March 16, 2007
Ethan van Thillo, Founder and Executive Director of the San Diego Latino Film Festival, 3-16-07
The Media Arts Center San Diego is presenting the 2007 San Diego Latino Film Festival (March 8th through 18th) with more than 185 films from Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Spain and the U.S. This prestigious and internationally recognized film festival is the longest running Latino festival in Southern California. With a projected audience of over 25,000 and the addition of a fourth screen, SDLFF is also one of the largest.
Featured films include Cansada de Besar Sapos (Mexico), Family Law (Argentina), Wood & Stock (Brazil), and Tortilla Heaven (U.S.). In addition, as part of SDLFF’s "Guest Director" series, Chilean legend Miguel Littin (La Ultima Luna and El Chacal de Nahuel Toro) will curate a series of movie classics that influenced his career (Rebel Without a Cause and Fellini’s Roma).
This year’s SDLFF program includes even more opportunities for the public to share the spotlight with over 100 guest filmmakers and actors onsite. Highlights include - workshops on On-line Filming, Indy Film Promotion, Documentary Production, and Getting Comics Produced for the Screen; "Para la Familia" events (with day-long events and a special appearance by Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer); the "Hecho en Chile” Retrospective of Chilean Films (1957-2006)," SDLFF’s "Top Ten to Watch"; the 1st Annual Cine’mation program; and celebrity tributes to acclaimed director Robert Young (Alambrista), and Mexican screen icons like Germán Robles (El Vampiro) and Damián Alcazar (Un Mundo Maravilloso and Solo Dios Sabe).
"This is a great opportunity for local audiences to see films presented at other major festivals like Cannes, Sundance, San Sebastian and Toronto, as well as many of Latin America’s Oscar contenders," says festival founder and director Ethan van Thillo. "We are also very proud to announce or unique growth into a truly Bi-national Latino film festival with our “Borders on Film” program offerings in Tijuana from March 16-18th at CineMark Minarete in Zona Rio.
February 16, 2007
Stanley Nelson, Emmy Award–Winning Filmmaker, MacArthur Fellow, and Executive Producer, Firelight Media, 2-16-07
Stanley Nelson, an Emmy-winning MacArthur “genius” Fellow, is Executive Producer of Firelight Media, a nonprofit documentary production company dedicated to giving voice to people and issues that are marginalized in popular culture. Nelson is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking historical documentaries, films that illuminate critical but overlooked history. His 2003 film, The Murder of Emmett Till, was broadcast nationally on PBS’s American Experience to rave reviews, and Nelson went on to win the Primetime Emmy for Best Directing, nonfiction; the Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival; a coveted award from the International Documentary Association; and the highest honor in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody award, among many others.
Nelson’s oeuvre spans the range of documentary forms. His newest film—Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple—previewed in April 2006 at the Tribeca and San Francisco Film Festivals to sold-out audiences and critical acclaim from both broadcast and print media. In a departure from his frequent historical perspective, the 2005 film Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice documented one of the country’s most vibrant and progressive musical ensembles. Nelson’s 2004 A Place of Our Own, a semi-autobiographical look at the African American middle class, moved audiences to tears at the Sundance Film Festival documentary competition and in national broadcast on PBS’s acclaimed series Independent Lens. His 2001 film, Running: the Campaign for City Council, highlighted the impact of campaign finance reform on local elections in New York City and was honored with the Henry Hampton award from the Council on Foundations and a CINE Golden Eagle.
With four films in competition at Sundance in six years and multiple industry awards to his credit, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today. In 2004, he received the CINE Leadership Award for his body of work, and his films have individually won nearly every award in film and broadcasting. His 2002 Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind was named best production of the year by the Black Filmmakers’ Hall of Fame and the Black International Cinema Festival in Berlin; his 1999 film, The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords, won a duPont-Columbia Silver Baton and the Sundance Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression award, was named Best Documentary at the San Francisco Film Festival, and won an Emmy nomination. Two Dollars and a Dream: The Story of Madame C. J. Walker and A’lelia Walker was named Best Film of the Decade by the Black Filmmaker Foundation.
Nelson’s work has also received broad recognition outside the film and television community. In 2004, he received the Educational Video Center’s Excellence in Community Service award and was honored by New York Lawyers in the Public Interest. Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise has served as a centerpiece for reflection on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education by such organizations as the NAACP, the National Baptist Convention, and the Children’s Defense Fund since airing nationally on PBS in May 2004.
Nelson holds a B.F.A. in film from the City College of New York. He was a fellow at the American Film Institute and a Revson Fellow at Columbia University, served on the Fulbright media fellowship committee, and was a Regents’ Lecturer at the University of California. He has taught film at Howard University and trained broadcast journalists in Rwanda. Nelson is a frequent speaker on new media and the “digital future” for filmmakers of color. He is a regular lecturer at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s National Producers Academy.
Firelight Media is a New York City and San Francisco Bay Area-based independent production and outreach company dedicated to using media to spur understanding, discussion, and action that will contribute to the struggle for social justice. Led by Sundance award-winner Stanley Nelson and Emmy-nominated writer Marcia Smith, Firelight Media has become the preeminent source of filmmaking on the African American experience for public television, covering topics ranging from civil rights icons and hip-hop’s critics to a capella ensembles and Black entrepreneurs.
Firelight Media has a long history of mentoring emerging producers of color and has institutionalized this practice by executive producing a number of films that have gone on to receive national and international acclaim. These projects include Byron Hurt’s, Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Carol Bash’s Soul on Soul: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, and Michele Stephenson’s Faces of Change.
January 26, 2007
Judith Friedel, Chair, San Diego Jewish Film Festival, 1-26-07
The 17th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by the Mizel Family Foundation, and presented by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, will run February 8-18, 2007.
The San Diego Jewish Film Festival showcases nearly 50 of the best contemporary Jewish themed films from around the world celebrating life, human rights, and freedom of expression. In addition to the carefully selected short-subject, documentary, and feature length films, the Film Festival features an international roster of visiting guest artists, including actors, filmmakers, and scholars, who introduce their work, participate in panel discussions, and meet and greet with the festival patrons.
Judith Friedel has been the Co-Chair and Chair of the San Diego Jewish Film Festival for the past five years. At the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center she also served as Chair of the Streisand Festival of New Jewish Plays and is currently Vice President of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the JCC. Other previous positions include 14 years as Public and Community Relations Coordinator for KPBS Television and Radio and five years as Editor of Applause Magazine for the Performing Arts. She has served on the boards of the San Diego Performing Arts League, Eveoke Dance Theatre, and the East County Performing Arts Center.
January 10, 2007
Kari Nevil, President, JuneBug Films, 1-12-07
A filmmaker with 22 years in the business, Kari Nevil still has the spunk and tenacity of recent film school grad but with the confidence and wisdom that only “time served” can bring.
The Los Angeles native transitioned to the film industry from advertising in the mid-1980s, landing at Walt Disney Studios where she worked in script coverage. For the next five years, she worked in various areas of movie and music video production for Touchstone Pictures, Universal Studios, EMI, Capitol Records and MCA.
In 1990, she opened up her own shop, JuneBug Productions and JuneBug Films Incorporated (named for her beloved Labrador retriever), in San Francisco. Since its formation, JuneBug has created numerous commercials, music videos, PSAs and corporate videos.
But Nevil’s true passion is filmmaking, evidenced by the company’s diverse array of award-winning short films and feature films including The Strange Condition of Professor DeGroot and At Risk, which Nevil produced, and Your Guardian, Planting Melvin, and Car Stories, which she wrote, directed and produced. Nevil is currently writing the screenplay for JuneBug’s upcoming feature film, Jonathan’s Wedding.
Planting Melvin (2005), also written, directed and produced by Nevil, was named as the Audience Award Winner for Second Best Feature at the Hearts & Minds Film Festival (Wilmington, DE) and selected as a finalist at the Moondance International Films Festival . The film, about an unlikely friendship between a beautiful socialite and a dying veteran and the secret lives they are protecting, has won acclaim from advocacy groups and arts organizations including its recent selection by the National Film Review Board of Canada for “representing anti-violence against women and children in an international way.” Planting Melvin has also screened at the ReelHeART International Film Festival (Toronto) and Breckenridge Film Festival.
Car Stories (2006), JuneBug’s first foray into documentary films, made its debut at Cinequest. With an original score by guitar legend Ronnie Montrose, the documentary, which also screened at the Jacksonville Film Festival and California Independent Film Festival (October 2006), explores Americans’ love affair with their cars.
September 02, 2006
Ethan van Thillo, Founder and Executive Director, San Diego Latino Film Festival, 7-7-06
In 1995, Ethan van Thillo transformed the Cine Estudiantil into the San Diego Latino Film Festival. In 1999, to broaden the scope of the festival following four successful years, Ethan established Media Arts Center San Diego. Since then, Ethan created the successful Teen Producers Project which now is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Ethan has served on various funding panels including the San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture and Latino Public Broadcasting. Most recently, he participated on the national nominating committee for Rockefeller Foundation's 2004–2005 Film and Video Fellowships and the National Endowment for the Arts funding panel for Media Arts.
The San Diego Latino Film Festival was established 13 years ago as a student film festival focusing on works by Latinos and/or about the Latino Experience. Since then, the San Diego Latino Film Festival has developed into one of the larger and well-respected Latino film festivals in the country. Over 120,000 people have attended during the past seven years and 1000 films/videos from across Latin America and the United States have been screened.
Past festival guests have included such renowned individuals as Alfonso Cuaron, Gael Garcia, Diego Luna, Lupe Ontiveros, Edward James Olmos, Elpidia Carrillo, Tony Plana, Bruno Bichir, Carlos Bolado, Carlos Avila, and Ray Bradbury.
Diane Ladd, Golden Globe– and British Academy Award–Winning Actress, Director, Producer, 7-28-06
Diane Ladd has been nominated three times each for Emmys and Oscars. She is the recipient of 23 awards, including a Golden Globe and a British Academy Award; and has been heralded by Time magazine as “one of the ten top actresses, not only in this country, but in the whole world.” As the writer and director of MRS. MUNCK, Diane won three Best Director awards and co-opened the Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland. She has starred in many films, including the Academy Award Winners “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1974), “Wild At Heart” (1990), and “Rambling Rose” (1992). Diane and her daughter, Laura Dern, made show-business history as the only mother/daughter duo to be nominated for an Oscar in the same film.
Diane’s book, Spiraling Through the School of Life, was released by Hay House, Inc. earlier this year. Her next book, Two Rebels with a Cause, should be in bookstores in Fall 2006. In it, she depicts the parallel struggles of Martha Mitchell and Diane Ladd as they fought for the rights of others in their plight to make America a better place.
Diane is the Founder and President of the Art & Culture Taskforce, a charitable organization dedicated to strengthening Education and the Arts in America. She's recognized as a leader in actively pursuing improvement in all facets of the creative arts. Diane is a member of the Board of Advisors for The National Foundation of Alternative Medicine; and is a nutritional lecturer, consultant, medical intuitive, and healer who has worked in tandem with many notable doctors for more than 20 years.
An astute business person, Diane’s creative and fiscal success is a strongpoint as President of Exxcell Entertainment, a film production company she founded in the late 1990s with her husband, Robert C. Hunter, Chairman and CEO. She is a Screen Actors Guild national board member, holding a number of noteworthy positions through the years and is active in seeking gainful work for her constituents. As a successful director, producer and actor, her lobbying efforts were instrumental in keeping US productions in America as she persuaded key members of Congress to pass tax legislation favorable to investors, the film industry, and its workforce.