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Sundance 2020: Chasing news stories from the sky in “Whirlybird,” directed by Matt Yoka

[DOCUMENTARY]
What's in your storage unit?
Directed by Matt Yoka

PARK CITY, Ut. | (Film critic Eric Althoff is in Park City covering Sundance 2020 for Screen Comment) Matt Yoka found a rather unusual Los Angeles treasure trove in an unassuming storage unit. There, in multiple boxes, sat some 3,200 ¾ inch Betamax tapes of helicopter news footage, all of it captured in the nineties by a now-defunct aerial news firm called Los Angeles News Service. Yoka, an ... more >

REVIEW : Dark and outlandish humor abounds in Alfonso Llosa’s “La Restauración”

Some parting words from SBIFF2020
Paul Vega, Attilia Boschetti and Delfina Paredes
Directed by Alonso Llosa

Santa Barbara International Film Festival is up against Sundance this year, so the demands for top independent films are especially heightened this season, as are the demands on stars like Brad Pitt (bestowed an honor in California) to choose one or the other. As always, there are unexpected gems, including a rather offbeat comedy from South America I was able to see (review below), and which ... more >

Talking with Sky Bergman. Her short “Mochitsuki” screens at SBIFF on Sunday

"What’s happening in your everyday life that you care about, that helps you learn, that’s making you grow?"

Sky Bergman is a filmmaker and teacher based in San Luis Obispo, California, a university town known for being the home of Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University). In 2017 Bergman brought her documentary “Lives Well Lived,” which shared the wisdom of a group of gloriously happy senior citizens, to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It’s a wonderful film—which I hasten to ... more >

BEST OF 2019: Michael Apted’s “63 up” tops leaderboard

Runner-ups include, "A thousand miles behind," "Zulu summer" and "Apollo 11"

All week our film critics weigh in on a year that (almost) was by naming their favorite films “63 Up” The filmmaker Michael Apted has been checking in on a group of British folks every seven years since they were children of seven, with the initial mission being to discover both A) if Great Britain still had a class system; and B) if the aphorism “give me a child and I’ll show you the man” still ... more >

INTERVIEW: Burk Sharpless, Matt Sazama and the cast of “Lost in Space 2”

"We can all relate to this family"

The producers and showrunners insist they didn’t plan for the second season of “Lost in Space” to debut Christmas week, but a yuletide story element in the first episode of Season 2 made it a rather fortuitous happenstance. “We heard that Netflix put us in their Christmas window, because they were so excited about the audience we might get,” said series co-creator and executive producer Burk ... more >

marklandsman

Mark Landsman: “We have a tabloid president. That’s a very disturbing thing”

"Scandalous: the untold story of the National Inquirer"
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Mark Landsman

Current events overtook documentary filmmaker Mark Landsman even as he was working hard on his film about the National Enquirer and its controversial parent company, AMI. “We had already gotten our seed money together and were out filming when the Ronan Farrow stories broke in the New Yorker” about President Trump’s alleged connections to Enquirer publisher David Pecker’s attempts to “kill” ... more >

danieljones

Former Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones, at the center for “The Report,” tells us about the torture report the CIA didn’t want you to see (INTERVIEW)

"I [...] get emotional about it because it just is so upsetting that we tortured people"
Adam Driver and Annette Bening
Directed by Scott Z. Burns

Daniel J. Jones worked tirelessly in a nondescript Washington, D.C., room for the better part of a decade, trying to connect the dots between the CIA’s detention and torture of terrorist suspects at black sites and the Bush White House. The Senate staffer, whose work was passionately backed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), not only had to contend with members of the Senate who would rather ... more >