VIDEO: ACTIVIST DOLORES HUERTA & FILMMAKER PETER BRATT ON “DOLORES”

Activist Dolores Huerta is the subject of filmmaker Peter Bratt‘s new documentary Dolores. I caught up with them at the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival to find out why it took so long to make a film on Huerta, who worked alongside Cesar Chaves on California’s farm workers movement. Huerta’s involvement goes back to the 1960s and she shares how she got involved and the influence of Gandhi and his non-violent philosophy on Chavez and herself.

Dolores releases Sept 1, 2017 in San Francisco Bay area. In early 2018 the film will air on PBS stations.

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VIDEO: CORBETT REDFORD ON GREEN DAY & TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK

Corbett Redford’s documentary Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk made its debut at the 2017 San Francisco SFDoc Festival. The film is a rich and dense chronicle of punk music from San Francisco’s East Bay region that gave birth to bands like Green Day and others. Green Day is the executive producer of the film.

Before launching the film project Corbett got some friendly guidelines from Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. These guidelines were: don’t get lost in the acrimony, don’t mystify nostalgia and include diverse voices. The film is a celebration of that spirit and how 924 Gilman, a non-profit organization played a key role in providing a safe haven to hundreds of musicians and young people over the course of 30 years.

Watch out for our longer interview with Redford where he talks about the making of Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk.

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VIDEO: JEANNETTE WALLS ON THE GLASS CASTLE, WOODY HARRELSON, NAOMI WATTS & BRIE LARSON

I sat down with journalist and author Jeannette Walls to talk about her memoir The Glass Castle that is now a Hollywood film. The film stars Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts and others. The film releases on August 11, 2017.

Walls grew up poor and lived in a home with no running water or electricity. She left home at 17 for Manhattan, where she completed her high school and started working for a local newspaper in Brooklyn. Walls then went on get her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and became a journalist. She worked as a gossip columnist for MSNBC. While covering stories about celebrities Walls realized that she had never shared her story of a gritty and nomadic childhood, where her family lived in cars, abandoned buildings and foraged for food .The irony did not escape Walls that she now lived in a nice apartment, while her homeless parents lived in an abandoned building and foraged for food. The dissonance did not escape her and that prompted her to write her memoir that became a best-seller.

We also have a highlight of an upcoming interview with filmmaker Alexandra Dean on her documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. Lamar was not just a beautiful actress, but also an inventor. The film releases in November 2017.

This interview was aired on TV in the US.

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VIDEO: ALEXANDRA DEAN ON BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Filmmaker Alexandra Dean wrote and directed a new documentary on Hedy Lamarr, who was a Hollywood actress and an inventor. Lamarr was often described as the “most beautiful woman in the world” But, what was little known is that Lamarr was an inventor and her invention paved the way for bluetooth, GPS, wi-fi and other technologies.

In this excerpt from an upcoming interview Dean shares why she made the film on Lamarr, and how she was inspired by her.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story releases in the US in November 2017.

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VIDEO: FILMMAKER DAVID LOWERY ON “A GHOST STORY”

We sat down with filmmaker David Lowery to talk about his  new film A Ghost Story. Lowery wrote, directed and edited the film.

At first blush the film appears to be about a ghost that haunts its old home. But, the film stays with you long after you have seen and prompts thoughts about the cycle of life, rebirth, memories, home, passage of time and love. These are questions that we typically shove to a forgotten corner of our minds and seldom think about them A Ghost Story left me wondering about what is life, and what is your role in the world.

How did Lowery get the idea for writing the script for this unusual film that evokes strong memories of love life, history, time and home? Was he inspired by Steven Spielberg’s ET? Or was it the children’s book on ghost that he read as a child? Tune in to hear Lowery share what inspired him to write A Ghost Story, and what he learnt from it.

A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and others. The film releases wide in the US on July 28, 2017.

This interview was aired on TV in the US.

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VIDEO: SFFILM’S NOAH COWAN

We sat down with Noah Cowan, Executive Director of SFFILM to find out about their long-term strategic direction and what it means to be a film institute in San Francisco. In early 2017 they changed their name to SFFILM from San Francisco Film Society.

SFFILM has year around programs and works with various organizations to help promote films,filmmakers, artist development and outreach programs for students. They host an annual international film festival, provide grants and support artists, and work with high schools to educate students on how to read films and apply them in learning other subjects. SFFILM has one of the biggest grant making programs for commercial films and were instrumental in the making of Patti Cake$, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of Southern Wild and other films says Cowan.

We are not a standalone entity but are part of the San Francisco Bay area fabric points out Cowan. They work with various organizations like San Francisco MoMa, San Francisco Opera, Pacific Archives and others. It is essential to connect with the technological change in cinema and evolve with the community points out Cowan. Earlier this year they introduced an online screening room and a mobile app for their members.

Cowan joined SFFILM in 2014 and prior to that he spent many years at the Toronto Film Festival.

This interview was aired on TV in the US.

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VIDEO: JAMES IVORY ON FILMS, ISMAIL MERCHANT AND INDIA

We sat down with director James Ivory to talk about growing up on the west coast, arts, films, Ismail Merchant, Ruth Prawar Jhabvala, Satyajit Ray and India. Ivory also shares some of his favorite films from his childhood days.

Ivory was born in Berkeley, grew up Oregon and every year they visited San Francisco Bay area to spend time with their extended family. He studied architecture and fine arts at the University or Oregon and filmmaking at University of Southern California (USC). At USC he made a short film called Venice: Themes of Variations. His second short film The Sword and the Flute was inspired by Indian miniature paintings that he first saw in an art gallery in San Francisco. It was this film that led to his interest and connection in India and also his first meeting with Ismail Merchant.

In 1961 Ivory and  Merchant formed the Merchant Ivory Productions. Around this time they also started their collaboration with writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The trio made award-winning films like Shakespeare Wallah, Heat and Dust, A Room With A View, Howard’s End, The Remains of the Day and others.

This interview was recorded at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, where his film Maurice was screened.

This interview was aired on TV in the US.

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VIDEO: DIRECTOR JAMES IVORY ON INDIA, SAEED JAFFREY AND ISMAIL MERCHANT

We caught up with director James Ivory at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, where his film Maurice was screened. This is a highlight of a longer upcoming interview. In this clip Ivory shares how his interest in India developed and the first documentary he made on India called The Sword and the FluteIt was through this documentary that he came to meet actor Saeed Jaffrey and Ismail Merchant.

Ivory and his filmmaking partner Ismail Merchant through their Merchant Ivory Productions have made nearly 40 feature films. While neither Ivory nor Merchant have won an Oscar for their work as director or producer, their films have won them a handful of Oscars. Their repertoire of films include Howard’s End, Maurice, Heat and Dust, A Room With A View, Mr & Mrs Bridges, The Householder and others.

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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.

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