by Jordan Canahai - posted 6:06 am, November 24, 2015
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Joshua Oppenheimer is one of the most important filmmakers in the world right now. The director’s Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing addressed the Indonesian Genocide of the 1960s from the point of view of the perpetrators, giving audiences one of the most acclaimed documentary films of the 21st century while starting a long-overdue dialogue in Indonesia about those awful events and their impact on the country’s present. With his follow-up film, The Look of Silence, Oppenheimer once again explores the Indonesian Genocide, this time from the point of view of a family of survivors, detailing their lives in the wake of those atrocities and his central subject’s confrontations with those who were responsible. I was fortunate enough to speak briefly with Oppenheimer about The Look of Silence. Although our conversation was shorter than planned, he proved extremely articulate, intelligent, and friendly, speaking at length about the experience of making The Look of Silence, its impact on Indonesia, and his thoughts on the country’s future. A special one-night-only screening of The Look of Silence is being presented by the Cultivate Cinema Circle at North Park Theater, tonight at 9:30 pm.
When you began production on The Look of Silence it was after you finished filming The Act of Killing, but before that film’s release, and you’d been friends with Adi and his family for years before then. How did filming affect your relationship?
Oppenheimer: We all became much closer. I’m in touch with Adi and his family every day. We showed them the film in 2014 before its release and asked them should we not release it until the perpetrators have passed away or if there is more political change in the country in order to protect their safety. Adi and his families response was that the film needed to be released. Together we planned a way of releasing the film that would protect their safety, proposing that they move to Denmark where I’m based and where they can live as long as necessary until it’s safe for them to return to Indonesia or they can settle permanently. Thankfully, there had been so much change as a result of The Act of Killing since its Indonesian release it had prompted the mainstream media and public to finally talk openly about the genocide on a national scale. It had led to the Indonesian President releasing a statement acknowledging for the first time that what happened in the 1960s was a crime against humanity. Even though the government insisted this was not a result of the film, it was a wonderful moment all the same. Adi’s family said there had been so much change, we shouldn’t lose this momentum and the second film should be released.
In fact, the team in charge of releasing The Act of Killing said there had been so much change, that if we can assemble a robust enough team to monitor the family’s safety and move them to another part of the country, then Adi should be able to play a major role in the movement towards truth, justice, and reconciliation, which is ultimately what’s happening. Making a film with anybody is to take a very intimate journey and you become very close to your subjects, I’m still very close to Anwar Congo of The Act of Killing. I’m not close, however, with many of the people who had smaller roles in both films. Many of them hate the films because they challenge their power and the wealth they plundered during the genocide and in the years after.
The Look of Silence is an extremely personal, intimate, and revealing film in regards to Adi and his family. What was his reaction to the final film?
Oppenheimer: Adi spends about a third of his time traveling inside Indonesia with The Look of Silence. He was present at the films first screening in Indonesia. The Look of Silence came out of being directly because of the space created by The Act of Killing, but where The Act of Killing was initially screened in secret, The Look of Silence has been released by two government agencies, the Human Rights Commission and the Chakrata Arts Council, something unimaginable with The Act of Killing. Its first screening was held in Indonesia’s largest cinema a year ago, there were billboard advertisements around Chakrata and 3,000 people were present, twice the theaters capacity so an additional screening was added. Adi received a 15 minute standing ovation after each one. It had also happened to be National Heroes Day on this date, and trending worldwide on Twitter was “Today we have a new National Hero and his name is Adi Rukun.” Since then, The Look of Silence has screened over 4,000 times around Indonesia for an estimated 350,000 people. When not working as an optometrist, Adi travels to many of the more high profile screenings and presents the film, both in Indonesia and internationally. It has become a very important part of his life; he actually apologized to to me in a recent Q & A in Paris before an audience saying “I’m sorry to have used you, Joshua, to have you make these two films.”
You see, back in 2003 when I became interested in making a film about the genocide, the Indonesian Army threatened Adi and his family and the other survivors not to participate in the film, and it was Adi who encouraged me to make a film about the perpetrators and to not give up. With The Look of Silence, he once again came forward and said he wanted to confront the perpetrators on film. I told him it would be too dangerous, but because I was well known among the Indonesian government and the perpetrators for filming The Act of Killing, and because that film had yet to be released, it would provide sufficient cover to allow us to confront the perpetrators on film safely. The people Adi wanted to confront were powerful regionally, but not nationally, and they wouldn’t dare detain us, let alone physically attack us. It was that realization that led Adi to suggest that we ought to make The Look of Silence, so the film has been an important part of his life for many years.
His mother is nearly 100-years old and is doing really well for her age, and Adi told me something very moving recently. Her whole life, she would repeat morning, day, and night, the story of Ramli’s [Adi’s older brother] murder. Since the film’s come out, however, she’s followed its release very closely around the world, and she no longer repeats the story as frequently, instead talking about other things regarding Ramli and not just his murder. While Adi wasn’t sure he’d go so far as to say she’s healing, she is comforted.
Now that both The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence have been released and this chapter on the subject of Indonesian Genocide, at least in terms of your work, is coming to a close, could you see yourself returning to the issue anytime in the future?
I wouldn’t rule it out for years in the future, but I’m starting new projects now and none of them deal with Indonesian Genocide. I feel it’s time for me to move on to other things, partly because I feel I’ve done what I can and said what I have to say about this. People often ask me why don’t I make a third film, but neither of the films are really about the genocide as such and neither of them are historical documentaries about what happened in 1965. Where the first film opened the space to talk about the genocide, the crime against humanity that took place and the criminal regime that’s been in power ever since, and the second film has allowed Indonesian’s to acknowledge the prison of fear that everyone knows they’ve been living in therefore helping Indonesian’s articulate why truth, justice, and reconciliation is needed so urgently, then the third chapter in this story is their future struggle for it. That chapter will not be written by me, it will be written by the people of Indonesia.
by Jordan Canahai - posted 9:09 pm, August 12, 2015
Chelsea Dunkelberger doesn’t like creepers. Like too many women, she’s had to deal with pervy old neighbors, obnoxious bar bros, crazy ex-boyfriends, and a dead-beat baby-daddy she now refers to only as “sperm donor”. Now the 25 year old author from Lockport is happy to debut her first book inspired by her own life, As If, Creeper, which she wrote and self-published, and which she’ll be present for a book signing of at the Pulp 716 bookstore in Lockport this Saturday.
The light-hearted first-person manuscript charts her awkward years going through puberty, her difficulties surviving high school, and her disastrous dating experiences afterwards. It details her fair share of unwanted advances, horrible dates, and terrible encounters with creepers in a manner that’s funny and honest.
Chelsea and I both went to Starpoint High School and had always been friendly, but I hadn’t spoken with her for many years until a few months ago when she reached out to me asking for the opinion of a fellow writer on her book. I had fond memories of the time we spent together in Mr. Gielow’s study hall. He was awesome and we liked making fun of him for the awkward shirtless photos of him which appear in the insert of his band’s CD back when he was a recording musician in the 90s. We liked a lot of the same movies, mostly those of the horror and action genre (she still cites Tremors as a big favorite.) We liked anything that was weird and violent and employed lots of swear words because that’s how we were back then, too. “I lived with my father and older brother so being a girly girl was never an option” she writes in her book.
I was really happy to hear from her and excited to read As If, Creeper. It was a very enjoyable read and even though movies are my thing with Artvoice I knew immediately I wanted to interview her about the book and what inspired her to write. She took time out of her busy schedule to meet me for coffee. Always the writer, she was busy journaling as I walked into Starbucks to see her for the first time since those days in study hall.
“When I began writing the book I was working a part-time job and pretty bored with it, but I always loved writing in my spare time and telling stories. My friends always enjoyed hearing me tell stories about my bad dating experiences and some of the crazy situations I’ve been in, so they also encouraged me to share those stories,” explains Chelsea. “My hope is that girls who read this will be entertained, but also that they can feel encouraged knowing that their own bad experiences with creepers are not unique to them. Ideally they can even pick up on the warning signs I describe so that they can avoid getting into relationships with similar guys in the first place.”
“First and foremost, I just want to apologize on behalf of my entire gender for putting you through all the things you went through in the book”, I said right away. “That’s all right,” she said laughing. “You were never a creeper so you have nothing to apologize for.” All the same, As If, Creeper would be a valuable read for young man as well, as it’s a perfect text on how NOT to treat women under any circumstances.
Although the events detailed in As If, Creeper are mostly funny, many of Chelsea’s own life experiences that she doesn’t explore in great detail in the book are far less amusing. She became pregnant with her daughter when she was 19 and worked hard to raise and support her in the following years. Despite the struggles of being a single mother and the negative experiences and disappointments she’s faced due to men, Chelsea’s ability to find humor in even the worst of times proves very inspiring. She’s hard at work on her second book and hopeful As If, Creeper will receive more widespread exposure in time. She also hopes to someday write a script adapting it as a movie or TV series.
I always thought Chelsea was an awesome person, but after reading her book and sitting down and hearing her story first-hand, I now think she’s a role model and inspiration to young women as well. She is the featured artist of the week at the coffee shop and comic book store Pulp 716. It’s about a half hour drive from Buffalo and she will be present there Saturday, August 18th, at 2pm for a book signing. As If, Creeper is also available through Amazon.
Also she has a boyfriend, so if you’re a creeper and reading this don’t get any ideas.
“You have to go through some creepers to find a keeper”, I mused at one point during our conversation. For the record, Chelsea, you still have permission to use that line in your next book.
by Jordan Canahai - posted 3:14 pm, August 6, 2015
The following is a press release about the latest film production happening in our city. Since I’m always happy to highlight the exciting work of Buffalo artists and keep readers informed about events in our filmmaking community I thought it would be worth sharing. And since extras are needed it presents others with a great opportunity to contribute. I look forward to covering the production in greater detail in the future and being back in print for a special August issue of Artvoice next week, Hope you’re all enjoying the summer! – Jordan
With a continued focus on creating opportunities for Buffalo and Erie County’s cultural economy and emerging film industry, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown welcomed the film cast and crew of Two for One to Buffalo today. The production began filming in Buffalo on August 2nd and continues through August 17th.
“Buffalo’s vibrant film industry continues to grow, providing jobs and opportunity to city residents and business owners,” said Mayor Brown, noting that so far this year there have been nine feature films shot in the Buffalo area, with over 215 production days and an economic impact that exceeds $10 million. “The City of Buffalo is committed to being a ‘film-friendly’ city and we will continue to welcome productions like ‘Two for One’ to the City of Good Neighbors.”
The film, directed by and starring Jon Abrahams (Meet the Parents, Scary Movie), is the actor’s directorial debut. Abrahams co-concepted the story with Michael Testone; Testone scripted. While many of the scenes will be shot in Buffalo, others locations will be filmed in New York City and Los Angeles.
The cast also includes Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Designing Women), Erika Christensen (Traffic, Parenthood) and Nicole Elizabeth Berger in lead roles. Hometown favorite Stephen Henderson (Lincoln, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) has a role as a piano teacher.
Matt Quinn (the film’s director of photography) and Abrahams have been friends since they met in New York City as kids; Abrahams traveled to Buffalo for many visits, and was certain that the city would be the perfect setting for his film.
Locations include an Allentown residence, Buffalo State College Campus, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Marco’s Restaurant, Niagara Falls, Sportsmen’s Tavern, and The Lodge.
Two for One is being coordinated with the help of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission and plans to utilize an all-local crew while shooting in the area. Extras are needed. Email photo and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
About Two for One:
The film, a dramedy, has family relationships at its heart.
A young up-and-coming artist in New York City has his life and dreams forever altered when the tragic events of 9/11 take the lives of his two best friends and he accepts guardianship of the couple’s two young daughters. Now 11 years later, and teaching art at an elementary school, he raises the girls as if they were his own, but the financial grind to live in NYC is too much, so he decides to take the girls away from the only place they’ve ever called home and move back to Buffalo where he grew up. This “non- traditional” family now faced with change, new surroundings, and a new journey, must learn how to adjust to this new life, while trying to find themselves along the way.
by Jordan Canahai - posted 4:02 pm, July 29, 2015
Buffalo filmmaker Travis Carlson is proud to present his new video Buffalove, a moving tribute to the Queen City. In just a little over a minute, Carlson’s striking compositions capture a young woman’s journey through some of Buffalo’s most iconic vistas and locales, effectively conveying what makes our city of good neighbors special. Check it out if you’re in the mood to smile.
“Our goal is to be happy”, says Carlson, who currently works as a Videographer with Pegula Sports and Entertainment. “We’re happy when we are creating something of quality – preferably it’s somehow innovative, creative, and imaginative too.”
“At 24 years old, Travis has focused on story telling through different mediums in over 26 different countries. To his credit is a two hour feature film, a dozen shorts, numerous feature screenplays, a novel, and scores of photographs. These skills have recently proven themselves in the advertising industry as an Associate Creative Director.
Born in Minnesota and raised in a rural community in Western New York, Carlson graduated Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Buffalo State. He’s developed cherished roots for the region where he works and resides, yet living and studying around the world has him eager to continually branch out while creating compelling stories and building an enjoyable life.” – from Travis Carlson Pictures
by Jordan Canahai - posted 4:33 pm, July 1, 2015
In the last few years, Buffalo State College’s Television and Film Arts program has produced a growing number of talented young artists and filmmakers whose work has received increased recognition and attention from those involved in the WNY filmmaking community and beyond. Two such filmmakers, Jake Plumeri and Jack Petrillo, are proud to present their ambitious new web series, Stringer’s End.
The mystery-thriller series focuses on Rory Barnes, a college student and journalist who finds himself suffering from amnesia and memory loss, haunted only by visions of a mysterious girl he’s convinced has gone missing. As he sets out to uncover the girl’s identity, he finds himself journeying deeper into the rabbit hole of his dreams and memories, finding unlikely allies as well as unexpected dangers lurking behind the facade of his seemingly normal college town. Meanwhile, the sudden emergence of a new designer drug on campus raises even more questions than answers, leading Rory to wonder if he can really trust anyone, even himself, and just haw far he’s willing to go to discover the truth.
Series creator/writer Plumeri and director Petrillo began developing the miniseries over a year ago in June 2014 while they were classmates in the Television/FIlm arts program at Buffalo State college, with shooting commencing a few months later in September and proceeding over the following months. The series was funded through an Indiegogo campaign which raised a budget of over $2000. The production included over 50 individuals involvement, most of whom were students from SUNY Buffalo State and the University of Buffalo, a well as others in the Buffalo filmmaking community. The series also features an original composition from Louis Febre, an Emmy award-winning composer based in LA.
Every episode of Stringer’s End is available for viewing on the series Youtube page…
JAKE PLUMERI- Creator/Writer/Executive Producer
JACK PETRILLO- Director/Director of Photography/Editor/Executive Producer
CHRISTINA WARD- Line Producer/Executive Producer
VAN DINH- Assistant Director/Producer
JOE MIANO- Composer
EMIL GORANOV and HARLEY NELSON- Opening Titles
by M. Faust - posted 6:36 pm, May 18, 2014
It’s long been suspected, but now it’s official: UB professors Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian will be moving their popular Buffalo Film Seminars from the Market Arcade to the Amherst Theater beginning this September, citing the Mayor’s office’s lack of interest in supporting the theater as a community resource.
Here’s the text of a letter by Bruce Jackson sent to the Film Seminar’s mailing list:
The Fall 2014 Buffalo Film Seminars, our 29th series, will take place at the Amherst Theater rather then the Market Arcade, where they have been for the past 15 years.
This shift in location is because Buffalo’s Mayor’s Office decided not to continue supporting the theater as a major community arts resource, but instead to put it on the open market for developers. It will take months for that to process to work out and, and months more for the theatre to be brought up to date (if the new owner wants it to be a theater at all). Because the Buffalo Film Seminars are is grounded in a UB class that is open to the public, we can’t just stand by and wait for the political money to change hands and the necessary development to be completed.
So far as we know, there are four potential bidders on the property. One has approached us and said his company would like the theater to continue as a community resource. Another, according to the Buffalo News, wants to turn the property into a “Laverne and Shirley Bar and Bowling Alley,” with community offerings on the side; we know nothing about the other two potential bidders.
Mayor Byron Brown has been unfriendly to the arts since he took office, so we don’t think the presence of this important center of arts activity will have much to do with how the deal goes down. His office had never appreciated the quality of life or economic implications of a vital arts community.
More important is time and technology: if the Market Arcade doesn’t upgrade to digital production in a month or two, the theater will go dark. Hollywood will soon be distributing almost nothing in celluloid, so the theater’s projectors will all be obsolete very soon. We cannot want until fall to find out what a potential developer might say he wants to do with that space, and then wait another six months to find out if is actually does it. One of the potential developers apparently wants to drive all the community groups out of the theater.
Several months ago, the Buffalo Common Council unanimously voted to provide the theater four new digital projectors. That purchase would have permitted the theater to keep operating. But the Mayor’s office blocked it. The Mayor’s legal department said that since the theater was run by a private company, the City couldn’t provide such funding. That was total nonsense, totally untrue. The theater is owned by the City and it is managed by a not-for-profit corporation created by the city, the board of which is mostly appointed by the Mayor. (Bruce is chairman of that board.)
So the city blocked maintenance of the Market Arcade as a public resource, not because it had to, but because politicians in City Hall decided to.
The two of us have been doing the Buffalo Film Seminars for 15 years now. We would prefer to continue in the heart of the city. But City Hall seems hot to turn a buck. So we are moving to the Amherst, which is located outside the Buffalo city line. We love our relationship with Dipson Theaters, which has made it possible to maintain this series all these years, but we hate abandoning downtown. We wish City Hall gave a hoot for the arts—but it doesn’t, so we’re moving.
If the new owners of the Market Arcade, whoever they turn out to be, create an environment in which it seems viable for us to move back downtown, we’ll be happy to do that. But as of now, City Hall has driven the Buffalo Film Seminars out of town. We’re happy that our friends at Dipson’s Amherst Theater have offered us a new home. We hope to see you at the movies in the Fall.
The Amherst has lots of free parking, handicapped parking close to the theater, the same popcorn, and is on the city metro and UB bus circuit.
Bruce and Diane
Here’s the tentative Fall 2014 schedule:
Aug 26 D.W. Griffith, BROKEN BLOSSOMS, 1919, 90 min
Sep 2 Fritz Lang, M, 1931
Sep 9 William Cameron Menzies, THINGS TO COME, 1936, 100 min
Sep 16 Howard Hawks, RED RIVER, 1948, 127 min Criterion
Sep 23 Robert Bresson, PICKPOCKET, 1959, 76 min, Criterion
Sep 30 Luis Buñuel, VIRIDIANA, 1961, 90 min
Oct 7 Agnés Varda, CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, 1962
Oct 14 Akira Kurosawa, REDBEARD, 1965 Criterion
Oct 21 Nicolas Roeg, PERFORMANCE, 1970, Warner Bro
Oct 28 Víctor Erice, THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, 1973 (Criterion)
Nov 4 Roman Polanski, TESS, 1979 Criterion
Nov 11 Sydney Pollack, TOOTSIE, 1982
Nov 18 Joel and Ethan Coen, FARGO, 1996, 98 min
Nov 25 Erik Skjodbjaerg, INSOMNIA, 1997, 97 min
Dec 2Mike Nichols, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, 2007
SUNY Distinguished Professor & James Agee Professor of American Culture
by M. Faust - posted 11:37 am, February 26, 2014
Add this to the long, long list of reasons to despise the Walt Disney Company: buying the rights to THE WIND RISES, the final work from Hayao Miyazaki, the greatest living maker of animated films, and dumping it in one local theater with no advance notice. This despite the fact that it is all but guaranteed to win the Academy Award this weekend for Best Animated Film. It would be paranoid to theorize that Disney is trying to hide the work of a master animator who makes their own movies look shallow, fatuous and pandering. But it’s the best guess I can make. It opens Friday at the Regal Transit theater.
by M. Faust - posted 11:51 am, August 15, 2013
News from occasional Artvoice contributor Greg Lamberson:
Principal photography has wrapped on The Legend of Six Fingers, the second feature from writer-director Sam Qualiana, in Royalton, New York. Qualiana, who stars in the film with local actor Andrew Elias, previously helmed Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast. Debbie Rochon and Lynn Lowry co-star in the found footage monster film, which was produced by Greg Lamberson (Slime City Massacre, Dry Bones) and executive produced by Michael Raso of Camp Motion Pictures.
Qualiana and Elias portray two amateur filmmakers documenting a string of animal slaughters in rural Royalton. They interview a farm couple (Lowry and newcomer Bill Brown) who tell them the Native American legend of “Ya Yahk Osnuhsa,” an apelike creature with three fingers on each hand. Generations ago, “Six Fingers” stalked settlers who invaded his land, until one settler agreed to keep people off the creature’s territory and to make animal offerings. The filmmakers set out to prove that Six Fingers exists and is responsible for the animal slayings, with terrifying results.
“We wrapped principle photography in just thirteen days,” says Qualiana, who shot the film in character. “I give credit to my cast and small crew for being on the ball each shoot day. I’ve been editing the film during down time, and I’m proud of what we have. People will laugh when they see the finished film, they’re going to sympathize with these characters and still get that taste of horror and gore. The monster is going to blow you away. We worked really hard to make this something fun.”
“This was a real smooth shoot,” adds Lamberson. “We came in on budget and ahead of schedule. We put together a solid cast and crew, and in the last year most of us have had a hand in Model Hunger, Return to Nuke ‘Em High, Battledogs, Dry Bones and now The Legend of Six Fingers. We’re trying to make Buffalo-Niagara the indie horror capital of the country, with smart movies made by hardworking, talented people.”
by M. Faust - posted 12:15 pm, August 11, 2013
For all of you culture vultures, art hounds and foodies who turn up your noses at the idea of attending anything so plebian as the Erie County Fair, here’s what you’re missing by refusing to go out and rub elbows with the hoi polloi.
When you think of fair food, this is probably what comes to mind:
There’s plenty of that, but here’s what they’re lining up for:
But when all is said and done, there is, and e’er will be …
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