Colin Firth and Tilda Swinton are Cinephile Society Winners

The International Cinephile Society awarded its top honor to the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” for best film of 2009. Colin Forth also won a best actor gong for his portrayal of a man in mourning after his lover of 16 years passes away in “A Single Man.”

Runner-up awards for best film and director went to Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon.”

Elsewhere, Christoph Waltz continued to charm the awards circuit with a best supporting actor win for his memorable performance in “Inglourious Basterds.” Tilda Swinton won best actress honors for one of the best performances of the year in “Julia.” While Vera Farmiga won best supporting actress honors for “Up in the Air.”

Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Picture: 01. A Serious Man 02. The White Ribbon 03. Fantastic Mr. Fox 04. Inglourious Basterds 05. Tokyo Sonata 06. 35 Shots of Rum 07. The Hurt Locker 08. District 9 09. Bright Star 10. Up In The Air

Best Director: Ethan & Joel Coen – A Serious Man runner-up: Michael Haneke – The White Ribbon

Best Film Not In The English Language: 01. The White Ribbon 02. Tokyo Sonata 03. 35 Shots of Rum 04. Summer Hours 05. Broken Embraces 06. Still Walking 07. Lorna’s Silence 08. The Beaches of Agnes 09. Ponyo 10. O’Horten 11. The Headless Woman

Best Actor: Colin Firth – A Single Man ?runner- up: Michael Stuhlbarg – A Serious Man

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton – Julia runner-up: Abbie Cornish – Bright Star

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds runner-up: Peter Capaldi – In the Loop

Best Supporting Actress: Vera Farmiga – Up In The Air runners-up: Mo’Nique – Precious and Penelope Cruz – Broken Embraces

Best Original Screenplay: A Serious Man – Ethan & Joel Coen runner-up: Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino

Best Adapted Screenplay: Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach runner-up: In the Loop – Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche

Best Cinematography: The White Ribbon – Christian Berger runner-up: Inglourious Basterds – Robert Richardson

Best Editing: The Hurt Locker – Chris Innis & Bob Murawski runner-up: Broken Embraces – Jose Salcedo

Best Production Design: Fantastic Mr. Fox – Nelson Lowry runner-up: A Serious Man – Jess Gonchor

Best Original Score: A Single Man – Abel Korzeniowski runner-up: Fantastic Mr. Fox – Alexandre Desplat

Best Ensemble: In the Loop runner-up: The White Ribbon

Best Animated Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox runner-up: Ponyo

Best Documentary: The Beaches of Agnes runner-up: Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Thanks to Indiewire

Ventura Film Festival wants to seduce you

The Examiner


The first  Ventura Film Festival runs from March 26-29. Under the tag line “Real People, True Stories, New Cinema, the festival intends to showcase an eclectic mix of cinema and new media that pertains to art and community rather than glamour and glitz. Erick Zonca’s “Julia” staring British avante garde muse and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton gets its first US screening and there’s a retrospective of filmmaker Robert M. Young whose body of work includes “Dominick & Eugene” and “Short Eyes.”



I spoke to Festival Founder and Director Lorenzo DeStefano who brings more than 30 years movie experience to the festival. “My experience as a filmmaker and at festivals has allowed me to see the good, the bad, and the ugly,” he says. His vision of a program of international alternative cinema melded with a local community vibe has been realized through his and Festival Art Director Robert Catalusci’s hard efforts over this last year. The core of the festival offers technical guidance and mentoring to local filmmakers of all ages. There are no V.I.P.’s here. “I’ve lived in LA as a filmmaker and filmmaking can be such a selfish profession.” Under DeStefano’s guidance, cinema returns to its rightful place as an art form for the people and not just the Hollywood elite. “I keep getting asked about Red Carpet and V.I.P. passes and I always have to answer with a firm “no.” I’ve also banned the term “Gala.”

The festival is benefiting indigenous and global cinema with films from all over the world and many from the Brooks Institute of Technology where DeStafano has lectured on film. There are brand new films, cheap tickets, free admission for under 16’s, and the unfaltering encouragement of local community participation that can only benefit Ventura’s art community in the future. DeStefano calls it “Neighborhood cinema.” We are “encouraging young people into film who may have been disheartened by expensive schools and equipment.” Digital cameras follow on from Super 8 and photography as the peoples’ form of art expression by bringing back ownership of film for the masses by the masses. This is community film without big studios and big budgets. This is not cinema of the elite. “All art is valid, as long as it tells a pretty decent story.”

The festival will kick off with a short film from 7 year-old pianist, Tiffany Koo and her rendition of Chopin’s Nocturne. DeStafano was introduced to Koo on YouTube. “People have said to me why show it because everyone has seen it, but it hasn’t been programmed and that’s the difference.” DeStefano was amazed to find out that Koo and her family lived local and now both Tiffany and her father have films in the festival. Following Koo is the world premiere of documentary “Thy Will Be Done” by first time filmmaker Jacob K. Cunningham, and tells the heart-wrenching story of 14 year-old Kevin Natale who was shot by his clinically depressed neighbor and in an instant became a quadriplegic. 



Eighty-four year old filmmaker Robert M. Young receives a well deserved retrospective of his work with Q&A sessions following screenings of some of his award-winning films, including “Caught” which was nominated for the 1997 Independent Spirit Award for Best Director. The entire cast, including James Almos, are expected at the screening and Q&A.

Following on from the festival the Ventura Film Society will repeat screenings of festival films around the city and for Ventura’s Art Walk. DeStefano sums up the festival’s direction when he talks about the true meaning and effect of great cinema. “Story tellers and story telling crosses all genres. I want people to be seduced by movies.”




The Ventura Film Festival runs from March 26-29

Join me next week when I’ll be reporting LIVE from the 4-day event and speaking to the filmmakers, participants, and organizers. Plus I’ll be sitting through a lot of great cinema.


Ventura Film Festival welcomes a new wave of programming


Inside Hollywood Reporter for The Examiner

Recession is hitting the festival circuit this year as the Tribeca Film Festival announced a much smaller lineup Monday with a 28% decline in screening since last year’s festival. Smaller and lesser know festivals may have to rethink outside the box and offer unique programming as well as find alternative sources of funding just to survive. New kid on the block, the Ventura Film Festival has come up with a program that remains passionate to the moving image in all its incarnations, combining a program rich with intelligent feature stories, documentary, shorts, animation, and new media which may not have found a voice elsewhere.

Founder and Festival Director, Lorenzo DeStefano brings more than 30 years of film experience to the festival and has stuck to his guns in never swaying from the true meaning of filmmaking as art, story, and community. He has gathered more than 70 films for the 4 day festival. “I didn’t want this to be a Chamber of Commerce film festival run by business men.”

Highlights include the premiere US screening of “Julia” starring British avante garde muse and Oscar winner, Tilda Swinton.  And filmmaker Robert M. Young receives a well-deserved retrospective from his backlog of more than 50 films. Screenings include the award winning “Triumph of the Spirit, “Short Eyes,” and “Dominick & Eugene.” 



The Ventura Film Festival runs from March 26-29th.


In the run up to the festival I will be interviewing Founder and Festival Director, Lorenzo DeStefano. Additionally I will be blogging onsite during the 4-day event where I’ll speak to many of the filmmakers, participants, and organizers. Plus I’ll be sitting through a lot of great cinema.

Patrick Wolf releases new album “Battle” featuring Tilda Swinton


Patrick Wolf releases his fourth concept album “Battle;” a double album that has Oscar winning actress and UK avant garde filmmaker muse, Tilda Swinton, as the “Voice of Hope” narrator throughout the record. The album is released on Patrick’s own record label, Bloody Chamber Music, a bow to author Angela Carter, and is funded through; a revolutionary funding vehicle that allows fans to buy stocks in the album and to contribute to the financing of the music’s production and marketing, and as from this week is available to US fans.

I spoke to the twenty-five year old Sussex musician from his studio, located across from the London Tate Modern, who recently commissioned Patrick to perform a classical piece in celebration of Dutch artist, Daan van Golden’s, exhibition. Today, Patrick was working on the artwork for the album cover, as well as the set design and choreography of his new video.

Battle has two distinct takes on life and love, ones which reflect Patrick’s defining emotions of being alone and being in love. The first album, “The Bachelor,” is a celebration of the absolute love of solitude –to go anywhere and be anyone and to do anything. Despite this love of solitude, Patrick admits to a melancholy that sometimes goes hand-in-hand with being alone. “The first album is about loneliness. I would attend weddings in Spain and Ireland and I would always be the only bachelor. I was convinced I had the spinster gene.  But I enjoyed being single. It was only at traditional get-togethers that I felt this loneliness because other couples would see my aloneness as a failure. I felt that this loneliness was definitely a positive thing for me. The record is also very much a masculine point of view of solitude.”

The music reflects this melancholy. But Patrick fell in love after the first album and started writing the second on a totally different vibe. “I fell in love and this reflects two sides of the coin. It’s a happiness product of knowing your pain. The songs on the second album, “The Conqueror,” are definitely more upbeat.” Both records reflect a different kind of love. First is a love of solitude, the second is of falling in and being in the actual state of love with another person. “If the world ended today and I could be with only one person, that wasn’t from my family, I would be with my boyfriend. We have a romantic love that is not defined or dictated by practical and financial matters.” One of the upbeat tracks on the second album was born from a trip to LA for the Jimmy Kimmel show. Patrick met and had sex with a Satanist. His voyeuristic tendencies took over and he wrote “Vulture,” a thrashing Californian upbeat industrial techno sound with lyrics that identify with the Celtic and Pagan research he conducted for previous tracks.

US exclusive of new webisode featuring Patrick Wolf talking about Bandstocks and performing the song “Who Will…”

So how did he come to work with Tilda Swinton. “She is an icon in experimental art. America knows her as a Hollywood movie star but I haven’t seen any of her Hollywood movies. In the UK she is known for her work with Derek Jarman and Sally Potter, in films like Orlando, as well as, her own experimental art. I went to see her during a Q&A for her film, “Julia,” and I thought I’d just go for it and handed her a CD. Later she emailed me to say that she would love to act as a monologue performance artist with spoken word for my album.”

Patrick’s band is described as “a solid family” of instruments, programming, violinists, bassists, and a drummer –there’s a lot more musicians on this album –people he’s known for years. “I spent a year studying composition and this album has Brazilian rhythms, a big choir, and English marching drums –hence the name “Battle.” And was recorded in the city of “Battle” in east Sussex.



The artist enjoys complete independence from major record labels and it’s no secret about his departure from record giant Universal. “Large record companies have a lot to offer in terms of money and power but artists are confined and they ultimately lose their artistic freedom. The record companies worry about offending the public. There’s little politics in music nowadays as there was when music and art questioned the establishment, as they did in the Punk and New Romantic eras, when artists really pushed the boundaries. Even the last time there was a gay movement in the UK was during the anti-gay legislation of Section 28 in 1988.” (The notorious legislation banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools). There’s still homophobia in the UK and record companies are wary to offend the conservative parts of UK society. For Patrick this meant his record company marketing him as the next Elton John. “Politics is pushing the boundaries of sound. My record company said they couldn’t control me and they wanted to get rid of me because I wouldn’t conform. Put it this way, how would you feel if you had a job where you weren’t allowed to quit, yet your boss could fire you and treat you badly if you didn’t conform. This is what happens to musicians all the time; look what happened with Prince.” Patrick was even less impressed with the record companies marketing efforts where they pushed him as a raver or the Village People. “My roots are in Bob Dylan and Jodi Mitchell. I didn’t want to be pigeon holed into being a gay performer just for gay audiences. I have a crossover audience. I sidestepped the stereotypical marketing. But then gay audiences were annoyed that my private life didn’t crossover into the writing and in my public life. They were annoyed I wasn’t Rufus Wainwright. Women love my show, so do straight boys. Gay musicians think they’ll lose their demographic if they broaden their audience. This isn’t so. The music transcends everything. Why should music be for one demographic? What if we found out today that Jodie Mitchell was transgendered? Would that change her music? Would the words take on a different meaning and lose their power? What if Madonna didn’t have her own identity or freedom to experiment and instead just cowed down to winning acceptance and more understanding. Buffy Saint Marie, Leonard Coen, and Nick Cave are honest and raw songwriters.  I’m a songwriter and producer with a confident sound and image who plays experimental noise music. We don’t live in a utopia but we can just be ourselves and be free.”

His parent’s influence on his music, although never realized at the time, is telling. But it wasn’t until he was much older that he realized that not everyone’s mother is a painter or father is a jazz musician –so or course it’s only natural that they have influenced him. His father was in the punk band, The Sniveling Shits, and his mother listened to Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Miles Davis. “My mother played “Ariel” by Kate Bush. I don’t think she gets enough credit in the British music press. She’s always misplaced as ‘that singer who dances and screams.’ She was totally independent, universal, and creative. She has a specific sound and specific energy in her videos and in her live concert. I played “Hounds of Love” over and over. People say I sound like Kate or play the piano like Kate. It’s a wonderful comparison.” His family also plays a part in grounding him and at home he’s just “Patrick.” He was a teenage runaway and earned money from busking. But he returned home when his father had cancer. His father has fully recovered but at the time Patrick was writing songs to his father to form a paternal link. He was opening up to him in regards to being gay and he desperately wanted to identity with his father.

Next month sees Patrick perform at Heaven nightclub in London and Europe’s largest gay venue. At age 13, he performed on stage with the Lady Bunny Band and played air guitar. In his 20’s he released critically acclaimed albums, Lycanthropy, Wind in the Wires, and The Magic Position.

Patrick’s style is as unique as his music. “I wanted to wear Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen but I was poor so I bought fabric from thrift stores and got out my sewing machine. I want to inspire individuality and for everyone to get out their sewing machines and just be yourself.” Of course, now he’s lucky enough to be able to commission new designers and is working with top fashion school Central Saint Martins, most recent graduates for their fashion show this year. Patrick also posed for world-renowned photographer, Mario Testino for equally renowned fashion icon, Burberry. “I loved working with Mario, he was hilarious. He was very sexual and was coming on to me for the shoot. He would say, “I want to tie you up, you are very sexy.” He did this to make me feel as sexual as possible, instead of looking like Zoolander. 

Ginger Liu

My article is posted in Culture Vulture

and LA.COM

and Beatcrave