Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A National Film Registry Halloween!

Count Floyd (from the 1980s show SCTV) is NOT on the National Film Registry but we include this 
clip because he is so darn scary and its amazing use of the 3D process! James Cameron - watch and learn!

Halloween is just around the corner and if you have finally stopped going out trick or treating (even though you look really good in that Sexy Zombie Nurse costume) you might want to stay home and watch a really scary movie. After you have opened that bag of mini-snickers that you bought to give to kids that come by trick or treating but figure eating a couple wouldn't hurt - check out the following scary movies that are on the National Film Registry:

Young Frankenstein

Fantastic outtakes from this hilarious Mel Brooks/Gene Wilder film. The quality of this youtube video is pretty bad. The actual film is a beautiful piece of black & white cinematography by Gerald Hirschfeld - who knew a thing or two about that lost craft.

The Exorcist

"Somewhere between science and superstition is another world..." Aspects of the film are based upon a rite of exorcism performed by the Jesuit priest, Father William S. Bowdern.

Michael Jackson's Thriller

Notice he begins with the disclaimer, "Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film no way endorses a belief in the occult." Really. I mean, really?

Other suggestions:
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Now - stop eating those mini-snickers! Think of the kids!

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Party Time Independent Lens Style - Plus Julie-Zooey-John News

(l to r) Doug Blush, Lois Vossen, Paul Mariano and Christine O'Malley.
These Amazing Shadows will have a national broadcast on the PBS series, Independent Lens on Thursday, December 29th at 10:00 pm.

We had a blast at the Independent Lens (IL) season 10 launch party at Monty in Los Angeles last week. The series producer, Lois Vossen, really made us feel welcome and part of the IL family. Monty is a cool-hip bar in downtown Los Angeles and was jammed full of IL staff, IL alum filmmakers, members of the LA doc community and a live performance by The Bricks. The music was loud, drinks were flowing and the food pretty darn healthy and tasty. It was one of those parties that with the loud music you had to really lean into the person you were talking with and listen/focus carefully in order to hear anything - which leads to a kind of fun intimate conversation that you don't often get in everyday life.

TAS producer Christine O'Malley and International Documentary Association president Eddie Schmidt.
Paul and I were joined at the soiree by TAS producer Christine O'Malley and TAS editor Doug Blush. Christine and her husband, Patrick Creadon, previously had their doc, Wordplay, broadcast on Independent Lens in 2007. Doug was the editor on that show, so he and Christine felt right at home hobnobbing with all the film folk. It was Paul and I who felt like fish out of water as we have little experience with attending "launch parties." The IL staff made us feel really comfortable. They are really quite a talented and fun bunch (see below).

IL Staff: (l to r) Krissy Bailey, Voleine Amilcar, Lois Vossen, Dennis Palmieri, Richard O'Connell, Desiree Gutierrez.
The only difficulty of the evening was that IL asked us to say a few words about our doc to the crowd. As Paul and I divide up this type of responsibility - it was my turn to be the public face of TAS. I am not exactly sure what I said but Paul assured me that I didn't embarrass us. Chris Paine, the filmmaker responsible for Who Killed the Electric Car? also spoke. He is a very nice man and just the kind of person you would imagine that would make a doc about electric cars. He has followed up that doc with a new one called The Revenge of the Electric Car, which will be released theatrically beginning on October 21st. The trailer looks great.

A buffalo head and Lois Vossen look on as Kurt Norton says a few words about TAS, IL and PBS.

- These Amazing Shadows was selected as Best Documentary at Louisville's International Festival of Film. We are honored and appreciate their wonderful taste.

- One of our favorite TAS interview subjects, Julie Dash, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her breakout film, Daughters of the Dust.  Julie is currently developing two projects: a mini series on the little-known 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which was the only all African American, all female battalion during World War II, made up of 855 women, and a cyber thriller called, Cipher, a story centered on a young African American woman who’s an encryption specialist, who “holds the keys to our digital liberty.”

- Another favorite TAS interview subject and It Girl, Zooey Deschanel, has scored a big hit with her new TV show, The New Girl. It scored remarkable audience numbers making it the first new sitcom in 20 years to win it's first three nights in the highly valued adults 18-49 demographic (why do they call it "adult 18-49." Are there kids that are 18-49?) Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of television programming her show will not be on the air again until early November. So much for letting a show develop it's audience. If only our producer Christine O'Malley was in charge of all TV programming this sort of thing wouldn't happen!

- Yet another favorite TAS interview subject (okay, almost all our interview subjects are our favorite) John Waters is touring Australia (October 19-29) with his one-man show, This Filthy World. It is a vaudeville act covering his unusual obsessions and film career. John says, "I invite Australian moviegoers into my cinematic world to show them radically intelligent and disturbing movies that will push them closer to the edge of cinema insanity."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Growing Up Female

Screen grab from Growing Up Female.
A letter from Mary J. Schirmer.
Hi, folks. I don't usually make requests like this, because I know everybody's busy. But this is the opportunity to make a difference for an important documentary made by a female filmmaker. Please consider emailing (Donna Ross) to request that the film GROWING UP FEMALE is included in the National Film Registry.

The nomination committee chooses 25 films per year, and GROWING UP FEMALE has come close to making the cut for the last five consecutive years. As you know, women are seriously underrepresented in the film industry on the whole, and we can make a difference by including this film in the Library of Congress.

I've met filmmaker/college film instructor Julia Reichert who, with James Klein, produced, wrote, directed, and edited this feature film in1971 -- right in the midst of the modern feminist movement.

GROWING UP FEMALE looks at the lives of six females, ages 4 to 35, and the "forces that shape them -- teachers, counselors, advertising, music, and the institution of marriage," Reichert said.

The film has been shown in colleges and high schools over the past decades and earned glowing recommendations from Susan Sontag and Gloria Steinem.

GROWING UP FEMALE has screened at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and the American Film Institute in Washington DC. This month it will be shown at Lincoln Center.

The film recently received a grant to restore it on a new film print.

Find more information about the National Film Registry at

So, if you feel moved to help in this effort to include a film about women and produced by a woman, please take a moment RIGHT NOW to email Donna Ross, National Film Preservation Board, at

Thank you.
Mary J. Schirmer (screenwriter/instructor)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Donna Ross Really Exists: Or, how to nominate a film to the National Film Registry

Donna Ross of the Library of Congress with These Amazing Shadows co-director Paul Mariano.
The National Film Registry clock is ticking. If you want to nominate a film to be considered for the 2011 selections to the National Film Registry now is the time to make your move. It is a very simple process to nominate/vote for a film.
There are a few simple rules:
1) The film must be at least ten years old. (That means Gladiator is now eligible!)
2) The film must be "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." (That may sound lofty, but don't forget - Animal House, Blazing Saddles and The Producers have met that standard.)
3) The film must be American, or at least have some sort of relatively significant American involvement. (Example of a film on the NFR that stretches the "American" involvement: Lawrence of Arabia.)

Once you have decided on a film you want to nominate you should check to make sure it is not already on the National Film Registry. The Library of Congress maintains a complete list of the 550 film on Wikipeida at the following link:
Okay, you've discovered that your nominee is not on the NFR, so what do you do next? You should write a short statement on why the film is important to you or to American culture. You don't need to sound like a film scholar - just write from the heart and try to be somewhat coherent.

Then, (drum roll please) you email it to Donna Ross at the Library of Congress
You can send it by the US Postal Service to the following address:
Donna Ross, Boards Assistant
National Film Preservation Board
Library of Congress
Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation
19053 Mt. Pony Road
Culpeper, VA 22701-7551

In this world of faceless bureaucrats it is refreshing to know that when you send in your nomination it will go to a very specific person - namely, Donna Ross. Donna works at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, VA. We first met Donna in November 2009 and have found her to be a very nice, hard-working person with a good sense of humor.
National Film Registry Nomination Information Website:

The 2011 National Film Registry selections will be announced on or about December 28, 2011. By a planned coincidence, These Amazing Shadows, will have its premiere national broadcast on December 29, 2011 as part of the PBS series, Independent Lens, which will be hosted this year by Mary-Louise Parker. Check your local listings.