February 24, 2013 marked the end of the 2012-2013 awards season that began with The Gotham Awards in October 2012. Hosting the Academy awards this year, Seth McFarlane was at his sarcastic best. Beginning the show as a “quest to make Tommy Lee Jones Smile” he took his jabs at the nominees, the actors and the industry overall.The 85th Annual Academy Awards was a spectacular event filled with powerful musical performances by the industries most talented – Catherine Zeta Jones, cast of ‘Les Miserables’ and others all sung live by the performers at the event. Adele joined Halle Berry in paying tribute to the Bond movie series and wooed the audience with the ‘Skyfall’ theme song that also went on to win an Oscar for the Best Song. If that was not enough, First Lady Michelle Obama surprised everyone when she introduced the nominees for the – Best Picture, live from the White House and also announced the winner of the most prized award of the night “Best Picture” to ‘Argo’. A clearly very excited Ben Affleck, Producer, Director and star of the movie, accepted the award along with his team. In his acceptance speech Ben thanked everyone in the movie, on the movie and everyone else who worked on this movie. “There are eight great films that have every right, as much a right to be up here as we do,” said Affleck. ‘Life of Pi’ took the lead in taking home four Oscars including Best Director – Ang Lee (taking the title away from Steven Speilberg for: ‘Lincoln’) and Best Cinematography while Ben Affleck’s Argo took home three...
On day 3, I had a chance to catch several anticipated films. For starters, TEDDY BEAR, about a Danish bodybuilder’s quest for romance in Pattaya, Thailand. The theater was full and, post-screening, the audience response was overwhelmingly pleased. Then, I introduced the second feature to be included at the LRFF by Martha Stephens, Pilgrim Song, which follows a young protagonist, James, as he sets out to hike Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace after losing his teaching job and foundering in his relationship. Stephens discussed her relationship to the Southern scenes and characters in the film—everything from old-time music, cloggers, and river baptisms—revealing that these were all real aspects of her life growing up in rural Kentucky (some of the characters are even her relatives). She also spoke about the length of time it took her to scout for the breathtaking locations on the lengthy trail—at least a year—admitting that it was quite a task for the crew loaded down with equipment to hike around during filming. Finally, I was lucky enough to catch the LRFF premiere of the highly anticipated Beasts of the Southern Wild—easily this year’s most buzzed-about festival film. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. It’s a dazzling piece of cinema, told through the perspective of its compelling main character, Hushpuppy, a little girl who lives in a poor wetland community called the Bathtub, full of raucous characters and a whimsical grasp on reality. Part adventure story, part coming-of-age tale, Beasts has garnered praise recently at Sundance and Cannes—and you can still catch it right here in Little Rock, only one of the few other festivals where it will...