30 April 2008

Twas the night before the premiere...

Many doc filmmakers complain about bad distribution deals. I am convinced now more than ever that doc filmmakers need to make their own distribution deals. Just like we find a subject matter we are passionate about filming. On the back side, we must be equally passionate about identifying and seeking out the core audience that will be interested in our film. There are credible indie distribution companies that will help usher your film into theaters, but it is up to us to get butts in the seats. My friend, Jim Tusty, made a film about Estonia and its heritage and that doc will outgross 3 of the 5 2008 Academy Award nominated docs. His subject matter is very targeted and so has his distribution. There is no reason with a great subject and strong production value all docs cannot have success theatrically. Just like music and publishing, self-distribution is real and attainable for doc filmmakers. The morning meetings we had truly reinforced my belief that box office success is attainable and that great theatrical will have great effects later down the distribution food chain. Later this week, we have meetings set-up with traditional TV distributors at Tribeca and it will be good to get their perspective on the viability of indie docs in the small screen landscape.

At lunch, I finally got to see our main character from Mali, Madame Urbain. This is her first trip to America and she is truly humbled by the attention her work is receiving because of the film. Her humble nature has not quelled her great spirit and energy that seems to be thriving in New York City. I was glad to hear one of her students we met during filming is being trained as a seamstress and that her training centers are trying to expand out to the northern regions of Mali well outside Bamako. She is an amazing woman and I cannot wait for America to be exposed to her Wednesday night at the premiere.

Our day ended with a screening of Simon Brand’s “Paraiso Travel”. It was a wonderfully shot indie film about Columbian immigrants who get separated upon arriving in Manhattan. The film intercuts Marlon’s present day experiences in Queens with flashbacks to his memory of the harrowing ordeal to cross the border. The flashback scenes have some wonderfully haunting moments that bring home the border crossing experience with a realism I have yet to see on the big screen. After the screening, Allison (my wife and production manager on "A Powerful Noise" ) and I went to a celebration dinner for the film and our Executive Producer, Sheila Johnson. It was great fun to hear everyone’s excitement about seeing the premiere and how they want to help bolster the women’s empowerment movement our film promotes. It was also great to recognize Sheila whose all encompassing support made this film and its distribution to the general public possible. Without her vision, our very determined and dedicated crew would never have had the freedom and focus to make the film a reality. We will be forever indebted.

Wish us luck. Tomorrow is the big night! Tribeca 2008…Here we come!

28 April 2008

Tribeca Kicks Into Full Gear

Today was a day to finally get a chance to meet the films and filmmakers at the festival. I started the morning at 9 AM catching a screening of the Golden Bear-winning film, Elite Squad, from Brazil. It takes a controversial look at the tactics of the police against the poor of Brazil's favelas. Compelling in so many ways, the opening 5 minutes of the film grabs you and never lets go. Afterwards, I worked hard to get the word out about the approaching "A Powerful Noise" premiere to industry folks. We got some interest from some of our targeted festivals and a couple of cable channels, so we hope this leads to great things in creating buzz and awareness for women's empowerment.

Then it was off to the the Japanese Fusion restaurant, MEGU. The food and company were wonderful. I got the opportunity to meet Vincent Coen and his wonderful wife, Bartelyne. Vincent made a short film, Heartbeats, which was a coming of age look at a young girl leaving the nest. This certainly hits home for me as a new father, and I look forward to seeing his shorts program over the weekend. It was great to discuss everyone's wonderful reception at the fest and to hear how responsive the audiences have been to the material. It was great to get an international feel for the fest as Vincent and Bartelyne came all the way from Belgium. And if you go to MEGU, please order the asparagus. :)

At 4:30 PM, we rushed the documentary feature, "This Is Not A Robbery," about JL Roundtree, the 92 year old bank robber. Wonderful execution of a film built around taped archival audio and video of JL in prison. The graphics and animation were inspired, and the interviews of people who knew JL were hysterically insightful. Everyone should get a chance to be introduced to JL's second wife/dancer, Juanita Adams. What a wild, hard to believe film.

The evening ended at the Tribeca's Producers' Reception. I got a chance to see Kristy and Dawn who made the wonderful doc feature, "Going On 13." This is a multi-layered women's story following girls growing up in the San Francisco Bay area from age 9-13. Fascinating film with a wonderful blending of these girl going through puberty and moving on to adolescence. Cannot wait to see it on a TV screen near me soon. Additionally, I learned of a short doc film, "Life For A Child," by Academy Award winner, Ed Lachman, about diabetes in Nepal. That will be a must see. And the producer's of "Have You Ever Heard About Vukovar" said their film looks at the Bosnian War through the eyes of a Croatian refugees. Seems to be many connections with "A Powerful Noise" with some of the other films in the festival.

Two days left until the premiere, and I finally saw the venue today. It is amazing! 390 seats and beautifully ornate architecture and design. It is a wonderful renovated art house theater and I cannot think of a better place to premiere a directorial debut. It is getting exciting and it is good to hear people begin to talk about our film. People at the parties were targeting our screenings, and we now have some nice articles at http://www.blackenterprises.com/ and http://www.thewashingtonpost.com/. It is starting to become "A Powerful Noise" !

07 April 2008

Director's Statement by Tom Cappello

In 2006, producer Scott Thigpen hired me to collaborate on a film focused on empowered women making a difference in underprivileged communities around the world. We began a journey to find three women who symbolized extraordinary strength, courage and determination. Women who were making a real difference in the fight against global poverty. Beyond that, we wanted to show what marginalized women and girls can accomplish, if given the chance in the face of great odds.

Initially, as a first-time feature film director, I was excited and awed by this task. There were endless stories of women who are improving their communities and their countries. Ultimately, we found three women who compel viewers to truly empathize with their activism. Each woman has different levels of strength and selflessness that drew me in to their world during filming and continued to astound me in the edit room.

Documenting the lives of these three remarkable women is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I observed firsthand the influence of infinite humanity. Each individual story is an exceptional, startling human journey told through their eyes and in their voice. In the end, the unique perspectives of these three women combine to create an unprecedented film about the power of the human spirit and the potential women have to change the world at large. They just need our encouragement and support, and I hope you will be moved to lend your voice and energy to the solidarity of women around the world.