Read our interview with author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her prize-winning, best-selling book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” was the basis for Steven Spielberg’s new film LINCOLN.
Post(s) tagged with "AFI"
This January, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and the American Film Institute (AFI) will continue their series of specials exploring some of the greatest artistic collaborations in film. In the series’ third installment, TCM PRESENTS: AFI’S MASTER CLASS – THE ART OF COLLABORATION: Robert Zemeckis and Don Burgess, the two men discuss their work together in front of an audience comprised of AFI Fellows studying filmmaking at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. The special will premiere Monday, January 14, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. (ET), only on TCM.
Oscar®-winning director Robert Zemeckis and Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Don Burgess began working together more than two decades ago and, since then, their collaborations have been nothing short of remarkable. Together they have created such acclaimed films as FORREST GUMP (1994), the Academy Award®-winning story of a simple man’s life through decades of U.S. history; the Oscar®-nominated sci-fi thriller CONTACT (1997), adapted from Carl Sagan’s book about an astronomer’s discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence; the Oscar®-nominated CAST AWAY (2000), a tale of a man’s journey home after being stranded on a deserted island; and their latest film, FLIGHT (2012), an action-packed mystery thriller about a seasoned airline pilot’s struggles after his miraculous crash landing.
In the new AFI special, the two men discuss their many collaborations and how the art of visual storytelling plays into each film. They also discuss films that have inspired them, including CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (1971), THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971), THE GODFATHER (1972) and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962). AFI’S MASTER CLASS is packed with clips from these films, as well as memorable scenes from the artists’ own movies.
TCM will follow this latest edition of AFI’S MASTER CLASS with a TCM premiere presentation of the Zemeckis and Burgess film, WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000), starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer and Katharine Towne, at 9:00 p.m. (ET) and an encore of the special at 11:30 p.m. (ET).
The following is TCM’s complete schedule for the night of January 14 (all times Eastern):
8:00 p.m. –TCM PRESENTS: AFI’S MASTER CLASS – THE ART OF COLLABORATION: Robert Zemeckis and Don Burgess (premiere)9:00 p.m. –WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000)11:30 p.m. –TCM PRESENTS: AFI’S MASTER CLASS – THE ART OF COLLABORATION: Robert Zemeckis and Don Burgess (encore)12:30 a.m. –CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (1971)2:15 a.m. –TCM PRESENTS: AFI’S MASTER CLASS – THE ART OF COLLABORATION: Robert Zemeckis and Don Burgess (encore)
11/04/12 - Chinese 1, 3:45 p.m.
11/06/12 - Chinese 6, 1:45 p.m.
By Andrew Johnson
It would be easy for a film about child soldiers to crumble under the weight of its dour and depressing subject matter, but WAR WITCH sidesteps this problem by being a character-driven film rather than an issue-driven one. Kim Nguyen’s latest offering follows Komona, a young African girl abducted from her village at the age of 12 after being forced to shoot her parents. In the hands of a les assured filmmaker this premise might become an excuse for a laborious exercise in “poverty porn,” but Nguyen treats his subject matter with greater respect, choosing to depict suffering through the eyes of a child rather than the desensitized gaze of an adult—are not the young often more capable of processing horror than the old?
Nguyen inserts elements of magical realism into the proceedings, giving them an eerie and otherworldly atmosphere while also accentuating the thematic subtext. Komona has visions of the dead standing motionless around her, caked in white ash. Her parents are her most frequent visitors, and their presence is a constant reminder of her sins. She may have killed them in order to survive, but they weren’t given a proper burial, and until their souls are laid to rest hers never will be.
The second act plays more like a coming-of-age tale, a MOONRISE KINGDOM-esque romance set against the backdrop of poverty and war-torn Africa. The key difference is that these two youngsters are just old enough to act on their hormonal impulses, something which strikes me as just a bit too subversive for a filmmaker like Anderson, and perhaps for mainstream Western audiences. I usually consider myself pretty open-minded when it comes to sex and gender issues, but when confronted with the prospect of Komona having sex with a fellow soldier (they’re so young!), I found myself forced to grapple with my own assumptions and preferences regarding appropriate sexual behavior. I wondered, were they ready for such intimacy? Was this really the best thing for them right now? Couldn’t it bring more trouble than it was worth?
In retrospect, it seems so silly of me to think so. I had fallen prey to the common cultural myth perpetuated by Hollywood that violence is a more acceptable element of youth than sex. Watching children murder their elders was horrible enough, but it was the idea of teenage sexuality that upset me the most! The brilliance of Nguyen’s screenplay is that it acknowledges common Western perceptions of sexuality in Africa as a tragic act inextricably linked to rape and HIV and gradually turns them on its head.
Here, teenage sexuality isn’t a cause for concern, it’s a cause for celebration, a relieving respite from the oppressive and manipulative sex of adulthood. Komona’s body may be a tool to satiate adult (blood)lust, but it never ceases to be hers, and when she becomes empowered to use it to act on her own desires, she reclaims her innocence rather than losing it. In the haze of young love her sins are momentarily washed away, and the endless possibilities of childhood are instantly possible again.
It’s a small miracle that WAR WITCH didn’t turn out completely unwatchable. Nguyen takes several diverse genres — war film, coming-of-age romance, and supernatural horror allegory, to name a few — and combines them all into something beautiful. The film stands as a haunting reminder that we must take care not to delve too deeply into the darkness of others, lest we be blinded from confronting the darkness in ourselves. As Kamona puts it at one point, “I won’t tell you what happened … you won’t listen anymore.” Nguyen wisely takes the eroticism out of violence and places it back where it belongs, in the space between two people. In doing so, he keeps WAR WITCH from coming another gratuitous look at African suffering and allows his images to retain their power, enabling us to better identify the evil around us.
Andrew Johnson is a freelance journalist and the founder of Film Geek Radio, a network of film-and-TV-themed podcasts.
By Joey Ally, AFI FEST Now
Before anything else, in the interest of journalistic integrity I should admit to the following: I am absolutely Antonio Campos’s #1 fanboy (or, in this case, girl). I first became aware of Campos’s work five years ago when — still a New Yorker and still (kinda/sorta/sometimes on Wednesdays) trying to make acting my main jam — my scene study teacher was plucked for a role in AFTERSCHOOL (AFI FEST 2008). The work since produced by his film company — Borderline Films, comprised of Campos (writer/director: AFTERSCHOOL, SIMON KILLER), Sean Durkin (writer/director: MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE), and Josh Mond (producer of all three, in addition to numerous others), who met during their time in undergrad film school at NYU — has been nothing short of incendiary, engendering discourse and (gasp!) even agreement throughout the independent film world. Everyone digs these dudes.
Yet sitting down with Campos on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, it was immediately apparent that in spite of the Hollywood-hoover-cloud swirling just above him, Campos possesses one of the most calming demeanors I’ve yet to come across this go round the sun. The lull of his voice, the minimalism of his motions, and the intention behind his eye-contact — as though saying “yes, I’m here with you” — make it apparent why he is able to command such delicately tremendous performances. Actors trust him because he’s a guy you trust, plain and simple.
For 40 minutes, we chatted about SIMON KILLER, AFTERSCHOOL, the New York from which Campos draws his inspiration, and why existentialism shakes his cage, among many other things (such as why the choice of handle for the titular character in SIMON KILLER is not, in fact, a reference to the game “Simon says”….though if you’re reading, Antonio, I maintain that the hypothesis was not totally unfounded).
Here’s some of that conversation.
AFN: First of all, I just want to say thank you for meeting with me. I’ve actually been following you, and Borderline Films, since the casting stage of AFTERSCHOOL because I was in Alexandra Neil’s scene study at the time.
AC: Oh I’m so happy to hear that — I really like Alex. I had it in my head that Alex Neil’s character was sort of connecting the AFTERSCHOOL universe and SIMON KILLER. We were gonna put Brady (Corbet, who portrays the eponymous “Simon”) in a “Brighton Academy” (the fictitious school that serves as the backdrop for AFTERSCHOOL) sweatshirt, like he was the brother to the twins that died or something, but it was too much.
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