Signs of the Time

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Archive for the ‘Film Festivals’ Category

Macon Film Festival (MaGa)

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Home to the Allman Brothers, Otis Redding, & Little Richard, Macon GA has a long history of music and the arts.  Created 5 years ago, the Macon Film Festival is continuing that tradition by attracting filmmakers from around the state and country to 2 historic venues in downtown Macon.  The Captiol Theatre and the Douglass Theatre.

Featured at the festival were appearances by Macon natives, Jack McBrayer (Kenneth on 30th Rock) and Screen Actress Illeana Douglas. Signs played Friday evening 2/19/2010 in the Capitol Theatre, a beautiful old theater that has a full balcony, side boxes and a main floor has been converted to have sofas, dining tables and comfy chairs (with a full service bar).  Nice way to experience movies all day long!  Thanks to all that came out to support our film and all the nice comments and Q&A from the audience.  My wife and I enjoyed many of the films that played throughout Saturday as well.

Good luck to the Macon Film Festival I hope you continue to be a success and a beacon for the arts in Georgia.


Written by Don Casper

March 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Film Festivals

Omaha Film Festival

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SIGNS OF THE TIME SCREENS March 11 & March 13 at the Omaha Film Festival

Check out this radio interview by Cheril Lee at KIOS-FM

..and here is a commercial for the upcoming festival:

Written by Signs of the Time

February 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Film Festivals

On the road again…

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We just returned from screening the film at the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, MD.  Instead of the regular blog writeup, we interviewed each other during the drive back using my crappy cell phone microphone for something a little different.

Links of Interest:

Out in the Silence – Joe Wilson

Prayers for Peace – Dustin Grella

Starship Farragut – Farragut Films

The Fugue – Paul Awad

Fall Colors through Pennsylvania

Fall Colors through Pennsylvania

Annoying Windshield Wipers

Annoying Windshield Wipers

Written by Don Casper

October 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Film Festivals

Award winner in Cooperstown

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Don Casper at the Hall of Fame Exhibit for the History of Baseball and Movies

Don Casper at the Hall of Fame Exhibit for the History of Baseball and Movies

For the 4th year in a row, the Baseball Film Festival has presented newly-released films of any genre with a baseball component.  Stephen Light, the festival organizer, mentioned during his opening remarks that they had more submissions this year than ever and had tough choices to narrow the field down to the 13 films shown over 3 days in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Signs of the Time was accepted as an official selection amongst other feature documentaries and shorts.

The opening night program consisted of a great film called “The Lost Son of Havana” which follows Luis Tiant’s life and career in baseball and as he returns to Cuba for the first time in 46 years.  Executive Producer Bobby Farrelly and Producer Kris Meyer were there to present and give a Q&A.

Our film played right after to a packed house starting around 8:15pm, including a father and son who told us they traveled from Maine to see the film because they knew Bill Werber and had visited with him before he passed away this past spring.  We also had a deaf gentleman from Brockport who came down to see the film for the first time!

Future Hall of Famer Jim Hughes found in Cooperstown!

Future Hall of Famer Jim Hughes found in Cooperstown!

The rest of the weekend was a mix of watching baseball films, meeting filmmakers from around the country, sharing stories and going in all the shops on Main Street.  If you’ve never been to Cooperstown, the fall is a real pretty time to go and the crowds are not huge so it’s easy to get around and see lots of stuff.

A couple noteworthy films that we saw are:

We Believe – a feature documentary about the century long love affair between the city of Chicago and the Cubs.  Although they haven’t won a World Series in over a hundred years, it stills remains one of the most devout fan bases and nicest ballparks in the major leagues.  Director/Writer John Scheinfeld was on hand to present the film.

A Shortstop in China – follows Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. as he embarks on a 10-day tour of China for the State Department as an official representative of the United States and baseball.  The film was produced by Renegade Productions out of Baltimore.  It’s a very well put together film with alot of great moments.

Ghost Player – reveals the 18 year journey of a group of ballplayers that entertain crowds in Dyersville Iowa where they filmed the movie Field of Dreams.  This group that started as just something fun to do on a Sunday ended up touring throughout Europe and Japan and changing lives.  Filmmaker Joe Schermann presented the film.

Jim Hughes and Don Casper with Award outside the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown

Jim Hughes and Don Casper with Award outside the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown

The Festival culminated with the Awards Ceremony Sunday at 3pm.  Although we were hopeful, being up against the many worthy films we had seen made no guarantee to win something.  However… the film and baseball gods were smiling on us that weekend as we were selected for the 2009 Award for Baseball Excellence.  The Award for Baseball Excellence is given to the film that excels in one or all of the following categories: research, historical context, appreciation of the game, and the embodiment of the spirit of baseball.

2009 Award for Baseball Excellence

2009 Award for Baseball Excellence

Thanks to all the judges and audience that supported our film and to all the other filmmakers who participated.  It is real special to be part of a festival with such passion and achievement within the same genre.

It was extra special for me because my Wife, Mom Dad, Brother, and In-laws were all there to share it with us.

Written by Don Casper

October 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm

2009 Top 11 Festival Must See Films in Tacoma

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As Executive Director at the Grand Cinema, one of the most common questions I’m asked every fall is “which films do you recommend in the film festival?”  With more films and better quality than ever this year, that question is becoming tougher to answer.  Difficult as it may be, I’m up to the task.Tacoma Film Festival

The list here is in order by the dates films play.  If you think it is tough deciding on which films to recommend, it would be tougher to rank them in a specific ‘must see’ order.  So it is safe to say that everyone should attempt to see as many of these as possible.

One added aspect of a festival is the chance to often talk to the filmmakers.  I’m happy to say that most of the films I mention here will have the filmmaker in attendance. There are MANY more great films in the festival, but for me, this would be my TOP 11 (because ten is always too few for the festival) FILMS FOR 2009.


Philip Cowan

(in order by date played)

Lovers in a Dangerous Time – This is a movie about a relationship that is so incredibly obvious to the viewer, but not always as apparent to the characters involved.  By the end you really feel for the characters because they really pull you in to the story.  This is a true indy film that we are happy to present for our Opening Night Gala.  The filmmakers will be in attendance and there will be great food to go along with the film.  What is there not to like?  Thursday, October 1, 6:30 p.m. (food), 8:00 p.m. (film) at Annie Wright (and minus the food and filmmakers, the film plays again October 6, 4:45 p.m. at the Grand).

North Face – This is one I originally saw at SIFF earlier this year and is a perfect movie for anyone who loves movies the Grand typically plays.  It is 1936 in Germany and there is a race to be the first to rock climb the near vertical Eiger North Face.  This is a well made drama based on a real event that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Friday, October 2, 6:00 p.m. at the Blue Mouse Theater

Winning Isn’t Everything AND Signs of the Time – This is a great pairing of two very well made documentaries.  One is on the NCAA championship women’s soccer program at the University of North Carolina.  The other explores the origins of baseball hand signals and is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss.  You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy either film because both move well past the sport that anchors the films.  Friday, October 2, 6:30 p.m. at the Grand AND Signs of the Time only (paired with a different film) Monday, Oct 5, 2:15, also at the Grand

Freeing Silvia Baraldini – This documentary follows the life of a political activist who was arrested by the FBI and sentenced to 43 years in prison.  Where is the line between crime and political activism?  As an added note, the filmmaker was once associated with the Grand and will be in attendance to talk about the subject.  Friday, October 2, 5:45 p.m. at First United Methodist Church AND Saturday, October 3, 8:45 p.m. at the Grand

Sweet Crude – This noteworthy documentary is playing around the world, from the Seattle International Film Festival earlier this year, to Vancouver, Canada and Strasbourg, France.  There is good reason too.  It is the story of Nigeria’s impoverished Niger Delta under which a billion dollars of crude flows. Some might remember the news stories that developed last year when the filmmakers were detained in Nigeria for a week while shooting the film.  With the filmmaker in attendance, the film and discussion should be fascinating for everyone.  Saturday, October 3, 12:45 p.m. at Tacoma Art Museum

Spooner – This feature film combines charm, romance and quirky humor into a nice film.  Herman (Matthew Lillard) is turning 30 and is finally moving out of his parent’s home.  When the girl of his dreams enters his aimless life, he tries to win her over before she leaves on a planned trip out of the country.  The director and screenwriter will be in attendance.  Saturday, October 3, 6:30 p.m. at the Grand Cinema

White on Rice – This is a quirky multi-cultural film from a director who previously played a film in the Tacoma Film Festival.  It tells the tale of Japanese man now living in the states as he seeks a girlfriend…but with one specific woman in mind.  The film has some very funny moments in it and is very well made.  It is also starting to appear in theaters already so watch it here first!  Sunday, October 4, 6:30 p.m. at the Grand (it also plays with a great local short film The Day My Parents Became Cool)

Comedy Shorts – This grouping tends to sell out annually and for good reason: comedy shorts are a ton of fun.  There are too many to list individually but this year’s group has ten films ranging from 3 to 17 minutes in length.  It is a fast paced screening and has many films that have won awards at other festivals.  This plays twice because of its popularity.  Sunday, October 4, 6:30 p.m. at SOTA AND Wednesday, October 7, 6:30 at the Grand.

Drama Shorts – The topics on these vary but there is some great filmmaking to be found here.  These seven short films originate everywhere from Germany to the Pacific Northwest.  Two of the most notable in the group are Short Term 12 which won prizes at both Sundance and SIFF and the German film Land Gewinnen which gives you a peek inside what it might be like for an immigrant child trying to go to school.  It really moves you.  Monday, October 5, 6:45 p.m. at the Grand AND Friday, October 2, 6:30 at SOTA

Four of a Kind – From Australia and with the filmmaker and lead actress in attendance!  Four different women with four intertwining stories.  Add in a bit of mystery and you have a movie to remember.  Tuesday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. at the Grand

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle – The pedigree of this film kind of speaks for itself.  It debuted at Sundance and has since played at festivals such as SXSW, Seattle, San Francisco and Calgary.  To describe this comedy would be truly difficult, so I’ll give you one sentence fragment from their website: “cookies cause spectacular visions, wild mood swings, and quasi-pregnancies in the male janitors.”  This one is a lot of fun and the filmmaker will be here for Q&A.  CLOSING NIGHT FILM, Thursday, October 8, 6:00 p.m. at the Grand Cinema

Written by Signs of the Time

October 4, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Film Festivals

World Class Film Festival with a Small Town Charm

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IMG_7725They definitely know how to do it right at the Rome International Film Festival, about an hour and a half outside of Atlanta. Jim Hughes and I spent two wonderful days getting to know the people and the rich history of Rome, GA, a vibrant small city in the middle of several colleges in the area. Harry Musselwhite and his wife, Laura, really made us feel like we were celebrities as we screened the many films shown at the classic DeSoto theater and enjoyed their well-planned and well-executed hospitality.


One of my favorite documentaries was The Human Experience, a great concept film about two young brothers trying to find their place in life. Another film, shot close to home was Pound Cake, written by and starring Troy Hall and Kevin Logie, plus many other great actors (including Kathleen Quinlan and Jay O. Sanders). Definitely a laugh-out-loud type of film and since it’s set in Buffalo, NY in the 1980’s … how can you go wrong?

Of course, the main reason we were there was to showcase our documentary, Signs of the Time, which was very well received by a crowd of over 100 people. We also made it to the Final Four of nominations in the category of Best American Documentary. Though we didn’t walk away winners, we felt pretty good about our experience in Rome and I look forward to the opportunity of making it back there again. Thanks Harry and Laura!


Written by Ray Manard

September 27, 2009 at 8:43 am

Posted in Film Festivals

SoMuch at SoCal!

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The sunny skies and laid-back attitude of Surf City USA warmly welcomed Ray, Jim and Signs of the Time to the SoCal Independent Film Festival.  Set in idyllic Huntington Beach California, this marathon movie event showed more than 100 official entries over 6 days. Named by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the “top 20 film festivals worth the entry fee”, SoCal is an edgy and enjoyable festival. We were excited and proud to be there.

socal ext

SoCal Screening Venue

The schedule offered a fantastic balance of both traditional films and some delightfully bizarre entries that would make Quentin Tarantino squirm in his seat. Our first session was a collection of short films called Off the Beaten Path. This was followed by – please enjoy the impending cinematic weirdness here – Way Off the Beaten Path. One of our favorites, Blood Shed, was shown during this deliriously weird session. The film is a charming tale of a Canadian Hillbilly who murders and mutilates his backwoods buddies. Encouraged by his psychotic mother, who is portrayed by a life-size talking muppet, he ecstatically dispenses buckets of blood via shotgun, shovel and chainsaw. I must admit, horror is my least favorite genre, but this movie was so quirky, so delightfully depraved that it was clearly created with tongue firmly in cheek. Other similar charmers included The Electric Chainsaw Massacre, The Family, and Sexual Tension – the Super Adventures of Steve and Stephen. For a laugh-out-loud experience, I encourage you to leave your delicate sensibilities behind and visit these worthy films on-line.

We also saw a terrific variety of more traditional entries that offered exceptional production value, inspired writing and great acting – all the elements that are so difficult to achieve in independent filmmaking. This consistently high level of movie-making skill made our final night at the awards party particularly gratifying. Every film, including ours, received a nomination in their category. With such superb competition, our expectations for winning Best Documentary were very low. With little shot at winning and having milked our $14 event cocktail for just so long, we yearned for the familiar conversations and $3 beers at the dated but wholly satisfying hotel bar.  Thankfully, the admiration for our filmmaking colleagues prevailed.

Jim and Ray with Award

Jim and Ray with Award

We stayed for the ceremony and supported their exceptional efforts with another $28 round of vodka tonics. You may see it coming, but it was as surprising to us as a Hitchcock plot twist. When Best Documentary was announced, Signs of the Time got the nod! The overwhelming response to our win by many of the filmmakers in attendance was gratifying but not unexpected. With unrestrained generosity, they celebrated the honor with us just like it was their own. In fact, we didn’t make it back to the hotel for another four hours and I don’t recall spending another $14 the rest of the night.

Written by Jim Hughes

September 25, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Film Festivals