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Theatrical Review: Persepolis

5.jpgPersepolis (Reviewed at the 44th New York Film Festival)
Directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Written by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
Based on the Original Graphic Novels by Marjane Satrapi
Released by Sony Pictures Classics
The Film Society of Lincoln Center wisely chose Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis to close its 45th Season. The French language animated film, mostly in black & white, opens in theaters in both NYC and LA today. The film feels at once nostalgic and freshly new. Even for those who don’t primarily identify themselves as political, the story, adapted from a series of autobiographical graphic novels of the same name, is a universal one; that of a young woman’s journey from innocence to maturity. It just so happens that the back drop of her story includes the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the country’s turn from a socially progressive society to one of fundamentalism and fear.
Marjane (the voice of Chirara Mastroianni, Marcello’s daughter), our young heroine, is growing up in Tehran during a most tumultuous time. When we are first introduced to her, she is your average precocious nine year old but it’s not long before she experiences the loss of her beloved uncle who is executed as a war criminal. By the time she is 14, her parents, concerned for her safety, send her off to boarding school in Vienna. The scenes that follow, where young Marjane is so homesick for her parents (the voices of Catherine Deneuve and Simon Akbarian) and her grandmother (France’s legendary actress Danielle Darrieux) are among the film’s most gripping, where for all intents and purposes, you forget you are watching a cartoon.
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Denver 07: A Great Blog Idea

Coming up in a few weeks is one of my favorite times of the year…the ten days I spend in Denver, attending the Starz Denver Film Festival. The films, hospitality, staff and city are all top notch and hope I can make it there every year from here on out. It’s almost directly opposite, calendar-wise) my other favorite “regional” US fest, Sarasota. If you’re a filmmaker or industry person or just a travelin’ (wo)man who likes to see new places and go to new film festivals, these two events would be worth your time to investigate. However, that’s not my point. What is my point, you might ask? My point is that Brit Withey, program director of the Denver fest has put his blog La Pistola to novel and original use. For almost a month he’s been teasing films prior to the official lineup announcement.
Since September 27th, a full month before the “official” lineup, Brit has been posting about a film here, a panel there and as far as I can tell (and I did next to no research on this, BTW) he’s one of the only programmers doing this and I think it’s a fantastic idea. Many festivals feel like they need to guard their lineup like state secrets and maybe they wouldn’t get front page coverage in Daily Variety and THR if they announced some of their slate on their own sites earlier, and maybe this matters but to the vast majority of festivals, it doesn’t. Granted, if your festival programs 20-30 films, you migh wanna hold off on the sneak previews, but if you’ve got over one or two hundred films screening, why not tease ’em a bit?
I know I’m even more excited about Denver knowing that Jiri Menzel’s I Served the King of England is screening. I missed this film in Berlin and have regretted it ever since. It’s supposed to be fantastic and I can’t wait. Then there’s Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland. Tully loves it, so that’s enough for me. Then there’s Persepolis, a NYFF selection I missed and a Czech animation film called One Night in the City which sounds amazing.
I don’t know about you, but I am gonna check Brit’s blog daily between now and the 22nd to see what other tidbits he might be revealing! Of course, I will be on the ground in Denver, keeping y’all as up to date as possible on the salacious goings on at the various fest venues. Remember the late night lounge?