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Mitchell Block Direct: Vol. I Issue 4: Alex Gibney, Paperman, and The Academy Awards Animation Shorts Nominations

Mitchell Block Direct: Vol. I Issue 4: Alex Gibney, Paperman, and The Academy Awards Animation Shorts Nominations

Vol. I Issue 4
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Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God 

Directed by Alex Gibney

In Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Oscar®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney examines the abuse of power in the Catholic Church through the story of four courageous deaf men who, in the first known case of public protest, set out to expose the priest who abused them. The film follows a cover-up that winds its way from the row houses of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland’s churches, all the way to the highest office of the Vatican.

Like Woodward and Bernstein covering the story of Watergate, Gibney uses the keyhole of the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse in the US to show that the Pope knew (or should have known) that there is wide spread child abuse within the ranks of Catholic priests, not just in the U.S. but worldwide.  Not exactly a pretty picture. This powerful, beautifully crafted film builds a case that screams out for reform of an institution that, like our military, is run by men with little or no outside supervision. One feels that like Nixon after the proven Watergate charges, the Pope should resign along with others who have allowed this outrageous behavior and its cover up to be so institutionalized.

Gibney’s films have a logical clarity that reinforces their intelligence. Smart, clear and wrenchingly powerful they explore institutions and the people who are part of them. From governors to prison guards he shows little patience for lies and incompetence. The chain he establishes in Maxima Culpa links the victims to the priests to their supervisors and on to Rome to the office formally run by the man who is now the Pope. What can you say? They knew, they had to know, the links are compelling.  Why would this institution shelter these men (and women) who were abusing children and in some cases adults? Who would tolerate this behavior? Why would the Church tolerate this behavior? Yet the cover up continues.

In a year of films dealing with institutions, such as government officials slowly trying to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, or the military dealing with women being abused, or the Israel army ignoring the rights of the provocative Palestinians or even government failures to act on global warming, this is the best and it should be one of the nominees.


Alex Gibney is the founder of Jigsaw Productions. An Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning producer, he is well known for producing one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.  

His work as a writer and director includes the recent hit Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, as well as the 2006 Oscar-nominated Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the 2008 Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side.  Alex attended the film program at UCLA.

Director/Producer/Writer: Alex Gibney
Producers:Trevor Birney, Alexandra Johnes, Ruth O’Reilly, Kristen Vaurio, Jedd Wider, Todd Widler
Executive Producers:  Jessica Kingdon, Sheila Nevins, Lori Singer
Writer: Mark Monroe
Cinematography: Lisa Rinzler
Original Music Composer: Ivor Guest
Editor: Sloane Klevin
Production Companies: Jigsaw Productions, Wilder Film Projects, Union Editorial
Distribution:  Content Media, HBO Documentary Films, HBO

Paperman a short animated film by John Kahrs

Paperman is an original seven-minute-long short animated film produced by Disney Animation.

It tells the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him.

Director John Kahrs was the animation supervisor on Tangled, an animator on Bolt and Ratatouille, and worked on Pixar’s The Incredibles, Mike’s New Car, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life. Kahrs now gets his break as a director at Disney. 14 years of work in the animation department at Pixar, that’s paying dues! Now, I understand why this “Disney” animation film looks and feels like a “Pixar” film.  It’s brilliant, polished, and elegant and, like the Simpson short, silent. Expressive muted black and white images with a slight color tint in this perfect short film dramatizes love at first sight. Tasteful, romantic and above all beautifully executed, I look forward to Kahrs’ feature film debut. A little Pixar goes a long way and this work is expressive of adult feelings that any child could enjoy. No need to dumb the story down, it works for audiences of all ages. A perfect 10.

Original music by Christophe Beck (who has 105 scoring credits) this work is produced by Kristina Reed (from Disney) and Executive Produced by Pixar’s John Lasseter. Written by Clio Chiang and Kendrelle Hoyer, it shows that “less” can be plenty. Short films don’t get better than this! 

Directed by: John Kahrs
Produced by: Kristina Reed
Executive Producer: John Lasseter
Art Direction: Jeff Tuley
Written by: Chio Chiang and Kendelle Hoyer
Music by: Christophe Beck
Film Editing: Lisa Linder
Produced by:  Walt Disney Animation
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Running time: 7:00

Short Notes and Update:

The Invisible War is on the New York Times’ and Christian Science Monitor’s and Newsweek’s 10 Best Films of 2012.  The Gate Keepers is on the Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Films of 2012.

Academy announces 10 animated films shortlisted for the Animation Short Film Nomination

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all 57 eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in New York and Los Angeles. I’ve seen all of the films and this is one of the strongest group shortlisted in years, from the elegant Pixar/Disney film Paperman to the wildly funny Simpsons’ Daycare. These films are a treat for the eyes and mind. Stunning, moving, original, powerful and frankly amazing they will both amuse and entertain and each of the 10 films is special. The styles range from traditional animation to computer designed. A number of students made it with entries which are testimony to their vigorous programs and their talent. This is a year where handicapping is impossible. 

At screenings of the short listed films, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members have selected three to five nominees from among these 10 titles for its nominations. 

The 85th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 5:30 a.m. PST in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. 

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee, director (Lodge Films)
Web Link
Length: 16 min.
Language: none
Country: USA

Combustible,Katsuhiro Otomo, director (Sunrise Inc.)
Web Link: None available
Length: 13 min.
Language: none
Country: Japan

Dripped, Léo Verrier, director (ChezEddy)
Web Link
Length: 8 min.
Language: none
Country: France

The Eagleman Stag, Mikey Please, director, and Benedict Please, music scores and sound design (Royal College of Art)
Web Link
Length: 9 min.
Language: none
Country: England

The Fall of the House of Usher, Raul Garcia, director, and Stephan Roelants, producer (Melusine Productions, R&R Communications Inc., Les Armateurs, The Big Farm)
Web Link
Length: 17 min.
Language: none
Country: USA

Fresh Guacamole, PES, director (PES)
Web Link
Length: 2 min.
Language: none
Country: USA

Head over Heels, Timothy Reckart, director, and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer (National Film and Television School)
Web Link
Length: 10 min.
Language: none
Country:  England

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, David Silverman, director (Gracie Films)
Web Link
Length: 5 min.
Language: none
Country: USA

Paperman, John Kahrs, director (Disney Animation Studios)
Web Link 
*note this about the technology in this film, but not a true trailer
Length: 7 min.
Language: none
Country: USA

Tram, Michaela Pavlátová, director, and Ron Dyens, producer (Sacrebleu Productions)
Web Link
Length: 7 min.
Language: none
Country: French
Volume 1  Issue 3  In Chasing Ice the film was edited by Davis Coombe (and not Mark Monroe); Distributor (US) Submarine Deluxe (not National Geographic).
Block Doc Workshops in Los Angeles
The International Documentary Association will be hosting Documentary Funding and Documentary Tune Up Workshops with Block on February 9/10.

Mitchell Block specializes in conceiving, producing, marketing & distributing independent features & consulting. He is an expert in placing both completed works into distribution & working with producers to make projects fundable. He conducts regular workshops in film producing in Los Angeles and most recently in Maine, Russia and in Myanmar (Burma).

Poster Girl, produced by Block was nominated for a Documentary Academy Award and selected by the IDA as the Best Doc Short 2011. It was also nominated for two Emmy Awards and aired on HBO. He is an executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Carrier, a 10-hour series that he conceived & co-created. Block is a graduate of Tisch School and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. He is a member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Television Academy, a founding member of BAFTA-LA and has been teaching at USC School of Cinematic Arts since 1979. Currently Block teaches a required class in the USC Peter Stark Producing Program.


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