Film Review: ‘Hunter Killer’

It’s no trick for even a ham-handed global action thriller to achieve a ripped-from-the-headlines “topicality.” Just throw in a terrorist from the right enemy nation, or an American president with the right haircut. So it’s a weird and musty Twilight Zone indeed that one enters to watch “Hunter Killer,” a grindingly ponderous and bombastic neo-Cold […]



Peter Jackson’s Heartbreaking New War Film is a Towering Technical Achievement

Last night — in the presence of Duke of Cambridge Prince William — the London Film Festival hosted the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s new film, They Shall Not Grow Old, a heartbreaking WWI documentary that focusses on British soldiers fighting on the Western front. It’s a towering technical achievement that takes 100-year-old footage, and modernises it in a way that makes the Great War somehow contemporary. Most importantly, it tells the story of this brutal conflict through the men who lived it.

The Painstaking Process of Bringing the Dead Back to Life

Peter Jackson — the writer-director responsible for both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies — calls They Shall Not Grow Old his most personal movie. And that’s clear from the words which appear onscreen at the end of the film, with the documentary dedicated to his grandfather, who fought in the British army from 1910 to 1919.

Jackson was asked by the Imperial War Museum to take archive footage and BBC recordings, and turn them into something fresh and original. So he employed all the technology at his disposal to make the sound, speed and colour familiar to 21st Century eyes.

“I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world” Jackson says of the film. “So they can regain their humanity once more, rather than be seen only as Charlie Chaplin-type figures in the vintage archive film. By using our computer power to erase the technical limitations of 100-year-old cinema, we can see and hear the great war as they experienced it.”

The challenges were many and varied. Modern film runs at 24 frames per second, but this footage was anything from 10 frames to 16. So Jackson and his team used that computing power to construct those missing images for a consistent speed throughout.

They then began the painstaking process of meticulously colouring each frame of film. Resulting in one of the movie’s most jaw-dropping scenes, when black-and-white footage of the men training transforms into vibrant colour when they reach the trenches. Jackson also employed lip-readers and voice actors to figure out what the soldiers were saying, and bring their conversations and speeches to life onscreen.

The results are stunning, this combination of ancient filmmaking techniques with modern technology reaching through that fog, and giving voice to a generation that’s long gone.

An Inspiring Account of the Great War

Colourised footage from They Shall Not Grow Old.

They Shall Not Grow Old is the story of WWI, told by people on the front-line. So over those remarkable images, we hear — through BBC interviews — accounts of those who actually served on the Western front. But the story starts long before, kicking off with war being declared, and capturing the heady excitement felt throughout Britain.

Men enlist for what they hope will be a “civilised war.” And boys too. With 19 the minimum age, but teenagers of 18, 17, 16 and 15 encouraged to lie so they can join the fun. Their enthusiasm and optimism is positively heartbreaking.

Training on home soil follows, as the army endeavours to take a motley crew of “weedy, skinny children” and turn them into soldiers. So civilians are clothed, trained, taught to march, and fed a diet of plum and apple jam.

Their training soon becomes more serious, as boys are given weapons, and taught how to kill. They’re taught to develop what one soldier ominously calls “animal instincts.” Then, after just six weeks, they are sent to France to fight.

Crafting a True Horror Movie

British soldiers firing on the Germans.

It’s at this point the film changes from black-and-white into colour. And while Peter Jackson is no stranger to horror movies — having started out making the likes of Bad Taste, Braindead and The Frighteners — this passage of film is true horror. It presents the unspeakable and at times the unwatchable.

The soldiers spend their days avoiding bullets, bombs and mines, and find themselves surrounded by the bodies of officers hung from barbed wire. The stench from decaying flesh infests their trenches, attracting huge rats who feed on the dead. Mustard gas is another killer. Meanwhile winter brings frostbite and trench foot, with the wounded sinking to oblivion beneath the mud.

The waiting is the hardest part, tension building as the men prepare for zero hour. Fear takes over, and hysteria frequently sets in. Then the call comes, and it’s over the top to face the might of the German war machine. And near certain death.

There’s very little footage of the deadly exchanges in no man’s land, so Jackson uses illustrations from magazine War Illustrated. While when the killing stops, it’s film of the men burying their fallen friends in mass graves. With 600 going into this particular battle, and just 100 making it back.

Highlighting the Tragedy and Futility of War

Comparison of the black and white footage alongside the colour.

It isn’t all bad however, with Jackson showing another side of the conflict, capturing the camaraderie that developed between the soldiers in happier times. We watch them eat together, shave together, sing together, play together, and even go to the toilet together. And we’re not talking about number ones.

They Shall Not Grow Old is filled with smiles and laughs and cups of tea. So many cups of tea. The soldiers play rugby and box together during their fleeting time off, and swap English cigarettes for French wine. Which they drink between those cups of tea. Hammering home the fact that these were ordinary blokes thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

But perhaps the most remarkable footage concerns German prisoners of war, captured towards the end of the conflict. Because there’s no anger or hatred on display. The opposing soldiers communicate as best they can, share the odd joke, and even treat the wounded together.

The English voices explain that they felt respect and sympathy towards their German counterparts. Both sides are unable to explain the conflict, and agree that war is both useless and futile.

They Shall Not Grow Old, Nor Will They be Forgotten

It's the faces that truly bring They Shall Not Grow Old to life.

They Shall Not Grow Old documents a conflict that’s beyond comprehension. But by modernising the footage, colourising the imagery, and giving the pictures sound, Peter Jackson puts it into a kind of context, taking away the distance between now and then.

But it’s the faces that stay with you. The boys who look like the kids with whom you went to school. Or the men who look like fellas in your office or at the football. It’s those faces that humanise the Great War, and ensure that these soldiers will not grow old. And thanks to this film, will not be forgotten.

Following the screening, Jackson was at pains to point out that the film only captures the voices of those who survived, with the dead sadly remaining silent. While he also said he hoped that other archives open up their vaults to this process. And on this evidence, that can only be a good thing, with They Shall Not Grow Old a powerful and emotive documentary that brings history to life in spellbinding fashion.

They Shall Not Grow Old plays at the Imperial War Museum later this month and screens on the BBC in November.

Peter Jackson Shelved ‘Mortal Engines’ for 5 Years – Because of ‘The Hobbit’

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Reel Sisters Dedicates Film Festival to Self-Care and Spotlights Films by Women of Color

Twenty years ago, Carolyn Butts founded the Reel Sisters Film Festival to showcase films directed, produced, and written by women of color. Now, the Brooklyn-based film festival is celebrating two decades of job creation and access for women of color behind the camera. “We have played a pivotal role in creating spaces for us to share our stories,” said Butts. Over the last 21 years, the festival has screened over 3,000 films, distributed more than $ 25,000 in scholarship money to women of color filmmakers and helped filmmakers get their films distributed to institutions like Third World Newsreel, Black Public Media, and Centric/BET TV.”

The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series is an annual two-day film festival founded by African Voices magazine and Long Island University’s Media Arts Dept. The Reel Sisters 21st-anniversary event will take place from Oct. 20-21, 2018, in Brooklyn, New York. “After 21 years, we’re very proud to be among a select group of film festivals that can recommend short narratives for Oscar consideration,” said Butts. “Our new status means Black, Latino, Asian, Indian, African and Caribbean women now have another path to earning an Oscar, which can open the doors for getting paid producing and directing jobs.”

film festival

Although we’re making strides in representation and film, Butts wants to make it clear: “We still need to see Hollywood hiring more women directors in general,” she said. The door is cracked open but our job is to keep fighting until the top of the credit line reflects the ticketholders that made Black Panther a $ 1.344 billion box office success this summer. We need more women and people of color producing and directing films. According to a study on diversity in film conducted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 28 women have worked as directors across the 700 top films from 2007 to 2014. Only three were African American. We still have work to do despite the PR campaign for equity and the success of films like Black Panther, Mudbound, Get Out and A Wrinkle In Time. I’m working on a project similar to Sundance TV where the films from Reel Sisters can connect with a global audience via a streaming platform like Netflix or Hulu. The Reel Sisters Tea & Cinema TV would give women of color a chance to get paid for creating, developing, and distributing their stories.”

Carolyn Butts

The theme for this year’s festival is #time4self which will showcase films dedicated to self-care, wellness, and healing. When asked about a simple way we can exercise self-care daily, Butts responded, “Breathing. We’re so busy pushing that we rarely slow down a moment to deeply inhale and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. I have to remind myself to breathe deeply and release. My personal self-care practices are yoga, writing, meditation, and prayer,” she said.

The post Reel Sisters Dedicates Film Festival to Self-Care and Spotlights Films by Women of Color appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise


Behind the Scenes: What it Really Takes to Launch a Film Career

Thanks to digital technology and social media, it’s easier than ever to start your filmmaking career. But starting a film career is one thing, growing and maintaining it is another. We asked award-winning filmmaker Adisa Septuri for some actionable tips and advice for creating your own path in the film industry. Here’s Septuri’s advice:

4 Ways to Launch a Film Career

 Invest in Yourself and Fail Forward

There’s a tendency to think that because we see lots of people picking up a camera and making films that it’s easy. We live in an instant gratification, YouTube video generation. If you want to excel at a high level, really study the craft, take classes, and watch YouTube videos, which are great but also read books and ask a zillion questions of people already doing it. You don’t necessarily need to go to film school, especially with the exorbitant tuition prices these days. Start making small films and then challenge yourself incrementally. It’s important to take chances and make mistakes in the beginning. My biggest lessons came from making mistakes. The bigger the mistake, the bigger the lesson. By doing this you’ll gain confidence.

Also, don’t rush yourself or feel as if you’re in some kind of race with time or other filmmakers. It will happen to you at the right time. Your main job is to do the work and invest in yourself. If you do that, you will ultimately create an opportunity or you’ll be presented with one.

Connect With Mentors

Find a mentor, it will save you a lot of time and wasted energy. I never really pursued one until much later and I could have really benefited by having one.

Hustle Smart

It took me a long time to get into writing, but besides learning the craft of directing, learning how to write screenplay puts you in a greater position to succeed. It allows you to generate your own material. It will also help you become an even better director. It takes a lot of patience, persistence, and determination to succeed in this business. Find you a hustle where you can pay the bills while you pursue your dream. For me, it was sound mixing. I actually became a union sound mixer. It kept me close to the film set while I pursued my passion of directing. I had to dedicate 10,000 hours to be good at it and it wasn’t always easy and sometimes I felt I was getting nowhere but I kept writing and studying in the meantime and sound mixing kept food on my table and gave me the fortitude to keep going.

Slow Progress is Still Progress

There’s also a tendency to fantasize about coming out the gate and being successful like Ryan Coogler or your first film going to Sundance and getting a big studio deal. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but that’s not realistic thinking. It only really happens to a very small few. The other 99% of us—myself included—take it day by day and film by film. Hard work is its own reward and it will eventually pay off.

Even if it takes you 15 years after graduating NYU film school like me to make your first feature film. Not everyone is cut out for it, but if you really want it—don’t just do it for the fame, money, or accolades. Those things are nice but I would suggest doing it because you have something to say. Do it because you want to make a difference and because you feel the call to be great and for a purpose. For me, it was a desire to see black images reflected on the screen and to tell the multitude of stories that exist in our community that never get told.

The post Behind the Scenes: What it Really Takes to Launch a Film Career appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise


Never Town – A Patagonia Surf Film On Tour Now Photo

Patagonia Press Release

Part surf film, part conservation film, Never Town takes a journey along some wild coastlines and talks with the people fighting to keep them wild. Filmed along the Southern Ocean coasts of Australia, it’s an exploration of what these places mean to surfers… and what surfers are willing to do to save them. As surfing elder Wayne Lynch says, “We mythologised these places. We lose them and we lose ourselves.”

Never Town spans Australia’s vibrant southern fringe from the dusty edge of South Australia to the deep forests of Victoria and Tasmania. It features the surfing of Dave Rastovich, Dan Ross, Belinda Baggs and Heath Joske, set alongside conversations with coastal activists who are standing up against deepwater oil drilling and industrial fish farms.

Midnight Oil, Yirrnga Yunupingu, Ziggy Alberts and Bad Dreems provide a distinctly Australian soundtrack. With coastlines around the world under pressure like never before from growing populations, rampant development and exploitation from resource companies, Never Town is a rallying call for surfers and local communities to stand together to protect the wild spaces around them.

Tour Dates


Never Town Film | October 15th | Huntington Surf and Sport | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 16th | Patagonia, Santa Monica | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 17th | Patagonia Pasadena, Pasadena | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 18th | Patagonia, Ventura | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 19th | The Sandbox, Santa Barbara | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 22th | Patagonia Denver, Denver, CO | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 22th | Patagonia Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz| 7pm

Never Town Film | October 23th | Patagonia Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 23th | Proof Lab Surf Shop, Mill Valley, CA| 7pm

Never Town Film | October 24th | Patagonia Toronto, Toronto, ON | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 24th | Patagonia Portland, Portland, OR | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 25th |House of Independents, Asbury Park, NJ | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 25th | Patagonia, Seattle, WA | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 26th | The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 26th | Patagonia, Vancouver, BC, Canada | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 29th | Patagonia, Boston, MA | 7pm

Never Town Film | October 30th | 100 Main St, Freeport, ME | 7pm

The post Never Town – A Patagonia Surf Film On Tour Now Photo appeared first on .


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Promise fulfilled 25 years later with TV film “My Dinner with Herve”

Sacha Gervasi brings the memoirs of Herve Villechaize to life, as he promised the diminutive ‘Fantasy Island’ actor 25 years ago, with a film about his life. Rough Cut – no reporter narration.

Reuters Video: Entertainment


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Meet the Film Director Putting the Spotlight on Human Trafficking

Adisa Septuri is an award-winning director, producer, and philanthropist with a track record of putting the spotlight on traumatizing events and social injustices around the world. In 2009 he produced A Day Without Mines, a documentary on child miners in the Kono District of Sierra Leone. “I was in Sierra Leone as part of a film crew to capture something completely different but as fate would have it, I was exposed to the child miners,” said Septuri. While over there, I contracted the deadly Hanta Virus and nearly died over there as a result of it. After being hospitalized for several weeks on life support, I survived that incredible ordeal. While barely clinging onto life, I remember thinking in my darkest moments of the children that I met there and their innocent faces that gleamed with brightness when I gave them a soccer ball to kick around. It was those memories of children laughing and playing in Sierra Leone that pulled me through that ordeal, leaving doctors to refer to me surviving as nothing short of a miracle.” A Day Without Mines won Best Short Documentary at the Beverly Hills Film, TV & New Media Festival. It was also showcased on The National Black Programming Consortium, an affiliate of PBS.

The traumatic effects of babies born addicted to drugs are another issue Septuri has captured through the film. Now, with his recently released film Skin In the Game, he’s activating change by shedding light on human trafficking another topic affecting millions of people in the United States. While human trafficking is often thought of as something that happens overseas, a quick Google search tells a different story. Recently, Wisconsin and Tennessee have shown a spike in human trafficking and according to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities in the United States for domestic minor sex trafficking.

Skin in the Game stars Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse, In Contempt) and is produced by Howard Barish and Kandoo Films, the production company behind 2017 Oscar-nominated, and BAFTA award-winning Netflix documentary 13th by Ava DuVernay. We caught up with Septuri to learn more about his career.

Where does your passion for putting the spotlight on traumatizing events and topics come from?

Although my parents were divorced, my brother, sister, and I had plenty of everything we needed—love, security, and a solid foundation. But growing up in West Oakland, I was surrounded by kids that were not as fortunate—kids that wore second-hand clothes, went to bed hungry or stole because they were trying to survive, so I kind of grew empathetic toward them. I always felt the pull to help and also wanting to be accepted played a big part. I would literally give someone the shirt off my back if they needed it. I saw so much at an early age that children always held a special place in my heart and that passion just continued to grow as I got older. So for me, vulnerable children are a top priority. I am drawn to their stories in a way that I can somehow help or shed light on or activate change.

Human trafficking came to my attention a few years ago and I have a deep compassion for the victims, which are mainly children. Again, I wanted to activate change, so I developed a script and directed a feature called Skin in the Game. I keep a healthy optimism. My work, although reflecting harsh realities, always leans on posting a vision of a future that can be shaped and altered.

Children don’t have many choices and it’s up to us as adults to assist them and give them the safety I felt as a child. So I guess I get it from my parents in that they blanketed and protected me, which is what I am continuously striving to do with them in my work and in my life.

What are the key messages that you want people to take away debut feature film Skin in the Game?

Human trafficking is a worldwide epidemic. It denigrates woman and makes us less than human. It destroys lives, families, and robs us of any hope for a future. The internet has grown so fast and so wide that predators, traffickers, and pimps are using it to recruit our children. They have all types of manipulative ploys such as “sexting,” which has to do with a young person sending a nude picture of herself or himself to them thinking they are sending it to a newfound love only to have that other person threaten to show it to their family, church, or friends if they don’t comply and many children fall victim to this type of manipulation. The threat is real and lasting and could happen to anyone of us or anyone we might know.

And just like our protagonist in the film Lena, who used to be an ex-prostitute and now rescues girls caught up in prostitution, never give up on our children. Lena may rescue a dozen girls and because of brainwashing, the girls often go back to their pimp, but Lena never surrenders her faith and belief in them. It can be an endless cycle, so try to always instill positivity in our young people and a sense that they are great and no matter what happens, we won’t give up on them.

The post Meet the Film Director Putting the Spotlight on Human Trafficking appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise


‘Wildlife,’ ‘The Bangle Seller’ in Competition at Mumbai Film Festival

Paul Dano’s directorial debut “Wildlife,” which has had considerable festival play including Sundance, Cannes and Toronto is among the titles in the international competition at the 20th Mumbai film festival. The festival runs Oct. 25 to Nov. 1, 2018. U.S. director, Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) will give a masterclass. Other international competition titles include deceased Chinese […]