Festival season has started in earnest here in New York. (I'm writing in pink in support of this month's Breast Cancer Awareness.) But first, a fond farewell to Agnes Varnum as she heads west to Austin, Texas, where she'll join the Austin Film Society and add one more clever head to the mix out there.
The New York Film Festival is in full swing over the next couple of weeks and films that I was privileged to see at festivals this past year are having their theatrical debuts. First up on Tuesday night at IFC Center, a screening of Jennifer Venditti's multiple prize-winning Billy the Kid. This new filmmaker's star is on the rise--her razor-sharp instincts, love for her fellow humanoids, and the undistilled passion she brings to everything she does guarantees that. I'm excited to see what she does next. After the screening, Thom Powers will conduct a Q&A with Venditti as part of his Stranger Than Fiction series. Jennifer took Thom's class on filmmaking at NYU when the "Billy" project consisted of a box of DV tapes she had shot over the course of just eight days in Maine. Still not feeling like a "real" filmmaker, she took her box to class to see what she could learn to help her unleash the little gem of a movie those tapes contained. And, so here it is, an unlikely (but possible) Oscar contender for 2007's best feature documentary.
And then the following night, another one of my top faves this year will have its theatrical debut in New York, again at the IFC Center. (I'm apparently going to be spending a lot of time there--good thing I'm close.) AJ Schnack, prolific blogging guru and nonfiction filmmaker, created an emotionally intense, extremely intimate portrait of rock icon, Kurt Cobain. I've written a lot about this film and what it's meant to me personally. I have a really great interview with AJ and Michael Azerrad on this blog that was conducted last November after the film played at the International AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles (almost one year ago, sheesh!). Also, attempting to qualify for Academy shortlist for best feature doc, this is a don't-miss theatrical experience. So don't miss it. And you can get the kick-ass soundtrack in stores or visit Barsuk to purchase it there.
As part of my interview series for Renew Media on marketing and distribution for independent filmmakers, I'll be talking with Brent Hoff, executive producer of Wholphin, a quarterly DVD publication of fiction and nonfiction works-in-progress and shorts. And, later today, also on the Renew blog, a post will be up with Indiepix' Jordan Mattos and Danielle DiGiacomo.
Then back to IFC on Thursday for a screening, live performance and interview with Italian filmmaker, Agostino Ferrente, director of The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio, an award-winning documentary that is also having a screening here in New York in Queens at the Museum of the Moving Image. Look for my interview with Ferrente in the next week or so here. I was going to go to Rome for the 2nd annual film festival there, but for various reasons am passing on that. But Rome is, apparently, coming to me.
The East Village hosts the Evil City Film Festival, October 4 - 7, and yours truly will be sitting on her first (but, hopefully not last) panel called "Blog Till You Bleed." I've moderated panels before, but have never actually been a panelist and I'm quite flattered to be in the company of other film bloggers and journalists that have been mentors of mine. I've been reading Stu, Michael, Karina and Mark for quite a while--all sharp, intelligent, insightful writers, folks that helped inspire me to start my own blog. We're paneling at Fontana's, 105 Eldridge Street on Sunday, October 7 at 4:00 p.m. There's a panel at 2:00 p.m. called "Scoring School: Music in Film" and also one following us at 6:30 called "Lifestyles of the Not-So-Rich and Almost Famous: Indie Filmmakers Tell All." Go here for details.
This month will also be my first time at a well-loved festival, the 8th Annual Woodstock Film Festival, October 10 -14, and then the following week I'll hit the Hamptons for its 15th international film fest. I think I now officially qualify for "Poverty Jet-Set" status. :)
And to top my month off, I got myself a ticket to Carnegie Hall for the 23rd to see one of my muses, Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman (whom we'll see on theater screens a lot this year--yay). PSH will be performing a reading of selections from Philip Roth's meditation on death, Everyman, as well as a poem inspired by Shubert's quartet "Death and the Maiden." His reading will be accompanied by the Takacs Quartet, so this should be an amazing evening. I was privileged to see Phil in "Jack Goes Boating" last spring at the LAByrinth, the theater company of which he is co-artistic director. If you think he's electrifying on screen, you should see him live--wow.
My October doth rock.