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Tag: Raindance Film Festival

Interviews

Daria Price Discusses Her Latest Documentary “Driven to Abstraction”

October 4, 2019
Director Daria Price

Are you familiar with the Ann Freedman case, the $80 million forgery scandal that shook the art world? No? Well, then you should check out Driven to Abstraction the first chance you get. We sat down with director Daria Price and talked about this incredibly fascinating case, her new documentary, the art world and Price’s her love for the film industry.

Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Daria, welcome at the Raindance Film Festival. How do you feel about your film being screened here at the lovely festival?

Daria Price (Director): It’s very hard to know at festivals whether people will come to see it or not. I know a certain amount of people who are coming. I tried to get the word out to everyone. It’s very hard to do that when living in New York. I was trying to get the word out to art galleries and to places of which I thought they would be interested in seeing this film. I hope some strangers will come as well. One of the composers of the film just flew in from Padua and I have a few other friends coming as well. One of the participants in the film is going to be there as well.

LV: How did you become aware of the Ann Freedman case?

DP: Well, I’ve read an article in the New York Times from Patricia, who becomes one of the main characters in the film. I’ve always followed art forgery cases. I wrote a screenplay many years ago. One of the characters was a restoration expert and the two others were painters of which one of them was a bit of a forger. I had done an enormous amount of research because of that and it was like I already knew a whole lot about forgery. My eyes always fell on articles regarding art forgery and so I started to read multiple of those.

I always clipped articles. Something that my whole family does. I thought the story of Ann Freedman became a crazier and crazier story but it was a very difficult story to figure out how you would get into it. There’s always that “is she guilty or not guilty?” question. More than that, it was such an embarrassment for people in the art world, including completely innocent people. That’s what’s interesting about this case. Whether they were consciously tricked or whether it was just a sort of conspiracy. I became more and more interested in it and the story didn’t make a whole lot of sense in some ways. Then you find out that it wasn’t only Knoedler but also more of esteemed art galleries.

LV: As you said, some people didn’t want to participate in this film. Who was the first person you contacted that said yes to this?

DP: I’ve already been collecting for a couple of years articles about this case and then I started to do my own research so I could find out everything about it. Any filmmaker I knew said, “Do not make this film. It’s a great and fascinating story but you just can’t make it because everyone is going to run away if this would be true“. I went to speak with Patricia from the New York Times, who dug into the story and knew a lot about it, and when she agreed to participate that’s when I went “Ok, I should make this”. At least, it meant that I had a way in.

LV: In this film, we also see Ann Freedman’s attorney. How was he?

DP: It took a long time to get him. It wasn’t like he said not but he just wasn’t available. He’s a very busy and successful lawyer. When I interviewed with him, he became the spokesman of that side of the story. I think he did a very good job. Lawyers tell the story that they want the world to believe. Many things didn’t end up in the film. We could have easily made another film about how an attorney can spin a story. He did have an answer for everything.

Filmmaker, Daria Price (source: documentary.org)
LV: People told you “maybe you shouldn’t make this film“?…

DP: Well not because they think it wasn’t a good idea but they just thought that it was impossible to make. Raising money for a documentary and getting access to the right people is a very hard thing to do. I wasn’t going to get access to some people because they were under indictment. Ann Freedman was another story because she was under a lot of legal threats and she ultimately didn’t want to go on camera.

LV: Were there any moments you thought “Ok, maybe thee’s people are right. Maybe I can’t make this movie”?

DP: I think as a filmmaker you always have those moments. You’re going “what on earth am I doing?”. The work kept going on forever and I was going broke. I tend to finish things I started. It’s maybe insane. I think that there were people that were kind of glad that I was making this film. Those people weren’t guilty of anything but they’ve been to Ann while her (fake) painting was sitting there. It wasn’t their job to say “hey, is that a real one?”. That’s not what happens in an art gallery. You’re sitting in Knoedler and so you’re not questioning whether something is real or not. Some people like it that I was making this film but they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to participate. It wasn’t going to them any good. It wasn’t also that they were so heroic that they were going to do it for history. I think in the end I got interesting people to talk about interesting situations.

LV: Before making this documentary, you were already collecting articles about this case. While filming this documentary, what was the biggest surprise for you regarding the case? What was something you didn’t know beforehand?

DP: As I started to interview people who also knew other things, I was learning more and more about it. Why wasn’t it so unusual that these art experts would not raise a red flag. Some of them did so it would be wrong that say that they never did it. People don’t buy houses for 15 million dollars without having a lawyer coming around and checking it out. These collectors were buying paintings for millions of dollars. A painting that has no papers attached to them. Anonymity is what every buyer wants and then sadly they pay the price for it. They would have that people don’t know that they just bought a fake painting for a lot of money. What happens then is that no one’s talking about that topic.

I think the biggest surprise was this whole thing with Ramiro Gonzales. She wasn’t even someone I was trying to get because she was under a lot of indictment. She wasn’t going to go on camera. She was sort of the least ambiguous character because she had admitted guilt. Then it turned out that she has been beaten up by her boyfriend. Things like that do change your attitude towards her. At first, people were angry at her because they thought that she had ruined the art world but eventually she was just another woman abused by her husband.

LV: This documentary now premiered at Raindance. Are you going to take it to other film festivals after this one?

DP: Yes, it goes to the Haifa International Film Festival in Israel and then we’re taking it to upstate New York to the Film Columbia festival. In November, it will be screened at the Fort Lauderdale Int Film Festival.

LV: Do you have any paintings from famous artists yourself?

DP: No, but I do have a lot of friends who are painters. A lot of the paintings that are in the background of the interviews in this documentary were made by my friends. There’s a certain look that a lot of documentaries have now and it’s a very beautiful look and very sophisticated but sometimes I have the feeling that where the interviews are being taken place has nothing to do with the documentary they’re making.

I wanted to give the people the feeling that they were always in the world of art. Not necessary in the world of the masters in the art industry because those paintings might have been fakes anyway. I wanted to put authentic work painted by contemporary working artists as the background of those interviews. You will get the feeling that you’re always surrounded by paintings and art. For me, it was really about creating the environment.

LV: Do you already have other projects coming up?

DP: I have other ideas. Making this documentary and promoting it is so time-consuming. After spending a lot of time making a film, you’re becoming your sales-person. You’re doing the festivals and you’re trying to find a distributor. I have no time to start making another project.

(This interview was written as part of Big Picture Film Club’s coverage of the Raindance Film Festival 2019)

Driven To Abstraction (Documentary Trailer)

Also Read: Driven To Abstraction (Review)

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Reviews

Review: Driven to Abstraction

September 20, 2019

Are you an art collector who’s on the lookout for an authentic Pollock, an expressive Monet or a fabulous Motherwell or are you a lover of fine artwork? Then you should check out the thought-provoking and interesting documentary from director Daria Price (Out on a Limb, Survival of the Fittest). You will be (re)introduced to one of the most intriguing, well-known and unbelievable cases of forgery fraud the art industry has ever known: The Ann Freedman case.

Was it greed or naivety?

It all started in 2011 when the highly regarded art gallery Knoedler announced that after being in the art business for 165 years, it would close its doors. Most people in the art world were very astonished when that news hit the papers apart from some who knew what was going on: Knoedler and its president Ann Freedman were sued for art forgery.  After literally trying to buy her way out of this, Freedman’s case got even more attention but not in the most positive way. Art dealers and advisors but also journalists and buyers start keeping an extremely close eye on Knoedler and Freedman.

When there are no shipping papers, no contracts with the buyers or no exhibition records of the paintings, then you know something is off. But how much did Ann Freedman know? Was she aware that the painting she sold for a multi-dollar budget were fake or was she victim of a con artist just like the buyers themselves? Did she handle out of greed or out of naivety?

The destruction of Knoedler in every way possible

In this documentary we get to know what happened (and what not happened) from the people who followed this case from incredibly close by. Whether it’s Michael Shnayerson (Contributing editor for Vanity Fair), Patricia Cohen (reporter of The New York Times), different artists or even Freedman’s attorney Luke Nikas, you’ll get a 360-degree angle of what went on between the uprising of the prestigious new art gallery to its destruction. It doesn’t matter whether you knew about this story beforehand or not, you will certainly gain new, unique and fascinating insides from those first-hand sources.

Because of the worldwide attention this case got, a lot of different and divergent opinions were formed. Which events took place and which were fake just for the sake of attention? Director Price wanted to represent all those different points of view in as many ways as possible and decided to use multiple coverage images. Most of them are interviews with important and respected people so it can feel a little bit repetitive. However, because they all have some exciting and entertaining things to say, Driven to Abstraction is able to keep your attention all the way. Price also used official documents, historic pictures, and newspapers to make sure that there’s a lot of diversity in her latest work. If you into a crime/documentary feature then you will love Driven to Abstraction as this is exactly how it should be.

Did she or did she not know? Get the answer at the Raindance Film Festival

Did the painter who forged the paintings know what was going on? Was Ann Freedman in on the $80 million forgery scandal that shook the art world? What happened to the people who became the victims of Knoedler. Driven to Abstraction will allow you to form your answers to all of these questions. Pretty sure you will be discussing this documentary with your friends and colleagues next time you go for a pint. First, you should stop at the Raindance Film Festival where this fascinating and well-made documentary will be screened on the Saturday 21st of September and Monday the 23rd of September.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

(This review was written for the Raindance Film Festival)

Driven To Abstraction (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Five Great Films About Filmmaking

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Reviews

Review: 7 Reasons to Run Away (From Society)

September 16, 2019

An unwanted son, a businessman and a groom walk on-set… It sounds like the beginning of a joke but it couldn’t be any further from the truth. They’re all part of a dysfunctional society created by directors Gerard Quinto (“Interior. Family”, “Fotógrafo”), Esteve Soler (“Interior. Family”) and David Torras (“Interior. Family”). The three directors already worked on the same project and decided to come together for one more and we’re incredibly lucky they did. Their newest collaboration turns out to be a stunning, bizarre (but in a good way), amusing and one-of-a-kind film.

A society like no other

Think that your parents are crazy, annoying and unfair? Well, pretty sure that the ‘Family’ chapter of “7 Reasons to Run Away (from Society)” will change your mind. “El fill” (Pol Lópe) is being verbally abused by his parents and gets to know terrible things about his life: He was an unwanted child, got sexually abused by his grandfather and he’s nothing but a failure in his parents’ eyes. How will he cope with confessions about his ‘lovely’ family? From one psychologically disturbed family to an old couple who are spending their days watching television. There seems nothing on the TV, apart from programs about solidarity (yes, that’s the name of the second chapter of this film) and charities. However, one stranger from an unexpected place is changing the wife (Vicky Peña) and her husband’s (Ramon Fontserè) ordinary evening into an extraordinary one.

They’re not the only ones whose lives are about to change but also for ‘The Wife’ (Emma Suárez) is something about to happen. While we learned to count numbers from primary school, it seems that that wasn’t the case for her. After being awake by a mystery man (Sergi López) who asks her what comes after six, she becomes paralysed by the thought of which number that could be. She’s been living on the sixth floor herself and the floor above her seems scary, dark and hellish. What will the worried, anxious and scared ‘The Wife’ find when she heads upstairs? A black hole, the Devil or just… nothing? She might or she might not have to face death but who certainly has to do that is ‘The Woman’ (Àgata Roca) in the fourth chapter called ‘Property’. While looking for a fitting property, she’s being told that multiple suicides have taken place in the apartment she’s looking at. Most of us would run away as far away as possible from that place but she doesn’t. She gets intrigued and stays for the entire viewing. Will she buy it or not?

The story continues

We’re halfway through the film and things get even crazier than they were before. In ‘Work’, we’re being confronted again with inequalities. ‘The Wife’ (Lola Dueñas) has everything she could ever wish for (glamorous clothing, a loving husband, a fancy property) but still, she’s feeling incredibly unhappy. There’s the need for more exuberant things. If you think that the story is about a rich woman wanting more than she already has, well, you couldn’t be more wrong. After hearing a loud noise from her basement, she opens the door to see what’s going on. What will she find and what does it have to do with work?

It’s clear the directors are intrigued by death and dying and that’s why they invented the sixth of “7 Reasons to Run Away (from Society)”. In ‘Progress’, they tell the story of a man (Borja Espinosa) who’s on the verge of dying but who can still be saved by the woman (Aina Clotet) who found him bleeding next to the road. He’s on the journey from life to death but how far will things progress? Will he see light at the end of the tunnel or will the light go out right before his eyes? From death to a wedding, it’s only a small step in this film. A bride (Núria Gago) and a groom (David Verdaguer) are about to say their vowels to each other in front of the church and their friends and family when doubt is filling their minds. After stepping aside to talk about their feelings, future, and commitment to each other, they made a decision. Will we hear the wedding bells ring after all?

Every chapter has a unique story to tell

Remember The Ballad of Buster Scruggs from the acclaimed directors Ethan Coen and Joel Coen? Well, 7 Reasons to Run Away (from Society) is just like that but this time all the craziness is taking place in a (modern) crazy society instead of the Old West. Whether it’s that elderly couple in their small home, the happy bride and groom in the wedding church or the lonely woman in a shambolic apartment, every short film has a unique story to tell. You can see this movie as seven shorter ones without making the connection between them but there’s something that connects them: They’re all about a dark, troubled and mysterious society.

Darkness and greatness rule

Don’t expect too much colour in 7 Reasons to Run Away (from Society). There’s a obscure side to every story and that comes with black, gloomy and shady colours. When we think about a socially impaired society we might think about murder, death and a lot of action and while we get some of that in this film, it’s mostly about the witty, clever and funny conversations between the characters. Conversations that are brought perfectly by the great cast!

An entertaining, peculiar and psychedelic movie

After premiering at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival earlier this year and making stops in Spain during the Málaga Film Festival and South Korea for the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, 7 Reasons to Run Away (from Society) is now coming to London for its UK premiere. While you probably don’t want to be part of the film’s broken society, hearing and seeing all the odd stories will be an absolute eclectic, unique and psychedelic thrill. You can watch “7 Reasons to Run Away (from Society)” during the Raindance Film Festival on Thursday 26th of September and Friday 27th of September.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This review was written as part of the Raindance Film Festival 2019

7 Reasons To Run Away (From Society) – Official Trailer

Also Read: “A Million Little Pieces” Review

Interviews

First Look: “Anti Matter” by Keir Burrows

October 11, 2016

 

At Big Picture Film Club’s First Look we take a sneak peak at a film’s premier screening, or trailer, and give you a glimpse of what to expect and what to look out for! This week’s First Look is Worm by Keir Burrows.

Anti Matter is a sci-fi noir take on the Alice in Wonderland tale. The film centres around, Ana, an Oxford Physics PhD student, who makes a groundbreaking scientific breakthrough – creating a ‘wormhole’. Things take a dramatic turn for the worst after her first experiment. Writer and director, Keir Burrows, excels in creating a tense environment where anything is possible, and everything is subject to question. As we follow Ana in her journey of understanding, the film aims to explore the questions – what makes us who we are?

Following the screening at Raindance, we had a brief chat with Keir, to find out more abut this intriguing film…

Big Picture Film Club: What was the inspiration behind Anti Matter?

Keir Burrows: Anti Matter started off as a short film script – what is now much of the opening act – wherein I wanted to see if I could bring an audience on a real-time journey of scientific discovery, trying to evoke the same responses in them that the scientists might be feeling as they slowly realised they were inventing a wormhole generator. After writing the short I realised I had the foundation for something bigger: I’d created a world and a means where I might explore some really interesting, I guess philosophical questions, about what makes us human, is there more to us than matter, this sort of thing. Ahh, I can’t say too much as it gives away the plot!

BPFC: In the spirit of science-fiction, the film creates a wonderful story based on pushing the limits of science as we know it. However, stylistically the film doesn’t feel like a fantasy / sci-fi film – was this a conscious decision?

KB: I guess it was a conscious decision in so far as we were working within the limits of our budget. The story, the ideas in Anti Matter, are quite big – this isn’t some single-location, chamber piece of science fiction. It has some scale. With a much bigger budget we might have set it in space, or the future, I don’t know, given it more traditional sci-fi flair. But we couldn’t, so instead we tried to go the other way, use the ancient architecture of Oxford, the simple garrett laboratory, conversations in dark pubs and so on, to tell the story.

Once the science is set up, we then make the film about people, and relationships, and the failing human mind. If you think of a movie like Inception – which is pure science fiction – Inception, that story could have been made on a micro-budget, with no-name actors, without the train in the middle of the city and everything scaled down, and it still would have been absolutely amazing. It was great not because of its budget or its wonderful cast, but because of the stunning concept and the smart storytelling. I’m hoping (ha!) that people enjoy Anti Matter in the same manner.

BPFC: The film deals heavily with quantum mechanics and particle physics – did you have to consult anyone for this?

KB: Did a crap-ton of research. Genuinely, I have a dozen fat books on these subjects – quantum mechanics and the like – weighing down my shelf. My wife is like, your movie is done can they go now? Hell no they make me look smart! So no, it was mostly self-navigated. I did both Chemistry and Physics at A-Level, so I had some basic grounding, it wasn’t a completely foreign language. Then with the writing it was a process of knowing where I needed to end up, using the internet to understand the questions I needed to ask, then delving into the journals to make sure I was being coherent. The sole aim being that every step of the journey my scientists take, everything they do, is logical and scientifically comprehensible, even if by necessity it’s all pure fiction.

BPFC: How has the feedback of the film been?

KB: Amazing. Ah, we’re glowing. Raindance was great, audiences really seemed to enjoy it – it’s nerve-wracking as all hell watching with a roomful of strangers, but it was very well received. Unexpectedly we’ve had a whole lot of really good reviews. I wasn’t expecting reviews, not from a film festival, and not as positive as this. Kudos to the whole team!

BPFC: What are your plans for the film moving forward?

KB: So we’ve had distribution offers, which we’re firming up, the hope is 2nd quarter next year, but I’ll let you know more when things are more concrete. And we’ll keep submitting to festivals of course – they’re always so much fun, getting to see Worm on a big screen. It’s what I started making movies for – that moment the lights go down, the score kicks in, the audience engages. It makes it all worthwhile.

BPFC: Who are your filmmaking inspirations?

KB: So Anti Matter is inspired in a big way by Chris Nolan’s work, definitely. The sort of stories I aspire to tell are big, complex tales, entertaining but with a human core, which is what he does. Visually Nolan as well, and David Fincher, whose mastery of every aspect of the entire form just blows me away. So aye, stylistically those two inspire me the most. John Carpenter for the way he stokes and manages suspense, Tarantino for his flair and wicked sense of humour, Danny Boyle for the glorious eclecticism of his career, Terence Malick for the poetry, Cuarón for the adventure, Innaritu for the soul, Kurosawa, Leone… Ah, there’s too many!

You can follow “Anti Matter” on Facebook, or visit Keir & Dédé Burrows’ film production website: http://www.castironpictures.co.uk

Interviews

Graham Higgins: A new take on London’s East End.

November 23, 2015
Graham Higgins

Big Picture Film Club held a screening of psychological-thriller, Mile End [@MileEndMovie], earlier this month. We had a brief Q&A with the film’s writer, director and creative architect, Graham Higgins.

Big Picture Film Club: What inspired you to create MILE END?

Graham Higgins: The idea for MILE END was inspired by real events when a jogger tried to high five me in the street and it started me thinking, what could have happened if I’d got to know him? I go running by the river in Limehouse, in east London where I live. I find that running is very liberating. It frees up your subconscious. So as I was running, this story which is very psychological would just come to me, and I would rush home and write it all down.

BPFC: Not to give too much of the plot away, but MILE END plays on the duality of the main character – what inspired this direction?

Graham: That’s the main question at the heart of the film – the enigma about the parallel lives of the two main characters. These two unemployed guys meet by chance while they’re out running and they become running mates. And they develop a bond, which is quite strange.

Many of us will have experienced that uncanny feeling when someone says something, the same thing we have just been thinking ourselves, and it’s curious how people can have the same thoughts at the same time. You could say it’s coincidence, but perhaps there is something else going on – something spiritual or an affinity between us that we don’t really understand.

During the story, three people are killed in strange circumstances and the film poses the enigma: what happened to them? The answer lies somewhere in the psychology of these two guys, and it’s up to the audience to decide what has happened.

BPFC: What aspect of the film do you think would surprise anyone who sees it?

Graham: MILE END is unique in that it’s my very personal take on what I call the ‘stranger danger’ thriller. People will be familiar with the genre from movies like ‘Single White Female’ where an innocent person meets a dubious stranger. But I’ve given it my own slant, which is to create a story that is deliberately ambiguous. People do find it refreshing that the film keeps them guessing and enjoy trying to figure out what has happened.

It’s also a very different take on the East End of London. There are no gangsters. It’s about an office worker who lives on the fringes of London’s banking zones, the City and Canary Wharf. He loses his job in the recession and goes running while he’s trying to get back into work.

The cinematography by Anna Valdez Hanks really captures the unique beauty of that washed out London light by the Thames, and also the ominous presence of the banking district of Canary Wharf which looms over east London. The music by Ed Scolding is very clever, you don’t feel like you’ve heard it before. One of the reviewers described the film as “beautiful and unsettling” and audiences have found it surprising that a film can have both those qualities at the same time.

BPFC: What are your plans for MILE END moving forward?

Graham: We’re currently submitting to international festivals, talking to distributors. The film premiered at Raindance where it was nominated for Best UK Feature, which was a great experience, so we’re looking forward to more festival screenings. We plan to have a limited theatrical release in independent cinemas next year and then digital release after that.

BPFC: Do you have any projects in mind for the future?

Graham: I have two other feature scripts I’ve written, set in east London. So the three films will be a loose ‘Limehouse’ trilogy. I’d like to make those over the next few years. I also have a drawer full of ideas for other features and a few books I’d like to adapt.

BPFC: How was the feedback from the film?

Graham: Amazing. Reviews have been really positive, picking up on the financial crisis theme, and also saying how “absorbing” and “compelling” the film is. The central performances by Alex Humes and Mark Arnold have rightly had a lot of praise.

One audience member described the film as “full of charm and darkness”, and I think audiences have really found it intriguing and gripping. It’s what I would call a European-style psychological thriller, and people have definitely come out feeling very affected by it. The suspense really ramps up as you go deeper into the story and you do notice audiences going very quiet as they’re drawn in.

 

Big Picture Film Club would like to thank Graham Higgins [@GrahamHi], and the entire cast and crew of Mile End. Look out for future screenings!

Follow Mile End on Twitter: @mileendmovie

Follow Big Picture Film Club on Twitter: @BigPicFilmClub