MCOF film lineup set


Malibu Celebration of Film set to screen the global human experience. Malibu resident Amy Madigan talks about FILMS’COOL.’

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

The Malibu Celebration of Film has announced its lineup of award-winning films for the festival scheduled Sept. 28 to Sep. 30. Executive Director Kim Jackson and Artistic Director Nancy Collet selected films that won awards in international film festivals during the last year and, as Jackson said, “They exemplify the spirit of independent film.”

Mirroring a universal trend in film distribution, this year’s festival sees strong submissions in the documentary category, with selections that include “Hear and Now” by Irene Taylor Brodsky, a story of a filmmaker’s deaf parents and their decision to undergo cochlear implants in order to hear for the first time in their lives; an experiment in democracy as seen through the eyes of Chinese students in “Please Vote for Me” by Weijun Chen; and “Sharkwater” by Rob Steward, which is a journey into the exploitation of shark populations in marine reserves, filmed in high definition video.

The narrative film category covers a broad spectrum of global human experience and includes Sundance Festival’s Audience Award for Drama with “Grace is Gone,” starring John Cusack and Marisa Tomei, about a father of two young girls whose wife is killed in the Iraq War, “Cuttin Da Mustard,” about aspiring actors creating a community theater company, and “Owl and the Sparrow,” about three lonely strangers forming a unique family unit in present-day Saigon.

“We pick out the very best of the best of all the films we review,” Jackson said. “This year’s MCOF will screen fewer films than last year because we want to give our audiences a chance to not only see all the films, but maybe see them more than once.”

As well as “the best of the best” in filmdom, this year’s MCOF will offer a writer’s panel discussion featuring screenwriters and producers Peter Dunne, Catherine Ann Jones and John Logan, hosted by Diesel, A Bookstore. A screening of a silent Mary Pickford film with live orchestration by the Malibu Chamber Orchestra and screenings of a host of retrospective films, including Orson Welles’ last major film, “F for Fake,” will also take place.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to showcase such mindful and authentic cinema,” Jackson said.

Cool film mentoring

Once again, the festival kicks off with FILMS’COOL,’ the short film competition dedicated to finding the next generation of talented filmmakers. Submissions were accepted from local high school and undergraduate students and the winners will be announced Sept. 28, with a screening of their films hosted by actor Daniel Stern.

Actress Amy Madigan co-chairs FILMS’COOL,’ with husband Ed Harris and said she was excited to see the thematic range and quality of the short film submissions.

“They were very personal. A number of them were about what it’s like to be included and excluded in your society,” she said. “Well, Filmmaking 101 does say ‘write what you know.’ But there were some political pieces and some that were very, very funny.”

Madigan said she would like to use the FILMS’COOL’ event to raise money or get donated equipment so that youth can start learning early on the skills of filmmaking. “Maybe I would put up the first filmmaker’s package and a sponsoring corporation would put up the next 10,” she said. “They already have computer programs that teach you how to edit. We just need to provide the hardware and we’ll see some amazing imagination come to light.”

One of last year’s FILMS’COOL’ winners, Ethan Kuperberg, is off to Yale in September. But not before he asked Madigan to star in his latest short film, which features the Malibu actress singing.

“Ethan also directed the festival trailer for this year.” Madigan said. “He’s going to have a great career. Filmmaking requires mentorship and that’s what we want to see MCOF offering young artists.”

Festival goes green

Environmentally conscious festivalgoers will note that MCOF has signed on with the Hollywood Green Team, a nonprofit organization that promotes recycling and eco-awareness at Hollywood events.

“Hey, hypocrisy might be alive and well in Hollywood,” HGT founder Scott McKinlay said. “But the environment is at the forefront of the consumer’s eye and now even Wall Street firms have environmental consultants. We’re just taking advantage of the moment.”

McKinlay started his nonprofit with a “rudimentary idea” of recycling some of the tons of trash film festivals generate.

“I took the idea to the Cannes Film Festival in ’99,” McKinlay said. “I asked the festival organizers if I could do this and they were enthusiastic. Then I looked for a corporate sponsor and Kodak said they’d go for it. I kept waiting for someone to say ‘no’ to my requests for sponsorship with printing and donations and they just kept saying ‘yes.’ I thought if I’m not careful, this might work!”

More information and tickets can be obtained online at or by calling 310.456.6331