30 November, 2015

Savannah-area Moon River Studios Project Scaled Down

The studio name is inspired by the famed "Breakfast at Tiffany's" song by
Savannah musician Johnny Mercer.

Imagine thisMoon River Studios: the country's largest, full-service production complex built in coastal Effingham County, Georgia. Reminiscent of the dominant production companies of Hollywood's Golden Age, the mega-studio will be equipped with state of the art facilities built on a whopping 1,560 acres of land. It is quite a valiant dream, but it may remain just a dream.

Recent reports have revealed that Moon River Studios (parent company FONU2) has failed to meet the mandatory milestones stated in its original agreement with Effingham County's Industrial Development Authority (IDA). This has resulted in a revised agreement for the studio to scale back to Phase One of its master plan.

14 November, 2015

"Room" Review (****½)

Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson shine in "Room."

"Room" opens with Ma (played by Brie Larson, "Short Term 12,") and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) in the midst of their morning routine. The shots are close and color-muted. The frame is both sharp and unfocused, creating this disorienting, claustrophobic sensation within the viewer. From the very beginning we know that something is wrong, a feeling that I attribute entirely to Stephen Rennick's score and Danny Cohen's cinematography. Ma and Jack stretch; Jack runs back and forth; he takes his vitamins; they eat breakfast. We see bits of the room: a small bed, a bathtub, a toilet, a wardrobe.

08 November, 2015

Atlanta Launches Nation's First-Ever Entertainment Training Program

Atlanta will be the first American city to train workers specifically for the film industry. 

You've spotted filming signs scattered around town. You've driven past filming locations decked out with camera equipment and crew. Heck, you may've been lucky enough to have spotted a Hollywood star or two in a local Atlanta institution. But have you ever wondered what it's like to work on one of the production sets in the area? To contribute first-hand in the creation of movie magic? Now, you can. 

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE Local 479) recently announced plans to launch the City of Atlanta Entertainment Training Program designed specifically to train below-the-line workers for Georgia's entertainment industry.

06 November, 2015

“Miss You Already” Review (***)

Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette star in "Miss You Already."

At first glance, or, more accurately, first trailer, “Miss You Already” had me hooked. I was so eager to watch this weepie, mumblecore-esque kind of movie. I wanted to watch a film that orbited solely around the friendship between two women, to watch a film where hurt and cancer and love and death weren’t sensationalized. If you were looking for something similar to what I described above, I’m sorry to say, I don’t think that “Miss You Already” is your movie. Though it’s not what I expected, nor what I wanted, it’s hard not to admire director Catherine Hardwicke’s (“Twilight,” “Plush”) lack of fear. She’s entirely unafraid of the uncertainty, sentimentality, and emotional weight of a movie as heavy as the Titanic.

30 October, 2015

"Meru" Review (****)

Shark's Fin, the real star of the extreme sports documentary "Meru."

“Meru,” directed by Jimmy Chin and E. Chain Vasarhelyi, is the harrowing true story of three climbers who dare venture upon this world’s steepest and most challenging of climbs. Conrad Anker (a climber known for his relentlessness, but made famous by his discovery of the remains of George Mallory’s body), Jimmy Chin (National Geographic photographer, world-class climber, and the film's director), and Renan Ozturk (talented climbing up-and-comer) are willing to test the limits of their potentials, they’re willing to push themselves to do what, literally and truly, no man has ever done before.

26 October, 2015

"Best of Enemies" Review (****½)

William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal in "Best of Enemies."

For our illumination, enlightenment, and consideration, Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon give us “Best of Enemies;" a superb examination of William F. Buckley, Jr., Gore Vidal, and how ABC pitted them against each other in order to save the network from impending doom. Through ten televised debates circling the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968, Buckley and Vidal devolved from intellectuals into petty rivals, and a road to our current normalization of morally-void cutthroat political commentary was paved.

With this at its center, the film poses what I learned wasn’t an unintentional question through a Q&A with the filmmakers:

At what cost did ABC succeed? Was it worth it? 

25 October, 2015

Sarah Gavron's "Suffragette" Opens Up the 2015 Savannah Film Festival (***)

We chat about how Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep got involved and how she fell in love with Georgia after just a few hours in Savannah.

Each year, the Savannah Film Festival marks the unofficial anniversary of Reel Georgia. While it was launched a few months earlier in 2011, it wasn't until I booked it down to Savannah for two days in October that this website really started to post frequent, original content about Georgia films, Georgia festivals and the global industry from a Georgia perspective.

This year, my dedicated co-editor Lucy Doughty and eloquent contributor Jessica Hinckle join me here and together, there isn't a moment we will miss. Eighteen years in, SAVFF is at a peak artistically and commercially. Stars attending this year include Olivia Wilde, Alexander Skarsgard, Saoirse Ronan, Alfie Allen, Meg Ryan and Elizabeth Olsen. Tons of filmmaking talent is also attending—something the festival has obviously been spotlighting more in recent years, as the SCAD filmmaking programs continue to grow in popularity.

Among this year's attending filmmakers are director Sarah Gavron and producer Alison Owen of opening night film "Suffragette." I sat down with Gavron at the Trustees Theater ahead of the premiere, asking first and foremost what she thought of Georgia.

"I love it," she said. This is not just her first time in Savannah, it's her first time in the state at all. "I wandered around for two hours. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was; it was very visual."

"The Wolfpack" Review (****)

"The Wolfpack:" Mukunda, Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Jagadisa,
and Krsna Angulo.

Almost five years ago, five tall, dark, and slender full-suited boys in sunglasses ran past Crystal Moselle on First Avenue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

"I had a hunch there was something going on there. So I chased after them," said Moselle, Director and Producer of "The Wolfpack" during the Q&A after its Savannah Film Festival screening on October 24th. "They asked what I do, and I told them I was a filmmaker, which made them really excited. They'd only been out for about a week."

24 October, 2015

"Frame by Frame" Review (*****)

Farzana Wahidy in the documentary "Frame by Frame."

“Frame by Frame” is an elegant and symphonic documentary tribute to the empathy and integrity of the photojournalist, and it might be the most impactful documentary of my generation.

In a country once ruled by a regime that criminalized photography for half a decade, directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli weave together the ground-breaking work of four photojournalists capturing the aftermath of a post-Taliban Afghanistan.

20 October, 2015

What to See at the 2015 Savannah Film Festival

The Savannah Film Festival has a special place in my heart because it was my coverage of the 2011 Savannah Film Festival that really launched Reel Georgia back four years ago. This will be my fifth time attending, and I'm happy that Lucy and Jessica will also be in Georgia's first city with me to cover the 18th annual event.

Opening night selection "Suffragette" and closing night selection "I Saw the Light" prove that Savannah has become a significant stop on the fall festival run. "Brooklyn," "Room," "Spotlight," "Truth" and "Youth" are just a few of the Oscar-bait titles screening at this years festival. A host of lesser profile prestige films, foreign titles and true indies dot the lineup. This really promises to be a great year.

We've highlighted over 30 films for you to check out at this year's festival. I know, that's an outrageous number of films to see in just eight days, but don't blame me—blame Savannah for upping their game!