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February 1, 2012 / California Film Institute Blog

Josh Fox Arrested on Capitol Hill While Filming ‘Gasland’ Sequel

This morning Oscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox was arrested in Washington, D.C. and charged with unlawful entry after trying to film a House Science Committee hearing on fracking.

Fracking is a a method of natural gas drilling that uses high-pressure injection of water, sand, and chemicals to release the trapped gas. There are large environmental and health impacts from high-volume fracturing and there are a significant number of spills, blowouts, and leaking wells. Fox’s film “Gasland” aims to reveal the dangers of this type of drilling. It has been accused of contaminating drinking water in rural mid-Atlantic towns. The film is famous for showing residents set fire to water coming from their kitchen sinks.

According to the Huffington Post, a credentialed ABC news team was also denied entrance.

Fox said in his statement about the D.C. arrest: “I was arrested today for exercising my First Amendment rights to freedom of the press on Capitol Hill.   I was not expecting to be arrested for practicing journalism. When I was led out of the hearing room in handcuffs, John Boehner’s pledge of transparency in congress was taken out with me.”

January 26, 2012 / California Film Institute Blog

Sony and Samuel Goldwyn Partner on ‘Robot and Frank’

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Samuel Goldwyn Films are partnering on the U.S. theatrical release in addition to jointly acquiring North American rights to Park Pictures Features’ Robot & Frank. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival favorite stars Academy Award nominee Frank Langella, Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, and Liv Tyler, Golden Globe nominee Peter Saarsgard, Jeremy Sisto, and Jeremy Strong. Joe Matukewicz, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions, stated “This film strikes a special chord with audiences, and we are delighted to bring Robot & Frank into the Sony Pictures family. Filmmaker Jake Schreier added, “I heard Jonathan Demme say once at a Q&A that all you can hope for is to find people who care as much about releasing your film as you did making it.  The Sony/Goldwyn guys were there from the first night in Salt Lake City and really showed that they got the movie and even connected to it personally.  I’m thrilled to be working with them on getting it out into theaters.”

January 25, 2012 / California Film Institute Blog

Declaration of War

Selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Award, Declaration of War is opening on January 27th at the Smith Rafael Film Center. Declaration of war is inspired by real-life experiences of co-stars Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Eikaïm, who play Juliette and Romeo. Their newborn son, Adam, becomes terribly ill and the young couple face the ultimate challenge. Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Eikaïm also both the scriptwriters, carefully replicate a reality that nearly destroyed their relationship. Donzelli creates a storybook romance effectively conveyed at the beginning of the film with a corny montage sequence only to be shattered by the grim news of Adam’s illness.

In French with English subtitles. For more information, click here:

January 18, 2012 / California Film Institute Blog

Sundance’s Distribution Contingency Plan Announces First Set of Films

Thirteen titles from the Sundance archive have signed deals with New Video and are to be available on digital distribution platfroms on March 1st, and some of the Sundance 2012 class may not be too far behind. The New York Times reported on a new distribution plan initiated by the Sundance Institute and digital distributor New Video. This new deal allows all Sundance Festival titles afilliated with the institute’s lab that have not signed away their digital distribution rights, to sign the deal with New Video. Sundance Institute head Keri Putnam, has a three point strategy for helping the affiliated filmmakers navigate the business world. The second goal is to help filmmakers crowdsource for funds, and thirdly, to provide extra marketing and promotional support.

For the list of the thirteen films and what platform they will be released on by March 1st, click here.

November 10, 2011 / California Film Institute Blog

The Films of John Korty

On Thursdays and Sundays from November 10th to December 4th, the Smith Rafael Film Center will present the first major retrospective celebrating the work of John Korty, an American independent filmmaker. This year Korty turned 75 marking his 50th year of his career in the film industry. From comedy and social drama to animation and documentary, Korty was a pioneer in forging a filmmaking career in the Bay Area. His early studio in Stinson Beach inspired the arrival of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.

The retrospective will include seminal films in the independent feature movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as documentaries, animation, and short films. As one of the most successful directors of “made for television” movies, winner of an Academy Award and multiple Emmys, this retrospective event will prove to be an exciting one. For more information on John Korty, visit

The first program of the event, “Miracle in a Box: A Piano Reborn” with “John Allair Digs In!” [Premiere] is scheduled at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, November 10th. John Korty will attend the programs and other special guests are anticipated as well.

November 9, 2011 / California Film Institute Blog

Le Havre

“Le Havre”, directed and written by Aki Kaurismaki, is a film with well defined characters and a simplistic plot. Taking place in the inviting setting of a Fench port city called “Le Havre”, the story focuses in on an elderly, working class shoe-shiner named Marcel Marx (played by André Wilms) who lives with his loving wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen). Marcel finds warmth and joy in all the people in his life despite his profession giving him just enough to get by. His life takes a turn when his wife becomes and ill and he must send her to the hospital. He comes across a young African Boy named Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) one afternoon while eating lunch alone at the harbor. Marcel befriends the boy and soon learns that he is with other illegal immigrants hiding in a shipping container with hopes of making it to London to meet up with his aunt. Marcel voluntarily decides to help Idrissa stay out of sight from authorities but complications quickly arise.

Given a B+ grade from Indiewire and a 90 from Los Angeles Times, “Le Havre” is a great option for movie night. “Le Havre” is playing at the Chirstopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center this weekend, be sure to check it out!

November 2, 2011 / California Film Institute Blog


Justin Lerner’s first feature film, “Girlfriend”, is a well written story about an unlikely relationship between a young man with Down Syndrome and his high school crush who is still tied up with her volatile ex-boyfriend. The cast is small yet powerful. Evan Sneider and Shannon Woodward portray their characters perfectly. He flawlessly delivers the most impacting lines of the film and maintains his innocence of his character. Shannon Woodward presents herself as a deeply lost and hopeless woman searching for happiness in her tiring life. “Girlfriend” is a heavy film with many secrets behind the dialogue and the excellent, artistic filming techniques.

“Girlfriend” tied with “Pariah” for the Audience Favorite US Feature Award at the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival. The audiences of the festival chose their favorite screenings for the Audience Favorite US Feature Award. MVFF finished up on October 16th with more than 178 screenings from 57 different countries and 30 official premieres. More than 50% of the screenings and events were sold out to 400,000 attendees this year.

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