Five Things We Learned - April 26, 2017

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Five: Five Things We Learned
by Marshall
by Marshall hmv London, Bio Word monkey, nerd, film guy, gamer

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Five: Five Things We Learned

You’re never too far from the ocean in Newport Beach. The name’s an indication of that. Thing is, for festival folk, there’s really no time to swim or bask in sunlight. Not when there are so many indoor treasures waiting, in the darkness, to be discovered.

Welcome to Day Five at the Newport Beach Film Festival!


Live Long and Prosper.

Screened at Newport Beach’s vintage, atmospheric Lido Theatre, Remembering Leonard: His Life, Legacy and Battle with COPD is a sweet, insightful and unexpectedly important documentary that not only celebrates the life of Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, but also shines a light on the little-known progressive condition - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - that took his life in 2015.

Attending the documentary’s world premiere were Nimoy’s daughter Julie and her husband David Knight, who co-directed the film. Many additional Nimoys were in attendance, including Julie’s younger brother Adam and Nimoy’s widow Susan. It was a family affair and a privilege to sit among them, celebrating the man who gave the world Mr. Spock. You could definitely feel the love in the room.

“We were so honoured to be accepted at the festival,” said Julie. “We’ve had a wonderful response to our film here.”

“The other thing that impressed Julie and I,” adds David, “is how nice and helpful the festival staff are.” They really are a wonderful bunch. “So helpful and supportive,” adds Julie. We concur.

There are lots of lovely highlights in Julie and David’s documentary, most of which we urge you to discover for yourself when the opportunity arises to see their film, but one revelation that we are prepared to spoil - the one that really shocked us - is that when Star Trek first aired, the Nimoy household was solely in possession of a small black and white television. To see the show in colour, then, Julie and Adam had to go to watch it at a neighbour’s house!

“How funny is that? We didn’t get a colour TV for probably another year or so,” remembers Julie. “You have to understand, coming from Boston with nothing, and beginning a whole new life in Los Angeles with just a couple of bucks in his pocket, and then always working, non-stop, to take care of his family, not only acting, but driving taxis, fixing vending machines… Dad wasn’t quick to buy luxuries. But eventually he broke down and spent the money on a TV.”


Sound tracks.

Screening twice at the festival and earning serious buzz for its efforts, Score: A Film Music Documentary is, as the title suggests, a documentary about the history, significance and art of movie music. For fans of swirling cinematic themes, it’s a nostalgic, mellifluous joy.

A bravura gathering of some 70 movie maestros, each revealing some secret of their craft, eulogising a peer or playing something strange that sounds surprisingly delightful, Score features contributions from pretty much everyone you could think of, and if you’re a big John Williams fan, your ears are in for a treat as clearly, director Matt Schrader can’t get enough of him either.


Straw poll.

Short films play a large part at the Newport Beach Film Festival. The best we’ve seen so far is Straws. A call to action from director Linda Booker, it’s an eye-opening report on the harmful effect that billions of plastic straws have on the environment.

“It’s not all doom and gloom though,” says Booker. “It won’t leave you feeling depressed and hopeless. That’s what I’m hearing from viewers, anyway. In 30 minutes we go from something as small as a plastic straw to the huge effects of plastic litter reaching oceans and marine life. With a little levity and animation narrated by Tim Robbins, it gets to the heart of the issue while offering solutions and simple actions we all can do.”
Linda’s highest hope for the documentary, she reveals, is that it helps “…get rid of all plastic straws on the planet! I know that’s probably not going to happen, but through festivals, educational and grassroots screenings worldwide, I hope that this film can have some impact on reducing non-recyclable, single-use straws and other plastic items. Plastic product manufacturing and use can’t keep going at the current pace without major consequences for the environment and marine species.

“I’m so grateful to the Newport Beach Film Festival for supporting my film. It’s so great to have your creative work acknowledged by festival programmers and industry peers - I believe it gives your film credibility and respect. With so many films being submitted, it’s truly an honour to get accepted. Festivals like the NBFF are also coordinating Straws school screenings as part of their community outreach and that’s very meaningful and appreciated.”

Like many other filmmakers attending the festival, Linda is not only promoting her own movie, but also enjoying the work of others.

“It’s the largest festival any of my films have ever been in. I’ve worked as operation director for film festivals that are 4 to 5 days long and I don’t know how the NBFF staff handles an entire week of over 300 films! The coastal location is wonderful, of course, and venues and parties impressive. The only downside is there’s so many films and venues I wish I could get to, but there’s just not enough time!” 

Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
A still from Losing Sight of Shore
A still from Losing Sight of Shore

Five Questions With…

For our first ‘Five Questions’ today, we’re chatting with Sarah Moshman, the director, producer, co-writer and cinematographer of Losing Sight of Shore, a riveting documentary detailing the trials of four women – The Coxless Crew – who, over eight gruelling months, rowed 8,000 miles from America to Australia. Just watching it made our arms ache. It really does tell one whale of a tale.


Who’s your movie idol?

“I have a deep respect for all documentary filmmakers that are out in the world telling important stories.”


What’s your go-to comfort film?

“It's more of a comfort show: I watch Parks and Recreation all the time. It's such a wonderful show - so funny, and I love the character of Leslie Knope. It always makes me feel good watching it!”


From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“I love being on set and in production. There's a magic you can feel when you capture something truly unique, and you know that shot will end up in the trailer or the final film. I truly love the whole process, but production feels like the most creative time for me.”


What would you like people to know about your new film?

“Losing Sight of Shore is the extraordinary story of four brave women who set out to row across the Pacific Ocean. This has never been a story about rowing to me, however. This has always been about the power of the human spirit and what we are all capable of when we push ourselves to the limit.

“Making this film has been the greatest adventure of my professional life so far. It was a huge risk personally and financially, and I am over the moon that it's starting to pay off and people can share in this journey.”


What’s the question that, during interviews, you’re surprised you’re not asked more?

“I wish I was asked to direct more films! I plan to make documentaries throughout my career, and I am excited to see where inspiration will strike next time.”




Five Further Questions With…

Aussie acting legend Jack Thompson, 76, of Breaker Morant fame, stars in Don’t Tell (picture at the top of this page). Receiving its world premiere at the festival, it’s a powerful court drama that tells an alarming true tale of child abuse, shamefully swept under the rug at a prestigious private school. If you don’t already know the story, there’s a bit of a spoiler in answer four, so beware.


Who’s your movie idol?

“Anthony Quinn. Though he was in some bad movies, he never gave a bad performance.”


What’s your go-to comfort film?

“Something by Kubrick. Probably 2001. It’s fabulous, and it just goes on being more and more fabulous.”


From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“The shooting of the film. I guess, when I see the first rushes. When I first see the cinematography, and know what the film is going to look like, before it gets edited.”


What would you like people to know about your new film?

“That they should see a picture about real people and about a young woman who wins.”


What’s the question that, during interviews, you’re surprised you’re not asked more?

“What made you get involved with this business? The answer, really, is chance. Chance governed all of it.”

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