Oct 132011
 

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Warning: this video contains suggestive animations of fruit, human sacrifice, and some coarse language. “The Island” is a short film by Trevor Anderson, a filmmaker from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Anderson is a self-taught independent filmmaker who is currently in post-production on his tenth short film. His work has screened at countless film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Berlin and Toronto.

I saw “The Island” accidentally the first time, then realized I knew the filmmaker. Once upon a time, we both lived in the basements of lesbian professors in Edmonton. We were an exclusive subculture immortalized in a line from a non-fiction piece by Janice Williamson: “gay boys who live in the basements of dyke professors and wonder about the status quo.”

“The Island” for me is carnivalesque in that Rabelaisian sense of being both outrageous and intolerant of hypocrisy which means here being intolerant of intolerance. The film begins plainly enough in the hinterlands, one man walking against a blank canvas of snow, the starkness of the landscape emphasizing the stark hatred in the “fan mail” the narrator receives. What follows is simply beauty made from ugliness, a massive flight of fancy that describes a utopia of tolerance and celebration and freedom.

The last line troubles things with one of those perfect tugs on the tablecloth. Like Anderson believes too much in an interdependent and connected humanity, one that even includes the ignorant and intolerant, to move permanently to this Rabelaisian island.

At the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Anderson won the inaugural Lindalee Tracey Award, presented to “an emerging Canadian filmmaker working with passion, humour, a strong sense of social justice and a personal point of view.”

If you like Anderson’s style of autobiodoc filmmaking (a term I’m trying to put into common usage so please pass it on), then please check out the trailer for his last film, “The High Level Bridge” (and if you’re enticed pay the $1.99 to download the full film and support this indie filmmaker). “The High Level Bridge” is a short meditation on the untold history of suicides off of Edmonton’s High Level bridge and concludes with Anderson dropping his camera off the bridge into the icy water below.

Trailer:

Purchase the film at Trevor Anderson: Dirty City Films.

“The High Level Bridge” was  selected for the Sundance Institute’s Art House Project. From Anderson’s website: “In 2005, the Art House Project was created to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Sundance Institute and pay tribute to art house theatres across the USA. Twelve art house theatres from around the country were designated and united as Sundance Institute Art House Project theatres. In 2006, a Sundance Institute 25th Anniversary retrospective series was made available for each of the theatres to show in their local communities. The Sundance Institute Art House Project has since grown to a total of 17 participating theatres nationwide and continues its commitment to expanding the reach of independent cinema across America.”

—RWGray

Sep 222011
 

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Ruth Meehan’s And the Red Man Went Green brings the chaos and potential of one day down to a single moment crossing a street. Though it’s not ostensibly about a kiss, the narrative has much in common with Chekhov’s short story “The Kiss,” in which a young soldier is accidentally kissed by a woman, sending a shudder of changes through his plain life.

The director Richard LaGravanese also found inspiration in Chekhov’s short story for the key moment when his protagonist in the film Living Out Loud (starring Holly Hunter–the movie was originally called The Kiss) is surprised out of the grief she is suffering at the loss of her twenty-year relationship.

Each of these stories touches on sudden moments when strangers are accidentally and sometimes unconsciously there for one another.

>Meehan is an Irish writer / director and she has shot several short films. And the Red Man . . . is her second short and it did well at festivals, winning the Special Jury prize a the Tehran film Festival and the Prix Canal+ at Brest.

If you enjoy Meehan’s very short film, you can see another by her (based on a true story about an adventurous cat) here:
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—RWGray

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Aug 202010
 

DG and the blue dog heading into the woods together

Strange the things that educate our emotional responses to life. I just finished a draft of the story called “Uncle Boris up in a Tree.” One of the characters, Bjorn, the straight arrow, buys a bright yellow Land Rover. The yellow Land Rover is, for me, a dream image, a symbol. But the “Land Rover” part doesn’t seem right. I think and think. I realize I meant it to be a yellow Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce seems right. And later I remember that when I was a kid I loved that movie The Yellow Rolls Royce, that for years I played the soundtrack over and over. The Yellow Rolls Royce is an unusual movie. It’s a triptych,  three different love stories connected only by the object, the image, the yellow Rolls Royce. I think the dramatist Terence Rattigan wrote the script. Very romantic, sentimental, sad. So then I realize that this movie, and the emotional education I derived from it, stands unconsciously behind the story. The yellow Land Rover is the clue. And I think there is a certain attitude to life and love that I try to get at in the story that comes from the feelings I got from that movie and the music, when I was a kid (and maybe I haven’t grown up so much).

Here are two of the songs from the soundtrack. “Forget Domani” and “Now and Then” (this one still shakes me). I think Riz Ortolani wrote the music. Katyna Ranieri sings.

dg