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A Preview of the Birds Eye View

With its cheeky owning of the British term "bird" for "woman," the UK's apostrophe-less Birds Eye View Film Festival takes place March 4-12, 2010, during International Women's Week, at several venues around London including the ICA, BFI Southbank, Renoir Cinema, Lexi Cinema and Ritzy Picturehouse. This is the festival that celebrates, promotes and develops the work of outstanding creative women from around the world.

The Festival showcase features, documentaries and short films made by women around the world, along with a retrospective celebrating the pioneering women of cinema and a program exploring the creative possibilities opened up by new technology.

On Opening Night, actress Jane Horrocks officially opens the festivities, presenting a showcase of new shorts, including Juanita Wilson's Oscar-nominated "The Door." The Closing Night feature is Drew Baryrmore's directorial debut, Whip It!.

This year's Master Class speaker is Danish auteur Susanne Bier, who appears with screenings of three of her films: After the Wedding, Brothers, and Things We Lost in the Fire.

Features screened include:

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, directed by Isabel Coixet. It stars Oscar-nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Sergi López (Pan's Labyrinth).

Mall Girls, directed by Katarzyna Roslaniec. A major hit in its native Poland, this teen drama explores the condition of a generation exposed to too much too soon.

The Father of My Children, directed by Mia Hansen-Løve, tells of an independent film producer and loving father whose company is approaching financial collapse.

From A Whisper, directed by Wanuri Kahiu, is about a family torn apart by the terrorist bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi in 1998. This film won top awards at the African Movie Academy Awards 2009, including Best Picture and Best Director. 

Documentaries include:

Rough Aunties, directed by Kim Longinotto, celebrates the strength and compassion of the "Rough Aunties" who care, and fight, for South Africa’s abused children.

Junior, directed by Jenna Rosher, studies the ups and downs of cohabitation with a 75-year-old man who has moved back in with his 98-year-old mother.

She Is the Matador, directed by Celeste Carrasco & Gemma Cubero del Barrio, follows two female bullfighters, Mari Paz Vega and Eva Florencia, as they fight to realize their dream of working in the arena.

The "Sound and Silents" track features screenings of three silent stars as part of the festival's tributes to pioneering women in the medium:

The Patsy (1928), directed by King Vidor, starring Marion Davies and Marie Dressler.  Music is a specially commissioned live accompaniment from Gwyneth Herbert with an introduction by actress Patsy Kensit.

Chicago (1927), directed by Frank Urson and starring Phyllis Haver and Virginia Bradford. This is the original story of Roxie Hart, which later became the Bob Fosse musical. Live accompaniment is by Patti Plinko.

Her Sister From Paris (1925), directed by Sidney Franklin, starring Constance Talmadge and Ronald Colman. Live accompaniment is by pianist Jane Gardner.

Also screening is director Lotte Reiniger's silhouette-animatedThe Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), the oldest known surviving animated feature. British Composer Award-winner Mira Calix premieres her new live musical accompaniment.

The program "Innovation" showcases new developments in media technology, including:

"Papermint: Game Development Live," a demonstration of an all-new animated world of social interaction.

"New Technologies: Who? What? & Why?" Can online technologies do more to change minds and mobilize people than traditional linear media? Do games have a key role to play in schools, hospitals and workplaces?

"She Says: A Cross Disciplinary Networking Event"

For more information, visit  

Birds Eye View Film Festival
March 4-12, 2010
London, England

Korean Film Festival LA

As the biggest Korean film festival in the United States, The Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles (KOFFLA) is being held March 4-7, 2010 at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and the Laemmle Music Hall, among other venues in Los Angeles, California.

KOFFLA’s main purpose is to introduce Korean films to avid film lovers and the industry alike. It aims not only to bridge the gap between Hollywood and Korea but also between Korea and the Korean-American community through the medium of film and visual arts.

Over 70 films are screening, with In-competition films being judged by a select jury board consisting of industry professionals and prominent figures in the Korean community.

Hosting the 2010 KOFFLA is Korean director Chang-Wha Chung, one of the first to introduce martial arts films to the U.S. through his film Five Fingers of Death, which helped light the kung fu movie explosion in the early 1970s.

This year’s spokesperson for the Festival is famed actor John Cho (Star Trek, the Harold and Kumar films, TV’s FlashForward).

Opening Night Film is Le Grand Chef II: Kimchi War , about two chefs who compete for bragging rights as "Kimchi-originator" and the future of a family restaurant. Directed by Baek Dong-hoon, the film stars Kim Jeong Eun (Lover in Paris) and Jin Goo (Mother), who are appearing with the director at the screening. A KOFFLA representative states, “[We] specifically chose this film to launch the festival because of what it symbolizes to the Korean community. Kimchi represents the specialty of the country and the feelings and sensitivity of a Korean.”

The Closing Night film is A Good Rain Knows, directed by Heo Jin-Ho, about two former students who meet later and discover the romantic connection they had not realized before.

Korean features include:

Memories of Murder / Salinui chueok, directed by Bong Joon-ho (Mother), starring Song Kang-ho (The Host, Lady Vengeance, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) and Kim Sang-kyung (May 18, The World of Silence) is based on a true story about two brutal and stupid local detectives who try to solve serial murders of young women.

White Night / Baek-ya-haeng, directed by Park Shin-Woo starring Han Suk-Kyu (The President's Last Bang), Son Ye-Jin, Ko Su and Lee Min-Jung. A long forgotten case reveals a hidden relationship between a victim's son and the neighborhood woman's daughter.

The Righteous Thief (aka Descendants of Hong Gil-dong) / Hong-gil-dong-eui Hoo-ye, directed by Jeong Yong-Ki (The Doll Master), starring Lee Beom-Soo, Kim Soo-Ro, Seong Dong-Il and Lee Si-Yeong, is a Robin Hood tale about a family who schemes to fight against corrupt business moguls.

Make Yourself At Home (aka Fetish) directed by Soopum Sohn, starring Song Hye-Kyo and Arno Frisch. A young woman marries and moves to New Jersey to avoid the power of shamanism—but Fate knows no borders. The director will be present.

Films by first-time directors include:

Daytime Drinking / Naj sul, by Noh Young-Suk. A young man who just broke up with his girlfriend only wants to drink and winds up on a road trip that makes a hangover from hell seem good. The director will be present.

Members of the Funeral / Jang-rae-sig-ui member by Baek Seung-Bin. The suicide of a 17-year-old dislodges secrets and hidden feelings in a dysfunctional family.

Rough Cut / Yeong-hwa-neun Yeong-hwa-da, directed by Jang Hoon, starring Hong Su-hyeon (Bungee Jumping of Their Own) and Kang Ji-Hwan (Host and Guest). A gangster-turned-actor does a film with an actor (who is practically a gangster), with the only condition that the violence portrayed in the movie has to be real.

Tokyo Taxi / Dokyo taekshi, directed by Kim Tai-sik. In this lighter side of road trips, a lead in a Japanese band must get to a gig in Seoul but he's afraid to fly, so he decides to take a taxi. The director will be present.

Korean-American features include:

God is D_ad, directed by Abraham Lim, starring Cy Shim, Carlo Corbellini, Lauren Mayer, Elvis Garcia, Derek Hicks, Davis Choh and Brett Emanuel. Another road trip movie, as strangers are bound for Chicago. But this one asks: are we bound by  free-will, an omniscient God or the roll of the Dungeon Master's dice? The director will be present.

Munyurangabo, directed by Lee Isaac Chung. An orphan of the Rwandan genocide travels from Kigali to the countryside on a quest for justice.

Numerous short films are also being screened.

Other events include

Actorfest KOFFLA, at the Korean Cultural Center

Master Class at American Film Institute with cinematographer Kim Hyung-ku (The Host, Please Teach Me English, Memories of Murder)

a Surprise Screening on Friday, March 4

KOFFLA was first launched in 2007 by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC). Beginning in 2010, KOFFLA will re-emerge under the Korean Cinematheque, a non-profit organization that helps to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the Korean film industry as well as the Korean and the Korean-American community through the medium of film and visual arts.

For more information, visit

Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles
March 4-7th, 2010

Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA

Laemmle Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA

AFI Conservatory - Mark Goodson Screening Room
2021 N. Western Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Korean Cultural Center - Ari Hall
5505 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Thessaloninki Documentary Festival Seeks Action

If the poster for the 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival says anything with its splatter of bullets, it's: "Caution! Powerful films ahead." No reel or celluloid cliché dulls the image of what to expect March 12–21, 2010, in Greece's second largest city.

Though less established than the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009, TFD has earned its programming cred.

For artistic director Dmitri Eipedes, the Festival has been "a bet." The risk-happy curator "really wanted to see the level of popularity of documentary, an art form that informs as well as entertains."

With annual crowds of more than 65,000, forefront recognition in Europe and commercial success for the art form, odds are looking good. Yet the big win for Eipedes – who fled dictatorship and only returned to a democratic Greece decades later – is showing "that documentary can make us better, thinking citizens.”

The Festival's subtitle is "Images of the 21st Century," with the tacit understanding that seeing current history propels doing.  Audiences will have 170 films to spur them to action.

Take for example The Mermaid's Tears: Oceans of Plastic, by French filmmaker Sandrine Feydel. Audiences will learn about the Hazmat heap that has become Earth's oceans, and — the Aegean Sea-flanked festival hopes — will take up the cause. (The Aegean is the focus of a Greek tribute that carries late filmmaker Yiorgos Kolozis's Aegean Nin kai Ai trilogy, but I digress.)

Feydel's film will screen under "Planet in Peril," a new section that aims to pick up where the Copenhagen summit on climate change left off. Its confab, "The Earth After Copenhagen," tables as one of its talking points, "What role could organized social groups, non-governmental organizations, artistic creation and the documentary play towards (redressing global warming)?"

Mobilizing advocacy also appears a goal of such "Human Rights" section entries as The Five Cardinal Points, by Austrian director Fridolin Schönwiese. Globalization and sugarcane companies are the villains in this story of Tres Valles, Mexico, which went from prosperous farming community to destitute village whose families now seek legal or illegal work in the U.S. Another "Human Rights" selection, Dirk Simon's When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun, enlists the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and the music of Philip Glass, Damian Rice and Radiohead's Thom Yorke to chart Tibet's quest for freedom.

Women's power, as embodied in the lives of a Kenyan attorney, a South African school principal and a Zimbabwean housewife/entrepreneur, fuels Africa is a Woman's Name. The three women of ranging social strata narrate how they transformed their immediate worlds. Made by Ingrid Sinclair, Bridget Pickering and Wanjiru Kinyanjui, the "African Stories" pick echoes a broader Festival theme of human resourcefulness in surmounting private or shared hells.

It also joins two other portraits of trios, Winds of Sand, Women of Rock (also an "African Stories" entry) and Meet Me at the Mango Tree ("Views of the World"). The former, by Austria's Nathalie Borgers, follows three women of the Saharan Tubu tribe on a 930-mile date-picking mission across the Sahara desert, their yearly break from domestic drudgery and macho husbands. In the latter film, U.S. filmmaker Brian McKenzie gives a male variation of the three-tiered approach by trailing a coconut gatherer, an ironing man and a TV repairman in Tamil Nadu, India.

The "Portraits – Human Journeys" section will present the world premiere of Baktash Abtin's Park Mark, chronicling a night in the life of a former family man and wealthy U.S. resident who's now a homeless drug addict in Teheran. Like The Five Cardinal Points, When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun, Africa is a Woman's Name and five other films, it receives its world premiere at TDF.

European premieres include Coming Back for More, Willem Alkema's update of elusive Sly and the Family Stone frontman Sly Stone; About Face, an adult's attempt to grapple with severe childhood trauma, by Mary Rosanne Katzke.

This year's Festival pays homage to Dutch documentarian Joris Ivens through a retrospective reaching back to the 1920s. A highlight is The Spanish Earth, which is narrated by Ernest Hemingway and considered one of the premier documentaries on the Spanish Civil War.

Another tribute, to Krysztof Kieslowski, is part of a larger spotlight on Polish nonfiction film. Though largely known for his dramatic productions, Kieslowski documented political unrest in Poland of the 1960s and the 1970s with a rebel's nerve for social critique. The tribute's 18 films fold in the completed version of The Legend, about Polish writer Stefan Zeromski; From the City of Lódz, the director’s graduation project for film school; and interviews with workers that yield his most political film, Workers’71.

Accompanying the Festival is the International Doc Market, run by Greek National Television and the Media Program of the European Union. This year, 50 of its 450 titles will be available via an online library in 30 digital booths, dispensing of DVD and VHS formats entirely. Doc Market takes place in the Electra Palace Hotel, next to Festival headquarters — and flagship Olympion and Pavlos Zannas theaters — in Aristotelous Square.

The European Documentary Network, for its part, operates a pitching forum at TDF that draws financiers and commissioning editors from around the globe. A parallel event, "Just Talking," brings together filmmakers and industry professionals in chats that ideally lead to more than its title suggests — and on to collaboration.

Exhibitions, masterclasses, publications, concerts and parties punch up the Salonica agenda, capped by an awards ceremony.  Amnesty International and FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) are two of the prize givers; the Hellenic Red Cross is another, and three of its six Audience Awards bear cash gifts of 10,000 euros each.

Yet even non-filmmakers can expect to come away with riches from Greek Macedonia's pulsing metropolitan city and its Festival a plate's toss from the wharf.

Additional details are available at

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
9 Alexandras Avenue

11473, Athens, Greece
+30 210 870 6000
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Miami International Film Festival Shoots for High Marks

Not counting The Cocoanuts' Marx Brothers, any fool can thrive in Florida during boon times. To ride a bust takes vision, though, which must be what the Miami International Film Festival has. For its 27th edition (March 5-14, 2010), the Festival has reportedly seen a 35% bump in advance ticket sales, and surely that makes it a seer.

The MIFF is produced and hosted by Miami-Dade College. With jobs down and campus admissions up, the only major film festival with such academic credentials may owe some of its current fortune — including its $1.8 million budget — to its tweedy trustee. 

A suite of seminars, workshops and discussions comprise what Miami-Dade College President Eduardo J. Padrón proudly terms "educational opportunities."

Leavening the curriculum are 115 films from 45 countries. That may not seem much next to Palm Springs' 189 films from 70 countries or Seattle's 292 from 62, but MIFF veterans will recall an average of 26 titles per year from 1983 to 2001, when founder Nat Chediak programmed the slate through his nonprofit Film Society of Miami. The lineup and scope expanded not long after MIFF began its academic career, first under Florida International University until Miami-Dade College took over in 2003.

Entering her sophomore year as artistic director, Tiziana Finzi continues to take festival-goers on "a journey around the world" where multiplexes are unlikely to send them.  Her nose for diversity and provocation is well suited to Miami's heavily Latino and international colony.

Looking for Eric raises the curtain opening night. Ken Loach's film about a middle-aged postman who receives life coaching from a soccer star features Manchester United supernova Eric Cantona playing himself.

The Festival closer will be Juan José Campanella's Argentine murder mystery, The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos), about a retired prosecutor who reopens a four-decade-old cold case. Based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, it was recently nominated for a Best Foreign Language Picture Academy Award. Another Oscar contender is Claudia Llosa's Peruvian mystical drama The Milk of Sorrow (La Teta Asustada). Both films are sold out.

Miami native Andy Garcia will be represented at MIFF via City Island, a family comedy by Raymond De Fellitta co-starring Garcia's daughter, Dominik García-Lorido, and Julianna Margulies.

Catherine Keener, also from Miami, returns home with Nicole Holofcener's Please Give. Like City Island, it, too, pokes at the domestic realm.

A different sort of family portrait looks at Pablo Escobar's eldest son. Nicolas Entel's Sins of My Father ranks among MIFF's documentaries with "must-see" buzz, alongside The Beatles on Record  by Bob Smeaton and the US premiere of Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, by Academy Award laureate Brigitte Berman.
The Festival will also screen Niels Arden Oplev's crime thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Its Swedish title, Män som hatar kvinnor, aptly translates as "Men Who Hate Women," as does the bestselling Stieg Larsson novel from which it was adapted.
MIFF's competition categories include "Ibero-American," "World," "DOX," "Cutting the Edge" and "Shorts."
A Cutting the Edge entry whose reputation precedes it — and which epitomizes the category's out-there spirit — is Philippine kidnapping caper Kinatay. It earned Brillante Mendoza the Best Director prize at Cannes last May. Florence Jaugey’s La Yuma, which makes its way to Miami in the Ibero-American segment, is the first feature in two decades to be filmed in Nicaragua.

Other MIFF segments are "Encuentros," "Florida Focus," "REEL Education Seminar Series" and the new "Diesel Online Shorts Competition." Then there's "Cinema 360º," a showcase for emerging independent filmmakers. It will present the international premiere of Children of God by Kareem Mortimer, anointed as one of the "10 to Watch" in 2010" by The Independent the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers' magazine formerly titled The Independent Film & Video Monthly. MIFF's first selection from The Bahamas outs that country's rampant homophobia. 

Also screening under Cinema 360º will be the US premiere of Moloch Tropical. Raoul Peck's satire about the making of a despot is also a visual reminder of Haiti before the earthquake.

This year's Career Achievement Tribute goes to Margarethe von Trotta, the German actress and director who pioneered feminist cinema in the 1970s. Together with a retrospective including Sheer Madness, Rosa Luxemberg and Rosentrasse, MIFF will screen her latest film, Vision, starring Barbara Sukawa as the 12th-century German author, composer and mystic nun, Hildegard von Bingen.

The 10-day Festival dangles five world premieres, 22 North American premieres and 14 US premieres. Screenings and events will be held at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the Regal South Beach, the Miami Beach Cinematheque, the Bill Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami and Little Havana's Tower Theater.

Lucky thing Miami-Dade College runs a Festival campus shuttle.
For further details, visit

Miami International Film Festival
25 NE 2nd Street
Suite 5501
Miami, FL 33132
(305) 237-3456
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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