Tuesday, November 19, 2019





Mexico film festival hopes to draw many from US

Posted by Elena del Valle on November 12, 2019

Los Cabos International Film Festival poster

2019 Los Cabos International Film Festival poster

Image: Los Cabos International Film Festival

The organizers of the 2019 Los Cabos International Film Festival in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico hope to draw more than 13,300 attendees, 30 percent of them from the United States, to their event to be held at the Cultural Pavilion in Cabo San Lucas November 13-17, 2019. Attendees are expected to be film industry executives from Mexico, United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Asia, including filmmakers, actors, producers, sales agents, film programmers, film critics, government and cultural authorities, as well as local and foreign film fans.

Some 42 films are expected to participate in the event. Los Cabos Arte y Cultura, the nonprofit organization behind the festival, is headed by Alfonso Pasquel Bárcenas, according to a spokesperson for an area property.

According to a press release the festival was founded in 2012 by Scott Cross, Sean Cross, Eduardo Sanchez-Navarro Redo, Alfonso Pasquel, Juan Gallardo Thurlow, Eduardo Sánchez-Navarro Rivera Torres, and Pablo Sanchez-Navarro. The annual event was created to foster exposure for the “Mexican film industry and it’s up and coming filmmakers.” A list of films and show times is available on the bilingual festival website, cabosfilmfestival.com



With video – new film outlines bee crisis

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 30, 2019

The Pollinators poster

 

Cinematographer Peter Nelson dedicated countless hours to filming bees, traveling to 14 states, following bee managers and their bees; and interviewing 26 people in the making of The Pollinators, a 92-minute film about bees and their role in agriculture today. Its festival premiere was at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. To date it has been screened at 18 festivals. He has already taken home seven festival awards. Scroll down to watch a trailer for The Pollinators*.

When asked by email what prompted him to make a film now he said, “I am a backyard beekeeper for over 30 years now and also a cinematographer by profession. I also have a great interest in food and agriculture and felt the story of migratory beekeepers and our dependence upon managed honey bees was not well known I was compelled to tell this story due to a collisions of all these passions.

Losses among commercial beekeepers are very high and range from 30 to 50 percent or more. This is not sustainable long term and this matters to all of us because us our dependence upon the managed bees for so much of our food. One of every three bites is something pollinated by a bee, so this is really important if you like to eat. We are in a time of peril for the bees (and also many other insects) and I wanted to take a look at this and tell this story.”

The target audience? Beekeepers, of course as well as people interested in the environment, farming, foodies and gardeners. The film includes bee close ups and beautiful images of the insects in flight as well as disturbing shots of thousands of dead bees.

Peter Nelson, director, The Pollinators

Peter Nelson, director, The Pollinators

“Filming bees was a challenge, but also a lot of fun,” the filmmaker said. “I wanted to try and show bees in a way I had not really seen before as the wonderful beautiful insects they are. Many people are afraid of bees and I understand that as they are a stinging insect. Unlike yellow jackets, honey bees will sting only as a last resort and they die in the process so honey bees are not aggressive for the most part. Honey bees are also incredibly beautiful and complex creatures and I wanted to try and show bees to audiences in a new way and share how wonderful and graceful honey bees really are. I used a lot of very high speed photography (up to 1560 frames per second) to show bees in super slow motion flying, taking off, landing and just being beautiful in their natural environment.

Bees fly really fast and so are very challenging to film, especially in macro close up. My experience as a beekeeper for many years, gave me an advantage with this by understanding a bit about bee behaviors and the way they fly, land and their rhythms to some extent. It also required a lot of patience and a steady hand to keep the bees in focus at such shallow depth of fields.

I used Vision Research Phantom cameras and macro lenses provided by AbelCine for the ultra slow motion. The specialty cameras were provided by AbelCine as part of a grant for this project. My main camera was a Canon c300 Mk II and a 17-120 cinema zoom which I own and also some prime lenses for night. I also cannibalized one of my backyard bee hives to be able to stick a lens right inside the hive for a unique view of the bees inside their homes.”

Regarding funding and support he said, “We have a tremendous amount of sweat equity and some personal funding in the film. Being a cinematographer, I could go shoot pretty much as I needed to so was able to respond quickly to developments and shoot as needed. We also had some early financial support from Burt’s Bees, The Schumann Media Center helped us with funding. We also won a Doc Pitch competition from the Paley Center.

AbelCine gave us an ‘in-kind’ grant towards specialty camera equipment and lenses. Michael Reuter, the editor, producer and co-owner of EditBar helped us tremendously in post production right through completion.”

The only people who were paid were crew members for their services, he said, and no one who appears in the film was compensated in any way for his or her appearance nor was anyone paid for access.

“I wanted to bring this important story to audiences, to try and connect people to their food, where it comes from and a bit of what is involved in growing it,” he said when asked what he hoped to accomplish. “I also wanted to raise awareness and try to explain some of the causes of pollinator decline.  If we can connect dots for people about the role of pollinators to our food system in some way, I would consider that a success.”

The producers were Sally Roy, Peter Nelson and Michael Reuter. Nelson was director of photography. At the time of this writing the project leaders were starting a theatrical release through Demand.Film, a crowd sourced distribution platform designed to make films available to cinemas across the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany over the next months. The goal is for the film to screen in one day events across the country in many places that would not likely screen independent documentaries. A national day of screenings is planned for Nov 6, 2019 in the United States (more at //us.demand.film/the-pollinators/). Broadcast, streaming, video on demand (VOD) and educational distribution venues have not been determined yet.

*Photos, video: Poster image and video courtesy of Peter Nelson, photo of Peter Nelson courtesy of Eric Krieger

With video – California director releases controversial new film

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 23, 2019

The Trayvon Hoax

The Trayvon Hoax

Photos, video: Highway 61 Entertainment

Los Angeles based filmmaker Joel Gilbert set out to produce a documentary about the rise of Andrew Gillum, a past Florida gubernatorial candidate. He ended up writing a book and making a film about the death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. The world premiere debut of The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America, a two-hour film, was at The National Press Club in Washington DC September 16, 2019. Scroll down to watch a video clip of the film.

When asked by email what prompted him to search this topic, write a book and make a film the director said, “I had followed the 2012 shooting death of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman from afar and, like many others, I had grave concerns about the lynch mob mentality that drove the case. Only after I started researching the project did I realize I had stumbled into the most spectacular case of identity fraud in modern American judicial history. The fraud resulted in the seminal race hoax of the Obama years. I call it ‘The Trayvon Hoax.’ It is appalling that six years after the Zimmerman trial so much information was left for me, an independent filmmaker, to discover. If the media had wanted to find the truth, it was there for the plucking. I was able to uncover it simply by reading publicly available information from the legal proceedings and following up on what I read. How is it possible no one in the media chose to do what I did? The answer is simple. The media did not want to know. The truth would not have advanced their fear-fueled racial agenda.

The Zimmerman trial literally divided America. Prior to the trial in 2012, both blacks and whites rated race relations as positive. This has been negative ever since. It lead directly to the ‘Ferguson Effect,’ a crime disaster for black neighborhoods with homicides up 33 percent. Also, the modern era of fake news and race hoaxes started with this case. Nothing has been more damaging to the United States than this trial and no one has suffered more from this ongoing hoax than the black youth of America.”

It took about 11 months to complete the film and book project, the author said. He dedicated the first five months to the investigation and filming. The next six months were for film editing and writing the 272-page book. He declined to disclose the budget or the source of funding for his project, saying, “We are a private independent film production company and we don’t disclose our budgets related to any project. However, there was no third party funding or donations for this film.”

“This Trayvon Martin shooting and Zimmerman case is still talked about and on everyone’s mind,” the filmmaker said when asked why he thinks the topic is relevant today, years after the trial took place. “Its why Black Lives Matter was formed. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently tweeted that Trayvon Martin started a movement. Well, that movement led to massive racial division and harm in America, all because of a fake witness. All the fake news and race hoaxes that continue to this day started with the Zimmerman trial, it was ground zero. Also, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, is running for Miami-Dade Commissioner. The film provides evidence that Ms. Fulton knew about the fake witness in the case, but allowed it to go forward anyway. She did not alert the media or the judge even though she knew Rachel Jeantel was not Diamond Eugene as she claimed to be. Ms. Fulton was just endorsed by Hillary Clinton on Twitter who asked her 25 million followers to contribute to her campaign. Corey Booker endorsed her as well. I have no doubt that the Democrats are planning to bring Ms. Fulton to the Democrat convention once again in 2020 to help push their race based narratives of ‘black-men-are-targeted-by-racist-whites and cops’ to try to secure 95 percent of the black vote.”

When asked if he compensated Zimmerman (or anyone else) in any way for the on camera interview he replied, “As is customary for interviews with public figures who are featured in documentaries in extended interviews, Zimmerman was paid an appearance fee for his time. Zimmerman did not testify in his own trial, so The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America provides his account for the first time.”

Joel Gilbert in a scene from the film

Joel Gilbert in a scene from the film

To the question “Did you reach out to the teenager’s family, Zimmerman’s attorney, the prosecutor, witnesses such as Martin’s girlfriend who testified or anyone involved with the case (other than Zimmerman’s on camera interviews) to ask for their comments on your findings?” he replied, “I reached out to Zimmerman’s attorneys early on and got some help with background questions mostly. Mark O’Mara initially expressed skepticism that Rachel Jeantel was a fraud. “She was such a terrible witness,” he told me rhetorically, “why would anyone use her as a substitute?” I explained to O’Mara that those who knew the depth of the evidence exonerating George, his broken nose, his recorded screams for help, Johnathan Good’s testimony, never expected to get a conviction. Nothing any fake witness could say could overcome the hard evidence, I told him. But then again conviction was never the point; an arrest was what mattered. For Crump, an arrest opened the door to a civil suit. For the State of Florida, an arrest kept the mob at bay. For Barack Obama’s Justice Department, an arrest meant getting out the black vote for Obama in 2012 in Florida and hopefully nationwide. For Al Sharpton and his crowd of Leftists, an arrest and trial advanced their racially charged agenda.”

The film and book are available online at Amazon.com and other websites that sell DVDs, books and eBooks. The film is available as a DVD and for live streaming on demand on Vimeo.com.

“I hope that by exposing the truth about this major legal case that divided America based on a fraudulent witness, that it might result ultimately in national healing,” he said when asked what he hoped to accomplish from the book and film. “America got played by an epic race hoax that divided us for no reason. Americans are all brothers. Black and white, we are all brothers. My hope is to show how politicians and the media used Trayvon Martin’s tragic death to tear us apart, when our true aspirations have always been to come together as one nation.”

According to his website biography Gilbert is president of Highway 61 Entertainment, a political commentator and foreign policy analyst. Other films listed to his credit include Dreams from My Real Father (2012), There’s No Place Like Utopia (2014), Trump The Art of the Insult (2018), Farewell Israel (2008) and Atomic Jihad (2010).

 

With video – Discovery en Espanol airs documentary about Pablo Escobar widow

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 15, 2019

Photo, video: Discovery en Espanol

For viewers curious about the life and heirs of Pablo Escobar, thought to have been one of the most infamous and wealthiest criminals of the 1980s and 1990s, Discovery en Español presented a two hour documentary (the screener was 45 minutes long) in Spanish about his wife, Maria Isabel Santos. The program aired at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time July 14, 2019 and should be available through the network’s GO app beginning today. Scroll down to watch a trailer in Spanish.

Known as La Tata she was born Victoria Henao Escobar. Twenty-five years after Escobar’s death she broke her self imposed silence for the Telegramme Media documentary, a Canadian project. The film was produced by Eric Hebert and Quebecor in 2018.

Narrated in the first person by La Tata the film features archival photos, family home video and newsreel segments. She revisits locations of significance to her past such as Monaco, the building where she and her husband lived in a penthouse suite, and the home in Panama City, Panama where she gave birth to her daughter. She explains that her husband, more than a decade her senior, began pursuing her romantically when she was only 13.

Listen to song- New Jersey musician releases first solo mini albums

Posted by Elena del Valle on February 8, 2019

D-CYPL For the Cause

D-CYPL For the Cause

Photos, song: Greg L.Hines, D-CYPL

Hip hop artist D-CYPL released For the Cause, his first mini albums, in January 2019. Scroll down to listen to a song from the album.

Christopher Collins, known in hip hop circles as D-CYPL, was born in Livingston, New Jersey. He began his music career after being introduced to Producer Brother Noyze The Mad Musician (Greg L.Hines) by a mutual friend Murdock (Theo Holmes). D-CYPL is a member of Jersey Advocates, a hip hop duo; MK836, an electronica and trip hop duo; and second lead producer for Mindless Sound Records, LLC.

He began his solo hip hop career with the release of two mini albums (extended plays) For The Cause (he wrote the beats and lyrics) and For The Cause Remixed (remixed By Brother Noyze The Mad Musician).

D-CYPL
D-CYPL was born in Livingston, New Jersey

 

He avoided profanity and typical beats often over used in today’s hip hop for beats he felt would help be relevant today while paying respect to hip hop as a culture. He meant for the lyrics to be “socially relevant and conscious but never preachy.”

 

With video – Appalachian Mountains sisters behind uplifting music documentary

Posted by Elena del Valle on November 7, 2018

 

Fiddlin’ poster

Video: Fiddlin Films, Fort Lauderdale Int’l Film Festival (FLiFF)

Photos: Fiddlin Films

Sisters Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic, natives of the Appalachian Mountains, returned home to film during the 80th Anniversary of the World’s Oldest and Largest Fiddler’s Convention, the first filmmakers permitted to do so in the history of the event. The result is Fiddlin’, an uplifting showcase of old time and bluegrass music and some of its musicians. The 96-minute film required two and a half years to make. It will premier in Florida at 6 p.m. November 14, 2018 at Savor Cinema Lauderdale as part of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Scroll down to watch a trailer.

“We wanted to shine a positive light on the true beauty of this area with it’s traditions, culture, music and authentic people,” said Simone, director, Fiddlin’, in an email about the making of the documentary. “Because we were a small crew, we threw cameras at our nieces and nephews, my mom cooked for everyone and my dad set up camp for us. This was a passion project and we all came together to make Fiddlin’ happen.”

They filmed with a budget below $500,000 in Galax, Virginia and other small towns in Southwest Virginia as well as in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Funding sources included a Kickstarter campaign, a grant from the Rogovy Foundation, donations from friends and family and the sisters.

“We recruited our family to help work on the project as well as hiring a DP and Audio Recordist from North Carolina,” said Vlasic, producer of the film, by email. “Our kids were holding booms, lights, carrying equipment and filming on additional cameras. Our parents cooked for the entire crew. Julie and I have worn many hats as we navigated the process of getting our film made.

Julie and I grew up in this Appalachian region and spent our summers attending the Old Fiddler’s Convention in the neighboring town of Galax. After living in major cities for many years, Julie realized that this cultural event that we had always taken for granted was worthy of sharing with a larger audience. We had also started noticing that in recent years, there had been an enormous change in the demographics of the festival-young kids were now playing the traditional music in droves. In our youth, the musicians were only older people. Even more inspiring was seeing that the young people were jamming and hanging out with their elders and carried instruments instead of smartphones.” 

From Fidding Ivy Phillips Annabelle Watts

Musicians Ivy Phillips and Annabelle Watts

When asked to describe the music Vlasic said, “Old Time music was the music played in these mountains when the first settlers came from England, Ireland, Wales and Germany and began playing with the African slaves who introduced the banjo to our country. The combination of their music became known as Old Time music. In 1947, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys (so named as they came from the state of Kentucky) began to take breaks on individual instruments and to improvise and try to outdo the player before them. This was the birth of Bluegrass Music. Monroe’s brother started using picks on his fingers to play the banjo which also differentiated the sound from Old Time. Many consider Bluegrass to be a ‘fancier’ style of music with some licks borrowed from blues and jazz music. Bluegrass later evolved into rock and roll when Elvis Presley recorded Bill Monroe’s ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ as his first record. Country music was also born out of much of this Mountain music.” 

Simone grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Prior to making the independent film she enrolled in a gorilla style film making class where she wrote, directed and acted in multiple short films. After motherhood and divorce, she turned her attention to the camera. On a trip to Cannes, Julie directed, filmed, and appeared as herself in Cannes Without a Plan, a comedic reality and television pilot about divorce and being a single mom.

Fiddlin’ had its world premiere in March 2018 at San Louis Obispo, California, where it won the Audience Award. It has won multiple awards to date.  The Florida screening will be the final one this year. Next year, the producers expect to participate in more screenings and announce a release date.

With video – documentary shines light on perils of shark extinction

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 31, 2018

Sharkwater Extinction poster

Sharkwater Extinction poster – click to enlarge

Video, photo: Courtesy of the Fort Lauderdale Int’l Film Festival (FLiFF)

Filmmaker Rob Stewart shines a light on the killing of sharks across borders in his third, and final, film Sharkwater Extinction. According to the film, worldwide between 100 and 150 million sharks, including endangered species and babies, are slaughtered for their flesh and fins every year, although only about half of them are reported. The Florida premier of the film will be at the Fort Lauderdale Int’l Film Festival (FLiFF) at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Bailey Hall, 3501 Davie Road, Davie, Florida (on the Broward College campus). Scroll down to watch a trailer.

In the documentary Stewart and other shark advocates travel to the often violent underworld of the pirate fishing trade in Florida and California as well as West Africa, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica and France. While in Florida they purchase various products at a grocery store and take them to Florida International University for testing. The scientists discover shark DNA in a number of them, including food, health and beauty products, fertilizer and pet food. In addition to beautiful underwater filmography with sharks the film features interviews with shark advocates, experts and locals as well as shaky undercover video.

In his first film, Sharkwater, Stewart brought attention to shark finning for use in shark fin soup. According to promotional materials, his multi award-winning film changed laws and public policy worldwide, and launched hundreds of conservation groups; more than 90 countries have banned shark finning or the trade of shark products.

Despite that unscrupulous fishermen fish sharks and equally unscrupulous buyers purchase them to make soups and much more so that, according to Stewart, they are still being fished to extinction. Stewart perished in a diving accident in the Florida Keys in January 2017 during the making of Sharkwater Extinction.

With video – film zeroes in on era excesses

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 2, 2018

Theatrical one-sheet for Generation Wealth

Theatrical one-sheet for Generation Wealth – click to enlarge

Photo, video: Lauren Greenfield, Amazon Studios

After 25 years as a photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield became convinced that there was a theme to much of what she had observed. She felt a culture of wealth bound many of the images. She mounted a photographic exhibit of her work, published a book and released Generation Wealth, a 106-minute introspective film released via Amazon Studios. Scroll down to watch the film trailer.

The director and her family appear prominently in the film. She interviews them as well as people she knew in her high school years and the subjects of previous films and photography projects.
Questions about the film submitted via email to a representative remain unanswered as of this writing. The film was written by Greenfield who was also a producer. Frank Evers and Wallis Annenberg were also producers. Theater locations and additional information are available on the film website, generationwealthmovie.com

Greenfield is an Emmy-award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and chronicler of youth culture, gender, and consumerism. Other films by Greenfield include Queen of Versailles and Thin. The film was supported by a grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program with support from JustFilms and Ford Foundation Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute.

With video – Film explores factory farm methods and their effects on us

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 27, 2018

Eating Animals

Eating Animals – click to enlarge

Photo, video: Courtesy of Sundance Selects. A Sundance Selects release.

Ever wonder where you eggs, dairy and meat come from? The makers of Eating Animals, a 94-minute film based on a book of the same title by Jonathan Safran Foer, went in search of answers. Over five years they visited farms, spoke with farmers, professors, industry experts, activists, and whistle blowers. They filmed in California, Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina, China, Germany, India and Sweden.  They imply that the factory farming practices of recent decades have degraded our humanity by making us part of the inhumane treatment of animals, polluted our environment and put our health in jeopardy. For animals lovers some scenes and images may be difficult to watch or forget. Scroll down to see film trailer.

Directed and produced by Christopher Quinn (Sundance award winner God Grew Tired of Us), the film was produced with Academy Award winner Natalie Portman (who also narrates it) and Foer. It indicates that nearly all Americans eat animals products produced in factory farms and that 30 states have passed Ag Gag laws to limit information and images of the harmful factory farming practices. The film opened in New York City June 15, 2018 and will roll out in theaters nationwide in the coming weeks. Information is available at the movie website Eatinganimalsmovie.com.

A statement about the film says: “Eating Animals aims to alter the very frame of public discussion about industrial agriculture and the future of meat, shifting media debates, minds, and markets alike. Moving past any sense that factory farming is a concern only for animal or environmental activists, we paint a vivid portrait of how industrial agriculture unraveled core national values and changed the world for the worse. The fight to end factory farming emerges not only as a fight to eliminate what may be the greatest crime against animal life ever committed, but as a commonsense and economic necessity.”

The film was made by Big Star Pictures in Association with Artemis Rising Foundation and The Neuman Family Foundation. Funding was provided by Obvious Group, LLC, Annenberg Foundation, Artemis Rising Foundation, Neuman Family Foundation, Jivan Fund, LLC, Simone Friedman, Samir and Puja Kaul and William Bettman.

According to promotional materials for the film the book Eating Animal is the only book in the category “animal rights” besides Peter Singer’s 1973 classic Animal Liberation that has remained a top ten Amazon bestseller since 2009; the U.S. version of the book has sold 400,000 copies and the book has become an international bestseller with language rights sold in 27 countries.


Click to buy Eating Animals


Podcast with graphic novel author Janos Meszaros about Kings and Crosses

Posted by Elena del Valle on January 8, 2018

János Mészáros, author, Kings and Crosses

János Mészáros, author, Kings and Crosses

Photo: János Mészáros

A podcast interview with graphic novel author János Mészáros is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses Kings and Crosses with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

János, who writes under the pen name Sinonimo, is owner of Libub Group Kereskedelmi És Zolgátató Kft. He spent over 20 years in management consultancy in Hungary and across Europe. Kings and Crosses is his first fiction work. He created the story and the story board for the graphic novel.

To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast János Mészáros” on the right hand side, then select “HMPR ” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home from the RSS feed. Some software will not allow flash, which may be necessary for the play button and podcast player. If that is your case, you will need to download the file to play it. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the January 2018 section of the podcast archive.