If you’re aching to experience a film festival, my selection should help you choose from the best in the world. While you’re there you might as well combine this with a sightseeing holiday within the same destination to soak up the delights of the local culture, food and surroundings for an even more enriching experience.
1. The Godfather (1972)
Marlon Brando plays the Godfather, while Al Pacino and James Caan – his sons, in this Francis Ford Coppola movie based on the Mario Puzo novel about an Italian-American Mafia boss who relinquishes control to his son Michael (Pacino). Fantastic dramatic storyline and great acting by some of America’s finest actors.
This is good news and now you have a very good excuse to sit, relax and watch a good film without guilt along with an excellent response if family members or friends disapprove of your time spent watching films!
On a serious note, studies have shown that watching films can be beneficial for your physical health, as well as your emotional and mental health. The below lists the positive health benefits that can be felt when watching films.
Good quality films stimulate your emotional sensors which results in physical reactions in the body. For example, a good comedy will make you laugh heartily. The laughter helps you cope with stress, can strengthen your immune system and helps lower blood pressure. Be aware though that you have to choose your films wisely if you want the health benefits from movie watching, generally this would be heart felt, feel good and inspirational films. A grossly violent sickening film will provide no benefit to your health because of the disgust, fear and shock you’ll experience emotionally and physically from watching such films displaying atrocious inhumane acts of violence.
Some therapists prescribe films to assist their clients explore their thoughts, emotions and to deal with a difficult issue or circumstance they are currently facing. This type of therapy can have very beneficial effects on most people except for those with psychotic disorders. The way it works is that movies are chosen based on themes that reflect the patient’s current issue. For example, if the patient is trying to cope with a serious illness of a loved one, then the movie “Beaches” would be therapeutic for this situation as its storyline is also about a character dealing with a loved one’s illness. When watching the film, the patient is to observe how the issue is dealt with by the characters.
Films can also provide a vehicle for emotional release, for instance after a stressful day a good light hearted movie can help you to relax and release the tensions of the day. Or, watching a sad movie may trigger suppressed feelings of grief and sadness which enables you to release those feelings out of your system. A sad film can have another effect in that it can make you happier. This was shown in a study where students watched the sad and tragic movie “Atonement”. Afterwards the students reported that they were happier with their lives because the film caused them to think about their loved ones and be grateful for what they have.
Helps You Lose Weight
Studies have shown that a good horror film can burn up calories. I can imagine people all over the world jumping up and down with joy over this finding! This is an enjoyable way to combine your love of watching films with losing weight and there’s hardly any effort involved. How this works is when you watch a horror film, the intense fear you feel creates stress in your body – ie the pulse quickens and blood is pumping faster throughout the body. In response to this stressor adrenaline is released which is known to reduce the appetite and increase the metabolic rate which in turn burns more calories.
When you think about film making, you would imagine beautiful actors and actresses, the red carpet, glitz and glam. Even the behind the scenes production side of film making looks glamorous, as it appears so exciting and fun. I bet the last thing you would think about when it comes to film making is film production insurance. What! There’s such a thing?
You bet there is, millions of dollars are invested into a large scale film and a big monetary loss could be detrimental financially to the production. In fact it is really quite interesting what film production insurance can cover, maybe enough for it to be associated with the hmmm “intrigue” of film making. And the cost is hefty, it can be up to 4% of a movie’s total production costs.
Here is a sample of what a film production can be covered for with insurance:
- The costs associated with death or sickness to the cast, this can also include an assessment of the current health and habits of the actors
- Health and safety of cast and crew
- Damage or loss to props and costumes
- Crowd control
- Foreign and high level of risk shooting locations
- Stunts and special effects
- Aircraft, watercraft and railroad usage
- Animals involved in the film making
- Filming equipment damage or loss
- Damage and loss to negatives, hard drive or video tapes
- Bad weather in case of having to re-shoot because of the weather conditions
If we drill down even further to how some of the items covered by film making insurance is appraised, it gets even more interesting. Here are some real life accounts of insurers and film making – claims, coverage and insurance appraisals.
- John Candy passed away from a heart attack at age 43 in 1994 whilst making the movie “Wagons East” in Durango, Mexico. The claim was extraordinarily expensive at more than $15 million. After John Candy’s death the insurer paid more attention to an actor’s weight and heart health in their assessment for insurance cover.
- Injuries and accidents lead to delays and huge financial burdens – large scale films can lose $250,000 or more per day. Patrick Swayze broke both legs when he fell off a horse and hit a tree during the filming of “Letters from a Killer” and was unable to work for 6 weeks. The insurer did not confirm whether money was paid out to cover the financial loss, but they did mention that they were not advised that Patrick would be riding through a forest, they thought it was a field with no trees.
- The movie set for the film “13 Days” was located in a jungle in the Philippines. In assessing the insurance coverage for this film the insurer had to consider the dangers of working in a jungle including the humidity, insects and the costs of moving people, equipment and costumes.
- Angelina Jolie wanted to perform most of her own stunts for the movie “Salt”. This included high danger activities such as jumping off a bridge and hanging off a ledge of a high rise building. The insurer approved it on the provision that she wore a safety harness.
Film festivals in North America and Canada are right on par with the world’s best. The selection below are the top festivals that are well worth a visit if you are eager to experience one or more in the coming months. This would also be the perfect chance to see the scenic delights of the country by making the journey in your car (but make sure your vehicle insurance is still active, as you wouldn’t want any unpleasant surprises to dampen your travel and festival experience!)
1. Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah
Although initially named as the US Film Festival, in 1991, Sundance was given its’ new name after it became part of the Sundance Institute under actor Robert Redford’s stewardship. These days, Sundance is regarded as among the premiere independent film festivals worldwide. Every year, it screens over 125 feature-length films, and a further 90 or so short films. The festival takes place in January, and lasts for a total of 10 days.
2. Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto Film Festival started in 1976, where the emphasis is on screening films from other top film festivals from around the globe. There’s no argument that Toronto has become a primary festival within its’ own right, and not merely within North America. The festival lasts for 10 days and takes place in the month of September.
3. Ann Arbor Film Festival
The longest-running of any film festivals in North America, Ann Arbor Film Festival opened its’ doors in 1963. The awards on offer go to a variety of categories, including animation, experimental, narrative, and documentary. The festival lasts for a total of 7 days and takes place in March.
4. Miami International Film Festival
Miami International Film Festival has been running for over two decades. It showcases American as well as international films, with particular emphasis upon Ibero-American cinema (works from Portugal, Spain, and Latin America in general). The festival is responsible for launching a number of notable film directing careers such as Atom Egoyan (‘The Sweet Hereafter’) and Pedro Almodóvar (‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’). The festival takes place in February, and lasts for 10 days.
5. Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)
This, the Seattle International Film Festival or SIFF, is the largest film festival in the US, and was started in 1976 by a couple of movie buffs, Darryl Macdonald and Dan Ireland. Yearly prizes on offer for top films is generally around $20,000. The festival is held in May and June and lasts for a total of 4 weeks.
6. Tribeca Film Festival (New York)
The Tribeca Film Festival was established in 2002 as a response to the World Trade Center attacks, by Robert DeNiro, Craig Hatkoff, and Jane Rosenthal. The original concept was to revitalize the culture and economy of Lower Manhattan by way of an annual celebration of culture, music, and film, as well as to promote New York City as a prominent centre for filmmaking which would help filmmakers reach as broad an audience as possible. The festival lasts for 12 days and takes place in April and May.
Do you have a passion for watching films? And then afterwards do you love talking about the movie, discussing the highlights, the performances of the actors and the negatives and positives with friends, colleagues, family and anyone who will listen? You may have wondered whether you can make money through your passion by being a film critic but then decided it was for someone who was interested in journalism or has a journalism degree.
Well you may be surprised that you do not require a Journalism degree (although it can be helpful) to become a film critic! What you do need is some good writing and communication skills. Here are some tips to give you a head start on working your way towards being a film critic.
- Read a selection of film reviews written by others. Note down what was discussed by those reviewers. Observe the way the film review was structured. How does the reviewer begin their review, what is in the middle and how does it end? It normally begins with a general description of the movie, then in the middle it drills down further to discuss and critically assess the plot, acting, special effects etc. The end of the review contains the reviewers concluding assessment and overall rating of the movie.
- Start to practice writing film reviews using the structure and style you have researched in the previous point. In addition, keep in mind the reader – discuss the features of a film that a reader would be interested in such as the storyline, acting and special effects. Be aware that film critics are in the business of reviewing all categories of film, so watch all genres whether you like them or not.
- Search online for websites that allow people to post film reviews and allows others to post comments and feedback in return such as Movie-Blogger or Yahoo Movies. It gives you experience and practice and you have an online sample of your work to supply to a potential future employer.
- Enrol in a writing class to improve your writing skills. A writing class also has the benefit of gaining specific feedback by the teacher. A writing group may also be useful as members can provide you with commentary on your writing pieces as well as being a forum for all members to share their experiences.
- Volunteer to write film reviews in your local area or if you are studying – in your educational institution. Contact any group that provides a free publication such as a library, small associations and clubs such as an arts and crafts club, retirement homes, churches etc. Write for as many free publications as you can. You are giving up your time with no financial reward to receive valuable experience, to build your name and credibility and to generate your personal portfolio of samples to provide to a potential employer when applying for positions as a film critic.
- Ask your readers that are receiving the free publication for feedback and use it to improve your writing for future reviews.
- Once you have written enough reviews for the free publications, try contacting local newspapers around your area. Select the best reviews you’ve written to be included with your resume.
- Once you have gained enough experience as a paid film critic, continue to approach other publications or try local radio stations who may require a film critic to review films on air.
A career in film is a popular consideration for many and is commonly regarded as a glamorous career because of the connection to celebrity, wealth and beauty whether that is being an actor or working behind the scenes such as being a cinematographer or producer of a film.
There are so many opportunities available in film other than the commonly known careers of being an actor, film maker, producer, script writer etc. It can be a very rewarding career if you have a passion for performance or creative expression. However, this type of career has its own unique challenges that must be tackled head on if you are to succeed in this industry.
The information below gives you a realistic view on what is required for a career in film.
Let’s begin with a career in acting as many people who are interested in film want to perform in front of the camera. This is where the misconceived “glamour” factor forms a large part of some people’s interest to become an actor. An acting career is not glamorous, it is hard work and very demanding. You must be passionate about acting to give you the impetus to continually face the challenges of this career path.
One way you can meet the demands of this career path is to continually update your skills and abilities to the highest level. You want to be at your very best at an audition to win the role! And then perform to your highest level in the role itself as your performance is a major factor to whether a production succeeds or not.
You will need to attend auditions where competition is fierce depending on the role on offer. You will have to win the role and this may mean facing many auditions before you succeed. This in turn means that you will need to rely on other forms of work to supplement your income.
For every actor, there are many people working behind the scenes to make the production happen. There are jobs that require people skilled in technical, administration, creativity and management. Administrators are needed in film companies. Technicians are required for sound, lighting and film production. Creative jobs can be a script writer who researches and writes the script or a make-up artist or set designer. These career paths can also be very rewarding for those who love their line of work but also want a connection to the film industry.
Famous and popular actors as is commonly known are paid up to the millions for each role they undertake. That is probably the image most have in mind when it comes to acting. The reality is that many creative artists and performers have low incomes and lack job security. They need to find flexible forms of work that will enable them to attend auditions. Pursue with passion your dream of becoming an actor, but also have a back up plan so that you have other options in place. This may mean continuing your education in another area that you also have an interest in.
Getting Down to “Business”
You are most likely going to be hired on a freelance basis if you choose a career in film. You might be the costume designer who researches and designs costumes, or an actor moving from one film to another. You could be the stunt coordinator who designs and executes stunt work. No matter what your line of work you’ll be your own business. This means you need to market and sell your talents and services. Consider taking a course on business skills for learning self promotion, bookkeeping and other entrepreneurial skills.
A career in film is highly competitive with many people seeking work in this industry and so can be difficult to break into. It is therefore essential for you to develop or have mental strength and resilience to continually take the steps required to pursue your dream.
I’m a health and fitness freak (would have to be with all the films I watch!) so it’s no wonder that I’ve written this article outlining my top 5 health and wellness documentaries. They are thoroughly engaging and informative even for the non health fanatics out there.
1. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Joe Cross is struck with a thoroughly debilitating health issue – autoimmune disease. Joe is not only 100 pounds overweight, but he’s also stoking up on steroids each and every day in order to fight the disease.
He’s nearing the end of his tether. What he sees when he looks in the mirror is a 310 lb guy staring back. It just doesn’t feel right, and it certainly doesn’t look right. Finding that what the doctors offer him is not working long-term, he does the only thing that’s left, he goes in search of a natural cure.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead chronicles Joe’s days as he sets out on a 60 day trip across the US. On his journey, he consumes only freshly pressed juice for the whole 60 day period. Furthermore, he meets a truck driver who is also suffering from the same disease as Joe himself is. For obvious reasons, Joe offers to help him overcome his battle against the disease.
A fascinating story that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout.
This documentary will, if you watch it, no doubt make you very, very hungry! These days, most of the top restaurants around the globe are looking to source local ingredients. And for obvious reasons – they taste better, they are healthier because they are fresher, the sources can be trusted, it’s sustainable, and it supports the local economy.
Ingredients is about just this. It delves into why supporting local agriculture is a very good decision from the point of view that the food is healthier, tastier, and it lends itself to the localized economy by focusing on sustainable produce. Meet the farmers and the chefs responsible for this drive for much-needed improvement throughout the United States.
3. Crazy, Sexy Cancer
Back in 2003, Kris Karr, having been diagnosed with a form of incurable cancer, begins to film her own story. She’s intent on stopping at nothing until she finds a cure, regardless of what her doctors are telling her.
This documentary, Crazy, Sexy Cancer, shows how Kris manages to take what at first sight is obviously an extremely serious and tragic situation, and turns that into, as she calls it, a form of ‘creative expression’. The footage includes moments of not only courage and strength, but also lots and lots of extraordinary good humour!
4. May I be Frank
This documentary follows Frank Ferrante, a 54 year-old ex-drug addict, overweight man who is also suffering from hepatitis C. For obvious reasons, Frank is very depressed about his life and wants to make a real effort to change his life around. He’s also committed to finding love one last time.
One day, out of pure chance, Frank stumbles across a vegan café named Café Gratitude (aptly enough). The documentary covers a 42 day period whereby Frank’s whole life undergoes a miraculous transformation at the hands of the three 20-something year-old Café Gratitude staff members. Frank’s quest for enlightenment is both endearing and stressful.
5. Hungry for Change
Who doesn’t want for a perfect body, more energy, and suppler, more beautiful skin? So if we could achieve this, why don’t we?
This documentary comes from the creators of the best-selling Food Matters, and it’s no less hard-hitting than the previous film.
It features Kris Karr of Crazy, Sexy Cancer, and Frank Ferrante from May I be Frank. Furthermore, there are interviews from both leading medical experts and other best-selling authors besides Kris and Frank.
You can’t go wrong with this one if you want to be motivated to improve your health overall!
These documentaries should inspire you to live a healthy lifestyle or to continue being healthy. If you do decide to undertake any of the regimens given in these documentaries, be sure to check with your doctor first.
Fancy embarking on your own travel exploits? Finding yourself getting itchy feet and unsure what to do or where to go? Why not get thoroughly inspired by reading up on my 5 best travel documentaries, arguably of all time!
1. Between Home (http://www.betweenhome.com/about/)
First-time traveller Nick Jaffe has no sailing qualifications, no insurance for his boat, no ship radio licences. He doesn’t have the money for any of that. But he doesn’t care. What he does care about is his independence!
He’s about to embark upon an 18,000 mile solo journey from the UK to Australia. The voyage of a lifetime, no doubt. He’s got $500 AUS left in his pocket and a small yacht to get him half way around the globe. His yacht’s engine dies during the voyage and he’s got enough food to last no more than a single week. Will he make it? Will he survive?
2. A Map for Saturday (http://amapforsaturday.com/)
“People say ‘oh, you’re so lucky’. It’s not lucky, it’s about attitude.”
Follow the world-wide journey of Brook Silva-Braga, Emmy winning-producer, as he quits his high-paying job with the HBO television network, and sets off on this courageous journey with only 5 pounds of clothing, and 30 pounds of video equipment to his name.
3. Que Tan Lejos (How Much Further) (available on DVD)
Esperanza and Tristeza are endeavouring to get from the capital city of Ecuador (Quito) to the small town of Cuenca. Although normally a 5 hour bus trip, the bus is forced to stop during the journey due to local strikes. The two ladies resort to hiking for the rest of their journey.
One of the girls is a tourist from Spain, while the other is desperate to stop the love of her life from marrying someone else. Their trials and tribulations are now part of a dramatized documentary available on DVD.
4. In July (Im Juli) (available on DVD)
Daniel Bannier is a rather dull and shy school teacher who at the beginning of his summer time break meets up with a beautiful Turkish girl called Melek. Melek however is traveling back to Turkey the very next day after they meet.
Daniel starts a car journey to find her and picks up a hitcher who turns out to be his friend Juli. Little does Daniel realize that Juli is in love with him. This travel tale conveys the fascinating adventure they have together, traveling from Hamburg in Germany to Istanbul in Turkey. They drive, walk, swim, get robbed, get involved in fights, manage to escape from jail, and even bribe border guards to reach their destination.
5. Lost in Translation (available on DVD)
Two Americans, Bob Harris (played by Bill Murray in the movie) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson) find themselves in Tokyo. Bob is there to shoot a whisky commercial, while Charlotte is with her photographer husband who’s so deeply engrossed in his work, that he leaves Charlotte to her own devices. While residing in the same hotel, one night they cross paths and create something of an unlikely friendship.
They journey throughout Tokyo together, enjoying karaoke bars, parties, and a variety of other nightlife adventures, making for something of a hilarious and eye-opening experience.
1. Schindler’s List (1993)
Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, a successful German businessman in Poland during the Second World War, employs Jewish workers to further his growing empire. However, Oskar is horrified by the barbaric nature of German concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes). Oskar is intent on freeing his Jewish workers at any cost.
Although Schindler lived a near-destitute life after the war, he is still celebrated to this day for helping Jewish people survive the atrocities of the Holocaust. He is credited with saving the lives of some 1,200 Jewish persons.
2. Catch me if You Can (2002)
Frank Abagnale Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is disappointed with his parent’s inability to achieve success, he still admires his father though (played by Christopher Walken) and wishes to impress him at any cost. Using his own intelligence and an inordinate amount of wit, he begins to hatch a number of plots in order to con millions of dollars’ worth of cheques while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and an attorney.
Although Abagnale spent a number of years (6 in all) in prison for his wrong-doings, upon his release, he was employed by a bank as a security specialist. Later down the track, he founded Abagnale and Associates, a company that provides advice about security and fraud. Furthermore, he spent 35 years consulting with the FBI.
3. The Blind Side (2009)
Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron), a delinquent and homeless black teenager, understands little about family values. He meets Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock), a well-to-do middle class American mother of two. She gives him a home and invites him to become a part of her own family. She also nurtures his abilities to the point where he becomes a successful blue-chip football star.
Michael Oher went on to play the position of offensive tackle with the Baltimore Ravens.
This is the ultimate feel-good movie, even if you’re not an American football fan!
4. The King’s Speech (2010)
This is the story of King George VI’s (played by Colin Firth) ascension to the British throne in 1936. The King was seen to be unfit as a ruler because of his extreme stammer. However, he engages the services of an Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to overcome his inadequacies.
The perfect movie for those who enjoy a combination of history mixed with a downright fine tale. Moving at times, hilarious at others!
5. The Social Network (2010) The tale of Harvard undergraduate student, Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), and his rise to fame and huge fortune as the founder of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg went on to become the youngest billionaire of all time, but along the way, his life is cluttered with legal battles and personal issues.
If you enjoy learning how others amassed their fortune from the grass roots up, then The Social Network is an excellent movie for you.