Month: May 2014

Follow-up to “Restrepo” Coming Soon

Sebastian Junger's "Korengal" opens this week in NYC.

Sebastian Junger’s “Korengal” opens this week in NYC.

Journalist turned filmmaker Sebastian Junger has recently completed a new documentary called Korengal. The film is a follow-up to Restrepo, which he made with the late Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya in 2011.

While Restrepo effectively showed us the experience of combat from a soldier’s perspective, shedding light on the difficulties they often face when returning to civilian society, Korengal was made to show the impact of war and conflict on the civilian populations directly affected.

Junger is a resident of Truro and  I am hoping his film will be shown on the Cape this year,in which case I can give you a full report on it. For now I just wanted to let my New York readers know that the film is opening there and its box office performance will be important to its future.

Here is an excerpt of the email I received from Junger last week to entice you:

“…my next film, Korengal, is about to come out on May 30th in New York. Tim and I had planned to make a follow-up to Restrepo, but a few weeks after going to the Oscars, Tim was killed in Libya while covering the civil war. I teamed up with our original editor and continued the project anyway. Restrepo was intended to give civilians an idea of what combat feels like; Korengal is completely different. It is meant to help soldiers – and civilians – understand the experience of war. How does fear work? What is courage? Why do so many soldiers miss the war? Why is it so hard to come home?

Korengal is completely self-financed and self-released. The upside is that no one could tell us how to make our film; the downside is that it is incredibly hard – and expensive – to get an independent film to hit critical mass and go nationwide. But that is exactly what we are going to try to do. If we sell out the Sunshine Theater (Houston and First Avenue) on opening weekend (May 29-June 1), Landmark will take our film nationwide. It will be a real victory for independent film – and for the whole national conversation about war and its aftermath.

In addition, a ticket stub from the film will get you a free beer or house wine at the Half King  (23rd Street and Tenth Avenue ) on opening weekend.   Below is a link to pre-buy tickets. Obviously the daytime shows are the hardest to fill, so if you can go to those instead of an evening show, that would be fantastic. Thank you so much for your support. I can’t wait to hear what you think of our film.”

–  Sebastian

Visit: for tickets and  more information

Jodorowsky’s Dune

jduneI recently wrote a review of Jodorowsky’s Dune, a documentary by Frank Pavich that I absolutely loved, for Provincetown Magazine. Here is a link to it: Jodorowsky’s Dune

Film Festival Forays

I have spent the greater part of the past month preparing for and then going to two very different film festivals. I’ve been to a number of festivals, as a filmmaker with films in them, as an audience, and more frequently, as press covering festivals like the Provincetown International Film Festival and the Woods Hole Film Festival. As odd as it seems, some people like film festivals for everything but the films themselves. They want to go to the parties and hob-knob with celebrities. They want to be the first to see this or that new film by the hottest new director. For me, it is the opposite; I generally avoid all the parties and I make my itinerary based on what looks like it might be somehow special. More and more festivals are becoming the only place to see truly unique films in theatrical exhibition. In some cases, the films I’ve seen have never become available online–not through streaming, on video, or in theaters–even though they were exceptional.

I go to festivals to find hidden gems: films that go their own way and pull us along on cinematic adventures.

This year I attended the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City (April 16-27) as well as the much smaller Independent Film Festival Boston (IFF Boston) in Somerville, Mass. (April 23-30). Although it was literally impossible for me to see everything at either festival, there were several films that I did see that deserve to be highlighted here. The idea is that when they do open, as I hope they will, (whether theatrically or via some other means of exhibition), you’ll know something about them and check them out.



Below Dreams

Leann and Jayden Miller in "Below Dreams." Photographer: Milena Pastreich

Leann and Jayden Miller in “Below Dreams.” Photographer: Milena Pastreich

When you see a lot of movies, as I do, it is rare that a new film actually surprises you. I knew nothing abut anyone involved with the film Below Dreams and only saw it at Tribeca because the description was somewhat compelling and it fit neatly into my schedule. Writer/director Garrett Bradley gives us a portrait of New Orleans that centers on the struggles of twenty-somethings trying to move ahead with their lives, navigating around the obstacles of race and class, as well as the realities of having made poor choices. There is Leann, a single mother of four struggling to support her family while also pursuing dreams of becoming a model. There is Jamaine, a young ex-con trying to reintegrate himself into society and find legitimate work, a process which means making visible changes. And finally, there is Elliot, a young man who has come to New Orleans from New York City searching for a girl and perhaps something else. Each of the three characters feels real and in fact, Bradley found these actors by posting casting calls on Craigslist–not looking so much for trained actors but for people whose lives mirrored those of the characters she’d created. But while Below Dreams is more character study than action-based narrative, it is not only the characters that draw you in. Bradley’s approach to filmmaking blends  an evocative soundtrack and poetic imagery with the hard edge of reality. The result is a moving portrait of youth that runs in stark contrast to the usual picture of this age group as vacuous and technology-obsessed. It’s also a film that deserves a big screen experience, so hopefully we will see it in theaters soon. Below Dreams is yet another bold new film that, along with Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin, reveals a cinematic revolution happening in New Orleans.