Monthly Archives: October 2011

Mormon Film of the Week #6: JFK (plus my news)

This isn’t really a lengthy or brilliant film, but it’s nice to hear what Kennedy had to say about the faith in a speech he gave in the Tabernacle during his tenure in office–particularly given the recent scuffle over the faith coming from Rick Perry’s camp and the rising attention Mitt Romney’s campaign will continue to generate. So here’s a Democratic president praising the Church nearly one-quarter of its lifetime ago:

I’m not enough of a political historian to know who he’s talking about in referencing the “highest councils,” but it’d be nice to know. There weren’t any Mormons in his cabinet, including under-secretaries, to my knowledge, but there were others working at various levels of government appointments. I know James E. Faust, a Democrat and later counselor in the First Presidency, served in the Kennedy administration, but I think it was a position in Utah.

At any rate, that’s that and I should mention some other stuff I’ve been up to. My article on editing should be out in Filmmaker Magazine this week, I believe. It was really fun–I got to interview the editors Michael Kahn, Jose Salcedo, Mat Newman, Jay Deuby, and Jonathan Alberts; their newest films, respectively, are War Horse/The Adventure of Tintin, The Skin I Live In, Drive, Jeff Who Lives at Home, and Like Crazy, which is coming out next week. Having heard about their editing techniques I’m trying to see all the films, which weren’t all available to me then–Drive is awesome, a great genre piece. Three of the films were cut on Avid, two on Final Cut, and it was interesting to solicit some informed opinions on the future of Apple postproduction after the flop of FCPX with professionals.

I also posted my first entry over at Filmmaker’s blog. It’s on how an actress filed suit against IMDb this week for posting her real age. Interesting case… I’ll be trying to post for them regularly, so we’ll see how that effects things here. My next submission for them will probably be on a workshop on postproduction Thursday night with Tariq Anwar, who most recently edited The King’s Speech.

I’ve just started editing a comedic five-part web series myself called Math Warriors. That’s in the very earliest stage, but before that I just completed a 43-minute instructional video for a nonprofit organization called Parents Making a Difference. Hopefully there will be a lot of videos for them to come (dependent on funding), because the organization plans to do great things to help parents of school kids around NYC and the country–and of course it could really make the difference between my being able to stay in the city longer and do Saints and other projects or not. So we’re crossing fingers…

On the Mormon film front, T.C. Christensen’s 17 Miracles is now out on video. That means I’ll be seeing it shortly. This week I saw John Lyde’s One Man’s Treasure. Interesting how many Mormon or Mormon-made films are about treasure hunting. I watched Pirates of the Great Salt Lake last month, and there’s also Shadow of Light and The Book of Jer3miah. Others…? I guess four’s not a huge group…

Terryl Givens gave an amazing interview on Mormon Stories recently. Just listen to it. His perception of the gospel is so incredibly expansive, and he speaks as eloquently in person as he does in his writing. Obviously Terryl has really sharp ideas about aesthetics and culture–working with him on some of the film material that went into People of Paradox was really eye opening–but host John Dehlin’s preoccupations remain largely in the realm of the historical and theological, which works fine for Terryl as well. Maybe next time they’ll get more into aesthetics, but just hearing Terryl talk about his concept of divinity and the restoration is sufficient to hold my interest. John seems downright flabbergasted–at several points–that Terryl can be so informed and so empathetic and so firm in his testimony.

I wanted to mention I saw Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground a few weeks ago, and it was amazing. Especially if you care anything about the depiction of spirituality in film, this is absolutely a must-see. I should write a whole review, but it’s so nice whenever religion–the dynamic between faith and doubt–is treated respectfully and fully.

Finally, if you haven’t heard, award season’s begun: IFP has released its nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Vera Farmiga’s nominated for break-through director, speaking of Higher Ground, and it’s basically a list of which indie films you really need to see first, especially with Martha Marcy May Marlene and Like Crazy about to hit screens. Read the list here in a press release by my friend Dan Schoenbrun, who really helps keep that place running.

Oh, finally-finally, my review of Errol Morris’ Tabloid, about a kidnapped Mormon missionary, will definitely be in the next edition of Dialogue. For a while we weren’t sure there’d be room, but there is so look for it. I don’t know a date there, but it was fun to write.

Oh, and triple finally, my friend Jess Cole recently produced the short film Steve, with Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, and Tom Mison. It’s making the festival rounds now so keep an eye on the twitter feed to see when it’s coming near you.

Hope that’s enough news!

Mormon Film of the “Week” #5: Birdie

Well, this is hardly a weekly series (been busy writing for Filmmaker Magazine and doing some new video projects), but I definitely wanted to include this film from Dean Duncan’s family a few years ago. It’s part of the Fit for the Kingdom series of short documentaries. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned them before on the blog, but I’m a big fan. They’re short documentaries profiling individual members of the Church and, like this one, components and trials of discipleship. They’re kind of the prototype for how the Church is handling its own PR today, but I still think these are more authentic and engaging than those–and they were begun in 2000, years before YouTube came around. So here’s the link to Birdie, and check out the rest.