Duke & The Movies

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Written by: Sam Fragoso on April 28, 2012

April 28, 2012 | 8 comments | Featured, Old Format

Ebertfest Recap: Friday

Finally, it has arrived . Well, actually, I’ve finally arrived.

While it was my first day at the festival, Friday marked day three for loyal Ebertfest attendees.

As expected, it was truly a good time, with only a few minor hiccups (in particular the bizarre seat saving debacle that occurs at every screening). A lot of high notes – the introductions for each film, and the Q & A’s that followed afterwards – were a constant highlight.

Anyway, below is my coverage of everything that transpired today. Three films, two panel discussions, and full of enjoyable, intellectual cinematic conversation.

Underrepresented Cinematic Voices

Moderated by: Eric Pierson

In a riveting panel discussion with filmmakers located all across the globe, the topic of discussion was independent cinema, and the arduous journey each artist must take in order get their labor of love onto the silver screen.

A few crucial points I’d like to touch on.

First, the executive producer of the film Patang named Jaideep Punjabi was anecdotal and perceptive, providing uplifting stories and personal experiences of getting his movie made, seen, and distributed via the festival circuit and self distribution.

Which for more reasons than one, is how most independent, low-budget filmmakers are releasing their films: by doing it on their own, “rising against the machine” that is Hollywood.

Carolyn Briggs, esteemed author and screenwriter of Vera Farmiga’s film Higher Ground was in attendance, saying without the Oscar nominated star, the film would have never been made.

A roundabout of unique, distinguished, and nuanced artist made the conversation wholly enjoyable.  The “disconnect” between the people distributing the movies, and the people watching the movies was a constant subject that arose.

From listening to these talented individuals talk about their experiences with making movies, I expect independent cinema will not only prosper but reach out to larger audiences as contemporary cinema moves forward.


Movies Without Theaters

Moderated by: Jim Emmerson

Moderated by Jim Emerson, of Scanners blog fame, the panel discussion entitled Movies Without Theaters talked about the progressing entity that is On Demand.  While the dialect began with personal experiences from each participant on the panel of watching movies at home, the conversation quickly shifted to the theatrical experience.

Within that theatrical experience, constantly evolving (or in the eyes of a pessimist, devolving) there’s a radical change with independent cinema: films being released via on demand first, and then followed with a theatrical release.

This implementation of contemporary films being shown at home isn’t exactly new. But the result of people watching so many films at home is what’s destroying the theater experience: that is the “erosion of manners”, as David Bordwell poignantly observed.

As society continues to use On Demand to watch films at home, on their couch, with friends – where talking and texting and pausing is accepted – the basic principle of going to the movies is becoming faded.

As society has progressed, so has the movies, and the way we view them. People have a need to see movies now, with a demand, and little patience.

Lively discussion was aplenty between the panelists. Each writer, from David Poland of Movie City News to Neil Minow of Movie Mom had varying opinions and ideas on how society should watch film.

Nothing wrong with enjoyable rumination over a topic that deserves serious attention.


The Films

On Borrowed Time is exactly with the title implicates: a filmmaker who – like all of us – is borrowing time to live, to love, and to create art just once more to satisfy his cinematic passion. Documentarian David Bradbury intensely captures filmmaker Paul Cox in perhaps his last moments before death. It’s an uncertain documentary, one intertwined with Cox’s past works, and philosophical narration from both David Whenham and Cox himself. Read my full review of the bio-picture here.

Wild & Weird: Played by the brilliant Alloy Orchestra

Wild and Weird: Ten silent short films flickered onto the silver screen this afternoon, all of which were beautifully accompanied by the beloved Alloy Orchestra. There’s an unmatched passion between these musicians conveyed through each musical composition.

Their cinematic sprit runs long and deep. Each member of the orchestra handpicked the films they were going to play to, and each member is extraordinarily well versed in the silent movie genre (as shown through the lengthy Q & A moderated by David Bordwell and David Poland).  More of a program than a film, Wild and Weird was a small delight – and coincidentally timely as this past year featured two films – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist that reveled in the nostalgia of silent movies, and the auteurs behind them.

A Separation: I will be candid here and express that I have not yet fully developed my thoughts on Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar winning foreign film, A Separation. It’s a profound, deeply resonate piece of filmmaking that connects on a visceral and emotional level. Within the coming days I’ll expound upon my enthusiastic feelings into a full featured review. The film simply deserves more than just a minimalistic 150-200 word summarization. A Separation is truly a one of kind film about the human condition. In particular, Farhadi’s compelling and thought provoking statement about society: which is that while societies tend to view one another with uncertainty and hostility, we all experience the same hardships in life. People from place to place change, but the issues affecting us as people remain the same. It’s that core idea that makes A Separation such a wonderfully crafted motion picture that anyone, anywhere can relate to.


To watch all of the panel discussions and each of the Q&A’s that proceed each film, you may click here.

Thank you for reading. More to come this weekend.


There are 8 comments for this post.

  1. James Ward on April 28, 2012 7:54 am

    More details on “the bizarre seat-saving debacle” please. How bizarre can it be? I’m assuming it’s a pretty staid audience for Ebertfest. Did someone threaten to pour their free-trade coffee on someone’s head for taking a seat? Was a gluten-free muffin thrown? I want details!!

  2. Sam Fragoso on April 28, 2012 9:19 am

    Alright, I’ll tell you. Sate seaving is welcomed – and not the kind where you sit in a seat and save the next two or three seats next to you till your friends come along.

    This seating saving that goes on, allows someone to simply but an item on a seat or multiple seats and then leave. Even if they leave the building, the seat is theirs.

    So, wha people do is run in before the screening of the first film starts, puts a progam, bag, whatever on multiple seats, and then leave and come back for a later screening.

    It’s quite ridiculous.

  3. Lillianna on April 28, 2012 7:47 pm

    Sounds like fun to me! Great review of everything, I always enjoy your posts! Keep it up.

  4. Sam Fragoso on April 28, 2012 11:19 pm

    Thank you very much Lillianna. I’m glad you enjoy the writing.

  5. Squasher88 on April 29, 2012 10:44 am

    You are so lucky! I’m glad you are so enthusiastic about “A Separation”, I think it’s a masterpiece.

  6. Sam Fragoso on April 29, 2012 11:38 pm

    It truly is a special movie. I’m so glad you took the time out to comment and read – much appreciated.

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