"Treasure of the Scopitones" film screening at the Walker Art Center: A hurried history of the scopitones

Michèle Collery and Anaïs Prosaïc, Treasures of the Scopitones, 1999. Photo: courtesy the artists.

I wish I could say it was a dark and stormy night when a mysterious package containing unknown DVDs was sent to me from the Walker Arts Center. Because, let's be honest, it sounds more romantic. In truth, it was a cold and snowy Tuesday afternoon and I asked for those DVDs to be sent to me (even though I didn't remember that until I received them). The two DVDs in the package were titled Toukki Boukki and Treasure of the Scopitones; I watched them both, but Treasure of the Scopitones seemed more esoteric and gleeful to me so that's the one I'm gonna talk about.


86th Academy Awards: Tweet yourself to the Red Carpet

Photos By: 
Jeff Rutherford

You have to give the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences credit for keeping up with the latest social media.


Hany Abu-Assad's "Omar" premieres in the Twin Cities before the Academy Awards

Photo courtesy Adopt Films.

Less than three weeks away is the 86th Academy Awards. Most of the Oscar-nominated films are now playing in local Twin Cities theaters or are available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Redbox, or cable download, but there are a few that have not opened locally yet. This was an issue for many who want to see the entire pool of Oscar nominated films before the awards. Now that the Oscars are pushed back to Sunday, March 2, it gives studios another four weeks to promote and market their potential derby winners and audiences the opportunity to fill out their ballots in confidence, or at least tell their family and friends who they would vote for.


Exploring African American History Month – the government docs approach

Maya Angelou tells us that “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” And so, whether or not we slow down to think, we as a people set aside occasions – a day, a week, a month – to commemorate a the stories of the people, events, eras or movements that shape our nation’s history.


'These Birds Walk' highlights boys' search for home in Pakistan

(Photo courtesy of Oscilloscope)

For a lot of kids, there comes a time in childhood when they just want to run away from home, over something as trivial as sibling rivalry or as serious as domestic violence. Whatever the reason, sometimes the house someone is raised in doesn’t really feel like home.


"Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" and "The Overnighters": Cream of the crop at Sundance Film Festival 2014

The Overnighters. Photo courtesy Jesse Moss.

PARK CITY, UTAH – The first few days of the Sundance Film Festival had the makings of one the better years I have attended and with only a few days left, right when I was hitting my stride, I got hit with a really nasty combination of altitude sickness, dehydration, exhaustion and hunger pains which derailed me for close to 24 hours. Cancelling plans and screenings are often difficult, especially when you only see some of the other festival programmers, journalists and distributors once a year at Sundance. But when your health is in question, taking some time off from screenings can do the mind and body some good. Surprisingly, the 2014 Sundance experience was, in fact, one of the best years I attended, even with being out sick for a day; there was always something that presented itself as either completely daring, original, mind-numbing or just plain entertaining.


Sundance Film Festival 2014: A monumental film experience in "Boyhood" and more

God Help the Girl. Photo courtesy of Neil Davidson.

PARK CITY, UTAH – As soon as I hit the road toward the majestic Park City, Utah, time slowed down and it was starting to feel like “go time” again. The hustle and bustle of the Sundance Film Festival, celebrating thirty years, was again in full-swing. There would be plenty of movies to choose from, emails exchanged with publicists for tickets and times to sit down with talent, and making time to find an adequate amount of food to shovel in my mouth. During the opening weekend, I managed to squeeze in 14 films, leaving me exhausted but also thrilled to see one of the most spectacular movie moments in my life. I did get shut-out of one film over the weekend, the Michael Fassbender music drama, Frank, but I slid into another movie at that time and saw one of the worst films I’ve seen at Sundance, so that was terrible and exciting at the same time. Now, I know I’ve got to see Frank (it got picked up by Magnolia Pictures, so there is hope) and the other I never have to sit through again.


Finding the treasures at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. Photo credit Sean Porter.

Another tour of duty (going on seven years) covering the 2014 Sundance Film Festival for Twin Cities Daily Planet starts Thursday, January 16 through Sunday, January 26. The biggest and flashiest United States film festival, located in the beautiful mountain scope of Park City, Utah, is celebrating its 30th anniversary and seems to be bursting at the seams this year. The festival has blindsided me more than other years with the announcements of films premiering four days before opening night, the latest surprise entry being a new feature from the iconic American independent director Richard Linklater (The Before trilogy, Waking Life, Dazed and Confused) Boyhood. Linklater filmed the growth of a boy from childhood to young adulthood every year from 2002 to 2013. Boyhood stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the boy’s divorced parents. Adding a film, especially one directed by Linklater, is a game changer and another reason why Sundance continues upping its game and securing top independent directors, producers, actors and distributors in making this year’s festival one giddy with anticipation.


From Moby Dick to Flipper: the film Blackfish brings back memories

I was home sick yesterday, swaddled in polar fleece, sipping Phở Tái and channel surfing. I decided to watch the recently released movie Blackfish on Apple TV. This documentary about killer whales that perform at theme parks like SeaWorld brought to mind my life-long attraction to animals that interact with humans in ways that are–well, human. I grew up with Robbie, a black and brown dog I adored. I watched and wept over heart-tugging TV shows like Lassie and Flipper. And even though I was just old enough to find Dr. Doolittle–the Rex Harrison musical film version–rather ridiculous, the idea that animals had languages we could learn and that would enable us to connect peacefully with them made deep, personal sense to me.

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