AN AMERICAN SPORTS STORY…THE RIVALS - Smithsonian ChannelSeptember 14, 2010


Smithsonian Channel

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: AN AMERICAN SPORTS STORY...THE RIVALS.
Email John Werner

Watching AN AMERICAN SPORTS STORY...THE RIVALS, the new truth-trumps-fiction documentary making its premiere on The Smithsonian Channel, I couldn’t get Napoleon Dynamite’s forlorn Uncle Rico out of my head. It was nearly impossible for me not to superimpose Uncle Rico’s unabashed pining for his lost glory days onto some of the high school football stars of THE RIVALS. Their future would be his. No matter how hard I tried, I kept hearing Uncle Rico lament, “Ohhhh, man I wish I could go back in time. I'd take state.”

That doesn’t mean AN AMERICAN SPORTS STORY... THE RIVALS is a bad or goofy movie. In fact that’s where any similarities end. And if you haven’t seen NAPOLEON DYNAMITE,  “Gosh!!!!!”

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I’M STILL HERE - On Demand TodaySeptember 24, 2010

I’M STILL HERE - On Demand Today

Magnolia Pictures

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: I'M STILL HERE.
Email John Werner

Reality TV has been with us for a long time, and will likely be around for the duration. Audiences like it and it’s relatively cheap to make. So why not make a reality movie?

Apparently, Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix are so impressed by the Kim Kardashians and Snookis of the world that they decided to squander their talent and make I’M STILL HERE. The film, we are supposed to believe, documents Mr. Phoenix’s retirement from acting and failed attempt at a hip hop career.

Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck (Magnolia)

When I invited my friend Dan to join me for the I’M STILL HERE screening he begged off by asking, “Why would I go see a movie about a movie actor who’s acting like he doesn’t want to act any more?” (This from a man who thinks JACKASS 2 is great classic cinema.) Well Dan, I can’t answer that question, even after seeing the movie and even after seeing Joaquin Phoenix on “Late Show with David Letterman” Wednesday  night.

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2008 Election Documentary 11/04/08 Now On VODOctober 26, 2010

2008 Election Documentary 11/04/08 Now On VOD


On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: the documentary covering 2008 Election night, 11/04/08 (FilmBuff).
Email Sky

Few would doubt the historic significance of a day like November 4, 2008. But what filmmaker Jeff Deutchman is most concerned with is not a grandiose portrayal of a nation built on the backs of African slaves electing its first black president, but rather seeks to democratize the very documentation of history with 11/4/08.

Viewers of the film follow several amateur filmmakers throughout their day, both in U.S. cities and internationally, from 8:00 am to 4:00 am, cataloguing various states of emotion as the world’s most powerful nation goes to the polls. From enthusiastic Obama campaign volunteers whose frenzied anticipation is certainly palpable, to nonchalant Manhattanites who, although recognizing the significance of the day admit that realistically very little will change after the election, the film makers merely seek to expose their unique experience on that day.



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STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING - Now On DemandJanuary 11, 2012



On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING (Gravitas).

By Joe Charnitski


I visited the Apple Store near Central Park shortly after the untimely passing of Steve Jobs. I wanted to see the memorials and the crowds for myself. There were dozens, maybe hundreds of people either standing silently, as if at a sacred site, or slowly streaming by, rubber necking to see the many cards, bouquets and, of course, apples that had been strewn along the front of the store in memoriam.

I was a little surprised at the substantial outpouring of sadness from young and old set off by Jobs’ death. Not because I didn’t consider him a significant figure in our new century and the previous, or that I didn’t appreciate the contributions of his products, his vision and, not to be overlooked, his treasured “Think Different” campaign of the late-90s. I assumed the response would mirror the reaction to the death of any beloved celebrity. This, instead, felt like a national tragedy.

I was similarly surprised by the one-hour documentary STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING. It starts off as a fairly routine “before he was famous” story. We go back to Jobs’ home town, walk the streets he grew up on, meet the friends he knew then. Everyone talks about how Steve was something special. They all knew he would do great things one day. Nothing shocking here.

As the film goes on, though, I couldn’t help but find it compelling, because Jobs is so damn compelling. His resilience is so compelling. The film includes a few interviews Jobs had done over the years. In one of them, when he was much younger, he describes the important moment he realized that everything around him that we call “life” was created by people no smarter than him, or any of us he demands. Once you understand that, Jobs insists, you realize that you can do anything, and then you do.

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John Turturro’s PASSIONE On DemandMarch 13, 2012

John Turturro’s PASSIONE On Demand


On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: PASSIONE (FilmBuff).


By Amy Slotnick


When first watching John Turturro’s documentary, PASSIONE, the evocative music and expressive performers of Naples, Italy are captivating, tempting you to hop on a flight and immerse yourself in what the filmmakers call a “musical adventure.”

Although choreography, romantic locations, interviews and some onscreen narration from Turturro provide rough outlines of a context for the music, the film suffers from a lack of any narrative. Instead, it relies on the music and staging, mostly in the streets of Naples, to sustain the film on its own.

The musicians, both professional and amateur, perform a total of 23 songs in the film. Through their interviews and performances a relationship between Neapolitan music and its culture emerges, gradually and subtly. The songs take dominance over the story, and consequently there is little driving the pace and story forward. In other words, one could stop watching half way through and not miss any developments or turns.

A brilliant actor who clearly understands how to develop character relationships and narrative threads, as he did with his directorial debut ROMANCE & CIGARETTES, Turturro seems to be consciously asking the audience to let go of any expectations for a documentary about music. Instead of BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, this film is more neo-realist, concert film.

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FIRST POSITION Dances To On DemandMay 22, 2012

FIRST POSITION Dances To On Demand

Sundance Selects

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: FIRST POSITION (Sundance Selects).


By Amy Slotnick


The prestigious Youth America Grand Prix is like the Olympics of dance, where the world’s best classical dance students compete for scholarships or placement with the top ballet schools and companies. Director Bess Kargman’s first feature documentary film, FIRST POSITION, follows six gifted dancers, ranging in age, ethnic and economic backgrounds, all of whom share a dream to satisfy their unique gift and passion.

Over 5,000 dancers compete worldwide, and of those, 300 make it to the YAGP finals in New York City. The six dancers featured in the film, aged 11-16, come from places as diverse as Sierra Leone, Columbia and Israel. They have all sacrificed childhood normalcy in exchange for intense dedication, long hours of practice and physical abuse (you should see their feet!).


They each have a compelling narrative involving endurance and talent, equivalent to that of any professional athlete.

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GOD SAVE MY SHOES Explores Shoe AddictionMay 23, 2012

GOD SAVE MY SHOES Explores Shoe Addiction

Fergie / GOD SAVE MY SHOES (Courtesy of Gravitas)

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: GOD SAVE MY SHOES (Gravitas).


By Amy Slotnick


Although you first might think this is another fashion documentary, one that explores the history, design and obsession with women’s shoes. However, GOD SAVE MY SHOES is actually more about addiction than anything else.

Julie Benasra’s documentary provides a thorough analysis of shoes as pop culture icons and fetishized objects. Interviews with top designers, such as Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, shoe collectors, like performers Kelly Rowland, Fergie, Dita Von Teese and poker player Beth Shak (who owns over 900 pairs), as well as sexuality experts, fashion historians, orthopedists and psychologists, explore the power, sexual and social implications of the famous stiletto heel. More than once SEX & THE CITY is credited with exploiting women’s attraction to stiletto heels and bringing them to the forefront of today’s fashion and pop culture.


Pierre Hardy                        Christian Louboutin                      Manolo Blahnik

Several theories emerge about what draws some women so obsessively to buy an impractical quantity of shoes at increasing heights. On the one hand, by minimizing the height difference with men, the high heel can be seen as increasing a woman’s power, putting her on eye-level with male counterparts. On the other hand, they limit a woman’s mobility and if heels were a way to increase power, as one of the film’s experts observes, they would be coveted and worn by men (as they were at one time in the 18th century).


Kelly Rowland

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CHELY WRIGHT: WISH ME AWAY - On DemandJune 12, 2012



On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: CHELY WRIGHT: WISH ME AWAY (Gravitas).



Like Chely…
By Cynthia Kane


As a little girl growing up in Kansas’ heartland, Chely Wright used to pray to God, “Please don’t let me be gay.” She also dreamed of one day going to Nashville, performing at the Grand Ole Opry and becoming a Country Music star. She achieved her childhood dreams. Yet even as she developed a loyal audience, earned accolades - including the Academy of Country Music's 1995 prize for top new female vocalist- and climbed the charts with popular singles, she was tormented by guilt and fear caused by hiding and denying her sexual orientation.



We think we live in modern times, but this is the tragic story of a beautiful, talented woman who closeted herself for most of her life, finally deciding in 2007, it was time to be true to herself and honest with her friends, family and fans. She decided to come out. It took three years. In fact, she is the first Country-Western Music star to do just that. She proves there’s still a great divide in the United States – and it’s not only to do with gay marriage. For many in conservative areas of the nation, it’s still daunting to be out if you identify with being homosexual.

When I first heard about the doc, CHELY WRIGHT: WISH ME AWAY, I had no idea who Chely Wright was – I like Country Music alright, although I am the first to claim I don’t always know who I am listening to. And I being a former New Yorker now living in the Bay Area, I did wonder what all the fuss was about. After all, hasn’t k.d. lang been opening gay all along and doesn’t she sing Country? Then again, it’s not all she sings – and she is Canadian. What’s shocking in this very courageous and moving documentary is that it is not at all acceptable within the Country Western-Nashville scene to be openly LGBT and to identify as a lesbian.


Coming out for Wright had the threat

of committing career suicide.


That career she so carefully built and that she dreamed of since she was a little girl growing up in a conservative Christian household.


Filmmakers Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Knopf follow Wright for the three years as she leaves Nashville for New York and works on her autobiography, “Like Me”. The doc is straightforward and is structured more or less in the countdown up to the day she publically outed herself on The Today Show on May 4, 2010. Her book was published the same day.

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JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI - Now On DemandJuly 24, 2012


Magnolia Pictures

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (Magnolia).


See the latest Independent Movie On Demand (IMOD) Trailers here...



By Bill Nordham


In Japan when you’re really, really good at something, you can earn the title of Living National Treasure. It’s a high honor that comes with a $25,000 annuity for the rest of your life. Jiro Ono, the 85-year old proprietor of the 10-seat, 3 Michelin-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro, is well aware that those checks will not come forever.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI documents the twilight years of one of the world’s greatest disciples to the art of sushi as he faces the mortal questions that await each one of us: Will my children be ok after I’m gone? Have I done enough to prepare them for life without my help? If I’m still working when I could be a great-great grandfather and supervising my oldest son past his 50th birthday (after he was the one who prepared the meals that earned my Michelin stars), is it safe to hand over the reins? Is it enough? Of course, Jiro knows his legacy is safe and that his sons are long past ready to maintain his uncompromising standards and tireless work ethic. But, on the other hand, one more day couldn’t hurt.



Chef Ono involuntarily left home at the impossibly young age of 9 and spent the next 76 years gently teasing heaven from a sliver of fish and some vinegared rice. While the rainbow colors and playful textures of Spider and Dragon rolls excite the masses in US sushi restaurants, Jiro continues to serve the simple nigiri and maki that often remain the last box left in your local supermarket. Clearly something more subtle is going on. 

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THE ISLAND PRESIDENT - Demand It!August 24, 2012


Samuel Goldwyn

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Samuel Goldwyn Films).


See the latest Independent Movie On Demand (IMOD) Trailers here...


The case of damn-good documentary filmmaking… and being in the right place at the right time…
By Cynthia Kane


I must disclose right away: this is not a review. I was not involved in this project, but because I also work for ITVS (Independent Television Service), who is one of the funders of THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, to write a review would seem biased and a conflict of interest. But I can share why I think one might want to see this film and some interesting anecdotes around it.

Director Jon Shenk (LOST BOYS OF SUDAN) and producer Bonni Cohen (THE RAPE OF EUROPA, WONDERS ARE MANY) are young, not-so-emerging, and I consider them their generation’s Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Errol Morris among others, meaning they’re two of the finest 30/40-something documentarians in the U.S. The Bay Area couple are both grads of Stanford University’s documentary program and now make films through their company Actual Films and as well as teach at UC Berkeley’s J-School. Jon is also one of the most sought-after cinematographers in the documentary world.

In short, the fact they made THE ISLAND PRESIDENT is one of the big reasons you should see this.These two have talent, lots of it.


But that’s not all. THE ISLAND PRESIDENT gives us extraordinary access to a man, Mohamed Nasheed who first fought to bring democracy to his country, the Republic of Maldives, then once that battle is seemingly won, finds he has an even bigger conflict on hand. Climatologists predict the Maldives will be underwater by end of this century, thus will no longer exist. It’s is an island nation made up of about 1200 atolls with a population of around 350,000 people, the smallest country in Asia as well as the lowest lying country on Earth, with an average ground level of about 4 feet above sea level.

The Maldives won their independence from the UK in 1965, but political infighting caused much unrest and the country found themselves under the dictatorship of Mautoom Abdul Gayoom for 30 years before our story begins. Our protagonist, Nasheed, affectionately known by his countrymen as Anni, was educated in Britain but returned to the Maldives to become a dissenter and journalist. An article in the opposition newspaper, Sangu, resulted in his arrest and detention leading to his being held in solitary confinement for 18 months. Over the next years he was arrested and detained again, tortured and finally exiled all for his criticism of the dictatorship. He formed the Maldivian Democratic Party and vigorously campaigned for change. Nasheed finally managed to topple Gayoom from his 30-year rule, he found the need to turn to the urgent environmental issues that threaten his homeland.


Mohamed Nasheed / THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Shenk follows the newly elected Nasheed, a slight yet energetically articulate man, from the UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December 2009 to detail his subject's election and brief reign prior to the summit. He quickly found that the country that he now governed was threatened by much than Gayoom's administration; rising temperatures and an increase in erratic weather mean that the Maldives are being swallowed by the ocean that surrounds them.

From the moment he was elected, Nasheed dedicated himself to raising awareness of this and to trying to force some sort of forward movement in the battle against global warming at the Copenhagen summit. There are intimate inclusions of both joy and despair, along with hushed conversations between high-ranking officials from various countries as President Nasheed desperately attempts to motivate change with the facts proving the very serious and real danger facing his country. 

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On Demand Weekly Exclusive: 1/2 REVOLUTION Trailer (Focus World)October 01, 2012

On Demand Weekly Exclusive: 1/2 REVOLUTION Trailer (Focus World)

Focus World

Focus World presents, 1/2 REVOLUTION, an action-packed, visually stunning, and unique document of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. As protestors face increasingly brutal police resistance, filmmakers create a breathtaking, on-the-ground view into history as it unfolds.

Omar, a Danish filmmaker, arrives in Cairo on January 24, 2011 – one day before the history making revolution begins. Staying with a friend and fellow filmmaker near Tahrir Square, the two take to the streets and begin to document the action. As the heavily armed and brutal police move in, the directors and their group of friends, using a combination of stunning HD footage with a variety of other discovered sources, provide a breathtaking lens into the dangers faced by those who partook in the uprising, and create an incredibly gripping and personal story from the Arab Spring.


See The 1/2 REVOLUTION Trailer Exclusively. Click Below...  

1/2 REVOLUTION Premieres On Demand October 9, 2012.

Click Here To Watch The Best Independent Movies On Demand

ODW Watch It IMOD Channel



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SEXY BABY Documentary Available On DemandJanuary 13, 2013

SEXY BABY Documentary Available On Demand


On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SEXY BABY.

See the latest Independent Movie On Demand (IMOD) Trailers here...


Where is feminism in the Cyber Age?!?
By Cynthia Kane


As the personal becomes more, more and yet more public, you have to wonder if we’ve taken a million steps backwards in the work of the Feminist Movement of the 60s and 70s. SEXY BABY explores this question and further as filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus follow three young women in their lives; well, let me restate that… a pubescent young women, a 22 year-old and a thirty-something.

What does it mean to be sexy and appealing in the age of all-things-digital? Are women, especially young women becoming less empowered? Why are males the one who must be pleased, why is it that we as females will do almost anything (and sometimes anything to please)? When is sex power and when does sexuality turn to abuse…self-abuse? Is male fantasy and plasticity power for women?

Why do women give into it?

Further more… with all this technical sophistication, where is the mystery?


Click here for Ronna & Jill's interview with Filmwax's Adam Schartoff

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The VOD Podcast - SEXY BABYJanuary 14, 2013

The VOD Podcast - SEXY BABY


On Demand Weekly Presents Filmwax's monthly VOD Interview. Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus discuss SEXY BABY with Adam Schartoff. Read On Demand Weekly's review here


Adam Schartoff, Fimwax Radio



Filmmaking partners Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus stop by Filmwax Radio to discuss their new documentary, SEXY BABY, currently available on digital platforms including iTunes & Amazon, and for Showtime subscribers. - AS.




Click here to listen to the entire interview on Box Radio or download on iTunes.



Look for SEXY BABY on demand.


Adam Schartoff is a Brooklyn-based film programmer and radio personality. He founded Filmwax, a film series whose events take place in Brooklyn & Manhattan. He also hosts a weekly radio show, Filmwax Radio, which is hosted by the community radio website,


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5 Top Reasons To Watch ZIPPER: CONEY ISLAND’S LAST WILD RIDEJuly 28, 2013



A story about greed, politics and the land grab of the century, the film ZIPPER chronicles the battle over an American cultural icon. On a small rented lot in the heart of Coney Island’s gritty amusement district, Eddie Miranda proudly operates a 38-year-old carnival contraption called the Zipper. When an opportunistic real estate mogul sets his sights on the property, Eddie and his ride - along with many of Coney Island’s eclectic small businesses - are forced to leave.

Behind the scenes, a high-stakes power struggle brews between the developer and the City of New York. Both see the redevelopment of Coney Island’s waterfront real estate as a lucrative opportunity. They lock horns when the City denounces the developer’s glitzy vision of condos and shopping, and ironically, hatches its own grand scheme to transform the area with the promise of housing and retail. The resulting standoff is a scary ride that leaves the future of the world-famous amusement park up in the air.

Can a reinvented Coney Island remain the “People’s Playground?” Will the zeal to capitalize on Coney Island as a brand ultimately sanitize its unfettered spirit? Be it an affront to history or simply the path of progress, ZIPPER examines the high cost of economic development. In an increasingly corporate landscape where authenticity is often sacrificed in the interest of economic growth, the Zipper may be just the beginning of what is lost. ZIPPER is currently available on iTunes.


5 Top Reasons To Watch ZIPPER: CONEY ISLAND’S LAST WILD RIDE by director Amy Nicholson:

1. Because it’s probably one of the last documentaries to be shot on film.

2. Because if you love carnival culture, history, classic rides, politics, mermaids, Brooklyn, side shows, and gritty seaside amusement parks, you will like it.

3. Because if you are not so fond of politicians, real estate moguls, chain stores, greed, gentrification, privatization, and the little guy getting pushed out in the name of progress, you will like it.


4. Because it’s likely the most entertaining film about land use ever made.

5. Because there’s a great shot of a guy throwing up about half way through.



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Top 5 Reasons To Watch THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING!October 03, 2013

Top 5 Reasons To Watch THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING!


Part social justice film, part stand-up comedy road tour, this  documentary confronts racism and prejudice head on, proving the transformative power of laughter. Comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah gather a dream team of comedians (most of whom happen to be Muslim) and go on the road across the south, attempting to challenge stereotypes with shows and sidewalk stunts.

THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING! is now on demand. 


Top 5 Reasons To Watch THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING! by directors Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad


1. Because you haven’t seen the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart in a movie since Death to Smoochy.

2. Because you can’t get enough of those sexy, sexy Muslims.


Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad

3. Because you want to see Lewis Black do one of his classic rants but with an extra Muslim flavor.

4. Because you want to see David Cross hang out in a laundromat. (See, now you really have to see the movie to understand what this is about!)

5. Because you wanna laugh, like really laugh, like laugh till you pee a little.


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Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures).

EXCLUSIVE: Read Director Joel Schroeder's  8 Things He’d Like You to Know About Calvin & Hobbes here...


By Joe Charnitski

The sight of a child laying on the living room floor surrounded by comics from the local newspaper seems like an idyllic vision of Sunday morning. I guess we’re more likely to see a kid holding an iPad these days, but for generations the Sunday comics were a regular part of any child’s weekend. Maybe you were precocious and enjoyed the political jokes in Doonesbury. Perhaps you were smart enough for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, or at least pretended to be. Could of been classics like Peanuts that kept you coming back for more.

Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)

There was something for everyone, but few strips have received the “icon” treatment given to Calvin and Hobbes from the new documentary DEAR MR. WATTERSON.

Most of the first section of the film is filled with recollections from the deepest corners of comic fandom about Calvin & Hobbes. Strip historians and archivists, contemporaries of Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes, and a league of writers and artists who came after, bathed in Mr. Watterson’s influence tell us that Calvin & Hobbes was the most important and memorable strip of its era.



Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)

 A trip to Bill Watterson’s hometown yields some small perspective on the town he created for his characters to live in. There are a few examples of particularly important episodes in the Calvin & Hobbes epic and a little insight as the doc moves along into the life of a strip artist, although not enough of any of that. A lot of time is spent with talking heads telling us how important and influential Watterson was, a point well made very early and then repeated...and repeated.

The most interesting section of the film gets a little more esoteric. It discusses the battle between art and commerce in the comic strip world. Certainly that tug of war is present in every creative field, but in Bill Watterson you have a unique foil to the standard tale. He never licensed Calvin & Hobbes: no toys, no lunch boxes, no cartoons, no holiday specials. 

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LAST HIJACK Filmmaker InterviewOctober 14, 2014

LAST HIJACK Filmmaker Interview


The below interview is a repurposed interview by permission with the filmmaking team of Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting to the revealing new documentary LAST HIJACK. Available On Demand, including Amazon Instant Video, Comcast, Google Play, iTunes, Time Warner Cable, Sony PlayStation, Vimeo On Demand, Vudu and XBOX Video. - ODW 

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS Tommy Pallotta & Femke Wolting
Tommy Pallotta  first connected Richard Linklater with animation when he produced the award-winning feature film WAKING LIFE. He followed up with Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY, starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. He then directed the Emmy nominated "Collapsus". Femke Wolting co-founded Submarine, a multiple award-winning production company. She produced numerous projects such as Peter Greenaway's feature Rembrandt's J'Accuse and the groundbreaking documentaries like MY SECOND LIFE.




What sparked you interest in the issue of piracy in Somalia, and how did you decide to develop a feature film on this subject?
We were watching news reports and the image of these tiny boats versus the huge oil tankers fascinated us. We wondered what drove these men to take such enormous risks. As we researched further and found out about all the underlying aspects of piracy, the waste dumping in the waters around Somalia and the broader impact of piracy on Somalian society we got even more interested. Most media stories and news stories reported on Western ships being hijacked and the experiences of the passengers. That made us curious to know more about the pirates themselves.

When we started to look into it, we quickly became fascinated by how the pirates were perceived within their own communities. Until recently they were seen as heroes, as the little guys who fought the big Western ships. And many people also profited from their actions, whether directly or indirectly. But then things began to change. A whole generation of young men disappeared, were thrown in jail or simply vanished at sea. That had an enormous impact on the people who were left behind, the families and the women. People in Somalia turned their backs on the pirates. This tension interested us, and made us to decide to make a film from the perspective of the pirates and their families.

Was it clear from the start that this film would be something else than a 'classic' documentary?
We clicked with the subject because we immediately thought it would be ideal to combine animation and documentary footage. We didn't want to make an observational documentary. Because the hijacks were something you could never be part of. Once we thought of the combination opened up so many possibilities.

Through the animation we could view the world through the eyes of the pirates. We could visualize their subjective reality, their dreams, from their memories of the civil war to the hijacks they had undertaken.


Animated Scene / LAST HIJACK (Filmbuff)

Documentary, fiction, animation and interactive media have all been combined frequently throughout both of your filmmaking careers. What inspires this openness to hybrid forms? Do you think these kinds of projects will take on a larger importance in the industry in future years?
We are interested in hybrid forms because they offer so many more possibilities in terms of storytelling. In terms of non-fiction, they challenge the idea of objective reality that a documentary should capture.

So LAST HIJACKis a hybrid incorporating live action and animation, but also feature film and documentary. Feature films and documentaries have been made for more then a century, and there are still all these conventions of genres and specific ways to tell a story. We are excited about these new hybrid forms because you can experiment and search for new forms of storytelling that don't yet have rules. More and more feature films combine live action, effects and animation to create new worlds, and now that is possible in documentaries too.

Tell us about your experience working on similarly "non-traditional projects" with directors such as Richard Linklater (WAKING LIFE, A SCANNER DARKLY) and Peter Greenaway (REMBRANDT'S J'ACCUSE).
Currently we are shooting a feature film by Peter Greenaway in Mexico, called Eisenstein in Guanajuato. It's a love story about the famous Russian filmmaker Eisenstein, and how he felt in love for the first time when he was making a film in Mexico. It's a feature film but Greenaway mixes archive footage from Eisenstein and his films in the fictional narrative. Also we just started working on a new film for a Hollywood studio, a feature film that is a hybrid as well, half live action and half animated.

Somali pirates have lately been represented in several documentary and fiction films (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, A HIJACKING, STOLEN STEAS, FISHING WITHOUT NETS). What do you think has inspired this widespread interest? Do you have an opinion on the films made as a result, and how is your film different?

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