Reel World

Filmjunkie Underground Film Festival; First Person Plural

The Party CrashersTony DuShane and his cohorts originally intended filmjunkie.com as a journalistic enterprise, albeit one with a major side benefit. "We started it to go to film festivals for free," the East Bay filmmaker candidly volunteers. (You might view the mass of ordinary-Joe film reviews online as proof of the democratizing nature of the Net; I see most of it as a scam to see Hollywood movies gratis. Call me elitist.) The legitimate journalistic element of the site offers post-fest overviews and wrap-ups of (mostly local) recent festivals.

Now DuShane is stepping out with an ambitious undertaking: the Filmjunkie Underground Film Festival, slated for the first weekend of February at a yet-to-be-finalized S.F. venue. The deadline for entries is Dec. 15; check the site for details. The first FUFF is purely local, though DuShane dreams of taking the show on the road. He's sanguine about the competition: "I don't think there's a lack of film festivals in the Bay Area," he says. "We just wanted to [have] our shot at it."

My Life to Live East Bay filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem has had an amazing ride with her film debut, which went from Sundance in January to a national PBS broadcast this month, with numerous screenings around the country in between. Her effort, First Person Plural, is a revealing personal documentary that follows Borshay Liem from her happy Fremont childhood as an adopted Korean orphan through her recurring memories of her birth family to an awkward but touching meeting of both families. "First work, for a lot of people, is often an adolescent piece," Borshay Liem muses, explaining the autobiographical debuts of most young filmmakers. "This is the film that I should have done in my 20s." A moment later, she corrects herself. "I definitely could not have done it in my 20s. I was just too confused." First Person Plural airs Monday, Dec. 18, at 10 p.m. on KQED (Channel 9).

The Far Country Between S.F. Indiefest, IFFCON, and Sundance, Bay Area independent filmmakers have their January jammed. Now they must make room for "Digital Independence 2001: Independent Media Makers Confront the Digital Transformation," a Rockefeller-funded conference on indie production and distribution to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Local guy David Rosen, who has one foot in the indie-film world and the other in the computer industry, hatched the idea of bringing together feature filmmakers and video game designers -- aka storytellers and tech mavens. As Rosen explained it to me, the conference will ask, "How do we get smart and create new business models? How do we create original works that take advantage of new technology?" Not by talking new-media speak, that's for sure. The Jan. 28-30 seminar will be a blend of theoretical policy discussions and hands-on clinics, with subjects ranging from the promise of enhanced TV to intellectual property rights. Get the goods at digitalindies.com.

Dinner at EightAdd New Line Cinema Chairman Robert Shaye to the list of movie people (Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Francis Ford Coppola) with local restaurants. Here for the opening of Glow (498 Broadway at Kearny), Shaye tells me that he sees his ventures as compatible. Cooking, he explains, is like making movies: "You start off with a script -- in a sense you start off with a recipe. Sometimes it doesn't always come off as well as one hoped."

 
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