ENJOY THE MOVIES
Ohhh my Studio Ghibli, you make my heart flutter, always and forever. As part of promotion for the entire Studio Ghibli collection (sans Grave of the Fireflies) on HBO Max, the streaming service has made a video for YT that is nothing but – exactly as the title says – "30 Minutes of Relaxing Visuals from Studio Ghibli." And it's just heaven. I know, I know, it's just a YouTube promo and supercut of some of the most peaceful scenes from Ghibli films, but I love it anyway. And we all need some peace right now, with a tumultuous and deadly and deranged world out there. I have been collecting random tidbits of Ghibli art in folders on my computer for years, but this is a dream mashup - putting all the most beautiful shots into one calming video.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last week after a series of virtual premieres and localized "satellite" screenings around the country. Now it's time to present our Best of the Fest list. I was able to catch a total of 44 films this year, watching online from home (to stay safe and sound). But I couldn't catch everything and missed a few films getting tons of good buzz (as is always the case). Nevertheless, I saw a great deal of outstanding, high quality features this year. I am presenting one big list of my 10 favorite films - a mix of docs and features. All of these below are worth watching, and I highly recommend seeking them out. I'm glad Sundance continues to program some of the best films all year, as well as more innovative, unique, challenging, experimental, and totally wild & crazy features from all around the world. Below are my favorites, the films that connected with me and have remained on my mind all the way through the festival.
Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery and amazing films. What's on the line-up this year? Even though Sundance is operating as a smaller festival mostly with virtual screenings (and satellite venues around the US) this year, due to the ongoing pandemic keeping things shut down and unsafe, they're ready to premiere a whole batch of new films anyway. Out of the 74+ films showing at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, I've picked 10 films that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. I'm still looking forward to so many of these and I don't think there's anything to worry about this year - the festival is featuring some fantastic films to discover. As usual with Sundance, you never can really tell what'll good or bad, but here's my picks anyway.
What a year 2020 was. A year unlike any other, full of tragedy and chaos, but despite all of that - the magic of the movies still brings us together. One of the annual must-see best of the year lists is a video countdown made by my colleague David Ehrlich (follow him @davidehrlich). He counts down his 25 best films of the year in a video edited together with footage and music from the films. It's one of the best ways to look back at the year, but also to celebrate how beautiful and mesmerizing and moving and magical each of these films are. David's Top 25 of 2020 is as diverse as always, and you will likely discover a number of films from this video. A handful of my favorites are featured as well, including Minari and Babyteeth and Lover's Rock.
Great stories deserve the big screen. Welcome back. Are you ready to go back to the cinema? Movie studios and movie theaters have launched an official campaign called "Love Cinema", a way to celebrate the magic of movies. It's a small marketing campaigned designed to get people back to movie theaters now that they're re-opening after the pandemic shut them down for 5 months. This is entirely a UK-based campaign - so far all of the UK distributors have been posting about it - you can also follow the @LoveCinemaUK account on Twitter. The 94-second video features footage from all kinds of movies, and footage of movie theaters and people in a theater enjoying the big screen experience. There's also a website with more info on how to find open cinemas and nostalgia for movie theaters and details on upcoming releases. Are you not entertained?!
Let the Awe and Mystery of a Journey Unlike Any Other Begin. Isolation can do strange things to human beings. But it can also spark creativity and imagination, as is the case with this cinematic lockdown creation. 2020: An Isolation Odyssey is a homemade "reenactment of the iconic finale of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Restaged in the context of home quarantine, the journey through time adapts to the mundane dramas of self-isolation–poking fun at the navel-gazing saga of life alone and indoors." This video project was made by Brooklyn-based designer Lydia Cambron, who shot this at her apartment over two months from March to May earlier this year. It's impressive in many ways - how meticulous and perfect every shot is compared to the original. But also how an entirely different space, with different "set dressing" and design, can still evoke the same feelings of intrigue and mysterious and loneliness from Kubrick's film. This lockdown update still feels exactly like the original scene, despite being looking so different. This video is definitely worth a watch.
"The hero is the agent of change." Without any Comic-Cons this year, the New York Comic-Con has decided to host virtual panels online instead. One of the best offerings so far is this fascinating one-hour-long Q&A conversation with filmmaker George Miller. Film journalist Josh Horowitz connected with Miller virtually over the web to talk with him about all kinds of different things - with a focus on celebrating five years since Max Mad: Fury Road. "Heath Ledger as Max? Did Furiosa become a tyrant? The deleted scenes we never saw? Tons in here." Horowitz also asked questions from other filmmakers (who love Miller) including Rian Johnson, M. Night Shyamalan, Patty Jenkins, and Gina Prince-Bythewood. Miller also talks about the Mad Max prequels / sequels and why Charlize Theron's Furiosa might not be the hero we all hope she is (by the end of Fury Road). A must watch/listen interview with a cinema master - take the time to watch all of this.
"If you're ever making any piece of art, you've gotta be challenging while you're doing it and making sure that it's not something anyone's seen before, otherwise you're wasting everyone's time." One of my favorite films from the 2019 Venice Film Festival was Babyteeth, an exquisite Australian coming-of-age dramedy marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Shannon Murphy. Before she got into filmmaking, she was a theater director - starting her career on stage in Australia. She then moved over to television and has been directing episodes of shows like "Offspring", "Sisters", "On the Ropes", and "Killing Eve". Babyteeth is also originally from the stage - it's a play adapted by its own playwright for the screen. And Shannon jumped at the opportunity to direct it, later ending up in the Venice Film Festival main competition selection as one of two female filmmakers chosen that year (the other being Haifaa Al-Mansour with The Perfect Candidate).
"We're truly one big family. It's a celebration of filmmakers and movies." The We Are One Global Film Festival held online through YouTube is wrapping up after almost 10 days of events & premieres. With so many film festivals cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a batch of them got together to host this special "online film festival" event - programming short films, features, Q&As, conversations, and much more. To wrap up, We Are One released six videos of acclaimed filmmakers talking about why they love film festivals so much and how important they are to the world of cinema – including Darren Aronofsky, Ang Lee, Mary Harron, David O. Russell, and Julian Schnabel. We also love film festivals here at FS and have been proud to cover festivals all over the world for the last 14 years. It's heartening to hear these artists talking about what makes festivals so impactful and meaningful – celebrating cinema & storytelling. Enjoy.
Even without Cannes this year, we Cannes still have our own festival anyway. Even without film festivals, we can still experience the excitement of cinema watching films at home. The 2020 Cannes Film Festival was supposed to take place from May 12th to May 23rd, and this would've been my 11th year attending. But the festival has "postponed", although it seems like it's cancelled for 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. They decided not to host a virtual festival and instead are considering some kind of online offering and/or a partnership with another festival in the fall. So what else is there to do during these 11 days in May? Watch more films anyway! I wouldn't want to be anywhere else besides in Cannes anyway, so in the spirit of the festival, I decided to host my own version at home and watched 15 extraordinary films over the last 11 days.
Thank You, Movies. Movies are always there for us, ready to be watched anytime, ready to make us laugh and cry. We're living in unprecedented times, in a changed world due to a pandemic that has taken over the entire planet. Even though we've all been doing our best to stay at home in quarantine, and stop the spread of the coronavirus, it hasn't been easy. But thank goodness for movies! The Academy writes: "Grateful for the movies that have lifted us up, made us laugh and transported us during these unsettling times." They've published a short video capturing some of the wonderful movie moments from social media over these last few months. And it's a beautiful reminder of how much movies mean to us - to each and every last one of us.
"You can be poetic and you don't have to answer anything. You can make whatever you want. You have creative freedom [making a] short film." (-Taika Waititi) We love short films! Ever since this coronavirus pandemic shut down cinemas worldwide, we've been doing our best to keep sharing worthwhile film content every day. There aren't many new trailers yet, and Hollywood is waiting to figure out their next step, so I've been finding the best short films to feature as well. Every single weekday since March, FirstShowing has featured one new short film on the site. All of them are worth watching. But not everyone has time to watch all of them. So I've put together this post highlighting my 10 favorite recent short films to watch and enjoy anytime. Today, tomorrow. Bookmark this page and stop by whenever to watch all these shorts below.