Late Night: Armageddon Tired of this Mayan Apocalypse. Now Everyone’s Gone to the Movies. Or Santacon!


NASA continues to peer into the future, claiming that the world did not end on 12.21.12. We’ll address that on 12.22.12. If we’re here. Meanwhile, I got email from JP Sottile at newsvandal with whom I have an ongoing tinfoil millinery competition:

the real question is whether or not A.I. was a secret endorsement of the mayan apocalypse and if nasa is getting back at kubrick ex post facto? joel haley osment is the catalyst for a mayan ragnarok

Why would NASA want to get back at Kubrick? Well, pull out your tinsel top hat and settle in for what I put JP through the other night, bwhahhaha! Seems that, according to conspiracy theorist film geeks, while Kubrick was making 2001: A Space Odyssey, he was also faking the moon landing, and he felt so guilty about it that he later tipped everyone off in The Shining, if you can just find at the clues. And to make it easy for you, there’s a video that lays it all out. (It’s an hour long, so here’s the short TL/DW version):

 A.I. was originally developed by Kubrick beginning in the mid-1970s. Despite the growth in technology over the decades, Kubrick felt that neither computer generated effects nor child actors were good enough to portray the character of David, so he handed it over to Steven Spielberg in 1995, and it was only after Kubrick’s death in 1999 that the project gained momentum and was finally made. A.I. was released in 2001 with Haley Joel Osment as David.


Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese will be directing a documentary about Bill Clinton for HBO. Suggested titles:

Hillary Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
New York! New York!
Last Temptation of Clinton
The President of Comedy


And once again Santacon took to the streets! This annual tradition, begun in 1995 in San Francisco, features  people in cities around the world dressing up as Santa and acting like slightly better-behaved Krampuses (Krampi?), thereby creating Santarchy.

Here’s a look at the first Santacon, a 39 minute mini-doc in glory days before TSA took away the airport fun, and their recent exploits in Los Angeles:

the East Village

and San Francisco


And if you love Santa, or sci-fi, on Monday December 24, we’ll be celebrating the 200th movie of Firedoglake Movie Night with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a special request from my producer Bev who is also the driving force (and heavy-lifter)  behind FDL Book Salons. You can watch the full version of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians FREE here.


“2016″ Filmmakers Butthurt Over Oscar “Slight”


The two dudes behind the anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America—Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List, and co-writer/director Dinesh D’Souza–are all sad and stuff because their documentary didn’t make it on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ short list of docs from which the final nominees are drawn (This year four of those 15 have been or will be on Firedoglake Movie Night: The House I Live In, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, and upcoming on Monday December 10, The Waiting Room).

Since September 2008, FDL Movie Night has brought readers 197 films, and like 190 of those were documentaries. Each year at least three of the films we’ve presented have been nominated for Academy Awards, and more have made the short list. A lot of them don’t make much at the box office, if they even get to a theater. Most are seen at festivals and then released directly to television/cable and on DVD/VOD.

But box office figures are why Molen and D’Souza are all butthurt: Their film made $33.4 million, and so they think they’re entitled to an Oscar nomination. Oh heck, if ticket sales equaled an Oscar, then for gods’ sakes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon would have swept last year’s awards, and we could look forward to a landslide from Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2. Molen and D’Souza think that because they are conservatives and made a documentary with a conservative point of view, one that was critical to Obama, they didn’t get nominated. Maybe they didn’t get nominated because their film wasn’t as compelling/interesting/well made or unique as the fifteen on the short list (and yeah, I have some quibbles about certain films I think should have made the cut, but didn’t. And I’m sure every single documentary filmmaker thinks their film should have been one of the fifteen!)

There are many, many movies made every year, features and documentaries, and the majority don’t get  close to getting an Oscar nomination (or even  distribution!). And there has been a major increase in documentary  filmmaking (probably the only good thing to come out of reality TV is that people want to see real stories, about real people, to learn more about the world around them); some have a very liberal perspective, some are critical of the current administration. Out of the fifty docs we featured this year on FDL Movie Night, way more than 10% deserved to be shortlisted, yet less than 10% made it even that close to a nomination.

What is really galling, though, is how super nasty and mean-spirited Molen and D’Souza are about two of the films that were shortlisted, Searching for Sugar Man and This Is Not a Film. D’Souza commented to the Hollywood Reporter:

By ignoring 2016, the top-performing box-office hit of 2012, and pretending that films like Searching for Sugar Man and This Is Not a Film are more deserving of an Oscar, our friends in Hollywood have removed any doubt average Americans may have had that liberal political ideology, not excellence, is the true standard of what receives awards.

(Given the subject matter of This Is Not a Film, one wonders how on earth D’Souza and Molen could see a liberal bias for the nomination, since it’s a documentary about the totalitarian regime in Iran, and don’t conservatives dislike Iran’s current government?)

D’Souza and Molen got a movie made. They got it into theaters. They made money. So they didn’t get on the short list of nominated docs. They are still better off than the majority of filmmakers, feature and documentary, worldwide. Maybe they should just quit bellyaching and go make another movie while dining off the publicity they are generating by bitching about not getting a noticed by the Academy.

And please join us Monday December 10 for The Waiting Room:

The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession.

The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.


Hollywood Blvd Shut Down By Rave Film Riot

Tonight a friend and I headed out for the premier of Electric Daisy Carnival Experience, August 22nd’s FDL Movie Night subject, directed by Kevin Kerslake. EDCE documents the huge two day rave–featuring world renowned acts and DJs like Swedish House Mafia,  Groove Armada, Kaskade and Moby, plus art installations and carnival rides–which, up until this year, had been held in Los Angeles.

Traffic was barely moving when suddenly five cop cars sped past us and we saw helicopters spinning overhead. We could see Hollywood Blvd was shut down at Highland Avenue. Stuck on the road, with no news stations on the radio (wtf? it’s all talk radio now in LA, sucks when you need up to the minute information and there was nothing on Google news or Facebook yet either), we rolled down the window and asked a traffic officer what was going on. He said

Bomb threat

Needless to say, we didn’t tweet that or post that to Facebook without confirmation! Thankfully it wasn’t anything that awful (kind of irresponsible for him to tell us that, btw). But it was a full-on tactical alert.We parked and ducking under the police tape, worked our way through the crowds.

The officers  holding riot batons would not let us near Graumann’s Chinese Theater and wouldn’t tell us what was going on.

Even when I identified myself as a member of the press to the officer in charge–though maybe my long red dress, fishnet hose and army boots may have lacked fourth estate authority, but hey I was going to a film premier–the only information I got was:

There are thousands of people here, this is an emergency.

Oh, and no, we couldn’t go see the movie.

So we did the only logical thing; we went to Musso & Frank for a snack, on the way overhearing a pair of passersby discussing

Did you see that dude who lit the cop car on fire?

At Musso’s we ran into some would-be EDCE attendees also displaced by the LAPD who had seen what went down. Over salads and drinks, they told us their story.

DJ Kasakade drove his flatbed truck down Hollywood Blvd. to the theater, and a crowd followed him. The police came, but by then there were several hundred people–thanks to Twitter–who had shown up for Kaskade’s appearance dancing, plus tourists and locals. Some were kind of upset that there was no rave/show, some were just cranky, period. And they got angrier when more and more police showed up in response to the crowd not dispersing when ordered to.

At the film’s afterparty EDCE director Kevin Kerslake told me that about 600 people out of an expected 1000 were able to get into the theater (they must have gotten there very early; we were aiming at 7:10 for a 7:30 arrival/8pm showtime). Kerslake said that

it was crazy, they set cop cars on fire!

The Los Angeles Times and Variety report that the police said rocks and bottles were thrown, and that two police cars were set on fire.

This video shows kids jumping an police cruisers and shots fired, beginning around 3:00

Our dinner companions did not see the action around the cop cars, though they did see the police fire projectiles at

kids, these skinny little rave kids

hitting one, though no injuries were reported, per the police.

The UK Mail Online was upclose and caught all the action, including rioters jumping on police cruisers.

Insomniac, Inc .,which produces Electric Daisy Carnival, was not involved in the impromptu block party that arose when when Kaskade appeared.

Pasquale Rotella, chief executive of Insomniac Inc., issued the following statement:

Tonight’s premiere of the ‘Electric Daisy Carnival Experience’ film was designed to highlight one of the largest and most prestigious electronic music festivals in the world. Unfortunately, a small group chose to disrupt the film’s premiere due to their mistaken belief that a ‘block party’ with a popular artist was going to occur.

I want to make clear that while this film showcased an Insomniac event, Insomniac had nothing to do with the supposed ‘block party,’ which was not a part of the premiere. The crowd issues that arose were a result of individuals responding to social media information which mistakenly led them to believe they could see artists perform…Insomniac strongly believes in personal responsibility and hopes that anyone who didn’t comply with police orders is held accountable.

The LAPD arrested two people after detaining dozens. Joyfully, the planned after-party at a nearby club went off without a hitch, with Kaskade spinning and dozen of elaborately costumed dancers performing.

Insomniac, Inc. had staged the hugely popular all-ages Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles at the LA Coliseum and neighboring Sports Arena for 13 years, moving to Las Vegas this year.  In 2010 a 15-year girl died from an Ecstasy overdose. Police reported 165 arrests during 2010′s two-day long event attended by 185, 000 Thing went smoothly this year at the Las Vegas event which drew 230,ooo people, and Insomniac donated $75,000 to Nevada charities.  In recent years raves were one of the few sources of revenue for the aging Coliseum–built in 1921 and enlarged for the 1932 Olympics–which also hosts the USC Trojans football games, other occasional sports and music events, and over the years has been used as a location in film and television.

A 2011 LA Times investigation revealed an official at the Coliseum had worked as a paid consultant for the company, planning the medical and emergency services, with the approval of by then-Commission General Manager Patrick Lynch. Lynch  resigned in the wake of the Times disclosures, and while the  Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission began investigating the employee, Todd DeStefano, who denied any wrong doing.

The movie, Electric Daisy Carnival experience will be in theaters one night only, August 4.


Photos 1, 3 and 5: Lisa Derrick. Photo 2: Amanda Grace. Photo 4: Monah Li

Chevron Threatens “Crude” Director’s First Amendment Rights-200 Filmmakers Protest

Joe Berlinger, the director of Crude–and our guest on Movie Night in August 2009–has been ordered by a federal judge to turn over 600 hours of unused documentary footage to energy giant Chevron as part of the lawsuit discussed in the film. For more about the lawsuit, which pitted indigenous Ecuadorians against Chevron, click here.

Berlinger and his attorneys will appeal the decision.

In the wake of Judge Lawrence Kaplan’s decision, 200 prominent documentary filmmakers–including 20 Academy Award winners and names like Alex Gibney, Michael Moore, D.A. Pennebaker, Haskell Wexler, Laura Poitras, Louie Psihoyos, Nick Broomfield, Morgan Spurlock, Bill Moyers, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Robert Greenwald and Ed Zwick–have signed an open letter of support protesting the breadth of the decision by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The letter, which was sent from the president of International Documentary Association with support or the IDA board reads:

May 13, 2010

An Open Letter in Support of Joe Berlinger
and the Documentary Filmmaking Team of

As members of the documentary film community, we the undersigned strongly object to the Honorable Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s ruling last week in the case involving our colleague Joe Berlinger, the Chevron Corporation, and Berlinger’s 600 hours of raw footage shot during production of his documentary film “Crude”.

Judge Kaplan sided with Chevron and ruled that Berlinger must turn over all of his raw footage to Chevron for their use in the lawsuit discussed in the film. Berlinger and his legal team plan to appeal the ruling.

In cases such as these involving access to a journalist’s work material, whether they involve a newspaper or online reporter, a radio interviewer, a television news producer, or a documentary filmmaker, it is understood that First Amendment protection of the journalist’s privilege is never absolute. Typically, if such privilege is successfully rebutted in court, a turn-over order demanding a document or other thing is issued and the journalist must comply or face the consequences. Therefore, it is astounding to us that Judge Kaplan demanded that all of the footage shot during the production of the film be handed over to the attorneys of Chevron, given that the privilege exists primarily to protect against the wholesale exposure of press files to litigant scrutiny.

While we commend Judge Kaplan for stating “that the qualified journalists’ privilege applies to Berlinger’s raw footage”, we are nonetheless dismayed both by Chevron’s attempts to go on a “fishing expedition” into the edit rooms and production offices of a fellow documentary filmmaker without any particular cause or agenda, and the judge’s allowance of said intentions. What’s next, phone records and e-mails?

At the heart of journalism lies the trust between the interviewer and his or her subject.
Individuals who agree to be interviewed by the news media are often putting themselves at great risk, especially in the case of television news and documentary film where the subject’s identity and voice are presented in the final report. If witnesses sense that their entire interviews will be scrutinized by attorneys and examined in courtrooms they will undoubtedly speak less freely. This ruling surely will have a crippling effect on the work of investigative journalists everywhere, should it stand.

Though many of us work independently of large news organizations, we nevertheless hold ourselves to the highest of journalistic standards in the writing, producing, and editing of our films. In fact, as traditional news media finds itself taking fewer chances due to advertiser fears and corporate ownership, the urgency of bold, groundbreaking journalism through the documentary medium is perhaps greater than ever.

This case offers a clear and compelling argument for more vigorous federal shield laws to protect journalists and their work, better federal laws to protect confidential sources, and stronger standards to prevent entities from piercing the journalists’ privilege. We urge the higher courts to overturn this ruling to help ensure the safety and protection of journalists and their subjects, and to promote a free and vital press in our nation and around the world.

For more from Joe Berlinger on this, check out his blog on the Crude website