Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Italians are Coming, The Italians are Coming and Mel Brooks gets an award.

The full list of films to be screened at the Starz Denver Film Festival will be released Monday, Oct. 15, but we do know now, the titles of two films that will be on the list. Mark Cousins’ 900 minute “The Story of Film: An Odyssey” and “Caesar Must Die” by brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.

I have not seen Caesar Must Die, but it is getting a lot of buzz and I very much want to see it. It won the top prize, The Golden Bear, at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. It is also Italy’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars in February.

The film follows real-life inmates of a high-security Italian jail as they rehearse for a performance of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Watch the trailer

In connection with the screening the filmmakers will be here to receive the Maria and Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award. The Award, given annually, recognizes the best in Italian cinema. It is funded through an endowment from the Anna & John Sie Foundation and is named for Anna’s parents.

This is quite a coup for the Film Festival. The Taviani brothers have been making film for 60 years and have received scores of awards. That Paolo, aged 80, and Vittorio, aged 83, continue to create remarkable work with a shot at an Oscar is in itself remarkable.

“The Story of Film” is also remarkable for its comprehensiveness and length. It literally surveys the entire history of film from the 1890s to modern day. The film originally aired on British television in September of 2011 as 15 one-hour episodes. The Festival will screen the film in two ways: as series of combined episodes screened over a number of days during the Festival and then on the last two days of the Festival as two 71/2 hour episodes screenings.

The director and narrator of the documentary is Mark Cousins, a film critic and sometime filmmaker from Northern Ireland.

Mel Brooks

One of the funniest guys out there is getting a well-deserved Life Time Achievement Award from the American Film Institute (AFI). My list of films that I will always watch – over and over and over again – includes three Brooks’ films: The Producers, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. He got his start in early television writing for “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. It also featured Howie Morris and Carl Reiner. Brooks and Reiner would team up for the very funny “The 2000 Year Old Man”.

I had a very fleeting moment in Brooks’ “High Anxiety”. I was living in San Francisco, taking any acting job I could, including being an extra, and was part of a hotel lobby crowd in the Hyatt for the elevator scene.
Ahhh, Show Business.

AFI, in addition to its film preservation work and honoring film artists is one of the premiere film schools in the world.

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