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True/False 2009 and the point of panels

True/False 2009 and the point of panels (photo)

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When I tell people I only want to go to panels in which the speakers get into a fight, they usually laugh.

I do not join them.

I really do long to see a state-of-the-industry type discussion featuring some of the most serious of my colleagues build into a WWF-style, chair-throwing brawl, and by golly, someday my wish will come true, even if I have to heft that chair myself. Panels are the starchy side dish of film festivals and conferences, and they’re often informative and a little dry, because moderating is difficult, because topics are broad, and because people are generally nice and cautious and very aware of being on the record. Most panels could use some bodyslamming, or at the very least some strong disagreement.

I took in two of the best panels I’d seen in a while at the True/False Film Festival this past week, and while neither solved the life-threatening problem of panelists being polite and too smart to just shoot their mouths off, both avoided issues that often bog down these events.

The first featured Richard Parry and Robert King (above), the director and subject of war photographer doc “Blood Trail,” and “Operation: Dreamland” director Ian Olds. The topic was war journalism, and rather than delve into advice and background, the panelists went straight into anecdotes of shooting while getting shot at, a breakdown of the ethical issues of filming people dead or dying and an honest look at risk assessment in what’s, in the end, a job. That last aspect was the most interesting, that for all war journalists regularly put their lives on the line documenting conflict, that they also have to deal with the usual professional rivalries. Telling the story of a colleague who sniped a job from threatened him, King noted: “It all comes back full circle… unfortunately for him, [laughs] he got shot. Yeah, I must be a bit desensitized if I can make a tasteless joke like that.” It was only in the arm, he added.

03012009_tfpanel2.jpgAJ Schnack led another panel full of familiar industry folks — Women Make Films’ Debra Zimmerman, Channel 4’s Jess Search, filmmaker Kirby Dick, Spout’s Karina Longworth and Cinetic’s Matt Dentler are those in the photo — through a Fred Friendly-inspired exercise in which everyone advised on what they would do when confronted with a theoretical project, a prospective documentary from a first-time filmmaker with never-before-seen footage of the Hudson River plane crash. Would anyone be interested in financing it? Would festival programmers want it? At what point would members of the press find it worthy of coverage? I’m sure I’ve seen over half the speakers on panels in the past, but the theoretical angle turned out to be freeing, and I heard things from them that had never come up before, because it tends to take long enough for everyone to loosen up on these things that they near their end before getting good.

Worthwhile endeavors, both of these, and not a piledriver or headbutt in sight.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.