Editor | Peter Bowen
Taking Woodstock Feeds Live Stock
Posted November 21, 2008
Photo by Ken Regan
This week NBC Universal’s “Green is Universal” presented over 150 hours of green-related material this week, all with the underlying message that there is something all of us can do to save the enviroment. Focus Features has already been moving in that direction, with their last two films being green productions. Scott Macaulay’s “It’s Easy Being Green” highlights much of the efforts behind Sam Mendes’ new comedy.
Ang Lee’s hippie period piece Taking Woodstock employed much of the same methods—using recyclable cups (made of corn) and dinner-wear, washing dishes rather than throwing paper plates away, and banning all plastic water bottles, issuing refillable metal canteens to all cast and crew instead. But shooting in upstate New York gave the opportunity to go even further. Working with regional farmers to provide local produce and meats, they also gave back by saving all scraps and leftovers for the neighborhood pigs (no, not the ones at the strip bar, but the ones residing in nearby farms). According to Taking Woodstock's Environmental Coordinator Nicole Feder (who may possibly be the first to occupy such a position), “What ever scraps we have from plates or from catering we donate to the local farms so they can feed their animals”––a gesture that made pigs, farmers and filmmakers all very happy.
Sundance Under Attack?
Posted November 11, 2008
In the days after California passed Prop 8, an initiative to push California to create an constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, citizens across the country have been hopping mad. In California, daily protests have marched on churches and especially Mormon temples, angrily denouncing their part in funding the “Yes on 8” campaign. Especially odious to many Californians is that a religion centered in Utah should’ve allocated millions of dollars to influence an election in another state.
In light of this, various boycott campaigns have sprung up––against Utah Mormon business, and most recently the Sundance Film Festival. In a post entitled “Why is the Sundance Film Festival taking place in the Hate State of Utah?”, AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis first suggested the idea of quashing America’s preeminent festival. Soon others picked up the flame. At “The Hot Blog,” David Poland asked the question, “What Would Harvey Do?,” looking back to Harvey Milk (whose 1978 political fight against another homophobic campaign is portrayed in Focus Features’ Milk).
indieWIRE reported yesterday on the Festival’s reaction to a possible boycott. "It would be gravely disappointing to us if the Sundance Film Festival were to be singled out for a boycott. We bring together a diverse range of independent voices and we remain committed to create a dialogue around critical issues," she added.” Sundance Film Festival director of programming John Cooper, who recently married his long-term partner, reiterated this point to indieWIRE: “Our location in Utah puts us in the heart of America which makes our mission just that much more important. Through the last 25 years this irony has not been lost on me...even though I usually don't talk about it in these terms."
Others have jumped into the debate. Andrew Sullivan in the “The Daily Dish” points out that “A reminder that not all of Utah and not all Mormons are anti-equality.” The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick called the proposed ban “An Unfortunate Reponse to the Gay-Marriage Ban.” Spout’s Karina Longworth took the temperature of the Independent film world, finding the desire for a boycott lacking. But this debate seems far from over.
The Presidential Ad Campaigns
Posted November 03, 2008
As the presidential campaign careens towards its inevitable end on November 4, everyone, including filmmakers, is stepping up to the plate. Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has released a series of last minute ads called “People in the Middle for Obama,” exhibiting his characteristic probing interview style. Fred Davis, the advertising mastermind behind the McCain campaign (as well as a number of other right-wing causes), is launching new, 11th hour attack ads. Even Jewish comedian Jackie Mason is stepping up to deliver his personal pitch for John McCain as an attack against comedian Sarah Silverman.
As Hollywood and Washington fight it out on the airwaves, others have taken the political ad as a genre to have fun with. Landline TV has released in all six parodies under the rubric of what if _______ famous director took on McCain’s attack ads? Fill in the blanks with the names John Woo, Kevin Smith, Wes Anderson, Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, M. Night Shyamalan and David Lynch and you have the list of these comedy ads.
John Woo, Kevin Smith, Wes Anderson
Jason Reitman, M. Night Shyamalan, David Lynch