Tag Archives: Documentary

Aiming for the Top! The Witches of the Orient: Documentary Review

14 Sep

The Witches of the Orient (2021) - IMDbBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The Cinematheque
1131 Howe Street
Vancouver BC

Sept 16-19, 22
(please check link for showtimes)
Playing online: September 16–29

The Witches of the Orient is a deceptive title. Unless you are reading the plot teaser, you won’t know this sports film is about the triumphs of the 1964 Japanese Olympic volleyball team. These ladies who are still living today fondly recall their glory days, their training, and how they feel (past and present) about their achievement. Most of them were workers at a textile factory in Kaizuka, Japan, and in some ways, the title is about the magical connection they’ve formed during their training to aim for the top, Gunbuster style. Though this anime is about giant robots and excelling in the battlefield, the title is inspired from older sports cartoons. The aesthetic of a getting a group of ladies fully trained by a determined coach shows why the narrative is familiar. The real life Olympic team had to deal with the demanding Hirofumi Daimatsu.  

Technically, their competitors saw them as Oriental Witches. Instead of taking it as a derogatory statement, the Japanese team took it as a term of endearment. They weren’t upset either. I suspect they were fussing over how they’ve stayed true to themselves. As they toured the world in exhibition matches, we can see why they are a finely tuned and fierce team on the volleyball field.

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Genre Picks of the 37th L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival

2 Sep

Runs Sept 23 to Oct 2, 2021
Tickets are available to purchase starting Sept 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT.

The 37th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is back as both an online and in-person event! Some films will be available across the nation to view and others geo-locked to this municipality.

One work to take note of is the Los Angeles premiere of the documentary Wuhan Wuhan. This film examines the global health issue as it unfolded from February and March of last year and instead of a dire warning, Yung Chang’s (Up the Yangtze) direction offers a humanitarian message. Anyone wanting a fresh look at the situation may well want to consider this documentary as part of their viewing schedule.

Although much of the California state is not under lockdown, attendees are asked to still observe safety protocols. The in person events are likely to be attendance capped, and no matter what happens as the world enters the Autumn season, the organizers are committed to recognizing talents who are making an impact in the community as, so the saying goes, “navigate strange times.” 

On that note, the genre picks for this year include:

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[Fantasia 2021] Who’s the Master with Dreams & Monsters? Mad Gods?

19 Aug

Mad God (2021) - IMDbFantasia Film Festival 2021
Available to Stream on Aug 22 & 24
Tickets purchases available here.

Mad Dreams & Monsters is available in The Monster Collection (Amazon USA Link)

Anyone who saw Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters before going to see Mad God at Fantasia Film Festival is ahead of the game when getting to know how this film came to be. No prior knowledge is necessary, but this documentary by Gilles Penso and Alexandre Ponce will help. It’s a love letter to the man, and every film he made movie magic in. It includes his contributions to television (The Pillsbury Dough Boy) too. 

The transition to filmmaking took place when he met Dennis Muren who was looking for talents to staff Industrial Light & Magic. He is the creative mind behind realizing Dejarik, a weird chess-like game that Chewie and R2D2 played in episode IV and since then, his cinematic legacy was set in stone. The fact he had to recreate it for the new trilogy meant looking for those original molds and casts. 

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[Fantasia 2021] A History on Folk Horror in Woodlands Documentary Review

13 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasia Film Festival 2021
Available to view on demand

For screenings near you, please visit the official webpage

Clocking in at over three hours, woodland is a very detailed examination of what defines folk horror and on what the seminal films are. Kier-La Janisse certainly knows the cinematic realm to the tee, and I’d have to rewatch this work to catalogue all the movies referenced. I’d take breaks just because there’s a lot of terrific information to soak in.

The Unholy Trinity of “Witchfinder General,” “Blood on Satan’s Claw,” and “The Wicker Man” are referenced and rightly so. They helped define this new genre of cinematic folk horror. And thankfully, instead of focusing on the output from one country, many other worlds are looked at. Not every film is examined, and neither is every movie noted. The runtime doesn’t do the look at world cinema justice. Continue reading

[Fantasia 2021] Alien on Stage is Freakishly Funny!

11 Aug

ALIEN ON STAGE THE DOCUMENTARY by Danielle Kummer — Kickstarter

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasia Film Festival 2021
Available to Scream, er Stream On Demand
Tickets can be purchased here

Not everyone will have visited West End in London to see Alien on Stage when it first premiered. This theatrical take of the movie by Ridley Scott is not meant to be a high budget performance, but a comedic Fringe Festival like to take. Their parody performance is one for the ages. The documentary makers Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer deserve a standing ovation for being involved in following the theatre troupe from its inception to its inaugural performance.

Half the crew are bus drivers from Dorset, England and the other are simply close family and friends with a varying range of acting ability. They are an amateur group of community theatre performers, and I was amazed at how they got their act together. This team did their research and props to them when considering they didn’t have too high of a budget! The stage uses curtains and lighting to alter where the crew of the USCSS Nostromo are throughout the ship.

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