Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Registration Opens for i48 Film Competition and Festival

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 2:39 PM

Registration has opened for filmmakers—both seasoned and novice—to join the 12th annual i48 Film Competition and Festival.

In the contest, teams of two or more have 48 hours (Friday-Sunday, May 29-31) to write, cast, shoot and edit a three- to six-minute film. 

Entry forms can be mailed or hand-delivered to the Flicks by Saturday, May 16, with an entry fee of $50. Any applications received after May 16 will need an entry fee of $100. The cut-off date for applications is Friday, May 29, at 5:30 p.m., at the pre-production meeting held at Municipal Park.

At that meeting, teams will be assigned elements to incorporate into their movie such as a line of dialogue, a prop, a character, and the genre for their film. Genres in the past included drama, comedy, western, thriller, science fiction, action, documentary, mock-u-mentary, silent film, noir, experimental, music video and musicals.

Films will be judged by a panel, then be screened at the Flicks in Boise Saturday, June 6. The following day, the "Best of i48" screening and awards will show at the Egyptian Theatre at 5 p.m.

Anyone can participate and select which category to enter: novice or open division. Participants don't need to live in the Treasure Valley, either. Participants from around the state can submit finished films online. Cash prizes are awarded to festival winners.
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Poll: How Many Times Will You Go to the Movies This Year?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 6:52 PM

Are you a diehard moviegoer? Do you get angry when the Academy picks the wrong best picture at the Oscars? Or do you prefer to catch movies when they come out on Netflix? We're interested in your moviegoing habits—please participate in our poll!
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Idaho Film Legend Nell Shipman Showcased in Girl From God's Country Sunday at Boise's Egyptian Theatre

Posted By on Sat, Mar 14, 2015 at 4:46 PM

The history of film in Idaho includes Marilyn Monroe (Bus Stop), Clint Eastwood (Pale Rider) and of course Napoleon Dynamite.

However, a large chapter of that history also includes Nell Shipman, director, screenwriter, actress, animal advocate and, many historians would argue, legend. In the early 20th century, after breaking into the male-dominated movie industry, Shipman packed her 10-year-old son and moved to the wilderness of northern Idaho.

In 25 years, Shipman made 27 feature-length films including God's Country and the Woman, Under the Crescent (based on her own novel), Back to God's Country, The Girl from God's Country, The Grub-Stake and Wings in the Dark. Shipman's films feature stunning backcountry photography, including scenes of dog-sledding through Idaho's wilderness, jumping into raging rivers for breathtaking rescues, groundbreaking nude scenes and images of Shipman embracing animals—bears, cougars, you name it.

Shipman was the very definition of an independent filmmaker, living hand-to-mouth to film her breakthrough projects. As a result, she was ignored by the Hollywood system. She died penniless and nearly forgotten, which is all the more reason to see Girl From God's Country, a new Idaho-made documentary from director Karen Day, showing at 7 p.m., Sunday, March 15, at The Egyptian Theatre. The film, which premiered at last week's Sun Valley Film Festival, has an endless amount of archival images from Shipman's films and is a treasure-trove for any historian or film fan.

Girl From God's Country also dovetails into a bigger examination of women in film, past, present and future; and audiences will leave with a call to action to support more women filmmakers with a vote from the pocketbook.

"Do you want to see more women filmmakers? Go see their movies on opening weekend. That's how you do it That''s how women will get to make more feature films," says one advocate in the film. "Awards? Those go to the people who have access."

Just imagine that today's Motion Picture Academy would be smart or brave enough to honor such a pioneer as Shipman.

General tickets for the Girl From God's Country screening are $20. Special VIP tickets are $100 and include a special wine and cheese reception at 5 p.m., when fans can talk with the filmmakers and get a special screening of Finding Nell, a 15-minute short film. Proceeds benefit the Neil Shipman Grant for Emerging Filmmakers.

GIRL FROM GOD'S COUNTRY Trailer 3 minutes from gcg productions on Vimeo.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

SVFF 2015: A Mountaintop Celebration of Clint Eastwood

Posted By on Sun, Mar 8, 2015 at 1:26 PM

Clint Eastwood is flanked by Bill Paxton (left) and Bruce Dern (right). - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Clint Eastwood is flanked by Bill Paxton (left) and Bruce Dern (right).

It was a sunrise-to-midnight movie marathon March 7 at the Sun Valley Film Festival. 

SVFF's fourth day began early Saturday with a long line of film fans waiting to get inside Ketchum's NexStage Theatre to attend a Coffee Talk featuring the irascible, always-entertaining Bruce Dern. The 78-year-old actor shared his rich Hollywood career journey from its beginning in the early 1960s all the way up to his 2014 Oscar nominated performance in Nebraska.

"I knew that character perfectly. You see, I had worked on being a prick for 78 years," said Dern. "I knew the drill."

  • Jeremy Lanningham
  • Bruce Dern
A short time later, one of Hollywood's newest sensations, Seth Gordon, spent some time with new filmmakers talking about his diverse career as a screenwriter, director and producer, and his innate ability to shift from features (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief, King of Kong) to television (The Goldbergs, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Community). 

"But I must tell you that my true love is to make documentaries. If you can tell a strong story in a documentary, you can make a story anywhere," said Gordon. "It's tough to make a living by doing only documentaries, but I know it informs and helps all of my other projects."

The highlight of Saturday afternoon was a rare glimpse of Coming Through the Rye, a work-in-progress from writer/director Jim Sadwith.

"I was attending a boarding school in the 1960s, but once I ran away to go in search of J.D. Salinger to ask his permission to turn Catcher in the Rye into a stage production. This is that story," said Sadwith.

And that's as much as we can divulge on the project. Suffice to say, when it's ready for a full launch it will be a hotly anticipated film.

Clint Eastwood received the SVFF Vision Award at a private gathering on Mt. Baldy. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Clint Eastwood received the SVFF Vision Award at a private gathering on Mt. Baldy.
But the culminating event on Saturday (and the entire festival) was a special invitation-only salute to the legendary Clint Eastwood. Guests were carried up Mt. Baldy by gondolas to attend a celebration where Eastwood was given the SVFF Vision Award.

"I absolutely love Sun Valley," said Eastwood, a full moon outside the mountaintop restaurant providing a natural spotlight. "I was lucky enough to make a film here [Pale Rider], and if I had my way, I would hang out here all the time. But I guess I'll have to go back and make another movie at some point. My last movie did fairly well."

And how. American Sniper has been a box office sensation and Eastwood told the gathering that this coming week he expected his film to become the top grossing box office film of 2014. 

"So much of this business is hard work and a lot of good luck," said Eastwood. "And tonight, I consider myself to be lucky to get to know you all. I can only wish you the best of luck to keep this great film festival going for many years to come."
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Friday, March 6, 2015

SVFF 2015: Paxton, Miller, Rash and Faxon on Film

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 8:24 PM

The Sun Valley Film Festival, only in its fourth year, has already found the perfect mix of celebrating film history, giving fans look at the best in cutting-edge, contemporary cinema and, perhaps most significant, allowing festival attendees to get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon. Friday’s SVFF schedule touched all bases.

This reporter was lucky enough to moderate a Coffee Talk conversation with actor Bill Paxton at the standing-room-only NexStage Theatre. Paxton entertained the crowd with hilarious highlights of a career that includes roles in Aliens, Apollo 13, Big Love, Edge of Tomorrow, Hatfields and McCoys, The Terminator, Titanic, Twister and dozens of other audience favorites. Paxton even shared a little-known fact: As a young boy growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, he waved at President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated.

“President Kennedy was so young and vibrant and full of color which was so special, because so many of us were living in a black-and-white world at that time,” said Paxton. “I remember that morning as if it was yesterday, and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life.”

Paxton was particularly excited to talk about his latest project: He portrays Sam Houston in Texas Rising, a new TV miniseries which airs in May on the History Channel.

“It’s directed by the amazing Roland Joffe, who gave us The Killing Fields and The Mission,” said Paxton. “It’s a beautiful piece of work.”

A short time later, Melanie Miller, independent film producer and marketer extraordinaire, huddled with young filmmakers at SVFF’s Apres Ski Salon, to talk about how film distribution has changed. Miller focused particularly on Video On Demand platforms which have dramatically changed the way independent movies are distributed.

“It’s the wild, wild west out there,” Miller told the budding directors and screenwriters who hung on her every word. “In today’s digital space, there is no right or wrong answer when distributing an independent film”

Friday afternoon, screenwriters Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who won an Academy Award for 2011's The Descendants, hosted SVFF's screenwriters lab and unveiled the drop-dead hilarious script for their new comedy movie based on the true saga of Steve Bartman, the infamous Chicago Cubs fan who caught a foul ball and ruined the Cubs' chances of going to the 2003 World Series. Rash and Faxon, who also penned 2013's The Way Way Back, initially optioned their new script as a series for HBO.

“HBO changed its mind and didn't option the series,” Faxon said. “But we loved this script so much that we adapted it into a full comedy feature.”

With that, Rash and Faxon were joined by a full cast of comic actors, and attendees of the screenwriters lab were treated to a full table-read of the first 40 minutes of a script destined to become a cult classic. As the audience roared with laughter, Rash and Faxon looked at each other and smiled. They knew they had a big hit on their hands.
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SVFF 2015: Behind the Velvet Rope

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 9:35 AM

Perhaps the biggest difference between Sun Valley and every other film festival (it’s estimated that there are 4,000-plus film festivals on the planet), is access. Each March, scores of burgeoning filmmakers sit alongside hundreds of movie fans to get some pretty impressive face-time with the men and women who make quality American films. True to form, the fourth annual Sun Valley Film Festival offered some all-access insight on March 5.

This reporter was humbled to be asked to moderate the first of this year’s SVFF Coffee Talks on March 5, where Trevor Groth, director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival, shared some fabulous insight on what has become the planet’s most prestigious film festival.

In a fast-paced 60 minutes, Groth talked about the herculean task of winnowing down thousands of entries to a slate of 120 films each January. Boise Weekly made a point of asking Groth for a sneak preview of films coming out of Sundance this year that should make their way to the nation’s screens sometime in the next 12 months. He had particular praise for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which took both the audience and grand jury prize; The Witch, a 17th century horror-thriller that descends into religious hysteria and madness; and The Wolfpack, a documentary about a mysterious family of Manhattan shut-ins whose only “reality” comes from DVD movie rentals.

A few hours after the Coffee Talk, Oscar-winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) held court at SVFF’s newest feature, the Apres Ski Salon.

In a packed-to-the-gills salon-type setting that more resembled a cushy living room, Gaghan sat with dozens of budding screenwriters and directors to talk about the triumphs and heartbreaks of filmmaking. Gaghan reminded his colleagues-in-the-making to trust their instincts, pay particular attention to scene transitions, not to underestimate the importance of a script outline and, most important, don’t quit.

“And remember: the truth is, if you’re really honest, you’re always a little scared,” said Gaghan.

To the person, the filmmakers nodded, knowing that the terror and wonder of making movies can come in equal measure.
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

SVFF: Most Likely to Succeed is a Conversation Starter

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Through much of the 20th century, the third rail of American politics was Social Security—touch at your own risk. But that debate pales in comparison to the caustic 21st century debate over public education. So it should have come as no surprise as a fully-engaged audience filled the Sun Valley Opera House Wednesday evening, anxious to watch  the opening film of the fourth annual Sun Valley Film Festival: Most Likely to Succeed.

“If you’re chasing test scores, you will lose that game,” said the film's director, Idaho-native Greg Whiteley, speaking to an audience, which included many educators and parents. Whiteley, whose 2014 film Mitt propelled him onto the short list of premiere documentarians, said he spent the better part of two years turning his lens toward public education. His end result will, no doubt, get people talking.

In an opening sequence of Most Likely to Succeed, we see Whiteley’s own young daughter sobbing through a particularly painful parent-teacher conference, as her grade-school teacher touts the importance of homework. As the camera tightens on the young girl's face, we hear Whiteley’s narration.

“I know that face,” says Whiteley. “That’s the face that says, ‘This is bullshit. This whole thing called school is bullshit.’”

The moment got a big laugh from the audience, but most parents may also feel their hearts sink in an all-too-familiar scene of frustration with the status quo.

Most Likely to Succeed spends the lion’s share of its time visiting a California charter school—some place called High Tech High—which refuses to “teach to the test” and instead spends much of its energy on logic, confidence building and time management.

My sense is that this film will find its share of critics, particularly from public teachers unions, when they see that High Tech High insists that much of its success is based on one-year, no-tenure teacher contracts. But any conversation regarding public education is a conversation worth having. And to that end, Most Likely to Succeed is a must-see.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Anticipation Builds for the Sun Valley Film Festival at SVFF Announcement Party

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 12:35 PM

On Feb. 15, The Modern Hotel and Bar was filled to the brim with movie-lovers and filmmakers, all anticipating this year's Sun Valley Film Festival.  - MICHAEL TETRO, SVFF
  • Michael Tetro, SVFF
  • On Feb. 15, The Modern Hotel and Bar was filled to the brim with movie-lovers and filmmakers, all anticipating this year's Sun Valley Film Festival.

On the evening of Feb. 15, filmmakers, movie-lovers and organizers stood shoulder-to-shoulder at The Modern, watching trailers of movies that will be screened at the fourth annual Sun Valley Film Festival, March 4-8.

"This is a celebration of the film festival," SVFF programming director Laura Mehlhaff told Boise Weekly. She said the party hasn't been as packed in past years, but the festival is starting to catch on. A simultaneous party took place in Ketchum as well.

"The Sun Valley Film Festival is for people who love film—any kind of film," Mehlhaff said. "We have everything from blockbusters to the obscure, stuff you might not see anywhere else."

Big names on this year's line-up include Scott Glenn in The Barber, which screens on opening night; Billy Bob Thornton in Cut Bank and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who narrates National Geographic Channel's Hubble's Cosmic Journey. Bruce Dern and Bill Paxton will participate in this year's Coffee Talks and Clint Eastwood will be honored with the festival's inaugural Lifetime Vision Award.

"We have the ability to access these filmmakers and that lets people experience film in a way that they don't normally get to," Mehlhaff said.

Several Idaho filmmakers, like Christian Lybrook, milled around the room with lemon-laced cocktails, expressing excitement for the upcoming festival. Lybrook has an especially intriguing entry in this year's film fest, which will showcase the world premiere of his project, Zero Point, at the Magic Lantern Cinema in Ketchum. Zero Point isn't a movie, however.

The pilot episode of Zero Point features all local actors and was shot entirely in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell. It premieres at SVFF 2015.  - "ZERO POINT"
  • "Zero Point"
  • The pilot episode of Zero Point features all local actors and was shot entirely in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell. It premieres at SVFF 2015.
"It's the pilot episode to a series," Lybrook explained. Zero Point follows a female detective who obsessively investigates a disease she thinks is killing children in a time of oil exploration, climate change and the proliferation of GMOs. It's the 47-minute beginning of a drama that asks bigger questions of the audience, like what would happen in a human colony collapse. The project is fueled by the trend of AMC's Breaking Bad and Netflix's House of Cards, as viewers are more drawn to serialized storytelling.

"Are you watching a 40-episode TV show or 40-hour movie?" Lybrook said.

Lybrook has been working on the show with his creative partner, Gregory Bayne, for two years. The pilot was shot in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell and features almost an entirely local cast. Lybrook calls it a truly "homegrown" production and said he's looking forward to the screening at the SVFF to see the reactions of the audience and gauge whether they'll be excited to see the next episode. He doesn't think this will necessarily be his big break, though.

"The days of people going to festivals to be discovered are gone," Lybrook said. "Now it's about creating relationships. It's about finding the people who care about the story, who can come into it with a creative vision."

During the course of SVFF, Ketchum "essentially doubles in size," according to Michael Tetro, an event organizer. This year, Tetro is working with Boise State University to get more students up to the festival. Through Boise State's research and economic development department, students can get round-trip bus transportation and tickets to films, panels and parties for $100; and lodging for $25 per night.

A full list of movies can be viewed here.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Need Something To Do Friday?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Do you like movies and music? Of course you do. They go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Unless you're allergic to one/both of those, then it's like something else. 

At any rate, Rediscovered Books is hosting a unique film and music audio-visual experience. To get ready for the upcoming Idaho Horror Film Festival, they're showing three silent films while local musicians provide a real-time score. Also, there will be snacks. And, it's free, so there's that. 

6 p.m. FREE. Rediscovered Books, 180 N. Eighth St., Boise, 208-376-4229,
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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Sound of 'Smoke'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

In early 2013, local filmmakers Cody Gittings and Stephen Heleker raised enough money to begin production on Smoke, a film based on a 2011 short story by acclaimed local author Alan Heathcock. It hasn't been an easy process. Filming wrapped last year but, as Gittings wrote in a recent note to backers of the Kickstarter campaign, "making a movie is no simple task. The road to completion is long and arduous, and Smoke has been no exception." 

Posts on the film's Facebook page have been scarce, but one that may have slipped by was a link to the film's stunning soundtrack, written and arranged by local musicians Daniel Kerr and pianist Jeremy Stewart.

A truly great soundtrack elevates a story. Based on the source material, the teaser trailer and tracks like "Heart In A Fever" (below), Smoke is destined to soar.

Listen to the soundtrack here.

Buy the soundtrack here

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