Sunday, November 13, 2005



:. Grand Feature Jury Prize: Winter Kiss
:. Documentary Jury Prize: The Refugee All Stars
:. Short Jury Prize: Delivery


:. Best Feature Film: Tsotsi & C.R.A.Z.Y.
:. Best Documentary Film: Through The Fire
:. Best Short: Delivery

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Aspirins, Voyeurs, Orgies & Christmas

Cinema, Aspirin and Vultures, a Brazilian road-movie centered on the unexpected friendship between a local and a German entrepreneur, offered a fine character study, without ever falling into pathos. Talking about pathos, Merry Christmas, a French film set during World War II about the fraternization between enemies on Christmas Eve is without a doubt a great showcase for clichéd cinema and cheesy melodramas, providing plethora of unintentional laughs – something tells me the average American audience will love it while real cinephiles shouldn’t get fooled by such a screenwriting trickery. Mexican entry Stories of Disenchantment, one of the most provocative and experimental films I’ve seen in a while, should mostly appeal to fans of Fernando Arrabal, Guy Maddin & Abel Ferrara. But the highlight of the day – and one of the strongest moments of this festival -- was certainly Hidden, which marks the return of Michael Haneke at the top of his art, following the failure of Time of the Wolf.

Friday, November 11, 2005


The presence of Johnny Depp at the festival on Friday night provided a few moments of frenzy, from the flock of girls desperately waiting for an autograph to a few weirdos dressed as Jack the pirate, without forgetting a couple dozens rude photographers for whom I have as much respect as for a group of cockroaches.

Following a tribute where he seemed bored by a series of dull questions, Depp as well as John Malkovich and Samantha Morton introduced The Libertine, the adaptation of a play which mostly acts as a showcase for Depp’s talent, here exploring new territories.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


If hell means being with Marie Gillain, Emmanuelle Beart and Carole Bouquet, I'm signing up right away. Directed by Danis Tanovic (No Man's Land), this adaptation of Krzysztof Kieslowsky's novel centers around 3 sisters and their failed relationships with men. Heavy, tortured and finely acted, this will appeal to fans of French films and Kieslowsky's work.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Refugee All Stars

In The Refugee All Stars, documentary filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White show how artists, in this case musicians from Sierra Leone, keep culture alive and in the process begin to heal their own wounds as they bring moments of joy to their fellow refugee camp inhabitants and plan their return home to Sierra Leone. Like Back To Bosnia, the journey of those returning home is arduous and bittersweet: filled with extreme joy and extreme pain.

Dark Horse & Dirty Cops

An absurd and poetic comedy shot in black & white, Dark Horse by Dagur Kári -- of a Nói albínói fame -- is another exploration of characters who do not fit in society, with a different stylistic approach -- and another Plume Noire pick.

If you've never seen the TV series The Shield or the film Training Day, you might find Dirty original and gritty. Despite a great effort in terms of authenticiy, most of this picture is a mess and somebody should have reminded Cuba Gooding Jr that saying "mutherfucka" every 2 words doesn't make you a more convincing tough guy and actor -- it's like an imitation of a gangster for a boat trip spectacle.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bam Bam and Celeste & Back To Bosnia

The powerful documentary Back To Bosnia grabbed everyone by the heart and placed us on the streets of Banja Luka, director Sabina Vajraca's hometown. She returns with her parents to document life after war, as the family goes back to reclaim their home. The scene in which they confront the family that has been living in their home, with their belongings still inside, is difficult to explain and impossible to understand for someone that has never been through it. We also witness the exhumation of a body and the painstaking work of those trying to piece together the past. A stunning debut that shines a light on a part of the world we know very little about.
Anji Milanovic
ProducerAli Hanson, Sabina's mother and director Sabina Vajraca at the premiere of Back to Bosnia.

Anyone hopelessly in love with Margaret Cho will enjoy Bam Bam and Celeste, a campy romp from the cornfields of Illinois to the streets of New York under the guise of an ugly duckling tale. It's not perfect, but it's a lot of fun.
Anji Milanovic

Monday, November 07, 2005

Addicted to Fuck

Fuck, a documentary about the origin and various uses of this colorful four-letter word was a hit with a packed audience. Filled with humor and amusing guests – from Hunter S. Thompson to Ice-T – the film touches on socio-political issues and follow the multiple incarnations of the F-word, from the street to the big screen. See it before it gets censored by your local multiplex.

Talking about fucking, Addiction, a Finnish entry about a woman’s descent into sexual addiction, provided a fresh feminine perspective on the subject. Treated with subtlety and supported by a strong cast, this fine character study avoided gratuitous voyeurism and pathos to focus on the irreversible mechanism of addiction.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Transamerica = Festival Favorite

The screening of Transamerica on 11/06/05 was a delightful surprise. Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives fame (I've never seen the show) gives a stunning performance as a man about to undergo a transgender operation. Bree gets a call that she fasthered a son some years back, and he is now male prostitute in New York. She goes to get him. Hardly the usual Americana road movie, Transamerica is a mix between Me, You and Everyone We Know and Happiness. Witty and beautiful dialogue coupled with performances that are so natural and so human but edgy enough to keep the film's tender conclusion gratifying. Felicity's husband produced the film; he happens to be William H. Macy...This is a film for those who have delayed becoming adults as much as possible.

Screaming Masterpiece & (Un)Forgettable Films

What makes Icelandic music so beautiful? That’s the question Screaming Masterpiece answers while offering us a portrait of a burgeoning music scene, which broke through internationally thanks to The Sugarcubes, Björk & lately, Sigur Rós. From pagan music to rock, punk and hip-hop, this small country doesn’t lack talent and this documentary successfully brings its chilly harmonious beauty to the screen. A Q&A with the director followed the screening. Fred Thom

From reading the program and listening to the programmers, The Gigolos, a British comedy about a couple of average looking guys selling their services to old women, promised to be fresh and funny. Featuring a series of dull characters and a frigid narrative, this vaguely amusing film didn’t go anywhere and made me regret not having seen the Desperate Housewives posing next door. Fred Thom

Originally, I wasn’t planning to go see Ripley Underground with Barry Pepper -- of Battlefield Earth fame -- in the title role. While quite fun, the result looks more like the kind of film you would watch on a plane – or video -- than a production made for the big screen; which brings me to the point: “what were the programmers thinking by proudly premiering this film at AFI?” That’s certainly not the kind of entry that increases your credibility on the festival scene. Actors Alan Cumming and Claire Forlani introduced the screening. Fred Thom

Canadian entry Life With My Father started off my Sunday with a meditation on family, the battle between brothers fighting for their father's love, and the loss of dignity that death inevitably brings. Like Barbarian Invasions, director Sebastien Rose shows the Canadian health system in the worst light possible. Though it dragged on a bit, there were some tender scenes of familial love. Also, 3 men living in a dilapidated house with a beautiful woman inevitably brings jealousy and humor. Anji Milanovic

The super- quirky Czech film Wrong Side Up proved to be a lot of fun, from footage of Fidel in Cuba to life in a post-Socialist Czech Republic where men dress up mannequins in their wive's clothes and neighbors pay you to watch them have sex. Actor Ivan Trojan showed his eclectic humor in the face of adversity in a way that makes him totally sympathetic and not totally idiotic--even when he ships himself off to Cuba and not to his girlfriend's house.

Pablo- The Poet's Lives proved tedious. Footage of abandoned mines in Chile coupled with interviews of those who knew him (along with a lot of interviews with people who did not know him but were influenced by him) didn't create a compelling documentary of one of the world's best-loved poets. Some re-created scenes of Pablo's young life just seem out of place. The ultimate goal of filmmaker Dario Baldi is never made clear.

Ghosts & Cuba

Directed by and starring Andy Garcia, The Lost City offered a look at the Cuban revolution through the eyes of a club owner. While the story proved to be interesting, the film suffers from awkward moments – both visually and thematically.

Looking for some real chills? I hadn’t be scared by a horror movie since age 10 and American Haunting scared me from the opening to the end; and by looking at the number of people who left during the screening or jumped in their seats, I wasn’t alone. Do I need to say more?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Burning Man

South-African entry Tsotsi was a great way to start this festival, both cruel and tender at the same time (review). Director Gavin Hood was there for a Q&A afterwards.

Drums, electronica, dancers and Burning Man aficionados had gathered on the AFI rooftop for a party celebrating the premiere of the documentary Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock.

To tell you the truth I hadn’t see so many freaks since Halloween in West Hollywood, but knowing my picture was taken several times at the party, I assume I kinda fit in J That’s also probably the first screening I attended where spectators were asked to keep their clothes on – unfortunately the gang of creepy male bunny rabbits next to me wouldn’t follow the rule.

Pele Forever Screens at AFI Fest 2005

Pele Forever, a documentary aout legendary soccer player Pele, screened last night at AFI Fest 2005. At the press conference, Pele and director Anibal Massaini Neto discussed the project over 5 years in the making that recounts the legend's triumphs in "The Beautiful Game".

Pele introduced the film to a full house at Arclight in Hollywood and accepted a City of Los Angeles proclamation naming November 4th as "Pele Day". What followed was a film that will regale soccer lovers with goal after goal and play after play from "The King".

Thursday, November 03, 2005

AFI Fest 2005

From November 4th to November 13th, Plume Noire covers AFI Fest, live in Hollywood