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Broadcast DVD presents
"I don't know what 'independent' filmmaking means anymore, because it's just a label they stamp on a product now, like 'alternative' music."
Section 1: Features
This brief segment is a series of short clips set in Toronto, Canada where theToronto International Film Festival is held. It's a brief look at the setting and generalattitude behind the festival, with a few peeks at stars and filmmakers.
-FICS - Chile-
In this segment, Dan Mirvish (co-founder of the Slamdance film festival) wandersaround Santiago, Chile as he discusses being part of the jury for a short film festivaltaking place there, which is interesting since he can't speak Spanish.
-New Director: Kevin Jordan-
In a short interview-style piece, we meet Kevin Jordan. He's an up-and-comingdirector who's short film Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish won awards at theToronto Festival.
Section 2: Festival Shorts
Short 1: Desserts
Directed by Jeff Stark
Ewan McGregor stars in this very short (4 minute) piece of work that got a pretty biglaugh when I watched it.
Short 2: When The Day Breaks
Directed by Amanda Forbes and Wendy Tilby.
Unquestionably my favorite short on the disc is this amazing animated piece. Usingpencil and photocopy technique, it tells the story of a pig who witnesses the death ofa rooster. It's extremely surreal, and lasts about 10 minutes.
Short 3: The Robber
Directed by Michael Mayer.
Lasting about 13 minutes, this is a comedic film about a burglar who completelybotches a robbery and winds up in a very strange situation.
Short 4: Dolphins
Directed by Farhad Yawari.
This lengthy piece (40 minutes) is a surreal and almost completely dialog-less filmabout a young girl in a mental institution who fantasizes about dolphins to escapeher daily problems. Very well made.
Section 3: Interviews
Interview 1: Jim Jarmusch
This is a short, but good interview with legendary filmmaker Jarmusch who's surrealworks have been entertaining for some time now. His career includes works likeDown By Law, Night on Earth, Mystery Train, and morerecently Dead Man. His latest film is Ghost Dog, which isdiscussed here.
Interview 2: Errol Morris
Documentary filmmaker Morris is interviewed about his newest film Mr.Death, which is about Fred Leuchter. Leuchter was responsible for manyinnovations in the field of prison executions, and has been controversial for hisdenial that Jews were gassed during the Holocaust (this is not explained in theinterview segment, unfortunately).
Interview 3: Harry Connick Jr. and Randall Harris
Director Harris discusses his film Wayward Son with Connick, who stars init. A few clips from the movie are also featured.
Section 4: Coming Soon
In this section are 4 film clips from Onegin, 2 from East is East,and 3 from Black & White. Also featured is the trailer for <b>Ghost Dog:The Way of the Samurai.
Along with the disc's main features is some interview footage present on the variousmenus, which can be watched by simply looking at the menus.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: The disc spans a great deal of image formats and aspect ratios. Most of theinterview footage and film festival stuff is basic home video. This material bridgesbetween "OK" and artifact laden, but it doesn't really matter much since it doesn'tinterfere with the interviews. The Errol Morris interview is probably the best ofthese, since it uses strange effects and film technique. The short films boast thebest transfers, each one being absolutely stellar with no compression problems ornegative flaws. The film clips are pretty bad, though. Especially the clips fromBlack and White which seem unusually washed out. Given that the realmeat of the disc is the short films, I'd have to say that's where my rating goes. Therest of the disc would average out to C.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: As you might imagine, the interview clips and film fest material are pretty boring inthe audio department. You can hear people talk clearly, and that's about all youneed. The short films, however, all have impressive 2.0 Surround audio. Allchannels are used well in each of the 4 films, and the surround action is veryimmersive. Music is used a good deal in these films as well, and the front channelmix of the work is great. The film clips decode as 2.0, but the audio seems morelike mono work. Again, though, since the short films are the complete artistic workson the disc, the rating reflects that excellence.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
Unfortunately, I have to downgrade what are basically B+ extras for the extremelymessy navigation system employed on the disc. To begin with, the main menusdidn't work for me. I was unable to navigate the disc at all, except by using directaccess to specific chapters. Arguably this could have been a player-basedproblem, but I was able to navigate some menus just fine (like the film clips or theinterview selections) and I've never had a problem like this on any of the 60+movies that have gone through my machine. If these menus were simply supposedto be skipped to access the materials, then I missed the hint you were supposed todo that. The entire thing seems tailor made for PC use, rather than deck-playeruse. The menus are laden with web-page style banner advertisements/links andthe whole system seems mouse-oriented. Thankfully, the back cover gives theexact track listings for all the material (almost as if they expected this problem) andthe insert gives complete instructions on accessing the extra features. I mustrecommend that future issues of this series employ a far less frustrating controlscheme.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsFilm-Fest is a nice disc because it focuses on far more interesting aspects ofmodern film. Someone could have easily taken the quick route to a DVD magazinelike this and done some shallow Entertainment Tonight style news piecesabout who Brad Pitt was dating or something. Instead, the short films and focus onindie productions gives a good amount of depth here. Directors like Errol Morrisand Jim Jarmusch are so ignored by the mainstream press that to see them treatedwith this kind of proud dignity is a welcome change from the norm. Recommended.
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