Call for Documentary Submissions: KQED ROUGH CUTS

Deadline: Wednesday, April 26

If you are editing a documentary that is over 40 minutes long and are seeking feedback, we encourage you to submit.

Principal photography should have been completed.

To submit your cut electronically, via Vimeo Plus or an equivalent video-sharing site, please fill out the on-line application.

To submit via mail, please contact Chris Holbrook at

We will send you an application and an address where you can send your DVDs. (you will need to send three DVD copies, which must arrive by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 26th)

There is a $25 submission fee.

Filmmakers who are selected for Rough Cuts are eligible for Fine Cuts and Assembly.

Stay tuned.

The Loneliness of the Swimmer

  • You get very tired and depressed, and you wish you had the social life that a lot of your friends have, you wish you could go out with this girl, but it’s so hard to have that. You’re too tired . . .  You wake up and your alarm goes off at five, and you just, you just hear the snow blowing outside, and you’re in a nice warm waterbed and you say, I don’t wanna go out there. Who wants to dive into water at five o’clock in the morning?

Victor Davis, in the swimming documentary The Fast and the Furious, by Alex Baumann

“Silence is your treasure”

Self is reminded of this again when she reads Diane Gilliam’s essay on “Working in Silence,” on A Room of Her Own Foundation’s website.

The full quote is:  Silence is your treasure.  Do not exchange it for an easy life.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn't know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn’t know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Last night, self found herself back in Stanford.  Self enjoyed the walk through the still campus.  She remembers thinking:  How quiet it is here.  How peaceful.  And that’s what Stanford gave her:  four years of peace.  Two years in the East Asian Studies Program, with a concentration in Chinese, two years as a Creative Writing Program Fellow.  What an unimaginable luxury.

Self originally meant this post to be about the Rolling Stones.  Specifically, the Rolling Stones as they were in 1972, when Robert Frank made the documentary “Cxxxxsucker Blues” (Self blushes to admit that the x’s are her own.  The early 1970s were still the 1960s. What self means by that is that drug use was still rampant, and so was free love. And Mick wore velvet jumpsuits spangled with sequins and looked vaguely reminiscent of Elvis, only much thinner).  They showed it in Annenberg, last night. Amazingly, the theater was packed, even though at that very moment, the San Francisco Giants were facing off against the Saint Louis Cardinals.

Frankly, it was just painful to see the way women were treated in this movie (like pieces of meat — yes, exactly. Thank you Jennifer Lawrence or whoever): they were either in bed or shooting up or sewing. Yes, sewing.

With one exception:  Bianca Jagger. Who was in no way a groupie. Who Mick treated with affection.

Thank God for Bianca Jagger.

The album “Exile on Main Street” was self’s first ever Rolling Stones album. And the Robert Frank documentary was about the 1972 tour for that album. If for nothing else, self had to see the documentary.

And Mick had this amazing, amazing diffidence (Keith Richards had it too, to a lesser degree). At one point, he stares straight at the camera (presumably being held by Robert Frank) and says, casually contemptuous, “Fuck you.” And it’s not as if Frank caught him in an intimate moment, either.  He’s just standing there, and he decides to turn his head, look at Frank, and without his face changing expression, says “Fuck you.”

Now, that’s a moment.

And now, before self gets too carried away with this post, she needs to get moving. She realizes she hasn’t even connected the dots between the quote “Silence is your treasure” to the Stones documentary.

But, ta-ta, dear ones! To be continued.

The Daily Beast’s Best Movies (Thus Far) of 2014, with Commentary From Self

This time, no pussyfooting around (what, self wonders, is the origin of that word ‘pussyfooting’?), self will go directly to the list she stumbled across today, on The Daily Beast.

The Best Movies of 2014 (So Far):

  1. Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater.  Wow, self has heard such great things about this movie.  Read Sheila O’Malley’s dissection/praise of it, here.
  2. Snowpiercer, directed by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho and starring, of all people, CHRIS EVANS!  Frickin’ hot Captain America!  It is science fiction, it is the year 2031, it is dystopian (Pardon self’s french:  Dystopian is fast becoming the most-overused word in the movie reviewer’s lexicon)
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed of course by Wes Anderson and featuring not one but TWO pairs of bedroom eyes (Fiennes and Brody’s) and the best birthmark ever to appear in a supporting role in a movie — wait, didn’t this movie come out last year?  Nevertheless.  Self liked it.  Onwards!
  4. The Raid 2, the first truly kick-ass action movie from Asia in a long, long time, and it’s from Indonesia.  Self missed the sequel, but the first one was pulse-poundingly great.  The first one was FIVE STARS!
  5. Ida, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, and of course Polish. Set in 1960s Poland etc. Next!
  6. Only Lovers Left Alive, directed by Jim Jarmusch:  A vampire movie!  Directed by His Fabulousness!  And starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton!  Sold!
  7. Manakamana, directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez:  a documentary about various enlightenment seekers who make the pilgrimage to Nepal’s Manakamana temple.  Self wants to see it.  She may end up wanting to make the pilgrimage herself.  But pilgrimages never quite come out the way self expects.  She’s got the requisite curiosity, and that in spades, but travel tends to bring out the cynic in her.
  8. The Immigrant, directed by James Gray:  Starring — oh no! — Joaquin Phoenix, an actor who has singularly failed to arouse even one iota of interest in self, not even when he played Johnny Cash and self ended up ferrying Niece G and a whole car full of Stanford freshmen to the Redwood City Bayshore Cinema to see Walk the Line.  But why oh why is he paired with the lovely Marion Cotillard, an actress whose performance in that whale movie, Rust and Bone, the one where she played a whale trainer who loses her legs in a horrific accident in a Seaworld-like theme park, turned self into a sobbing mess for exactly three months — wow, this is a tough one.  Jury’s still out on this one.
  9. Begin Again, directed by John Carney.  Self saw this just yesterday.  Of its inclusion in this list she can thus unequivocally say:  YES! YES! YES! At first it would seem a most unlikely choice for one of The Daily Beast’s Best Movies (Thus Far) of 2014, because let’s just say Keira Knightley as a twee British singer who is done wrong by a self-absorbed boyfriend played by People’s Most Beautiful Person of 2013, Maroon Five front man Adam Levine, is not exactly what one automatically thinks of as “Best Movie” material, but what the hoo, self bit down her reservations and she ended up loving Mark Ruffalo’s performance (which was only to be expected), and she loved Keira Knightley’s performance, and she loved Hailee Seinfeld’s performance, and she even loved Adam Levine’s performance, and the only so-so performance came surprisingly from an actress self normally admires, Catherine Keener.
  10. Palo Alto, directed by Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford), and based on the short story collection by that flake (who also happens to be a surprisingly good actor) James Franco.  She is so tired of Franco’s ubiquitous talent, but yes she did indeed browse through this collection when she first saw it in Kepler’s, last year.  And — self hates you, James Franco!  Because the stories were quite good!  Aaaargh!  And self loves Mia Wasiwokska.  Ever since she saw her in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, and The Kids Are All Right.
  11. Life Itself, a documentary by Steve James, about the late great Roger Ebert.  Of course self will see it.  Of course.
  12. Neighbors, by Nicholas Forgetting Sarah Marshall Stoller.  Self somehow missed this one when it came to the local cineplex.  But she likes the premise.  She even likes the cast (Rogen, Rose Byrne, the younger Franco, and Zac E)
  13. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Felicity Reeves:  Oh yes, this was the movie self saw just the day before she saw Begin Again (Yes, self is quite a movie nut) and it was definitely great.  Any movie in which the apes outshine Jason Clarke and Keri Russell is indisputably great.  Kudos to Jason Clarke for not acting too hard.  He has a real, shambling, laid-back charm.  BTW, Keri Russell has very toned arms.  Self found the sight of them a tad distracting.  Because the actress obviously had to have put in many, many gym hours in order to get arms like those.  And self wasn’t sure this was something Russell’s movie character might have done. (Anyone have the same reaction?  Self, why must you always be such a nitpicker!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.





Tomorrow’s Game of Thrones (Season 4, Episode 3)

In preparation for the last episode of Game of Thrones Season 4 self will get to see before she embarks on her latest travels, self is re-watching (for the fourth time) Game of Thrones 4.2

This is self’s most favorite episode of Season 4 (because there are no scenes of Read the rest of this entry »

No Justice

Self remembers so clearly when she first saw the short documentary, “The 58,” about the victims of the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao, November 23, 2009 (The four-year anniversary of this event is fast approaching).

She was attending the PEN International Conference in Cebu.  Anvil, her publisher, had put her up in the hotel where the conference was being held.  Self turned on the TV, and somehow stumbled on a documentary about the horrific massacre.  She clearly remembers one scene where current Maguindanao governor Mangudadatu showed reporters around the site where his wife Genalyn, along with 57 other victims (most of them reporters), were killed.

In the documentary, the camera tracks the governor to a lonely hilltop.  For a moment, the governor appears at a loss.  Finally, he turns, looks straight at a reporter and asks, “Is this where they found my wife?”

The killings took place on Nov. 23, 2009.  Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, and two of his sisters were leading a group to Shariff Aguak to file papers for his formal declaration of candidacy for the post of governor, a post traditionally held by members of the Ampatuan clan.  Perhaps the governor knew there would be trouble, which is why the women of his family were chosen to file the papers.  It might have been assumed that the goons of the opponent clan would hesitate before harming women.  As additional insurance, several dozen reporters had been invited to come along as witnesses.

But those precautions all came to naught as, on Nov. 23, the women and the entire group they were traveling with, were stopped at a roadblock by a group of 100 armed men, 40 of whom were members of the Philippine National Police.  Mangudadatu knew what was happening because his wife called him on her cell.  Many of the victims also called from their cells.

On the third anniversary of the massacre, last year, self read that the relatives of the victims chose not to attend the memorial ceremony.  Represented, however, were members of the Ampatuan family, who had been named as the atrocity’s masterminds.  The closest parallel self can think of is if the 9/11 memorial ceremonies were attended by members of the plane hi-jackers, rather than by the victims’ families.  Such an outcome means there is little faith in the justice system in that Philippine province.

Among the initial 197 suspects tagged in the massacre were Ampatuan patriarch and former Maguindanao governor Andal Sr. and his sons Zaldy, Andal Jr., Anwar Sr. and Sajid Islam.

More than three years after the start of the trial, according to The Philippine Star, “90 suspects tagged in the massacre have yet to be arrested by the authorities.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Awesome Quote of The Last Tuesday of August 2013

It’s been a while since self has quoted anything from the grand, old New York Times Book Review.  These days, she tends to quote more from The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

But — hello?  Will wonders never cease?  Here she is, at the tail end of summer, ready to quote from The New York Times Book Review of Sunday, 11 August 2013.

The quote is from documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (He made The Thin Blue Line), and it comes to us courtesy of Tania James, in her review of Nikita Lalwani’s “powerful second novel,” The Village.

Morris, according to Ms. James, calls “the claims of cinéma vérité —  the style of documentary that privileges direct and unobtrusive observation — ‘spurious.’ “

She quotes Morris saying:  “Style does not guarantee truth.  The use of available light and a handheld camera does not mean that what you are doing is any more truthful than anything else.  Truth is a pursuit, it’s a quest.”

You’re so right, Errol!  She’ll be using your quote in her future creative writing classes, for sure!

Stay tuned.

“Elysium” — Not!

The Man went to see “Elysium” today.  Self didn’t have much interest in seeing it after she read about the plot — It’s about the Haves vs. the Have-Nots.  It’s about the 99% vs. the 1%.  Matt Damon plays a mercenary, and he’s fighting to save a little girl who needs to get on Elysium for life-saving medical treatment.

Anyhoo, while The Man was off getting his Matt Damon science-fiction fix, self snoozed on a huge pillow that lately has been disgorging tufts of plastic from a hole in its side that’s about half-a-foot wide.

But this will not be a post about the relative merits or de-merits of “Elysium.”  Or even a post about a pillow.  Or about how self so needed that nap.

Instead, this post will be about a movie she saw yesterday in Palo Alto Square off Page Mill Road (which is, BTW, a very nifty venue for film-watching:  huge theaters, comfy seats, and hardly anyone during daytime screenings).  The film was a documentary called “Blackfish.”

What. A. Movie.

First Read the rest of this entry »


Self loves summer.  She loves summer for, among other things, action movies.  Big, loud, action movies.  Michael Bay movies.  Superhero movies.

This summer, in contrast to previous summers, the choices seem rather muted.  Her favorite movies (so far) have been:

She would also like to add The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but that came out in the spring.

And she also really liked the Sarah Polley documentary exploring her mother’s secrets, Stories We Tell.

Anyhoo, now to a discussion of The Lone Ranger, which self had been looking forward to seeing for months.  Notwithstanding awful reviews.  And Eric Snider making fun of elderly women who were watching and commenting non-stop (presumably for the eye candy of Armie Hammer?  Or Johnny Depp?  Or both?)

During self’s screening (first show, Redwood City Century 20), a fight broke out.  Between an elderly white man and a tall African American man.  Self was so glued to the screen that she didn’t actually notice there was a scuffle until a manager came running in with a flashlight and said, “Knock it off!”  Then, the two combatants stood up and began accusing the other of having started the fight.

“He hit me!” the African American man said, indicating the white man.  Who, honest to God, was something like 70 years old.  The man was holding his nose or his mouth.  His hand was bloody.  What???

The manager asked the elderly man.  “Did you hit him?”

“Yes,” the elderly man said.

“Why’d you do that?” the manager asked.

“I don’t know,” the man said.

“OK, both of you out,” the manager said.

By the time the two men had exited, self had missed A Very Important Scene.  The one where Armie Hammer decides to don the mask.

Here are the positives:

  • Armie Hammer
  • Johnny Depp  —  Yes, indeed, self did not think Depp’s depiction was in any way inappropriate.  It’s kitsch, OK?  The whole concept of The Lone Ranger is kitsch to begin with.  You don’t go into a summer movie starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer and expect deep social commentary.  For the life of her, self could not understand how the movie critic could spend his entire review discussing ONLY Johnny Depp.  For the record, his performance didn’t remind her at all of Jack Sparrow.  There may have been some gestures that Tonto and Jack Sparrow had in common —  they are, after all, portrayed by the same physical body — but she did not sit through The Lone Ranger being reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean.  And, come on, Armie Hammer!  He’s a great choice to play the Lone Ranger.  He has the right air of innocence, and a kind of nonchalance about his looks.  He might even be, as she’s read somewhere on the web, Brendan Fraser 2.0.  Sorry if this makes self sound like one of those women Eric Snider was poking fun at.  But that is her honest-to-God opinion.
  • the William Tell overture
  • Helena Bonham Carter’s multi-tasking scrimshaw leg
  • James Badge Dale’s dashing derring-do in the early fight scenes (This guy is suddenly everywhere!  He was in World War Z as a battling Marine, and also in Ironman 3)
  • the wendigo references (Self has had an affinity for wendigo stories, ever since watching Antonia Bird’s Ravenous, the movie that began her Guy Pierce love)

The woman who plays the Damsel in Distress reminded self somewhat of the young Elizabeth McGovern.  She was fine — self realizes Emily Blunt cannot be in everything.

And Barry Pepper is in this movie as well, playing a rather grizzled member of the United States cavalry (He was much more grizzled in his other role this year, the movie where the Rock played a man trying to spring his son from prison by turning informant.  Self cannot for the life of her remember the name of that movie.  Was it Snitch?)

Anyhoo, that’s it.  This summer’s movies have been rather disappointing, but not this one.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Many Faces of Lisa Yuchengco, Magazine Publisher and Now Documentary Filmmaker

So it was a very dreary day — rain!  Continuous rain!  And wiping up dog pee in the kitchen!  A flood of dog pee!

But the latter half of the day was very fine.  Self found Lisa Y’s house, and bugged her about her documentary, Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker on a Voyage.

Self must admit:  she has always been fascinated by (Lisa and) Marilou D-A:  models, for self, growing up in Manila.  In convent school.  In a convent school founded by French nuns.

What was possible?

So, in the course of the afternoon, self had reason to ponder the following names:

  • Amy Austria (Self saw her in the few clips from Marilou D-A’s Brutal.  This actress was revelatory, heartrending.)
  • the iconic Marilou Diaz-Abaya herself, who passed away last October at 56 (“The real battle is not against cancer cells; the real battle is against fear.”)
  • an actor self had never heard of before:  Jaime Fabregas (He played the Spanish official responsible for Rizal’s execution in the movie Jose Rizal)

and of course:  Lisa herself!

Thank you for the fun time, Lisa!  You rock!

Mona Lisa Yuchengco, who directed MARILOU DIAZ-ABAYA: FILMMAKER ON A VOYAGE

Mona Lisa Yuchengco, who directed MARILOU DIAZ-ABAYA: FILMMAKER ON A VOYAGE

More of Lisa

More of Lisa

And STILL more of Lisa!

And STILL more of Lisa!

Self just has to say this:  Lisa, you look so adorable in purple!  You’re welcome!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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