Weekly Roundup – Seattle and San Fran rise from the Ashes, SXSW wraps, and Studio Ghibli adapts

Your weekly one-stop-shop for film news, interviews, articles, and videos from the week that was.

There’s plenty of festival news to share this week, including comeback stories from two venerable West Coast events. Unable to stage a festival last spring, the Seattle International Film Festival returns with a virtual edition that kicks off on April 8 and includes a unique New Works-in-Progress Forum. Further down the coast and one day later, the San Francisco International Film Festival marks their resurrection with a lineup in which 57% of the films are directed by female filmmakers and an identical 57% are directed by BIPOC filmmakers.

Meanwhile, the unveilings continue for doc-centric fests. In Switzerland, Visions du Réel announced that, along with their main competitions, they’ll be screening 37 medium-to-short films by first-time filmmakers. On our own shores, Hot Docs achieved gender equality with their film selections while, in the words of Lisa Valencia-Svensson, their industry conference “will be focused on the reimaging of our world, documentary’s role within it, and the need to push past conventional forms of storytelling and prioritize new and diverse voices.” Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, recipient of the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at VIFF 2019, will host a masterclass at the conference. Her new film, Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, will also receive its world premiere at the festival.

With SXSW having wrapped last weekend, Criterion’s David Hudson breaks down their award winners, which include a special recognition from the jury for Rogelio Balagtas’s performance in Martin Edralin’s Islands. Over at Filmmaker Magazine, Steve Dollar weighs in on a selection of the festival’s music documentaries. Particular attention is paid to Poly Styrene: I am a Cliché, which was directed by Paul Sng and Celeste Bell, the daughter of X-Ray Spex’s frontwoman.

Across the pond, an increasing number of independent filmmakers and screenwriters are exploring podcasting as an outlet for their narratives. As John Finnegan, founder of The Script Department, explains to Screen Daily: “The thing about being a screenwriter is that, unless your stuff gets made into a film, people don’t ever really get to experience what you wrote… We want to capitalise on the cinematic nature [of the script] and showcase it in a way that will be very familiar to audiences.”

Finally, Sight and Sound’s Alex Dudok de Wit caught up with Suzuki Toshio, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, to discuss Miyazaki Goro’s Earwig and the Witch, the revered animation house’s first foray into CG, as well as their future, which includes a new Miyazaki Hayao feature. On his role in shaping some of anime’s certified masterpieces, Suzuki says, “I consider my job as a producer to push the directors to challenge themselves.” (It turns out that he can also draw a pretty mean Totoro.)

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