Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My 2013 Maryland Film Festival Experience

It's been over a month since the 2013 Maryland Film Festival (May 8-12th) and it was a doozy. LOL. In pictures and words my weekend was:

For the record:
Starting in 1999, the Maryland Film Festival is an annual four-day event that takes place the first weekend of each May, presenting top-notch film and video work from all over the world. Each year the festival screens approximately 50 feature films and 75 short films of all varieties -- narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, and hybrid -- to tens of thousands of audience members.   
 In 2013, for its fifteenth anniversary, the festival expanded to five days. 
Celebrity guest hosts from outside the world of film are also invited to present favorite films, including musicians such as Harry Belafonte, Ian MacKaye, Branford Marsalis, Will Oldham, Jonathan Richman, and Bill Callahan.
This year was the 15th Annual Maryland Film Festival. Usually there are four days of the festival, but this year there was FIVE. That means an extra day to see as many films as I could. LOL.

Because the festival expanded, my weekend started early on Wednesday with the festival’s Opening Night Shorts & Party.

Every year the festival opens with a bunch of short films and then a party. This year I wanted to repeat my full festival experience so I wanted to attend all five days and I DID! In reality the only day I spent the whole day at the festival was the last day, Sunday.

Even though I’ve been going to the MFF for nine years this was the best ever!

It started with my favorite poster design for the festival ever. As an artist I appreciate art in all its forms and I thought this design was fantastic! It really encompasses their "Film for everyone" slogan!

2013 MFF poster design. Graphic by Post Typography
(in collaboration with photographer RaRah and 3-D illustrator Jeremy Martin). 
Then I saw this announcement in one of their emails:
Maryland Film Festival (May 8-12 in downtown Baltimore) is proud to announce that acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young will co-host our 2013 Closing Night screening, presenting Oscilloscope Laboratories' Mother of George alongside director Andrew Dosunmu.  

So a filmmaker whose work I really idolized was going to be at the festival this year and hopefully I would get a chance to meet him! Did I? I wrote a separate post about that here

Again this year during the festival I also shared my experience with the people who follow ‘Nother Brother on our social networks.

Even though the stuff I tweeted is lost in the thousands of tweets in the “Twitterverse” a lot of what I posted , including pictures, are still on the ‘Nother Brother Facebook page, including ALL of my reviews EXCLUSIVELY. Well all except the BEST film I saw which for the first time was posted on Indiewire’s Shadow & Act! Indiewire is a daily news site for the independent film community and a leading source of information on independent films.

From my review of that “Best Film” from the 2013 Maryland Film Festival, “it wasn’t just the best picture I saw at the MFF this year; it is the best picture I’ve seen this year thus far. Really.” Even though my review of the "Best film" is at Shadow & Act, I did write a special epilogue for this blog and it's linked at the bottom.

Other than that “Best film” all the other reviews, some other really good films, are on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment Facebook Page EXCLUSIVELY including the great Baltimore shot documentary 12 O’clock Boys.

Still from 12 O'clock Boys
I’ve been attending the Maryland Film Festival since 2005 and between the Best Graphic Ever, the opportunity to meet one of my filmmaking idols, some really good films spread over five days and “the best picture I’ve seen this year” I can definitely say that 15th Annual Maryland Film Festival of 2013 was the indeed the BEST EVER!

All links go to Facebook

Several dramatic short films. More description at the link.(DRAMA)

Several short films of varying genres. More description at the link.

IT FELT LIKE LOVE Fourteen-year-old Lila is experiencing a boring Brooklyn summer when she decides to pursue a tough older boy at the expense that her desperation and posturing will carry her too far into unfamiliar territory and she may be forced to confront reality. (DRAMA) 

16 ACRES The dramatic inside story of the monumental collision of interests at the Ground Zero in the decade after 9/11 (DOCUMENTARY)

A TEACHER When a high school teacher in Texas has an affair with one of her students, her life begins to unravel as the relationship evolves. (DRAMA)

12 O'CLOCK BOYS Pug, a wisecracking 13 year, has one goal in mind: to join The Twelve O’clock Boys; the notorious urban dirt-bike gang of Baltimore. (DOCUMENTARY)

VHS 2 Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each 
cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's 
disappearance. (HORROR)

ZERO CHARISMA A gamer geek feels threatened when a neo-nerd hipster joins his group of gamers and he feels like he will lose his identity as the Game Master. (COMEDY)


As stated above here on the 'Nother Brother Entertainment blog you can read more about the...

Click the graphic above to read it!

See more of my photos from the 2013 Maryland Film Festival here 

Related Links
You can see ALL of our posts about the Maryland Film Festival HERE

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cinematographer Bradford Young

Let me tell you about Mr. Young. I’ve been a fan of his for years and in a short amount of time I can see why he has gotten so much acclaim. This is what I said about one of his early works in March 2012.

That project was My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop (2010) and this is what I said:
A special came on BET about female emcees in hip hop. My Mic Sounds Nice was clearly the BEST production I ever seen on BET. Period. I liked My Mic Sounds Nice so much because like dream hampton said “partly because the thing looked so good”.

I really didn’t know HE shot that until I looked up the resume of one of his frequent collaborators Ava DuVernay. It was soon though that I found out how talented he was.

Since then I have seen the majority of the feature films Mr. Young has shot and they all look FANTASTIC! Most of them I reviewed.

Those films were:
Restless City (2011)
Pariah (2011)
Middle of Nowhere (2012)
Mother of George (2013)

As you can tell I was well versed in Mr. Young’s work so when I read this in the Maryland Film Festival email I was beyond excited! (Click for bigger view)

I knew if I saw him at the festival I would jump at the chance to meet him. I was chilling in the Filmmaker’s Lounge before my next film that last day of the festival and I saw him chilling scrolling on his cell phone. You know I had to go meet the brother and get his autograph!

Bradford Young's autograph in the 2013 Maryland Film Festival Guide
on the page of the film he  worked on Mother  of George
We talked for about 2 minutes and he was a real cool cat. I didn’t want to disturb him so I gave a few parting words and left him alone. 

Bradford Young. Photo by Jason Putsche
As stated in the email above, later that day Mr. Young co-hosted its 2013 Closing Night screening of Mother of George (pictured above). After seeing the film, which was FANTASTIC, at the Closing Night Party I had to shake his hand again and tell him what great work he had done. (More about Mother of George linked below)

This is the thing. I don’t get excited about meeting “celebrities”. I see them at the festival all the time and sometimes at work. I never go out of my way to introduce myself or ask for pictures/autographs. I’m not that guy. 

There are on few occasions where I get hyped and being a black filmmaker of course it’s when I meet other black filmmakers like Mr. Young. It was a pleasure to meet him and I hope to see him again on the festival circuit. 
Left to Right: Dankwa Brooks and Bradford Young
Come on. You know I took a picture too ;-)

Read what I said about Mother of George here

Bradford Young's Official Website

Read the New York Times article about Mr. Young below.

He’s Just a ‘Custodian of the Moment’

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

THERE’S a scene early on in “Middle of Nowhere,” one of this year’s Sundance prize-winning films, when a young married couple bicker briefly in the visiting area of a prison: the room is pallid, even clammy, but the actors’ faces are vibrant and vulnerable, held full-frame. It’s a triumphant, even signature moment for the film’s cinematographer, Bradford Young.
“I’m big on faces,” Mr. Young said, his own collapsing into a sweet, easy grin. “I like to fill the frame with heads. I use faces as landscapes, as architecture. That always feels like the right place to start.”
Mr. Young, 34, a New Yorker, is one of a cadre of emerging black filmmakers — including the “Middle of Nowhere” director, Ava DuVernay, and the filmmakers Dee Rees and Tina Mabry — making visually compelling cinema addressing the outliers at the edges of black culture in America. Working mostly outside the auspices of Hollywood, they’re finding new ways to circumvent traditional channels (like using Ms. DuVernay’s distribution company, Affrm, or African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which will release “Middle of Nowhere” later this year in concert with Participant Media).
“The word that comes to mind when thinking of Bradford’s visual style is ‘lush,’ ” Ms. DuVernay said in an e-mail. “It is full. When I watch people of color in most films, the image is so often flat or partial. Nothing about what Bradford does is partial. Every frame is full-bodied and potent and robust. It’s so exciting because it’s so rare.”
As a storyteller, Mr. Young is preternaturally drawn to marginalization; in nearly all the movies he shoots, including “Restless City,” now getting a national rollout, an outsider contends with an unkind or indifferent world. That fundamental battle — to be acknowledged, to be loved — animates his work as well as his life. Mr. Young’s grandparents were a formative influence; he left Louisville, Ky., at 15 to live with his father in Chicago (“I was a kid from a small town in the mid-South who knew there was better, you know?”), but not before internalizing his grandparents’ high standards.
“There was an intense push for prestige, for intention, in everything we did,” he recalled over coffee in the East Village. “My grandparents were people of their time. They were fighting their own war in a country they wanted to be a part of and weren’t allowed to be a part of. Growing up, I didn’t have the privilege of forgetting that.”
The product of four generations of Kentucky funeral directors (his family’s funeral home opened in 1907, and is one of the oldest continually operating black-owned funeral parlors in the country), Mr. Young eschewed the family business to study film at Howard University, where he worked with the director Daniel Williams. Mr. Young referred to Mr. Williams’s short “A Thousand Days a Year” (2000), about the desire for spirituality in the midst of chaos, as a masterpiece.
“He’s so prolific and is a true independent filmmaker,” Mr. Young said. “I consider him to be the architect of my photographic sensibilities.”
Mr. Young’s creative choices are mindful without feeling deliberate. Each shot serves the narrative in a specific way: a bit of visual information might be purposefully withheld, a camera angle might suggest a slight shift in power.
His distinctive approach, which won him the excellence in cinematography award at Sundance in 2011 (for Ms. Rees’s “Pariah,” a coming-of-age story about a black lesbian in Brooklyn), is the product of learned restraint. He favors raw light and has a penchant for shooting into it, but said he ultimately focuses on getting out of the way.
“That’s how you get something way more authentic, way more cerebral, way more visceral,” he said. “Just be a custodian of the moment. Step back. Watch.”
In “Restless City,” also distributed by Affrm, Djibril (Sy Alassane), a 21-year-old Senegalese immigrant living in Harlem, grapples with self-identification and the odd, devastating loneliness of his new life in New York. For the film, which was directed by the Nigerian-born photographer Andrew Dosunmu, Mr. Young often positioned his camera behind grimy, scratched windows, providing a point of tension between the meticulously costumed characters and the imperfect world they inhabit.
“The spaces of the African immigrant world in New York, they exist through all these layers of plastic and plexiglass; you can walk up and down 115th Street and there are so many establishments where you have to go through curtains, you have to go through all these things to get in,” he explained. “I know that world by peeking through the window: an African-American peeking through the window at Africans of another sort of diaspora.”
Nevertheless, the tension he establishes can feel universal.
“I’m drawn to these films because those are worlds that I know a lot about,” he said. “I feel comfortable in those spaces because I consider myself a marginalized person. I feel like it’s my duty to be a part of those stories. It doesn’t have to be about something abject, it can be about something enlightened, but I want my work to be focused on that bit of metadata — that life is beautiful, but it’s a struggle.”
Mr. Young has gathered considerable accolades from the indie community (as well as beyond it), but he continues to tussle personally with the insularity of the scene. “How independent are we?” he asked. “It’s not just about being free from Hollywood, but are you freeing your mind? Are you freeing your story?”
He is still working on realizing that freedom. Although he’s completed eight features and he’s reading new scripts and working on his first solo art installation, which he said will combine sculptural and motion picture elements, he’s hesitant to define his aesthetic.
“I feel like I’m still in a great discovery process, trying to figure out what it is, ultimately, that I want to say with the camera,” he said. “I’m exploring. I’m looking forward to the day where I can communicate: ‘This is what the intention was. This is what I do.’ It’s been a really fulfilling couple years, but it’s only been a couple years.”

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Best Film I Saw At The 2013 Maryland Film Festival

This will come as NO surprise to people who follow me or 'Nother Brother Entertainment on social networks, but my favorite film of the 2013 Maryland Film Festival was—Mother of George

My review was even published at indiewire blog Shadow & Act

Mother of George was the 2013 Closing Night Film of the Maryland Film Festival and that was perfect because out of the twelve feature films I saw it was BEST. I said more in my review (linked at the bottom) about how much I liked the film, but for the readers of this blog I included this epilogue.

Why I Loved ‘Mother of George’

Every time I see a detailed film about a specific culture in the back of my mind I think that it would be great if we had a film steeped in black culture.

For instance I’m fan of Italian American filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. When you view their work, where it deals with their culture, it oozes their culture. Not in any overt way, but in an organic way.

There’s a famous story of Martin Scorsese taking his idea for his 1973 film Mean Streets to renegade filmmaker Roger Corman to finance. Corman said he would finance the film if he made all of his characters black to capitalize on the blaxploitation trend at the time. Scorsese said that this is a film about Italian Americans and completed what is now considered a classic film—elsewhere.  I applaud Scorsese for sticking to his guns in order to represent his culture.

In the famous scene that starts off the 1972 classic The Godfather, there is a festive Italian wedding that is also authentic to the culture. The scene showed the poste (the bag the bride holds at the reception to collect gifts), the tarantella (folk dancing) and someone at the buffet table throwing a sandwich to his friend in the back of the crowd, the reason these receptions were sometimes called “football weddings”.

Personally I think it takes someone specific to the culture to emulate that culture. These little nuances mean a lot to the Italian American culture and surely something only an Italian American director could depict with a good degree of accuracy.

In my review for Mother of George I stated “Cinematographer Bradford Young explained in the Q&A after the film that he and the director [Andrew] Dosunmu, fought and poured over every frame of that sequence because it was important, as it represented the culture, the motherland; and all of their work shows.”

I appreciated all of their hard work and hopefully audiences will feel the same.

Read my full review of Mother of George here


See photos from the Closing Night presentation by the Director and Cinematographer of Mother of George below

(Photos by Jason Putsche) 


Well that’s it, the best film I saw at the 2013 Maryland Film Festival. I have posted more reviews and of the many films I saw, including some of my photos from the festival this year EXCLUSIVELY on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment Facebook Page in the photo album 2013 Maryland Film Festival

Read all industry related news about Mother of George including "How the Film 'Mother of George' Got Made" at our sista blog Cool Black Media here

In my review of Mother of George I said
Stunning is kind of an understatement to explain the opening of the film, as it has one of the most beautiful traditional Yoruba wedding ceremonies ever captured on film. Cinematographer Bradford Young explained in the Q&A after the film that he and the director Dosunmu, fought and poured over every frame of that sequence because it was important, as it represented the culture, the motherland; and all of their work shows.
Below you can get a taste of what I mean as some, and I mean some, of the wedding is shown in the trailer. You really have to see the wedding scene in its entirety when the film opens in theaters on September 13, 2013.

Read more reaction to the trailer at Shadow & Act at here

 UPDATE: AUGUST 13, 2013 



Live tweets from the DVD commentary with Director Andrew Dosunmu, Editor Oriana Soddu and Costume Designer Mobolaji Dawodu.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shadow & Act Film School

As Shadow & Act puts it
Continuing S&A's mission to give readers glimpses into the worlds of those who contribute their talents to the production and distribution of the many films we all watch and love...
I have to say that they ARE publishing glimpses into the film world—from people of color!

Our mission at 'Nother Brother Entertainment has always been to further propagate diverse images through development of films and part of that included our own glimpses into the filmmaking process through many posts on this blog.

Over the years many of those posts were ported over from Shadow & Act. Now in an effort to consolidate the posts we will be putting new links to such stories right here in this post.

All of our Shadow & Act posts are linked below and again we have many posts about filmmaking and the film business right here on our blog. Peruse our blog to check them out!

MONDAY, MAY 23, 2016

Actors Talk the Acting Process [VIDEOS]

  • Check it out right here on our blog here

April 12, 2013
Interview: Dehanza (Daye) Rogers Talks 'Sweet, Sweet Coutry' (Gbenga Akinnagbe Co-Stars)

Great informative interview with filmmaker Daye Rogers as she talks about her film and how she put the personnel together to make it.

  • Read the Shadow & Act interview here

February 10, 2013
SimonSays Entertainment - You Know Their Work; Now Discover The Enterprising Artists Behind The Brand 
Great in-depth interview with a Production Company for many films we reviewed here
  • Read the Shadow & Act interview here


What Does a Production Designer Do?


MONDAY, JULY 2, 2012

Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series with Matthew Cherry


THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012

Great Interviews About Film Distribution



Black Screenwriters Roundtable



Inside Industry info with Melee Entertainment


TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011

Inside Scoop on the Development of 'Jumping the Broom'


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

101 Best-Written TV Series Ever

by Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter
June 2, 2013

Tony Soprano is a made man.

The Writer Guild of America East and West on Sunday night revealed its list of 101 best-written TV series ever, and David Chase's The Sopranos, which aired on HBO from 1999-2007, came in at No. 1.

Landing at No. 2 was Seinfeld, created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, which aired on NBC from 1989-98.

Rounding out the top five are the original Twilight Zone, All in the Family and M*A*S*H.

"At their core, all of these wonderful series began with the words of the writers who created them and were sustained by the writers who joined their staffs or worked on individual episodes," WGAW president Chris Keyser and WGAE president Michael Winship said in a joint statement. "This list is not only a tribute to great TV, it is a dedication to all writers who devote their hearts and minds to advancing their craft."

The top 10 shows, as determined through online voting by WGAW and WGAE members, can be found below. .

1. The Sopranos (HBO), created by David Chase

2.  Seinfeld (NBC), created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld

3. The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959), season one writers: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Robert Presnell Jr., Rod Serling

4. All in the Family (CBS), developed for television by Norman Lear, Based on Till Death Do Us Part, Created by Johnny Speight

5. M*A*S*H (CBS), developed for television by Larry Gelbart

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS), created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns

7. Mad Men (AMC), created by Matthew Weiner

8. Cheers (NBC), created by Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows

9. The Wire (HBO), created by David Simon

10. The West Wing (NBC), created by Aaron Sorkin

The "TV 101" list, a follow-up to the WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays, honors "classic, trailblazing series and miniseries, as well as current and critically acclaimed programs, from comedies and dramas to variety/talk and children’s programming."

On Sunday night, the WGAW hosted a special tribute event, panel discussion and reception to formally unveil the list at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. The event featured a lineup of panelists including iconic TV series creators, showrunners and writers whose shows made the list, including Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues), James L. Brooks (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life), Norman Lear (All in the Family), Steven Levitan (Modern Family), Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), Gail Parent (The Carol Burnett Show), Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show), Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) and host-moderator Merrill Markoe (Late Night With David Letterman).

The WGAW’s “101 TV” committee, which conceived the initiative, includes guild members Aaron Mendelsohn (chair), W. Bruce Cameron, Michael Conley, Diane Driscoll, Gary Goldstein, Katherine Fugate, Margaret Howell, Ken Pisani, Ari Rubin and Susan Walter.

For WGA's entire list, click here

[VIDEO] Writers Guild Presents - Writing in Color