Friday, December 27, 2013

Polaroid Transfer Photography 

1995 - 1996

I created these dye and lift transfers from 
transparencies I shot across the country and 
 around the world.

For more images, log onto:
Aix-en-Provence, France

Fontaine de Vacluse, France

Barjol, France

Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL,

Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine

Fancy Dancer, Killing Bear, East Tennessee

Minneapolis, MN

Pear, Minneapolis, MN

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Because it's the holidays, I'm reposting an article on foreign films and two of my favorite 2012 film reviews. 

Look for the films on cable, satellite, or digital networks.

Around the World in Film

Getting lost inside the lens of foreign cinema is still my favorite thing to do in the world. It's a habit I began at the age of 17, after finishing high school. That summer and thereafter, my friends and I would walk, hitchhike or bike to the University of Minnesota's, Nicholson Hall, to view the immortal works of our favorites: Federico Fellini (Satyricon), Lina Wurtmuller (Seven Beauties), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant), Francois Truffot (Jules and Jim), Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), and of course, the enigmatic Ingmar Bergman (Scenes from a Marriage).

It was the 1970's and film was made of acetate or polyester and projected onto something called the silver screen. At Nicholson, the projector broke down at least once during a viewing, and the seating often consisted of folding-like chairs on a flat floor.  But once the screen began to glow with exotic creatures and tiny, cramped subtitles, we felt the immediate enchantment of being swept off into other worlds.

Nothing has changed for me. Except the venues. There are more of them, the seating is marginally better and the films yet, occasionally, mess up - digitally now - or they don't show up at all (as tends to happen at big international film festivals).  But foreign films continue to diverge enough from typical American fare, that it is still possible to become spellbound and transformed. So far, this year, I attended the Cuban, Italian and Minneapolis St. Paul International Film festivals, and hit the Landmark Theaters a few times. These days, I'm most in love with Latin American/Spanish filmmakers such as, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu (21 Grams), Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth)Alejandro Amenabar (Open Your Eyes), Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien), and one of my all-time favorite directors: Spain's irrepressible, Pedro Almodovar (All About My Mother).

The other-worldliness found in the films not only provides an escape from my sometimes stale life and narrow sensibilities, but shows me hidden avenues scored with beliefs and institutions that connect me to the planet, and its people - wherever they may roam. 

Mostly, I confess, I go because I DO NOT know what I will encounter.  I love immersing myself in randomness. Even if I read a few reviews first, a true, other-cultural experience will always be waiting for me - a mystery, a discovery in-the-making. And isn't that the most delicious sort of engagement? After it's over, the experience always seems to linger madly for some time to come.  So, that does that mean there are no bad foreign films? Beats me.

Recently, I saw two film gems that blew me away.

1) As some may well remember, A Separation, directed by Asghar Farhadiwon the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.  It should have garnered Best Picture. 

From the first scene to the moving and cryptic finale, I was at the edge of my seat, worrying myself into a stupor.  Only a great movie can do that to me. Basically, this is the story of what happens when someone inside a tight-knit community steps out of bounds and makes a controversial decision. Afterwards, when the dominos begin to topple, more than one family faces unexpected changes, sudden betrayal and a confusing array of choices. This film taught me so many things about Iranian culture, its traditions, relationships, the generosity of the people.  Based on an intelligent and raw screenplay, A Separation, is a fast-paced lesson on the sweeping range of emotional and behavioral possibilities. 

2) Return to Aeolian Islands or Fughe E Approdi, directed by Giovana Taviani, is a feast for the senses.  Twenty six years after her father, Paolo Taviani, shot the acclaimed film Kaos, on the islandshis daughter returns to the volcanic archipelago north of Sicily, to remember.  She and the crew set sail on the same boat that long ago transported her family to those rocky shores.  Along with the sailor, that was then, and would become again, the guide to the terrain and the history of places called Vulcano, Stromboli and Salina.

I've never seen this kind of narrative filmmaking applied to a documentary feature.  Layer after layer of factual history gets peeled back to expose something even more stunning: Italy's cinematic history on the islands.   The film is a film inside film(s). Imagine, revisiting the places where generations of Italian filmmakers found their inspirations: Rosellini, Stromboli,AntonioniL’Avventura, Michael Radford, Il Postino. These enigmatic islands were also home to WWII prison internments, deadly pumice-mining and luscious winemaking. Most documentaries cover the history and culture and vagaries of their subjects.  Return to Aeolian Islands  bows in respect to unseen forces that continue to awaken and renew creativity in artists.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

\\\ My Life Moves On ///

I can't believe how lucky I was/am this year. Not only did I participate in a few profoundly creative and energizing projects--a mix of narrative and film endeavors--I have become giddy with glee, because after a two-minute conversation with my former film-producer friend, Margaret Ford Rogers, I got back into filmmaking mode. BACK. Full speed ahead!

Mickie and Margaret

Long story short. Margaret is the screening director for the prodigious Charleston International Film Festival and moi, the screener for Edina Film Festival (EFF). We are old friends and old film business partners. Last month, Margaret came down to our frozen tundra to visit me and  check out our film festival. That first morning I remember walking from the living room into the kitchen, and saying very quietly: "I think it's time I made another film. It's been too long."

The words weren't even out of my mouth when I heard, "Alone?"

I took a few steps back and said, "You don't like fiction. I want to do fiction." For years, Margaret has been dreaming about returning to Cuba to film a documentary on the settlement of the first American colony in the east.

"Yes, I do," she said softly. Wow, how could I forget Margaret's multiple awards for screenwriting (all for narrative scripts).

Seaweed and Viennese Liqueur
"Well, you won't like this idea. It's based on the story I wrote for the Festival in Crime anthology. Six people read it, four loved it, one didn't. You were on the fence. Remember?"

"What are you talking about? I loved your story. I couldn't put it down. But I was confused in some places. You know very well Ms Mickie that I'm a concrete thinker, you are more abstract . . ." Margaret was being nice. For her, 'abstract' is a euphemism for 'muddled'.

And just like nothing, my butt was once again seated in the living room, across from my concrete-thinking pal.  For the next two hours we ate seaweed and drank creamy white liqueur out of tiny round bottles that came all the way from Vienna. At the end, Margaret had nailed down the script for the trailer. And I loved it!!!

Not only are we the co-directors and co-producers of a new short film called The Lightness of Pins, but we are planning to shoot the trailer in May 2014. (Stay tuned for more about the film and upcoming website.) I am so happy I could spit. And now the work begins. Script and grant writing, deal making, hiring crew, auditioning actors, and best of all--watching film after film after film after film. I even signed up for Netflix.

I'm still writing and reading but have added at least one film or television show--or two--a day to my research/entertainment schedule. I continue to read--as many film reviews as book reviews.  I will never stop loving books, but I've been reunited with my soulmate--film.

So what does this mean for my blog and followers. You guessed it: film reviews. I'm going to start by reposting  earlier film and television reviews. After that, I will write up something short and spiffy about anything and everything I've been watching lately. I will continue to post some of my work: excerpts from novels, entire essays and memoirs, other people's writing and art, photos, etc.

The Lightness of Pins

In the summer of 1965, a boy and a girl shared an exquisite moment. For one, it left a lifetime of soul-crushing shame. For the other, an indelible exhilaration.

One can’t forgive and the other can’t forget.

Forty-three years later, they agree to meet and re-enact the singular episode. As both adults scramble to make sense of the mysterious past, slowly, inexorably, grief and strange compulsions begin to tear at the seams of their neatly hidden lives.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Carol Banks Art Photo

I printed Carol Bank's sweet still life on watercolor paper for her new client. I love the grainy, painterly finish. A puzzle to  figure out the medium. 

Of course, one has to start with a good, strong  photo - and Carol is one of the most talented photographers in town! 

Stay tuned for images of my earlier Polaroid Transfer work - yes, all on watercolor paper.