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Festival Dispatch

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    Katrina, Class, Politics and A Few Filmmaking Legends in Spotlight at 9th Full Frame Doc Fest

    At the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, organizers like to think of festival filmmakers as family. At the end of a busy weekend of movie watching last Sunday afternoon in Durham, NC, event founder and artistic director Nancy Buirski thanked attendees from the stage during the awards ceremony and BBQ lunch, congratulating all fest filmmakers and inviting them back to the event even if they don't have a film to show. Such warmth clearly works, because a number of doc directors made the trip to North Carolina just to hang out, see some movies, and support fellow filmmakers. A festival that embraces both emerging and established directors, t...

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    "A Little Piece of Heaven" and "Iraq in Fragments" Take Nods at Bustling Cleveland Festival

    The Cleveland International Film Festival received a nice boost from locals in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Attendance rose 17 percent from the previous year, and CIFF staffers gleefully mentioned their record-breaking attendance when introducing screenings. "We have broken a record everyday except Monday (March 20th)," said one CIFF rep before introducing British director Brian Hill's "Songbirds" last week. "Cleveland had a certain famous visitor that day, so it interfered..." The mention prompted loud boos from the crowd, since the reference was to President Bush's visit to Cleveland earlier that week. Ohio may be a red state, but ...

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    New Directors/New Films Spotlights the Silver Lining

    It's a truisim that a creative, provocative surge in the arts accompanies national crises. Look at the "waves" that have emerged over the past 20 years in such countries as Argentina, China, Iran, and Mexico. Given that a significant majority of American independent films in recent years do not make the heart race, the unusually strong showing of U.S. movies in the 35th edition of New Directors/New Films -- a showcase of first- and second-time feature filmmakers which began March 22 and runs through April 2 --- is evidence of the societal rupture that's been building since a certain president took over. American films represent a higher propo...

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    At a Film Fest in Greece, Encountering World Events and Cultures Through Docs

    Thessaloniki is a city with a fluid history - one that dates back to the time of Alexander the Great and encompasses shifting political allegiances from the Roman and Byzantine empires up to Turkey and modern Greece. The architecture in the town center is mostly '50s modern, but with jarrin...

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    Rendez-vous with French Cinema '06, An Ensemble of French Films Rise To The Top

    True, the 11th edition of Rendez-vous with French Cinema offered no clear consensus on standouts. Absent, too, were high-profile auteur films, such as "Comedy of Power," Claude Chabrol's latest, unfinished at the time of the selection process; and the exciting product held in reserve, one can guess, for Cannes. Still, this year's Rendez-vous yielded its own pleasures, including a couple of small gems. But its star attraction, perhaps, was the ensemble, the dazzling breadth of offerings, ranging from the character studies associated with French cinema ("Not Here to be Loved"), to mainstream comedy ("Orchestra Seats"), to a surreal tease ("La M...

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    DISPATCH FROM SXSW: 10 Films To Watch From SXSW '06

    The 2006 SXSW Film Festival comes to a close Saturday with a screening of Paul Weitz's "American Dreamz," starring Hugh Grant and Mandy Moore. While the high profile new film joins the list of star-driven premieres, including Robert Altman's "Prairie Home Companion" opening night -- as well as this ...

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    DISPATCH FROM SXSW: Beasties Among Artists On Big Screen In SXSW Music Docs

    As South by Southwest (SXSW) made the transition into its massive music festival and conference here in Austin, music documentaries shared the spotlight -- at a crowded panel Tuesday afternoon and during even more jammed interview session with the Beastie Boys yesterday afternoon. As many have reite...

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    DISPATCH FROM SXSW: Cuban/Wagner, Burnt Orange in Focus, And More

    Two years ago at SXSW, a pair of new entities emerged, both with Austin ties. Burnt Orange Productions, the University of Texas Film Institute's new for-profit production company has become an active entity locally, while the vertically-integrated companies owned by Texas billionaires Mark Cuban and...

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    DISPATCH FROM SXSW: Film Blogs and Politics In Focus

    Monday was essentially blogger day at the concurrent film and interactive conferences at SXSW '06, with a panel about film blogging, an evening party for bloggers and the presentation of the Bloggies honoring the best in online weblogs. The two concurrent SXSW conferences precede the annual music ev...

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    DISPATCH FROM SXSW: Big Talk and Even Bigger Crowds During Opening Days in Austin

    Big crowds and even a few heated panel discussions marked the opening weekend of the SXSW Film Conference and Festival here in warm Austin, TX. Film festival producer Matt Dentler told a full house crowd at the Paramount Theater Sunday night that the event is seeing attendance figures that are 50% h...

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