By C.J. Hirschfield
You may assume that the stars in this delectable new documentary feature are human; and some of them are. But when you experience an exhilarating dog’s eye-view of a hunt to find the rare and wondrous fungus and hear the excited snuffling sounds of success, you understand that there would be no truffle hunt without some very canny canines. Both they—and the aromatic white Alba truffles they hunt—are worth their weight in gold.
American director Philip Kaufman is hard to pin down: a visual stylist who is truly literate, a San Franciscan who often makes European films, he is an accessible storyteller with a sophisticated touch. Celebrated for his vigorous, sexy, and reflective cinema, Kaufman is best known for his masterpiece The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the astronaut saga The Right Stuff and an eclectic series of films including The Wanderers, Henry & June, The White Dawn and his remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier; on location with Phil Kaufman for The Right Stuff.
By Gary Meyer
For twenty years my office was in the Saul Zaentz Building in Berkeley. In addition to the movies Saul produced, there were award-winning documentary filmmakers plus post-production talent set in a wonderful environment there that resulted in high profile narrative filmmakers preferring to do their post-production at the facility rather than at the Hollywood studios. You might see a celebrity.
One day in early 2000 I was going to lunch with director Gus Van Sant. Landmark has been an early supporter of his work launching “Mala Noche” and “Drugstore Cowboy” when others were not interested. As the elevator door opened on the ground floor I looked out at the people waiting to get on and in my mind I could hear my bad impersonation, “Bond—James Bond.”
By Dennis Bartok
I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Olivia de Havilland, and it immediately brought to mind memories of a wonderful and unexpected afternoon I spent touring old Hollywood with her in June, 2002.
By C.J. Hirschfield
Clockwise from bottom left: ‘For Sama,’ ‘The Cave,’ ‘American Factory,’ ‘The Edge of Democracy,’ ‘Honeyland’
Many of you are no doubt rushing to catch up with your movie viewing in advance of Feb. 8’s annual Academy Awards. While “Best Picture” always draws the most attention and conjecture, this was a particularly great year for films in the documentary feature category, and they are well worth exploring. With Netflix, Amazon, HBO, PBS, and even the Obamas now in the documentary film production business, the number of quality offerings has grown dramatically, as have the ways to view them. Some show us worlds we’ve never imagined, while others offer us a deep dive into subjects that we may know only as headlines. There are also a number of excellent films that that didn’t make the final Academy cut. Here’s the list, along with my take on each. And unlike the directors considered for “Best Picture,” three out of five of the nominated documentaries were directed or co-directed by women.
We went through hundreds of photos and want to share some candids from the first half of the Festival.
Karan Kendrick and Jamie Foxx JUST MERCY | Photo © Jonathan Scott Shensa
Olivia Wilde and Kasi Lemmons at the reception for Robert Pattinson | Photo © Tommy Lau Photography