Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is Up in the Air Offensive to Asians?

Films have long been "edited for television," at least for broadcast TV. It's also common for airlines to edit (some would say, censor) the films they screen on planes.

That's natural. Passengers on a flight are a captive audience. They chose to fly, not to see a film. Nor can they change the channel. Besides, many flights carry children, which means no R rated films.

So when I flew American Airlines a few weeks ago, I was not surprised to see the curse words and a nude scene cut from Up in the Air. I was surprised to see the word "Asian" removed. Apparently, someone decided that the word "Asian" was used offensively.

It's the scene in which Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) lectures to Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) about how to pick the quickest, fastest moving security line.

Ryan sees old people on one line, and passes. "Too much metal" in their bodies sets off the metal detector.

Then Ryan passes on a line with children. "I've yet to see a stroller folded in under twenty minutes" he says.

Then he sees Asians on a line, and says, "Bingo. Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently and have a thing for slip-on shoes. God love 'em."

Natalie replies, "That's racist."

Ryan says, "I'm like my mother. I stereotype. It's faster."

A funny line in an overall great film.

However, in the American Airlines version, the word "Asians" was replaced with "business people." (Not "businessmen" -- that would be sexist.)

This makes Natalie's "That's racist" reply nonsensical -- which is why her line was removed. Her lips move, but emit no sounds. Of course, passengers who could lip read knew what she said.

I think "business people" was spoken by actor George Clooney. It sounded like him, and it's common for actors to dub different versions of as film.

If you only saw Up in the Air on American Airlines, now you know why the joke fell flat. A line that flirts with political incorrectness is usually funnier than the polite choice.


Friday, March 26, 2010

An American Rendition Tackles Torture and the "War on Terror"

Robert Johnson of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reviews An American Rendition, a new play that tackles America's pro-torture policy in the "War on Terror":

"Americans would rather not consider the suffering of people water-boarded, beaten and deprived of sleep as part of our government's so-called war on terror.

"Choreographer Jane Comfort tackles what she calls this 'collective unwillingness to look' in 'An American Rendition,' a grimly mocking work of contemporary dance-theater coming to the Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College on Saturday.

"The piece recalls the by-now much publicized activities of government agents who sequestered individuals without trial and have subjected them to practices explicitly prohibited under U.S. and international law.

"While 'An American Rendition' focuses on the plight of a fictional character mistakenly detained and transported to a U.S.-operated black site, the piece ironically juxtaposes the gruesome incidents of his captivity with weirdly light-hearted scenes inspired by reality television."

Read the rest of the article.

Also read: Pentagon Possessed: A Neocon Horror Story.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Film Independent Seeks Diverse Filmmakers

From Film Indepdendent:

Film Independent's signature diversity program Project:Involve, is dedicated to increasing diversity in the film industry by cultivating the careers of under-represented filmmakers. The program selects individuals from diverse backgrounds and filmmaking tracks; including writers, directors, producers, agents, managers, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions execs; to participate in the nine-month program which runs from October until June. As a Fellow, participants are paired one-on-one with industry mentors, assigned a team to make a short film, and attend monthly filmmaking workshops and other educational seminars.

Project:Involve receive...

* One-year membership with Film Independent
* One pass to the Los Angeles Film Festival
* One pass to the Film Independent Filmmaker Forum
* Year-round mentorship and alumni support
* Opportunity to screen short film at our Project:Involve screenings

Filmmakers including Effie T. Brown (Rocket Science), Jon Chu (Step Up 2), Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), and Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned) are all Project:Involve Fellows - you could be next.

Submit by March 29, 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

School Choice Documentary, The Cartel to Premiere April 16th

From Bowden Media:

"The Cartel is being released nationwide next month. This documentary focuses on school choice and charter schools, and advocates for the expansion of institutions like charter schools, and less government involvement in the education system.

Premiering on April 16, "The Cartel will play at Laemmle's Summit 5 Theater in Los Angeles.

Also read about school choice filmmaker Fernanda Rossi.

Off Season Premieres at Gasparilla Film Festival

From a press release:

Off Season, which was nominated for the 2010 BAFTA Award for Best Short Film, will be premiering next week at the Gasparilla Independent Film Festival, in Tampa Florida.

In Off Season, an alcoholic transient, with only his Jack Russell terrier for a companion, steals from summer cottages during the brutal and desolate off season at a lakeside resort. When he ventures from his usual path in search of a full bottle of booze, he makes a terrifying discovery that threatens his solitary existence.

Off Season was shot over seven days in February 2009 in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario. Its production was as frightening as the events being filmed. Long snowmobile rides across vast stretches of frozen lake in the blackness of night and brutal, subzero temperatures were only some of the hardships that director Jonathan Van Tulleken, producer Jacob Jaffke, and their crew overcame.

Bill Sage, whose acting credits include Sex and the City, High Art, American Psycho, and Third Watch, stars in Off Season as the loner.

Director Jonathan Van Tulleken's short films have been selected for a wide number of international film festivals, among them Toronto, Edinburgh and Slamdance. He has had his work screened on the BBC and as part of the Virgin Media Shorts Awards in over 200 UK cinemas. In '09 he was picked by Creativity Magazine as one of their top 10 directors to watch and most recently his film Off Season was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Short.

Producer Jacob Jaffke has overseen commercials, music videos, webisodes, and short and feature films. He was production manager on Ti West's The House of the Devil, was line producer on Joe Maggio's Bitter Feast, and most recently was a Producer on James McKenney’s Hypothermia.

Off Season was an Official Selection at the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival and 2009's Encounters Short Film Festival.

Friday, March 12, 2010

U.S. Pirate Party Urges More Copyright Fair Use

According to the United States Pirate Party:

The United States wishes to increase its enforcement of current copyright laws and is asking for your input. We have included a handy email tool that will allow you to
send an email from this site.

Also read this article from the Swedish Pirate Party.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Godspeed Premeires in Theaters March 26, On DVD/VOD April 20

Robert Saitzyk's Godspeed premiered to critical acclaim at a number of film festivals and won the Special Jury Award for Exceptional Artistic Achievement at the CineVegas Film Festival.

Charlie Shepard (Joseph McKelheer, The Hamiltons, The Violent Kind) is a modern day faith healer, a man who claims that if you let go and believe, then his power to heal is very real. Living with his young son and wife, Charlie ekes out a meager living from his "healing" sessions in a small Alaskan town. With his marriage failing, and an old drinking habit coming back to haunt him, his family is brutally murdered by unknown assailants.

Six months later, Charlie has abandoned his former life and the house his family lived in. Even local fish and game man Mitch (Ed Lauter, Seabiscuit) can't break through Charlie’s desolation. Then, a young, mysterious girl named Sarah (Courtney Halverson) appears in town, and seeks out Charlie. 

It's here on Charlie's journey to Sarah's remote home, buried deep in the Alaskan wilderness, where he must eventually confront Sarah’s troubled brother Luke (Cory Knauf, The Violent Kind, The Hamiltons) -- a dark journey that will ultimately reveal the truth of his family's killings and lead to tragic, violent consequences for all.

Shot in and around Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska,  Godspeed was directed and edited by Robert Saitzyk and produced by Houston King and John Flanagan. Saitzyk’s previous films include After the Flood and White of Winter, which premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.

Theatrical Dates:

March 26, 2010, Cinema Village, New York, NY

April 9, 2010, Laemmle's Sunset 5, Los Angeles, CA

April 16, 2010, Bear Tooth Theatre, Anchorage, AK

"Godspeed is a truly marvelous film…It’s an indie masterpiece, angry yet breathtaking cinema with a one-fingered salute to authoritarian moviemaking. Godspeed…is one of the finest movies in a long time." – Fangoria

"Director Robert Saitzyk somehow manages the impossible and completely sidesteps the usual traps inherent in such Old Testamental material...with a powerful combination of grace and fury." – Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle