit Award Noms...

furiously watching films. not overwhelmed [yet].


Broken English nominated for "best first screenplay" and "best female lead" (for parker posey)

not bad, but my boat is not rocking. it seemed it would be easily relatable: i'm a 30-something but unlike the film's character, i'm married w/2kids, i know my career path, and i'm not on meds. parker posey was strong but nothing really different than what i've seen in all her many indie performances. the directing was solid but not shining.

My Life As A Dog nominated for "best first screenplay"

billed as a comedy but it wasn't belly laughing funny. it was sad, quirky and funny. molly shannon was great. story felt strange but true.

January 4, 2008

Watching The Nominees

I just watched:

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Nominated for:
- Best Feature / Producers: Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt
- Best First Screenplay - John Orloff
- Best Female Lead - Angelina Jolie

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to let go of Angelina Jolie, and accept her as Mariane Pearl - an Afro-Cuban. Truth is, I couldn't. I was fixated on the tight curls of her hair, the way that the makeup accentuated her cheeks, and the physicality of her performance. I do really appreciate the film in it's complicated yet quiet calm. Here the time in this woman's life that is the more complex and chaotic, yet there is a quiet and a stillness. What good would have "losing it" emotionally done for her, the baby inside her, or the whole situation; it certainly couldn't have helped find her husband. I really liked the director's choices to center the days her husband was missing, gently inter-cut flashbacks to their life (which often become so heavy handed visually and emotionally in many films), and not re-create any of his time in captivity. A visually strong film, well directed, and powerful enough to stir strong emotions long after the end credits faded.


Nominated for:
Best First Feature / Director: Scott Frank / Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes

I watched the trailer for this film first, unsure about what this "crime drama" would bring. Knowing Frank is an academy award winner for Out of Sight, the Clooney-Lopez film I passed on, I was nervous that this is a why bother for me. Still, being nominated for a Spirit Award means there is something special or at least quirky (for the most part). I really liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance. The script was clever and took a story about trauma and memory loss and made it feel original. The opening scene (discovered to be a dream/flashback) was visually off-putting, and almost threw me off (I had a desire to click the film off but held on), and as soon as the jump cut first sequence, "I woke up" started, I was hooked. It was an aspiring commercial film that feels independent in its story, locations, and directing (no huge booming shots), but I prefer indie depictions of bloody bank robberies gone wrong than Hollywood fantasy big budget any day.

THE PRISONER or; How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

Nominated for:
-Best Documentary / Directors: Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker

Since documentary is my favorite genre of all time, I was excited for this one. I was disappointed by the last few films I've seen on Iraq or huge social issues so I was afraid. I absolutely did not know what to expect. Also, animated recreations can be horrible, but I was so pleasantly surprised that for this film, it works. The film's subject matter, the U.S.'s violation of human rights in Iraq against citizens, is so serious, but the animation (as well as the Yunis' own humor about the tragedy of flawed intelligence, his torture, and wrongful incarceration) works to balance what could have been a heavy handed mess.

I liked the form of the film - using the footage shot by Tucker (documenting lives of US soldiers) of the original raid and capture of Yunis and his brothers, Yunis' footage and photographs documenting bomb out Bagdad, interviews (which were subtle and nicely directed and edited), and animated titles and recreations.

An example, stemming from the military's own illustrations of soldiers and detainees, like this:

Vanity Fair published THIS ARTICLE telling the story behind the film. AMAZING.

I'm excited to watch more (and more and more and more...)!

December 31, 2007

It's Time for the Spirit Awards!

My favorite thing about being an IFP member is the voting privileges.

This year some of the films are streaming online. I can (again) be the movie watching fool that I was before life beyond film school got too busy. I also am going to re-activate my Netflix for this special occasion. They automatically used to automatically populate your list with the nominated films. Just added all the nominated films that are available. A good number of the films I can't wait to see aren't available to view online [yet] or available for Netflix. = (

I don't love watching award shows but I love watching films. Netflix is going to dominate my *free* time.

IFP rocks.

March 11, 2007

When Credit is Due

"To DJ Rob Swift, a vinyl recording is not merely a flat disc, but a four-dimensional field of events without boundary. As opposed to hearing a performance, listening to him scratch is akin to watching the quantm destruction of space-time."

-Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin

Yesterday I got my advance copy of:

I've been watching/filming the X-men/X-ecutioners since day one. A few years back I copied all my Rob Swift footage and sent Mr. Rob a couple tapes. Didn't know if they would ever be useful or even interesting to him. He's got cameras following him across the globe and back.

I got to the end of the flick to find:


He gave me credit. Not "forgot" me. Not misspelled me. Not half credit (like only in the last tiny print of special thanks), but full and proper credit:
Archival Footage, Interviewers and Camera Operators.
Rachel Raimist

You may say, so what, big deal.

It is. When you've been down (read: bustin your ass) for so many years and rarely (read: most never) get any credit, it's big when someone pops up years later w/proper credit.

My girls and I have put in work in the music, marketing and journalism facets of the hip-hop industry for over a decade and rarely if ever got credit. i was the mind and the paperwork behind a street team and got no credit. i pitched many a DVD titles that got "borrowed" or straight stolen and made by funded male filmmakers. i can't even get into the boundless fruits of the the other ladies' labor.

Rob is a good dude: an excellent DJ, clean and sober, and an upstanding man in many ways.

As for the DVD, support it!

It is truly an intimate look into the life of the professional DJ. More than the background scratchmaker/crowd hyping vinyl crate carrier of most groups (which is all you really get to see on TV), Rob Swift and many men have made the turntable the featured act and has proven it is a beautiful and complex artform.

The DVD chronicles Rob's DJing life through the end of the X-ecutioners. Rob shares honest and revealing moments through the deals, the money, and the tough choices. He always remembers that it's about the art and about the expression. It's a beautiful watch for all the turntablist fans and true hip-hop fans. The film includes a never-seen-before- Rob and Bob moment (read: Rob Swift performs at the Knitting Factory with jazz legend Bob James), that I've kept in the archive, showed all my friends and cherished. Now you can share in my joy!

Bob and Rob

It is rare we get such an intimate look into the lives of those who bring real hip-hop, creativity and passion for the culture.

Check for DJ Rob Swift - homepage and myspace

February 16, 2007

Just ordered some new DVDs

One of my favorite photographers is now making films and multimedia.

Lauren Greenfield.

Her film is called THIN. Watch a trailer HERE. It is also a book and a travelling exhibit. You can order it here.

Synopsis: The HBO Documentary film Thin takes us inside the walls of Renfrew Center, a residential facility for the treatment of women with eating disorders, closely following four young women (ages 15 - 30) who have spent their lives starving themselves, often to the verge of death.

The other DVD I ordered (they are both from HBO films) is MIDDLESEXES

Synopsis: Redefining He and She sensitively explores the controversial subject of the blurring of gender as well as the serious social and family problems - even dangers - often faced by those whose gender may fall somewhere in between male and female.

December 19, 2006

what i've watched this week:

August 31, 2006

If You're In London Next Week...


Nobody Knows My Name is screening in London for this magazine:


You can view a clip here, on my website.

Here's your official invite:


More info on their website:

July 24, 2006

Michigan Update - Film Festival Schedule


Hip Hop Film Festival at the Flint Institute of Arts
July 28-30, 2006

1120 East Kearsley Street
Flint, Michigan

An educational and entertaining experience featuring art, music, and 9 movies!
Admission: $6 per day, $15 weekend pass (call for group rates)

Friday, July 28

5:00 PM – Opening Night Party
An unveiling of a hip-hop inspired art installation in the FIA Lobby, conceived and organized by Michigan-based artist and curator Craig Paul Nowak, including works by the following artists: RIKU, John Fletcher, Serge Gay Jr., MINES, LaKela Brown, ARMY, KOSEK, FARS, Mike Smith. Before the feature films, there will be musical performances by Rosta Records artists Theory, G-Wiz, and Main Event, as well as screenings of locally-produced videos: “104-1/2 Street Short? and “Woman II Woman.?

6:00 PM – Nobody Knows My Name
(58 min., followed by discussion with director Rachel Raimist)
7:30 PM – Scratch (90 min.)

The Official Hip-Hop Film Festival After Party
9:30 PM to Midnight
Featuring performances by: The Chose In Few, Lost Elementz, 7 Chakraz, and Done Proper.
Admission is free with HHFF ticket stub; otherwise $5 donation is suggested.
101 Burton Street
(Across from Farmer’s Market, 1/4 mile west of I-475 on Robert T. Longway Boulevard in downtown Flint)

Saturday, July 29

11:00 AM – Workshop: “The Elements of Rhyme Style?
11:45 AM – Workshop: “The Basics of Hip Hop Production?
12:30 AM – Panel: “Representing Hip Hop on the Web?
1:30 PM – Style Wars (70 min.)
3:00 PM – The Freshest Kids (90 min.)
5:00 PM – Bomb the System (95 min.)
7:30 PM – Wild Style (82 min.)

Sunday, July 30

1:30 PM – What’s Up Fat Lip? (27 min.)
2:00 PM – Breath Control (73 min.)
3:30 PM – Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
(72 min., followed by discussion with filmmakers Kevin Fitzgerald, Todd Hickey, and Rachel Raimist)

The Flint Institute of Arts is a museum and art school located in the Flint Cultural Center in Flint, Michigan. Visitors can enjoy an active program of changing exhibitions, masterpieces from the special collection, weekly films, studio classes, and a variety of educational programs and special events throughout the year.
Contact: Charles Gentry, Assistant Curator of Film and Video Art

The History of Turntablism (“H.o.T?) at the Sloan Museum
Organized by the Art Café of Davison, Michigan, the “H.o.T? exhibition at the Sloan Museum will display antique and retro turntables, art, photography, videos, and other ephemera of DJ culture on Saturday, July 29th, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Cora Smilkovich, Executive Director
Curtis Kohl, Program Director
The Art Café
217 Shoppers Alley
Davison, MI 48423

February 27, 2006

Catching up on Flicks

sier.jpg weatherman.jpg

Just finished watching La Sierra. My heart is still pounding in my chest. The film is about war in the Sierra neighborhood of Medellin (Columbia). The filmmakers intimately showed the lives of guerillas / paramilitary warriors. Daily drugs, guns, violence, motorcycles, and of course baby mommas. The pain and the sadness floats above the surface, although there is a lot of intimacy and boyish grins on the faces of these young warriors. Poverty, desperation and access to drugs and guns - so much like so many neighborhoods in Chicago, Baltimore, Philly, Compton. I think of LA-based filmmaker, G- Bone, and the trailer for the his project on LA gangs (I hope he gets some funding to make that happen.

Wanted to read more about the filmmakers. Really interesting Q&A here.

Am a voting member for the IFP Independent Spirit Awards so I'm trying to get caught up on the nominees. I already voted, but only on the films that I had seen.

Also, for a friend's birthday watched The Weatherman (Nicolas Cage is great) and The Island. I hate these clone action suspense movies. I had crazy dreams that whole night. Gore Verbinksi (Weatherman, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Ring) graduated from UCLA film school too (he's 87 and I'm 95 and 99).

Next to watch: Nine Lives

Other amazingly interesting site to check out: sec_symphony_on.gif

I am really intrigued by the Juxtaposition page

The filmmaker/ cyber artist behind this project is Liz Canner. She's headed to the Twin Cities to speak in a Macalester class. I am very excited to meet her.

September 29, 2005

on DVD? on netflix? i wish!

for years if i said "i'm going to show a documentary" in class my students would sink in their seats. but now, in this post-farenheit 9/11, supersize me, capturing the friedmans, and tarnation, they all watch docs! still, many are confused with reality television as equating to doc on meth. maybe that's not too bad of an analogy. not sure, have to think it thru, post-coffee.


yesterday i showed my wonderful students, bell hooks "cultural criticism and transformation". well, the first half at least. i find that it's actually better to watch that film in 2 parts because it's nearly information overload.

i've read some interestingly bad critiques of this video. nonetheless, i love it!

on bell hooks on literacy. bell does a great tihing in the piece, getting students to think about literacy, representation, agency, patriarchy, white supremacy, captialism (even tho her term - white supremacist capitalist patriarchy - is a frightening mouthful to many). she discusses representation and how narratives are constructed (from OJ spectacle to Hoop Dreams). still, she needs to expand the analysis of literacy (she says something about the written word on the page) to a deeper model of critical media literacy. maybe if she studied filmmaking (that might be cool - to see what short videos she would make) to fuel her analysis. well, more on this later...

+ + +

my favorite docs:

senorita extraviada // lourdes portillo

nobody's business // alan berliner

every mother's son // tami gold & kelly anderson

a.k.a. don bonus // spencer nakasako

i am a promise: the children of staton elementary // susan & alan raymond

freestyle: the art of rhyme // dj organic

non-docs that i can watch over and over and over again:

the professional // luc besson

say anything // cameron crowe

i like it like that

the piano

what i've watched recently:


hotel rwanda

ice princess

what i want to see (or see again):

how do you spell murder? // susan and alan raymond

angola, the farm

mai's america

passing through // nathan adolfson

las madres de plaza de mayo // lourdes portillo

the devil never sleeps // lourdes portillo

+ + +
Today's "Horror-Scope" (that's what my Mom used to call them).


Mercury and Neptune conspire to strengthen the voice of your intuition. Muses are also graced with vocal amplification. So whether you tune in or tune out, the universe is trying to tell you something, and the message blasts clear as a bell. The Leo moon favors outrageously big-hearted acts -- the bigger the gesture, the better received it will be.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20). You're working so hard today that you could lose yourself entirely. Who are you? You're no longer a person but a machine. You'll get back some of your human qualities tonight, especially if you spend time with a Virgo or a Libra.

July 11, 2005

still freestylin'

if you want to go to the afterpary, RSVP HERE

as i've said in other posts, this film was truly a labor of love. kevin fitzgerald, the director, is a passionate visionary who, like jeff chang "can't stop and won't stop". freestyle (see the official film website HERE) and buy the film HERE) was made over the coure of 7+ years, shot on many cameras by many filmmakers (including me), was passed thru the hands of many editors (including me), and is finally finished. i love to see people love this film.