Saturday, December 27, 2014

Nightcap 12/27/14- The year ends exhaustion sets in, whats not on the year end lists plus Randi's links

Sidera Opening- from the movie "Lou ! Journal Infime" from Catfish Deluxe on Vimeo.

The final Nightcap for 2014 is a day early because starting tomorrow night we have five nights of our year end wrap up.
(This piece is based on a piece I wrote back in June. The details have changed but the sentiment is the same)

This year Unseen Films has kicked my ass.

Sometime in May I was having a discussion with Joe Bendel after a press screening of Korengal about what it takes to really do a film website. What does it take to try and cover as much as you can? It takes a great deal. Joe writes for several outlets and he's constantly in motion. I just write for one and on some level I feel like it never stops. There is simply too much to cover. The more we do the more people are throwing at us.

In the middle of this year, just as we were hitting  peak festival season I found too much being offered. I had to say no,. Our coverage of the Brooklyn Film Festival was extremely limited simple because I couldn’t get there to cover it. (We love you guys but your location is a long haul via mass transit). Overlapping that was Lincoln Center's Open Roads Italian Festival where we reviewed of about half the films, which ran right into the excellent Kino German Film Festival (which thankfully I split with Mondo) which overlapped the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at the same time. All of that lead into the New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Cuts which meant more heavy coverage. And from there we went right into Fantasia.

This year it was all too much. To be perfectly honest as much as I love doing this, there are times when I feel I'm close to done. Part of me wants to fold up the tent and go home. Its not that I don't like doing what I'm doing, its more the administrating on top of the reviewing is killing me. I know part of it has been due to my attempt to get Unseen to a different place. You may not have noticed but I've been trying to get us to a more noticeable place and it kind of skidded off the road. Things didn't break but I'm a bit banged up. I've also had a couple of large scale pieces not work after throwing a great deal of effort at them. They are parked in the garage and I'll get back to them, but I'm just disappointed that they didn't come together the way I wanted them (for example the plan for a whole month of giant monster movies went sideways).

In a perfect world I'd take a vacation and then come back, but right now, going into the New York Jewish Film Festival and some January/February festivals I find I can't. What has been thrown my way is really good, or at least really intriguing, I kind of have to push on despite being exhausted because there are things crossing my desk you need to know about.

As things stand now the plan is to get to the our fifth anniversary and then....something. This is a less planned out something in years past, I figure if I plan less we may get more.. Right now I have things scheduled into March-well May really since I have Tribeca credentials and plans for covering a couple of other festivals which will push my scheduled films around. I’m really not sure what’s going to happen.

The problem right now is not the film a day format that Unseen its more all the additional stuff. I could do a film a day probably until doomsday, but keeping things current is where it's tough because you can't always be sure what you'll have what day. Trying to cover some the new releases is hard because of embargoes, covering the festivals with reviews of lots of films is harder because of the short turn around time. I could cut back but I want to give you more than curtain raisers and capsules when it comes to festival coverage. Personally I hate reading a piece on a big festival that only has a few lines on a couple of films. If you're going to cover fests cover the damn things talk about the movies and the screenings don't short change it unless you have to. (An aside- part of my frustration with the site has been an attitude from a couple of festivals who restricted coverage this year. I'm not getting into it but this year we were asked to provide coverage of some festivals only to be told what we could actually report on. The long and short of it is that I'm refusing to mention several festivals because they wanted to tell me what to write)

Hopefully between now and February 20th I'll have calmed down and regrouped and we'll go into our sixth year  refreshed, and we’ll regroup...and if not Unseen's fifth birthday will bring changes.
When the Year End lists begin to hit tomorrow there are going to be some weird omissions. On the other hand the lists this year a tad weird to begin with- I mean I have an two Best of the Year lists that are almost Orwellian in structure-both are best of the year but some are better than others.

Of interest to probably almost no one is the fact that this is the first year in probably 15 or 16 years where I haven't raced through the films I missed at year end to get a true sense of films of the year. I still may get some in but largely I'm not chasing down all the big films from the last six months. I mention this because if there is an absence of big films its probably because I haven't seen them-then again I may have and just didn't care.

Looking at the Best of the Year lists I'm trying to figure whats stopping me from putting HUMAN CAPITAL on it. Easily the best of the Oscar Foreign Film submissions that I've seen, I just can't put it on the best of the year list-either of them.

Also curiously absent is SNOWPIERCER which is a truly great film but just missed the cut. I suspect that some of the WTF moments in the second half which made it more a film of the head then the heart.

My attitude toward the worst of the year is intriguing in that I saw a lot of really crappy films but most are nowhere to be found. I think pieces of crap like SUMMER OF BLOOD are just best forgotten rather then even kicking them one last time.

I should tell you that I'm breaking my unbreakable rule of films go on to the lists for the year they were seen and not in the year of "release" with a few films from next years New York Jewish Film Festival- THE ZIONIST IDEA, KING OF NERAC  and DELI MAN should all be on the Best of 2014 list but since I really can't post the reviews now- they need to run closer to the festival- I'm carrying them over to 2015. (additionally I need to say that NYJFF for 2015 kicks ass and you need to get tickets to something-I've seen 25 or 26 films and can recommend all but one)
And now the final collection of Randi's links for 2014

Disney Holiday cards through the years
The Toy Guy
The Christmas Truce
Chopin's Heart
The zombie natvity

This week is split-we finish out our month of Criterion and start whats become an abbreviated and split month of short films.

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