Archive for March, 2010
And the crown for best documentary at the 2010 Academy Awards.went to… The Cove. I was rooting for another ecologically minded film : Food, Inc. and was left a little surprised when director Robert Kenner left empty handed.
Because before the death of dolphins became the PR darling it did, the subject of food had been on my mind. Admittedly I thought I’d seen Food, Inc.’s call to arms all before in Spurlock’s SuperSize Me, but the warning to stay food free before the screening should have been extended… to not wanting to eat ever again…
The film well and truly lifts the veil on America’s food industry. some jaw-dropping, stomach-turning scenes were powerful in exposing this underbelly that’s been hidden from the consumer, and shockingly with the consent of the government’s regulatory agencies.
Ultimately this doc is about more than food, its final messages are of greed, capitalism and human rights. With food supplies controlled by mass-corporations more than ever, profit is put before humanity, the livelihood of the farmer, the safety of workers and our environment.
Across the pond ecological campaigner Tracy Worcester has been working hard on a European exposé into this underworld of food suppliers. Pig Business charts the three-year investigation by the former actress. The films opens in the UK, where she discovers that supermarket labels are an unreliable source for consumers who are wanting to know where the pork they are purchasing is coming from.
Tracy proceeds to take us on a journey through Poland,the United States, to the offices of corporate leaders, European bureaucrats and banks – whose policies have resulted in mass public demonstrations.
Like Food, Inc., Tracey’s investigation into intensive pig farming highlights the mistreatment of consumers, farmers, the environment and of course the animals themselves. It leaves behind the message that the consumer has a choice, and that correct labelling on food supplies will empower farmers to raise their livestock ethically.
Looking after animals ultimately means looking after ourselves - human animal farming isn’t an oxymoron, it’s about restoring our welfare, our communities and our environment.
I read recently that while the major record labels have been penalising mash-up artists, samplers and file-sharers for copyright infringement, they were in fact being sued by a number of artists for effectively pirating. Yep, that’s right, the big cats - Warner, Sony, EMI and Universal are facing a few billion in damages for copying thousands of tracks. This is mainly a result of labels using tracks they did have the rights to, but using these for compilations CDs, where rights didn’t apply.
And if producer Brett Gaylor isn’t aware of such information, I’m pretty sure he’ll be happy when he finds out. For those who haven’t managed to catch it yet, Gaylor’s film RIP! A Remix Manifesto is a frenzied collage of remix culture and its effects on art, economics and even pharmaceuticals.
Ultimately Gaylor poses the question, what actually makes a remix? Is it something re-edited and restructured, but identifiably the original expression of the artist(s) involved, OR, as a result of the remix, involved, a new original piece of work?
This is definitely the documentary to watch if you’re a tech-savvy musician as the film is particularly interested in covering the legal ‘grey area’ of remixing works. As a result it’s an enlightening contribution to the debate around fair use. Gaylor uses Girl Talk - one of the biggest remix artists around, as the protagonist in demonstrating his ideas of ‘free culture’.
RIP! has had a great reception in Gaylor’s Canadian home turf and in the United States with a clutch of awards from the likes of SXSW, Whistler Film Festival and the Sheffield Doc/Fest. Gaylor has even encouraged viewers to participate in the movie by remixing it and uploading their efforts in order to carry on the debate.
RIP! will soon be available to watch on joiningthedocs.tv. If you’d like the full cinematic experience you can catch it at London’s hmvcurzon, who will be hosting a screening event of Gaylor’s film on March 28th as part of the Doc Days strand. Ideas of copyright will be addressed beforehand with an intro on mash-up culture with London-based concept vjs (that’s a video-dj for those unaware) The Light Surgeons. For further details and to book tickets visit the hmvcurzon website.
I’ve been a fan of Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s since watching his 1991 black comedy Delicatessen. Known for his quirky storytelling and fantastical settings Jeunet has only six movies in a career spanning 20 years. But his work has been varied, with his recent Chanel ads, some music videos and an Alien franchise under his belt; some of my favourites are his surrealist animated shorts of the late’70s and the 1989 Foutaises : Things I Like Things I Don’t Like .
Now one of the most treasured filmmaker’s in French cinema, old-fashioned as a stylist and a storyteller I’ve often thought of Jeunet as the French answer to Terry Gillingham.
Although I preferred Delicatessen to his visually ground-breaking Amelie, I was drawn to his commitment to making a film that was sheerly joyous and yet affirmative. Something that it deemed the ultimate challenge to even the greatest of Hollywood filmmakers.
So I was pleased to be invited to attend the Alfred Dunhill BAFTA : A Life in Pictures event, an interview at BAFTA with Jeunet and critic, writer and broadcaster Francine Stock to reflect on his filmmaking career.
Jeunet is self-taught. Whilst discussing his filmmaking roots he recalled his captivation by, Once Upon a Time in the West, it was this feature that had piqued his interest. He told the audience that soon after he acquired his first camera, and projector, and began to experiment with old puppet theatre slides. He then started making animated films as a teenager with his friend, Marc Caro, a comic book artist and likeminded creative machine, whom became a long-time collaborator.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s passion for creativity and vision makes him one of the most distinctive filmmaker’s around. Technically, he is unique; his camera whips around with exquisite framings. This distinctive cinematic style has allowed Jeunet to develop his strengths and produce films that is both a worldwide hit and true to his creative beliefs.
The evening reaffirmed the medium of film as an art form in which the details of the craft are just as important, than the subject matter.
What also captured me was despite Jeunet’s success in Hollywood ( Amelie is the top-grossing French picture in the States’ ) he has remained a true film auteur - who takes part in almost every aspect of filmmaking - from scriptwriting, storyboarding, set design through to the editing process.
Jeunet’s latest picture Mimacs has just been released, catch the trailer here.
Many thanks to BAFTA.
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