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Broadcast DVD presents
"I'm 42, so if I wanted to go see whatever great film it is and you have to sit there in the theater eight times to see how they did it. Now you just go get the DVD and go through it frame by frame."
DVD ReviewFilm Fest 2: Cannes 1999 & LAIFF is the second issue of Broadcast DVD's interactive movie magazine. This issue focuses on the 1999 Cannes International Film Festival as well as the 1999 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. The content is varied, featuring numerous short films featured at the festivals as well as interviews with actors and filmmakers and clips from upcoming independent film releases.
The disc is divided up into five main sections which I cover individually below. One neat feature of this disc is the live-action menu format. For each section, there is a footage segment that occupies the upper left-hand corner of the screen. This segment will be referred to below as "menu footage."
Section One: FEATURE
Menu footage of a photo opportunity with Salma Hayek as she appears with a hand-painted car to be auctioned off.
Cannes 1999: This montage segment with a running time of about eight minutes features photos and footage of the city of Cannes and the festival itself, excerpts from various press conferences, excerpts of celebrity street interviews, and footage of various other celebrities at Cannes. Some of the interview segments include talks with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Ron Howard, William Shatner, Ed Sanchez and Dan Myrick (creators of The Blair Witch Project ), Kirsten Dunst, David Cronenberg, Hugh Hefner, and many more. Interview footage with Anjelica Huston precedes a clip from her film Agnes Browne. Interview footage with director Atom Egoyan is included with a clip from his film Felicia's Journey. Finally, director Mark Edlitz talks around a clip from his film The Eden Myth.
LAIFF 1999: This seven minute montage is very similar in style to the Cannes segment. It includes interview segments with Sally Kirkland, Kurt Loder, Virginia Madsen, Gena Rowlands, director Steven Soderbergh, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, William Hurt, Keanu Reeves and many others. A film clip for The Dream Catcher is included with interview footage with director Ed Radtke. Likewise, footage with actress Jill Hennessy and actress/director Nisha Ganatra accompanies a clip from Chutney Popcorn. Lastly, writer/director Chris Poe is interviewed about his film Pop and Me, which won the festival's award for best feature length film.
New Director: Alex Winter: Much like fellow actor Keith Gordon, Alex Winter (The Lost Boys, the Bill & Ted films) has forayed into the world of directing independent film. This five minute interview, complete with film clips, is primarily about his new film Fever.
Section Two: FESTIVAL SHORTS
Menu footage is an entertaining press conference segment with director Ron Howard as he discusses short filmmaking.
More: This six minute animated film from director Mark Osborne is kind of a combination of Brazil and a Heinrich Boll short story.
Express Aisle to Glory: From director Jonathan Buss comes this twelve minute comedic short about competitive grocery store bagboys done in the style of NFL Films. To complete the effect, NFL Films narrator Harry Kalas does the voiceover and the film includes a cameo by Bob Costas.
Devil Doll: An extremely short (48 seconds) comedic film which is more of a visual gag. I really can't describe it further without ruining the joke. Directed by Jarl Olson.
The Mischievous Ravi is a comedic film about a high school-aged Indian convenience store clerk who is rebelling against his traditional parents. Directed by Byron Shah, it is pretty funny and runs about thirteen minutes in length.
Section Three: FILM FEST SELECTS:
Menu footage is a one minute interview segment with Spike Lee talking about the influence Jim Jarmusch had on his work.
Falcone: A surrealistic Italian film from director Jean-Dominique Ferucci, it deals with a mob-figure father who torments and ultimately kills his only son for talking to the police about the criminal activity of one of his competitors. Running time is about eleven minutes.
Descent: This very attractive, scathing, and insouciant animated anti-war film features narration taken from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Directed by Kevin Souls, it has a running time just shy of four minutes.
Catholic School: Directed by Jona Frank, this is a very interesting short documentary about catholic school children and how they see themselves and the world they live in. Lots of "children say the darndest things..." kind of material as these second-graders are asked such questions as "why is Catholic school better than public school?" and "what does Jesus look like?" This film is just under fourteen minutes in length. Section Four: INTERVIEWS:
Menu footage is from an interview with director Atom Egoyan as he talks about working with actors.
John Sayles: This five minute segment features live interview and press conference interview footage with this renowned writer/director as well as a clip from his film Limbo, production footage, and brief comments from Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, the star of the film.
Irene Jacob: A three minute interview with this French actress (U.S. Marshalls), she talks about her film My Life So Far and what it was like to work with director Louis Malle. A clip from the film is included.
Harvey Weinstein: A three minute segment showing some interview footage from a press conference, Miramax co-founder Weinstein talks about the hypocrisy in the ways studios promote their films before the Academy Awards® as well as what influences led him to seek out a career in the movie business. This is a very enlightening look into the mind of one of the more powerful men in show business.
Timothy Olyphant and Natasha Gregson Wagner: Shot in a West Hollywood restaurant at the after party for Olyphant's film No Vacancy. Wagner wasn't in the film but her famous father, Robert, was. Tim and Natasha spend more time talking to each other than the camera in this three minute segment.
Mark Osborne: A three minute interview segment with More director Osborne as he discusses the Cannes experience and what it is like to create a short film.
Section Five: COMING SOON:
Menu footage entitles American Directors at Cannes is a two minute segment featuring interview footage with John Sayles, Spike Lee, and Ron Howard.
Dill Scallion: The trailer for this Jordan Brady film which is a mockumentary about a country and western singer who gets his big break.
The Virgin Suicides: Two clips from this directorial debut by Sofia Coppola. The Virgin Suicides is based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.
The Emperor and the Assassin: Two clips are available from the seventh film from Chen Kaige, the famed director of 1994's Farewell My Concubine. This film is a historical epic the violent battles that led to the unification of China in 221B.C.
Dogma: Four scenes are offered from Kevin Smith's latest film about two fallen angels that try to get back into heaven by exploiting a loophole in Catholic dogma.
Film Fest 2 has some very interesting stuff for diehard film festival fans as well as lovers of short films. However, I would have liked to see some of the interview segments fleshed out more. Also, very little background information on the Cannes International Film Festival itself is offered for those of us who have never been and have a real interest in learning about it. A short documentary section about the format and design of the festival would have been a welcome addition.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Since such a wide variety of material is presented here, the image quality varies wildly depending on which segment or section you are viewing. I found few segments with any evidence of pixelation or downconversion artifacts and the image quality was generally what you would expect from film festival footage and low-budget short films.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: As with the image, the audio quality varies depending on the segment or section. The disc is presented in 2.0 stereo throughout. Some of the short films, such as Descent have excellent audio. On the other hand, the audio from some of the press conference footage was very muddled as we would expect from recordings made with handheld mikes. Overall, dialogue in the interview segments was clear and easy to understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu
7 Feature/Episode commentaries by The various directors of the included short films.
Extras Review: Film Fest 2 does contain some good extras for those seeking more information about the short films and "Coming Soon" films highlighted on this disc. All seven included short films include commentary tracks with the directors. Also, production notes are included for all four "Coming Soon" films. However, I noticed some sloppiness with these notes. I was unable to access the production notes for Dill Scallion at all with either of my DVD players' remotes. Perhaps they are accessible with a mouse on a DVD-ROM equipped PC. Also, there appears to be at least one page or production notes missing from The Virgin Suicides as the last available page trails off with an incomplete sentence. As I do not have access to a DVD-ROM drive, I was unable to test the DVD-ROM content of this disc but it appears to mostly be links to various independent film-related webpages.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsAvailable at a very low subscription price or purchased individually, Broadcast DVD's Film Fest series is a nifty way for movie fans to keep up with what is happening in the world of international film festivals as well as see some of the latest and greatest short films.
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