For its ’09 – ’10 release slate, new distribution company, Carnivalesque Films, announces the availability of ten great modern classics, representing some of the most outstanding and distinctive independent narrative and nonfiction films made in the recent past. The collection brings together stories united by a "raw, startling sensibility of disruption and celebration, where excess and transgression percolate in everyday life." This small independent start-up created by filmmakers, David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, curates stories "united by the raw and startling sensibilities of transgression, spectacle, and variations of truth and falseness. Named for Carnival, a celebration where societal norms are turned on their heads and excess and transgression rule the day, Carnivalesque Films seeks to disrupt a viewer’s most cherished beliefs in unexpected ways. . . . In real life, people behave irrationally, succumbing to madness or self-destruction in pursuit of dreams and desires. Carnivalesque Films acknowledges these dreams and desires by exploring them as literature from the characters’ points of view."
These seven titles are currently available on DVD:
* Mardi Gras: Made in China directed by David Redmon. Winner of twenty-one national and international awards, this multi-layered documentary follows the path of Mardi Gras beads from the streets of New Orleans during Carnival—where revelers party and exchange beads for nudity—to the disciplined factories in Fuzhou, China where teenaged girls live and sew beads together all day and night. Blending curiosity with comedy, director Redmon explores how the toxic products directly affect the people who both make and consume them. The Los Angeles Times says Mardi Gras: Made in China “cleverly juxtaposes the apex of American bacchanalian excess with the sweatshop-like conditions that facilitate the fun.” Stuart Klawans of The Nation says, “This is one of the best films I know about real (as opposed to op-ed) globalization. Please welcome it.” You can read my review from this blog by clicking here.
* Orphans by Ry Russo-Young. Winner of a Special Jury Award at the SXSW Film Festival, Russo-Young’s eloquent feature début tells the story of two estranged sisters who reunite five years after the death of their parents at the isolated farmhouse where they spent childhood summers and holidays. As the two revisit their past and catch up on their present, tensions flare, threatening to end what’s left of a family already ravaged by death, jealousy, and secrets. Andrew O’Heir of Salon.com says that, “Orphans is a striking first film that simultaneously summons the spirit of Bergman’s Cries and Whispers and Brian De Palma’s Sisters. Scott Macaulay, editor of FILMMAKER Magazine as a member of the SXSW jury praised it for its “personally crafted visual aesthetic.”
* The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose by Sam Douglas and Paul Lovelace. From their origins in New York’s Greenwich Village folk scene and their involvement in the Easy Rider soundtrack, to the lost years of constant drugging, endless touring and a final shot at redemption, Douglas and Lovelace’s film recounts the unique forty-year history of these true American originals. With startling intimacy, the film also documents the band’s arduous, amusing, and sometimes heartbreaking struggle to capitalize on their recent resurgence in popularity, culminating in an unpredictable 40th anniversary concert in Portland, Oregon. The New York Times calls it “rollicking and poignant,” and filmmaker, Bruce Sinofsky, co-director of such nonfiction classics as Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, says, “Bound to Lose is a hidden treasure! A surprisingly moving and funny look at a dysfunctional musical family. You can’t take your eyes off it.”
* Manhattan, Kansas by Tara Wray. For her filmmaking début, Tara Wray travels to rural Kansas in an attempt to reconnect with her mother, Evie, for the first time since Evie’s psychotic breakdown five years earlier. She finds a parent still chasing her demons, both real and imagined, struggling to make a career for herself as an abstract artist and searching for the “Geodetic Center of the United States,” the finding of which will bring about world peace. When Tara decides to aid her mother’s search, it sets into motion a surprising chain of events. The Film Society of Lincoln Center says of this SXSW Audience Award winner: “Emotionally blunt and affecting, . . . acknowledging that love abides, even when forgiveness is not always easy or possible.” Marrit Ingman of the Austin Chronicle says that Wray’s film is “everything a personal documentary should be.”
* Invisible Girlfriend by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. Charles goes in search of his love, Joan of Arc, the invisible girlfriend of the title of this story of a 400-mile journey on a big red bicycle from rural Monroe, Louisiana to the Big Easy. Along the way, he encounters a farmer, a witch, a tin man, and an ex-soldier who honors the dead. This hybrid piece, which Michael Tully of Hammer to Nail calls a film “that transcends the realms of fiction and non-fiction to reach a new state of truth,” won the Ron Tibbett Award for Excellence in Film at the Magnolia Film Festival and garnered rave reviews from the likes of Joe Leydon of Variety—“a textbook example of what can result when savvy documentarians fortuitously connect (or, in this case, reconnect) with an interesting subject at precisely the right moment;” and Ty Burr of The Boston Globe—“A surprising and profoundly compassionate road trip about an America struggling to get back on its feet, . . . filmmakers Sabin and Redmon work at the intersection of Flannery O’Connor Avenue and Werner Herzog Boulevard.”
* Kamp Katrina by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. Kamp Katrina is a multiple award-winning cinéma vérité jewel. Shot shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated wide swaths of the American South, Redmon and Sabin document a small group of people who have taken refuge in a garden transformed into a tent city by an extraordinary New Orleans couple, Ms. Pearl and her husband, David. Winner of a SXSW Emerging Voices award, a Special Jury Prize from the Independent Film Festival in Boston, Best Documentary at the Magnolia Film Festival, a Special Jury Award at the Nashville Film Festival, a special screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, top of Booklist’s Best of Editors’ Choice and a selection of the Southern Film Circuit, Kamp Katrina, in the words of New York Magazine, “captures (beautifully and unflinchingly) a harrowing breakdown of social order. The result is a slight little film with a remarkable generosity of spirit.” Matt Zoller Seitz of the New York Times: “The movie is a portrait of New Orleans after the flood, a debris-strewn ghost town where human kindness is overflowing.”
* Intimidad by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. “Romance is where Intimidad soars, turning it into a documentary fairytale of truly humbling proportions,” says Michael Tully of Hammer to Nail. Intimidad is an original Mexican love story about family relationships and the meaning of home. Cecy and Camilo, both 21 years old, have recently moved to the border in Reynosa, Mexico from Santa Maria, Puebla with a dream of saving money to build a home on the land that they’ve purchased. One year later, they return to their hometown to reunite with their two-year-old daughter, Loida (pictured). Shot by Redmon and Sabin and Cecy and Camilo, the film documents their lives over the course of five years mixing digital vérité with Super 8 and 16mm film. The piece played as part of “The Contenders” series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, won Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Latino Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Sidewalk Film Festival, Best International Film at the Connecticut Film Festival, the Human Rights Award at the River Run Film Festival and the Ron Tibbet Award for Excellence in Film at the Magnolia Film Festival.
Soon to be released this summer and fall will be Redmon and Sabin’s Darlings, Alex Karpovsky’s Woodpecker and Tom Quinn’s The New Year Parade, as well as other yet-to-be-announced films. You can watch trailers and purchase DVDs for both home and educational/institutional use on the Carnivalesque site and titles can also be purchased on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, BestBuy.com, Borders.com, Netflix.com and Blockbuster.com.