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Entries in Short Films and Videos (44)

Friday
Dec022016

'Mni Wiconi' Film Illustrates The Power of a Mother's Prayer

Yesterday, I watched Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock, a short film about water protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies who are trying to stop the 1,100-mile Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The completion of this project – also known as the Bakken Pipeline – would damage sacred Native American burial grounds and poison the water supply for 17 million people across four states including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Maybe you’ve recently come across a brief news story about some aspect of the resistance. Maybe you heard about the group of U.S. veterans headed there this week to protect the citizens who are under attack at the hands of the Morton County Police Department, on the government’s watch. One of the biggest takeaways from Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock, however, is that this spiritual awakening that has brought so many citizens from around the globe together – especially during a time when the world is so divided -- began with a woman named Ladonna Allard.

“I wasn’t an activist. I’m a mom,” expresses Allard in the film as she describes the beginnings of Sacred Stone Camp after finding out the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was taking place where her son is buried, in North Dakota. In April 2016, Allard asked her relatives to come and stand with her to protect the water and the land. Today, several hundred tribes are united on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, a historic gathering with prayer demonstrations to prevent the “black snake” (referring to DAPL) from destroying the earth.

Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock is a must-see film. Please watch it, share it and honor tribal sovereignty and the Earth we inhabit by telling President Obama to deny the easement by calling 202-456-1111.

We need every person to call Obama this week before Dec. 5th!

Sunday
Jul102016

Never Been Kissed: Inside Director Barbara Kronenberg’s qFlix Comedy ‘Ballad of Ella Plummhoff’

'The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff' writer and director Barbara KronenbergIt’s nice to be blogging again, as I interrupt the Popcorn Snobs’ (semi)regularly scheduled “Taking of A-Z” series, in favor of world cinema. If you believe laughter is the best medicine, you need to get acquainted with Barbara Kronenberg, a German writer/director whose comedy Die Ballad Von Ella Plummhoff (The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff) is among the most anticipated shorts playing at the qFLIX film festival in Philadelphia, PA this weekend.

Dr. Sheena Howard and Wafiyyah Packer of the Women’s Screening Committee even cite it as one they would highly recommend people to come watch.

“I thought the angles and intensity of some of the shots were well put together,” praises Howard on the cinematography as well as the overall technical excellence of what she describes as “a really quirky” and entertaining short film. Packer agrees adding “I love teenage awkwardness….the way they told this coming-of-age story was great.” What’s interesting, however, is that this film almost didn’t get made. There was a time when Barbara Kronenberg got fed up with filmmaking after a string of depressing projects.

Encouraged by her wife along with family and friends to not give up, she tried working on a story that was different and more humorous than her usual fare – resulting in The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff. This 29-minute short helped Kronenberg, a former software developer, rediscover her passion for filmmaking. I arranged a conversation with Kronenberg, who was up for discussing a few topics, from the challenges of shooting goldfish to the definition of beauty and why everyone needs a funny bone.

So without further ado, here’s the woman behind this wildly enjoyable film about an eighth grader who is flunking Math, getting love lessons from a grotesque ballet teacher and only cares about landing her first kiss—on another girl. Grades be damned!

Madlab Post Asks: What is your favorite scene from The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff?

Barbara Kronenberg (BK): The one where Ella is sitting in front of the aquarium after everyone else left for holiday vacation. It has very subtle humor and people usually start laughing when they realize that Ella is wearing her swimming goggles as if she has made up her own holiday setting, which is of course not satisfying. Ella is just sitting there, observing the two goldfishes through her swimming goggles and it seems to be a very easy to shoot scene because there is no big action.

As you probably wouldn't imagine, the two fishes were not that easy to handle - they behaved like little divas. I tried to give compliments about their beautiful fish scale, I praised their skills as actors and we even bought them gourmet fish food, but they preferred to stay in the tank corners. Finally I told staff to fire them and to cast turtles instead of fishes. That was the key and they started to perform the choreography, which we trained on for about 3 or 4 weeks. So this very small scene took some more time then people are expecting.

What makes a woman beautiful?

I never felt attracted only because of a “perfect“ body, face or dressing; it’s always a mixture of charisma, behavior, attitude, brainpower and appearance. To me, beauty isn’t something that you can see, it’s something that you feel.  – BK

(l-r) Actresses Lotta devil and Inga Dreger on the set of 'Die Ballad Von Ella Plummhoff' directed by Barbara Kronenberg.Would you like to share the story behind your first kiss?

The only thing I can tell you is that I had to kiss a lot of boys before I found out that I prefer kissing girls. - BK

What is the best quality everyone should have?

I’d love to say it is humor because I think it makes life much easier and of course funnier, but there are maybe one or two things which are more important and could be helpful to save the future of humanity: honesty and tolerance. It’s ok to make mistakes as far as you admit them. It’s also ok to have a different opinion as far as you don’t force someone else to share your opinion or way of living. – BK

Kudos to Barbara Kronenberg for showing the world that perseverance pays off and it’s important to have fun when following your passion. Otherwise, what’s the point?!

Die Ballad Von Ella Plummhoff /The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff is a German language film with English subtitles playing Sunday, July 10, 2016 at the Caplan Theater - University of the Arts – 211 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA. Showtime is 2:30PM. It is part of the qFlix Film Festival’s  fun and fanciful “Damn Danielle” program, a collection of short films for everyone, with stories about family power struggles, revenge and the last laugh.

Share YOUR Comments!

What makes someone a good kisser? How supportive are YOUR loved ones in your chosen profession? If YOU had a pet turtle, what would you name it?

*Special thanks to Mike Nash for contributing to this piece. Images courtesy of Barbara Kronenberg.

 

Friday
Oct162015

From Kickstarter to the Cinema: Anatomy of a Crucial Scene in Latino Thriller

(l-r): DP Carolina Costa, Writer/Director Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer on set filming "Contrapelo."In less than two months, American Film Institute (AFI) fellow Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and his team behind the crime thriller Contrapelo, successfully raised over $8,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The finishing funds helped get this short film ready for its potential close-up at a theater near you.

In the middle of a drug war that has taken the lives of more than 150,000 and ravaged a nation, we seek to ask questions about involvement and responsibility while telling a compelling and entertaining story,” mentioned Alcocer whose movie tells the story of a proud Mexican barber who is forced to shave the leader of a drug cartel. As he faces the man who is destroying his country, he is confronted by a difficult decision: to become a killer, or to let this man continue to kill.

By the end of the shave, the Barber will realize he and the crime boss are not so different. 2015 has been a good year so far for Contrapelo, which is making its way around the film festival circuit. I recently caught up with Carolina Costa, a Director of Photography who shot this movie in six days with an international crew and cast including Mexican actors Art Bonilla (Coneheads, Salvador), Eduardo Roman (21 Days, The Mask of Zorro) and Chilean actor Hugo Medina (Orange is the New Black, Sons of Anarchy). Costa shared her favorite shots from Contrapelo with me, including one where she describes how the composition and lighting are very important to understanding the drug lord character, played by Roman, whose performance is “spotless.”

Listen to the video below to find out more about the way they created certain distinctions about this character, during production.

Want to know more about how Contrapelo was filmed? Come see the movie this weekend at the shnit International Short Film Festival screening in Philly and get access to an exclusive clip with details from the production of one of the most powerful scenes from this movie!

The short film Contrapelo is playing during shnit CINEMAS Worldwide

3:00pm - Saturday, October 17, 2015

Roberto Hernandez Theater at Taller Puertorriqeño

2557 N. 5th Street (5th & Huntingdon, near Lehigh Avenue)

Philadelphia, PA 19133

Movie Tickets to this show are On Sale Now at http://gum.co/shnitPhilly

Skip the box office line and save on general admission when you pick up advance tickets from these satellite box office locations:

Galan’s Mini Market

2701 N. Fairhill St.

(on the corner of Fairhill & Lehigh Ave.)

Philadelphia, PA 19133

Gail’s Caribbean Cuisine

5555 N. 5th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19120

Thank God Grocery Store

420 W. Olney Avenue

(between 5th & Olney and 4th & Olney)

Philadelphia, PA 19120