VIDEO: FILMMAKER AMIT MADHESHIYA ON THE CINEMA TRAVELLERS, WALTER MURCH & FILMS

Filmmakers Amit Madheshiya and Shirley Abraham’s award-winning documentary The Cinema Travellers shows you a different side of India’s love for films. The duo takes you on a magical ride around the small villages and towns outside of Mumbai (Bombay), India’ entertainment capital, which is home to Bollywood film industry. What we get to see in the film is a dedicated band of cinema travellers or dream merchants who show films to an audience that gets to see 35mm films about once a year.What you see is a whole different world – an analog world filled with old 35mm films and 35mm projectors and the films are screened in pitched tents.

We sat down to speak with Madheshiya during the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival. Madheshiya and Abraham produced, directed and co-wrote their debut film that took them nearly 8 years to make. Both had to learn a lot about filmmaking and how to edit the film. Madheshiya shares that he learnt a lot by reading Academy Award winner Walter Murch’s (The Godfather) books and watching his films.  The films’ cinematography is the one that hooks you into the film and we wanted to find out how Madheshiya shot the film and what kind of camera he used. We also find out how he developed an interest in photography and about his mentor in his boarding school in Nainital, India. Tune in to find out about the making of The Cinema Travellers.

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VIDEO: ROBERT BYRNE OF SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL

Meet Robert Byrne, President, Board of Directors of San Francisco Silent Film Festival, film restorer and engineer. We sat dow to talk about how he developed his passion for silent films, the legacy of silent films and his work in restoring silent films. We also find out why Byrne switched his major from film and theatre to computer science. After working as an engineer for many years, he went back to pursuing his primary passion in films.

Many films were destroyed or lost over the decades. But every now and then a lost print will surface like the 1916 on Sherlock Holmes starring William Gillette. Byrne was involved in the restoration of this iconic  film since Gillette is the one who created that memorable get-up for Holmes through his stage play, which later on became a silent film. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle approved of Gillette’s stage play on Holmes. That long coat,  curved pipe and the deerstalker hat are creations of Gillette points out Byrne.

Every June the San Francisco Silent Film Festival takes place where they showcase silent films from around the world. The festival recreates the silent film era experience complete with live music by well-known orchestras. This year the San Francisco Silent Film Festival runs from June 1 through June 4, 2017 at the Castro Theatre.

VIDEO: AARON LINGTON & CHRIS MOTTER ON JAZZ AND JAZZ IMPROVISATION

We sat down to speak with Dr. Aaron Lington and Chris Motter on jazz and jazz improvisation.  Dr. Lington shares how technology has changed the way people play and learn to play jazz. There is a lot students can do with technology today he shares.  Mother shares how he uses technology to transcribe the music on his computer and learn to play tracks.

How and when do they start improvising well-known jazz standards? It is a 3-stage process explains Dr. Lington. It starts with mimicking, followed by assimilation and finally innovate on that track. Not every jazz musician gets to that third stage of innovation he points out. Louis Armstrong was an innovator as was Duke Ellington among others he adds.

Dr.Lington and Motter then do a show and tell of jazz improvisation. They play a few well-known jazz standards like Billy Strayhorn’s Take The A Train followed by their version of improvisation.

Dr. Lington plays the baritone saxophone and Motter plays jazz guitar. Dr. Lington is a musician, teacher and composer, who teaches at San Jose State University. He is also a member of the Grammy winning band Pacific Mambo Orchestra. Motter graduated from San Jose University in music.

April is #jazzappreciation month.

This interview was sponsored by Zoho Corp and aired on TV in the US.

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VIDEO: FILMMAKER JAMES GRAY ON “THE LOST CITY OF Z”

We caught up with filmmaker James Gray to talk about his new film The Lost City of Z. Gray was in San Francisco to attend the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival. We spoke to Gray about why Brad Pitt sent him the novel and how he got attached to the project and what did he learn from making the film.

The Lost City of Z is based on David Grann’s best-selling novel by the same name. Gray wrote, directed and co-produced the film that was largely shot in Columbia, South America.  This is a true story about an early 20th British explorer Lt. Colonel Percy Fawcett, who was convinced there was a lost civilization in the Amazon. Finding that lost city became Fawett’s magificient obsession and over a course of 20 odd years he made multiple trips to South America in search of the city. He was convinced he had found the remnants of an ancient civilization, but he had a hard time convincing others of his finding.

The film stars Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland among others.

The Lost City of Z  releases in the San Francisco March 10, 2017.

  • Title: THE LOST CITY OF Z
  • Running Time: 150 minutes
  • Status: Releases April 21, 2017
  • Country:USA
  • GENRE: DRAMA

This interview aired on TV in the US. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.

 

REMEMBERING BILLIE HOLIDAY ON HER BIRTHDAY

Jazz musician and composer Billie Holiday would have been 102 years old today. She was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia  and died rather young on  July 17, 1959.

Holiday was a gifted singer, whose voice captured deep and complex emotions in an effortless manner. You simply can’t be indifferent to Holiday’s music, especially her voice. Emotional, moody, soulful are some of the words that come to mind when you listen to her sing. There was something magical about her voice that made you sit up and take notice. You simply cannot ignore Holiday’s voice.

Holiday has the ability to convey emotion writes Tom Vitale in this article. He points out that Holiday was greatly influence by Louis Armstrong’s vocal style. Until I read Vitale’s article I had not made the connection on how strong Armstrong’s influence was on Holiday.

“Even when she sang a happy song, she seemed half in a dream world she wasn’t sure she should share,” writes Geoffrey Himes in What Makes Billie Holiday’s Music So Powerful Today.

Holiday started singing in the 1930s. “There was something special about her. Jazz musicians and some fans heard it, and so did a young record producer named John Hammond. He heard an 18-year-old Holiday sing in a small club in April 1933, writes John McDonough. Holiday came to be noticed in 1939 when she sang Strange Fruit.

Here a rare interview of Holiday talking about jazz and the book she wrote The Lady Sings The Blues.

Here are a couple of songs from Holiday for your listening pleasure. Did I mention that April is #JazzAppreciation month?

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VIDEO: NOAH COWAN OF SFFILM ON 60th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Noah Cowan of SFFILM shares what is in store for the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the US. The festival runs from April 5th to April 19th 2017 in San Francisco and Berkeley.

This year’s festival features over 180 films. And, for the first time the festival will honor a Bollywood star. Well-known Bollywood start Shah Rukh Khan will be in town on April 14th.

For tickets and information go to SFFILM’s website.

This interview aired on TV in the USA. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.

VIDEO: NIKI CARO ON THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE, JESSICA CHASTAIN & ANDRIJ PAREKH

Director Niki Caro talks about her new film The Zookeeper’s Wife, Jessica Chastain and Andrij Parekh, who is the director of photography for the film.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is set in Warsaw, Poland during WW-II.  The film is based on a true story on how the husband and wife team of Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain)  and  Dr. Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh),  devoted their time in saving humans and animals from the Nazis.

Caro’s next project is Disney’s Mulan.

  • Title: THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE
  • Running Time: 126 minutes
  • Status: Film Released on March 31, 207 in SF Bay area
  • Country: USA
  • GENRE: DRAMA

This interview aired on TV in the USA. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.

VIDEO: FILMMAKER RITESH BATRA ON “THE SENSE OF AN ENDING”

 

Highlights of our upcoming interview with filmmaker Ritesh Batra on his new film The Sense of An Ending. The film is based on Julian Payne’s novel by the same name. This coming-of-age film is about a older man, who is semi-retired. Set in England, the film stars Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter and Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey).

Batra made his debut as a feature film director and writer with his critically acclaimed award-winning The Lunchbox. The film premiered in Cannes in 2013. Prior to that Batra had made a few award-winning short films.

Stay tuned for our full interview with Batra on the making of The Sense of An Ending, his upcoming film with Robert Redford and Jane Honda and Bollywood films. Batra grew up in Bombay, India and came to the US for his higher studies.

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FILM NOTES: KONG: SKULL ISLAND

So, there I was at a screening of Kong: Skull Island at a IMAX theatre with my 3D glasses jammed over my regular glasses. Get ready for some fantastic action whispered my better half. I could sense the excitement in the theatre and it looked like folks were really looking forward to watching this picture.

Kong: Skull Island is directed by Jordan Charles Vogt-Roberts and has a stellar cast of  Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Riley and others.

The first 20 minutes of the film was interesting, but after that I had a hard time watching it. What was the film about? Was it a love story between the leading male and female protagonist? Or, was it a fight between man and ape? Or, was it a quest to find the secret of Skull Island? The film script is weak is one way to put it. What kept me engaged was the fantastic music track scattered throughout the film.

After 118 minutes I was glad that the film was over. It is a pity that Hiddleston, Goodman and Larson were under utilized in the film. Riley was the one shining star of the film.

And, what did my better half think of the film? He was a tad disappointed.

May I point you to Peter Bradshaw’s review of Kong:Skull Island? Only de-evolution can explain this zestless mashup writes Bradshaw. It is hard not to concur with his view.

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VIDEO: FILMMAKER MARK PELLINGTON ON THE LAST WORD, SHIRLEY MACLAINE, AMANDA SEYFRIED & MTV

Filmmkaer Mark Pellington talks about this new The Last Word that stars Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, AnnJewel Lee Dixon,  Thomas Sadoski & Philip Baker Hall. This is a coming-of age film of a octogenerian played by MacLaine.

We sat down to speak with Pellington about the making of The Last Word, working with MacLaine & Amanda Seyfried and The Kinks, whose music plays a key role in the film. We also spoke about his creative process and his work with iconic music bands and singers like Pearl Jam (Jeremy), U2 (Achtung Baby), Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, INXS, Michael Jackson and others. Pellington started his career at MTV in the 1980s.

Pellington’s repertoire of feature films include Going All The Way, Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies, Henry Poole Is Here and I Melt With You.

The Last Word releases in the San Francisco March 10, 2017.

  • Title: THE LAST WORD
  • Running Time: 108 minutes
  • Status: Limited Release March 10, 2017
  • Country:USA
  • GENRE: COMEDY/DRAMA

You can watch our weekly TV show in the US. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.