First a look ahead to this week's Human Rights Watch Film Festival and then a report on a talk by writer Peter David that was given on Wednesday night.
This week’s selections all come the Human Rights Watch Film Festival which begins Thursday night I’ve got eight reviews coming over the next seven days and there are some of the best films I’ve seen this year. This could be the best programed film festival this year.
Monday’s review CAMP 14 TOTAL CONTROL ZONE is a wicked exploration of the cruelties that are being inflicted on some people in North Korea. It’s also a heart breaking look at what that level of cruelty can do to a survivor. You may have thought the Nazi’s wrote the book on nastiness, but it appears the North Koreans have updated the book. It’s a great companion piece to THE ACT OF KILLING which is playing a month in advance of its regular theatrical release. (I reviewed the film back in March and my take can be found here)
Wednesday’s review is the amazing MY AFGHANISTAN: LIFE IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE about what happened when a filmmaker gave phones with cameras to people in the rural area of the country and had them film their lives. It’s not over stating things to say it will change how you view the country and the war.
I’ve only seen nine films but they have all been pretty much winners.
You’ll notice that the reviews I’m running are not going to be the big opening and (Anita) or closing (Tall as the Boabab Tree) and that’s intentional. Most of the pieces you’re going to see on the festival are going to dwell on those films and not the other less noticeable ones. I’m reviewing some of the smaller films all several days before their first screening so you'll have ample time to get tickets..
This is a super festival so why not just check the website and get tickets. All the information you need can be found there.
Wednesday night I went with Randi to the Soho Gallery of Digital Art to see comics legend, author and raconteur Peter David talk with Danny Fingeroth . The pair was joined by gallery owner John J Ordover who was an editor of the Star trek novels that David used to turn out with a clockwork frequency.
The talk was, as with any talk by David, utterly fascinating. Beginning with David’s stroke less than six months ago the talk wandered all over the place but largely focused on his writing of Star Trek material, self-publishing and movie tie in novels. It sounds like there wasn’t a great deal of comics talk, but in fact there was as David’s stories spun around to include his entre into comics writing Spiderman, his time on the Hulk , Star Trek and several other projects. This being a film website I want to mention the film related portion of the talk (besides the someone was recording the talk for an eventual pod cast)
David explained that the evolution of film tie in novels, saying that writers used to get the scripts sent to them. Then they would get the scripts with various markings sent to them so the scripts couldn’t get out. Now its evolved so that writers have to go in and copy the scripts- sometimes typing, sometimes by hand in rooms in publishing houses or at the studios. He said that the level of security has kind of become ridiculous with the precautions taken in the wake of Iron Man 2 causing him to tell them to take the job and shove it. The complications of producing a novel tie in have become so great that in the case of Marvel and some other companies they have stopped producing them (at least for adults. Fingeroth talked about how they are still doing books for kids)
One of the better stories relating to that was his doing the Photon tie in novels (you remember Photon don't you? No? Well no one at the talk did either). The books which started as rigid tie ins evolved over the course of six books into things completely unrelated to the TV show because David realized no one was checking to see how they related to the show; meaning he could write whatever he wanted. He also talked about the Psi-man tie in books which he published under a pen name-David Peters- and which he liked enough to get the publisher to reprint them under his real name (these I remember reading).
Much of the later third of the evening was focused on After Earth.
David had been brought in to work on a script with Will Smith’s brother in law years before, and got along with him so well he stayed in contact with him. He was then brought in to write a bible for the world of After Earth which it was hoped would be a major film series. David talked about the shaping of the film and the script which he said, despite what the critics had written, was really good. He said that his concerns about the chances of the film ever going anywhere was heightened when M Night Shyamalan was hired. It wasn’t so much that he thought that Shyamalan would wreck the project, rather he knew it was painting a bulls eye on the project for the critics and the rest of the world to through tomatoes at- which is what he felt has happened (It was something he likened to what happened to John Carter which was doomed before it started). He’s of the opinion that the film is a good adventure story about a father and son. He hopes the film does well overseas since he’s written the sequel and if it does well around the world it may still get made. (He also bemoaned that several scenes showing a ruined earth, in particular a ruined bowling alley, had been cut)
After a couple more comics related questions the talk was over and he opened up his suitcase of wares. Randi and I headed into the night to get some meds for her splitting headache.