Sunday, November 30, 2014

AIFF 2014: Short Narratives In Competition: A Box of Chocolates

This category is like a box of chocolates - lots of little delicious bites of films.  So many choices, which should you pick?  Which will be best?  I haven't seen any of these films, but I've gathered crumbs from each, but not enough to spoil the surprise.

The Short Narratives in competition are spread over three different short narrative programs.  Plus there are several other Short Narrative programs.  I've color coded the programs - the reds are in Global Village, the greens are in Love and Pain, and the purple is in Mixed Bag.



Narrative Shorts In Competition √
Film Director Country Length Program
Arena Martin RathPoland 23m Global Village
Given Your History Molly McGlynn Canada 15m Global Village
How Hipólito Vázquez Found Magic Where He Never Expected To Find It 
[De cómo Hipólito Vázquez encontró magia donde no buscaba]
Matias Rubio Argentina 15m Global Village
Till Then [Bis Gleich] BenjaminWolff Germany 20m Global Village
Tom in America Flavio Alves Brazil 17m Mixed Bag
Universal Language Kirsten Russell USA 35m Love & Pain
What Cheer? Michael Slavens USA 17m Love & Pain

[UPDATE, Dec. 6, 2014:  It turns out I left out Full Windsor - a super short narrative in competition.  It plays in the Love and Pain program.]


There are four films in competition in the Global Village program.

Global Village - Shorts Program
Sun, Dec 07 3:00 PM  AK Experience Large  
Thu, Dec 11      7:30 PM  AK Experience Small
Into The Silent Sea | Andrej Landin 2013 
**How Hipolito Vazquez Found Magic Where He Never Expected | Matias Rubio 2013   
Intermission | Marielle Gautier 2014 
**Arena | Martin Rath 2013  
**Given Your History | Molly McGlynn 2014   
**Till Then | Benjamin Wolff 2014  
 **= films in competition

Screenshot from trailer - "shot in a perpetual twilight"
Martin Rath   
23m √

Culture.Pl lists this Polish film, with a German director,  among The Most Interesting Debut Films of 2013

It won what appears to be the main international prize at the Cork Film Festival where they posted this brief assessment:

"Grand Prix International (€1,000)
Martin Rath, Poland
Jury Statement: From the first to the final frame, Arena maintains a threatening ambiguity. Shot in a perpetual twilight, things are always about to get dark, and Rath’s immense skill is to hold the tension as the film oscillates between machismo and sensitivity.
Cork Short Film Nominee for the European Film Awards 2014
From the Krakow Film Festival:
"A hitchhiker is taken in by an remote Polish mountain community. Absorbed by the charismatic locals and unforgiving harshness of his new environment he constitutes his presence in the mountains. But to whom do we have to prove of what we're made?"
Part of Global Village Program that plays:
Sun, Dec 07 3:00 PM  AK Experience Large  
Thu, Dec 11      7:30 PM  AK Experience Small

Given Your History
Image from  National Screen Institute Canada:
15m √

This is the US premiere of this film.  It's only been publicly shown once so far - in Hamilton, Canada

From the National Screen Institute Canada:
NSI Drama Prize short Given Your History, from writer/director Molly McGlynn and producer Laura Perlmutter, is getting even more festival exposure.
Next month it screens at the Hamilton Film Festival on Saturday, November 8 at 9 p.m. as part of the drama shorts 2 programme at the Staircase Theatre.
The short also screens in Alaska in December at the Anchorage International Film Festival as part of their short film selections.
Given Your History is an honest look at two sisters trying to move on after their mother’s death from breast cancer.
This means, Anchorage audiences will be among the first to see this film, and it's possibly an US premiere.  There apparently has been a shorter (4 minutes) version that's played in fesitivals Seattle and elsewhere.

Part of Global Village Program that plays:
Sun, Dec 07 3:00 PM  AK Experience Large  
Thu, Dec 11      7:30 PM  AK Experience Small

How Hipólito Vázquez Found Magic Where He Never Expected To Find It  [De cómo Hipólito Vázquez encontró magia donde no buscaba]
Matias Rubio
15m √

From Two Short Nights Film Festival website:

"Hipólito Vázquez is a talent scout. With his loyal partner Cholo, he is looking for a little child whose supposed to “do magic with the football”. Therefore they go on a long journey to the distant Club “La Camelia” following the advices of a mystery man. But as the trip goes along, not everything goes as planned and maybe what he ends up discovering was not exactly what he expected to find."
Based on a map on the films Facebook page, this appears to be only the third US showing.  It got the Grand Jury Prize at the Indiana Short Film Festival in October this year.

Part of Global Village Program that plays:
Sun, Dec 07 3:00 PM  AK Experience Large  
Thu, Dec 11      7:30 PM  AK Experience Small

Image from Spiffest

Till Then [Bis Gleich]
Benjamin Wolff
20m √

From a review by Beth Groundwater at the Breckenridge Film Festival:

"A man and a woman sit at their respective windows across from each other on a busy street in Berlin, Germany, and observe the interesting minor dramas unfolding on the street below them. They never speak, but they acknowledge each others presence. But then one day the man does not appear. What should the woman do?
Instead of relying on on a preponderance of dialogue to express emotion and move the story forward, the scriptwriter, Tara Lynn Orr, and director, Benjamin Wolff, expertly use the characters' actions to tenderly reveal the story to the viewer, the courage it takes for the woman to act, and the bittersweet result. This nineteen minute smile awaits you!"

Part of Global Village Program that plays:
Sun, Dec 07 3:00 PM  AK Experience Large  
Thu, Dec 11      7:30 PM  AK Experience Small

Two films in competition in the Love & Pain program.

Love & Pain - Shorts Program
Sat, Dec 06  12:00 PM    Alaska Experience Large
Thu, Dec 11  6:00 PM     Alaska Experience Large
Four Brothers. Or Three. Wait ... Three. | Philip Buiser 2013
The Mourning Hour | Susan Cohen 2013
**Universal Language | Kirsten Russell 2014
Beneath the Trees | Kitty Mahoney 2014
Reaching Home | Kenneth Murphy 2013
Full-Windsor | Faraday Okoro 2014
**What Cheer? | Michael Slavens 2014
**= films in competition

[UPDATED 12/6:}  Full Windsor
Image from Ari Fulton Design for Stage and Film

Faraday Okoror

A 10 year old boy battles his mother in order to wear his father's tie to school.

Part of Love & Pain Program that plays:
Sat, Dec 06  12:00 PM    Alaska Experience Large
Thu, Dec 11  6:00 PM     Alaska Experience Large

Universal Language
Kirsten Russell
35m √

Excerpt from Universal Language's Kickstarter page:  (It got more than its $3500 goal)

"In the spring of 2013 I had plans to be in Austria for two weeks.  I got a call from a long-time friend (and gifted actress), Frederique Nahmani who had moved back to France.  And she threw and idea at me.
"If you're going to be in the neighborhood, why not swing over to Paris...and shoot a little film."Now what normal person, let alone filmmaker, is gonna turn that down?
the scriptI just had to write a script. So I started with the most obvious thing…the language. Or for me the language barrier since I'd be shooting a film as a stranger in a strange land.  I knew who my lead actress would be (clearly Frederique) and since I like to write for specific actors, like dysfunctional muses, I approached Marcel Simoneau, another long-time friend and filmmaking buddy.  And with these two, I made up Dan and Sophie... "

The film she did for Kickstarter probably gives us a good introduction to the film:

There's a long interview at FilmCourage if you want to know more.

Part of Love & Pain Program that plays:
Sat, Dec 06  12:00 PM    Alaska Experience Large
Thu, Dec 11  6:00 PM     Alaska Experience Large

What Cheer?
Michael Slavens
17m √

It's hard to find something about a lot of these movies that isn't just a copy of the official description of the movie.  I want you to get a sense of the movie without giving anything away that might spoil it.  So, here's what a film maker Patrick Longstreth wrote on his blog 
"One of my favorites was “What Cheer?” starring Richard Kind. We shared a Q&A with director Michael Slavens, who is a thoughtful filmmaker and really nice guy. I was very happy to see his film win the “Filmmaker’s Favorite” award."

What Cheer?  won the The Black Bear Award for Best Use of Sound at the Athens (Ohio) International Film Festival.

Part of Love & Pain Program that plays:
Sat, Dec 06  12:00 PM    Alaska Experience Large
Thu, Dec 11  6:00 PM     Alaska Experience Large

And one film in competition in the Mixed Bag Shorts Program:

Mixed Bag  - Shorts Program
Thu, Dec 11 8:00 PM    Alaska Experience Large
One Armed Man | Tim Guinee 2014
Samantha '66 | Dan Wainio 2014
**Tom in America | Flavio Alves 2014
The Ladder | Pete Fitz 2013

Zugwang | Yolanda Centeno 2014
**in competition

Tom in America
Flavio Alves
17m √

This one only plays once as far as I can tell.  And although its director is a Brazilian and this is categorized as a Brazilian film, it takes place in New York, with a couple who celebrate their 50th anniversary, and then . . .  It stars two academy award nominees - Sally Kirkland who was nominated according to Wikipedia
"1987 for Anna, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama"
and Burt Young, who, again according to Wikipedia, was also nominated for his role
"as Sylvester Stallone's brother-in-law Paulie in Rocky (1976), for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor."
He's also been in a lot of other well-known movies television shows from Chinatown to M*A*S*H and the Sopranos.

The clip below is NOT the official trailer, but the opening theme scored by Walter Schick.

Part of Mixed Bag that plays:
Thu, Dec 11 8:00 PM    Alaska Experience Large Unfortunately at the same time as Global Village Program with four other Short Narrative films in competition.   So see Global Village on Sunday Dec. 7 at 3pm


Three More Narrative Shorts Programs:

  • Alaska Grown (Thursday 8pm), 
  • Mexican (Friday Dec 12)  and 
  • Chinese Short Film Programs (Sun Dec. 14)

Plus fifteen, mostly 2 minute, shorts from kids in the Iditarod School District.

Alaska Grown
Sat, Dec 13  5:00 PM   Alaska Experience Large
Russian Jack | Jonathan Lang 2014
Speak No Evil | James Elden 2014
Wrong Side Up | Henry McComas 2014
STORYTELLING | the movie | Stefanie Black 2013
Six Dead Bodies Duct-Taped to a Merry-Go-Round | Kevin T. Bennett 2014
Look What You Did | Eirin Strickland 2014
Beneath the Trees | Kitty Mahoney 2014

Short Films From the Guanajuato International Film Festival
7:00 PM     Fri, Dec 12  Alaska Experience Theater - Large
Under The Sun [Bajo el sol] | Arcadi Palerm 2012 
Fifteen Years [Quince Años] | Liliana Torres 2012 
An Eye [Un ojo] | Lorenza Manrique 2012 
No Brakes [Sin Frenos] | Pancho Ortega 
Eskimo [Eskimal] | Homero Ramírez 2011

UAA Confucius Institute 
Short Films from China
Sun, Dec 14  2:30 PM  Alaska Experience Large
Return to Prairie | Liqi Yi
Can’t Piss | Xinqi Song
Summer Secret | Zeng Zeng
Grandfather’s Wishes | Yu We

There are also feature films as part of the Mexican films and the Chinese Films.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Yarn Or Tea Emergency?

So, it did snow overnight.  More of a dusting really (see picture below).  But then sometime between 9 and 10 am or so, the power went off.  It's only just gone back on.  About four hours.  It stayed reasonably comfortable inside, but outside, near 30˚F, with a gusty wind, it was downright chilly.  And most places downtown were closed.  The bakery had baked goods for sale, but just water to drink.  The knit shop had the sign above.   A nearby eating place had a sign saying they'd be open again "at the convenience of Puget Sound Power."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rainy Seattle Day

We have had a couple of almost warm sunny days.  (Warm?  In the 50's and comfy sitting in the sun.) And grey days, but the day we decided to go into Seattle to go to the bookstore, today, it was raining. Waiting for the ferry, the windows got so fogged up that we could barely see the cars around us.

Once the engine was back on the windshield cleared, but with a sleeping baby in back, we mostly stayed in the car.

There wasn't too much traffic, and we even found a parking space near the bookstore, with big leafy puddles all around.

The noodle shop we hit up for take out was closed, so we headed down Madison, passed the Seattle public library, and down the hill to catch the 3pm ferry back.

More on the bookstore later.

Meanwhile there's talk of snow.  We'll see:

Updated Friday 5:35 p.m.
"A very busy night around here -- let's start with the snow. We're still rain at times this evening with some mixed snow in Snohomish County, but temperatures will cool later tonight and snow levels will drop. A Snow Advisory is in effect from 9 p.m. Friday through 11 a.m. Saturday for as much as 1-3 inches of snow for King, Snohomish, Island and Skagit Counties plus eastern Clallam County and eastern Kitsap County, with particular emphasis on Snohomish County. Temperatures in the 50s in the morning have plummeted to the 40s and 30s with parts of Snohomish County already had some rain/snow or wet snow Friday afternoon with temperatures in the mid-upper 30s."
It's after 9pm here, but no snow yet.  But it's still raining and colder.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tofurkey: When Vegetarian Food Is Based On Trying To Copy Meat

Tofurkey, vegeburgers, vegan bacon,  meatless meatballs, and other non-meat versions of meat dishes can all taste ok, even good.  But the eater, especially someone who isn't a vegetarian, will be inevitably be comparing the meatless version with the real version.  And most of the time, the fake meat won't live up to the real thing.  Disappointment, and at least an unconscious conclusion that vegetarian food is second class.

In India, things are turned around.  Meat restaurants are labeled non-veg.  Veg is first.  When you start with vegetables, you create recipes that take advantage of the flavors, textures, and colors of the various fruits and grains and leafy bounty of the earth.  Indian cuisine marvelously combines  all these gifts of nature in such delicious variety that one would never need to eat flesh.

Of course, when one is raised on meaty meals, habit and emotional attachments give meat an allure that is hard to give up.  The connection, for example, between Thanksgiving and turkey is hard to overcome.  My casual vegetarianism allows me to eat a little turkey.

Evolutionarily, humans are omnivores.  We have canines in our tooth collection.  Eating meat is natural for humans.  But so is eating vegetarian.   A turkey-free Thanksgiving, in my view, is better than a fake turkey substitute.  The key ingredients in a Thanksgiving dinner are family, friends, and appreciation of all we have to be thankful for, not the turkey.

[This was originally posted Nov. 27, 2014 at 8:27am, but Feedburner didn't pick it up and update blogrolls, so I'm reposting in hopes it might get onto blogrolls.]

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gramping, Learning My New Computer And Software - Testing iMovie - The Wind

There are two grandkids here now.  That's a big distraction.  The older one and I mixed bread dough today.  She paid very close attention and we didn't make too much of a mess.  This is a very simple recipe from a Josey Baker bread book I got at the library - just flour, salt, yeast, and water.  But it does call for it to rise at least three hours and then spend the night in the refrigerator.  So maybe all the fermenting will give it interesting tastes.

I'm also getting used to how to do things on Yosemite (the new Mac operating system) and figuring out how to find things in the various other updated software. iMovie is proving a longer haul - partly because I have about 30 minutes of interview with Attila Szász, the director of The Ambassador to Bern which will show in the Anchorage International Film Festival in December.  So I'm transcribing it and figuring out how I want to edit it.  Part of it is a discussion of taking a real historical event and then fictionalizing it.

It was taking so long that I decided to just make a short video from start to finish - it saves video in different ways that I'm trying to get my head around - just to do one.  It was windy this morning when I woke up, so I took a picture of the evergreen out the window blowing in the wind.

The windows here muffled the sound pretty well, so I looked for some wind sound effects - found 'cave and wind' - and I also tried out the video effects.  The video is short, but look at the difference between the raw footage (what I normally would have used with the old iMovie I was using) and the enhanced video with the added sound.

This is a little related to the discussion of taking a real event and fictionalizing it.  For creative film makers, this offers lots of possibilities: the enhanced mood of the video effects and the sound of wind from the sound effects tools.  But when you compare the beginning few seconds to the second part, you can see the dangers of this sort of editing for people putting up the news.  It's easy to make the video far more exciting than what it really was.  Of course, everyone knows this, but I haven't had such easy access to such smooth and easy enhancements.

So, as you watch video on tv or online, look for whether you're seeing what the camera caught or what the editing room wrought.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Digital Cameras As Mirrors

My little angel, not even two yet, is fully aware of what a camera is.  She even poses and wants to see the picture right away.  She knows it's her.  But she was also eager to see the crow pictures.  And she likes how you can zoom in and see details.

I'm a little creeped out about this.  She also thinks nothing of Skype.  It's natural to her.  Totally normal.  But then so were phones for me.  Though my mother took a long time to get over her childhood lessons that long distance calls were expensive, even when they became  inexpensive.

It got me to wondering how people reacted when mirrors first started being available.  Did they worry about how kids used them?  How adults used them?  Was there concern about vanity?  I suspect it's like digital cameras today.  Some people love them and don't think about the kinds of questions I'm raising.  Others wonder how much time kids should be playing with these things.  Others use them as babysitters - just handing the devices to tiny kids so kid won't fuss while they do other things.  I understand the temptation as I spend long time periods with my angel.  I'm 'the device' my daughter is using to distract her child with.

I'm not terribly worried about moderate use.  My parents didn't think mirrors were any big deal and I'm sure they delighted in my first encounters with them and recognizing myself.  In some way the popularity of selfies suggests that many people aren't self conscious of how they look.  But I suspect that there is a sizable part of the teenage population that dreads friends with cameras on their phones.

I was going to leave it like this - just some notes in reaction to what I'm seeing.  But I did take a quick look at what the internet has to offer on this topic.  It's depressing how many websites there are now that hire people to write short facile answers to every conceivable question, like "What is the history of mirrors?"  And they show up right at the top of searches.  From my early blogging experiences,  I know there's a market for people willing to write such breezy answers to get people to look at the ads that surround the posts.  Finding the meat is getting harder.  But they all say that mirrors go back thousands of years.

I did find one longer post at SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre) that looked at the impact of mirrors from a lot of different perspectives - age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.  This snippet has relevance to my interest in this:
Children: Female dissatisfaction with appearance – poor body-image – begins at a very early age. Human infants begin to recognise themselves in mirrors at about two years old. Female humans begin to dislike what they see only a few years later. The latest surveys show very young girls are going on diets because they think they are fat and unattractive. In one American survey, 81% of ten-year-old girls had already dieted at least once. A recent Swedish study found that 25% of 7 year old girls had dieted to lose weight – they were already suffering from 'body-image distortion', estimating themselves to be larger than they really were. Similar studies in Japan have found that 41% of elementary school girls (some as young as 6) thought they were too fat. Even normal-weight and underweight girls want to lose weight."

Rehab and Job Training: 1896 Style - Feedburner Test

My feedburner connection for this last post didn't work.  I'm trying to see if I make this short post with a link if it will work.  Here's the link to the post.

[UPDATE 11:16am:  It worked this time.  Never sure when feedburner doesn't update links on blogrolls if it's something in my post that's the problem, or that feedburner just isn't catching it.]

Rehab And Job Training: 1896 Style

'There's only one reason you're here, and it's got nothing to do with Skeantlebury or Billy Maitland.  You're here because you're a drunk. . . Well, Carmack, for the next four or five months you're going to be stone sober for the first time in years."

Voyage, by Sterling Hayden, takes place in the year 1896.  By page 172, the Neptune's Car,  "the first steel sailing vessel ever built down East" is finally ready to take off.  Up till then, the author was introducing a long cast of characters.

But now everyone's onboard, and nearly all the seamen were recruited through Gus Skeantlebury's Parlor.  He got paid their first two months wages of $18 a month.  They've now been dragged and prodded on board in various stages of consciousness and Captain Pendleton is speaking to them:
"Now, men, the name of this vessel is Neptune's Car, and she's flying the black anvil of the House of Blanchard.  And once't this voyage is done with there's none of you need to ever be on the beach again.  Because you - those of you who survive - will be able to say you made a Cape Horn voyage in a Blanchard ship under Captain Irons S. Pendleton.   . . 
"This may just be the finest square-rigged ship on the face of the globe.  She can be a floating home.  Or she can be a floating flaming hell. 
It's all of it up to you.  The mates and me have nothin' a-tall to do with it.  We're here to give the orders.  And see to it that they're carried out.  And carried out fast--- 
So let me make it clear right here and now.  When we speak, you jump.   And you jump fast. . . 
"There's some amongst you look like pretty good men.  And there's some amongst you don't look none too frisky.  And there's one or two I noticed looks like scum.
But let me tell you, boys, it's all of a piece to me and th' mates.  You'll be sailormen before'n we reach fifty south or my name ain't Irons Paul Pendleton. 
"Mr. Ruhl right now is going through both them fo'c's'les searching for weapons and liquor.  What he finds goes over the side.  What he don't find better dan good and well go over the side before morning."

These were jobs that were hard to fill.  The captain seems to have been head of a rehab clinic and apprentice ship program as well as captain of a ship.

But not all these men were drunks, though they all had been at Skeantelbury's.  One of the 'scum,'  Kindred,  was sixty-six and overweight.
"Everything had happened so swiftly.  Less than twenty-four hours ago he and his partner Bragdon had been drinking beer in a place below the Bowery.  They were bound down south to escape from the cold, with the Monk [Bragdon] extolling the languorous delights of an island called Grenada, where, with luck and a contact he had, Bragdon would find work as port captain and Kindred would work in a library."
And the first mate, we know from earlier in the book, is accused of killing three seaman in a recent voyage as well as gouging out the eye of another young seaman.

But jobs for alcoholics, let alone, the uneducated, are pretty scarce these days.  I've got over 500 pages still to go to find out how successful this floating rehab center will be.

How accurate is this description in the book?  I'm not sure at all.

The first steel sailing ships in the US were apparently built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine in 1896, which is the year the voyage in the book took place.

But apparently the most famous ship called Neptune's Car  sailed in 1856.  It's actually quite a story because the young captain's 19 year old wife, Mary Patten, went along and put down a mutiny when her husband fell ill rounding Cape Horn, and managed to bring the limping ship into San Francisco with its cargo intact.  You can learn more about that journey at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park website.

And on another note, it seems I'm going to have to turn off the spell check in my new computer's software - there were a number of changes it made in this post I had to go back and redo - for example sailormen got changed to salesmen.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yesterday and Today


The slide's really fast when it's wet.


But we could stay outside much longer today.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

". . . 'stimulating traffic' is airline-speak for dropping fares."

I'm always interested in language, in euphemisms, in code, in people disguising what they say either to hide their meaning or to make it sound more polite.  And translation, in making transparent what was once opaque.

So I took notice when I saw this translation of 'stimulating traffic', while reading Scott Mcmurren's article about Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines' deteriorating business relationship today in the ADN.  It seems that they've gone from bosom buddies and partners to 'in competition.'

I've got mixed feelings on this.  As a frequent Alaska flier who lives in Anchorage, I've felt reasonably well served, though I do get worked up as I see the air fare lottery when I go on line and look for prices.  I've been reasonably well served because my mom lives in LA and Alaska's prices to LA tend to be decent.  But I also realize that Alaska's near monopoly on many Alaska destinations means they can charge much more for much shorter Alaska flights (than, say the LA fares, which are often cheaper than Seattle fares.)

Just an observation here.  Mcmurren's article is interesting because it also helps us look behind the saccharine language of airline ads and magazines.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Checking Out Boats With My Sweetie

Grandchild beats out blogging.   All you're getting are a few pics.   She's putting words together and walks without thinking about it anymore.  Among our tasks today was a walk around Eagle Harbor.  We also visited our friend who was born 100 years before my grand baby.

It was a grey day, some light drizzle, but nothing to stop us from walking.

click to enlarge

The water was calm and you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle on the horizon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Leaving LA

We had to wait as this Southwest plane landed before we could taxi and take off.

The airport in LA is just south of the Marina del Rey which you can see in this picture looking north.

And here's the LA area from the north end of the Santa Monica Bay on a very clear day.

And here's looking down at the water with, what I assume are big kelp beds below the water.  We're cutting in over Malibu just after this.   And after going inland a ways, getting north of the LA suburbs.

The drought meets agriculture.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Back On Bike, Feels Good

After wearing the boot for a month, I can finally get back on my bike and get some exercise.  I'm starting gently.  The tendon feels ok, but there have been lingering new problems with other parts of the heel.  I'm guessing from the boot.  Had to work a little harder and breathe harder, but better than I expected after a month.  Fortunately, it's easier here in LA where we're visiting my mom, who's doing well.

Sun was just starting to set when I got to the end of Rose Ave where it hits Venice beach.  Sorry I couldn't stay longer.  Catalina was clear across the water.   Turned around and went home.  Didn't want to push things.

AIFF 2014: Talk toFestival Director and Director of Film Programs Now (10am-11am) On Talk of Alaska

From Alaska Public Media's Talk of Alaska:

In the dead of winter, film makers from far distant lands come to Alaska because we have a festival. It’s been around for 13 years, and it shows more motion pictures in a week than it is possible for any one human being to see.  A look ahead at the program for this year’s Anchorage International Film Festival is just ahead on the next Talk of Alaska.
HOST: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radio Network
  • Jim Parker, Director of Film Programs, Anchorage International Film Festival
  • Laura Moscatello, Festival Director
  • Callers Statewide
  • Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
  • Send e-mail to talk [at] alaskapublic [dot] org (comments may be read on air)
  • Call 550-8422 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-8255 if you’re outside Anchorage during the live broadcast
LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

AIFF 2014: Questions (and Answers) People Should Be Asking About The Festival

A lot of people don't even know what questions they should be asking.  So I'm listing them out here (with the answers) to help you find out what's happening at the Anchorage International Film Festival and how to take advantage of all the great films that will be in town Dec. 5-14, 2014.

Below are links to posts with general information about the Anchorage International Film Festival.  This is a revision and update of a post I first put up about five years ago and updated again last year.  I've been checking the links to be sure they too are current for 2014.  But it's still a work in progress.

Q: Where's the official Anchorage International Film Festival website?  Click the AIFF2014  link here.

Q: What do all the categories mean? ("official selection;" "films in competition," etc.) This post defines key festival jargon you'll see in the program or on here..  It also covers the process for how films get selected for the Festival and how the winners get chosen.

Q: What  films are the best films this year (2014)?
Films in Competition are the ones chosen  to compete for the Golden Oosiker awards.  I'm working on lists of the films in competition for each category - something about each film and when and where they will play.  [For the film categories I have up for 2014, you can find the films in competition posts listed at my  AIFF 2014 tab.  Films in competition are marked with a check (√) on the Official AIFF website.]

Films in Competition  - Features 2014
Films in Competition -  Documentaries 2014
Films in Competition -  Shorts 2014
Films in Competition -  Animation 2013  (2014 never made it to a list)
Films in Competition -  Super Shorts 2013  (2014 never made it to a list)

But often there are other films that I thought were as good or better than the films in competition.  And there are some films, which for various reasons, are not eligible for prizes, so they aren't 'in competition, but they're good.

Q: Who won in each category?  None yet this year, but here are the previous winners.
2014 Winners - Official Winner list compared to my list (with my comments on the Features)
2013 Winners -  Official Winner list
2012 Winners - My 2012 winners Official compared to AIFF 2012 Winners Page
2011 Winners -  My 2011 winners (none) - Official AIFF 2011 Winners Page
2010 Winners -  My 2010 winners post -  Official AIFF 2010 Winners Page
2009 Winners -  My 2009 winners post -  Official AIFF 2009 Winners Page
2008 Winners - My 2008 winners post  -  Official AIFF 2008 Winners Page
[Note:  'My winners' are films I liked best.  Sometimes I've only discussed one category, sometimes more than one.  Sometimes my comments on a particular film  are buried in posts even I can't find.]

Q:  Short films are grouped together into 'programs.'  How do I find which short films are playing together in the same of program?
Animation Programs  2014 [There's only one program for 2014. There's also an animation in the Mexican Consulate's films- Eskimal.]
Made In Alaska  2014 (I guess this replaces what used to be called Snow Dance.  There are eight programs)
Short Docs 2014
Super Short Narrative 2014  (There are four programs, including one of Mexican films)
Family Program 2014

Q:  What is FG?  
The short answer:  Festival Genius.
The longer answer:  It's a film festival software program that AIFF has acquired that makes it much easier to find out when and where the films will be shown.  It takes a little bit of time to figure out how it works.

Step 1:   You click on the blue FG icon  on the AIFF website, or  you can click here.
Step 2:  Then you can choose films.  That opens up four more choices.  For starters look under category, then click the blue box (see green arrow) and a drop down window will give you a long list of choices.  Or you can pick countries.  If you leave three of the boxes at their starting setting ("all ...) then you'll see all the choices.  You can combine settings in boxes - say animation category and Mexico for country and that should pull up just one film.  If you know the name of the film you want, you can put it into the Film Search window on the right.

Step 3:  If, instead of films, you pick schedule, you can see what will show for that day or that week.

click to enlarge 

If you click on schedule, you'll get screening choices (red box) by week, by day, or grid.   Week and Day give you a list of films for the time period.  Grid will give you a table.

You don't have to sign in (I don't because they want too much personal information for me), but if you do, you can make your own schedule and review films, etc.

Q:  I'm not interested in the festival, but if there are any films on my favorite place, food, sport, etc.,  I'd go.  Are there any?

Festival Genius - see above -  allows you to look at a list of countries  and then see what films are being shown from that country.  Click on the blue spot for the country window and it will open a list of countries.  Then pick a country, and wait until it loads the films from that country.  Make sure you have "all events" and "all films" in the event and film windows.

Also note the red box in the lower left.  The film festival (2014) spans two calendar weeks and so you have to check for each week.  Just click on the week and it changes.

To find out about films of special topics, you need to look through the films themselves. I'll try to make some lists of topics if I see any patterns and I'll link here.  There are family films,  Alaska films, Mexican films sponsored by the Mexican Consul, Chinese films sponsored by the Confucius Institute at UAA, and the Gayla films.

How do I find your blog posts on specific films or film makers?  In the AIFF 2014 Page - It's a tab under the orange heading at the top of my blog - I'll have an index of posts by category and an index of posts in reverse chronological order.  Here's a link to that tab.   You can see them in the archive on the right side.  They'll mostly be in December, with some in November and I try to start them with AIFF2014.

Do you have videos of the Festival? - I'll add the video posts as I get a chance to make and edit them.   I'll list the posts with video in the AIFF2014 Page.  I already have some video of Attila Szasz, the director of The Ambassador to Bern,  which I got in a Skype interview with him in Budapest.   It's not edited yet.

Where will the films be shown?

 Bear Tooth, is the main venue.
1230 West 27th Avenue (West of Spenard Road) - 907.276.4200

Alaska Experience Theater
333 W 4th Ave #207, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 272-9076
There is a large and a small theater there

Anchorage Community Works** This was a new venue last year
 349 E Ship Creek Ave

Anchorage Museum
625 C Street

Marston Theater (Loussac Library) Family Programming on Saturday Dec. 14
3600 Denali St.

There are special events at other venues.  You can check all the venues next to window where you check the countries (see screenshot above).

Q:  What workshops are there?
There are five workshops with film makers.  These are chances to interact with film makers and learn some aspect of the movie craft and industry.

Q:  What are your criteria for a good movie? When I made my picks for the 2008 best films, at the end of the post I outlined my criteria. The link takes you to that post, scroll down to second part.  I also did a post in 2012 on what I thought makes a good documentary.

Q:  Should I buy a pass or just buy tickets as I go?  

Tickets are still only $8 per film.  "All films passes" are only $100.  So, if you go to twelve films, the pass is cheaper. But there are other benefits to the pass.   You also get priority seating with your pass.    That means you go into the theater first at the Bear Tooth.  You do have to get a ticket (free when you show your pass) for each film at the door and only a certain number of seats are held for pass holders.

And if you have a pass, you'll go see more films because you'll think "I've paid for them. I should go and get my money's worth."
All Films passes get you into Workshops, and discounts for a few extra events, like the opening night film (which is actually $30 a ticket) and the awards. These extra events also have food.

Another option is to volunteer and get a pass to a movie.

You can buy tickets at the venues.  You can also get advanced tickets at the venues.
You can also buy them online.  Tickets are already available.

Q:  What about family films? 
Saturday, December 6, at 11am at Loussac Library - in the Marston Auditorium..  This is a free event.  You can see the family program here.  (As I'm posting this, there is no list of films yet at this link, just the time and place.)

Q:  Any free events?
Yes, there are.  Besides the family films (right above), Made in Alaska, and two of the workshops.  You can see them all here.

Q:  Who Are You Anyways? - who's paying you to do this? does your brother have a film in competition? What is your connection to the festival? From an earlier post here's my  Disclosure:

 I sort of accidentally blogged about the  2007 festival  and the AIFF people liked what I did and asked if I would be the official blogger in 2008. They promised me I could say what I wanted, but I decided it was better to blog on my own and then if I write something that upsets one of the film makers, the Festival isn't responsible.  The Festival has a link to my site.  They also threw in a free pass for me in each year since 2008.

I probably won't say anything terrible about a film, but I did rant about one film in the past that I thought was exploiting its subject as well as boorishly demeaning a whole country. I mentioned in an earlier post that if I sound a little promotional at times, it's only because I like films and I like the kinds of quirky films that show up at festivals, so I want as many people to know about the festival as  possible so the festival will continue. Will I fudge on what I write to get people out? No way. There are plenty of people in Anchorage who like films. They're my main target - to get them out of the house in the dark December chill when inertia tugs heavily if they even think about leaving the house. But if others who normally don't go out to films hear about a movie on a topic they're into, that's good too.

I did a post a couple of years ago for Film Festival Skeptics who might be sitting on the fence and need to be given reasons to go and strategies to make it work.

Q:  How Does One Keep Track of What's Happening at the Festival?
I'll be blogging the film festival every day.  The link below will be my festival posts only, starting with the most recent.  There should also be printed programs in the Anchorage Press you can pick up around town as well and go to the Festival Webpage.

My blog will update every day.  My Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF 2014)  tab on top will have an overview of what's happening each day.

Q:  Are there other Alaskan Film Festivals?  
There are some events called 'festival' that I know of in Anchorage, but they aren't major film events like this one.  There is another organization,  that puts Alaska in its name and used to rent a postal box in Alaska, but has no other connection that we can find to Alaska.  You can read about that at  Comparing the ANCHORAGE and ALASKA International Film Festivals - Real Festival? Scam?

Anyone who knows of other legitimate film festivals in Alaska, let me know.  I've heard stuff about Sitka Film Festival  in February. And there's also an Indigenous Film Festival in February and  there's been an Alaska Native Film Festival.  And there's the Farthest North Jewish Film Festival in Fairbanks.