A Man Named Michelle…Or Michel That Is…

Of all the major directors in Hollywood – Scorcese, Eastwood, Gus Van Sant, etc. – Michel Gondry wouldn’t necessarily be at  the top of the list; but hold tight, because it won’t be too long before the Versailles born director with the child-like imagination takes over. He’s already made a huge mark with such critical darlings as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Be Kind, Rewind” and “Tokyo,” and is creating buzz with his upcoming production of “The Green Horne.”:

In my love of all things Michel Gondry (I have like three of his films in my video library), I actually found a site that would be of great interest to his fans and those that need to know the genius of the director.

Picture courtesy of Michelgondry.com

Picture courtesy of Michelgondry.com

In the spirit of the economy being terrible, http://www.michelgondry.com/ has all kinds of memorabilia relating to the director on sale, and boasts some of the most innovative illustrations online. If you are a director in the making, he has a book on sale for about $12.95 called “You’ll Like This Film Because You’re In It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol.” The book gives the reader tips on how to involve any and everybody around you in the process of filmaking. There are even t-shirts with crazy graphics, and for the die-hard fan: Michel Gondry toilet paper! The paper is covered in Gondry’s notes, sketches and feelings. And it’s 2-ply!

Even if you are not a fan, the site is definitely

Photo courtesy of Michelgondry.com

Photo courtesy of Michelgondry.com

a must-see if you want to see one of the most creative websites on the internet about one of the most innovative directors of our generation.

A Film With “Class”

Do you remember your years in high school? If someone put a camera in the halls of your school, what would they find? In the case of the French film The Class (Entre Les Murs), the results were worthy of the top prize in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Written by an actual teacher, Francois Begaudeau, who would go on to portray the life-changing main character in the film, The Class follows the struggles of inner-city Parisian students, and the teachers fighting to make a difference in their lives. For those that don’t know, the Palm d’Or at Cannes means that a film has been designated as a masterpiece. So if you have never seen The Class, it’s a must.

The students are like most that I personally went to school with: stubborn, angry and devoid of ambition. But the same can be said about some of the teachers, including Begaudeau who goes through the same rollercoaster of emotions that the students go through. He tries to instill order and hope into the students, but in most cases, to no avail. But in the end, after all the stress and an eventual expulsion of one his most promising students, he finally finds fulfillment in his work and finds a way to bring his students up to their potential.

The film was an eye-opener for me because it proved that teachers do more work than people give them credit for. Parents nurture children, but around the age of 5, the responsibility of providing the educational nourishment they need falls on the shoulders of teachers. Plus, there are many people who dump their children off at school lacking the manners and respect they need to show for others, and the teachers are forced to pick up their slack. So kudos…kudos to the grammar teacher I used to give hell to thinking she was over-emotional at times. Kudos to the English teacher that made me read five books in the summertime even when I didn’t want to. Kudos to Mrs. Vagina whose name we used to make fun of because she wouldn’t let us pass without knowing our multiplications. But most of all, kudos to The Class for being a heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale that proves that no matter where you are, school sucks… but you would be nothing without it.

For a review of the film and more information, see: http://www.cinematical.com/2008/05/25/cannes-review-the-class-entre-le-murs/

Photo credits to:



Web Documentary Wins Festival Award

The International Film Festival of Photojournalism called Visa pour l’Image Perpignon awarded “Le Corps Incarcéré“, a LeMonde.fr production, the first prize for best Web Documentary 2009. The award is sponsored by France 24 and Radio France Internationale, both online international news mediums. It is a first-time category for the awards and was chosen based on the criteria of subject, originality and innovative use of new multimedia tools.

Visa pour l'image

View the documentary at the following website provided by LeMonde.fr:
Le corps incarcéré
LEMONDE.FR | 22.06.09

© Le Monde.fr

The Documentary

The award is prestigious and inspiring to other web documentary film makers but the subject matter is depressing. Le Corps Incarcéré focuses on the “imprisoned body” and the struggles of life in the French prison system. Interviewing four inmates, Hugo, Hélène, Hafed and Djemel, reveals the degraded, and static state of their incarcerated bodies. The inmate’s voices talk while pictures of prison haunt the screen and show the audience the conditions of prison life that everyday media does not cover. Suicide. Loneliness. Humiliation. It shows the real truth of crime and punishment.

The Web

Developing technology and communications enable new forms of journalism. Documentaries that are under the production of Web sites or online news sources can be promoted by festivals such as Visa pour l’Image Perpignon. The budding category ‘Web Documentary’ may soon become a popular category at many other festivals around the world in the next few years. My question: Do youtube ‘documentaries’ count?

Siberia has its own “Cannes” moment

The only reason the Siberian town of Kansk has its own international film festival is because its name is pronounced the same as “Cannes” in Russian.

Every year since the festival’s inception in 2002, experimental filmmakers, videographers and performers hop on the Trans-Siberian railway to Kansk, about 4,500 km from Moscow, to present their pieces.

The 2009 event took place last week, showcasing 59 films from 24 countries and also featuring live performances including a rock n’ roll Deep Purple Puppet Show.

More information can be found here:

2002 postcard designed by Kirill Zaev

2002 postcard designed by Kirill Zaev